TITLE: HEARTS AFIRE - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
DVD Release Date: August 2, 2005 (Image Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 23 half hours (21 episodes)
Running Time: 540 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 27 minutes
Audio: English Stereo
Special Features: “Bloopers, Outtakes and Montages” on
One of the best ever written seasons of a sitcom is
coming to DVD! Hearts Afire – The Complete First
Season is full of laughs, witty dialogues, and an
outstanding cast. Hearts Afire aired on CBS from
1992-95. The show was a top 20 hit in its first
season lead by John Ritter, Markie Post and Billy Bob
Thornton. Ritter played John Hartman, a senator’s
aide and a divorced dad living with his two kids.
Post plays Georgie Anne Lahti, the new press
secretary, who is sexy and sassy. The two heat up the
screen in this first season so much that CBS censors
and religious groups were all over the show and the
network. The rest of the cast includes Thornton’s
Billy Bob Davis, as John’s best buddy; his wife played
by Wendie Jo Sperber; Beth Broderick plays the dumb
receptionist Dee Dee Starr; and George Gaynes plays
Senator Smithers. Ed Asner has a recurring role as
George Lahti, Georgie Anne’s father.
The show was created & produced by Linda
Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women). Executive
producers include Linda’s then husband, Harry Thomason
and John Ritter’s business partner, Robert M. Myman.
As you can see, this is a stellar cast and crew. The
first season is just sharp and well-written. Too bad
the show was ruined after this season due to the
censors and religious groups. Some of the things that
caused this to happen were: a couple having an affair
in a household with children around, relationship
between the Senator and his receptionist, Hartman’s
ex-wife is now a lesbian with a lover, and Georgie
Anne’s smoking early on.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
This whole season was just perfect. I will break down
the best of the best. “Bees Can Sting You, Watch Out”
is where it all started and it just a brilliant hour;
“Three Men and a Bed” is where all the men are having
trouble with the women and are forced to share a bed;
“John’s Stallion” is where we meet Georgie’s dad;
“First Time” is the one where John and Georgie have
sex for the first of many times; “Significant Others”
is the one where we meet John’s ex-wife and her new
lesbian lover; “Everybody Loves My Baby” has the guys
dressing up as the Marvelettes for a talent show;
“Conversations with My Shrink” is probably the best
written episode of the series; “While the Thomasons
Slept” is the one where the boys take Bush’s private
phone book; “Never Play Touch Football with the
Kennedys” has the Senator asking John and Georgie to
write a speech for him; “Cold Feet” is the one where
something big happens; and “Class Reunion” is the one
with John and Billy Bob’s 25th high school reunion.
Guys be alert, Markie Post is well dressed throughout
this first season. Especially in “Bees Can Sting, You
Watch Out Now” (black dress), “First Time” (another
black dress), “Conversations with My Shrink” (nice
gold dress), “Miss Starr Dates Georgie Anne’s Pop”
(nice blue dress at the end), “Cold Feet” (white prom
dress) and “Class Reunion (another black dress at the
The guests include, George Hamilton and Roger Clinton
(“The Big Date”); Conchata Ferrell (“Significant
Others” & “Conversations with My Shrink”); Jule Cobb
(“Significant Others”); Robert Foxworth
(“Conversations with My Shrink); Mary Ann Mobley (“The
Fundamental Things Apply”); Hugh Rodham (“While the
Thomasons Slept”); and Rita Moreno (“While the
Thomasons Slept in the Lincoln Bedroom”).
The packaging is nice and creative. It is a nice
digibook case. The case’s front cover has a photo of
John holding Georgie on his back with the Presidential
seal and the red, white & blue stars in the
background=. The show’s logo, John & Markie’s names,
and The Complete First Season marking are also
present. A nice red, white, and blue color scheme is
on this set. The back of the case has two small
different screenshots from the first season: Billy Bob
& John and the Senator, Billy Bob, & Dee Dee. The
back also has a brief synopsis of the show. A special
light red box is shown of the Special Feature found on
this set. Another red box, this time a darker red,
has the cast credits listed.
