TITLE: MAD ABOUT YOU - THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: November 2, 2010 (Shout! Factory)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: approx. 9 hours
Runtime of Special Features: approx. 13 minutes
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Special Features: 3 Episode Introductions by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt
Emmy Award winners Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt are back at it again in the fifth season of Mad About You.
Having nearly separated after Jamie (Hunt) and Paul (Reiser) each admit to a close call with infidelity, the Buchmans start their fifth year of marriage with the news that they're going to have a baby! But of course it won't be easy...
While Jamie continues working at her new PR firm, Paul is unemployed after losing his job at the Explorer Channel. From searching for a decent doctor for Jamie and seeing a marriage counselor, to childbirth classes and Paul's new film, the Buchmans are in for a rocky pregnancy at the very least.
Guest stars include Carol Burnett and Mel Brooks, who would both go on to win Emmys for their performances.
Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
While keeping their pregnancy under wraps, Paul and Jamie juggle recommendations for an OBGYN in "Dr. Wonderful." As Jamie tries to give up coffee during her pregnancy, Paul's Uncle Phil provides inspiration for his next film in "The Grant." A long-forgotten therapy appointment creates problems for Paul and Jamie in "Therapy." A visit with their marriage therapist dredges up many episodes in Paul and Jamie's marriage in "Clip Show." Losing his father in their old neighborhood makes Paul late for an important doctor's appointment with Jamie in "Burt's Building." After 37 years of marriage, Jamie's parents split up on the eve of a cross-country trip together in "Jamie's Parents."
Paul and Jamie's plan to tell everyone about their pregnancy at Thanksgiving dinner is jeopardized when the news begins to leak out in "Outbreak." Paul and Jamie discover that a country store's homemade fudge has aprodisiac qualities in "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge." Paul is upset when Jamie gives a homeless man a pass to his gym in "The Gym." After announcing her pregnancy, Jamie must make some adjustments to her fast-paced work life in "Chicken Man." Jamie's comments about her son's violin playing upset Fran; Paul thinks he and Jamie are paying too much for their therapy in "The Recital." After her fiancé invests heavily in Paul's film, Lisa falls in love with a handman in "The Handyman."
After promising a dying uncle that they will name their child after him, Paul debates telling Jamie that he's learned the baby's sex in "The Penis." The last words of Paul's late uncle cause dissent among the Buchmans in "Citizen Buchman." When Jamie is confined to bed, its up to Paul to care for her in "Her Houseboy, Coco." An astrolger's reading causes Paul and Jamie distress in "Astrology." Preparations for Jamie's baby shower drive Paul to arrange a weekend of male bonding in "On the Road." Reading Julius Caesar prompts Jamie to see some political intrigue developing around Brockwell's mayoral campaign in "The Cockatoo."
As a very pregnant Jamie helps open a new coffeehouse, Paul's efforts to help a stranger cause a huge misunderstanding in "The Touching Game." The Buchmans fall behind in their childbirth class, and Sylvia accuses Jamie of stealing a spoon at her very first family dinner in "Dry Run." Paul and Jamie struggle to find a guardian for their child in "Guardianhood." Paul wins big at poker but is paid off by Marvin in the form of specially-priced household chores in "The Feud." As Paul's documentary gets a surprisingly good review at a film festival, Jamie thinks she is going into labor in "The Birth (Part 1)." Following a series of false alarms, Paul and Jamie's baby is finally born in "The Birth (Part 2)."
Notable guest stars include John O'Hurley as Dr. Von Derphal in "Dr. Wonderful." Harry Groener makes his first appearance as Lance Brockwell in "The Grant." Mel Brooks returns as Uncle Phil in "The Grant." Mo Gaffney makes her first appearance as the Buchnanans' therapist Sheila Kleinman in "Therapy." Carroll O'Connor and Carol Burnett appear as Gus and Theresa Temple in "Jamie's Parents." Kevin Bacon appears as himself and Alex Rocco plays Mel Slotkin in "Outbreak." Bruno Kirby guest stars as Virgil in "The Gym."
Ed Asner plays Zigmund Klarik in "The Handyman." Guest stars in "Citizen Buchman" included Florence Stanley, Sid Caesar, Shecky Greene and Len Lesser. Marsha Warfield appeared as Amy in "Dry Run." Megan Mullally guest starred as Jane and Seth Green played Bobby Rubenfeld in "Guardianhood." Lisa Kudrow returned as Ursula Buffay and Richard Kind as Mark Devanow in "Guardianhood." Bruce Willis and Eric Stoltz appear as themselves in "The Birth (Parts 1 and 2)."
