Monday, December 18, 2023

[DVD Review] — "GREASE: RISE of the PINK LADIES" is an Underrated Musical Series

"Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies" is now available on its own on a 4-disc *DVD set, and it's also available on digital platforms such as VUDU and *Prime Video. The DVD doesn't offer much in the special features except for a Rydell High Yearbook and Song Stories featurettes. (*Paid Link)

The series is set four years before the original film, in 1954, and revolves around four outcast high school students—Jane, a brainiac student (Marisa Davila); Olivia, a scandal-ridden cynic (Cheyenne Isabel Wells); Cynthia, a tomboy (Ari Notartomaso); and Nancy, a fashion maven (Tricia Fukuhara)—who band together to form their own "girl gang" and spark a rock 'n' roll revolution at Rydell High.

I doubt many people knew that the 1978 hit musical Grease had a prequel series called Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, which streamed on Paramount+ this past summer. The ten-episode series came and went in an instant. Shortly after the series finale aired, Paramount+ canceled it, removing it from their platform the same month. I'm not sure how many people watched, but I imagined it wasn't many, which is unfortunate because I thought the series was surprisingly good.

No, the series isn't historically accurate for the 1950s, which may have turned off viewers who believe that every diverse cast is "woke." I was skeptical of the series' initial marketing push but began to like it after watching a few episodes. It has cringy moments, but I expected that from a musical. Each episode has some excellent musical selections, some of which have catchy lyrics. Some of the songs, meanwhile, feel a little too contemporary and don't blend in with the music from the 1978 movie or the historical period.

The characters propel the show, particularly the group of "pink ladies," who experience a great deal together throughout the ten episodes. Beginning with the eighth episode, "Or at the High School Dance...", where Jonathan Nieves, who played Richie, the leader of the T-Birds, had to be CGIed in a few sequences, it was evident that there were production problems. The actor was dismissed at the last minute or departed the series for unknown reasons and got written out in the final episodes with extensive rewriting and the use of CGI and a body double in one episode.

"Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies" has flaws, but its charming characters and energetic musical performances make it worth watching. ╌★★★★✰

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