VH1 made cable ratings history in 2006 with "Flavor of Love," a dating/reality show featuring Public Enemy's hype man, Flavor Flav. The following year VH1 enlisted "Flavor's" creator/producer, Mark Cronin, to try and recreate the magic with another celebrity dating show, "Rock of Love," but this time with a white musician. Unfortunately, they couldn't find a "musician" so they settled for former Poison lead singer Bret Michaels. Best known for his sickeningly sweet and overplayed ballad from 1988, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," Michaels is an odd choice to front his own show, considering he hasn't been culturally relevant since grunge destroyed the hair metal scene back in the early nineties. Then again, this is VH1 we're talking about; with shows featuring Scott Baio, Brigitte Nielsen, and Screech from "Saved by the Bell," it's become the channel where forgotten stars of yesterday go to die. Speaking of death, it's slightly shocking that none of the contestants on "Rock of Love" themselves died, what with the amount of binge drinking that occurs and the drunken fights that ensue. But none of them did, although I'm sure that after viewing their children's childish antics, many of their parents did die, from embarrassment.
"Rock of Love" doesn't stray too far from the basic framework of most reality-dating shows. Twenty-five women populate a house for a few weeks, all vying for the attention of a man that eliminates them one-by-one each episode, until only his "true love" remains. It's the same sort of show as "The Bachelor" or "Joe Millionaire," a pack of trashy girls tearing each other apart for a man they just met. It's not necessarily compelling television; in reality, it's simply the evolution of trashy programs like Jerry Springer but with slightly more attractive people and more booze than meth. I am by no means a fan of reality television, the little I've seen of it has generally infuriated me with the shallowness of our society, but damn it, there's just something about Bret Michaels and "Rock of Love" that draws me in. Maybe it's the skanky girls sipping on cocktails, but it's more likely my perverted fascination with Bret's hair weave/bandana/cowboy hat combination and his daily use of mascara. There's just something about a dude with fake hair and "guyliner" that makes me want to hear him wax philosophically about love…and then laugh uncontrollably at his thoughts and beliefs.
I might as well admit it now, I was (and still am, "Talk Dirty to Me" is an American classic!) a Poison fan, and I watched every single episode of "Rock of Love" when it originally aired on VH1. I let myself become obnoxiously obsessed with the women whoring themselves out to Bret, to the point that I actually started looking them up on-line to find out more about them. I had to know, Is Heather really a nasty old stripper? Is Lacey really that evil and manipulative in real life? Can any of the girls on the show be endowed with more than a B cup, thank Mother Nature for their "gifts?" And just what the hell is wrong with Tiffany ("Don't threaten me with a good time") Carmona? The answers in order are yes, yes, no, and I don't think a team of physicians and psychiatrists could answer that question.
After enjoying every episode during the show's initial run (admittedly aided by an alcohol intake mirroring the girls on the show), I was really looking forward to watching the program again on DVD. The original airing of "Rock of Love's" thirteen episodes were riddled with profanity, censoring bleeps, and blurred-out nudity. While I wasn't necessarily expecting to see the ladies in various stages of undress on the DVD set, I was definitely expecting to hear all the curse words exorcised from broadcast. But instead of actually giving the fans what they want, Anchor Bay released one of the laziest TV-on-DVD sets I've ever seen. Not only are all the episodes exactly the way they were broadcast during their initial airing, the disc's producers even left in the "coming up" clips that appear before the commercial breaks, spoiling the flow of the show. Why the hell would you leave in the promotional tool used to keep viewers tuned to your station when you transfer it to DVD? There is absolutely no excuse for not having an uncensored audio track and eliminating the "coming up" bumpers other than plain old laziness. How can Anchor Bay expect people to pay thirty-five dollars for a show that's constantly being rerun daily in the exact same format on VH1?
The full screen 1.31:1 video looks just as it did when it was shown on cable. It's nothing special other than the fact that there aren't the annoying pop-up ads that constantly appear during broadcast.
Anchor Bay missed the boat by only having one solitary Dolby Digital Stereo track. It sounds fine, but the lack of uncensored audio keeps this set from being great. I would have recommend this set with great fervor if it hadn't gone the lazy route of forcing viewers to pay for the same show that they've already seen or could see without dishing out the extra dough.
Possibly the only reason for picking up this overpriced set would be to see the five bonus scenes featuring uncensored audio. But, truthfully, the scenes only add up to just over twenty-five minutes and only the "phone sex" clip is worth watching. Hearing Rodeo tell Bret that she wants to BLEEP his BLEEP and BLEEP his BLEEP from the top of his BLEEP down to his BLEEP was pretty shocking. But in the end it just made me even angrier that the rest of the show was censored. It was as if the disc's creators wanted to tease the audience with what could have been. The other clips involving food fights and Bret playing "Every Rose Has Its Thorns" for the hundred-and-thirty-eighth time on the show are pretty forgettable.
Even though Brett Michaels is an undeniable douche bag, and he comes across about as honest as a cigarette lobbyist, I really enjoyed every episode of "Rock of Love." From the early drunken antics of Tiffany through the gender-defying voice of Magdalena to the final reunion episode where the girls air their dirty laundry, it's a show that will easily become most viewers' guilty pleasure. It's just really unfortunate that this show was not released "uncensored"; there simply isn't a possible reason for keeping the "bleeps" in the show. After all, what person who plans on watching a show that revolves around a sex-crazed former rock star wooing a house full of strippers and models on their way to becoming strippers would be offended by a series of "f-bombs?" In the end, I'd recommend folks just watch the reruns of "Rock of Love" on VH1 and look for the uncensored "phone sex" scene on-line. Anchor Bay did the fans of the show a huge disservice by not allowing them to view the episodes uncensored.