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That's So Raven on DVD: Supernaturally Stylish (Volume 1) • Disguise the Limit (Volume 2)
Raven's House Party (Volume 3) • Raven's Makeover Madness (Volume 4)

"That's So Raven" Disguise the Limit DVD Review

Buy That's So Raven: Disguise the Limit from Amazon.com That's So Raven: Disguise the Limit
Show & DVD Details

Creators: Michael Poryes, Susan Sherman / Writers: Danny Warren, Josh Lynn, Dennis Rinsler, Michael Carrington, Michael Feldman

Directors: Gregory Hobson, Sean McNamara

Cast: Raven (Raven Baxter), Anneliese van der Pol (Chelsea Daniels), Orlando Brown (Eddie Thomas), Kyle Massey (Corey Baxter), Rondell Sheridan (Victor Baxter), T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh (Tonya Baxter)

Notable Guest Stars: Cyndi Lauper (Miss Petuto), Kym Whitley (Aunt Vicki), James McCauley (Leonard Stevenson), Bobb'e J. Thompson (Stanley), Stuart Fratkin (Arthur), Frankie Ryan Manriquez (William)

Running Time: 89 minutes (4 episodes) / Rating: TV-G
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; White keepcase
DVD Release Date: August 16, 2005 / Originally aired in 2005
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5); Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

Review by Aaron Wallace

"That's So Raven": Disguise the Limit" comes to DVD mere days after the Walt Disney Company mentioned the possibility of box sets for the entire series in a quarterly earnings conference call, and a matter of weeks after the show shattered standard Disney Channel practice
by becoming the first to be picked up for a full 100 episodes. Disney is ravin' about Raven and their viewers apparently can't get enough (there's even a Raven perfume on the way, courtesy of the Mouse!).

The show's popularity, which has eclipsed even that of Disney hit "Lizzie McGuire," is puzzling, given that it's clearly a weaker show than the Hilary Duff series or several other winning Disney Channel programs. The show's premise is interesting enough. Raven Symone (the format and spelling of her name changes with some regularity) plays Raven Baxter, a fashion-conscious high schooler who possesses a special gift: psychic power. Her brief glimpses of future events often prompt her to either prevent what she's seen or work toward it, usually donning wild costumes to achieve her goal. Of course, as the Raven-sung theme says, "It's not that easy"- the future she expects based on her visions rarely comes to pass. Helping her along the way are her two best friends: the lingo-hip and good-at-heart Eddie (Orlando Brown) and the environmentally friendly but often clueless Chelsea (Anneliese van der Pol). At home, her mom, Tonya (T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh) and dad, Victor (Rondell Sheridian) help guide her through her psychic woes, though most of their on-screen time is relegated to taking care of their younger son, Corey (Kyle Massey)- a regular Alex P. Keaton.

The only problem is that the episodes are extremely redundant, holding to a formula more rigidly than most of Disney's shows. That means "Raven" runs the risk of tiring its audience, right? Apparently not.

Raven Symone plays Raven Baxter playing a statue of Raven Baxter as a raven. Corey, ever the entrepeneuer, runs a black market for soda in his school.

So what exactly makes this show such a craze with viewers? For starters, there's the show's ability to remain funny even when it's stale. That's largely due to Raven's (the actress, not the character) talents. Say what you will about the show itself or Disney's overexposure of it, but Raven commands an on-screen presence and sense of comedic timing that is rare in TV sitcoms. It's almost enough to drive a series on its own. Truth be told, the kid-pandering nature of "That's So Raven" is probably more a restraint to her abilities than anything else. Then again, the over-the-top humor that is the show's hallmark seems fitting for her talents and the show is certainly able to strike a chord with teenage viewers as well.

