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Many successful television shows have had “spin-offs”. But it’s rare that the “spin-off” show is just as or even more popular than the original show. It happened with Frasier, which few people remember is actually a “spin-off” of Cheers. Never has a “reality TV spin-off” show been as popular, though. That is until The Hills debuted on MTV. Now The Hills is a teenage phenomenon.
The Hills follows the breakout star of MTV’s other innovative and hugely popular reality series, Laguna Beach, Lauren Conrad. Lauren moved to Los Angeles after graduating high school to attend fashion school and eventually got an intership with Teen Vogue magazine. She initially got an apartment with her friend Heidi. However, since then they have ended their friendship because Lauren didn’t like the guy, Spencer, Heidi was dating. Lauren quickly made new friends with Audrina, who Heidi actually knew first, and Whitney from Teen Vogue. As far as Lauren’s love life goes, she finally learned that Jason is not the guy for her and is now trying to stay out of the relationships of her friends.
Once season three arrived, Audrina had became Lauren’s new roommate which pretty much ended Audrina’s friendship with Heidi as well. Lauren and Heidi continued to fight and eventually stopped talking all together, because of Spencer. Meanwhile, Spencer and Heidi have become engaged but are experiencing friction among themselves over their wedding plans. Spencer’s sister, Stephanie, is even introduced during this season to help fluff up that storyline. On the other side of the fence, Lauren spends this season with lots of old boyfriends like Jason and Steven from the Laguna Beach days and Brody Jenner, Spencer’s best friend. This is while Audrina starts dating the cliche bad boy Justin, an uncouth fellow she seems determined to force a commitment from despite him wanting nothing to do with a serious relationship. This eventually even forces a wedge between the friendship of Audrina and Lauren, but thankfully Lauren’s “real” best friend from Laguna Beach, Lo, returns to help her out. In addition to all of that, everyone seems to be advancing in their work careers, except for Spencer who never works! Just more of a look into the lives of rich kids in Hollywood.
What made Laguna Beach was so interesting at first was because it had an unique format. That was one of the first reality shows where the cast members NEVER talked to the camera directly. It was almost voyeuristic in nature. Lauren still narrates the entire show, though, which should give you a clue that this is the season where The Hills made the transition from “reality” to “scripted” television. Too many times during this season, it’s obvious that certain situations are set up and managed to get exactly the stories and reactions that the producers think will make for great dramatic television. There are too many “chance” encounters this season between enemies at restaurants and clubs in the Los Angeles area which always lead to confrontations. There is plenty of dining and nighttime entertainment options in Los Angeles, and there is no reason that everyone who hates each other can end up in the same place at the same time unless they were told to be there for the show. In addition, even some of the conversations sound out of sync. It’s almost like some of the “serious” talks and arguments have been recorded in a studio somewhere else and then dubbed into the show.
The Hills is without a doubt a guilty pleasure for many people. It’s probably the most successful and popular MTV show ever. But during the third season The Hills stopped being “reality” television and started being “scipted” television with “real” people replacing actors. In fact, you have to give The Hills some credit for basically creating “non-competition/scripted reality” television. That is something that many people thought wasn’t possible, but leave it to MTV and beautiful rich young kids living in Los Angeles to make it possible.
Episode 1 – You Know What You Did – The third season premieres with Lauren and Heidi still unable to get past their differences and having become mortal enemies. Meanwhile, Whitney has graduated from college and is now juggling a real job and Audrina has become Lauren’s new roommate and best friend.
Episode 2 – Big Girls Don’t Cry – Lauren returns to Laguna Beach for some advice. Meanwhile, Audrina and her new boyfriend get serious with their relationship and Spencer proposes to Heidi.
Episode 3 – Truth and Time Tells – Audrina invites Lauren out to dinner to get to know Justin better. Lauren is not impressed by him. Audrina talks to Justin and decides to give their relationship time. Spencer surprises Heidi by buying two arcade games for the apartment. Later, she surprises him by painting over the mural in the living room.
Episode 4 – Meet the Parents – Spencer and Heidi go away for the weekend to meet Heidi’s parents, causing Spencer to flake on his and Brody’s barbeque. Lauren, Audrina, Lo, and Justin Bobby attend. Justin Bobby flirts with other girls and leaves Audrina at the party, and Lauren finally realizes that she and Heidi will never be friends again.
Episode 5 – Rolling with the Enemy – Just when everyone believes that Justin Bobby is finally history, Audrina decides to rekindle the relationship, much to Lauren and Lo’s surprise.
Episode 6 – Second Chances – Lauren is still wondering who could be the guy for her when suddenly Jason gives her a call and wants to catch up.
Episode 7 – They Meet Again – Heidi tries to fit into her new job. Meanwhile Lauren has to decide if she will give Jason another chance.
Episode 8 – For Better Or Worse – Spencer and Heidi’s wedding date gets closer, but will he tell his family before he steps into church? The Teen Vogue event gives Whitney and Lauren a lot of work, while Jason tries to start over with a new girl and a new place.
Episode 9 – What Happens In Vegas… – Brody celebrates his 24th birthday in Las Vegas. They stay for the weekend at the Palms Hotel. Lauren and the girls show up and surprise him there. Meanwhile it’s Heidi’s anniversary with Spencer and there is an event at work.
Episode 10 – What Goes Around… – When Jen wants to be friends again with Lauren, the dark past starts to haunt everyone. And not everyone likes the past revealed.
Episode 11 – No More Mr Nice Guy – Lauren goes out with one of the male models from a photo shoot, leaving Brody to question everything that has developed in the past weeks.
