TITLE: TYLER PERRY'S HOUSE OF PAYNE - VOLUME SEVEN (EPISODES 125-148)
DVD Release Date: April 5, 2011 (Lionsgate)
Color / 2009
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Special Features: None
The Payne family is back for more in volume seven of the hit TBS sitcom Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. The next 24 episodes of the show appear in this jam-packed three-disc set. The episodes contained originally aired in 2009 and early 2010.
The show, created by Tyler Perry, famous for the “Madea” series of plays and movies, continues to air new episodes on TBS, and is apparently still popular with viewers. It follows a multi-generational family all living under one roof--Uncle Curtis and Aunt Ella live in a large home in Atlanta with their son Calvin, but as the series premieres, nephew C.J. along with his on-again, off-again wife Janine their son Malik, and daughter Jazmine. Topics important to family life are frequently covered in multi-episode arcs. Topics in this set include marriage problems and job loss.
The set kicks off with a two part season finale (!) “Surprise,” as C.J. and Janine decide to move their family to Chicago because of a new job offer. However, the move would cause Malik to have to repeat his freshman year of high school. So, they end up not moving after all. As all of this happens, Calvin’s wife Miranda (Keshia Knight-Pulliam) announces her pregnancy. As the next season begins, in “Where’s the Payne,” Curtis is unexpectedly forced into retirement at the fire station, and Miranda goes missing. These two plot points continue for several episodes... as Miranda’s mother blames Calvin for her disappearance and Curtis protests to get his job back (not knowing that C.J. has been offered Curtis’ old job.) Finally in “Wigging Out,” Miranda returns to reveal that she was never really pregnant at all. All three Payne couples attend a couples’ retreat in “Marriage Paynes,” at the end of which, Calvin and Miranda come to an important decision regarding their marriage. In an unusual twist, Curtis and Ella find out they may not be legally married in “Til Payne Do We Part,” and in “Blackout X3,” a blackout causes all three couples to learn new things about each other.
Meanwhile, in “Lady Sings to Blue,” the family is worried that Janine may be returning to drugs when her old dealer shows up, but in “Something’s Brewing,” it’s revealed that she’s helping care for her old friend who is dying.
The episodes, while short in running time, appear to be uncut as they originally aired on basic cable. Oddly during this batch, a special Christmas episode aired called “Oh, Christmas Payne,” which is not included on this set. I have yet to figure out why, unless it will be included on the volume 8 set, scheduled to be released in June.
Surprise (Part 1) (21:10)
Surprise (Part 2) (21:27)
Where’s the Payne? (21:32)
Recurring Payne (21:32)
Wigging Out (21:34)
Payne Speaking (21:32)
Parental Payne (21:32)
Payne, Payne, Go Away (21:32)
Marriage Paynes (21:32)
Ms. Curtis (21:32)
Til Payne Do We Part (21:32)
Payneful Reunion (21:32)
From the Mouths of Babes (21:32)
Blackout x3 (21:32)
Lady Sings to Blue (21:32)
Something Brewing (21:32)
Seal of Approval (21:32)
Payneful Pie (21:32)
How Do You Like Your Roast? (21:32)
Curtis Sings the Blues (21:32)
Through the Fire (21:32)
The Bible: King Payne’s Version (21:32)
The set comes in an environmentally friendly Amaray keep case. I’ve seen more and more of these used in DVD sets, and I can certainly see why. The plastic is thinner, and there are huge holes where it would really be unnecessary for the case to continue. The case is inside a cardboard sleeve with the same artwork as the front cover.
Speaking of artwork, the front of the case features shots of the entire family against a blue background. Curiously, a notebook and pens have been drawn into Ella’s hands. The back cover features another shot of the family, this time with Curtis holding what looks like a diploma, and Ella wearing a graduation cap--both drawn in. I can’t figure out the meaning of any of these items drawn in. You would think they would indicate a plotline in which Ella goes back to school, but as far as I could tell, there’s no such plot in any of these episodes. Very strange.
Also on the back case is a list of which episode is on which disc against a purple background. The discs themselves match the front art in that they feature cast members against a blue background with the show’s logo and which episodes are on that particular disc. Disc one has Curtis, disc two has Ella and Calvin, and disc 3 has C.J., Curtis, and Jazmine.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are similar to previous sets. The main menu on each disc as the front cover (with the drawn-in notebook) as the show’s theme music plays. Curtis welcomes you, and eventually tells you to wake up and make a choice. From this menu you can Play All Episodes, choose an episode by going to Episode Selection, choose subtitles and audio by going to Set Up, and on disc one only, choose Also From Lionsgaste. This item is a string of trailers for Tyler Perry movie “For Colored Girls” and several Madea movies and plays on DVD. Chapter stops are placed at commercial breaks.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video quality seems to be quite a bit improved from the previous set. The show is done on a tight budget on videotape, but here, the video seems relatively clear and bright. I happened to catch an older episode of House of Payne recently on TBS and it was in 16:9 widescreen. All of the episodes here are in 4:3 fullscreen. It seems to me we’re missing a major portion of the picture here with the sides cropped off. I’m not at all sure why they couldn’t have released these episodes in widescreen.
The audio also sounds fine, both the 5.1 and 2.0 versions. I’m not honestly sure how a show like this one could benefit from 5.1 surround sound, but if you have such a system, you might want to give it a shot. Each episode is closed captioned and also has English and Spanish subtitles.
Aside from the trailers on disc one, there are no special features on this set at all. Some previous sets had items like character profiles and bloopers, but none of those things can be found here. Lionsgate seems to have begun churning these sets out after a bit of a stall last year as bare bones sets with no features. You’d think there would at least be something they could have included.
Lionsgate seems to have put a little more effort into this set than the previous one--the video quality is better at least--but there are still a number of issues, including the lack of special features, and the odd alterations to the photos on the outer packaging. I usually reserve my comments on the actual show for this section, and so here are those: I wasn’t that impressed with the episodes on volume 6, and I’m not that impressed with these either. The cast seems to overact all the time, and the plotlines aren’t that funny for this to be a sitcom. It almost feels like a soap opera at times in this season. The show is churned out at a quick pace with a low budget, and quite frankly it shows. I just could not enjoy any of the episodes on this set and actually only managed to make it through a few of them. If you are a big fan of this show, or of Tyler Perry’s work (which this isn’t really a good representation of,) then you may want to go out and buy this set. Otherwise, I’d have to advise avoiding it. Or at least watching a few episodes on TBS before you make a decision. On a positive note, the show will be ending after this season so TBS can focus on another series from Tyler Perry. Hopefully that one will be better than this one.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Greg Brobeck on 05/10/11
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