It’s one of those standard jokes about every hit American comedy series is a restatement of a British one… so the case of Ugly Betty is especially refreshing, drawn as it is from a stupendously popular telenovela originally broadcast – and stupendously popular in that part of the world which speaks Spanish. Think of this particular show as a fresh breeze blowing through the dry-as-dust clichéd and sterile remains of Broadcast TV-land’s vast and derivative wasteland, where every third TV series is a knock-off of two other shows on different channels. I have heard legends of an original idea, spotted years ago in TV-land; a shy and elusive creature – but enough of sarcasm. Back to my original point; which is that I am near to the point of crawling over broken glass just to watch a television show in which the protagonists are not doctors, lawyers or law enforcement personnel. Looking at the broadcast TV line up of late, one might be forgiven for thinking that no one does anything else for a living.

Which is why Ugly Betty is at least refreshing, and double-points to the creators of this show, for wit, and for creating and developing completely endearing and consistent characters, caught in the entirely over-the-top and soap-opera world of high-fashion. It starts with the main character of the heroine; Betty, with her tacky wardrobe, her braces, heavy-framed glasses – a basically decent and competent naïf, finding her feet in the cut-throat world of Mode, a high-end world of a NY fashion magazine. Mode is made-up… but doubtless some of the various details are not. Betty has the backing of her oddly-assorted family, and a handful of friends – and being that this is a translated soap opera – most of the resulting incidents and adventures are wildly over the top. Some of them, nonetheless, manage to be quite touching on their own – the episode of Betty’s older sister Hilda in the aftermath of the season-ending death of her almost-sort-of-significant other in a corner-shop robbery was unexpectedly moving.

So – here we have Season Two – just as quirky, with the episodic plots just as unexpected and unpredictable as in Season One; as rich a treat as an assorted Godiva chocolates in one of those impossibly lavish boxes. One of the inserts in the “second season” box is an episode guide, disguised as a suitably worn and dog-eared subway map of New York City (and environs) placing the locations of many key episodes and the various residences of key characters.

Of the extra features included, the most entertaining are a guide to the various sets, conducted by two of the bitchiest characters (in an admittedly hard-fought contest) and a complete collection of the Spanish-language telenovelas which have been part of the background, all the way along. These are presented in all their over-the-top glory. Really, the amusement value of the episode in which a character exclaims “Freeze or the snake gets it!” is alone almost worth the price of the entire set.

Ugly Betty-Season Two is available at Amazon.com, and other commercial outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. Her follow-up release, “The Adelsverein Trilogy” will be available in December, 2008. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

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