TITLE: ACCORDING TO JIM - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
DVD Release Date: October 21, 2008 (Lionsgate/ABC Studios)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 470 minutes
Total Running Time of Special Features: approx. 34 minutes (not counting audio commentaries)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English & Spanish audio, no subtitles, Closed-Captioned.
Two Audio Commentaries on Episodes from Jim Belushi and Larry Joe Campbell
Season 1 According to Jim
Tour the According to Jim Set
Comedy Begins at Home
Finally the first season of one of the longest-running sitcoms on TV today is on DVD! That is of course the funny family sitcom According to Jim. According to Jim launched in October 2001 on ABC Wednesday nights at 8:30PM, just weeks after the September 11 attacks and quickly became a hit in the ratings and brought families together in a time of need. The show centers on a family, headed by Jim -- an abrasive but loveable father, his gorgeous but feisty wife Cheryl, their three precious children, Cheryl’s brother Andy, and Cheryl’s sister, Dana.
The series stars Jim Belushi as Jim, Courtney Thorne-Smith as Cheryl, Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Dana, Larry Joe Campbell as Andy, Taylor Atelian as Ruby, and Billi Bruno and Gracie.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The first season is probably not too common for people. I think most fans of the show discovered the show in its second season where it did its best on Tuesdays following 8 Simple Rules. I think that is when it became the big hit in quality as well, but this first season had some good episodes. I personally haven’t watched many of these, as I didn’t become a fan until season two, but I like the first season. Now the show has been in syndication for a few seasons, so people have seen it more, and will see it even more when TBS picks-up the cable rights in Fall 2009. I just cannot believe when the show launches later this season it will be in its eighth season! Time sure flies! Anyway, some of the memorable episodes from this first season include the “Pilot,” where Ruby enters Kindergarten, but Cheryl can't leave her alone on her first week, so Jim decides to try and lots of funny things occur! In “Anniversary,” it’s Jim and Cheryl's 10th Anniversary and Jim pays Dana to buy him an anniversary gift to give to Cheryl. In “The Crush,” Jim sets Dana up with a guy so perfect that even Cheryl falls for him. In “Andy’s Girlfriend,” Andy has a new girlfriend, and Cheryl wants Jim to treat her nicely because not only is she Andy's first girlfriend sine Carrie, but also Ruby's piano teacher. In “The Bad Word,” Cheryl leaves Jim in charge of their kids and some other kids who were there to play with the girls during a Bears game and overhear him say bad words. It’s Valentine’s Day in “The Blow Up,” when Cheryl has a revealing photo of herself taken as a Valentine gift to Jim, he proudly shows it to all his friends. In “Old Friends,” Jim has a run-in with an old friend from his wild and crazy days who is now a cop.
Guest starring this season are Garrett Morris, Nicole Sullivan, Kathleen Noone, Jim Rash, Brian Urlacher, and Dan Ackroyd. Jim Belushi’s son Robert Belushi has his first cameo this season as a pizza guy.
The packaging for this set has an outer box with a digipak case inside. Both the outer box and case have the same artwork on the front and back. The front has a shot Jim & Cheryl with their three kids sitting on a rope where you hang clothes with a pigeon also sitting next to them, with a nice blue sky and white clouds background. The show logo also appears, with The Complete First Season line on the top and Comedy Begins at Home on the bottom. The back has artwork of Cheryl & Jim posing and also Dana and Andy. We see a nice picket fence with grass and that rope where you hang clothes. Clipped on that rope is a sheet where special features details are listed.
The case comes out of the outer box from the left side. It was sort of hard to take out at first, but then I got the hang of it. Inside the case we have on the left side a nice listing of the episodes with episode number, title, and synopsis...the artwork continues that clothing line artwork with a pigeon sitting and two more “sheets” hanging on, one has a screenshot of Jim & baby Kyle and the other has a nice cast promotional photo. Then we have a disc holder that flips like a book. It is very good and works best because we get one disc on each side, so no overlapping occurs! The right side of the case continues the episode details and has that clothing line artwork with a pigeon sitting and two more “sheets” hanging on, one has a screenshot of Jim reading something scary to the girls and the other has a nice promotional photo of Andy and Dana.
