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Home Improvement - The Complete First Season


TITLE: HOME IMPROVEMENT - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 23, 2004 (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
color, approx. 566 minutes
MSRP: $49.99
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Language and Subtitles: English, English subtitles, Closed Captioned
Special Features: Audio Commentary on "Pilot," "Nothing More than Feelings," and "Forever Jung" episodes; "Loose Screws Ė The Show' Most Hilarious Momments"


Introduction:

Does everybody know what time it is? It's time to get MORE POWER--on DVD, that is! The former hit ABC sitcom makes its DVD debut with the release of all 24 hilarious episodes from the first season. And this is a set that every Home Improvement fan will want to pick up! The first season of the show includes all of the beginning episodesóbefore the time when the boys all got older, before Heidi came along, and when we were just learning who Wilson was. Of course, the later seasons were great too, but the first season was one of the funniest seasons.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

There are many great episodes in the first season, but some of the best ones, in my opinion anyway, are "Pilot," "Mow Better Blues, "Off Sides," "Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble," "Yule Better Watch Out," "Up Your Alley," and "Forever Jung." Some of the guest stars in the first season include Jaínet DuBois, Bob Villa, and George Foreman. Of course, there are also some recurring characters in the first season, such as Tool Girl Lisa (played by Pamela Anderson) and Jillís friend Karen (played by Betsy Randle, who was under very serious consideration by the creators to play the role of Jill). Also, the original full theme song is included on every episode in the set. In syndication, the full theme song is never seen, so this is something that may be new to some younger fans of the show.


Packaging:

The very first thing you will notice when you remove the plastic wrapper is the packagingóthe very creative packaging. Although I prefer slim cases on DVD sets, I have to admit that the packaging on this was very creative and fitting for the show. Basically, the outer packaging is a cardboard toolbox. When you remove the "lid" (or top half) of the toolbox, you will find the digipak with the discs in there. Just like the Golden Girls DVD set, though, there is a disc in the set that is placed in a position where another disc must be removed in order to get that disc out. It would be much better if they could have instead added a fourth panel to the set to accommodate the third disc rather than placing a disc on top of another. Also, on the far left panel, there is an episode list that shows which episodes are on each disc. Unfortunately, there are no episode descriptions. There are writing and directing credits listed on the panel, though. Also, on the digipak, there is a brief introduction to the set by producers Carmen Finestra, David McFadzean, and Matt Williams.

There are eight episodes per disc. Episodes 1-8 are on Disc One, 9-16 are on Disc Two, and 17-24 are on Disc Three. There is also a bonus featurette on Disc Three. Disc One contains trailers, perhaps way too many trailers, for Boy Meets World, Golden Girls, Around the World in 80 Days, and The Princess Diaries II. Unfortunately, the trailers play as soon as you put the disc in, unless you hit the Menu button, which will stop the trailers and send you to the main menu. It probably would have been better if the set had been done with four discs rather than three, but it doesnít seem to make a huge difference in quality.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The main menu is set up in a very simple way. The choices from the main menu are Play All, Episode Selection, Audio Commentaries (Discs One and Two), Loose Screws (Disc Three), Set Up, and Sneak Peeks (Disc One). The Play All option is typical of most DVD sets. The Home Improvement theme song plays in the background on the main menu. The Episode Selection option takes you to a menu where you choose which episode you want to watch. It is actually a very nice looking menu, with pictures from the episodes attached to a fence with (who else?) Wilson looking over the fence. While I really liked how it was setup, the episode titles are actually a little difficult to read. The print is very small and the titles are in a dark yellow color. I normally donít have any trouble reading small print on the television screen, so if Iím having trouble reading it, many other people probably will as well. The Audio Commentaries option (available only on Discs One and Two) allows you to play the audio commentary for the one episode on that disc that has a commentary track. Of course, you could just play the episode and use the audio button on the remote to get the audio commentaries as well. The commentaries (as well as the Loose Screws option) are described later, in the special features. Set Up allows you to turn on the English subtitles (something else you can do with the remote control without a special menu) and gives you information on how to register your DVDs over the internet, which is an unusual (though perhaps useful, particulary) process that Buena Vista seems to use on many of their DVD sets.


Video and Audio Quality:

The audio and video quality of the set is very good, and there really arenít any complaints to make about it. With the fact that there are eight episodes on each disc, one may think that there would be a notable decline in quality, but that isnít the case here. The video looks exactly as you would expect from a syndicated rerun of Home Improvement, and the audio quality is equally as good as well. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Surround Sound.


Special Features:

The set at least had a decent attempt at special features. The best special features are the audio commentaries. The audio commentaries were done by co-creators Carmen Finestra and David McFadzean. Unfortunately, only three of the episodes on the set have audio commentaries ("Pilot," "Nothing More than Feelings," and "Forever Jung"). However, these commentaries are still very interesting to listen to. Since they were the people that created the show, they know the show better than any fan would, and give a lot of interesting tidbits about the show that fans may have never known about. They discuss the episodes a little bit in their commentaries, but mainly discuss the show in general. For instance, in the commentary on the "Pilot" episode, they explain why Al wasnít featured too much in the episodeóbecause Richard Karn was not even supposed to be playing Al, and was instead a last minute replacement that was put in place right before the Pilot episode was taped.

There is also a "Loose Screws Ė The Showís Most Hilarious Moments" featurette on Disc Three. It is basically just nine themed sets of clips of funny moments from the first season. The themes include "Just a Minor Technical Difficulty," "Masculinity," "Call of the Wild," "Howdy Neighbor," "The Language of Love," "Everyone Loves Al," "Random Acts of Tim the Toolman," "What is That Thing?," and "Parenting Lessons." Each one of these runs an average of about two minutes long, although some are longer and some are shorter. The total running time for all of these is about 16 minutes. Special features such as these show an effort to put special features on the set, but honestly are not all that interesting. Sure, the clips include most, if not all, of the funniest moments from the first season, but if you own the set, then you have the entire first season in your hands. Why settle for clips when you can watch the entire episode?

There is also another "bonus" included with the set, though it is not in the form of special features. It is a 2005 Home Improvement poster-type calendar. It is slightly larger than a sheet of notebook paper, and has a picture of the Tool Time Girl Lisa (who was played by Pamela Anderson) and the Home Improvement logo on it. I think that it is a very nice thing to include with the set. This is something that will probably only be included in the set for a limited time (after all, why would you want a 2005 calendar if you ended up purchasing the set in late 2005?).


Final Comments:

For all of the Home Improvement fans out there, and I know there are many of them (what other reason could one give for that fact that Home Improvement was one of ABCís most successful programs of the 1990s?), this set is definitely worth purchasing. Buena Vista appears to be committed to releasing future seasons (they already have the release of the second season scheduled for spring 2005) and this would be a great show to have a complete collection of, assuming that every episode is eventually released. Hopefully in future releases, more special features will be included. However, even though there arenít too many special features in the first season, it is still worth purchasing. I donít think spelling out Timís grunt will do it justice, but youíll be saying it once you purchase this set!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/15/04 (modified 11/17/04)

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002W4SWW/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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