Emmy Award winners Kelsey Grammer ("Cheers", "Frasier") and Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond") celebrate
their eagerly anticipated return to television in the hilarious Back to You!
Grammer stars as Chuck Darling, a womanizing anchorman returning to Pittsburgh station WURG
after an ill-fated career move. Reunited with his high-strung co-anchor, Kelly Carr. Chuck is
shocked to learn that he is the father of her ten-year-old daughter. With the support of the station's
uproariously eclectic crew, Chuck rekindles his on-screen chemsitry with Kelly, but offscreen, it's
a whole different story. Stay tuned for a fresh, funny and quick-witted comedy. And now, Back to You!
Show History / Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Back to You premiered on FOX on September 19, 2007. It aired on Wednesday nights at 8:00PM ET and did
a respectable 9.44 million viewers for its premiere. After the writers' strike ended, the show aired
on February 26 and 27 before moving to Wednesdays at 8:30PM ET on April 16. The series was created and executive produced
by Christopher Llyod ("Wings", "Frasier", "Out of Practice") and Steven Levitan ("Just Shoot Me", "Stark Raving Mad",
"Frasier"). James Burrows directed the episodes. The series starred Kelsey Grammer as Chuck Darling, Patirica Heaton as Kelly Carr, Fred Willard
as Marsh McGinley, Ayda Field as Montana Diaz Herrera, Josh Gad as Ryan Church, Ty Burrell
as Gary Crezyzewski, Laura Marano as Gracie Carr (episodes 1-9) and Lily Jackson as Gracie Carr (episodes 10-17).
There was a lot of competition between the networks before FOX won the rights
in February 2007 and gave it a blind 13-episode commitment. FOX aired a total of 14 episodes with 3 additional
episodes never broadcast.
There was originally going to be 24 episodes produced, but the writer's strike limited them to only 17.
Memorable episodes included "Fish Story," in which Chuck wants to prove to Kelly that he's responsible
enough to be a part of their daughter's life, but he has enough trouble just keeping a goldfish alive.
The co-anchors both have something to prove when Chuck accepts a dinner invitation from Ryan
and Kelly gears up for a night on the town with Montana in "A Night of Possibilites."
As the news team prepares to host Gracie's class field trip to WURG, Chuck and Kelly disagree
about how Gracie should deal with a school bully in "Gracie's Bully."
While Chuck babysits the precocious Gracie, Kelly gets the last word in at the funeral
of a former colleague in "Cradle to Grave." Chuck decides to butt in when a rival news anchor
asks Kelly out on a date in "Business or Pleasure." Chuck and Kelly's decision to tell Gracie
the truth about her parentage takes them back to New Year's Eve, 1997 - the night that Gracie
was conceived in "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back."
Notable guest stars included Adam Busch as a Production Assistant in the "Pilot" and "The First Supper."
Regan Burns appeared as Mr. Robbins and Bill Macy was Troy in "A Gentleman Always Leads."
Tom Kane was the Voiceover Narrator and Tia Carrere played Maggie in "A Night of Possiblities."
Charisma Carpenter guest starred as Brooke in "Gracie's Bully." Stepanie Faracy appeared as Peg
in "The Wall of Fame." Diahann Carroll played Sandra Jenkins in "Hug and Tell." Suzy Nakamura
guest starred as Ginger Ko in "The New Boss" and "Chuck and Kelly, Doin' It Again." Jayma Mays
played Shelley in "Date Night."
This three-disc DVD set contains all 17 episodes that were produced (3 which never aired on FOX) for the first and
sadly only season (2007-08). The packaging is your standard Amaray movie-style case. Patricia Heaton and
Kelsey Grammer, sitting at the newsdesk, are featured on the cover. Their names and the show logo are at the top of the case.
The slogan "The News Has Hit The Fan" is at the bottom. This set is referred to "Season 1" and
not "The Complete Series". I guess they weren't sure if they were coming back for a second season
at the time the cover art was made. On the back of
the case, there is a photo of Ty Burrell, Ayda Field, Kelsey Grammer leaning back on a chair, Patricia Heaton
and Fred Willard. Where's Josh Gad or the two actresses that played Gracie?
A synopsis of the show, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs are noted. The same photo of Heaton and
Grammer that is used on the cover is used on the spine of the case.
Opening the case, there is a plastic holder in the middle that holds discs 1 and 2. Disc 3 is in an
embedder holder on the back of the case. A double-sided paper sheet is included that gives the episode titles, original
airdates and some pretty detailed summaries sorted by disc. There are various photos of the cast from the episodes
in various television sets on the bottom. A large photo of Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton holding a microphone
is on the back of the sheet. There is also a sheet included that promotes some of 20th Century Fox
other TV on DVD releases. The discs have the show logo and the Back to You logo on them, along
with a different photo on each. Disc 1 has a photo of Kelsey Grammer and holds the series pilot and episodes 1-6.
