Darren Star (creator of “Beverly Hills, 90210”, “Melrose Place” and “Sex in the City“)’s WB sitcom “Grosse Pointe” seemed like it was a perfect fit for the network - a series that poked fun at “90210”-esque dramas by presenting a look “behind-the-scenes” at all the drama behind-the-scenes of a fictional dramatic series. Despite some hype around the fact that Star was involved, the series never quite took off, ending after a run of 17 episodes. Maybe it was ahead of its time, or maybe the WB simply wasn't able to give the show the promotion it deserved. Maybe audiences weren't ready for a satire of teen dramas yet.
Whatever the reason, the series at least had a good concept: we watch as the sitcom “Grosse Pointe” being filmed and go behind-the-scenes to watch the cast trying to deal with furthering their own careers and dealing with the personalities of their castmates. The series-within-a-series, which is a mash-up of Big Emotional Moments, plot twists and innuendo, is a horrendous piece of work, but it’s only halfway funny because it’s not biting in its badness as much as being truly bad and more than a little obvious in its take on these sort of shows. “Grosse Pointe” has some very funny moments when it goes backstage, but one wishes it would be a little harder on its targets and be more along the lines of something like (and this is certainly not a comparison) the wickedly dark Hollywood sitcom “Action”, which pushed the envelope (and then some) in its portrayal of the Hollywood scene (although who knows if anything like "Action" will ever make it to prime-time again?)
While all the performances are satisfactory, the show’s best effort is from Lindsay Sloane, an actress who I’ve enjoyed in small parts in films like “Can’t Hardly Wait”. Playing Marcy (the "best friend") Sloane manages an utterly perfect portrayal of an insecure actress, turning the character into a lovably neurotic mess, visibly cracking a bit inside whenever she doesn’t find acceptance or feels that her role on the show is threatened. Bonnie Sommerville’s also pretty amusing as the “naïve” new addition to the show. The other delight is Irene Malloy, the show’s good girl who happens to be a manipulative, shoplifting diva off the set. Finally, Al Santos does a pretty good imitation of “90210”-era Jason Priestley.
Overall, I liked this series after warming up to it, largely due to the fact that there’s a few standout performances by the cast. I still think that the series could have used more edge, but there’s still some funny moments to be found here.
1. “Pilot“: The appearance of a new cast member creates suspicion and intrigue on the set of “Grosse Pointe”.
2. “Thieves Like Us”: Hunter enlists Marcy in a conspiracy to get Courtney fired.
3. “Prelude to a Kiss”: An onscreen kiss between Courtney and Quentin has Hunter fuming. Meanwhile, Marcy’s idea to use a party to get Johnny spins out of control.
4. “Devil in a Blue Dress”: The chance at a part in an Oliver Stone movie prompts Hunter to start gaining weight.
5. “Halloween”: After a nasty on-set accident, Marcy decides to stop going after Johnny and look for a new possible boyfriend.
6. “Mommy Dearest”: Hunter gets her alcoholic mom a part on the show and quickly begins to regret it.
7. “Sleeping With the Enemy”: Hunter uses the premiere of Johnny’s new movie to undermine Quentin’s romance with her mom.
8. “Satisfaction”: A new exec producer causes problems with an explicit “Grosse Pointe” script.
9. “Boys on the Side”: Courtney’s boyfriend comes to L.A. for a visit, while Johnny doesn’t want to date the teen winner of a fan contest.
10. “Puppet Master”: While Hunter’s ex-boyfriend is hired to direct the series, he falls for Courtney. Quentin tries to help Rob rebound after a failed relationship.
11. “Star Wars”: Marcy gets a restraining order against Quentin and a guest star goes after Marcy.
12. “Bare Naked in America”: Courtney is stunned when a popular men’s mag publishes her nude photos. Dave’s efforts to woo Marcy are misinterpreted by Hunter.
13. “Secrets and Lies”: Hunter agrees to an affair with Dave, and a new boyfriend prompts Marcy to embrace her Jewish heritage.
14. “End of the Affair”: Dave tries to break up with Marcy, while Rob has second thoughts about dating guest star Kristin Davis.
15. “Opposite of Sex”: An arrest sends Quentin to a sex addict’s meeting where he meets Jason Priestley, a ratings problem jeopardizes Marcy’s future on the show and Johnny tries to sell the idea of a pinball machine based on the show.
16. “Passion Fish”: After convincing Sarah Michelle Gellar to appear on the show, Marcy is lead to believe that she’s interested in her. Quentin accidentally hits an old woman with his car and becomes a hero after saving her.
17. “My Best Friend’s Wedding”: After Hunter’s surprise engagement to Dweezil Zappa, Marcy has just two days to plan the wedding.
VIDEO: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents “Grosse Pointe” in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show’s original aspect ratio. Unfortunately for fans who have been waiting eagerly for the series, video quality is just okay. Sharpness and detail were lacking, as while brighter, outdoor scenes could look somewhat crisper, the majority of the show looked noticeably soft. No edge enhancement was present, but noise and some occasional instances of artifacting are seen. Colors usually appear bright and nicely saturated, but they look smeary at times, especially in dimly-lit sequences.
SOUND: The show’s stereo soundtrack delivered clear dialogue and bassy tunes.
EXTRAS: Extras include an interview with creator Darren Star and commentaries from Darren Star and exec producer/writer Robin Schiff on a few episodes. Surprisingly, the commentaries are rather lackluster,as Star goes long periods without any information. When he does talk, we do get some good information on working with the cast, the development of the series and the inspiration.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I liked this series after warming up to it, largely due to the fact that there’s a few standout performances by the cast. I still think that the series could have used more edge, but there’s still some funny moments to be found here. The DVD offers fair audio/video quality and a few extras. Recommended for fans of teen dramas, who likely missed the show during its run.