Episode 12 – Stress And The City – Whitney and Lauren are sent to New York to present their ideas about the big fashion show. Meanwhile Franky tries to fix Brody’s and Spencer’s friendship.
Episode 13 – Young Hollywood – The Young Hollywood party finally happens and Whitney is in charge. Heidi celebrates her 21th birthday with Spencer. And Audrina might have a new admirer.
Episode 14 – Forgive and Forget – Lauren and Whitney have to cover an event for Teen Vogue, where Lauren runs into Heidi and of course they fight again. Later on Heidi tries to make up to Lauren, but Lauren turns her down. Meanwhile Audrina and Justin still struggle in their undefined relationship.
Episode 15 – With This Ring… – Heidi and Spencer constantly fight about how they should get married. Will they find a solution? Meanwhile Whitney has found a guy that asks her out on a date.
Episode 16 – A Night At The Opera – Lauren and Audrina find out that Spencer has a sister. She also pays Spencer and Heidi a visit. When Lauren and Audrina hang out with Brody, they not only run into Spencer’s sister, but also run into Justin – with another girl.
Episode 17 – Once A Player… – Stephanie tells Spencer that Heidi might bail out of the wedding, so Spencer and Heidi fight once again. Lauren and Audrina both have a date.
Episode 18 – When One Door Closes… – Broken hearts as far as the eyes reaches: Heidi and Spencer can’t agree on their wedding plans while Brody and Lauren both refuse to make the first step.
Episode 19 – Paris Changes Everything – Lauren and Whitney arrive in Paris where they are about to cover the “Crillon Ball” for Teen Vogue Magazine.
Episode 20 – Back To LA – After their week in Paris, Lauren and Whitney are back home and have to deal with what happened. Will Whitney be able to follow her dream and change her career? And how will Lauren’s love life progress?
Episode 21 – An Unlikely Friend – Tension arises when Stephanie Pratt and Lauren find themselves in the same class at Fashion School. Meanwhile Whitney tries to impress her new boss in New York.
Episode 22 – When Spencer Finds Out… – It’s Lauren’s birthday and for some guests an appearance at her party could mean a lot of trouble. Also from whom will Lauren receive a birthday kiss?
Episode 23 – Just Be Careful… – After the much talked about birthday party Lauren had, everyone is talking about Lauren’s friendship with Stephanie. Audrina is approached by someone unexpected, much to someone else’s discomfort.
Episode 24 – Girls Night Out – Lauren is surprised by a job offer she receives. Meanwhile Heidi enjoys a night out with her friends, until she spots Spencer and things end up in a fight.
Episode 25 – A New Roommate – Lauren and Lo are looking into the real estate market as they plan to buy a house. Meanwhile, Audrina reconsiders her situation as a single woman. Heidi makes an attempt to speak to Lauren again.
Episode 26 – A Date With The Past – The girls go out to find a new home. When they find one, the guest list for the housewarming party is subject to more than just one fight.
Episode 27 – No Place Like Home – While Lo and Lauren enjoy living at the house, Audrina feels more and more left out. Meanwhile Stephanie thinks it’s time to get rid of Spencer and Heidi prepares her next step in her career.
Episode 28 – The Next Move Is Yours – Lauren tries to uphold her friendship with Audrina, but is it already too late? Meanwhile Spencer tries to win Heidi back and risks her career to do so.
The video is given in anamorphic widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is good, and the colors are strong. However, the video quality is not consistent throughout the entire season. Sharpness varies from episode to episode. Overall no major problems, though.
The audio included is English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. There are no options for subtitles, but they are given when the background music in some scenes is too loud to hear what everyone is saying. No major problems here either.
Audio Commentaries – There are two audio commentaries, but not for the entire season nor for just select episodes of the season. The producers have decided to put together montages of memorable sequences from the season and let the girls comment. The first commentary lasts 26 minutes and it features Audrina, Whitney, and Lauren. They talk together about what they are seeing. The second commentary features just Heidi as she talks about various sequences for 11 minutes. Fairly interesting to hear what they have to say, but could have been better if the producers didn’t handpick which scenes they wanted the girls to comment on.
Cast Interviews – Lauren, Heidi, Audrina, and Whitney are all interviewed about the events of this season. This is basically a summary of the entire season through each of their eyes. All together this totals 38 minutes. Again interesting to hear if you are a hardcore fan of the series, but some of this stuff overlaps a little bit with the audio commentaries, though.
Deleted Scenes – There are 24 deleted scenes that total 40 minutes. Here you actually get to see some “real” scenes that didn’t fit into the main storylines the producers wanted to tell in the actual episodes.
“Virtual Hills” – This is a 2 minute tutorial for the website, where you can create your own character that can interact with other fans who have created their own little world with the cyber characters from the show. Super fans will want to do this for sure.
“Fashion: The Life” – This is the complete 8 segment MTV fashion designer “mini-series” that originally appeared in between commercials of various episodes of The Hills. This lasts 46 minutes all together. This is “fast-forward” material, but if you missed and it want to check this out it is here.
The Hills is the top-rated show for women between the ages of 12 and 34 everywhere. This is perhaps the juiciest and most dramatic season of the show to date, thanks largely to the fact the show has now become “scripted”. So fans of the show will no doubt want to buy this season, especially with some quality extras. If you haven’t seen the show, you might as well rent this season since this is the direction this series is going. If you absolutely hate “reality” television, you probably won’t like this show. However, it basically created and falls under its own category of television so that is interesting to see for sure and worth a rental of at least one disc.
Paramount/MTV Home Entertainment presents The Hills – Season 3. Created by Adam Divello. Starring Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag, Audrina Patridge, and Whitney Port. Running time: 570 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: July 29, 2008.
Available at Amazon.com