Release Date: February 14, 2012 (Warner Home Video)
Packaging: Keep-case with outer box
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 581 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: English & French Subtitles; No captioning.
Special Features: None
After almost a two-year wait, Family Matters is continuing on DVD! Warner Home Video has released the complete second season on DVD with all 25 episodes on a nice three-disc set! Of course, Family Matters aired from 1989-1998 on ABC’s popular TGIF block on Friday nights. The sitcom is a spin-off of the ABC series Perfect Strangers (1986-1993), which had Harriette as the elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle (where Larry and Balki worked). This spin-off focuses on her family, the Winslow’s. The Winslow family consists of Harriette’s husband Carl, who is a police officer, and their kids Eddie, Laura and Judy. Also living with them are Harriette’s sister Rachel and her infant son Richie, along with Carl’s mother.
But the major breakout star of this show was friend and neighbor Steve Urkel! Get your geek on with Steve Urkel, the ultimate nerd and annoying neighbor of Carl and Harriette Winslow and their multigenerational Chicago clan. Urkel's irrepressible spirit, not-so-smooth moves, and undying love for Laura Winslow cause the family constant aggravation and occasional delight. And whether he's burning down the café where he works, sharking the local pool hall, or proving the existence of Santa, the Urkman's got what it takes to turn any situation into memorable family fun. What was hilarious and heart-warming then is classic comedy now!
Family Matters stars Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow, JoMarie Payton-France as Harriette Winslow, Rosetta LeNoire as Estelle Winslow, Darius McCrary as Eddie Winslow, Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow, Jamiee Foxworth as Judy Winslow, Bryton McClure as Richie, with Jaleel White as Steve Urkel and Telma Hopkins as Rachel.
Jaleel White is now an official member of the regular cast! Season two is one of my favorite seasons and this was the season where it saw its highest ratings. The series was a staple on ABC Friday nights at 8pm. This DVD uses airdate order, like on the first season DVD, which I think best fits the show.
In the season premiere “Rachel’s Place,” after Steve accidentally burns down Leroy's, the local teen hangout, Rachel decides to open up her own diner and calls it Rachel's Place. In “Marriage 101,” Steve is paired with Laura in a class assignment about marriage. In the memorable episode “The Crash Course,” an unlicensed Eddie loses control of the family car, and crashes it into the front of the house. In “Cousin Urkel,”after Steve annoys the entire neighborhood with his late-night playing of "Feelings" to serenade Laura (at Eddie's encouragement), he is sent to live with relatives in Mississippi and the Winslows think they're in for a few Urkel-free weeks, when in pops Myrtle Urkel, the splitting image of her cousin. In “Requiem for An Urkel,” Laura is being antagonized and bullied by Willie Fuffner (Larenz Tate) for refusing to go to the dance with him. In “Fast Eddie Winslow,” Eddie loses a bet with a pool hustler, and unable to pay his debt off, soon finds himself and others being threatened with serious harm. In the popular episode “Life of the Party,” Steve teaches everyone how to "Do the Urkel" at Maxine's rooftop party, but the party may be his last when Willie Fuffner spikes the punch with whiskey. In “Fight the Good Fight,” Laura and Steve push for Black History classes in their school, but things quickly turn ugly thanks to their racist classmates. On the emotional episode “Finding the Words,” Jimmy Holmes (Paul Winfield), claiming to be a long-lost family friend of the Winslows turns out to be much closer when Jimmy tells Carl that he's Jimmy Baines, Harriette and Rachel's father, who walked out on them years earlier. On the season finale, “I Should Have Done Something,” Carl is haunted by the memory of a hostage situation gone wrong.
Among the guest stars this season are Shawn Harrison as Waldo, Cherie Johnson as Maxine, Barry Jenner as Lt. Murtaugh, Larenz Tate as Fuffner, Susan Krebs as Mrs. Steuben, and Paul Winfield.
The episodes are all unedited except one is a syndicated print. Not sure why that snuck in like that, but you can tell it is a syndicated episode as it has the syndication voiceover by Reginald VelJohnson during the closing credits. Here are all the episodes with runtimes on the DVD, which is in airdate order (I added production order to compare):
9. “Dedicated to the One I Love” (23:16, Prod. #208)
10. “The Science Project” (23:17, Prod. #211)
11. “Requiem for an Urkel” (23:18, Prod. #212)
12. “Fast Eddie Winslow” (23:16, Prod. #209)
13. “Have Yourself a Very Winslow Christmas” (23:18, Prod. #215)
14. “Ice Station Winslow” (21:49, Prod. #214)
15. “Son” (23:16, Prod. #213)
16. “Do The Right Thing” (23:17, Prod. #216)
17. “High Hopes” (23:17, Prod. #217)
18. “Life of the Party” (23:19 Prod. #218)
19. “Busted” (23:17, Prod. #220)
20. “Fight the Good Fight” (23:18, Prod. #219)
21. “Taking Credit” (23:17, Prod. #222)
22. “Finding the Words” (23:17, Prod. #221)
23. “Skip to My Lieu” (23:17, Prod. #224)
24. “The Good The Bad and the Urkel” (23:17, Prod. #225)
25. “I Should Have Done Something” (23:17, Prod. #223)
View the video and audio section for tons of tidbits that you will want to read.
