DVDs in Review #73 - Big Love: The Complete First Season

Category: , , By Rev/Views

"Think having three wives is a dream come true?
Think again."

I've always enjoyed Bill Paxton's work on screen, he's an actor who I've felt has had leading man qualities but never quite broke through as one. In addition to his genuine screen talent he's also the one man who's been killed by a Predator, an Alien and a Terminator - sort of the Science Fiction triumvirate there. So his name along with the fact that Big Love is from HBO was enough to put the show on my radar and when Zavvi/Head dropped the price down to a meager £6.74 for the entire first season I figured that it would be crazy to not pull the trigger and give the show a go - if I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't be much out of pocket.

Big Love is about Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) who is a practicing polygamist with three wives and seven children. The family consists of himself, his first wife Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), second Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) and his third Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin). The series deals with the trials and pressures of being a polygamist family in America, pressures which come from both inside the family unit and without - especially the fear of being discovered as polygamists. Bill's a successful hardware store owner who has just opened his second building, but the "Prophet" of his ex-commune (and father-in-law) Roman (Harry Dean Stanton) owns a stake in his business and is unwilling to lose his grip on it despite Bill's desire to distance him from the past.

Big Love is a very soapy drama which has a lot in common with Desperate Housewives in it's style, but instead of following the lives of a series of neighbours we instead follow the lives of three families which have the additional perk of being one family as well. The three wives all adore their husband and Bill functions as the head of the family but there is also a hierarchy between the three (based on order of marriage) - Barb is the most competent of the three wives, working and managing the households effectively, Nicki is one of Roman's daughters and has a severe problem with debt and Margene is the youngest at 23 and is still getting to grips with her life. The three families live in neighbouring houses, which is a rather effective and brilliant move on Bill's part - allowing them to remain close without rousing too much suspicion, but of course this is a very expensive way to live.

The other cast members of significance are Don (Joel McKinnon Miller) fellow polygamist, employee and confidant of Bill's, Bill's two eldest children Ben (Douglas Smith) and Sarah (Amanda Seyfried) and Bill's father Frank (Bruce Dern) and mother Lois (Grace Zabriskie). Ben and Sarah both have lives and problems of their own, while Frank and Lois's own problems threaten to engulf Bill's already complicated life at times.

Big Love is a show which has suffered it's fair share of controversy, it's an uncomfortable subject matter for many people, polygamy is something which is unusual and often looked down on by society. But if you're able to get past the strangeness of this fictional family's situation there is a fun and unique drama beating at the heart of it all. In many ways Big Love is a show which challenges your perception on what consists in a 'normal life' and gives you an insight into a way of life you may never have encountered before.

It's an interesting series, something which is an enjoyable show to watch - while it didn't grip me as tightly as some other drama shows I've watched in the past it did evoke the style of Six Feet Under and Desperate Housewives, both of which are highly competent and enjoyable shows in their own right. And Ginnifer Goodwin is just adorable.

Two Audio Commentaries with Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin
Big Love: A Balancing Act - the making of the opening title sequence.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Rating: 15
Region: 2
Runtime: 613 mins approx
Soundtrack: English, French
Subtitles: English, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Castillian Spanish, Swedish


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