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Hearts Afire - The Complete Third Season


TITLE: HEARTS AFIRE - THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: February 7, 2006 (Image Entertainment)
Color/1994-95
MSRP: $29.99
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 14
Running Time: 330 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: N/A
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned.
Special Features: None


Introduction:

John, Georgie, Billy Bob and the kids are back for one last time for season three of the well written sitcom, Hearts Afire! Yes, the series’ third season is now available on the DVD for the first time. Don’t miss the final 14 episodes of memorable misadventures, including the final unaired episode. The series stars John Ritter, Markie Post and Billy Bob Thornton. Co-starring are Conchata Ferrell, playing Madeline and Leslie Jordan playing Lonnie Garr.

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.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

While this season again is not as good as the first season, there are some good episodes. I don’t consider the season premiere (“Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby”) to be memorable, but you have to watch that since that is the episode where John & Georgie’s baby is born. “The Virgin Lonnie” is a good episode and we see Lonnie revealing to his friends that he is a virgin, “It’s My Party” has Georgie setting-up a surprise birthday party for John when he asked not to do one, “The Sock-Her Boys” is another good episode where Georgie’s all-girl soccer team challenge’s Ben and Elliot’s all-boy soccer team, “Fat Like Me” is an interesting episode as Georgie wears a fat suit to prove a point, “Mrs. Hartman, Mrs. Hartman” has John’s ex-wife returning, and “The Outsider” was an episode that CBS never aired it has Georgie staging a sit-in to keep the local library open.

Guys be alert, Markie Post is again well dressed throughout this season. Especially in “It’s My Party” (black dress) and “John & Georgie’s Not So Great Adventure” (black cocktail dress).

The guests include Debra Jo Rupp (“The Virgin Lonnie”), Ben Stein (“Prose and Condoms”), Maureen O’Boyle (“Help Wanted”), Julie Cobb (“Mrs. Hartman, Mrs. Hartman”), and Kristen Johnston (“John and Georgie’s Not So Great Adventure”).


Packaging:

The packaging is nice and creative, and simple—an amaray case--similar to the first two seasons. The case’s front cover has a photo of Georgie in a sexy black dress sitting on a flag pole, with John also sitting nervously with the red, white & blue stars in the background. The show’s logo, John & Markie’s names, and The Complete Third Season marking are also present, with a co-star mention of Billy Bob Thornton. A nice red, white, and blue color scheme is on this set. While I like this a lot, again like season two, the third season moved away from D.C. and is now in a southern town, so it doesn’t make sense. And also, the logo changed, the packaging is using the first season logo yet again. The back of the case has four small different screenshots from the third season: John & Georgie with the baby, John & Billy Bob, Madeline, and Madeline & Georgie. The back also has a brief synopsis of the show. A red box has the cast credits listed.

When we open the case once, we see a little booklet and disc one on the left side. And when we open the case a second time, we see disc two on the left and disc three on the right. The little booklet 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—but again more of a D.C. theme, when this season they are still down south.

Each disc has the same photo & style. The same photo used on the cover of this set and the booklet is used on the discs. Disc one holds episodes 1-5, disc two holds episodes 6-9, and disc three holds episodes 10-14.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menu screen is well designed, just like the packaging. Like the previous seasons, 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. This is great but was already used and the show is not taking place in D.C. 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 an episode, we are taken to a scene selection menu, where we can choose where to begin. There are three selections. 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. The only negative thing is that it is just too same as the first two sets. They are not in Washington DC anymore!


Video and Audio Quality:

The video looks magnificent once again! 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 again intact in every episode underneath the show’s logo once again! That is very cool since we did not see this in syndication. Each episode runs on average about 23-24 minutes, some more, some less. All the episodes are for sure the original network broadcast versions, so fans can take it easy and relax, if anyone was worried.

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! There is not as much music this season as the first two seasons, especially season one.. So people buying this set and fans would I’m sure like to know if the original music is intact. The answer is … well, some of it is intact. 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: http://mistwebdesign.com/HA3.html. 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:

"Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby" ­ Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” plays at the end of the episode, intact on USA Network and DVD.
"The Virgin Lonnie" -- Al Jarreau's "Teach Me Tonight” is missing.
"It’s My Party" ­ “Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby” at the end, not on USA Network or the DVD—replaced by background music.
"The Perfect Christmas" ­ “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” at the end, not on USA Network or the DVD—replaced by background music.

So, in essence, again we don’t get all the music, but we get whatever was used in syndication on USA Network. At least the episodes are unedited in length, that is all that really matters, but some scenes rely on the music, so it is a shame.


Special Features:

This season we have no special features. No bloopers and outtakes this time! But one piece of good news is that the set is now $10 cheaper from 39.99 to 29.99. So, I guess that works!


Final Comments:

Image Entertainment has quickly gave us the complete series of Hearts Afire in a nice 6 month window. They did a decent job with the set. The music issue is not their fault. At least we get some original music. The main thing is we have the length of the episodes in its original unedited form. The bloopers were nice for the first two sets.

Again for this set I was not happy with the packaging and menus. They were like season one and this season and season two also was totally changed so the D.C. theme was out of place. Other than the music and this, it is a must buy. John Ritter’s memory will continue for years to come and having this entire series is precious. Let’s hope Hooperman’s two seasons come out this year and at least the first season of 8 Simple Rules, too. Buy this third and final season of Hearts Afire on DVD, as Billy Bob would say, “it’s just a rule I have.”


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 02/04/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000C20VM8/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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