ARRIVEDERCI HANNAH... @ 18 March 2011 05:48 PM
There's no denying that even the people who helped launch the Hannah Montana series could not have dreamed how it would have exploded into an international phenomenon, with top-charting albums, sold-out concerts and infinite merchandise all revolving around a 'tween sitcom which basically takes the basic Cinderella story and allows its lead character to have fame and a "normal" life at the same time. It's the pretend game that millions of girls play with their Barbie (and now Hannah) dolls.

The series ran four seasons, but the DVD releases have been limited to themed collections, the complete first season and now this, the fourth and final. I couldn't tell you if, by picking up all the collections that you'd have all the shows combined, but it might be nice if seasons two and three are issued intact someday.

Because Hannah Montana The Final Season draws a curtain over the entire series run, it's notable for many reasons. We see Hannah grapple with "growing up" her music perhaps perhaps at the expense of her loyal young fans ("Hannah's Gonna Get This"), a storyline that parallels Miley Cyrus' leaps into more mature escapades (the episode tones down the leap, but her decision to move ahead is the same as in real life).

And when it comes to real life, it's got to be difficult to know where Hannah Montana ends and Miley Cyrus begins, and where she's going to go next. When The Monkees left the network, their albums stopped climbing the charts. However, Disney Channel may run the series for years, much like Nickelodeon runs the "Steve" episodes of Blues Clues even though he left the show years ago. Can Steve ever really leave it behind?

Time will tell. The strange thing about the DVD set is that, in the three short bonus features, there are moments that make those of us who have been keeping track of the Cyrus family issues in the media. On one, the cast says goodbye, Billy Ray even thanking the Disney Channel. Prophetically, in a short clip from a very early casting session, or something of that nature, he comments about how, if this show takes off, his little girl is never going to be the same, calling it a "double-edged sword." Interesting.

The most unusual thing is an "alternate ending" to the last show of the series. Without spoiling anything, suffice to say that one ends with Miley going to college (which we might hope she does in real life, as many specialists in child stardom will attest) and the other ending does not, though it implies that the whole thing might have been a... well, you'll see.

The package includes a glossy, hardcover scrapbook that houses the two discs, quite a nice package for the price.

Now if they could only fill in the gap with the other two dozen or so episodes in the middle...

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