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Paramount Studios presents

The Real World You Never Saw: Back To New York (2001)

Rachel: Did you have sex in the Hamptons?
Coral: Did you have sex in the Hamptons?
Rachel: Did you have sex in the Hamptons?
Coral: Did you have sex in the Hamptons?
- Coral, Rachel

Stars: Coral Smith, Kevin Dunn, Lori Trespicio, Malik Stevenson, Mike Nicole, Rachel Braband
Director: Russell Heldt, Michelle Millard

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, sex-related dialogue, blurred nudity)
Run Time: 00h:50m:33s
Release Date: 2001-12-04
Genre: documentary

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


DVD Review

Remember when MTV played nothing but videos? Gosh that was great, but sadly all things must pass and the network that once stood for Music TeleVision has begun to focus more on original programs. The popularity of shows including The Real World and Road Rules started this trend in the early 1990s and has helped MTV create a fan base that rivals that of many on the major networks.

Since its creation in 1992, The Real World has spread like wildfire across the American culture. Not only does it continually rank amongst the top shows on MTV, but news of the latest city to host the show is often a major news story. From San Francisco in 1994 to Chicago in 2002, the show has evolved from merely a voyeuristic peek into the lives of a group of twentysomethings to the inspiration for copycat shows including CBS's Big Brother. And, as if any more proof were needed of the phenomenon that is The Real World, my university recently added a course dedicated to the show to its spring calendar.

The latest season brings the show full circle, with Kevin, Malik, Lori, Mike, Coral, Rachel, and Nicole as the latest inhabitants, in the city where it all began: New York. From an amazing three-story apartment (complete with décor that would make Liberace jealous), to a high-end job at Arista records, this group of seven strangers certainly led a charmed life for their six-month stay in the Big Apple.

Now comes The Real World You Never Saw: Back To New York, a fifty-minute look at segments that failed to air during the show's tenth season. More a collection of general clips than anything too explicit for MTV, this documentary will undoubtedly disappoint those looking for censored material, but for fans of the show this is a great companion.

From moments that include Mike's fictional wrestling character, "The Miz", to skinny-dipping in the Hamptons, The Real World You Never Saw: Back To New York is consistently entertaining. The cast seems to have great chemistry together (weird, considering so much of the season focused on their not getting along), and scenes of crew members getting in the way or falling down while following the cast on a busy street are very humorous. If there is a flaw in this documentary, it is that while the packaging boasts moments that MTV could not allow to be seen during broadcasts, there is little here that pushes the boundaries of television censorship. Only a sequence in the Hamptons late in the program offers anything in the way of boundary-pushing television, but nudity is blurred and cursing is bleeped, leaving this no worse than anything one can see on NYPD Blue.

The success of The Real World has always been due to the fact that a group of seven strangers in a house together will no doubt yield great entertainment, and the latest season, set in New York, proves this statement to be true. While the cast ranges from likeable (Kevin) to borderline annoying (Mike), there is something about this show that, like a car wreck, makes it impossible not to watch.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, The Real World You Never Saw: Back To New York looks fine, though several scenes feature a soft haze that lessens the quality. Sharpness and detail are hampered by the previously mentioned softness, but in some sequences they are perfect. Colors are vibrant and crisp, and the lush purples and blues of the house are recreated perfectly. The softness aside, this is a fine transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: A Dolby Surround 2.0 is the only audio format offered, and aside from a few moments of surround activity, this is largely a dialogue-heavy mix. Surround speakers are used to bring out the musical side of the soundtrack, and ambient noises and sound effects (such as heavy applause in Chapter 2) are at times audible. Dialogue is crisp and clean, while the left and right speakers do only a fair job in blending with the rest of the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
6 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A small handful of extra features (though more than can often be found on Paramount's discs) are included. The most significant extra is a house tour hosted by Mike and Coral which, while painful at times due to the chemistry between the two (as well as Mike's repeated use of the word "Phat"), is a nice look at the beautiful apartment inhabited by the seven. Next up is Haunts, a five-section piece that focuses on several New York landmarks that the group routinely hung out at.

Finally, Cast Bios are offered that offer a look at audition tapes by each of the cast members.

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

As I write this, the eleventh season is underway in my beloved Chicago (perhaps our beloved editor is the new Puck?), and I am waiting in anticipation. Though I often claim to watch MTV only to catch the newest video by Incubus, it is just a cover up to mask my fixation on The Real World. With that confession, you would think The Real World You Never Saw: Back To New York would be right up my alley, but there is not enough in the short fifty-minute length to convince me that it is worthwhile. Recommended for fans, but for casual viewers this is one to pass up.

Kevin Clemons 2001-12-05