“Family Jewels” Season One (Signature Series Collector’s Box) by Gene Simmons

Artist: Gene Simmons
Title: “Family Jewels” Season One (Signature Series Collector’s Box)
Label: A&E Networks
Release Date: 12/19/2006
Genre: Documentary/Reality
Rating: 4.5/5

Watch out Ozzy Osbourne because here comes Gene Simmons with a reality show about family life of his own and based on the content it is sure to set a higher standard for such a program which is more than your own was ever able to do. Like most of you readers out there I sat through “The Osbournes” reality show every week and was glued to the television for the duration of the series. When I watched this program I was fascinated at how insane life seemed to be in that not so little mansion of theirs in Beverly Hills, California and more surprised at how much the buffoon it made Ozzy to be and how his children seemed so unappreciative of the amazing things that had been put in their lives. In that, I hardly missed it when the show stopped filming. When I heard that Gene Simmons, noted co-founder of KISS, and his family would be doing one of their own my expectation levels rose to greater heights about the kind of show that he would deliver. Lucky for all of us I was on target with this assumption as while he is one of the more worldly of Rock Stars and a definite wunderkind in the realm of business dealings, his family life is quite normal and in tune with most regular people. Yes this is all going on in an opulent mansion as well but the larger sets of circumstances that happen to him are the same that many of us deal with if we are married and have children. The show finds Simmons and long time partner Shannon Tweed (the beautiful Playboy model who he has been with for decades but never officially married) and their two children, Nick and Sophie. The series is interesting because while possessing the wealth that Simmons had earned because of KISS and all his various business dealings, the family is surprisingly well-grounded and the kids are not as spoiled as we found on Ozzy’s show. The level of appreciation that they have for their good fortune is visible. The secret star of the show is actually Nick because he is often seen busting his Father’s chops or helping to set him up in some fashion when he intervenes too much in the way he lives his life or in that of his younger sister Sophie. Simmons of course shows he can do the same as he entrenches himself in their affairs and sometimes has interesting circumstances become the result. The show airs on the A&E Network and given the positive reception has been renewed for a second and third season at the time of this release for the season one boxed set.

The episodes are primarily centered on Gene’s family life and how he runs the business of being the KISS founder and maintaining his other business interests. From that perspective it is rather fascinating, and I don’t think that a KISS fan alive will not enjoy seeing Gene in his home office. The spacious room is loaded with vintage and newer KISS material. Collectors will very likely grab a pen and paper and start making notes to see what they need for their own stash or intend on finding somehow. Without going into every single episode I will say how the practical joke on Gene was hilarious where they set him up in a mock wedding with Shannon. Nick’s quote about his father loving practical jokes on others but not himself is priceless. Funnier still is Gene explaining this joke to his elderly mother at the end of the program and wanting to strangle everyone for making him need to address this. Nick is working on becoming a musician in his own right but Poppa Gene steps in a little too deep and drives the boy crazy but also transfers some really good advice that I think any performer should be aware of. Shannon plays the straight person role and often reels Gene in when he is going too far and she is assisted by her sister Tracy. Together the pair is interesting enough to have their own television show if A&E is looking for an offshoot from this program. During the first season, Sophie is still a little young and we find Gene being the super protective Dad and one can surely not fault him for that. I enjoyed watching Simmons work his business deals and when he is in that mode we seldom see him off the cell phone or checking things off in his very loaded day planner. Organization is clearly a proper step in the path that leads to success. There are occasionally some clips of Gene in action with KISS but we don’t see original members Ace and Peter at all or Paul for that matter. We do get Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer though and their participation in the show is sure to draw a chuckle since it was something totally unexpected. I will leave what that is to your own findings of course. These shows only run about twenty two minutes apiece so it’s easy to watch a few in a single sitting. Given the fact that it is not boring in any sense of the word it is safe to assume that the whole run of episodes can be viewed on one of those lazy rainy days where you don’t want to do anything but lay in front of the television.

For those fans of “The Osbournes” I am happy to report further that here is a show with some real valuable content to it, and one that will hopefully fun for many, many more seasons outside of the two that are already locked. Gene Simmons and his family are very interesting as well as funny and the sense of “reality” one gets from this show far outweighs others of its kind. Thanks A&E, you have made me a fan and while KISS has long had me in their fan camp, this kind of thing is usually a toss of a coin. With “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” the coin has landed on heads. That is a promising sign.

Bonus Features: Among the cool bonus features to enjoy on the release are additional couch interviews, bloopers, a rough cut of the pilot episode, Gene Simmons 24/7, Gene’s History Of Rock & Roll, Inside The Demon’s Lair, and a behind the makeup feature. As far as bonus things go I rather enjoyed these segments and felt that they added to the overall appeal of the release as opposed to finding them to be either contrived or wastes of the viewer’s time.

This release comes in a standard edition and a “Signature Series Collector’s Box”, which is actually the one that I am reviewing here. The special edition comes in a window box that is rather decorative itself and houses the hardcover book that holds the DVDs. This book also features hand picked photos from the Gene Simmons personal archives and these are a treat but it doesn’t stop there. It also includes the episode of “Biography” that focused on the musician which aired a couple of years ago as well as a preview of songs that will appear on a future Gene Simmons release. The episode of Biography was filmed around the time that Simmons was set to release his solo album “A$$hole”. It looks nice on one’s DVD cabinet and knowing the nature of KISS fans I cannot see them bypassing this one for the standard edition. As a matter of fact, if the Gene Simmons implant that most KISS fans have installed is working properly, they might actually purchase both editions.

Episode Listing:
1. Happily Unmarried
2. Next Generation Rock Star
3. The Demon Lives
4. Driving Me Crazy
5. Food Or Sex?
6. Sexercise
7. The Un-Anniversary
8. Loose Change
9. Fan…tastic
10. Horsin’ Around
11. Shrinkwrapped
12. Gene’s Addiction
13. Behind The Makeup

Official Website: http://www.genesimmons.com
Official Website: http://www.kissonline.com

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