Since her big break in the Disney film “Camp Rock” (starring teen sensations The Jonas Brothers) Demi Lovato has been on the Disney fast track with a lead role in “The Princess Protection Agency” (co-staring another Disney star, Selena Gomez) and now her new series, “Sonny With a Chance”. “Sonny With a Chance” is often bright and over the top - or to put it simply, cotton candy TV. Still, there’s something about “Sonny” that remains refreshing and a bit more endearing.
As with most Disney series, Sonny is a likeable character with big heart and great determination. She may have some minor flaws, but its nothing that can’t be cured in a matter of thirty minutes. Sonny was just an average girl living in Wisconsin when she won a chance to star in a sketch comedy show for teens called “So Random!”. Eager and adorably enthusiastic, Sonny arrives on set ready and willing to give it her all. Unfortunately, not everyone in the cast is happy to see her - the cast is mostly made up of teenage performers wanting to be the star of a show and not share the spotlight.
There are only four episodes of “Sonny” on the “Sonny With a Chance: Sonny’s Big Break, Volume 1” release. This is common for Disney releases of their hit series. The DVD does include the first three episodes (as well as the fifth) of the series. While it's disappointing that a full season set wasn't released, this set of episodes is otherwise a decent sampler. The first episode, “Sketchy Beginnings”, begins with Sonny Munroe and her mother, Connie (Nancy McKeon, “Facts of Life”) arriving on the set of “So Random!”. Sonny meets her fellow cast members, Zora (Allisyn Ashley Arm), Nico (Brandon Smith), Grady (Doug Brochu) and Tawni (Tiffany Thornton). As quickly as she meets the cast members, she starts to see that not everyone is as excited about her arrival as she is, especially Tawni - who’s used to getting all of the attention. Sonny doesn’t listen to Tawni’s warning to stay out of the spotlight, and brings suggestions to the table that the producer Marshall (Michael Kostroff) and the other cast members love.
In “West Coast Story” , Sonny meets the star of “Mackenzie Falls”, Chad Dylan Cooper (Sterling Knight). However, since “So Random!” and “Mackenzie Falls” have a rivalry, she and Chad can’t be friends, unless of course Sonny can find a way to mend fences. In “Cheater Girls”, Sonny has to do well on a math test in order to stay on “So Random!”, but the only problem is she’s not very good at the subject. The final episode on the DVD is “Sonny at the Falls” in which Sonny’s idea for a sketch is rejected by the rest of the cast. After the rejection, Sonny starts hanging out with their rival “Mackenzie Falls”. In the bonus features, there is also an extra episode from later in the season.
“Sonny With a Chance” offers high-energy, amusing performances and the way the series combines bits from their sketch show within the actual show works reasonably well. It’s a nice balance between friendships/relationships between the characters and goofy behind-the-scenes moments, as well as the actual sketches they’ve been working on. Even some of the sketches are pretty inspired, considering the target age group. The cast are an entertaining collection of young performers and Demi Lovato is charming as Sonny.
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: Crisp, clear stereo soundtrack.
“Backstage Disney: Demi’s audition tape” - This is Demi Lovato’s audition for the role of Sonny with clips from the show throughout.
“Bonus Episode: Sonny in the Middle” Nico and Grady get in a fight over a gift from Sonny. They start ignoring each other and start vying for Sonny’s attention instead. Sonny becomes exhausted trying to divide her time between them both and has to find a way to mend their friendship.
“Bonus Short: Mackenzie Falls Season Finale Cliffhanger” a seven minute short.
Also included on the DVD are two promotional bonuses - “Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray is Suite - Disney file digital copy” this is basically a promotional look at Disney Blu-ray with Dylan & Cole Sprouse from “The Suite Life On Deck”. And “Your Favorite Movies on the Go” with a look at Disney Digital Copy.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
“Friends for Change”
“Princess Protection Program”
“The Princess and the Frog”
Disney Movie Rewards
“Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie”
“Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure”
Final Thoughts: Cute, sweet and charming, "Sonny With a Chance" is another fine Disney effort, with star Demi Lovato's performance standing out as the highlight. The DVD set provides fine audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras. Recommended for fans.