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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Robson Arms: The Complete First Season (review)

A divorced mom and her schoolage son. The greaseball super. The newlyweds keeping secrets from each other. The Chinese-American extended family who runs the convenience store in the lobby. They’re just a few of the denizens of Robson Arms, a Vancouver apartment building faded from its former elegance but still home to an eclectic group of confused, lovelorn, mixed-up, warmly genuine tenants. This is the first season of the critically acclaimed Canadian half-hour dramedy, and while there are only 13 episodes spread across two discs, the package feels much richer: these are characters with full, compelling lives, and you will get thoroughly caught up in them. Though a loose continuity connects one episode to the next, each takes us behind the doors of a different apartment, giving us a fresh insight into modern urban neuroses — imagine Seinfeld as written by Anthony Trollope. The cast is, overall, not so well-known in the U.S. as they are north of the border, but famous faces include Mark McKinney (from The Kids in the Hall), William B. Davis (The X-Files’ Cancer Man), and Margot Kidder. Extras include commentary by directors and series creators on select episodes, a Season Two preview, French tracks (and you can flip the jewel case insert around for a French-language version), and more. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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