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Mad About You - The Complete Fourth Season


TITLE: MAD ABOUT YOU - THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: June 29, 2010 (Shout! Factory)
Color/1995-96
MSRP: $29.93
Packaging: Slimcases
Number of Discs: 3 (Dual Layer)
Number of Episodes: 24 (23)
Running Time: Approx. 11.5 hours
Running Time of Special Features: approx. 23 min.
Special Features:
* Introductions by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt on select episodes
* Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt are Mad About the Theme
* TV Spots


Introduction:

After three seasons of releases for Mad About You, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has sold the DVD rights for Mad About You to Shout! Factory. What does this mean for you? Only good news: You likely won’t have to wait 4 years in between releases, what IS released is likely to be in top-flight VQ and there are even bonus features!

In the show’s pivotal fourth season, Paul has found a job as a full-time documentary filmmaker at the Explorer Channel, while Jamie has opened a new PR Firm with her longtime friend Fran (Leila Kenzle). It’s a busy time in the Buchmans’ lives, and it’s about to get even crazier when they decide to start a family.

Despite a frustrating series of false alarms, the couple is determined to do whatever it takes to conceive, including virtually nonstop sex and absolutely horrible herbal remedies! The obstacles don’t stop there as they face everything from Paul’s sudden unemployment to their respective brushes with marital infidelity, and as the pressure on their marriage increases, their relationship begins to unravel.

One of the things I always loved about this show was that even though it was a traditional multi-camera comedy, the show had no bones whatsoever about recurring plot lines and multi-episode plot arcs, and actual bona fide continuity within the show. In a genre sometimes defined as a series of dozens of interchangeable episodes, a show with even some semblance of a plot theme is always welcome.


Episodes:

I hate Yoko Ono. So, having her guest star in the season’s sixth episode “Yoko Said” meant a lot of disinterest on my part at first. But then, I mellowed out with regards to Ms. Ono...and it’s a good episode. The show is the season’s sixth, and is the final show on the first disc. Earlier on the disc, the third episode “The Test,” features one interesting little bit of music -- a full-length rendition of the show’s theme tune.

The episode “Dream Weaver,” a dream-themed episode, could be mistaken for a Laugh-In reunion of sorts, as no fewer than four supporting cast members appear in the section of the episode with a Laugh-In party: Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, Gary Owens, and Jo Anne Worley all appear as themselves at various points. Laugh-In is one of my favorite series, so the last third of this episode is absolutely full of win for myself.

Ed Asner appears in the final part of the season’s three-episode finale. The finale sees Paul and Jamie’s relationship hit the rocks after both run into issues with marital fidelity. The tensions last for three episodes, before the season ends with reconciliation and a pregnant Jamie. The episode was presented in two parts in original broadcast but split into three for syndication. For the purposes of this set, the episode is presented as its original two parts.

Other special guests include: Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation) in “New Sleep-Walking PLUS” as the head of the Explorer Channel that hires Paul. She would become a recurring character for part of the season, usually appearing whenever Paul would be shooting something for his job at the channel. Man of a thousand annoying voices, Mr. Gilbert Gottfried, appears in “The Couple.” Music industry, game show, and New Years’ icon Dick Clark appears in the episode “New Years Eve” as does America’s favorite D-list actress and comic Kathy Griffin. Brad Garrett, six months prior to his start on the classic Everybody Loves Raymond, appears in “The Sample.”

