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Big Love: The Complete First Season

Bill Paxton , Jeanne Tripplehorn , Alan Poul , Alan Taylor    Unrated   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Big Love: The Complete First Season + Big Love: The Complete Second Season + Big Love: The Complete Third Season
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Big Love, HBO's newest buzzworthy series, recalls Groucho Marx's blithe proposal to two women in Animal Crackers. "Why, that's bigamy," one of the women exclaims. Groucho responds, "Yes, and it's big of me, too." But Bill Henrickson's (Bill Paxton) situation is hardly a laughing matter. Bill is a modern-day polygamist who lives in suburban Salt Lake City with his seven children and three "sister-wives": Barbara (Jeanne Tripplehorn, never better), the more mature anchor of the household; Nicki (Chloe Sevigny), who spitefully refers to her as "Boss Lady"; and recent addition Margene (charming Ginnifer Goodwin), insecure and childlike. A series that puts a human face on polygamy is brimming with prurient possibilities. Big Love's first two episodes are veritable commercials for Viagra, as Bill struggles to keep up with the demands of his spouses, with whom the sleeping arrangements are strictly scheduled. But once this more sensational aspect of "plural marriage" is dealt with, Big Love moves on to focus on the emotional, spiritual and financial pressures that beset Bill and his families. As the dreamlike opening credit sequence (scored to the Beach Boys' ethereal "God Only Knows") illustrates, Bill is a man on thin ice. He is carrying mortgages on three adjoining homes. A home-improvement store entrepreneur, he has just cut the ribbon on his second store and is planning a third. His wives, not immune to jealousies, vie for dominant position. And then there's Roman (Harry Dean Stanton; and any series that puts this venerable character actor and hipster saint in our homes on a weekly basis deserves our big love), the sinister leader of an outlaw fundamentalist compound, who has an escalating disagreement with Bill over the repayment of his loan that helped Bill build his fledgling empire ("There's man's law," he states ominously, "and there's God's law").

There are further complications that make Big Love so compelling. Bill suspects that his raw-nerved mother (Grace Zabriskie) may be poisoning his father (Bruce Dern). Nicki is a shopaholic accruing nearly $60,000 in credit-card debt. Overtures by new neighbors threaten to expose Bill's unorthodox and illicit living arrangements. The polygamy factor puts a subversive spin on traditional matrimonial melodrama. When Nicki plans her son's disastrous birthday party, her list of "immediate family" tops 150. When Roman, who is Nicki's father, arrives, Bill proclaims he is not welcome in his "homes." As with Rome, Big Love may require a little patience. But this fascinating portrayal of a shadowy subculture, the intelligent writing, and the estimable ensemble will soon make you feel like part of the families. --Donald Liebenson

Product Description

Big Love ~ Season 1

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing New Take On Family Life Dec 14 2006
Big Love is by far the best new series out, bar none. The viewers are subject to a family life outside "the norm" with Bill and his 3 wives. Each wife has her own house and they are all side-by-side while sharing the backyard for the entire family. Sort of a take on what their lives really are like (trying to play a "normal" family in the front, but having their true family hiding in the background). Each actress is amazing as each character and everyone meshes so well together. This is by far the best work of Bill Paxton's career. Bill and Roman's feud is brilliant. There are scenes with Roman that make you just cringe out of disgust. Amazing! I can hardly wait until the second season finally comes out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three into one does go Feb. 18 2008
By Bernie Koenig TOP 100 REVIEWER
This is definitely a fascinating show which almost always works. The acting is superb on all fronts, especially some of the minor characters.

We meet a nice middle class family, with one exception: It is a polygamous family with one husband and three wives, who all live together in a thre ehouse complex.

Wife number one works out schedules with the other wives for on which nights each wife gets to sleep with hubby. There are children with each wife. The children spend time both with their mothers and communally.

Conflicts aruse in two areas. The first is with the old group in the "compound" where Bill comes from. harold Dean Stanton plays a nasty prophet who controls that community and still tries to control Bill. For me this conflict is a bit overdone and takes a way from the main story of how a polygamous family lives in a monogamous world.

In the second area we see real conflict drama of how this group deals with the world around them. These problems arise from silly things like dealing with neighbors and for Bill who owns a very successful business and has to deal with the public.

While Mormons now are primarily monogamous, these fundamentalists still believe in their traditional teachings about polytheism, so in a sense, this show can be generalized to show how any kind of conflict within a belief system can lead to different sects, belief systems, and conflicts.