When we open the case once, we see a little booklet
and disc one on the left side and disc two on the
right side. And when we open the case a second time,
we see disc three on the left and disc four on the
right. The little booklet behind the disc one holder
showcases episodes by disc with complete breakdown of
the episode, with episode titles, synopsis and nice
photos on the top. It is very well designed.
Each disc has the same photo & style. The same photo
used on the cover of this set is used on the discs.
Disc one holds episodes 1-6, disc two holds episodes
7-12, disc three holds episodes 13-18; disc four holds
episodes 19-23 and the nice special feature.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menu screen is well designed, just like the
packaging. It starts off with a nice photo of John
and Georgie, the Capitol Building and the Hearts Afire
wording, with the instrumental theme song playing in
the background, and then it fades to the actual menu
screen as the theme finishes off. The theme does not
loop. On the menu screen itself, the episodes for the
disc are listed. There is no play all option, but
that is not a big problem with me at all, as I really
never use it. When we select and episode, we are
taken to a scene selection menu, where we can choose
where to begin. On the half hour episodes, there are
three selections and on the one hour episodes there
are five. You can also use the chapter button on your
remote control if you wish.
The navigation on each sub-menu and the main menu is
very easy. The design is also quite nice and
creative. Kudos to Image Entertainment!
Video and Audio Quality:
The video looks magnificent! If anyone has original
copies from the CBS years, those are probably getting
a bit dated, so this would be a wonderful improvement.
It is also better than the rerun airings from USA
Network in 2000. The audio is also very clear and in
the original stereo. And what is even more cool is
that the original “CBS StereoSound Where Available”
tag is in tact in every episode underneath the show’s
logo! That is very cool since we did not see this in
syndication. Each episode runs on average about 23
minutes and 30 seconds, some more, some less. The one
hour episodes run around 47 minutes. All the episodes
are for sure the original network broadcast versions,
so fans can take it easy and relax, if anyone was
worried. The two one hour episodes are in their
original one hour format, and not the two part
syndicated format, which is astonishing news. Some
other interesting notes, in the ending of the one hour
pilot episode the “Next Week on Hearts Afire” preview
is in tact! And for the episode following that, the
preview from the pilot is also in tact. This is a
wonderful job by Image Entertainment, Adam Productions
and Mozark Productions on this aspect, as USA Network
of course edited those two pieces out.
Hearts Afire is was well known for using music in
episodes (in particular for the last scenes). Linda
Bloodworth loved using music on her shows. She used
music in her other series Designing Women, but nothing
like this! Almost every episode had music this
season. So people buying this set and fans would I’m
sure like to know if the original music is in tact.
The answer is … well, some of it is in tact. Melissa
Pollak, who is a diehard Hearts Afire fan and has an
extensive and VERY detailed episode guide, lists all
the music for each episode (it is located here:
So, I went through all the episodes and checked
myself to see which music is there and what is
replaced. First, let me tell you just some of the
great music voices that were heard in the background.
Music artists for Hearts Afire Season 1 include Percy
Sledge, Bonnie Raitt, Gregory Abbott, Linda Ronstat,
Aaron Neville, Joe Cocker, and even Roberta Flack and
Peobo Bryson! So what was used and what was removed?
If you all watched the show on USA Network in 2000,
you’ll probably know what was used and removed,
because whatever was removed on USA, is also removed
on this set. Here is the complete breakdown on what
music each episode had originally, and a little note
saying if it was in tact on the DVD or NOT:
#3 "The Big Date" - First Brother Roger Clinton
singing the series title song, Earth, Wind, and Fire's
"That's the Way of the World" at the end of the
episode (not really music, but it is sung live, and is
in tact on DVD/USA Network).
#4 "Three Men and a Bed" - Percy Sledge’s "When a Man
Loves a Woman" in the last scene (is in tact on
#6 "First Time" - Gregory Abbott's "Shake You Down"
between the scene where John is shaving and mention of
the missing snake (NOT on DVD or USA Network, and was
replaced with background music); "Skinnamarink" song
at the end (is in tact on DVD/USA Network).