The cleverly-titled "Disguise the Limit" DVD that debuts this week implies a release highlighting some of Raven's (the character) most outrageous disguises. That's actually only the case with the first episode, "Art Breaker," though to its credit, it is one of her better costumed stints. The two-part "Country Cousins" does indeed have Raven in many different costumes, but it's Raven the actress who is dressing up and showing off her acting ability via many different characters... Raven the character doesn't actually don a disguise. The final episode, "The Grill Next Door," doesn't feature any dressing up of any kind, so its inclusion is a bit confusing.

Another confusing thing about "The Grill Next Door": it's purported to be a never-before-seen episode, both on the packaging and in the press release. It actually aired on July 8, 2005, so while it hadn't aired when this disc was first announced, its airdate came more than a month before the release.

This single-disc issue presents four half-hour episodes (or two normal episodes and one hour-long event, depending on how you look at it) with satisfactory treatment. Even though the set's theme isn't the most accurate, this grouping of episodes is noteworthy because they dare to stray from the aforementioned formula just a tad. Given that these are all recent episodes (in fact, you could see most of them in the week leading up to this release), and that Raven herself is set to step up as producer in the near future, there may be hope of refreshing this series yet.

Cyndi Lauper guest stars as Raven, Chelsea, and Eddie's eccentric art teacher in "Art Breaker." Victor realizes that the knock-off Hill Grill that has opened next to his Chill Grill is run by an old nemesis of his in "The Grill Next Door."

Episode Descriptions

"Art Breaker" (22:33) (Originally aired February 25, 2005)
The school art teacher, Ms. Petuto (pop star Cyndi Lauper) takes an interest in Chelsea's work and asks her to create a new piece for an upcoming contest. Chelsea is thrilled by this chance for expression and turns to Raven for inspiration. The result is a bust of Raven as a raven, a tribute that is less than well-received. When Raven accidentally breaks the statue, she decides to dress herself in clay and feathers to take the statue's place in the competition. A few school grades down, Corey and his friend, William, profit from the school's decision to ban soft drinks by selling them in milk cartons instead.

"Country Cousins" (Parts 1 & 2) (Part 1 22:28, Part 2 21:52) (Originally aired July 29, 2005)
In a two-part event episode for the series, Raven and Chelsea leave San Francisco to call on Raven's cousins in the country. This side of the Baxters bears the family resemblance (as they should- Raven plays three of them), but their ways of life couldn't be more different. Cultures aren't the only things that clash, though. There's a reason that the two sides of the family haven't seen each other since Raven was a child, and Raven is determined to figure out why and reunite her family. Her efforts are complicated by the family's attitude of resentment, Raven's unfamiliarity with (highly stereotypical) country living, and the horror story subplot that keeps Chelsea preoccupied by a legendary scarecrow that steals souls. Back home, Eddie stays with the Baxters for a few days and comes to take comfort in the fact that Corey sees him as an older brother... until Corey takes advantage of their bond and uses Eddie to sneak out of the house.

"The Grill Next Door" (22:35) (Originally aired July 8, 2005)
A rip-off restaurant opens next door to Victor's Chill Grill, courtesy of Leonard Stevenson (James McCauley), with whom Victor has competed before. When Raven foresees her dad having to close the doors on his dream, she and Corey put their heads together and decide to book Corey's band at the Chill Grill in order to bring in business. To really attract the crowds, though, both the band and Raven will have to make some hefty concessions to Stanley (Bobb'e J. Thompson), the annoying kid who has captured the town's affection but holds his own feelings for Raven.

Stanley cleverly secures a date with his reluctant crush, Raven, in "The Grill Next Door." The Baxter's scarecrow is said to come alive on certain nights and steal people's souls. After this episode, I wouldn't be surprised to see Raven headlining "I Still Haven't Forgotten What You Did Nine Summers Ago" in 2006.


The show's proper 1.33:1 "fullscreen" aspect ratio is preserved on this disc's transfer. The video looks pretty good, certainly better than it does on TV, but "Raven" doesn't have the clearest picture quality to begin with. There's a little bit of edge enhancement every now and again, but for the most part, everything looks as good as one would expect it to. "That's So Raven" is a colorful show, particularly when it comes to wardrobes, and that comes through on disc.

