An expansion of the world of the 1999 teen film, "10 Things I Hate About You" is a sitcom version that manages to both try to expand the material and to update it for the trends that have occurred ten years after the movie - we get a facebook reference within the first few minutes of the pilot episode.
The series once again focuses on the Stratford sisters - Bianca (Meaghan Jette Martin) and Kat (Lindsey Shaw). While Bianca is pretty and popular, Kat is a smart activist who wants to stand out. However, as she finds out when she crashes her "dinosaur" of a car into the head cheerleader's Mini Cooper ("I just wanted to 'Jurassic Park' it here."), she finds out that things aren't so easy: the principal explains that the head cheerleader needs to be kept happy if the school wants to get the funding.
Meanwhile, Cameron (Nicholas Braun) spots Bianca from afar and instantly falls for her. Additionally, as in the movie, Kat is initially repulsed by Patrick Verona (Ethan Peck), only to find out that he's not so bad once the two get to know each other better.
I was rather skeptical of the film being successfully expanded to a full-length series, but the series actually pulls it off pretty well. While Shaw may not be as good an actress as Julia Stiles was in the original film, the Kat character here - as presented - feels more realistic, as does Braun's somewhat dorky portrayal of Cameron. Martin creates a similar Bianca, delivering a character that's dim and shallow and yet, sweet and somewhat sympathetic. Larry Miller returns as the father of the two girls and manages to crack a few good one-liners in every episode.
As for the one-liners, the show's scripts are not going to win any awards (although maybe Teen Choice Awards?), but I was surprised at the show's dialogue, as some of the snippy cracks the characters send at one another are genuinely amusing and sometimes a touch meaner (in a good, fun way) than I'd expect from a program like this. The characters are also tweaked a bit more towards realism than the film, especially Shaw's edgier take on Kat.
I'm not sure how many seasons can be mined out of the material, but - at least for the first season - I found this series to be a pleasant surprise.
1. 7 Jul 09 Pilot
2. 14 Jul 09 I Want You to Want Me
3. 21 Jul 09 Won't Get Fooled Again
4. 28 Jul 09 Don't Give a Damn About My Bad Reputation
5. 4 Aug 09 Don't Give Up
6. 11 Aug 09 You Can't Always Get What You Want
7. 18 Aug 09 Light My Fire
8. 25 Aug 09 Dance Little Sister
9. 1 Sep 09 Fight for Your Right
10. 8 Sep 09 Don't Leave Me This Way
VIDEO: Disney presents these episodes of "10 Things" in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality remained consistently first-rate, with pleasing sharpness and detail throughout much of the running time. While a few minor instances of pixelation were spotted, no edge enhancement or other concerns were seen. The show's color palette looked spot-on, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: Not a whole lot is required of the show's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. Surrounds occasionally offer sound effects and ambience, but the majority of the audio comes from the front speakers. Audio quality remained first rate, with crisp dialogue, effects and score.
EXTRAS: director Gil Junger, the writer and members of the cast offer an audio commentary for the pilot episode. The group has a good time chatting about the episode, pointing out some amusing details about the episode (the high school used in the series was the one used in "The Craft" and "Heathers".) There's a few gaps of silence, but otherwise, this is an amusing (Larry Miller gets in a few good riffs) and generally informative track. The other half of the main cast are joined by the exec producer and writer for "Light My Fire".
Also offered is the pilot episode of "Make It or Break It", bloopers, a "Backstage Pass" featurette and "10 Things I Hate Vs. Ten Things I Love" featurette (the cast answers questions about their own "10" lists).
Final Thoughts:I'm not sure how many seasons can be mined out of the material, but - at least for the first season - I found "10 Things" to be a pleasant surprise. The DVD offers very nice audio/video quality, as well as a few fun extras.