All of the episodes appear to be unedited and have running times of 21-23 minutes. There's nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the music was replaced. The season finale, "The Birth," originally aired as one-hour episode and is presented that way on the DVD. It runs 46 minutes, 37 seconds. Here is the breakdown by disc, including the exact runtimes:
Dr. Wonderful (09/17/96) (22:47)
The Grant (09/24/96) (22:49)
Therapy (10/15/96) (22:49)
Clip Show (10/22/96) (22:49)
Burt's Building (10/29/96) (22:51)
Jamie's Parents (11/12/96) (22:08)
Outbreak (11/19/96) (22:52)
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (11/26/96) (22:44)
The Gym (12/17/96) (22:45)
Chicken Man (01/07/97) (22:53)
The Recital (01/14/97) (22:46)
The Handyman (01/21/97) (22:52)
The Penis (02/11/97) (22:40) - Introduction by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (4:04)
Citizen Buchman (02/18/97) (23:06) - Introduction by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (4:09)
Her Houseboy, Coco (02/25/97) (22:30)
Astrology (03/11/97) (pre-empted on 02/04/97) (22:37)
On the Road (03/18/97) (22:53)
The Cockatoo (04/01/97) (21:51)
Note: Astrology was originally scheduled to air on 02/04/97, but it was pre-empted due to NBC's coverage of the O.J Simpson trial. It aired in the U.S. on 03/11/97.
The Touching Game (04/15/97) (22:03)
Dry Run (04/29/97) (22:46)
Guardianhood (05/06/97) (22:47)
The Feud (05/13/97) (22:46)
The Birth (Parts 1 and 2) (05/20/97) (46:37) - Introduction by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (4:58)
This 3-disc set contains all 24 episodes from the fifth season (1996-97). The packaging is similar to what they used for the fourth season. Once again, we have slim cases that are held in an outer cardboard box. The color scheme for this set is orange and white, which is nice for a fall release. Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt are featured on the cover of the outer cardboard box. The Mad About You logo is above them. On the back of the box, there are 3 smaller photos of Paul and Helen from the episodes and a larger one of them sitting on a couch that is being lifted by 2 movers. A synopsis of the set and the DVD specs are listed on the back of the box. Two slim cases slide out from the right of the outer cardboard box. Slim case #1 features Paul and Heln and holds discs 1 and 2. Slim case #2 has a photo of Helen, Paul, Carroll O'Connor and Carol Burnett. Episode titles, original airdates and short summaries are listed on the back of the slim cases. I did notice one small error on the back of slim case #2. They have the episode summary for "The Recital" listed for "The Birth (Part 1)." There is an orange background with the New York City skyline inside the slim cases. Each disc has an orange background, the show logo and a different cast member pictured. Disc 1 has Paul Reiser and has episodes 1-6 from the fifth season. Disc 2 features Helen Hunt and has episodes 7-12. Disc 3 has John Pankow and holds episodes 13-18. Disc 4 has Anne Ramsay and rounds out the set with episodes 19-24. An insert is included that promotes some of Shout! Factory's other TV DVD releases.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus aren't quite as creative as season four, but they are colorful and easy to navigate. The static main menu features a shot of Paul and Helen. The show logo is next to them and a blue/yellow background is used. Andrew Gold's version of the theme song, "Final Frontier," plays in the background for about a minute before looping. A Play All option is available or you can play the episodes individually. There is a red circle next to the episode you highlight that turns a lighter red upon your selection. When you first insert Disc 1, there is a Shout! Factory Trailer Collection for Sports Night - The 10th Anniversary Edition, Spin City - Seasons 1-3 and thirtysomething Seasons 1-4 that you can play or skip. Chapter stops are placed at the appropriate places.
Video and Audio Quality:
These episodes are now 13-14 years old, but they still look and sound quite good. 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. The episodes are presented in full screen and in their original broadcast order. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there are logos for In Front Productions, Nuance Productions and TriStar Television.
The audio is a Dolby Digital stereo English track. There are no major problems with the audio. Note that they changed the theme song to Anita Baker's version of "Final Frontier" about midway through the season. The original Andrew Gold version can also be heard in the earlier episodes of the season on the DVD. Closed captioning is available on all of the episodes.
Although they aren't listed as special features on the packaging, there are 3 episode introductions by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt that could be considered extras. There were previously available on Sony's 2005 release of The Mad About You Collection.
The Penis - Introduction by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (4:04) - This introduction was previously available on The Mad About You Collection. Professor Richard Brown, N.Y.U. discusses the episode with Paul and Helen. This episode featured Mel Brooks as Uncle Phil. A low quality outtake from the episode is shown.
Citizen Buchman - Introduction by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (4:09) - They discuss the episode. It featured Shecky Greene, Sid Caesar, Florence Stanley, Fred De Corva and David Steinberg as guest stars.
The Birth (Parts 1 and 2) - Introduction by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (4:58) - This was the season finale that featured Bruce Willis as a guest star.
I didn't think we would see any more seasons after it had been years since Sony had released the third season. Thankfully Shout! Factory picked up the rights and released the fourth season in June of this year. The fifth season was released only a few months later. This was another strong season of the show. Helen Hunt won her second consecutive (of four) Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. It's surprising this show hasn't had more success in syndication, but it's great to see this underrated sitcom finding an audience on DVD.
This is a nicely put together and presented set. It lacks any new special features, but at least the episodes are unedited and in very good quality. Let's hope that Shout! Factory will stay on track with the quick release schedule and make the final two seasons available sometime in 2011!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 1/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
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