"Ugly Betty" quickly became one of ABC's biggest hits after its debut season. The series, which is an adaptation of the Colombian series "Betty La Fea", stars America Ferarra as Betty Suarez, a young woman who's kind and pleasant, but who lacks social skills and a fashion sense (and sports braces and glasses), but tries her best and means well.
The first season introduced Betty, who had always been a big fan of high-fashion magazine, Mode. When she was finally interviewed by the owner’s son, Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius) she was quickly dismissed because of her looks. Thankfully, Daniel’s dad was watching from the wings and hired Betty as Daniel’s assistant to keep him focused more on his work and less on his female assistants.
Throughout the series, a slew of characters fill the Mode walls including Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams, vamping it up), who stops at no lengths in her quest to run Mode while marking her territory as one of the series most enjoyable villains. Assistants Amanda (Becki Newton) and Marc (Michael Urie) initially take advantage of Betty and mock her fashion sense, while always trying to stay one step ahead. Thankfully, Betty’s life doesn’t revolve solely around Mode. In fact, her home life helps bring not only the series to life, but also helps give Betty depth and adds to her likeability. In Queens, Betty helps out her father, Ignacio (Tony Plana, great in the role), older sister Hilda (Ana Ortiz) and Hilda's fashion-forward son, Justin (Mark Indelicato).
“Ugly Betty” manages the difficult task of blending a lot of different tones reasonably well. In different hands, the show's leaping between comedy, drama and many other elements could be messy. Great contributing factors are the writing and performances that keeps the characters fresh and far from one-dimensional. Ferarra is engaging and sweet without being too overboard in the lead role. Newton and Urie offer fun and memorable performances as does the rest of the large ensemble cast.
The first three seasons cover a lot of ground as we watch Betty struggle, without ever losing her charm, to do her best and succeed at Mode. It really would be a shame to start with season four without having seen the first three seasons, mainly because so much happens from jobs being overtaken, love triangles, Mode’s fate being juggled by several different players, Betty getting her own place with an unlikely roommate, just to give you an idea. Needless to say, a lot is going on and by the end of season three, Betty is up for a new position at a Mode.
While the series was an instant hit, I find that the later seasons are more focused and more enjoyable. The series does a great job offering consistent laughs and engaging storylines. Season four sees Betty make the ultimate transformation as she makes her way up the Mode success ladder. Still, the reward does not come without some high costs. Betty must fight to keep her position as she tackles new assignments such as photo shoots and promoting new designers. She also tries to maintain some sense of normalcy, despite her high pressure job. Thankfully, her family is there to offer support as they all face new changes of their own. Never fear though, because despite the climb closer to the top, the love interests, the villains and caddy co-workers, Betty does remain forever Betty. As the season/series comes to an end, Betty makes not only a physical transformation (in the episode “Million Dollar Smile,” Betty gets her braces off and dreams of what her life would have been like had she never needed them), but an internal one as well. After reevaluating her career goals she makes a big move and in the process finds the life she was always looking for.
Season four is the final season of “Ugly Betty” and does a nice job wrapping up the character’s lives. Some episodes do feel a tad more rushed, probably due to the fact that the series was trying to leave no strings untied, but this doesn’t affect the overall lasting impression. In fact, it’s nice that they managed to offer an ending that felt fully realized and satisfying.
4-01 16/Oct/09 The Butterfly Effect(1)
4-02 16/Oct/09 The Butterfly Effect(2)
4-03 23/Oct/09 Blue on Blue
4-04 30/Oct/09 The Wiener, The Bun and The Boob
4-05 06/Nov/09 Plus None
4-06 13/Nov/09 Backseat Betty
4-07 27/Nov/09 Level (7) With Me
4-08 04/Dec/09 The Bahamas Triangle
4-09 11/Dec/09 Be-Shure
4-10 06/Jan/10 The Passion of the Betty
4-11 13/Jan/10 Back in Her Place
4-12 20/Jan/10 Blackout!
4-13 03/Feb/10 Chica and the Man
4-14 10/Feb/10 Smokin' Hot
4-15 10/Mar/10 Fire and Nice
4-16 17/Mar/10 All the World's a Stage
4-17 24/Mar/10 Million Dollar Smile
4-18 31/Mar/10 London Calling
4-19 07/Apr/10 The Past Presents the Future
4-20 04/Apr/10 Hello Goodbye
VIDEO: "Ugly Betty" is presented by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is generally very good, with images that remain mostly crisp and clear. The presentation did show a few minor traces of artifacting and shimmer, but the majority of the presentation appeared clean. Colors looked bright and vibrant, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: "Ugly Betty" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show's sound design is reasonably lively for a TV series, with the surrounds kicking in some music and slight ambience. The majority of the audio is spread across the front soundstage, and sounds crisp and clean.
EXTRAS:On Disc One there are two deleted scenes: “Connor Checked Out” and “The Steam Room”. Disc Two includes three deleted scenes, “I’m Available,” “What is Level 5?” and “Breathe.” Disc Three includes two deleted scenes “Elevator Chatter” and “Male Models.” Disc Four includes three deleted scenes “Guy Talk,” “Wedding Planning,” and “Going Too Far.” Fans may enjoy the additional footage as there are certainly some deleted scenes that stand apart and offer some memorable moments.
Disc three includes four “Mode After Hours” webisodes featuring Amanda (Becki Newton) and Marc (Michael Urie) who work incredibly well off of one another. The webisodes included are: “Stress-Orcism,” “Role-Playing,” “Queenseeker,” and “Harassment of a Sexual Nature.” “Mode After Hours” is a fun addition to the DVD set and while only a few minutes each, they do a great job keeping with the tone of the series. “Harrassment of a Sexual Nature” has fun with the fact that they were being observed after hours. Recommended.
Disc four features “Betty Bloops,” a collection of bloopers that runs around seven minutes. The bloopers had some genuinely humorous moments and fans of the series will likely enjoy watching the cast flub lines, make jokes, get distracted and more.
“Betty Goes Bahamas,” follows Urie and Newton in the Bahamas as they go on a hunt for the rest if the cast. We get to see some of the cast swimming with dolphins, making sushi, and relaxing by the beach. “Betty Goes Bahamas” does feel more like filler than some of the other bonus features, however it’s a fun and playful addition that fans may enjoy.
Commentary for the episode “All the World’s a Stage” is included here with Actors Michael Urie and Mark Indelicato. Off the bat, the two offer a great deal of information about the characters on the show and themselves. The conversation moves at a decent pace with a few moments of silence where the two seem to be focused on the show. Still, what’s great about the commentary is the fact that the information never feels prompted, but rather like two friends having a conversation. One thing they note is how the day that they’re recording the commentary is the same day they’ll be filming their last scene on the Mode set. Fans will definitely appreciate the commentary. Recommended.
Sneak Peeks: “You Again,” “Castle: The Complete Second Season,” “Desperate Housewives: The Complete Sixth Season,” “Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Sixth Season,” “Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Fourth Season,” “Private Practice: The Complete Third Season,” and an ad for ABC.
Final Thoughts: The final season of “Ugly Betty” does a very nice job of wrapping up the characters in what is a satisfying ending to a memorable show. With great performances and witty writing, “Ugly Betty” season four is recommended for fans.