TITLE: CAROLINE IN THE CITY - THE FIRST SEASON
Release Date: August 12, 2008 (CBS DVD)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: approx. 8 hours 53 mins.
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 12 minutes
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
Special Features: Episodic Promos
A successful syndicated cartoonist, Caroline Duffy (Lea Thompson) is a neurotic New Yorker who draws upon life’s little experiences for comic inspiration. Aiding her in her quest for love and material are a zany trio of co-workers and friends including her boyfriend Del (Eric Lutes), her sarcastic but secretly smitten assistant Richard (Malcolm Gets), and her neighbor and best friend Annie (Amy Dietz). Caroline in the City is a smart and funny comedy jam-packed with witty banter, caustic comebacks, and wicked one-liners.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
I haven’t seen this show since it originally aired. I watched the first couple of years, then lost interest and stopped watching. Nothing against the show, I just kind of forgot about it (If you check closely, you can find that sentence in a few other series’ reviews too. It’s just the way I view TV). The show has high spots and low spots, but I’ve got to be terribly honest with you, the readers -- this review has had a long turnaround time for me just because I wasn’t particularly enthused about the show. I liked it once upon a time, but it took me a while to drum up interest. Slowly, I did -- the show is good, it just took me a while to get back into it. The pilot is always required viewing, while few episodes in between disappoint. For those of you who were in my boat, it may take a while to warm up, but once you do it is good stuff.
Episode 4 features a minor Frasier crossover -- both Jane Leeves (Daphne) and David Hyde Pierce (Niles) play their Frasier characters in a scene at the end in which Niles is reading the comic strip. In “Caroline and the ATM,” Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) appears. She would reappear a few more times in the season. In a Friends crossover in “Caroline and the Folks,” Matthew Perry appears as Chandler. In Caroline and the Opera, Jean Stapleton (Edith on All in the Family) guests as Caroline’s aunt. Florence Henderson appears as herself in “Caroline and the Balloon.” Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie appear in “Caroline and the Watch.” Kathy Griffin appears in “Caroline and the Movie,” as does film director John Landis. Meshach Taylor of Designing Women appears as Caroline’s agent in “Caroline and the Cereal.” John Ratzenberger -- Cliff from Cheers -- appears in Caroline and Richard’s mom. Melora Hardin -- Jan from The Office -- appears in the episode “Caroline and the Bridesmaids,” as does...game show host Pat Finn? Apparently. Wrapping the list up is Lenny from Laverne & Shirley, member of Spinal Tape, and former SNL cast member Michael McKean, who appears in the episode Caroline and the Wedding.
If you’ve read the review of any DVD set put out by the studio releasing this one -- CBS/Paramount -- you pretty much can have an idea of exactly how this will read. For those who haven’t: Hard plastic clear case. Inside features three discs. One and two are on opposite sides of a swinging plastic panel in the center. Disc 3 is fixed to the inner-right of the physical case itself. Discs, as always with this studio, are silver with the show logo being a shinier silver. Cover art is rather simple, and features the animation style of those bits of the show. Cover art can be viewed at the top of the review -- no sense describing what you can see for yourself already. Each disc holds 8 episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menu is extremely well-designed -- but static with no music -- it features Caroline sitting, pencil in hand, in front of a drawing board. Sketched onto various pieces of paper are the show logo, a list of episodes, the play all option, and ”Play all episodic promos.” More on the promos in the features section. Each episode has a simple sub-menu featuring a close shot of the drawing board, with various scraps of paper housing different bit of text, plus a photo of Caroline sitting on a big apple. All three discs follow this style, though a different cast member is placed in front of the drawing board for each disc.
Video and Audio Quality:
The mid 1990s are a border area in terms of picture quality. The newer stuff was shot on better material in the first place, while the stuff older tends to look poorer due to stock quality and aging. But it’s great to say that the picture quality is quite good. The only places where there are any defects at all are in the opening cartoons that lead off the show in the earliest episodes. They feature somewhat noticeable grain, especially against white surfaces. But to get an idea of what the video might otherwise look like, check the episode promos for comparisons. Audio is great stuff. The theme, introduced a bit before half-way, is intact and sounds good. Chapter stops are placed at the end of each act for a total of 4 stops per episode.
Now for the painful part: In low-contrast fine print near the bottom of the rear cover of the packaging is not one but two disclaimers: “Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions” AND “Music has been changed for this home entertainment release.” All of this licensing garbage that causes this mess really REALLY gets under my skin. Better to have something than nothing, though, in my opinion.
Episodes are in BROADCAST order:
Caroline and the Mugger: 22:20
Caroline and the Gay Art Show: 22:30
Caroline and the Bad Back: 21:55
Caroline and the ATM: 22:30
Caroline and the Folks: 22:31
Caroline and the Opera: 22:20
Caroline and the Balloon: 21:35
(Take a guess at which two episodes in the bunch probably contain edits...)
Caroline and the Convict: 21:21
Caroline and the Christmas Break: 22:16
Caroline and the Gift: 22:25
Caroline and the Married Man: 21:55
Caroline and the 28lb. Walleye: 22:14
Caroline and the Watch: 22:16
Caroline and the Bad Date: 22:24
Caroline and the Proposal: 22:19
(Once again, take a stab at where the edits probably are...)
Caroline and the Kid: 22:12
Caroline and the Ex-Wife: 22:30
Caroline and the Movie: 21:54
Caroline and the Cereal: 22:17
Caroline and Richard’s Mom: 22:25
Caroline and the Bridesmaid: 22:30
Caroline and the Wedding: 22:30
Caroline and the Condom: 21:30
There’s only one, but given the studio producing the release that’s a monumental increase.
Episodic promos -- 30 second promos for each episode. These aren’t the NBC promos; rather they’re the syndication promos for each of the season’s episodes. 30 seconds x 24 episodes = 12 minutes
It took me a really long time to get back into the show, but once I did it’s quite good. The humor really holds up well. I’m not at all a fan of edits, music replacements, etc. -- but I’d rather the show be on DVD edited than not be on DVD at all. It’s good stuff, and despite the edits I still wholeheartedly recommend you pick up this set – it is quality entertainment. But please, CBS/Paramount, try a little harder to not have to resort to edits and music replacements -- it just makes the finished product look poorer than it should.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3.5/5
Special Features: 1/5
*Half-point deducted for edits
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 08/07/08
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