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Lizzie McGuire: Season One
cast: Hillary Duff, Robert Carradine, Jake Thomas, and Adam Lamberg

creator: Terry Minsky

495 minutes (U) 2001
Disney DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Noell Wolfgram Evans
Hillary Duff. Those words now conjure up images of a contender to the 'top teen star queen' title, People magazine covers and whispers in the tabloids. But there was a time, before the records and feuds (which interest us even when we say they don't), before the magazine covers and before those words could stand alone (as opposed to needing 'star of...' attached to them) that they simply belonged to an actress in a mid-level cable television show.

That show is Lizzie McGuire, in which Ms Duff plays the title character. The first season (consisting of 22 episodes aired originally in 2001) has just been released as a four-disc DVD set. While the recent DVD release of Seinfeld may have garnered more attention, this series really should not be overlooked. While it doesn't reach Seinfeld's highs, Lizzie McGuire is a consistently entertaining sitcom, full of offbeat moments and happiness that ring truer than most of what other plans have to offer.

For many, this would be a series easy to overlook. It ran on the Disney channel and told the 'simple' story of a girl trying to cope with middle school. But the show is much more than that as creator Terry Minsky has taken the road trod earlier by Pete And Pete, Clueless, Saved By The Bell and even Square Pegs to craft something that is fully of silliness, breaks in sitcom conventions and slapstick comedy. When placed with instantly accessible storylines, all of this mixes up to become a pretty fun show. If you were in middle school I could see how you would cling to the show as a dream of what being 13 should be like, as opposed to what it is. But being out of middle school, I could appreciate everything happening as well because, let's be honest, as we've learned middle school is no different than our work lives (save for the ringing bell every 40 minutes). Not to mention that for some reason, we continue to be drawn to 'school' stories, either to relive days past or try to figure out where we went wrong. Whatever the reason, we are psychologically attached to these stories and having seen so many of them, can especially appreciate when they are done so well.

Regardless of what you've heard, Ms Duff is quite good here, as the 'every-girl' trying to navigate life. She's assisted by her animated alter ego, tormented by a younger brother (Jake Thomas, who is good early on but grew more caricatured as the series progressed) and supported by her dad (Robert Carradine in a brilliant bit of casting). The Lizzie McGuire series would go on to spawn a feature film and propel Duff from cable series star to worldwide phenomenon. She has since left the series in hopes of conquering another medium and we can only hope that whatever she does will help bring even more attention to this underrated, and more importantly, fun series.

While the episodes themselves can be enjoyed by anyone, the extras included here are strictly focused at the 10-13 set. With a look at the show's fashion, makeup and hair secrets of the stars and a segment called The Cast Dishes The Dirt these extras go a long way toward providing very little.
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