TITLE: DESIGNING WOMEN - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
DVD Release Date: August 11, 2009 (Shout! Factory)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 540 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: N/A
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; Closed-captioned
Special Features: None
The belles of the Sugarbaker design firm are back for another season of Designing Women! The Complete Second Season of Designing Women brings the hit sitcom from the late 80s and early 90s back for 22 more episodes from the 1987-1988 season of the series.
The series is the story of four single women in different stages of life coming together to run an interior decorating business in Atlanta. There is Julia (Dixie Carter), the intelligent and liberated widow who basically runs the business out of her own home. Then there is her younger sister Suzanne (Delta Burke), a woman that has had plenty of husbands (and plenty of alimony checks), but really isn’t worth much to the business aside from her investment into the business. Mary Jo (Annie Potts) is the soccer mom that is divorced from the soccer dad, and managing to get by raising her two children with her ex-husband. Charlene (Jean Smart) is the young and naďve woman that comes from the Deep South who has never been married. And of course, there is Anthony (Meschach Taylor), the ex-convict who has the fortune (and sometimes misfortune) of becoming one of the ladies by driving the delivery van for the business.
The series only barely made it into the second season. After a disappointing first season ratings-wise, the series was to be canceled, but it received a last minute reprieve and ultimately ended up on the 1987 fall lineup on CBS. And that was certainly a wise decision, as the series eventually did pick up and become a success. The second season is not necessarily the strongest of the series, but it does contain many great episodes that bring the series more to where it was when it did hit the strongest seasons.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The second season kicks off with the firm holding a promotional contest to decorate a room, but when Charlene distributes tickets to all the wrong places, it is a grungy gas station owner who wants his gas station redecorated in “101 Ways to Decorate a Gas Station.” In “Ted Remarries,” Mary Jo’s ex-husband is about to get remarried, but will her kids like their new stepmother more than Mary Jo? Is Anthony the baby’s daddy? That is what a strange woman is claiming in “Anthony, Jr.” The series has a very special episode with “Killing All the Right People,” where Sugarbaker & Associates is asked to decorate for the funeral of a young man dying of AIDS. Meanwhile, Mary Jo is reluctantly thrown into a position to defend giving away condoms at school. Bernice (Alice Ghostley) meets a man that is just as confused as she is in “Half an Air Bubble Off.”
In “Heart Attacks,” Julia begins to worry about losing another love of her life when Reese (Hal Holbrook) has a heart attack. The ladies go on a singles cruise in “Cruising” for a decorating job, though they’d probably be better off on the Titanic. Charlene wants a soldier for her birthday in “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and that is exactly what she gets. Douglass Barr makes his first appearance as Bill, the man who was Charlene’s love-interest for the remainder of her time on the series. Suzanne and Anthony decide to sleep together in a roadside motel in “Stranded,” but there isn’t a single thing that is romantic about it. The girls go on a group date with a lonely man in “Howard, the Date.”
Santa steals the gifts from Mary Jo’s house in the not-so-original episode “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Will Charlene and Bill suffer a relationship setback? Find out in “Second Time Around.” Julia and Suzanne’s brother is home from a mental institution in “Oh, Brother,” but it seems as if Anthony, Mary Jo, and Charlene are having an easier time understanding what is best for him than Julia or Suzanne. Claudia wants to take a boy that is black to a school dance in “There’s Some Black People Coming to Dinner,” but Mary Jo and his father may hit it off too. Suzanne is having financial trouble in “The Return of Ray Don,” and thinks that another marriage may solve that trouble.
Suzanne’s financial troubles are short-lived, though, as she hits it big in Atlantic City (along with Charlene and Anthony, her reluctant travel companions) in “High Rollers.” Suzanne pushes Julia into a high society club in “The Incredibly Elite Bona Fide Blue-Blood Beaumont Driving Club,” but what’ll happen when they reject Suzanne? Charlene goes against her minister on women’s rights on “How Great Thou Art.” The season ends with a classic battle of the sexes during a weekend getaway in “Reservations Plus Eight.”
The packaging used for this set is, much like most other Shout! Factory sets, almost identical to the previous season. I really like the fact that Shout! Factory keeps consistency like this on their DVD sets. The artwork on the cover is not identical to the artwork from The Complete First Season, but is very similar, with four vertical bars with each of the ladies and the house at the bottom of the box. The pictures are not the same pictures, but they are the same ladies, of course. The set uses a blue color scheme this time. The back of the box has a cast photo and several snapshots from the series, as well as detailed information about the season.
