Swingtown: The First Season (2008)

Genre(s): Drama
Paramount || NR - 547 minutes - $40.99 || December 9, 2008
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-01-05


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Mike Kelley (created by)
Cast: Molly Parker, Jack Davenport, Grant Show, Lana Parrilla, Josh Hopkins, Miriam Shor, Shanna Collins, Aaron Christian Howles, Brittany Robertson, Michael Rady


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Episode Commentaries
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Stereo)
  • Subtitles: None

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.::THE FILM::.

At first when I heard about “Swingtown”, I thought it was about a town that swings. Not going to lie. Okay, I lied. I knew it was about couples that swap with each other for fun. Apparently that’s fun? No idea, I wasn’t alive in the 70’s. I sat here trying to write this paragraph for an hour and that was the best I could come up with for a funny quip. So be happy. Moving on to “Swingtown”.

Alright, so the show is set in the 70’s where the neighborhood is a little less normal than usual. Maybe this was normal back in the day though, or at least it is in this Chicago area. Bruce (Jack Davenport) and Susan (Molly Parker) have moved to the area with their two children Laurie (Shanna Collins) and B.J. (Aaron Christian Howles). Despite the fact that B.J. is an incredibly annoying child who finds dirty magazines and Laurie is a sexually precocious teenager who skinny dips and is dating a much older man, the parents seem to notice anything wrong with it.

Their neighbors Tom (Grant Show) and Trina (Lana Parrilla) invite them to a party along with the others in the area, including Roger (Josh Hopkins) and Janet (Miriam Shor). Bruce and Susan already have problems though. The couple also has some sort of sexual issues as apparently Bruce is a little quick trigger in bed. So how do you clear that up? You wife swap with neighbor couples and take a few pills, which somehow makes the sex better with your husband.

Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to me either. But according to Trina, couple swapping with people you know isn’t considered cheating, since you know the people. So even though you’re married, you can still have sex with other couples as long as you know them. Under this logic I never actually cheated on anyone then. Go me!

The show is easy to follow, but the main issue lies with actually caring about the characters. It took until about episode ten until I actually began to develop with the cast and wonder what was going to happen. It moves at such a slow pace that viewers will find it hard to be interested for the entire season. The plot takes a while to develop, which is a huge problem for a new television show. Characters are also pretty poorly designed as well, as you are thrust into the episodes without a lot of detail.

Another startling issue is how this even made it onto network. The first episode has an orgy and several fairly suggestive scenes in it. Even though the DVD isn’t rated, it makes me wonder how some of this stuff got past the censors.

“Swingtown” isn’t a terrible show, but it’s not one that’s easy to get into. The twists and turns are predictable and most are fairly mundane. The finale is also a bit of a letdown as well, since there’s no indication of when or if a second season for sure is going happen.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Disc 1:
Deleted Scenes (8 minutes): A handful of scenes from each episode that didn’t make it into the movie. There’s nothing of value here, as most are fairly short.

Episode 1 Commentary with Mike Kelley and Alan Poul: The creator and one of the directors talk about the pilot episode of the show. It’s a track that is insightful for fans of the show, but the two have a rather dull voice.

Disc 4:
Deleted Scene (19 seconds): Not sure why they didn’t just throw this into the episode, since it’s so short.

Episode 13 Commentary with Mike Kelley and Alan Poul: Once again, the creator and one of the directors talk about the finale of the show.

The Spirit of ’76: The Making of Swingtown (23 minutes): Your standard “making-of” feature. The cast and crew talk about how the show came about among other things.

Have a Nice Revolution: Sex & Morality in 1970’s America (13 minutes): A look back at the 70’s and what influences it had on the show.

Gag Reel (4 minutes): The cast flubs lines or invents new things to say in different scenes.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Presented in 1.78 widescreen screen ratio, "Swingtown" looks exactly like a 70’s television show. The colors appear drowned out, and rarely are they vibrant or colorful in any sense. Flesh tones tend to be lighter than they should be, and contrast is off in a few of the episodes. Whether this was intended or not (to give the television show a more “older” feel) the show looks just fine for a television release, just nothing special.

On the audio scale, the same holds true yet again for a DVD show. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track rarely uses the surrounds or the sub throughout the entire season. While levels are normal for most of the season, there are several areas where it falls short when characters are speaking. Just like the video, this is just an average track.



.::OVERALL::.

“Swingtown” isn’t your normal television show, and to some that may be a good thing. It’s a refreshing look at the 70’s, whether this sort of stuff happened or not, but it takes more than half the season to get hooked on it. The special features are rather tacky and pointless, with the audio and video technical side of the show rather average. Swing over and rent this, as there isn’t a lot here that warrants a purchase. This is one town to watch, just don’t spend too much on it.