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Mr. Belvedere - Season Three


TITLE: MR. BELVEDERE - SEASON THREE


Info:

DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009 (Shout! Factory)
Color/1986-87
MSRP: $39.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: approx. 510 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; no subtitles or closed-captioning
Special Features: 6 Audio Commentaries by Brice Beckham, Ilene Graff, Rob Stone & Tracy Wells Tofte


Introduction:

All hands look out below, there's a change in the satus quo... Christopher Hewitt returns as Mr. Belvedere, the sardonic and sophisticated houskeeper of the Owens household, in one of the most adored sitcoms of all time.

When he isn't butting heads with the patriarch George (Bob Uecker) or dodging the machinations of the scheming little Wesley (Brice Beckham), Belvedere takes great pleasure in schooling the Owens family on everything from soup to sarcasm. Season Three hosts a plentiful palette of predicaments when Marsha (Ilene Graff), sill in law school, must represent son Kevin (Rob Stone) in court; Heather (Tracy Wells) dates a thief; and Wesley tries to get Belvedere deported. Despite his impending deportation, Belvedere must prove there is never a mess too big for his mop.

Mr. Belvedere ran for six seasons on ABC and has withstood the test of time to emerge as a beacon of '80s culture.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Mr. Belvedere aired on ABC on Fridays nights at 8:30-9:00pm for the first three seasons. The series starred Christopher Hewett as Mr. Lynn Belvedere, Bob Uecker as George Owens, Ilene Graff as Marsha Owens, Rob Stone as Kevin Owens, Tracy Wells as Heather Owens and Brice Beckham as Wesley T. Owens. Recurring are Casey Ellison as Miles Knobnoster and Michele Matheson as Angela Shostakovich. The series theme song, "According to Our New Arrivals," was written by Judy Hart Angelo and Gary Portnoy and sung by Leon Redbone.

Memorable episodes included the season premiere "The Thief," when Heather gets a job at a local record store, her new boyfriend uses it as an opportunity to get a five-finger discount. Frustrated by striking out with yet another girl, Kevin decides to take the school's "sure thing" out on a date in "Kevin's Date." Mr. Belvedere accompanies George to his 20th high school reunion while Marsha is at a law convention; and the kids get into mischief while they have the house to themselves in "Reunion." Wesley is slated to win the school spelling bee until a girl from a rival class attracts his attention in "The Spelling Bee." Marsha confiscates amphetamines Heather was intending to take to lose weight and ends up using them to help her study in "Pills." Heather's best friend Angela develops a crush on Kevin in "The Crush." George's gloating over beating Kevin at arm wrestling kicks off a competition for masculinity in "The Competition." Mr. Belvedere auctions off his services to a nice older woman, but she has no intention of letting him return to the Owens household in "The Auction."

Notable guest stars included James Gregory as Mr. Sparks and Ellen Albertini Dow as the Old Lady in "Grandma." Robert Goulet appeared as himself in "Debut (aka Close Call)." Willie Garson made his first appearance in the recurring role of Carl in "Kevin's Date." Jack Dodson guest starred as Carl Putnam in "Halloween." Doris Roberts appeared as Judge Westphall in "Deportation: Part 2." Edie McClurg played Penny Nichols and Lee Meriwether was Donna Flannagan in "Reunion." Winnifred Freedman first appeared in the recurring role as Wendy in "College Bound." Jaleel White guest starred as Ernie Masters in "Jobless." Ami Dolenz played Shannon and Ben Piazza was Judge L. Nathan in "The Ticket." Danielle Brisebois appeared as Kerry in "The Crush." Caren Kaye was the Waitress in "Baby." Susan Anton, Bubba Smith, Tony Danza and Dr. Joyce Brothers appeared as themselves in "Separation." Florence Stanley guest starred as Julia Cartwright in "The Auction."


