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Undeclared’ DVD perfect for college

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Few things in life are more terrifying than going to college as a freshman. The sudden reversal of roles, from being a senior back to a lowly freshman, is a shock. Not to mention the fact that many people are now asking those all important questions, such as what are the goals in life, the perfect job or at least, what is the intended major.

For those who can relate, the perfect television series has arrived on DVD.

The complete series of “Undeclared” is now available to purchase, and for many college students, there is no better DVD to own. Created by Judd Apatow, the creator of the critically acclaimed series “Freaks and Geeks,” the almost equally acclaimed and short-lived series “Undeclared” appeals to those who want to go to college for the social atmosphere and leave that pesky major undecided until later.

As if it is not already obvious, the show centers on an incoming group of freshman. They live in a co-ed dorm, so the cast is a group of males and females who are in almost constant contact. They are a diverse lot, filling almost every college stereotype.

There is the sarcastic drinker, the handsome British guy who attracts girls using his accent, the insecure freshman who has panic attacks and the list goes on and on. However, they are presented in such a light that they don’t feel like the tired, contrived stereotypes they really are. Its a tribute to Apatow that he manages to work with such material, and still mangage to keep it engaging without crossing into recycled territory. The show constantly manages to remain fresh and innovative to the viewers.

Part of this is due to the fact that each of the characters is a fully developed individual about whom the viewer grows to care as the season progresses. The progression of the individuals feels natural. It is an evolution of character that mirrors many instances found in the early years in college. The neurotic freshman becomes more stable with her new life, growing to accept her surroundings with the help of her friends.

The show is near perfect, a trait that does not carry over to DVD. The video is fairly standard, with the noticeable graininess that accompanies too many television shows. It looks as if it were being run from the local airwaves and not a technologically superior DVD. The sound is fortunately as good as could be expected, so the overall experience is enjoyable.

The DVD was released through Shout! Factory, a production house known for its quality DVD transfers. The four disks that make up the release are packaged with a nice presentation. The actual features on the disk themselves are quite good as well, featuring a commentary for each of the 17 episodes.

There are some features that show how the actors were hired on the disk, with the addition of “Auditions” and “Rehearsals.” Those two additions show some preliminary instances of the characters that the show would have, as the director hired actors who could create decent characters, instead of hiring specific actors to fit a particular role.

The “Museum of Television & Radio Q&A” feature is good as well, running over an hour. It centers on the cast, crew and director as they discuss the show. Apatow keeps the conversation going and lively, with an honesty that is refreshing and welcome change of pace on any DVD.

“Undeclared” has a place in the collection of any college student. Its wit and relative humor can help cast a new light on those times during the college stay when things get too serious.