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Hope & Faith - Season 1


TITLE: HOPE & FAITH - SEASON 1


Info:

DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009 (Lionsgate/ABC Studios)
Color/2003-04
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 625 minutes
Total Running Time of Special Features: approx. 36 minutes (not counting audio commentaries)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English audio, no subtitles, Closed-Captioned.
Special Features:
* Four Audio Commentaries on Episodes from Faith Ford, Ted McGinley, Macey Cruthird, Paulie Litt, Joanna Johnson, and Emilie Levisetti
* Family Dynamic: Creating Hope & Faith
* Bloopers


Introduction:

The hilarious and underappreciated sitcom Hope & Faith is coming to DVD for the very first time from Lionsgate Home Entertainment in conjunction with ABC Studios! The hilarious first season of the ABC family sitcom will feature all 25 half-hours on a nice four-disc set packed with special features. Now you can relive or experience for the first time the antics of sisters Hope & Faith. This sitcom is a modern day style of classic TV duos such as Lucy & Ethel and Laverne & Shirley.

Hope (Faith Ford), a down-to-earth wife of Charley (Ted McGinley) and mother of three...lives life quietly in an Ohio suburb, until her celebrity sister, Faith (Kelly Ripa), comes barging into town. Faith single-handedly stirs up drama with the family; just as her ex-soap opera character did on TV. You can take the diva off daytime, but can't take the drama out of the diva. This family comedy will keep you laughing hard throughout each episode. The series stars Kelly Ripa as Faith Fairfield, Faith Ford as Hope Shanowski, Ted McGinley as Charley Shanowski, Nicole Paggi as Sydney Shanowski, Macey Cruthird as Haley Shanowski, and Paulie Litt as Justin Shanowski.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The first season is probably my favorite season. That is not to say the remaining seasons are not good, but this season stands out. We get a lot of hilarious stories, clever episode plots, Regis Philbin, and of course great physical comedy at its best. Originally this series had taped a pilot with different actors playing Charley, Sydney, and Justin, and there was a grandpa character as well. But they redeveloped the story and recast. Thank god they did. The only ones that remained were Ripa, Ford, and Cruthird. By the time the second pilot aired, they casted another Justin. And that was Paulie Litt. He appeared on the show first on episode two. So they went through three Justin’s! Anyway, in the aired pilot, simply titled “Pilot,” Daytime Emmy award winner Faith Fairfield is forced to move into her sister Hope Shanowski's house in the suburbs in Ohio and immediately wreaks havoc. In the very next episode “Remembrance of Rings Past,” Hope and Faith attend their Aunt Dodi's funeral whom they believe stole their mother's heirloom ring. All hell breaks loose when they see her wearing it...this is fun stuff! In “Car Commercial,” Handsome Hal Halverson (played by Regis Philbin) asks Faith to star in one of his commercials, for a free car, of course. But what will happen when Hope upstages him? This is a classic episode! In “Phone Home for the Holidays,” Jack, Hope & Faith's father pays them a visit with his same-age girlfriend. In “The Diner Show,” Faith learns a famous director from Cleveland is in Glenn Falls and plans to meet him (with Hope) at a local diner. However they are forced to become waitresses after they learn that they can't pay off their meal. In “Charley’s Baseball,” Justin accidentally destroys Charley's most prized possession- a baseball autographed by Roger Clemens. This leaves Hope and Faith to replace it. In “Jack’s Back,” Jack returns to be comforted by his daughters after being jilted by his fiancée. Faith tries to set him up with her friend Mandi's mother, but he falls for Mandi instead. In the two-part season finale “Daytime Emmys,” Faith and her co-stars from the soap are nominated for a Daytime Emmy and flies to New York City with the family for the ceremony.

It is guest stars galore this season, with such guests as Cristian de la Fuente, Regis Philbin, Clint Black, Robert Wagner, Lynda Carter, Jim Gaffigan, Rebecca Budig, Mimi Rogers, Kathie Lee Gifford, Fisher Stevens, Kevin Sorbo, Roger Clemens, Willie Randolph, Tom Arnold, Tony Curtis, Jenny McCarthy, Dominic Chianese, Cameron Mathison, Susan Lucci, Susan Flannery, Eric Braeden, Ian Buchanan, John Callahan, Bobbie Eakes, Finola Hughes, Eva LaRue, Jacob Young and Robert Verdi. Recurring are Brett Murphy as Edwin and Daryl Edwards as Principal Tisdale.


