By Allison Skornick-Rose
Sep 26, 2016 05:27 PM EST

Empire: The Complete Second Season DVD Review

The cast is outstanding and Terrence Howard is a force to be reckoned with.
Empire: The Complete Second Season DVD Review
Purchase  DVD | Digital HD
You know rap music has finally hit mainstream when it gets its own prime time soap opera. Empire premiered on FOX in 2015 and immediately became a success garnering Golden Globe and Emmy Nominations.  Season Two was just as intense at the original, with drama in every one of the eighteen episodes in the season.  I wasn't sure how long they could keep the Season One momentum going, but they seemed to have strengthened over time and just seem to keep on getting better and better.

With a baby on the way and a character dying, the season ended with some serious cliffhangers.  We also got to see Jamal (Jussie Smollett; On Our Own) get shot and develop PTSD, which could ultimately sideline his career, and we met the long thought dead Leah Walker (Leslie Uggams; Deadpool), Lucious's (Terrence Howard; Iron Man) estranged, vicious,  batsh*t crazy mother.  As always, the Lyons family is embroiled in bitter family disputes with plenty of backstabbing and lying to go around.

For those unfamiliar with the show, The Lyon family is Hip Hop royalty and Lucious, the patriarch, is CEO of the record label (which turns into Co-CEO with Cookie [Taraji P. Henson; Person of Interest] by the finale).  They have 3 sons - Jamal, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray in his first acting role) and Andre (Tai Byers; Selma).  Andre is married to Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday; Catch Me If You Can) and Hakeem is having a baby Anika (Grace Gealey; in her first acting role) who ends up marrying Lucious - got all that?  Like I said…drama.

Empire does everything right, which is why it is one of the best shows on television.  Even though it is meant for a mid-20's audience based on its soundtrack, clothing and "gangsta" references, it really is a good old fashioned Nighttime Soap Opera at heart, with great plot twists and terrific acting.  It has so much to offer one can't help but get caught up in the story returning week after week to see what will happen next.

The cast is outstanding and Terrence Howard is a force to be reckoned with.  His often calm demeanor belies the fierce rage bubbling under the surface.  Henson is a no holds barred, kick ass woman who demands respect.  Smollett is delightful as Jamal, the out of the closet superstar.  He is not only easy on the eyes but the ears as well, as his velvety vocals highlight much of the soundtrack.

And that leads us to the music.  I'm not generally a fan of Hip Hop or Rap but Empire's soundtrack has so much more to offer.  Since much of it is produced by Ne-Yo, it is high quality and radio ready.  From beautiful R&B ballads to Hip Hop songs, the soundtrack is just as worthwhile as the show itself and the Dolby Digital audio on the DVD does a great job of highlighting the snippets of great tracks heard on the show.

The DVD also has a number of terrific extras for fans to enjoy including uncut music performances and studio sessions showing snippets of Smollett and others recording the music along with producer Ne-Yo.  There is also a Fred Gratz music video and a feature entitled The Look of Empire that takes the audiences behind the scenes with set designers who discuss how they came up with the unique furniture and artwork for the show. Finally, there is an 18-minute look at members of the Empire cast in Japan on the USO Tour.

If you know nothing about Empire, I suggest you run out and get the Season Two DVD and binge watch it since Season Three has already started and you have a lot of catching up to do.  If you are a fan of the show you should buy the DVD so you can rewatch all the backstabbing and secrets over and over again while enjoying the extras.  This is a quality show full of entertainment that will keep you interested from start to finish.

Grade: B+

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