As for disc art, each disc has a cast member, with that nice blue sky with white clouds background along with the clothing line rope with a pigeon sitting. You count the number of pigeons and that will tell you what disc we are on. Disc one has artwork of Jim and one pigeon sitting on the clothing line rope with episodes 1-6. Disc two has artwork of Cheryl and two pigeons sitting on the clothing line rope with episodes 7-13. Disc three has artwork of Andy and three pigeons sitting on the clothing line rope with episodes 14-20. Disc four has artwork of Dana and four pigeons sitting on the clothing line rope with episodes 21-22 & the special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
We start off the menu with an open transition with the show logo with the theme playing and we then go to the main menu. The main menu has nice cast photos on each disc (disc one has the same as the cover art, disc two has a different cast photo, disc three has just Jim & Cheryl and disc four has another cast photo). Lionsgate did a nice job choosing just images from the first season. Good research by them. On the main menu the full long theme is playing in the background. The options are Play All Episodes, Episode Selection, Audio Set Up, and Special Features (disc four only). Play All Episodes obviously just plays them all at once on that particular disc. Episode Selection takes us to another menu where we see a circle screenshot of each episode along with episode number and title. If the episode has an Audio Commentary track, you can turn it on or off from here. In Audio Set Up, we can either choose English 5.1 Stereo Sound or Spanish 5.1 Stereo Sound. There is no subtitles option. And obviously Special Features lists those, which we will get to in that section.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video is in its original widescreen form (16x9, 1.85:1)! While that is very good to hear, and good job by Lionsgate and hood job by ABC Studios for providing it to them, some of the video has some debris still here and there. But at least it is widescreen and not full screen! The audio is in a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio...and nothing to complain about. Each episode has about 4 chapter stops, though an episode or two have 5 stops. The episodes all run at approx. 21:30 range, some are shorter though, so check the runtimes below. Nothing is edited out or replaced, as far as I can tell. Approx. 21:30 was pretty standard by the 2001-02 season but one runs at 19:25, but it probably just ran short.
“No Nookie” (21:35)
“The Cat Came Back” (21:34)
“Unruly Spirit” (21:34)
“The Crush” (21:15)
“Cheryl’s Old Flame” (19:25)
“The Turkey Bowl” (21:34)
“Andy’s Girlfriend” (21:29)
“An According to Jiminy Christmas” (21:34)
“Bad Word” (21:34)
“Model Behavior” (21:14)
“The Money” (21:34)
“Under Pressure (21:34)
“Date Night” (21:14)
“Birthday Boys” (21:14)
“The Receipt” (21:24)
“Old Friends” (21:34)
“Cheryl’s Day Off” (21:24)
“No Surprises” (21:21)
We actually get some good special features! First on disc one, we get an audio commentary track for the “Pilot” episode from Jim Belushi and Larry Joe Campbell. They reminisce about the set, the looks, and camera angles. It is quite informative. Jim even finds a goof where we see a camera on the air! Very fun to listen! Then the duo return on disc three for the final audio commentary track for the episode “Old Friends.” Once again they give nice tidbits. Did you know that the outside scene shot for this episode was shot outside of the studio? They talk about Dan Ackroyd a lot, who guest starred on the episode. Once again this is fun to listen to. They are taping season eight as we speak, and they mention that.
The remaining extras are all on disc four and heavily feature Jim Belushi. The first one is “Season One According to Jim,” and that runs 7:28 and is exactly what the title says. Basically Jim is sitting on his famous chair on the set and is talking about this first season. He mentions stuff we heard on the commentaries from him, but we also learn more here. The next extra is “Tour the According to Jim Set,” and it runs 11:13. We get an exclusive tour of the set by Jim Belushi! They tape on stage 22. Jim does a great job and shows us the difference on the set now and back during season one. The next extra is maybe the best one. It is titled “Comedy Starts at Home,” and runs 11:53 and features interview with the cast! Interviewed are Jim Belushi, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Larry Joe Campbell and writer David Feeny. I’m surprised there was no Kimberly Williams-Paisley or the two girls at all on these extras. I know Kimberly’s role was reduced in season seven due to her pregnancy, but I hope she is in it a lot this coming season.
This was an excellent set. This is a great show that is much underappreciated. People just think it is a terrible sitcom that just keeps coming back every year, but they are wrong. The show was very strong in the ratings in its first few seasons and continued to be a solid player for many years. Lately it has been fed to American Idol many times and has replaced other sitcoms that didn’t work, so this is a great utility series now for ABC and will be used in that capacity again, perhaps in December this year during the holiday season.
As for the DVD itself, Lionsgate did a wonderful job. The packaging is great (all artwork from season one, too!), the video is actually in widescreen, and the extras are very decently produced. This is the first set that ABC Studios licensed to Lionsgate and some others will follow like Supernatural and October Road, and past sitcoms like 8 Simple Rules, My Wife & Kids, Hope & Faith, and Boy Meets World. ABC Studios will continue to release its current series and other popular items, while leasing some of its comedies and other series to Lionsgate. I think it is a good move as we see more shows being released!
The eighth season will air on ABC likely this December (no date as of yet), so you might want to start your collection now with this first season or if you have not seen the show yet...you better buy this DVD and try it out because it is very funny. Jim and Andy’s physical comedy is great and gets even better in future seasons. You better buy this DVD before Jim schemes up a plan to try and make you buy it in some crazy way! Save your receipts or you’ll end up like Jim with his DVD player!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by pavanbadal
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