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Genius Products presents
The Business: Season One (2006)

"Of course it's about the money. Because we don't have much of it."
- Julia (Kathleen Robertson)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: September 06, 2007

Stars: Kathleen Robertson, Rob de Leeuw
Other Stars: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Trevor Hayes, Ellen David, Arthur Holden, Kaela Bahrey, Nobuya Shimamoto, Karen Cliche, Matt Silver, Neil Napier, Clive Walton
Director: Phil Price

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity)
Run Time: 03h:33m:00s
Release Date: July 17, 2007
UPC: 796019803243
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B-B- C+

DVD Review

The Business is an Independent Film Channel series that on first glance looks like a variation on The Office, what with the shaky doc-like camera work at times and the cast of wacky characters.

Instead of a paper company, the setting here is Vic's Flicks, a low rent production company attempting to make an even lower budgeted horror movie, run by sleazy producer Vic Morgan (Rob de Leeuw), whose claim to fame was his series of Girls Gone Wild-inspired Drunk Chicks videos. In an effort to clean up his image and appear "legit", Morgan is trying to convert to Judaism and now insists on being called Morganstein. He recruits Julia (Kathleen Robertson), a former IFC producer, to helm the new project and that's the jumping off point for writer/director Phil Price over the course of the eight 22-minute episodes on this season one collection.

This is actually a continuation of sorts of Price's IFC mini-series The Festival, which followed arty indie director Rufus Marquez (Nicolas Wright) and his pretentious unseen film The Unreasonable Truth About Butterflies. Wright's Rufus returns in The Business to direct the new horror title for de Leeuw's Morganstein, as does his talentless lead Lance (James A. Woods) and jive marketing director Tony (Trevor Hayes), as well as plenty of references back to The Unreasonable Truth About Butterflies. Rounding out the oddball cast of characters is a busty porn star (Karen Cliche), a drunken Japanese investor (Nobuya Shimamoto), an uptight intern (Matt Silver), a receptionist with healthy-but-tasteless baking skills (Ellen David) and worldly wise 13-year-old (Kaela Bahrey), all of whom follow an assortment of quirky storylines that all intersect as Vic's Flicks begs and borrows to get their film made.

I haven't done a formal study, but I believe The Business is the only television series to have used the words "t*ts", "Jew" and "circumcision" as part of its opening theme song, and aside from being funny it manages to offer up a quick synopsis of the key points of Morganstein's life. From a narrative standpoint, Price treats this as one long saga broken up into eight parts, with a continuing story arc beginning with the hiring of Julia on through the final day of filming, with subplots centering on things like investment money, the temperamental director or a controversial nude scene. Most of the humor is very accessible—with characters intersecting in funny, awkward angles, all helped by the improv-styled delivery—but there are plenty of industry-tinged jokes that should appeal to those a bit more versed in the indie culture, though none of them are make-or-break to enjoying the merits of the series.

Giving this an edge over its base similarities to The Office, there's no filter on language or nudity here, so dialogue flows with a coarse, natural feel and though nudity is minimal, it is used freely when necessary. Morganstein is a strangely likeable lout—foul-mouthed and more than a bit sexist ("I haven't had a boner since Y2K")—but driven to get a film made. This leaves Julia to be the logical yang to Morganstein's ying, yet still prone to a nice expletive-filled burst of dialogue. There's a terrific f-bomb rant from director Rufus that would have seemed much less vitriolic had this been a standard network program, and it makes the payoff to the bit even funnier.

An eight episode season comes off a little short to perhaps properly play out the storyline, so things seem to wrap up a little to quickly after setting a slightly slower pace during the first four segments. The personalities do mesh well together, even with their vast, sometimes one-note differences, and the actors (especially de Leeuw, Robertson and Wright) lend the right amount of improv cadence to their dialogue. The previews included for season two appear to fundamentally change the dynamic of the series, and whether that will work as well as the appealing indie nature of this first season may either signal an evolution or the end of The Business. Either way, this block has some very funny moments, an identifiable story arc for movie nerds, and a nice density of slightly off characters.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: All eight installments are presented in nonanamorphic widescreen. A fair amount of shimmer in some of the early episodes, but overall fairly strong colors and a generally clean set of prints throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in Dolby Stereo and given the semi-fake-doc feel of the series the simple mix falls within a tolerable range. No issues with voice clarity, though there's not much here that makes this particularly noteworthy aside from the richness heard during the opening theme song.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 40 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Henry Rollins Show, The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman
1 TV Spots/Teasers
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Extras on this set consist of a pair of IFC promos on disc one, and over on disc two there's a gag reel dubbed The Business Gagisode (14m:40s), a making-of entitled The Business Behind The Business (13m:07s) where director/writer Phil Price gives the series history—including its origin as The Festival—intermixed with interviews and behind-the-scenes footages, while emphasizing how "no one was afraid to look stupid". Also included on disc two are two promos for The Business (one for the DVD set, one for the upcoming season two).

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Here's an entertaining under-the-radar series that borrows a little from the concept of The Office in telling the story of a low-budget indie film production. Plenty of swearing and the occasional bared breast play alongside some funny situations and a loose improv-style delivery by the cast.

Well worth a rental.


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