Inside, there are two slimcases, each holding two discs. Each case has a picture of two of the women dressed up as the classical southern belle, sitting on the front porch, complete with petticoats, parasols, hats, and fans. Julia and Mary Jo are on the case holding the first two discs, and Suzanne and Charlene are on the case holding the other two discs. On the back of each slimcase, there is a listing of the episodes on the discs and original airdates. Additionally, the set contains an episode booklet that is as detailed as the booklet from the first season, complete with episode descriptions and quotes from the episodes, only this time, we don’t have any special introductions by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The disc artwork has Suzanne on Disc 1, Julia on Disc 2, Mary Jo on Disc 3, and Charlene on Disc 4. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-6, Disc 2 contains episodes 7-11, Disc 3 contains episodes 12-17, and Disc 4 contains episodes 18-22.
Menu Design and Navigation:
We have the exact same menus that we had on The Complete First Season on this set. In fact, not a single thing has changed aside from the color scheme. It is a very low-key, but professional design that is classy and fitting for the series. The main menu has the theme music playing with videos from the episodes, and options of Play All and Episodes on the bottom of the screen. The Episodes option gives you a list of all of the episodes, and once you have selected an episode, it plays immediately. There are chapters placed in all of the appropriate places in each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
There were some video and audio issues with the first season, and as I indicated in that review, I believe that most of the issues come down to one simple fact: the episodes just looked this way originally and there really isn’t an economically feasible way of making them look better. Aside from that, even if the episodes were cleaned up a little bit more, it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to the enjoyment of the series. With that being said, the same pretty much applies to the second season. There is grain and debris here and there, the colors are washed out, and the series just looks aged. But despite all of that, it really isn’t that bad. The audio sounds a little better this time around, but it does tend to be a little low at times. Fortunately, every episode on the set is closed-captioned.
What fans are really more concerned about than the video and audio quality, of course, is whether or not the episodes are edited. And in this case, the episodes all appear to be unedited, complete with every moment of the series and even every song intact, as far as I can tell at least. Each episode runs at approximately 24 minutes. Runtimes for each episode are as follows:
1. 101 Ways to Decorate a Gas Station (23:37)
2. Ted Remarries (23:12)
3. Anthony Jr. (23:40)
4. Killing All the Right People (23:54)
5. Half an Air Bubble Off (23:39)
6. Dash Goff, the Writer (23:13)
7. Heart Attacks (23:13)
8. Cruising (23:15)
9. I'll Be Seeing You (23:58)
10. Stranded (23:15)
11. Howard the Date (23:05)
12. I'll Be Home for Christmas (23:13)
13. Great Expectations (23:20)
14. Second Time Around (23:44)
15. Oh, Brother (23:00)
16. There's Some Black People Coming to Dinner (23:14)
17. Return of Ray Don (23:12)
18. High Rollers (23:16)
19. The Incredibly Elite Bona Fide Blue-Blood Beaumont Driving Club (23:53)
20. How Great Thou Art (24:02)
21. Ted-Bare (24:00)
22. Reservations for Eight (24:19)
Sadly, the set contains no special features. I honestly don’t understand why the producers and/or actors of the series would not want to be involved on these DVD sets. Although there were some issues with egos when the series was originally aired, it seems that a lot of this has died down, and that they could get together to do something. The reunion from the Paley Center that was on the first season was nice, but it would be even nicer to see something created especially for these sets.
This is a great DVD set despite the lack of special features. Special features are always nice, but in all honesty, how many of us really watch those over and over? The episodes are the all-important part of any DVD set, and these are great episodes on this set. The episodes still don’t look so great on the huge LCD TVs that we watch today, but like every other classic TV series, it wasn’t intended to be that way. Overall, fans will appreciate this set, and potential “new fans” might want to try out this series too. There are a lot of fans of The Golden Girls out there, and this series has a lot of similarities to that series, but is unique at the same time. It is also important to know that it appears that Shout! Factory plans to move ahead with releases of this series. It seems that the series is doing well on DVD, and in the episode booklet, there is indeed confirmation that seasons 3 and 4 will be “coming soon,” with no specific dates given. So get Georgia on your mind today with the Complete Second Season of Designing Women!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 07/25/09
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