The packaging has an outer box that holds a keep case, similar to the first season. The cover art for both is the same. We get a cream background with the show logo on top (it’s not the right font again though!) and a mention of The Complete Second Season in small lettering. Below that we get a huge shot of Urkel near the couch with a photo of the Winslow family hanging on the wall. I don’t like the artwork on this. It doesn’t match the show. The back (both the case and box) has a blue background and has info on the show and set, along with a promotional photo of Urkel holding his hands up and pointing his index finger up. There is also a small strip of episodic photos. We get four photos in that strip.
Inside the keep case we see an episode booklet on the left side. It’s a nice two-page booklet with a front and back. The front has a nice cast photo and the show logo (wrong font again), along with the credits. When we open it, we see a breakdown of disc one on the left and disc two on the right. The back of the booklet details disc three. There are nice promotional photos placed all over the booklet. The disc-by-disc breakdown has episode number, title, writer, director, original airdate and a short synopsis. This is similar to the first season booklet. Back to the keep case we go, discs one and two are in a little plastic holder that we can flip a page on a book. Disc one is on the front of that and disc two is on the back. Disc three is placed on the right panel itself. There is no artwork this time on the panels. It is just plain black. Disc art is also cheapened. Disc one is in yellow with a transparent shot of Urkel and holds episodes 1-8. Disc two is in blue with another transparent shot of Urkel and holds episodes 9-16. And finally disc three is in purple with another look at a transparent Urkel and holds episodes 17-25. The (fake) show logo and disc number are on each disc as well.
Menu Design and Navigation:
We start off the menu with the closing theme music (instrumental “As Days Goes By”) playing and looping and we see the same artwork as the cover art. The main menu options are Play All, Episodes and Languages. Play All obviously just plays them all at once on that particular disc. Episodes option takes us to another menu where we have the episode titles listed on a generic blue screen. How uncreative. Languages option takes us to a menu where we can choose the language (only English) and have subtitles in English or French, also on a generic blue screen. There are no scene selections, but we do have four chapter stops per episode that you can use via your DVD remote. The stops are after the opening teaser/credits, act one, act two, and closing credits, like on the last DVD set.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video quality is decent and similar to the first season. It is not perfect by any means nor is it remastered so you see some dust and debris. That being said, it is certainly watchable and probably beats all of your archives of taped episodes from VHS or even homemade DVDs. The audio quality is in Dolby Digital Surround Stereo, so nothing to complain really about here. As mentioned, subtitles are available in English and French.
I have some tidbits that I want to cover. First off, on the first season DVD we got a syndicated opening teaser on one episode. That wasn’t really a big deal, but on this season’s DVD we have an entire episode (“Ice Station Winslow”) that is a syndicated print. I’m not sure how that could have happened, but I’m not too thrilled with that. Every other episode on this set is completed unedited. For the episode “Fast Eddie Winslow,” the “episode dedication” card to the late John Andrew Franklin, Jr. appears at the end of the closing credits as originally aired. And finally the “N” word on Laura’s locker is intact on the Black History episode “Fight the Good Fight.” I don’t have any original music to compare, but I think everything is intact here.
Once again, we get no extras at all here. Original ABC TGIF promos would have been nice or even the segments where the cast hosted TGIF. Even a blooper reel would have been cool, if Warner didn’t want to produce any new material like commentaries and interviews. They could have given us the 4 (of 5) Urkel opening teasers that were added into existing episodes later in the first season as extras and call it “Bonus Urkel Scenes,” since they didn’t give those as extras on the first season DVD. See our first season DVD review for more info on those teasers.
This is a good set and it is finally good to see this show back on DVD! I hope we don’t have a long wait again. Two years is very long, as I would prefer every 6 months at the most. I wish there were SOME bonus features at least but having the episodes on DVD is the best part, even though one episode is edited on this set. To recap, these are the pros/cons for the set regarding content:
- All episodes unedited but one
- All music seems to be intact
- The theme song (“As Days Go By” version) is the full version on all episodes and the episode content is all unedited
- The dedication of John Andrew Franklin Jr. after the closing credits is intact on the episode “Fast Eddie Winslow” and there were no edits or censors on the Black History episode “Fight the Good Fight”
- Syndicated print of “Ice Station Winslow” is on the DVD
- The pre-Urkel opening teasers from season one should have been present as Special Features at least since they weren’t in season one
- The font of the logo is wrong on the packaging and artwork of the DVD and the artwork is pretty poor on this set in general
The main thing is the episodes are on DVD finally (and unedited, except for one). Besides those flaws I mentioned in the cons, it is a decent set. It is vital fans buy this set because Warner Bros. is very slow in releasing series as we have already seen with this series. If this season does very well in sales, then you will see a third season much faster and not another two years later! Maybe if Jaleel White does well on season fourteen of Dancing with the Stars, Warner Bros. will quickly give us a third season to take advantage of Jaleel’s run on that show. In other aspects of this set the video and audio are decent, but could be better I think. I don’t think video and audio is bad, though, I guess we are all just spoiled by HD these days. And a special feature or two would have been nice. I hope we get something for season three...we just have to make sure we buy this set so Warner can deliver that. Do the Urkel Dance and buy this DVD before Jaleel White does real dancing on Dancing with the Stars starting Monday, March 19, 2012 on ABC! Everybody do the Urkel Dance!