Packaging:

The packaging for this set has an outer box with a digipak case inside, similar to According to Jim and My Wife & Kids. Both the outer box and case have the same artwork on the front and back. The front has a shot Faith & Hope (boy they look like real sisters) with blue and yellow circles floating and a white background. The show logo also appears, with the tagline “Two Sisters. One Roof. No Way” and credits for Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford. One the bottom, Season 1 line is written. The back has artwork of Faith & Hope again, this time in a different style and clothing. We also see three screenshots from episodes. A purple circle lists the special features, and of course info on the set & series is on the top.

The case comes out of the outer box from the top or bottom. Inside the case we have on the left side a nice insert listing of the episodes with episode title and synopsis...the artwork is great with a promotional photo of the sisters and many screenshots from episodes. Disc one is on the left panel of the case. So you have to remove the insert to see it. Then we have a disc holder that flips like a book. It is very good and works best because we get one disc on each side, so no overlapping occurs! Disc two on one side and disc three on the other side. The right side of the case holds the fourth disc.

As for disc art, each disc has a cast member, with that nice white background with the floating blue & yellow circles. Disc one has artwork of Faith (same as cover art) with episodes 1-6. Disc two has artwork of Hope (same as cover art) with episodes 7-12. Disc three has artwork of Charley with episodes 13-19. Disc four has artwork of Haley, Justin, and Sydney with episodes 20-25 & the special features.


Menu Design and Navigation:

We start off the menu with the theme playing in the background (then it goes to an instrumental version) and we see moving video images on the right, and the show logo and a shot of Hope & Faith (same artwork as back of the box) on the left. The options are Play All Episodes, Episode Selection, and Bonus Features (disc four only). Play All Episodes obviously just plays them all at once on that particular disc. Episode Selection takes us to another menu where we see moving video rectangular screenshot of each episode along with episode number and title. If the episode has an Audio Commentary track, you can turn it on or off from here. The episode selection menu also has the instrumental theme playing in the background. And obviously Bonus Features lists the extras, which we will get to in that section later in this review.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video is in its original widescreen form (16x9, 1.78:1)! That is very good to hear, and good job by Lionsgate and good job by ABC Studios for providing it to them that way! I had never seen the show in widescreen! I didn’t have HD back then, so I didn’t see it in such good quality ever before, so this is the best I’ve seen the show look. The audio is in a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio...and nothing to complain about. It is very clear. Each episode has about 4 chapter stops and they are at the appropriate places. The episodes all run at approx. 21:30 range, some are shorter or longer though, so check the runtimes below. Nothing is edited out or replaced, as far as I can tell. Approx. 21:30 was pretty standard by the 2003-04 TV season really. The two-part season finale is presented in two-parts. We get a recap before the second episode starts. Check the exact runtimes below:

Disc 1:
“Pilot” (21:33)
“Remembrance of Rings Past” (21:04)
“The Un-Graduate” (21:21)
“Summary Judgment” (20:34)
“About a Book Club” (20:00)
“Hope Has No Faith (Halloween Story)” (21:23)

Disc 2:
“Car Commercial” (21:25)
“Hope & Faith Get Randy” (21:25)
“Phone Home for the Holidays” (21:34)
“Anger Management” (21:34)
“Silent Night, Opening Night” (21:29)
“The Wedding” (21:34)

Disc 3:
“Madam President” (21:29)
“The Diner Show” (21:28)
“Mismatch” (21:24)
“Charley’s Baseball” (21:34)
“Prom and Circumstance (Almost Paradise)” (21:23)
“Jury Duty” (21:18)
“Faith’s Maid” (20:33)

Disc 4:
“Hope Gets a Job” (21:34)
“Faith’s Husband” (21:30)
“Jack’s Back” (21:34)
“Trade Show” (21:35)
“Daytime Emmys, Part 1” (21:22)
“Daytime Emmys, Part 2” (21:34)


Special Features:

