I have a love/hate relationship with reality television especially programming centered around celebrities. Sometimes against my better instincts, however, I have found myself caught up in the shenanigans of Gene Simmons and his clan in A&E's "Family Jewels." Through the seasons, the episodes have certainly been uneven but these guys (Gene, longtime partner Shannon, and their kids Nick and Sophie) are uncommonly smart and witty contrasted to some of their comparable counterparts. As the show hit its sixth season, though, it seemed like we were in need of new drama. "Family Jewels" expertly blends real moments with staged scenarios to maximize entertainment value, and that's part of its charm. You can never take it too seriously, it's as if you're in on the joke. But with the kids at college (their reduced participation definitely affects the show negatively, darn that education), Season Six took on the mother of subjects. Should Gene and Shannon finally part ways or should he, after all these years, make an honest woman of her? The cynic in me calls this a scripted plot progression, but the romantic just wants to go with the flow. Either way, it's a big development.
Instead of releasing Season Six in its entirety, however, the episodes were split into two DVD sets. Usually when a company does this, it is so they can get episodes out earlier while a season is still airing. But in this case, both these sets were released on the same day. I'm not sure why A&E didn't just opt for a full season.
Part One: In terms of episodes for value paid, this is definitely the better deal. This contains the first nine episodes of the season on two discs:
(1) Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, (2) KISS Your family Goodbye, (3) You Always Hurt The Ones You Love, (4) Blood Is Thicker Than Hummus, (5) The Demon Does The Holy Land, (6) The Demon Salutes, (7) Mr. Tweed Goes To Canada, (8) The Kids Are Not Alright, and (9) Belize It Or Not.
Although there wasn't a very organic feel to many of these episodes, the show took us around the world with excursions to Belize and Israel for a change of pace. In addition to these nine episodes, however, a third disc boasts previously unreleased episodes:
(1) Face Your Demons, (2) What Happens In Vegas, (3) Gene's Handicap, (4) God of Thunder, (5) Three's A Crowd, (6) My Fair Lady, (7) Keeping Up With The Demons, and (8) Scaredy Cat. That's just shy of 9 hours worth of programming on this set.
Part Two: Arguably the episodes that most will really want, however, are those leading up to the wedding. So the content on this two disc set has fewer episodes but deal almost exclusively with the nuptials:
(1) The Answer, (2) Tracy The Wedding Planner, (3) Till Death Do Us Part, (4) Our Life Passes Before Us, (5) Sleeping With The Boss, (6) Wedding Boot Camp, (7) The Demon Says I Do? and (8) Post Wedding Special.
If you love "Family Jewels," this was perhaps its most vital year. I wish the DVD release wasn't broken up but each has its selling point. Part One has a ton of episodes while Part Two includes the big day! KGHarris, 6/12.