Disc 2 has a photo of the sexy Patricia Heaton and holds episodes 7-13. Disc 3 pictures Ty Burrell,
Ayda Field and Fred Willard and holds episodes 14-16 and the special features. Josh Gad gets snubbed again.
He should have been included here.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The anamorphic widescreen menus are attractive and easy to navigate. They feature photos
of the cast and different background music for the various sections. All of the menus have a gold
and light blue color scheme with an outline of the Pittsburgh skyline in the background. The main menus on each
disc have a photo of Grammer and Heaton at the newsdesk. The Back to You logo is above their heads.
There is a 30-second upbeat news theme that plays in the background and then loops.
A vertical listing of the episodes in a light blue box is shown on the right side of the screen. The episode
you select is underlined. There is a "Play All" button in a red bar below that. When you select an episodes, it takes
you to a sub-menu where there is a still image from each episode. You can play the episode, choose
the Langauge Selection menu or the Scene Selection menu. The Language Selection menu features a photo
of Ayda Field with a weather map in the background. There is 21 seconds of some comedic music that is
played in the background. You can choose from English, Spanish or French subtitles.
The Scene Selection menu features 5 still shots from the episodes. There is 43 seconds of some nice piano
music that plays in the background. Sounds a little bit like the Frasier theme. The Special Features
menu on disc 3 has a photo of Fred Willard with some stadium lights in the background. The main title
theme plays for about 23 seconds and then loops. I really liked the news theme more than
this one. I think they should have used it in the opening credits. Chapter stops are available within the episodes
at the appropriate places.
Video and Audio Quality:
Back to You was shot with multiple cameras and was recorded in front of a live studio audience.
It originally aired in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen in high defintion and in 1.33:1 fullscreen
in standard defintion. All of the episodes on this DVD set are in widescreen. As you would expect from
a show that just aired within the last year, the episodes look outstanding. The picture and colors
are very sharp. There is very little grain. Most of the shooting was done on interior sets, but ther were a few
exterior shots. I think they did an excellent job with the newsroom set and they made some improvements to
Chuck and Kelly's office in later episodes. All of the episodes appear to be unedited with runing times with around 20-22 minutes in length - with one exception. There was a line cut from the episode "Something's Up There" that only aired when it was originally broadcast. For more details on this controversy, see the Wikipedia
page. Some of the episodes originally had "Previously on Back to You" recaps, and all of those are included.
For the closing logo enthusiasts, there are logos for Picture Day Productions and 20th Century Fox Television.
The audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound track. The volume is at a good level and the dialogue is easy to understand. It was mostly a dialogue driven show, so there isn't a lot of use for the surround sound.
Since the show was shot in front of a live audience, the laugh track is real. I don't remember any songs being used on the show. It seemed to be all original score, so there probably was no music that had to be replaced.
Subtitles are available in English, Spanish and French. The special features are not rated or
The episodes are presented in their original FOX broadcast order, which differs a little bit
with the order in which they were actually produced. Three episodes were never aired by FOX (although they have aired
overseas) and are presented as the final three. Here is the episode list, including the running times:
1. Pilot (09/19/07) (22:49)
2. Fish Story (09/26/07) (21:51)
3. The First Supper (10/03/07) (21:41)
4. A Gentleman Always Leads (10/10/07) (20:52)
5. A Night of Possiblites (10/17/07) (21:28)
6. Gracie's Bully (11/07/07) (21:41)
7. Something's Up There (11/14/07) (21:36)
8. Cradle to Grave (02/26/08) (21:40)
9. Business or Pleasure? (02/27/08) (21:40)
10. Wall of Fame (04/16/08) (21:30)
11. Hug and Tell (04/23/08) (21:36)
12. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back (04/30/08) (21:37)
13. The New Boss (05/07/08) (21:41)
14. Chuck and Kelly, Doin' It Again (05/14/08) (20:26)
15. Date Night (unaired) (21:29)
16. The House of Tomorrow (unaired) (21:41)
17. Hostage Watch (unaired) (21:27)
The special features are pretty decent, although I think we would have seen some more had the
show been picked up for a second season. We get a little over 42 minutes of extras on disc 3.