Certainly a showing worth watching.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Series!! March 4 2010
By M. Wood
This series is definitely worth watching! I have only watched the 1st season, but I will definitely be buying the next season as well. The more episodes you watch, the better it gets!
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT! May 7 2009
This series is excellent. It captures a unique family with it's unique challenges. I recommend this to anyone who is looking for a drama series.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  105 reviews
134 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected pleasure Aug. 8 2006
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
I have to admit that I didn't expect to like this HBO original series, but the intriguing cast of characters and the plotlines drew me in. "Big Love" is the story of Bill Hendrickson and his very extended family, including his three wives and seven children, who have to constantly be on the alert that they will somehow be "outed" by the community at large. This is important not only from a legal standpoint, but from a financial one, since Bill is part-owner with another polygamist in a budding chain of big-box home improvement stores, and thus preserving a stellar public image is important to the success of his business.

Bill grew up on a compound of fundamentalist Mormons that still practice the principle of polygamy, and he was thrown out of the compound and his family when he reached adolescence and became perceived as competition for the affection of young girls who were coming of age. At this point, betrayed by his family and his religion, he turned his back on the teachings of his youth until his first wife Barb became gravely ill.

Jeanne Tripplehorn portrays Barb, Bill's first wife and the sweetheart of his youth. You get the feeling that if he could, Bill would really like to ditch his other two wives and ride off into the sunset with Barb. Barb is a confident and educated woman who is very mindful of her own mortality due to having recovered from uterine cancer several years earlier. She is also very mindful of the fact that she must share Bill with her "sister wives" in order for Bill to abide by his conscience by "living the principle".

Bill's second wife Nicki, portrayed by Chloe Sevigny, is the daughter of compound Prophet Roman Grant. Nicki is very much her father's daughter, calculating her every move, and always playing everyone in the family in order to get her own way. Her many stunts include running up a 58K credit card debt, and when the debt is discovered by Bill, pretending that she slept in a homeless shelter for a night to play the part of discarded wife in order to garner Bill's sympathy. In fact, she had spent the night at a comfy hotel. However, she is also capable of fierce loyalty and courage, going out into the street one night to confront her mentally off-balance brother, Alby, when he shows up in a menacing mood at the Hendrickson household, and also defending Barb against her passive aggressive sister's cutting remarks.

Bill's third wife, Margene, is only 23 years old and is fighting feelings of being somewhat trapped since she already has two infant children and must spend most of her time alone since she cannot risk having anyone know the true nature of her arrangement with Bill. Nicki treats Margene like a personal assistant when she needs her, and like an errant child whenever Margene makes a mistake in judgement. Margene realizes her importance to the family, though, when she discovers Barb's youngest daughter feels guilty for submitting her own mother for mother of the year since she feels that Margene and Nicki are her mothers too and doesn't want them to feel left out.

The main thread winding through this first season, though, is Bill's antagonistic relationship with Prophet Roman Grant, played to perfection by the superb Harry Dean Stanton. Stanton's portrayal of Roman Grant is chilling, as he comes across as part Tony Soprano and part Elmer Gantry. Roman has made a loan to Bill in return for a share in his business. However, Roman is overstepping his bounds and trying to collect revenue on the second of Bill's stores as well as the first. The entire season is about Bill's naive attempts to shed himself of Roman's shadow. Bill can't seem to learn the lesson that when you play hardball with a crazy man, the crazy man returns fire with Napalm. In many ways their season-long struggle seems like a long running Warner Brothers cartoon with Bill's Wile E. Coyote versus Roman's Roadrunner. In the season finale, the Hendrickson family's polygamous lifestyle is revealed to the world in the most unlikely and embarassing of venues. The final scene shows Bill sitting in the backyard, staring at his three houses, and pondering what he may have lost.

Even the supporting roles are intriguing and performed with excellence. There are Bill's completely dysfunctional and bickering parents who would rather see each other dead than happy. Then there is Bill's brother Joey, a recovering addict and former football star, and Joey's wife, Wanda, who is devoted to Joey but has probably watched "Arsenic and Old Lace" one too many times. Finally, there are Bill and Barb's three children, who were not born into polygamy but are trying to find a way to have normal childhoods and also protect the family secret. I truly enjoyed this first season of "Big Love", and I can't wait to see where the second season takes matters.
58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very worthwhile debut season Aug. 4 2006
By Bryant Burnette - Published on Amazon.com
As a big Bill Paxton fan, I was determined to watch "Big Love," and I would not say I was at all disappointed.

The series has been criticized by some for "glorifying" polygamy, but I think some of those critics have missed the point. The show actually takes a very even-handed look at what a polygamist family COULD be like: Paxton's family is far from perfect, but it seems to be held together by the sheer force of his character's love for all three of his wives. Whether or not you think it is practical, feasible, or even moral for one man to genuinely love three women, on this show that's what's going on.