Packaging:

The packaging is similar to the seasons one-two set. We have an outer box holding two slim cases inside this time. The outer box has a blue color scheme, like a family album. There is a nice shot of the Owens family sitting on the couch in the middle with the show logo on top of that and "Season Three" wording below the family photo. The back of the box has the same color scheme, with a synopsis of the set, the bonus features and the DVD specs listed. It also has a few lines from the theme song at the top. There are five small reel-type publicity shots and scenes from the episodes near the bottom of the box. Since this packaging is noticeably thinner than the previous set, the Mr. Belvedere logo is smaller on the spine of the box.

Two slim cases slide out from the right of the otuer cardboard box. They have the same Owens family photo that is on the outer cardboard box on the front of each, along with the show logo on top, and disc number on the bottom. There is the episode title, original airdate and short summary for each episode by disc on the back of the cases. Unfortunately, they didn't note Willie Garson's or Winnifred Freeman's first appearance like they did for Casey Ellison and Michelle Matheson on the first set. The first case holds discs 1 and 2, while discs 3 and 4 are in the second case. We have a disc on each side. Underneath the discs, when you remove the discs, there is a photo of Mr. Belvedere wearing a tea drinking helmet in the first case and George and Mr. Belvedere in a boxing stance in the second case. Each disc has a different photo and the Mr. Belvedere logo on them. Disc 1 has episodes 1-6 of the season and a photo of Mr. Belvedere feeling Heather's forehead. Disc 2 has episodes 7-11 and a photo of Mr. Belvedere holding some giant playings cards. Disc 3 has episodes 12-17 and a photo of Kevin and Mr. Belvedere in their Mr. Cluck's uniforms. Disc 4 holds episodes 18-22 and features a photo of Mr. Belvedere and George giving each other menacing looks.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are stylish and easy to navigate. They open with a short 10-second or less "cold opening" type of video clip from one of the episodes (different on each disc). This leads to the main menu where the instrumental theme song is played in the background. There is a montage of video clips (different on each disc) from the episodes that leads to a still image of the Owens family. The theme loops after about 40 seconds or so. There is a blue background with a green stripe that is printed on a journal with the video clips in a rectangular box in the center of the screen. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for Play All, Special Features and Episodes. These are in white text with your highlighted option in yellow that turns pink upon your selection. There is some transition music between menus. On the Special Features, there is a still image in a frame from the episode. It notes the bonus commentary with a listing cast that is participating on them. This menu has a light purple and blue background. The episodes menu also has still images from the episodes in a framed border that is yellow that turns red upon your selection. This menu has a light purple/blue background with a silhouetted view of the Pittsburgh skyline. Chapter stops are available at the usual spots. A series of trailers (4:05) for some other Shout! Factory products such as Mr. Belvedere Seasons 1-2, Blossom Seasons 1-2 and getback.com can be played or skipped when you first insert disc 1.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality is again very good. These episodes look about as good as they can for not having been digitally remastered. The show was shot on video tape in front of a studio audience. I didn't see any glitches in any episodes, although the picture looked a little grainy in some spots. Episodes are presented in their original broadcast order. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times over 23 minutes in length. There's nothing on the packaging to indicate any of the music had to be replaced. All of the singing in the Robert Goulet episode is included. That was about 7 songs they had to clear. Shout! Factory is one of the best studios at clearing songs. The episodes are spread out well with no more than 6 per disc. I think they probably could have used a 6, 6, 5 and 5 episode split instead of what they used. They put Deportation: Part 1 on Disc 1 and the second part on Disc 2. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is the 20th Century Fox Television logo.

The audio is your standard 1980's sitcom digital mono track. The volume is at a good level and the dialogue is easy to understand. These episodes have the original full length opening credits. One of the interesting things I heard on the commentaries is that they had 3-4 different ending themes. They were of various lengths, so they could just plug in one that fit the episode running time. Unfortunately the episodes and audio commentaries aren't closed captioned or subtitled.

