Feature 9.0
Video 8.8
Audio 8.7
Special Features 8.0
Total 8.8
Distributor: Roadshow Home Entertainment
Running Time:
420 minutes
Classification:
MA15+
Reviewer:
Andrew B

8.8


Shameless (Series 1)

The critically acclaimed and brilliantly funny drama from award-winning writer Paul Abbott features the Chatsworth Estate's Gallaghers, probably the UK's most dysfunctional family that finally arrives on DVD! 

Shameless Series One is probably one of the most unappreciated television shows on Australian TV and when a colleague of mine mentioned that I should watch this show, I just scoffed and went back to commercial TV. What a mistake that was! If only I turned to SBS and got hooked on the Gallaghers, I wouldn’t be in this predicament at the moment.  

As mentioned earlier, Shameless is created by writer Paul Abbott, one of the most innovative writers of British TV whose series focuses on a Manchurian family that become involved in a myriad of anecdotes that include sexual exploitation, cons, boredom and every other issue to affect poor socioeconomic housing estates.  

The patriarch of the family is Frank, a single-father who suffers from unemployment, gambling and an addiction with alcohol who gets involved in all sorts of trouble and considers himself the leader of gang of motley thugs. Fortunately for Frank, his eldest daughter Fiona, holds the family together with her pseudo-maturity and she tries to juggle playing mother and figuring out how where her life has gone wrong. 

There's also Phillip (or Lip), the eldest brother in the family who exchanges fellatio with the next door neighbours daughter in lieu for doing her homework. Ian, the second youngest in the family happens to have a relationship with a Pakistani shopkeeper who is also married. Carl, the no hoper slob of the family is dominated by boredom and mischief with Debbie, the youngest daughter in Gallaghers can’t do wrong to anyone. Last but not least is Liam, the baby of the family who is rarely seen but mostly heard and to make matters worse, add in carefree neighbours Kevin and Veronica to help spice things up for this Manchurian family that is a train wreck waiting to happen.  

Apart from the amusing and sometimes disturbing storylines, the series contains some brilliant characterisation that is helped by grade "A" British acting by Anne-Marie Duff (Fiona) and David Threlfall (Frank) that not only holds the show together but pulls off some of the best performances for the entire series. All of the cast members are well-chosen and the child actors in particular do a fantastic job. The result is a strangely compelling drama that raises itself above the sum of its  component parts as a bleak, depressing picture of mayhem, to come across as, quite  simply, a truly warm look at family life. For, no matter what happens to this particular family, they always unite and fight together, as one. For all their faults, this particular Chatsworth Estate household has not forgotten to, first and foremost, look after their own. 

Episode Listing 

Episode 1 – Here we are introduced to all of the major characters and we follow Fiona as she meets the potential man of her dreams, Steve. 

Episode 2 – Already Frank is missing and the kids fear the worst when a body is discovered. 

Episode 3 – Kev and Veronica, through a confluence of mistakes, decide to get married, leading to no end of trouble. 

Episode 4 – Debbie starts stealing, much to the dismay of the family. 

Episode 5 – Frank’s indiscretions come home to roost and cause yet more trouble for the family, in particular Lip. 

Episode 6 – News about their missing mum shocks the Gallaghers. 

Episode 7 – Frank goes to extreme lengths to get money and Steve is faced with a tough dilemma when Fiona’s Policeman friend gets jealous of him.

Shameless is presented with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio anamorphic widescreen transfer, and it’s nice to see that British TV series like this are increasingly being released on DVD in widescreen. The audio is shamefully restricted to mere Dolby Digital 2.0 and is unfortunately rather bland but fortunately the witty dialogue makes up for the lack of audio dynamite. 

Shameless Series One contains a variety of extras that includes a ten-minute documentary hosted by Debbie (Rebecca Ryan) and Carl (Elliot Tittensor), two of the younger children. The two of them basically wander around various areas on the set (during the filming of the second season) chatting to different cast members and asking them about their characters. Apart from the main cast (Frank – David Threlfall, Sheila – Maggie O’Neal, Karen – Rebecca Atkinson, Fiona – Anne-Marie Duff and Veronica – Maxine Peake) we get contributions from some of the smaller players including Marty, the guy with Tourette and Jez, the landlady of the Jockey. The interview clips are interspersed with footage from the series itself, illustrating the tales from each member of the cast. It’s a nice little documentary which highlights the best bits of the series without coming across as pretentious marketing fluff. The extras also include an interview with Paul Abbot that takes viewers through the journey of his bizarre family, the Gallaghers. 

In conclusion, I would recommend this series not for the faint hearted, especially for those who are politically correct because this series is as far from that as you can be, without being on another planet. Great comedy, great drama and a great series! A must have!






 
 



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