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September 2006
Black. White. DVD Review

by Kam Williams

Black. White. DVD Review

• Format: Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
• Language: English
• Number of discs: 2
• Rating NR
• Studio: 20th Century Fox !
• DVD Release Date: September 12, 2006
• Run Time: 272 minutes
• Disc 1
•        Episode One (1 48:18) with commentary by Executive Producer R.J. Cutler, Brian Sparks and Bruno Wurgel
•        Episode Two (2 46:15) with commentary by Executive Producer R.J. Cutler, Carmen Wurgel and Renee Sparks
•        Episode Three (3 46:28) with commentary by Executive Producer R.J. Cutler, Rose Wurgel and Nick Sparks
•        Bonus Material:
o       “Black. White.” Makeup Application Featurette
o       The Wurgels Original Casting Video
o       The Sparks Original Casting Video
o       Study Guide DVD-ROM
                Disc 2
•        Episode Four (4 44:00) with commentary by Executive Producer R.J. Cutler, Producer/Makeup Effects Creator Keith Vanderlaan and Special Effects Makeup Designer Brian Sipe
•        Episode Five (5 44:00) with commentary by Executive Producer R.J. Cutler, Co-Executive Producer Keith Hoffman and Editors Poppy Das, Greg Finton, Andy Robertson and Yaffa Lerea
Disc 2 Continued
•        Episode Six (6 44:00) with commentary by Executive Producer R.J. Cutler and Co-Executive Producer Keith Hoffman
•        Bonus Material:
o       Rose’s Poetry Slam
o       Ice Cube’s “Black.White.” Video
o       Study Guide DVD-ROM


DVD Features Families Swapping Skin Color in Reality-TV Series

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk around in a different color skin? This is the social experiment at the center of “Black. White,” a riveting reality series which originally aired on the FX Network this past Spring.

The show stars two families, one black, one white. The Sparks, Brian, Rene, and their 17 year-old son, Nick, are African-American, while The Wurgels, Bruno, Carmen, and their 18 year-old daughter, Rose, are Caucasian. But not for long, since the idea of the program is to allow each to get a good idea of how the other half lives. So, every day for the duration of the series, they all lived together and underwent elaborate transformations in order to be able to pass. For instance, the debut episode featured Brian buying shoes as a white man, and being shocked to have an affable salesman happily help him slip samples on and off. Later, he takes a job as a bartender and is quite surprised to hear a customer go on endlessly about the virtues of living in a lily-white neighborhood.

Rose, meanwhile, who, by the way, actually looks better black than white, ventures into South Central, where she takes a course in poetry slam. Though she’s the only one whose make-up leaves her looking human, she is apparently the most conflicted about trying to trick strangers into believing she’s really black.

Her step-father, Bruno, however, decides to gets some lessons from the Sparks before venturing into the world as a brother, boning up on Ebonics, learning how to shake hands, putting a swerve into his stride, and even adding the N-word to his lexicon. Curiously, he turns out to be the villain of the series, since episode after episode he remains convinced that he has not encountered any racism as an African-American. Brian and Bruno butt heads often and the tension mounts as the show builds towards its dramatic finale. It’s just too bad that Rose is the only participant in this experiment who doesn’t look like she stepped off the set of White Chicks. Yet, somehow, the questionable makeup doesn’t diminish the entertainment value of this absolutely absorbing social experiment.