STUDIO: Lion’s Gate Home Video
MSRP: $39.98
RUNNING TIME: 576 Minutes
"The Horses of Wildfire" featurette
"Creating Raintree Ranch" featurette
Selected episode commentaries
Deleted scenes

The Pitch

"We’re betting on a long shot."

The Humans

Genevieve Cortese, Greg Serano, Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)

The Nutshell

A show that was originally slated for The WB and was picked up off the floor by ABC Family has its first season debut on DVD. It’s about a young criminal named Kris who, as part of her probation, is sent to work on a horse ranch. There, she meets something of a kindred spirit in an exuberantly defiant horse named Wildfire. Having spent some time in juvey, Kris has got more than a few issues that need airing and solving in the idyllic-as-long-as-you-can’t-smell-it ranch.

The obstacles on her path to enlightenment are many, from her own criminal stubbornness to the interferences of concerned citizens, to budding and breaking romances among the burly (and the girly) ranch hands. It’s tamer in content than most other WB soaps, but at the same time it carefully avoids getting overly schmaltzy.

Who’da thunk plastic surgery in the 24th century would have progressed so far?

The Package

You get four discs and a small number of bonuses spread among them. Selected episodes have audio commentaries, which are contributed to by a revolving cast of actors and production folks. These commentaries don’t offer much for those without a personal investment in the show.

There are two short featurettes, one called "The Horses of Wildfire" which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s cool information on horse handling, which may or may not be popular, depending on the population density of your burg. The other featurette is called "Creating Raintree Ranch" and is a production diary of the design and creation of the ranch featured in the show.

You also get a few deleted scenes of negligible quality.

The show is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and takes advantage of it. The cinematography is above-average for television, with plenty of gorgeous scenery to take in. The transfer is super-clear. The audio is in Dolby 2.0 and doesn’t excite, especially given that dialogue is the primary focus for the sound editors.

Man with stupid shirt is the one. Kill him.

The Lowdown

I like the key allegory that Wildfire is based on, even if it has been done before: the taming of a young shrew contrasted against the taming of a horse. It’s nothing brilliant, but it would be enough to drive a children’s movie, or a novel for young adults. It doesn’t sustain a TV series quite so well. While in shorter-form entertainment, a single image can go a long way, the serial nature of television means you’re betting off drawing in new symbols each week or your audience will think the show has stagnated.

Realizing this, the producers and writers of the show brought a bunch of periphery concerns to create some extra drama which, apart from that directly involving the character of Kris, lacks the feeling of necessity.

There’s some decently strong acting on display throughout this short season. Ms. Cortese shows a good range and reads her lines with a lot of feeling. Nana Visitor, though missing her nose bumps, does a fine job portraying the burdened life of a woman who has to put up with a lot of shit, horse and otherwise.

Wildfire isn’t awful, nor is it insulting, but it won’t convince anyone that it has the legs to go for more than a couple laps, tops.

6 out of 10