|DVD Review: Family Business: The Complete First Season
by Ryan Arthur
That woman has three people living in her torso!
I think I'm getting to be obsessed with TV DVD box sets. Stuff I've missed, stuff I want for my personal collection (still waiting on Fraggle Rock, Henson family!), stuff I just want to see just for the sake of having seen it...I don't get to see a lot of the idiot box these days. But hey, if nothing else, I got inspired: with the recent review at HBS/eFC of the porn mockumentary Full Frontal, the feature article on pornography availability in video stores, as well as the crackdown on obscenity by the FCC, it seemed like it'd be as good a time as any to take a look at Showtime's porn-related "reality" series Family Business. Season Two is currently airing on Showtime here in the U.S., and Season One (which we'll be looking at) recently was released on DVD. If reality television is the peanut butter, and porn is the chocolate, are these the two great tastes that taste great together?
Ten first season episodes over three discs
Special features on disc three
4:3 full screen video
Dolby Digital 5.1 sound
Gatefold cardboard digipack
Episodes 1-4: "Personal Ads," "Reunion," "Casa de Butts" and "Sex Toys"
Episodes 5-8: "Strictly BiznASS," "Seymore's Other ASSets" (featuring "Jay And Tony Show Comedy Commentary"), "ASSistant" and "Las VegASS"
Episodes 9-10: "I Want To Be An Adult Film Star" and "Roller Disco Boogie"
"Mother Knows Best: Lila Speaks Her Mind"
Theme song: "A Different Kind Of Love" performed by Wonderlick
"Butt Stevie: Cousin Stevie's native tongue"
"Behind the Butts: A Biographical Family Tree"
Season 2 Preview
Meet Adam Glasser. You probably wouldn't think much about Adam if you met him on the street, and but chances are, you'd be surprised by what he does for a living. Most people do. Adam Glasser works in the adult film industry, and goes by the "nom de porn" of Seymore Butts. This is a look at his life and business.
Adam seems to be a nice Jewish guy with a six-year-old son named Brady, whom he dotes on. Adam is joined by his mother Lila and his cousin Stevie, both of whom work for him in the "family business:" Adam directs, produces, shoots (in the hand-held, off-the-cuff "gonzo" style), "writes" (ha!) and sometimes acts in his productions. Lila's the bookkeeper, and Stevie works as Adam's grunt man, gopher, and go-to guy, helping wherever needed. There are ten episodes from season one
Disc One: Personal Ads features the first introduction to the group, and follows Adam on a handful of blind dates and deals with Adam's desire to get back into the dating game with someone who's not in the porn industry, which is where most of his relationships lie (there's no mention of Brady's mom, neither seen nor heard from in season one, who is apparently porn star Taylor Hayes). Two dates end badly: Adam reveals his chosen profession to one, who promptly shuts him down. Another seems a little incredulous, and ends up tagging along to the editing room, which pretty much causes her to lose interest in the whole affair. Another woman ends up back at Adam's, where he presumably ends the drought. Reunion mainly deals with Adam's 20 year reunion, where some recognize him (and what he does), and some don't, but most seem to be at least accepting of it, and more than one of his former colleagues are impressed or even a little envious. Casa de Butts examines one of what is no doubt many porn shoots at Adam's home (and it goes without saying that Brady is not there, and his room is off limits to the performers and crew). There's also the introduction to first-timer Chase, who constantly asks to be included in Adam's movies and finally gets his wish...then can't...um, finish. Sex Toys, not surprisingly, deals with the business decision to get the Seymore Butts brand name involved in the burgeoning adult novelty industry.
Disc Two: Strictly BiznASS is a day in the life of Adam, both at work and spending time with Brady. He attends a poker game with cousin Stevie and Stevie's unkempt friends (Adam, oddly enough, is something of a neat-freak and a germophobe), and they end up in the audience for porn star Hershel Savage's attempt at stand-up comedy. Hershel's probably a better porn star, but it's interesting to see these people out of their element. Seymore's Other ASSets deals with Adam's extracurricular (yet still porn-related) activities: he judges a stripping event; speaks at a Learning Annex sexuality seminar; appears on the Tera Patrick internet show and attempts to shoot an amateur video for a couple that wants a more professional feel to their home movies. This episode also features "Jay And Tony Show Comedy Commentary" from the show creators Jay Blumenfield and Anthony Marsh. It's not as comedic as you'd think, although there are occasionally little nuggets of insight. ASSistant is where the reality show aspects become more obviously scripted. Adam's office assistant Myrna decides she wants to get into the business. Adam feigns ignorance and disbelief, but let's face it: the girl's a hottie, and she was never mentioned in the six previous episodes. They go through the process of her first photo shoot and appearance in a video, a masturbation scene shot in Adam's Escalade in the parking lot of a restaurant. The whole thing reeks of setup. Which isn't to say it's not entertaining. Las VegASS highlights Adam and Stevie's trip to the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. Stevie ends up at the Bondage Expo, while Adam ends up fawning over and chasing after porn starlet Jesse Jane. Again, it comes across as (badly) staged.