This is balanced by some of the creepier, more cultish aspects of organized polygamy, personified by Harry Dean Stanton in a wonderfully understated villainous turn.

Where the show really shines for me is in the depiction of the extremely complicated relationship Bill's three wives have with each other. They see each other as sisters, as rivals, as friends, as enemies, as servants, as bosses . . . sometimes all within the same scene. These are very deep relationships, and all three of the actresses are very well suited to their roles.

Another fine aspect of the show is the depiction of how difficult it is for this family to keep the fact of their polygamy to themselves, lest they be looked upon as pariahs. It is a difficult task for them, and has great practical and moral implications within their lives, and the lives of their children.

Like most of HBO's original shows, this one works both as terrific entertainment, and as fundamentally sound art TV. Also like most of HBO's shows, this box set is probably a bit more expensive than it ought to be. But the episodes are terrific, and hopefully this will be merely the first season of a long run.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I've Got A Case of Very "Big Like" Sept. 23 2006
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
HBO has crafted another complex, well made show. "Big Love" with it's polygamy background hits DVD as a "hot button" concept show, and as such has achieved the requisite controversy that it was banking on. Well, I'm not particularly shocked and nor will I comment on any political/religious debate. I will review this show as a family drama, which is exactly what it is, albeit with a particularly large and extended family.

The show is extremely successful when dealing with the intricacies of raising three families in the modern world. I particularly enjoyed the details paid to the lifestyles in the home. The juggling, scheduling, jealousies, and secrets are all shown to good effect as the wives attend to the daily logistics of their situation. Home as politics--this is an interesting living arrangement, and one that hasn't been presented dramatically very often before. Throw in kids and in-laws and things can be very messy. But as the wives compete with each other in many regards, they support and love each other as well. The complexity of the relationships in "Big Love" stand as it's greatest achievement.

Some of the other storylines were a bit extravagant. The biggest plot driver involved the polygamist sect that our family had distanced itself from, and yet could not break free of. The power struggle played out here was entertaining, but not always as compelling as normal, everyday life. It was a bit overcooked....while a few lesser storylines were undercooked.

The actors are beyond reproach. Some veterans--Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Kay Place, Bruce Dern and Grace Zabriskie--are all used to good effect. Chloe Sevigny is a delight in perhaps the showiest role. The rest of the cast is solid. But I must make particular mention of Jeanne Tripplehorn. She's been around such a long time, but has never had a better role or performance. It is quiet and understated, but by Season's end--you've come to realize that she's the heart and soul of this family and this show.

I recommend this show as something different and adult. Dramatically, it's a bit inconsistent--but has so much talent behind it, it's definitely worth the time. It has the potential to be GREAT, so I'm looking for season 2. KGHarris, 9/06.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An addictive show! March 11 2007
By Z Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
HBO has made some quality shows, and Big Love is definitely one of them. The show's controversial premise, about a polygamist and his family, is enough to stir up one's interest, and I was hooked on the show from the first episode. The series centers around Bill Hendrickson [played brilliantly by Bill Paxton] a practising polygamist & successful businessman who juggles three wives, numerous children and his career whilst facing various challenges. The first season was very well-plotted: we see the 'harmonious' co-existence of the three families under three different roofs, but all within the same compound, the underlying & often hostilities between the three wives, and the turmoil faced by the children, especially the two eldest.Some have criticised the show as glorifying polygamy, but I feel that this isn't so as through each episode, we get to see how challenging it really is for Bill to balance his three families, and the resources it takes for him to keep them all fed, clothed & happy. The best part of this show for me, the quality that makes it addictive is the interaction between the three wives, how they 'share' their husband [having a weekly meeting to schedule time with him, even sex!], the strengths & flaws of all three of them etc. I can't wait for Season Two!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for monogamous couples Feb. 20 2009
By RaDadIndy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A number of great strengths of this series:

(1) My only wife loves it.

(2) A common premise with the Sopranos -- a family is trying to live a normal, suburban life while dealing with a huge secret that is anything but normal and suburban. Engaging.

(3) Yes, there is swearing. But the Mormon characters take the swearing seriously and even apologize for it.

(4) The Mormonism also gives an edge to issues like teen sex that, unfortunately, are no big deal in most of the broader society.

(5) Spicy but tasteful treatment of other sexual themes.

(6) Engaging stories about how the characters got where they are, and I love that this part is told slowly and without flashbacks.

(7) An overall tone that is not condescending to religion, and at times quite moving.

(8) Neat characters. Good writing.
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