First, let’s talk about the show itself. I vaguely remember Grounded for Life being on the air, and I’m pretty sure I caught a couple of episodes but never really got into it. The premise is simple enough: An Irish catholic couple (Donal Logue and Megyn Price) living in New York with their three kids (Lynsey Bartilson, Griffin Frazen, and Jake Burbage) spend each episode recounting their latest misadventure through a series of flashbacks. The father’s (Sean) brother (Kevin Corrigan) and father (Richard Riehle) are also regular characters – spending so much time at the house, the audience might come to believe they live there too.
The use of flashbacks as a narrative device is at least a fresh approach to an exceedingly average sit-com. It’s a technique that has since been perfected by shows like How I Met Your Mother. Unfortunatley, if you’ve seen one family sit-com, then there’s nothing much new to expect from Grounded For Life. The two parents desperately cling to their youths, while trying to balance being their childrens’ friends, role models, and authority figures. Their teenage daughter, Lily (Bartilson) embodies every teenage cliché you can think of with her two favorite catch phrases: “You’ve ruined my life!” and simply shrieking and storming out of the scene. We even have the off-beat, quirky, “Chandler” character with Eddie (Corrigan).
The characters are at least consistent. Mostly. Sean, Claudia, Lily, and Eddie all seem fairly cemented in what they bring to the table in each episode, while Jimmy, Henry, and Walt are like props, who change to facilitate whatever situation the episode is working with. This isn’t necessarily a criticism. The character’s don’t shift so much that it loses all believability, and as far as props go, those kids and Richard Riehle pay off really well, but it felt necessary to bring up.
Now, I feel pressed to discuss this DVD release. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst DVD releases I’ve ever seen. Everything about it screams Bootleg quality. Don’t get me wrong, the DVDs themselves are fine – good picture quality and various special features, but they come in a flimsy box that was falling apart when I received it. After opening it, one of the clips broke off, and a plastic flap inside was bent over and ready to snap. This could just be a bad box that I received, but the design of the set is also faulty. The DVDs come in a stack clipped into the side of the box, each wrapped in an individual paper sleeve. Just getting a DVD out of the set causes inevitable wear to these sleeves and the clips holding them in. It’s really disappointing.
Special Features include interviews, bloopers, and never before seen episodes.
Available on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment on September 18.