Disc Three: I Want To Be An Adult Film Star deals with a friend of Adam's family who wants to get involved in the industry. She attends both a low budget shoot and spends an evening on the town (with Stevie!) while Adam spends time with his son. Adam eventually takes her to a higher-budgeted production that features Jesse (which seems to be as much for his benefit as for his guest's) and has Hershel talk to her to try to convince her that porn isn't for her. This while getting the feeling that he'd gladly break her into the business. The season finale, Roller Disco Boogie, is about Stevie's 60th birthday. Stevie hates birthday parties, though he's still surprised and touched when Lila and Adam throw a surprise party for him...at a skating rink. With nudity. Yep. The roller rink just got cool again. Adam makes an appearance on Playboy radio, while Stevie ends up filming a scene for one of Adam's movies.
Family Business is presented in 4:3 full screen video. The whole series is a little over a year old, so given as recent as it all is, everything is pretty sharp and clear. Overall, it's an excellent transfer as far as TV shows transferred to DVD go. The bumpers between scenes are taken from Seymore Butts videos, so the quality is occasionally a little blurry there, but that's due to the "gonzo" nature of his preferred shooting style.
Dialogue heavy, so it's mostly center channel.
All are found on Disc Three.
Mother Knows Best: Lila Speaks Her Mind: Interviews with Lila and Adam, talking about how Adam got started in the business, and Lila's responses to it (she's never seen one of his videos, apparently). Runs just under four minutes.
Deleted Scenes: Slightly over eighteen minutes of outtakes dealing with Adam pointing out Chase's (ahem) shortcomings, Lila ending up at an adult novelty party (it's like Tupperware...with vibrators!), an extended scene from Casa De Butts featuring Stevie getting his lapdance, additional extended footage from Stevie at the Bondage Ball (involving a woman with soccer ball-sized implants), Stevie's conversation with a cabbie in Las Vegas where he tries to pay in porn after forgetting his wallet. Finesse is not Stevie's strong point.
Theme Song: A Different Kind Of Love: by the band Wonderlick. Creators Jay Blumenfield and Anthony Marsh wrote the song. Wonderlick is Blumenfield's band. Shameless pluggery abounds. The video is all footage from the series. A little under three minutes.
Weblink to Showtime.com
Butt Stevie: Cousin Stevie's Native Tongue: A montage of Stevie's use of colorful metaphors (as expected, there's liberal usage of the word "fuck") and some of his more memorable moments. Ninety-one rapid-fire seconds.
Behind The Butts: Your basic behind the scenes look at Adam's operation. There's a quick tour of the modestly sparse offices, plus the stories of how Lila and Stevie came on board. Adam also briefly explains the process of the business (from his eyes). A shade over six minutes.
Season 2 Preview: Just what the name implies. Hmm...yeast infections, another trip to Vegas, Stevie renews his vows, rampant nudity. Not quite three minutes.
Family Interviews: Adam & Cousin Stevie: Lots of sex talk from Adam about first times and whatnot. Stevie talks about his job and the business. A little less than eight minutes.
Well, some will obviously be completely turned off by the subject matter in Family Business, which sanitizes (if not glorifies, to a certain extent) the porn business for the average viewer, although Seymore Butts seems to be a lot less seedy than some of the other "gonzo" directors (um, so I've heard). He's into anal, but he's also apparently pro-condom, frequently shown with the talent, explaining what will happen and what he's looking for, and he's making an effort to make sure everyone's comfortable. I would call into question some of the "reality" of this particular series, as some scenes do come across as staged, so don't go looking for a "live, this is how it happened" sorta feel, because some of it just rings hollow. However, it's a pretty interesting look at a guy who's trying to juggle his high-profile professional life with his personal life. The dating stuff in the early episodes plays like a sitcom (it's like the episode of Three's Company where there's a big misunderstanding!) and there are times that Stevie seems to be coached into doing something stupid. I don't doubt the guy's love for his kid, though; that's genuine. But that's not why people will tune in or buy the DVD, now is it? The inside peek at the porn business is the selling point, and for the most part, it's a pretty amusing look at a guy in the ultimate "can you believe I do this for a living?" kind of job.
* * * * out of * * * * *
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originally posted: 03/23/04 14:40:02
last updated: 04/18/04 11:56:08