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The winning and winsome Lifetime Television series Drop Dead Diva takes a great concept and then lets its terrific writers and actors run with it. Drop Dead Diva is based on a body-soul switcheroo that happens when a vapid model, Deb (Brooke D'Orsay), dies in a sudden car accident and comes back--accidentally--in the body of an overweight, overachieving attorney named Jane (the absolutely stellar Brooke Elliott). Elliott makes Deb-in-Jane's body a hilarious contradiction and compelling heroine, with Deb's and Jane's flaws combined into one opinionated, extremely entitled package. Drop Dead Diva is reminiscent of classic "switched" films like All of Me and Freaky Friday, with a little of The Truth About Cats and Dogs mixed in. Yet it is easily sustained as a TV series by the deft writing and excellent acting by Elliott, as well as the ensemble cast that includes Margaret Cho (never better), Jackson Hurst, April Bowlby, and Josh Stamberg. The show's setting in a law office ensures no shortage of great situations for comedy, drama, and pathos, yet the acting, writing, and direction are so light and assured that Drop Dead Diva really blazes its own trail. Elliott is a wonder, managing to capture shallow ("I have never been more than a size 2 and I don't intend to start now," says the newly revived, and horrified, Jane/Deb as her first words after recovering from what appeared to be a fatal gunshot wound) and quietly competent. (Happily, Jane retains her brilliant legal mind as well as her body; Deb contributes only her self-involved personality.) Drop Dead Diva easily could veer into preachiness or predictability yet snappily avoids both pitfalls, with sharply drawn and -acted characters that viewers want to follow over the story arcs. And Elliott is a skyrocket of a star, hilarious, heartbreaking, and believable, both as the meek, too-smart-for-her-own-good Jane and the Queen of Everything Deb. No wonder Drop Dead Diva is one of the Lifetime network's biggest breakout successes. The set includes all 13 episodes plus great extras for real fans, including deleted scenes, Ally McBeal-esque "dreamisodes," a making-of feature, and more. Long live the Diva!

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CO34609 Drop Dead Diva Complete1st Season DVD (2009) $24.95