Here are the episode runtimes and original airdates:

Disc 1:
The Thief (23:04) (09/26/86)
Grandma (23:50) (10/03/86)
Debut (aka Close Call) (23:50) (10/17/86)
Kevin's Date (23:41) (10/24/86)
Halloween (23:52) (10/31/86)
Deportation: Part 1 (23:48) (11/07/86)

Disc 2:
Deportation: Part 2 (23:36) (11/14/86)
Reunion (23:51) (11/21/86)
The Spelling Bee (23:39) (12/05/86)
Pills (23:50) (12/13/86)
College Bound (23:47) (01/09/87)

Disc 3:
Inky (23:08) (01/16/87)
Jobless (23:50) (01/23/87)
The Ticket (23:20) (01/30/87)
The Crush (23:50) (02/06/87)
The Competition (23:39) (02/13/87)
The Cadet (23:48) (02/20/87)

Disc 4:
Kevin's Older Woman (23:45) (02/27/87)
Baby (23:49) (03/06/87)
Separation (23:52) (05/01/87)
The Mogul (23:35) (05/08/87)
The Auction (23:46) (05/15/87)


Special Features:

We were treated to some nice special features on the seasons one-two set. They included all-new interviews with the cast (except Tracy Wells and the late Christopher Hewett) and the hilarious "The Guy Who Plays Mr. Belvedere Fan Club" Saturday Night Live skit. For the season three set, we get 6 cast audio commentaries! This time Tracy Wells (listed as Tracy Wells Tofte) participates on them, as well as Brice Beckham, Rob Stone, and Ilene Graff. Unfortunately Bob Uecker didn't do any of the commentaries. He was probably busy with his job as the radio broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers. The commentaries are very interesting and entertaining. There's very little dead air time. You can tell that the cast had a lot of fun re-watching these episodes together. They talk about all kinds of subjects. This is more than them just watching the episodes and laughing at the scenes. There a lot of interesting behind the scenes stories and trivia that only the cast would know. They talk about the guest stars and the sets. It's funny how Ilene Graff has run into some of the guest stars years later. Rob Stone mentions Texas (where is from) a lot and is easily able to remember the names of the actresses who played his girlfriends on the show. Tray Wells seems a little embarrassed about her hairstyles and clothing, but this was like a time capsule of the 1980's and she looked great on the show. Brice Beckham now has a deep, booming voice. He does a great Robert Goulet and Barry White impression on the commentaries. It's strange watching him on the show when he had such a squeaky voice. Overall, these commentaries will add a lot to your enjoyment in watching the episodes. Even die-hard members of the "The Guy Who Plays Mr. Belvedere Fan Club" will learn something new about the cast or the episodes. One of the most interesting things they talked about was the casting process and some of the other actors/actresses that were up for the roles.

Commentaries are available on these episodes:

Debut (aka Close Call) (Disc 1)
Kevin's Date (Disc 1)
Pills (Disc 2)
The Crush (Disc 3)
The Competition (Disc 3)
Kevin's Older Woman (Disc 4)


Final Comments:

After waiting years for Mr. Belvedere to arrive on DVD, we now have two sets and three seasons available in the last 6 months! Shout! Factory has continued the excellence from the first set to the second. Once again, the packaging is great, the menus are clever with the theme song and transition music, the episodes are unedited with original music and look very good, and we get 6 interesting and entertaining audio commentaries. The only disappointment with this set is that Bob Uecker wasn't available for the commentaries. I'm sure he would have some wild stories and many one-liners. Hopefully they can get The Ueck to sit down for some more fun on a future set. Sometimes audio commentaries can get boring with people not able to remember anything about the episodes or a lot of dead air time, but the commentaries on this set were very enjoyable. After listening to the 6th one, I wanted even more. The cast really could remember a lot of details and give a lot of behind the scenes stories. You could tell that they still keep in touch and seem like a family. Rob Stone evens calls Ilene Graff "mom" in one of them. Hopefully Shout! Factory can continue to release these sets at a rate of every 6 months or so. All hands look out below, there's a change in the status quo.. there's only 3 seasons left to go! We just might live the good life yet with the complete series on DVD.


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

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/13/09

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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002ACKBTG/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=253492


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