#7 "Significant Others" - Bonnie Raitt's multiple
grammy-award-winning hit tune, "Something to Talk
About," is used effectively as background music in the
last scene. (NOT on DVD or USA Network, replaced with
#8 "Everybody Loves My Baby" – in the ending scene Joe
Crocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" is heard (in
tact on DVD/USA Network).
#9 "Conversations with my Shrink” - "Don't Know Much"
by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in the last scene
(in tact on DVD/USA).
#10 "The Fundamental Things Apply" - Mary Ann Mobley
sings "As Time Goes By" (not really music, but it is
sung live, in tact on DVD/USA Network).
#12 "Everyday's a Holiday"- "White Christmas" (sung by
Bing Crosby) in the last scene (NOT on DVD or USA
Network, replaced with background music).
#14 "Trivial Pursuit" - The episode ends with a few
bars of the theme music from the movie PSYCHO. (NOT on
DVD or USA Network, ending theme plays instead).
#15 "Never Play Touch Football with the Kennedys" -
The song used in the last scene is "Happy, Happy
Birthday Baby"(NOT on DVD or USA Network, replaced
with background music).
#16 "Miss Starr Dates Georgie Ann's Pop" - at the end
Engelbert Humperdinck singing; the tune may be called
"This Moment in Time." (NOT on DVD or USA Network,
replaced with background music).
#17 "While the Thomasons Slept in the Lincoln Bedroom"
- Earth, Wind, and Fire's "That's the Way of the
World" -- is used as background music to the action in
the closing moments of the show. (NOT on DVD or USA
Network, replaced with the instrumental version
#19/20 "Cold Feet" - Peabo Bryson/Roberta Flack song,
"You're Looking Like Love to Me," used as background
music (in tact on DVD/USA Network).
#23 "Class Reunion"- This episode has three songs. 1.
While Georgie is getting ready for the party, Aretha
Franklin's singing “Respect." 2. While John and
Georgie are dancing and exchanging some of the most
wonderful words in the entire series, Herb Alpert's
"This Guy's in Love with You" is playing in the
background. 3. When Jan Lindsay makes her entrance,
the music switches to the Monkees' "I'm a Believer"
which continues and slowly gets louder -- with the
words "I'm in love; I couldn't leave her if I tried"
-- over the freeze-frame of John and Georgie (all
THREE are NOT on DVD or USA Network, all replaced with
At least we get to hear Percy Sledge, Joe Crocker,
Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, and Peabo Bryson and
Roberta Flack. I’m not that concerned that some of
the original music is missing, as the episodes are
unedited. So this is better than what USA Network
aired. As for the closing theme, it seems about half
the episodes or so used the instrumental theme and the
others used the real theme "That's the Way of the
There is only one special feature on this set, but it
is well worth watching! Quality over quantity, I say.
The special feature is extensive bloopers, outtakes
and montages from the show’s first season. The
quality is not that great, because it is from a reel,
but it is very watchable. It lasts over 27 minutes.
I think this was used at the first season cast and
crew Hearts Afire Christmas Party, because somewhere
in there, there is a title shot saying “Merry
Christmas from Hearts Afire.” Or maybe it was also
used for the first season wrap party for the cast and
crew. There is also video footage of the crew at
first, and then the bloopers/outtakes come. This is
something very rare and easy to watch. Thanks again
to everyone involved on this set, for this wonderful
Image Entertainment has first brought you a wonderful
and rare show to DVD, and to top it off, they did a
wonderful job. I know the music issue is probably not
their fault, and would cost so much money, but I’m
glad some music is in tact and that ALL the episodes
are unedited. I’m also glad that the rare original
stuff, such as the CBS StereoSound and the preview
clips for the 2nd episode are in tact. The extra
material was very good to watch.
What would I recommend for seasons 2 and 3? Basically
the same thing, give us as much original music as
possible, and all episodes unedited. I hope they have
a blooper montage lying around for the next two
seasons that would be nice to see again. I would also
like maybe interviews or commentaries with Markie
Post, Billy Bob Thornton or whoever else they can find
from the show’s cast and crew. This first season is
so well written and well played that I recommend
everyone getting it. This is how a sitcom should be
done. And the late legendary John Ritter is
brilliant! Expect season two in November, but for now
buy this set NOW!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 07/29/05
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