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‘DeVanity’ Season 3: Review

Photo: Caruso Productions

DeVanity’s third season continued its evolution as a series worthy of its praise; soaring above its web competition and rivaling the quality of traditional television series.

When it comes to content made exclusively for the web, it is often times hard to find series that have actual quality built in to their content. Typically you’ll see those with an interesting concept, but things simply fall apart from the audio to the cinematography and some horrific acting. Making it past the first season usually leads to going back to the drawing board. If the creative and production team strives to learn from previous mistakes, they have the potential to transform themselves into true gems, and no diamond shines brighter on the internet then that of DeVanity.

It’s no secret that I was rather disappointed in the first season of DeVanity. While it had its high moments (Can we say season finale pool fight?) It also was filled with audio issues which added with a few choice camera movements would make Guiding Light’s Ellen Wheeler say “SEE I AM NOT THAT BAD!” Creator Michael Caruso didn’t allow the naysayers such as myself to affect the project he holds so dearly. He continued on, making necessary improvements to pre-and post-production elements, crafting a second season with few issues for to criticize. Creatively, the series improved as well. The show constructed a tight story with some amazing additions to the cast and kept viewers wanting to tune in for more.

This brings us to season 3 – wow! Watching the evolution of this show has been truly breathtaking. The series opened up with completely overhauled opening credits; long gone is the simplistic gem with amazing music, now we have an opening to rival Dallas and Dynasty with the cast pictures swooping across the screen. B-roll evolved from mostly static shots into some of the most gorgeous and jaw dropping scenery I have ever seen.

There were a few casting changes within season 3 as well. Though some actors departed, those that joined made for a game changing experience. Maxwell Caulfield aka my evil bigamist Mark Wylde from Emmerdale came aboard as Richard DeVanity, providing some stellar scenes throughout the season. Dallas alum Charlene Tilton literally blew me away with her performances as Francesca DeVanity. Her stunning appearance was like night and day difference compared to her appearance on Dallas last year. Caruso/Portier Productions needs to be involved in all of her future projects. Gordon Thomson fit perfectly as the manipulative villain Preston Regis and when does Arianne Zucker NOT make a series better? If you answered NEVER you’d be correct.

The acting from the established cast was top notch, as usual. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Katie Caprio’s Bianca upon my viewing of season 1, she has consistently grown, making Bianca by far one of the biggest reasons to watch DeVanity. Whether it was her snarky delivery of some of the most perfect one-liners or scenes with emotional gravitas, Caprio showed that she is truly a force to be reckoned with and a name to watch in the days ahead.  As always, Caruso provided a seemingly flawless performance as Jason DeVanity. I wish I could say more about Jaclyn Lyons as Isabelle 2.0, but unfortunately there isn’t much. I look forward to seeing the character evolve in season 4.

Episodes expanded from averaging six minutes per episode to nearly twenty per episode, a change that I have been advocating since day 1! The downside of the increased run-time was the limited episode order, leaving my DeVanity loving heart, broken as the show felt as if it ended before it even started! “How can you only do seven episodes Mr. Caruso?” I lamented on Twitter, but knowing that Caruso is a fan of British television he’d probably tell me if less than 10 episodes was good enough for Footballers Wives, seven is more than  good enough for DeVanity. While he’d be correct, I still don’t have to agree with him.

The score for the series third season remained perfect;  orchestral pieces kept me thoroughly entertained as I could simply zone out of the scene and listen to the music take me away.

This brings me to the storylines. Picking up where season 2 left off, DeVanity relayed the missing months to Jason via a story being told by Bianca. As the series progressed, we arrived at more twist and turns then one could literally shake a stick at.  While I really enjoyed the ride as a whole, there were a few story elements that I quite fond of. Not because the show ‘went there’, but because we didn’t actually SEE it.

Television, and in conjunction web-vision, is a very visual medium. So ending an episode with a cliffhanger on episode four – but picking up after the major plot twist has occurred in episode five – is a bit jarring. I was a little disappointed mainly because I would have liked to see the scenes between Bianca and Lara play out. I feel like both actresses would have completely brought their “A” game and made for some Emmy winning performances.  On the other hand, I understand why it didn’t happen. Presumably, the scenes would have required a new set, a few day players, and probably was an extra (dare I say unnecessary) expense given budgetary constraints.

In typical DeVanity fashion, the season built up to a perfect crescendo, with just as many plot twist and cliffhangers as one would expect from any other television season finale; only done on a much tighter, and in some cases better produced, scale.

Overall, I enjoyed the arc the series went on for season three. Would I have liked to have the story fleshed out more with additional episodes? Of course, but given the confines of what they were working with, DeVanity made the best use of the time as possible. More importantly, they accomplished by what any great series strives to do – entertain and leave me craving for me

Did you enjoy season 3? What were your highlights? Were there any low points? Sound off in the comments below.

About the author

Johnathon K.

  • I am still reeling from the S3 finale! I agree with what you’ve said and can I add, one of the best things about DeVanity is the style- the sets, clothes, jewelry. Each of those things are really almost a character because w/o the details, DeVanity’s look and feel wouldn’t be the same. Michael Caruso has done an amazing job with what little he has and I will say that it was well worth the wait!