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227 - The Complete First Season


TITLE: 227 - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info: DVD Release Date: September 28, 2004 (Columbia Tri-star Home Entertainment)
color, approx. 526 minutes
MSRP: $29.95
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Language and Subtitles: English, closed captioned
Special Features: “Stories from the Stoop,” “Three Ladies Remember 227,” “From Stage to Screen: 227,” Bonus Previews.


Introduction:

Child, if you’ve been looking for a good sitcom on DVD, I finally have one for you! 227: The Complete First Season includes (as the name implies) the complete first season of this great 1980s sitcom that starred Marla Gibbs, Jackee Harry, and Alaina Reed Hall. The series focused upon the friendships and the daily occurrences that happened in the apartment building where they all lived (which had the address 227), and despite the fact that the main cast was completely African American, their race was usually not even brought up as a topic in the show (which is very uncommon for sitcoms).


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The first season, although it isn’t necessarily in my opinion the best season, is still a great season and includes many great episodes. Besides the “Pilot” episode (and the second part of the “Pilot” episode, The Sidewalk Sale”), some of my personal favorite episodes were Mary’s Brother,” “Letter to the President,” “Pity the Poor Working Girl,” “We the People,” “Slam Dunked,” and “Pick Six.” The first season has many great plots, but it somewhat lacks in regards to guest stars and special appearances. The only somewhat notable guests in this season were Fran Drescher, Whitman Mayo, and LaWanda Page. Of course, whenever a show is fresh, the important thing is to develop the regular characters, so there really isn’t a need to reach out for guest stars.


Packaging:

The packaging on this set was done very well. Each individual disc has its own slim case. The back of each case has a brief description of all of the episodes on that disc, as well as crew information for each episode such directors and producers. The individual cases are all yellow, and each cast has a different screenshot taken from the show. They also have some text on each individual case, which includes quotes and trivia that has something to do with the character that has their picture on the particular case (for instance, the case for Disc One says “There’s no place like home! I mean no place, child.” and has “Mary Jenkins” written underneath it).

Disc One contains episodes 1-10, Disc Two contains episodes 11-20, and Disc Three contains episodes 21 and 22, as well as the special features (which are very good and will be described a little later in this review). It probably would have made a lot more sense to put fewer episodes on each disc (maybe 7 or 8 episodes per disc), but obviously, that isn’t how this set was done. The discs themselves are just plain black discs with the 227 logo on them.


Menu Design and Navigation:

When you put the DVD into the DVD player, you will be greeted with a menu that allows you to Play All episodes or to go to the Episode Selection screen. Of course, on Disc Three, there is also a Special Features option on the main menu. On the main menu on each disc, there is a screenshot from the show, but there is no music or anything. The menus are clearly very plain, but then again, the plainer they are, the easier it is to navigate the menus.


Video and Audio Quality:

As far as the audio and video quality of this set is concerned, there really aren’t any major concerns. The stereo audio is a little bit low, but it doesn’t seem to be quite as bad as some other Columbia Tri-star Home Entertainment releases. The video is generally pretty good, although it isn’t the sharpest that it could possibly be. The set is closed captioned.


Special Features:

Unlike many other TV-on-DVD products that have been released by Columbia Tri-star Home Entertainment, this DVD set contains many very good special features (in fact it is one of the better sets in comparison to other series when it comes to special features), including “From Stage to Screen: 227” (6:11), “Three Ladies Remembering 227” (6:33), and “Stories from the Stoop” (20:10). There are also previews for Classic Comedy (1:29), Contemporary TV (2:04), and Original Programming TV (2:05).

“From Stage to Screen: 227” is a very good featurette in which playwright Christine Houston, Marla Gibbs, and co-creator and producer Bill Boulware discuss the play that 227 was based upon and how it evolved from being a community theater play into being a sitcom. There is a lot of interesting background information here about the show as well, like why the address of the building is 227, why they created the character of Pearl, and it also discusses things that were in the play that just weren’t quite right for a sitcom.

The “Three Ladies Remembering 227” featurette has Marla Gibbs, Alaina Reed Hall, and Jackee Harry sitting together in a studio (I think they should have put them out on the stoop personally) discussing the show in general. They discuss what their characters were like as well as some of their favorite moments from the show. They don’t get into any discussions about things that the viewing audience never saw, but this is still interesting see these three actresses on the screen together discussing the show after not hearing much about the show in the past fifteen years.

“Stories from the Stoop” is the third (and perhaps the best) featurette on this set. It contains all-new interviews with Gerren Keith, Bill Boulware, Marla Gibbs, Christine Houston, Hal Williams (you may not believe how old he looks), Dick Bensfield, Roxie Wenk-Evans, Jackee Harry, Alaina Reed Hall, and Arlando Smith. In this featurette, there are individual interviews where each of the people discusses various things about the show. Some of these things include their favorite moments or what they liked about the characters, but there is also a lot of information here that most people that have watched the show may be surprised to find out, such as how Jackee original contract called for her doing only seven episodes, as well as how she had originally tried out to play the part of Rose. This featurette is definitely worth watching (although all of the ones on this set are technically).


Final Comments:

This may sound like a very good set and believe me, it is a good set. Of course no set is perfect. There is really only one thing (and it is relatively minor) that bothered me about this set. The episodes are arranged on the disc in the order that they were produced rather than the order they aired. That normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but with 227, if you wish to watch the episodes in the order that they aired, you will be changing the discs around more than a few times. For instance, the first episode on Disc One is the Pilot episode (which actually was not the first episode aired on NBC). This episode has a second part (The Sidewalk Sale) that was produced much later, and as a result, the second part is on Disc Two. Again, this is not a major issue, and in fact, if this is the only real problem with the set (and it seems to be), then there really isn’t much wrong with the set.

I would definitely recommend this set to anybody that likes 227. In fact, even if you don’t like 227, you should still consider purchasing this set. It is a very good show, and this set was done very well, almost to the point of perfection.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/07/04

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002O7Y8U/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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