Audio comes by way of a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which sounds great and is extremely well-mixed for a sitcom. The largest portion of sound of course originates from the center speaker, but music, sound effects, background noise, and the laugh track come from all channels, circling around the room to create a surround sound experience that puts the viewer inside the live audience. The track often calls in a surprising amount of bass as well.

"Master of Disguises" is a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the two-part "Country Cousins" episode. Raven gives commentary on certain "Country Cousins" scenes. The main menu screen further illustrates Disney's belief
that orange and yellow circles are cool.


The disc comes with two bonus features, both brief but interesting. The first is a featurette entitled "Master of Disguises" (9:11), in which Raven, her backstage crew, and her fellow cast mates take viewers into the dressing rooms to show how the many disguises of "That's So Raven" are achieved. This kind of feature isn't new, and there's a lot of Raven-praisin' going on. Still, it makes for a fairly interesting piece. The brunt of the time is devoted to "Country Cousins" and avid Disney Channel watchers will recognize clips from this that aired during the time of that episode's premiere.

The second and better feature is the visual commentary with Raven (4:52). This doesn't work like the commentaries you're probably used to. Instead, Raven talks to viewers in an on-screen interview while she watches "Country Cousins." Her comments are edited to cover different aspects of the show in a small amount of time, and viewers see the scene Raven is referring to while she discusses it. It's evident that the young star has a lot of fun with her show and she's actually able to share enough insight to make this one well worth the listen for fans.

The 4x3 menu screens showcase fast-moving circles and random clips from the show while an instrumental version of the theme song plays loudly. The episode selection screen presents all four episodes- "Country Cousins" is broken into two episodes, as it was in its original broadcast.

Previews for Valiant, "Phil of the Future: Gadgets & Gizmos, My Scene Goes Hollywood: The Movie, and the upcoming Halloweentown DVD releases play automatically upon insertion of the disc. One can also access previews for Kronk's New Groove, the likeable Disney Channel Original Series, "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody," and the Radio Disney network from the "Sneak Peeks" menu. Inside the white keepcase, there is a booklet of coupons and advertisements as well as a standard double-sided chapter selection insert.

Three of the five Baxter cousins seen here are actually played by Raven herself: Elroy (top-right), Auntie Fay (bottom-right), and Baby G (bottom). Raven dresses like a cow to try her hand at milking in
the first part of "Country Cousins."


"That's So Raven" isn't nearly as bad as its detractors will have you believe, nor is Raven herself. It's a fun but average show that stars a talented but overexposed actress. It also suffers from a number of flaws that annoy, but they aren't enough to eclipse its merits. The episodes presented here are all good ones, even if they aren't the cream of the crop or the most typical. The presentation, too, is mostly enjoyable, and the bonus features are nice inclusions that will hopefully show back up on season sets. However, unless you think you'll never want more than four "That's So Raven" episodes, it's probably a better idea to wait until you're able to buy a box set containing six times as many episodes for less than twice the amount of money, even if that many would be too much for one sitting.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Disney Channel Original Series:
Phil of the Future: Gadgets & Gizmos (New to DVD!) • Disney Channel Holiday
That's So Raven: Supernaturally StylishLizzie McGuire: Box Set Volume 1
Kim Possible: The Villain FilesMickey Mouse Club: The Best of Britney, Justin & Christina
Disney Channel Original Movies:
Cadet KellyThe Even Stevens Movie
Get a ClueKim Possible Movie: So the Drama

That's So Raven on DVD: Supernaturally Stylish (Volume 1) • Disguise the Limit (Volume 2)
Raven's House Party (Volume 3) • Raven's Makeover Madness (Volume 4)

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | TV Shows Page - Disney Channel

Reviewed August 16, 2005.