Hannah Montana: Season 1
Back in those distant days in history when many of us where children there wasn’t a whole lot on television for us kids. In the afternoons there were some aging cartoons or puppet show. One bright spot was the ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ which was so different because it should kids of our age performing. On weekends it was pretty much the same thing with the highlight coming on Sunday night with the ‘Wonderful World of Disney’. That show was a great mixture of animation and live action shows that always held our attention. The one thing in common was the Walt Disney studio. They have been providing the best in family entertainment for as long as most of us as been alive. Now the early afternoon and evenings are filled with a set of live action sit-coms geared towards the ever growing tween market. There are several series in this current trend but there is no doubt at all that the most popular is ‘Hannah Montana’. This series has propelled its star, Miley Cyrus, from the young daughter of a country musician to one of the most recognizable and successful young performers in the world. This young girl who is at this point not old enough to drive is at the top of a billion dollar a year empire. Disney has released groups of episodes in special ‘Hannah Montana’ sets or as part of tween series collection but now they have come up with the entire first season in on DVD set. Parents, you know that even if you own the other sets with some of the episodes contained here your kids are going to want this full season set. Do the smart thing and get it for them. It is great family entertainment and you might as well enjoy it with them.
The Disney Tween Empire has been built on a solid foundation; the old school film studio system. In the golden age of movies the studios would contract young talent and bring them along in the entertainment industry. Young stars were given lessons in singing, dancing and acting. They had to perform everything from bit parts to leading roles; from comedy to drama. This is what led to Miley Cyrus becoming such a phenomena. She has had small roles usually as the best friend in several Disney projects and even a bit part in the fantastically successful ‘High School Musical 2’. This is the breakthrough role for the young Ms Cyrus. In this series she plays a talented girl named Miley Ray Stewart. She has a chance for a career in pop music but that would mean living the life of a rock star. Her father and manger, Robbie Stewart, played by real life father Billy Ray Cyrus, was a country star and wants his daughter to be able to enjoy a normal childhood. The solution is to let Miley live a double life. On stage her nom de voyage is Hannah Montana. While in school and around their home in Malibu she is regular Miley. This premise may sound silly to adults but take a closer look at it and it is sheer genius. Almost everyone at some time has fantasized about being a rock star. For tweens this is the height of the all important cool factor. They also need to fit into their peer group. Miley has come a roll model but playing a character who manages to have, as her theme song proclaims; ‘the best of both worlds’. This has resulted in a show that has become the most popular series for tweens in the world. It also branched off to a concert tour and DVD that has enjoyed record breaking sales.
Despite her growing fame as tween pop star Hannah Montana Miley Stewart wants to be able t go to a normal school. The thought of being home schooled and away from other kids her age is not very appealing. Her father Robbie spent much of his life as a singer on the road and understands the need for some grounded, regular friends in his daughter’s life. So Hannah appears with Miley in a long blond wig to disguise her. Okay, you have to be really dumb to be fooled by this but a similar disguise has worked for Superman for decades and not even Lois lane ever caught on. Miley is under some pressure to keep her secret. This comes to light in the first episode when her best friend Lilly Truscott (Emily Osment) gets two tickets to a Hannah Montana concert and wants Miley to go with her. Miley tries to refuse but ultimately has to run back and forth to be with her friend and perform. At the end Miley discusses the quagmire with her father and she lets Lily in on the secret. Lily even dons a disguise of her own as Hannah’s best friend Lola. All of this is great fun for Miley’s older brother Jackson (Jason Earles) who loves t tease and humiliate his sister. Jackson works at a beach side snack shop operated by a younger boy, Rico (Moises Arias) who is as evil as possible for someone still in eighth grade. Miley and Lily have another friend Oliver Oken (Mitchel Musso) who has a big crush on Hannah. He faints when the girls finally let him in on the big secret.
Each episode is titled with a parody of a popular song. This has to be mostly for the benefit of the parents watching since many of them are too old for the primary tween demographic to get. The stories are for the most part episodic although a few do carry over for a several episode arch. They are pretty much typical tween sit-com faire with a little twist to make it consistent with the main premise. What is really to be appreciated by the parents is the level of respect the kids in the show have for the grown ups. Miley, Lily and Jackson frequently try to pull one over on the parental units but in the end the wisdom, patience and love of the parents wins out and the kids learn a lesson. Miley mat be a super star on stage but at home she is treated as a kid her age should be. There are no divas allowed in the Stewart household. This is shown in one episode where Hannah is to meet the Queen of England. This coincides with a visit from her grandmother (Vicki Lawrence) who starts to shower Jackson with praise for an upcoming volleyball tournament. Miley is outraged. She is meeting the Queen so she should get all the attention. The grandmother ultimately explains that Jackson deserves to feel special too. In true Disney fashion there is always room for a little bit of cross promotion. In one episode Hannah goes to the Tipton hotel, the setting for another tween sit-com, ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’. There she meets and becomes friends with Maddie Fitzpatrick (Ashley Tisdale). There is also a chance given to the age old sit-com device of the evil twin; in this case Luann, also played by Miley. She is out to destroy Hannah at all costs.
This is simply a great show that you can enjoy as a family. It is strong with family values while retaining the entertainment value for all ages. Most episodes feature a song or two from Miley and or Hannah. The girl does have talent. She handles the music and the physical comedy like a pro. Her chemistry with Osment is similar to Lucy ad Ethel back in our day. In typical Disney fashion this DVD season set is full of a lot of extras including some backstage scenes and a number by Miley. This is something that your kids will get a kick out of and you don’t have to worry about at all.