There are two featurettes and a gag reel. The interviews definitely looked like they were all made
before they got official word that the show would not be back for another season. There's really no closure
on these special features, except for a text message that appears at the end of them that says
"Special thanks to the cast and crew of Back to You." It would have been nice to have
some commentaries, deleted scenes and additional interviews but it probably would have been too soon
after cancelation for them. Most fans will probably be satisfied with what's on these DVDs, plus
the three unaired episodes.
Behind the Scenes with "Back to You" (26:40) - This featurette includes interviews with Kelsey Grammer,
Co-Creator/Executive Producer Steven Levitan, Patirica Heaton, Co-Executive Producer Dan O'Shannon,
Fred Willard, Ty Burrell, Director/Executive Producer James Burrows, Co-Executive Producer Gail Lerner,
Josh Gad, Casting Director Liz Marx, Co-Executive Producer Jeffrey Richman, Co-Executive Producer Chuck Tatham,
Co-Executive Producer Andrew Gordon and Producer Maggie Blanc.
There are a lot of clips from the show, script/table readings and rehearsal footage, and behind the scenes shots
that are mixed with the interviews. Some of Josh Gad's audition footage is also included.
Among the topics they cover: how the idea for the show started, Kelsey's character,
the original title for the show, how they filled in the cast, working with Director James Burrows,
the difficulties in pronouncing Gary's last name (it's "Sure-shwoov-ski"), the characters of Marsh
McGinley and Ryan Church, how they recast two parts from the original hires, the script writing process, the
shooting schedule, some of the highlights of the season and where some of the ideas for the episodes came from, why they
recast the daughter, and the effect that the writers' strike had on the show. This featurette provides a good interview
of the show and even the most die-hard fans will probably learn something new.
This Just In: A Humorous Look at the Local News Anchor (9:15) - This featurette includes interviews
with Co-Creator/Executive Producer Steven Levitan, Josh Gad, Co-Executive Producer Dan O'Shannon,
Fred Willard, Co-Executive Producer Chuck Tatham, Co-Executive Producer Gail Lerner and Ty Burrell.
They talk about how they looked at YouTube clips and bloopers and how they worked them into the show,
the background banter by the characters, Steven's background as a reporter in Madison, WI, and their
local news stories and experiences. There's really nothing too interesting or ground-breaking here,
but it's not a bad special feature.
Gag Reel (6:24) - It opens with the main title them and then leads to the bloopers. There are some very
funny moments here and even one unbleeped line by Grammer. Most of them are in excellent video quality. There is a timer on some of them. You can see the bluescreen in the background on some of them where they didn't finish the shot.
These are presented in fullscreen, unlike the previous two special features which are in widescreen.
Back to You had all the makings of a sure-fire hit. When you put together two sitcom legends with
an experienced producing, writing and directing team - what could possibly go wrong?
The show really lived up to my expectations as far as the quality of the show, but I believe it was mishandled
by FOX. Grammer and Heaton were great together. They had instant chemistry. Fred Willard's
Marsh McGinley was my favorite character and had some hilarious lines. The rest
of the supporting cast was also very solid. I don't think the writing was always up to par and it was
sometimes too predictable, but that is something they could have fixed in time. The show got off to a respectable start, but then was hurt in the ratings when people started to sample "Pushing Daisies." When their numbers started
to build after the initial drop, they were hit with the writers' strike and taken off the air for weeks.
They made several changes to the show by dropping Ayda Field from the show and bringing in a younger
actress to play Gracie, but I don't think think either move helped the show. Any momentum they had in November
was lost. When the show finally came back in February, I don't think it was promoted enough. After
only 2 more airings in February, it was taken off for another 6 weeks. That was no way to build an audience.
Ultimately, I think the show was canceled because it was too expensive to produce with two major sitcom
stars. FOX renewed the cheaper to produce and probably more profitable "'Til Death" despite lower ratings and picked up
"Do Not Disturb." "Do Not Disturb" became the first cancellation of this season after only three
episodes. Makes you think they made a very poor decision in not renewing Back to You.
As far as this set, it's a pretty decent release. I'm sure we would have been given many more special features, such as commentaries and additional featurettes, if the show had been picked up for a second season.
Fans will be pleased to see the three episodes that never aired in the U.S.. I was always puzzled why FOX never
bothered to air them. Maybe they were going to hold them for the second season before deciding not to pick it up
for a second season. The interviews with the cast and crew are pretty interesting, but it would have been nice to see Ayda Field and the actresses that played Gracie be part of them. It's really too bad this show wasn't give more of a chance. I think it would have had a better chance at success at CBS or ABC. CBS could have used it to launch a new night
of comedy. The show had a cult-like following here at Sitcoms Online and there were several campaigns to try and save the show, but ultimately the networks passed on it and
the actors have moved on to other roles.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 10/29/08
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