TITLE: GROWING PAINS - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
Release Date: April 26, 2011 (Warner Home Video)
Color / 1986-1987
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 523 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Subtitles and Captioning: English and French Subtitles
Special Features: None
"Show me that smile again!" The Seavers are back on DVD (after a five year hiatus from the release of the first season DVD) with Growing Pains - The Complete Second Season, a three disc set containing every episode from the second season of the classic 80s series. Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns star as Jason and Maggie Seaver, parents going through "growing pains" and transitions as Jason moves his psychiatric practice to his home (to double up as a "househusband") while Maggie leaves home to work as a journalist. Mike (Kirk Cameron) is the oldest son who is always causing trouble, Carol (Tracey Gold) is the brainy middle child who has a tendency to cause trouble on her own, and little Ben (Jeremy Miller)... well... he's just Ben.
The second season of the series continues from the first season without any major changes. As fans of the series are well aware, there were many changes over the seasons, some of which were positive and others not-so-positive, but the second season is just classic Growing Pains, with dad at home, mom at work, and three kids creating a whole heap of trouble.
It's home video night at the Seavers, which is going well until Jason realizes he is getting old (and makes the family miserable for weeks) in "Jason and the Cruisers." In "Fast Times at Dewey High," going back to school means trouble for all three kids. Carol makes friends with a cheerleader in "Long Day's Journey Into Night," but does the new friend have other motives? Jason is determined to find out which one of the Seaver clan made 67 calls to a phone sex chatline in "Call Me," and you won't believe who it is. In "Employee of the Month," Mike has just been made employee of the month at work and Maggie and Jason are ready to congratulate him, but how will they feel when they discover he was just fired? Olivia d'Abo guest stars. Everybody is sick of Mike's games and tricks in "Do You Believe in Magic?," and they are out for revenge. In "Jason's Rib," a potentially good evening for Jason and Maggie is ruined by a school dress code controversy.
Ben decides to do-good for Christmas in "The Kid," but his plan of bringing a runaway homeless girl into the Seaver home is sure to disrupt the family. Maggie gets grounded for lying (yes, Maggie) in "The Breakfast Club." Carol gets the chance to skip a grade at school in "Choices." In "Higher Education," Mike gets his grade changed from a "D+" to an "A," but there is a catch that involves an attractive teacher's assistant. Mike and Carol are having their own problems when it comes to preparing for the winter dance in "Some Enchanted Evening." Jamie Luner and Heather Graham both guest star. Carol is having a sleepover in "Thank You, Willie Nelson," but how well can it go with Ben, Mike, and Maggie's parents in the house? Mike is faced with a tough decision to use cocaine in the very special episode "Thank God It's Friday."
Ben turns to Mike for dating advice in "My Brother, Myself," but is that really a good idea? Jason and Maggie tell Carol that she can get a nose job if she manages to come up with $2,400 in "Jimmy Durante Died For Your Sins," so there is no way she could possibly come up with that kind of money, right? In "Carnival," Maggie tries to make up for lost time with Ben by organizing a school carnival, which turns out to be even worse for them spending time together. The kids jump to conclusions about their parents having secret families in "The Awful Truth." In "Born Free," Jason is trying to convince Mike to go far in education, and it has surprising results. Ben and a friend (played by Candace Cameron) are making a movie during Seaver Chore Day, and the rolling tape could resolve a misunderstanding about an ineffective handyman in "The Long Goodbye." The season ends with "Confidentially Yours," where doctor-patient ethics cause trouble when the wife of Maggie's new boss is one of Jason's patents, and Jason knows something that Maggie should know.
The episodes on the set appear to be unedited, with most running around 24 minutes (although "Do You Believe in Magic?" runs at just over 23 minutes, but I can't tell if anything is wrong with that runtime). The series had quite a bit of music intact during the original airing, and as far as I can tell, it is all intact here, although I couldn't find a music list to check what is on here against what SHOULD be on here. But given that Warner generally has a decent track record with music, it is probably safe to assume that what is on here is what should be on here. Exact runtimes are as follows:
1. "Jason and the Cruisers" (23:56)
2. "Fast Times at Dewey High" (24:11)
3. "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (23:34)
4. "Call Me" (23:29)
5. "Employee of the Month" (23:59)
6. "Dream Lover" (23:58)
7. "Do You Believe in Magic?" (23:01)
8. "Jason's Rib" (24:00)
9. "The Kid" (24:00)
10. "The Breakfast Club" (23:52)
11. "Choices" (23:54)
12. "Higher Education" (23:56)
13. "Some Enchanted Evening" (23:36)
14. "Thank You, Willie Nelson" (24:02)
15. "Thank God It's Friday" (23:49)
16. "My Brother, Myself" (24:03)
17. "Jimmy Durante Died for Your Sins" (23:45)
18. "Carnival" (23:32)
19. "The Awful Truth" (23:57)
20. "Born Free" (23:43)
21. "The Long Goodbye" (23:54)
22. "Confidentially Yours" (23:53)
The set comes in the same style of packaging that has been standard for most Warner sets lately, which is a Viva-case inside of a slipcover. I really like the design of the Warner slipcovers, as they are very sturdy and feature an opening on one side of the slipcover to remove the case inside. The cover has a cast snapshot (a much better one than the first season one, I'll add) with a white and red background. On the back, there is another cast photo, along with two episode snapshots and a candid description of the season. Inside, the Viva-case has the same artwork as the slipcase on the front, and on the back, there is a cast photo of Jason and the kids serving Maggie breakfast in bed on her birthday. Inside the case, the discs have very simple artwork (the series logo on a red background), with episodes 1-8 on Disc 1, episodes 9-15 on Disc 2, and episodes 16-22 on Disc 3. There is also a nice insert listing all of the episodes, along with writing credits, directing credits, original airdates, and a brief description.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus on this set are very basic menus, but they do serve their purpose, of course. The main menu on each disc has the cast photo seen on the back of the slipcase, with the theme song (the version from the first season, though) playing in the background. Main menu options include Play, Episodes, and Languages. Episodes takes you to a text listing of the episodes, with four (or three in some cases) episodes listed on each screen. The Languages option allows you to turn on English or French subtitles. There are chapters placed at all of the appropriate places within each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
Unlike many Warner products from this era, the video quality of the episodes on this set leaves something to be desired. The episodes are fine enough to watch, but at times, the episodes look like they were taken from high quality VHS masters. There is minor flickering on many of the episodes and the colors are kind of dull. In a way, it reminds me of the Night Court - The Complete Fourth Season set released by Warner Archive, which was not remastered at all, but for a set that was manufactured for a regular retail release--I wouldn't expect this at all. The audio quality on the set is pretty loud and clear, and a fairly standard Dolby Digital Stereo track. Each episode has English and French subtitles.
Sadly, the set is deprived of special features. The first season had a very nice cast reunion, so I wouldn't really expect anything along those lines for any further seasons, but something like commentaries would be nice.
I was very happy to see this set FINALLY released on DVD after a five year wait, and I really hope that the third season will come soon, even if it is through Warner Archive. I am a bit disappointed that Warner didn't make much of an effort on cleaning up the video (the first season looked much better, and even reruns of the series on TV look better than this set), but it is something that can be looked past for many fans, hopefully. I'd rather see the series on DVD (and unedited) than not at all, so if it means cutting a few corners, lamentably, it is better than nothing. It would be nice to see the spinoff series Just the Ten of Us on DVD too, but it seems that Warner won't even consider that until (unless?) this series is ever finished on DVD. Still, I am smiling a bit again with this set, and I think most fans will be as well.
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: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/18/11
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