We actually get some good special features! According to Jim also had some goodies, but My Wife & Kids didn’t have any. The upcoming second season set of 8 Simple Rules doesn’t seem to have any extras either. First on disc one, we get an audio commentary track for the “Pilot” episode from Faith Ford (Hope), Macey Cruthird (Haley), and Paulie Litt (Justin). This was very fun and interesting to listen to! They talk about the unaired pilot, in particular the food fight scene and tell us which take was from the original unaired pilot and was in the reshot pilot. They mention and reminisce on all the cast changes from the unaired pilot to the aired pilot. It is funny because Paulie Litt is commenting on this episode and he wasn’t even Justin in this episode, as he replaced the “second” Justin by episode two. Paulie Litt is really the third Justin, as there was another Justin in the unaired original pilot. I find all this fascinating, and hope you do, too. Ford, Cruthird, and Litt return to comment on the episode “Summary Judgment” also on disc one. I was hooked and very interested in both of the commentaries this trio did. I listened from start to finish, too. Nicole Paggi who played Sydney in season one was talked about. They talk about how fun and great she was and how they miss her. So it doesn’t seem she was replaced because she didn’t get along with anyone, as far as I can tell. The third audio commentary track is for the episode “Car Commercial” from disc two. We are joined by Ted McGinley (Charley), Joanna Johnson (creator), and Emilie Levisetti (executive producer). They are not as interesting as the other trio, but we still learn a lot. Joanna really wanted Regis to come and do the show. He was great to work with and was full of energy. I know Regis and Kelly are busy, but it would have been cool also if they did a commentary track on this episode. The final audio commentary is on “Hope Gets a Job” on disc four. Again we are joined by McGinley, Johnson, and Levisetti.

The remaining extras are all on disc. The first one is “Family Dynamic: Creating Hope & Faith,” and that runs an astonishing 30:05 and is exactly what the title says. Basically we get interviews from the six that were involved in the audio commentaries: Joanna Johnson, Emilie Levisetti, Faith Ford, Macey Cruthird, Ted McGinley, and Paulie Litt. Macey has grown up a bit, and she has straight hair now! We find out here how the show was developed, the unaired pilot info, why they replaced Nicole Paggi after season one, and so much more. They replaced Paggi because she was like 28 when the show started and she was playing like 15. So they casted for a younger person for season two, and hence why we got Megan Fox. So that’s the story! Then finally we have “Bloopers!” 5:33 worth of hilarious flubs by the cast including Regis! What are you laughing at lady? You’ll see what I mean by that when you watch this. Overall, the extras are solid. I just wished Kelly Ripa was also involved. I know she must be very busy, but she should have been on the featurette for a quick interview at least. And for all the talk about the unaired pilot, we don’t get to see it at all here! That would have been my first guess for an extra on this set, so this is disappointing not having it. Maybe on a future set, I hope?


Final Comments:

This is a great and funny show and a wonderful DVD set. I wish the show was still going. I don’t understand why they didn’t continue it beyond the third season, since they only needed another season for full-fledged syndication. The show is doing very well though on cable repeats on WE tv every weekday morning. The show was a big hit for ABC in its first season for a Friday night show. The series premiere did a great 7.8/14 rating/share and 11.8 million viewers.

As for the DVD itself, Lionsgate did a wonderful job. The packaging is great, the video is in widescreen as it should be, and the extras are very decently produced. Like I said in the previous section, the only thing really missing here is the unaired pilot. Why not have it on this set after many mentions of it on the audio commentaries and the featurette? I was also disappointed they didn’t have Kelly Ripa involved on this set. She might have been busy, but they could have used an archival interview she did during the show’s original run at least? I can understand why Nicole Paggi is not involved, as she was replaced after the first season. I wonder if we get any extras on the next two sets, if Megan Fox would be involved. She is very popular right now in hit movies, so that would be great to get her.

But before I think that far ahead, you all need to buy this DVD set to assure we get all three seasons on DVD! Hope & Faith is a fun show that has lots of laughs and physical comedy that is deeply missed in the current sitcom landscape. So don’t head on to Handsome Hal’s car dealership to buy this DVD, it is just a click away below! But you can still sing Handsome Hal’s jingle while buying it!


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

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 03/27/09

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001P9N9B2/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=243616


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