“GCB: The Complete First Season” (ABC Studios): Campy as “Ugly Betty” with a Southern drawl and as silly as Texas is big, “GCB” (which stands for good Christian bitches!) is a goofy, crazy blast. Liberally making fun of the Lone Star state, the first season of this live-action cartoon begins with the return of recovering mean girl Amanda (Leslie Bibb). Newly widowed, with two teens, she returns to the sprawling Dallas home of her gun-toting mama Gigi (Annie Potts), following the sudden death of her philandering husband.
Before you can say “Texas toast,” the gossip mill is spinning and Amanda comes face to face with four women whose lives she made a living holy hell in high school. The vengeful quartet, which include pint-sized powerhouse Carleen (the overly animated Kristin Chenoweth), tough as acrylic nails Cricket (Miriam Shor of “Hedwig… ” fame), ditzy but determined Sharon (Jennifer Aspen) and real estate climber Heather (Marisol Nichols), whose combined wrath is greater than their God’s. Their endless array of schemes to turn the tables on Amanda (as opposed to turning the other cheek), don’t always go as planned and hilarity ensues.
The men in these women’s lives are mostly buffoons (see Sharon’s husband Zach), but one of them will be of particular interest to LGBT viewers. Cricket’s husband Blake (the hot Mark Deklin) is gay, something of which his wife is aware and approves. Blake spends almost as much time with his ranch hands as he does strutting around shirtless. It’s a nice touch, for both comedic and dramatic purposes, and also reminds viewers that not every metropolis is a welcoming place for the gay community. Bonus features on the three disc, 10 episode set include a variety of featurettes, bloopers, deleted and extended scenes and more.
(From Gregg Shapiro – GoPride.com columnist, August 2, 2012)
GCB: The Complete First Season – The series was developed by Robert Harling and produced by Darren Star. It was based on Kim Gatlin’s novel Good Christian Bitches and featured a great ensemble cast including the extremely talented Kristin Chenoweth, Leslie Bibb, Jennifer Aspen, Miriam Shor, Marisol Nichols and Annie Potts. Like Desperate Housewives, the women were the star of the series, but the male actors managed to get a few laughs in as well thanks to the talents of David James Elliott, Mark Deklin, Bruce Boxleitner and Tyler Jacob Moore.
Set in the rich suburbs of Dallas, Texas, the series followed Amanda Vaughn (Bibb) as she was forced to move with her kids back into her mother Gigi Stopper (Potts) house following the untimely death of her husband – who happened to be fleeing to Mexico with his girlfriend. Her husband also stole a lot of money from his many clients.
Back in Dallas, Amanda, a former “mean girl” in high school, is forced to find a way to get along with a group of women who she happened to pick on back in the day. The women include Carlene Cockburn (Chenoweth), the leader of the church choir and social leader of the group of friends; Cricket Caruth-Reilly (Shor), a rich business woman who battles with Carlene for the church spotlight; Sharon Peacham (Aspen), a bubbly housewife who is trying to find her place and is always filled with sunshine; and Heather Cruz (Nichols), the one woman of the group that tries to be true friends with Amanda.
The first season’s episodes are filled with laughs as Amanda adjusts to her new life and survive the Dallas social circle. It also sees Carlene and Cricket trying to one-up each other for the top spot of the choir, and Annie Potts stealing the laughs every time she is on screen.
Networks used to live in fear of upsetting their Southern affiliates. They would edit out moments that would offend delicate sensibilities like saying the word “damn” or minorities kissing. The network expected them to preempted specials that could be perceived as immoral such as Playboy’s Rollerdisco and Pajama Party. Thus it was quite a shock when ABC announced would adapt the book Good Christian Bitches into a series. ABC is a Disney operated network and not some struggling cable channel looking to make a major splash. Why would they dare to make a show with that title about Southern women? The network quickly did damage control by renaming the show Good Christian Belles. The conservative media weren’t happy with the name change. The network finally they went for GCB. Why take such a potential hot property? Turns out there was a lot of prime talent on the show. Sex and the City and Melrose Place creator Darren Star signed up to be an executive producer. Steel Magnolias‘s writer Robert Harling was developing. The evil vixen was going to be played by Kristen Chenoweth. The Tony Award winner had raised her profile with time on Glee. GCB was looked ready to take over for Desperate Housewives which was entering its final season. The controversy seemed like great publicity for getting eyeballs to see what’s going on deep in the heart of Texas. However GCB: The Complete First Season contains the entire series which only made it to the 10 episode mark.
“The Pilot” returns Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) and her kids to her mother’s house in Texas. Turns out her rich husband was stealing money from clients. She’s saved the ugliness of a trial when he dies in a prime time soap opera accident. The trip back isn’t good since it turned out that Vaughn was the head Mean Girl at her high school. She treated others like dirt. She’s changed a bit, but her classmates want to kick her while she’s down. They want to shame her until she moves to Oklahoma. The good news is that her mom (Designing Women‘s Annie Potts) is loaded with a big house so she’s not sharing a doublewide. The bad news is ought to be Washington Redskins as nobody wants to hire her. She finally gets a job at Hooter’s knock-off as a waitress. She might have been a little bit humbled, but she hasn’t completely lost her cat claws. She quickly rattles off the major dirty on her three “best friends” in a very public forum. She’s not going the be destroyed by Sharon Peacham (Jennifer Aspen), Cricket Caruth-Reilly (Miriam Shor) and the wicked Carlene Cockburn (Kristin Chenoweth). This trio of terror think Jesus is on their side as they spy, lie and deny on Amanda.
The show had all the necessary elements of a prime time soap opera. The tawdry nature of “sweet” ladies was being exposed. The talent on the screen was there. Leslie Bibb had made a space as Ricky Bobby’s wife in Talladega Nights. Chenoweth was up for taking Joan Collins’ dastardly title. But the show’s name buzz was too much for the network to give it a renewal. Shor knows something about this since she had been a star on Swingtown which also was ripped apart by conservative commentators based on the cover page and not the script. GCB: The Complete First Season should have been the start of great Southern hypocrisy.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfers make things look extra big in Texas. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The levels do fine mixing the back biting with the tongue bathing. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.
Living Large (9:24) gives a tour of the huge interior sets.
Bigger in Texas (9:47) pumps up the huge nature of the show’s drama thanks to the Lone Star State. The hair must be as high as your heels.
Preaching to the Choir (6:46) focuses on the singing element of the show.
GCB: Most Likely To… (5:52) has the cast doing Yearbook titles for each other and their characters.
Audio Commentary on three episodes. “The Pilot” features executive producer/writer Robert Harling, actress Leslie Bibb along with executive producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts. “Pride Comes Before the Fall” also includes Mark Deklin. “Sex Is Divine!” switches actor Brad Beyer into the mix. These were done while the show was still in production since nobody speaks in past tense about the series.
Bloopers (3:34) are all those times when lines don’t come to mind and props plop.
Deleted Scenes (4:56) has 5 snipped moments including the the line “Braise the Lord” and Annie Potts in a Little Red Riding Hood outfit.
GCB: The Complete First Season had all the markings of a hit except way too many people were upset at the name. It’s a shame cause it’s a tawdry guilty pleasure set in the heart of Texas. The 10 episodes are worth watching if you missed it.
ABC Studios presents GCB: The Complete First Season Starring: Leslie Bibb, Kristin Chenoweth, Miriam Shor and Annie Potts. Boxset Contents: 10 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: June 12, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.