Hart of Dixie: The Complete First Season (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus plays doctors with Rachel Bilson in this new medical drama...
Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) is going to be a cardio-thoracic surgeon, just like her dad. She’s going to be the best in her New York City hospital and she’s going to live her dream exactly as she’s always planned it. (*RECORD SCRATCH*) But when Zoe is told that for a heart surgeon, she has no ‘heart’ to deal with patients as people by her supervisor and he won't put her forward for a surgeons role until she learns some bedside manner, Zoe makes the reluctant move to Bluebell Alabama to work as a small town doctor.
Replacing the deceased Dr. Harley Wilkes, a stranger who offered her the role with reasons yet to be fully discovered, Zoe struggles to fit into small town life but can the warmth of the new community win her over? ( Quicker synopsis overview – Think Doc Hollywood but with more of Rachel Bilson’s legs).
Hart of Dixie is about as twee as medical dramas get. It’s all very safe and predictable, all very typical and has all the elements you’d imagine it would have. Romance, sadness, struggles to fit in, warm hearted people, plenty of up and down relationships, highs and lows and family secrets, it’s all here and it’s all bundled in a fairly bright and breezy package.
Bilson’s lead performance is meant to be that of a fast talking big time New Yorker but despite her cuteness, she often just comes across as a bit mean, with quick witted dialogue that doesn't always feel that sharp. That doesn't make her an unlikable lead, far from it in fact but her helping of the community and gradual change of heart towards the small town can feel a little bit uneven and not as natural as the writers wants us to think it is.
The supporting cast do a good job at creating a mixed bag of characters for Zoe to interact with. Jaime King is a pretty great small town sweetheart with a mean streak, Cress Williams as a famous linebacker in the NFL turned town mayor offers up a different flavour to the show from time to time and the love triangle between Bilson, Wilson Bethal and Scott Poter has its charms too.
Hart of Dixie fits the mold as an easy to watch daytime medical drama. It’s got problems to solve, treatments to hand out and the fish out of water plot that is easy to identify with. It’s a pretty brave move for the ex-O.C. star really, skipping over the 18-25 audience she came from and aiming at a slightly older crowd but it works well for her and offers up a different flavour of Bilson for her fanbase.
Starting in New York, everything is rather stark and cold but it’s all a ploy to make the bright, sunny and warm location of Bluebell Alabama glow with all its small town niceness. Large chunks of the show take place outside in natural sunlight, so the image always has the sun to make it come to life. The transfer is relatively good on this DVD release, providing good detail and modern TV looks but it does have the intentional haze the show seems to have to contend with. It’s nothing too major but the overcooked warmth of the small town can sometimes feel a little too perfect and with its almost dreamlike bright colours and autumnal oranges to create an image of the perfect little town. Of course this makes everyone look beautiful (and this really is a show with its fair share of pretty people) with skintones glowing richly, eyes sparkling throughout and pretty costumes popping off of the screen.
The show also holds up in interior scenes well, which again always come with plenty of lighting to provide that glow again. Even the darker night time settings look good with the blue moonlight being used to create a nocturnal glow most of the time. All in all this is a pretty little show out to depict a perfect little town and while this DVD transfer is a little soft, it does a fine job at selling that illusion.
Being a TV show that’s all about small town life and big hearts, this DVD doesn’t have an audio track that’s out to sell us action and excitement. Instead we get some strong level dialogue all mixed in nicely with the country based soundtrack the show has. Both of these elements work well together and really the biggest dynamic change for them is which part is going to be louder for any given scene? The dialogue when it’s important? Or the music, when we need our heartstrings plucked? It’s a simple approach but the 5.1 Dolby Digital track does enough to sell it to us.
Across the first four discs there's a selection fo deleted scenes, ranging from two to five minutes and a fairly cute gag reel (03:47).
Disc five provides one last batch of deleted scenes (01:47) and 'Straight From the Hart of Dixie', a seventeen minute making of that plays like an EPK but gives a bit of insight into the show. We find out originally this was a show about a lawyer and then it got swapped to a doctor when it hit the pilot stage. Seems a major change. Obviously not.
I won’t lie, it was the pretty faces of female cast that lured me in to watching Hart of Dixie and not much else. Bilson’s cuteness made me want to check out a show, that otherwise I would not have gone near and I have to say it turned out to be a very easy watch. It’s not that slick in the writing department, it plays with its audience in all the usual ways and it’s a show that doesn't really have all that much drive to it but fans of things like Doc Hollywood or even Pixar’s Cars, should get a kick out of the big city go-getter stuck in a small town set up and should be happy with what they get from the experience. The season 1 boxset is a pretty routine but solid affair all round and should brighten up most daytime slots for anyone that likes a warm hearted medical drama.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 8th October 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Rachel Bilson, Jamie King
Length: 0 minutes
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