Runtimes:

Disc 1:
New Sleep-Walking PLUS: 22:23
The Parking Space: 21:52
The Test: 22:18
The Good, The Bad & The Not-So-Appealing: 22:47
I Don’t See It: 23:01
Yoko Said: 22:57

Disc 2:
An Angel for Murray: 22:36
The Couple: 22:48
New Year’s Eve: 22:44
Ovulation Day: 22:49
Get Back: 22:58
Dream Weaver: 22:52

Disc 3:
Hot & Cold: 22:42
Fertility: 22:34
Everybody Hates Me: 22:35
Do Me a Favor: 22:35
The Glue People: 22:36
The Sample: 22:51

Disc 4:
The Procedure: 22:38
The Weed: 22:33
The Award: 22:38
The Finale (Part 1): 22:49
The Finale (Part 2 and 3): 46:48


Packaging:

Three cheers for slim cases! I’m not a fan of those Viva cases many studios are switching to, so to see a studio still reliably using the classic old standard slim cases is certainly nice to see. The color scheme for the set is a lighter shade of blue, with Paul and Helen appearing everywhere in the artwork – on the cover, on the first case, and on two of the four discs. They’re inseparable. The remainder of the supporting characters rush to fill in the space not consumed alive by Paul and Helen on the artwork on discs 2 and 3, with the whole primary cast appearing on the second case. Other than the disc’s respective cast member, the disc itself remains blue, with the show’s logo at the top.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The set features a series of interesting and well-designed main menus. Each disc’s main menu is different, and while I won’t ruin all the surprises for you, one example is found on disc 2, where as the main menu transitions in, you see Paul dragging Jamie/Helen (seated in a red chair) across the screen, stopping at center-left. Behind them is a white-silhouetted version of the NYC skyline (this is present on all four discs), with various clips playing in the upper-third. The clips vary by disc and are specific to that disc’s contents. From the main menu you can access the Play All function or an episode list. My one real complaint about the set’s graphic design comes from this second episode menu: The selected episode is designated with a light, teal-colored square appearing to the right of the episode title. The little square isn’t the most visible indicator ever, and for some watching this set it may be hard to determine what episode they’ve selected as a result. Otherwise, the menus are extremely well-done.


Video and Audio Quality:

Language options for this DVD are limited: You have only one audio track, a Dolby Digital stereo English track. Would foreign-language subtitles or audio tracks be nice? Sure. However, the English audio is still here, and I suppose that’s what matters most for a majority of Region 1 customers. The video looks quite good in most locations. Every now and then there’s a little bit of grain. Video colors are generally well-saturated. Every now and then you get a scene where the video colors are slightly dull and faded, but it’s nothing severe. Chapter stops occur in sync with commercial breaks.


Special Features:

Ooh, special features. A lost art in TV DVD sets. I always love Shout! DVD releases for precisely this reason.

Disc one features one feature -- the first of several episode introductions. Prof. Richard Brown from NYU is seated at a table with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, and they discuss the episode “Yoko Said” (4:40). The in-episode references to not making a Beatles joke actually referenced some real backstage trepidations, which were ultimately relieved by Yoko herself.

Disc 4 features the remainder of the features. First is a second episode introduction, this time for “The Finale” (8:14). The set also features 6:16 worth of TV spots for the series from the NBC airings. The final feature is a piece about the theme song that’s runs 4:09. It’s a continuation of the same interview where the episode intros come from. Talks about how the theme song comes into existence.

Total runtime of special features: Approximately 23 minutes


Final Comments:

It’s great to finally see this show in the hands of a studio that will actually put out full-bodied DVD releases. Great features, great video quality, and a set that looks like it’s actually had consideration put into it. I’ve never met a set from Shout! Factory I didn’t like, and this is no exception. It’d be great to hear commentary tracks. Based on the copyright date and information at the end, the interview may have been planned for one of Sony’s original DVD releases but never used. If anything, that piece of information only furthers my disappointment of Sony’s previous treatment of the series.

There are one or two minor issues with video quality here and there, but overall the presentation is quite good. Here’s hoping for a quicker release of the 5th season, and release of the subsequent seasons as well. This show isn’t as highly-remembered now due to the wealth of other great sitcoms in the 1990s that have seen more success in syndication, but in my opinion this series is one of the true gems of the 90s. Highly recommended.


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

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 06/15/10

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000TD4N9W/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=268414


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