I've never understood the appeal of "Laguna Beach" (and I'm really only a little bit older than the show's target audience) - it's a bunch of rich kids and their minor issues - make-ups, break-ups, fashion worries and just about every other possible teen crisis pops up at some point during the episodes. However, the kids have more money than they know what to do with, and am I really supposed to care when one goes into crisis mode when they can't find the best outfit for tonight's party?
"The Hills", which is a "spin-off" of "Laguna", is a step in the right direction. The series, which follows "Beach" star Lauren "L.C." Conrad, actually has characters that do something. This time, Conrad has moved to Beverly Hills in order to secure (read: be given by MTV, who I'm sure set it up) an internship at Teen Vogue. Joined by wilder pal Heidi and friends Audrina and Whitney, the girls try to make it after all. There's certainly a few obstacles along the way though, like Heidi finding out that work requires, well, work.
The second season of "The Hills" saw the further separation of main girls Heidi and Lauren, who begin to go their separate ways. Heidi gets dragged towards the dark side by incredibly sleezy boyfriend Spencer (who has a line for every single situation he gets himself into) and when she begins to betray Lauren (Heidi pushes Lauren's new boyfriend together with her BFF Jen), things quickly turn sour. However, what makes the epic catfight so much fun is that it's not the two yelling and clawing at each other, but a series of double-crosses, backstabbing and manipulations behind each other's backs. It's damn near Shakespearian. Or something.
Despite everyone telling Heidi that he was cheating on her and hitting on other women while they're together, Heidi still gets dragged down, leading to a war between the two where the claws come out. The series is all the better for the battle: while Heidi is deeply manipulative (and did I mention annoying?), Lauren is smart (well, in comparison) and is no pushover.
The third season of the show sees the complete deterioration of the former friendship between Heidi and Lauren (the two reportedly wouldn't even film scenes together) and, just for kicks, Lauren eventually turns her glare towards Audrina, who really...didn't do anything. Older than the others and seemingly nervous about her place in the group, Audrina goes from looking as if she's about to have an accident out of fear to, towards the end of the season, appearing as if she's had enough of dealing with the drama.
The season opens with Lauren furious about rumors that Heidi and Spencer have reportedly spread about her and her ex-boyfriend, which quickly results in nightclub yelling match that only deepens the rift between the two. While Heidi attempts to make up mid-season, Lauren can only respond with, "I'm going to forgive you, but I'm also going to forget you." Meanwhile, Lauren and Whitney's careers take center stage throughout stretches of the season, as the two head to both New York City and Paris for work and work behind-the-scenes at Teen Vogue parties in LA.
Spencer and Heidi spend the first half of the season growing closer than ever, but when Spencer decides to take things much further, it results in the relationship gradually falling apart as both seem to begin to have second thoughts. The season finale sees Heidi forced to make a choice, and while the show may or may not be scripted to some extent, the choice that she makes at the end of the season is a pretty poor example. One of the more amusing episodes with the two involve Spencer and Heidi traveling to Colorado to meet her parents, who very clearly aren't exactly overjoyed with Spencer.
"The Hills" remains more compelling than "Laguna" thanks to the fact that there's simply more going on as the main characters have to try to move forward in their lives, balance work and a social life and make choices. In terms of production quality, "The Hills" sees some upgrades over "Laguna", with much improved cinematography and a sleeker overall feel that gives the show energy and a dynamic feel. The third (and longest, as apparently the popularity of the show has warranted the extension) season of the series is, once again, an enjoyable guilty pleasure.
The Hills: Season 3
25. 3- 1 13 Aug 07 You Know What You Did
26. 3- 2 13 Aug 07 Big Girls Don't Cry
27. 3- 3 20 Aug 07 Truth and Time Tells All
28. 3- 4 27 Aug 07 Meet the Parents
29. 3- 5 3 Sep 07 Rolling with the Enemy
30. 3- 6 10 Sep 07 Second Chances
31. 3- 7 17 Sep 07 They Meet Again
32. 3- 8 24 Sep 07 For Better Or Worse
33. 3- 9 1 Oct 07 What Happens In Vegas...
35. 3-11 15 Oct 07 What Goes Around...
36. 3-12 22 Oct 07 No More Mr Nice Guy
37. 3-13 29 Oct 07 Stress And The City
38. 3-14 5 Nov 07 Young Hollywood
39. 3-15 12 Nov 07 Forgive and Forget
40. 3-16 19 Nov 07 With This Ring...
41. 3-17 26 Nov 07 A Night At The Opera
42. 3-18 3 Dec 07 Once A Player...
45. 3-21 10 Dec 07 When One Door Closes ...
47. 3-23 24 Mar 08 Paris Changes Everything
48. 3-24 31 Mar 08 Back To LA
49. 3-25 31 Mar 08 An Unlikely Friend
50. 3-26 7 Apr 08 When Spencer Finds Out...
51. 3-27 7 Apr 08 Just Be Careful...
52. 3-28 14 Apr 08 Girls Night Out
53. 3-29 21 Apr 08 A New Roommate
54. 3-30 28 Apr 08 A Date With The Past
55. 3-31 5 May 08 No Place Like Home
57. 3-33 12 May 08 The Next Move Is Yours
VIDEO: "The Hills" is presented by Paramount in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality was largely very good, as images looked crisp and clear throughout much of the program, aside from a few soft moments here-and-there. Some slight edge enhancement and artifacting was seen, but the majority of the program looked clean and clear. Colors looked rich and bold, with no concerns.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack remains crisp and clear throughout, with bassy music and well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: The menu design (check out the episode selection especially) look like they were done by the same people who designed the menus for the "Lost" DVDs. All the extras are on the last disc, starting with a series of about 40 minutes of deleted scenes, the most entertaining of which is a set of three scenes that has allergic Audrina taking Lauren's (pet) cat without telling her and taking it to get shaved. While Lauren looks horrified, the cat actually looks rather pleased. We also get interviews with all four girls that go into detail about various aspects of the season. The four also provide about 40 minutes worth of commentary over a compilation of scenes from the season, although it's no surprise that Heidi comments by herself, while the other three are together. Finally, we get a "Virtual Hills" promo and eight "Fashion Life" promos.
Final Thoughts: "The Hills" is one of MTV's better reality efforts and the series becomes more of a guilty pleasure in the second season as the ridiculous power plays between the characters and powerfully awkward moments between frenemies makes for very amusing TV. The DVD presentation offers good audio/video quality and a solid selection of supplements. Recommended for fans.