The Disney Channel's biggest hit in years is this fluffy bit of wish fufillment starring Miley Cyrus (daughter of singer Billy Ray, who also stars) as Miley Stewart, a teenager who moves out to California from Tennessee to become a pop star. By day, she's an average student who lives a normal life with friends and homework. At night, she's Hannah Montana, a pop star who sells out huge concerts and looks oddly like a younger version of Hilary Duff.
The episodes are often centered around Miley and her friends - Oliver Oken (Mitchel Musso) and Lilly Truscott (Emily Osment) - getting into adventures or Miley - at least initially - trying to keep her pop star identity a secret. The series doesn't exactly look slick, even for a cable series (the school sets look like they were taken from "Saved by the Bell"), but the show offers some fun plots and energetic performances (Billy Ray Cyrus is entertaining as Hannah/Miley's father/manager and Jason Earles is decent as the stereotypical annoying brother character.)
The first season of the series sees the character tackling some of the troubles that come with fame, such as the first episode, where Hannah/Miley finds out that Lilly has just gotten tickets to the sold out Hannah Montana show that night. While Lilly's thrilled beyond belief, Hannah knows that the idea of going to the show with her pal and performing on-stage isn't going to be so easy.
The series does a reasonably good job taking a simple, straightforward concept and not only making it charming, but managing to come up with enough places to go with it. Some of the better episodes of this first season are: "Lilly, Do You Want to Know a Secret?" (Lilly makes her way backstage at the Hannah Montana concert, only to get a surprise she didn't expect), "She's a Super Sneak" (Miley and her friends try to sneak into a movie premiere), "Mascot Love" (Miley and Lilly decide to try out for cheerleading to have more time to hang out, but Miley ends up being the mascot instead), "O Say, Can You Remember the Words?" (Miley gets upset with Oliver because of a case of stage fright, but then she finds out what it's like herself), "Oops! I Meddled Again" (Lilly and Miley set Oliver up with a Hannah fan, but wind up regretting it), "New Kid In School" (after star Jake Ryan gets all the attention in school, Miley thinks about telling everyone her secret) and "Smells Like Teen Sellout" (Hannah endorses a new perfume, but hates the scent.)
After releasing a series of "Best Of"s, it's nice to see Disney finally put out season sets, starting with this release of the full first season.
1. 1- 1 24 Mar 06 Lilly, Do You Want to Know a Secret?
2. 1- 2 31 Mar 06 Miley Get Your Gum
3. 1- 3 7 Apr 06 She's A Super Sneak
4. 1- 4 14 Apr 06 I Can't Make You Love Hannah If You Don't
5. 1- 5 21 Apr 06 It's My Party, And I'll Lie If I Want To
6. 1- 6 28 Apr 06 Grandmas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Play Favorites
7. 1- 7 12 May 06 It's a Mannequin's World
8. 1- 8 26 May 06 Mascot Love
9. 1- 9 10 Jun 06 Ooh, Ooo, Itchy Woman
10. 1-10 30 Jun 06 O Say, Can You Remember the Words?
11. 1-11 15 Jul 06 Oops! I Meddled Again
12. 1-12 28 Jul 06 On the Road Again
13. 1-13 12 Aug 06 You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Zit Is About You
14. 1-14 18 Aug 06 New Kid In School
15. 1-15 8 Sep 06 More Than a Zombie To Me
16. 1-16 29 Sep 06 Good Golly, Miss Dolly
17. 1-17 14 Oct 06 Torn Between Two Hannahs
18. 1-18 3 Nov 06 People Who Use People
19. 1-19 26 Nov 06 Money for Nothing, Guilt for Free
20. 1-20 1 Dec 06 Debt it Be
21. 1-21 1 Jan 07 My Boyfriend's Jackson and There's Gonna be Trouble
22. 1-22 7 Jan 07 We Are Family: Now Get Me Some Water!
23. 1-23 19 Jan 07 Schooly Bully
24. 1-24 9 Feb 07 The Idol Side of Me
25. 1-25 2 Mar 07 Smells Like Teen Sellout
26. 1-26 30 Mar 07 Bad Moose Rising
VIDEO: The series is presented by Disney in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. The series looks bright, crisp and colorful on this DVD presentation, which is likely similar to how the show looks when broadcast. Aside from some minor shimmer, the picture appeared crisp and clean. Colors are bright, well-saturated and clean, with no smearing.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation offers crisp, clear music, dialogue and effects, but certainly doesn't put the surrounds to much use.
EXTRAS: "Back Home Again With Miley" is a short featurette that sees Miley and Billy Ray strolling around the Cyrus family ranch. We also get the first episode of the 2008 Disney Channel games, which offers a performance by Miley Cyrus. We also get some selected episodes that offer "Hannah Highlights" - which are essentially Miley Cyrus talking a few times for the episode in a pop-up box.
Final Thoughts: After a series of "best ofs", fans should be pleased with this first full season set of "Hannah Montana", which provides all season 1 episodes, as well as a few minor extras. Recommended for fans.