TITLE: MR. BELVEDERE - SEASONS ONE & TWO
DVD Release Date: March 17, 2009 (Shout! Factory)
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 29
Running Time: approx. 690 minutes
Total Running Time of Special Features: approx. 23 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; no subtitles or closed-captioning.
Special Features: “The Owens Family Remembers” and “SNL: The Guy Who Played Mr. Belvedere Fan Club” Sketch (1992)
Streaks on the china, never mattered before, who cared? Shout Factory does! For the first time ever, Mr. Belvedere is coming to DVD with the first two seasons on a 5-disc set packed with all-new cast interviews! When Pittsburgh sports columnist George Owens (Bob Uecker) and wife Marsha (Ilene Graff), a new law school student, find themselves with little time to spend with their three rambunctious kids, Marsha places an ad for some household help. Enter Mr. Belvedere (Christopher Hewett), a quick-witted, refined, portly English housekeeper. Despite the objections of George, Mr. Belvedere is hired and quickly sets about whipping the Owens family into shape.
Mr. Belvedere premiered on ABC in 1985 airing Fridays at 8:30PM and enjoyed a six-season run, but has endured ever since as a symbol of its time. The story of one family trying to have it all, with some unlikely help, the show was not afraid to deal with real issues and still make us laugh. Affectionately remembered, Mr. Belvedere lives on as a cult favorite and an icon of 80s suburbia.
The series also stars the Owens family children: Rob Stone as Kevin Owens, Tracy Wells as Heather Owens and Brice Beckham as Wesley Owens.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
When you dropped kicked your jacket, as you came through the door...no one glared. Yes no one has glared at this show in years and we finally have this show now on DVD. There are quite a lot of memorable episodes to glare here on these first two seasons. I haven’t seen this show on television in well over a decade and I still remember quite a few of these! The first season was a midseason replacement and had seven episodes. On this DVD we get the both seasons in airdate order. It all starts off with the first episode, “Strangers in the Night,” when the ad that Marsha has placed seeking a housekeeper is answered by Mr. Belvedere who finds himself needing to adjust to suburban life as well as the Owens needing to adjust to having Mr. Belvedere around. In “Gotta Dance,” George is all excited about Wesley joining the football team and goes all out to encourage him. In “What I Did For Love,” Kevin tries to win the affections of a girl by suddenly becoming interested in some of the causes that she believes in like animal rights. Season two in my opinion was even better than the first! One of my favorite episodes of the series is “Tornado,” a tornado forces everyone in the basement and a pool contest begins between George and Belvedere and neither one of them will allow something like the weather to interfere with their competition. Death is the topic in “Requiem,” when during an accordion lesson, Wesley's teacher - Mr. Zabriskie suddenly dies right after a frustrated Wesley silently wished his death. The Owens family deals with alcoholism in “The Contract,” when worried that Kevin will get drunk on the night of his junior prom, Marsha has Kevin sign a contract promising that if he should drink, he should call home for a ride and George and Marsha would promise not hassle him...however, Kevin sees this contract as an open invitation to drink which leads him to take the contract a bit too far and begins drinking all the time which it turns out is really masking a deeper problem. In the special episode “Wesley’s Friend,” when one of Wesley's friends is revealed to have AIDS, he is taken out of school due to the ignorance and uncertainty that many of the other children's parents share...this leads Wesley to shun his friend in fear of getting the disease himself. In the episode “Amish,” while at the library, studying for his SAT's, Kevin runs into a lost Amish girl whom he brings home, where she marvels at modern conveniences.
Guest stars for these two seasons include Melanie Chartoff, Tricia Cast, Donna Pescow, Albert Hague, Danny Nucci, Brian Robbins, Jason Bateman, Fergie (known here as Stacey Ferguson), and Danny Cooksey. Recurring are Casey Ellison and Michele Matheson.
But sometimes things get turned around and no one’s spared. The packaging is spared! And it is good! We have an outer box holding three slim cases inside. The outer box has a brown color scheme, like a family album! On the front, we have a nice shot of the Owens family in the middle with the show logo on top of that and “Seasons One& Two” wording below the family photo. The family photo is the same photo as the one on the closing credits. The back of the box continues the brown color scheme, with info on the set and series. It has a few lines from the theme as well...just like what we’re doing in each section of this review. On the bottom we have reel-type screenshots from the show. There is about five of them, including that famous shot of Mr. Belvedere first coming through the front door. Below that is a little rectangular box listings the special features.
Then we look inside the box and see three slim cases! They each have the same Owens family photo on the front of each, along with the show logo on top, and discs indication on the bottom. The back of the slim cases has a disc by disc breakdown with episode title, original airdate, and a description. We also get some facts on some episodes, such as someone’s first appearance. The last slim case has bonus features info too, along with a shot of Mr. Belvedere cooking! The first slim case holds discs one and two. We have a disc each on each side. Underneath the discs, when you remove the discs, it tells you the disc number again and we have artwork of Mr. Belvedere. Disc one holds the first season, all seven episodes, with artwork of Mr. Belvedere. Disc two holds episodes 8-13 with artwork of Mr. Belvedere in his pajamas writing in his journal. The second slim case holds discs three and four. Again, we have a disc each on each side. Underneath the discs, when you remove the discs, it tells you the disc number again and we have artwork of Mr. Belvedere. Disc three holds episodes 14-18, with artwork of Mr. Belvedere and George. Disc four holds episodes 19-24 with artwork of Mr. Belvedere reading his journal. And finally, the last slim case holds disc five. The disc is on the right side of the case. Underneath the disc, when you remove the disc, it tells you the disc number again and we have artwork of Mr. Belvedere. Disc five holds episodes 25-29 and the bonus featured with artwork of Mr. Belvedere talking to George, Marsha, Kevin and Wesley. We also have a Shout! Factory brochure.
Menu Design and Navigation:
All hands look out below, there's a change in the status-quo. Yes, there is a change. We’re moving on to the menus! And they’re fine menus, too! First, disc one starts off with auto-trailers for other Shout products such as Blossom, Spin City, Punky Brewster and getback.com. Then we get to the main menu! We see a clip play, and it is different on EACH disc. It is related to an episode on the disc. Then we hear the instrumental theme playing (aka the closing theme) in the background with various video clips (no audio of course, since the theme is playing in the middle. The family album style brown continues, so there is no change in the status-quo! We get the options of Play All and Episodes. And on disc five we also get a Special Features option. When we select an option, it turns the page like you would in an actual family album! It is cool and very creative. Good job! The episode section has a square screenshot, with the episode number and title listed. Not much else to say, but it is nice looking and easy to navigate!
Video and Audio Quality:
Gonna need all the help that we can get. No, I’m kidding. The opening theme may say that, but the audio-video doesn’t need any help here. Shout! did a fantastic job here with the video and audio quality. The video is superb and probably the best it can get for something not digitally remastered. That would have been the only better thing. The audio is not too low, and sounds good. I didn’t see a problem with it. I don’t think it is stereo, but I’m not sure because there is no option on the set or info on the packaging. Each episode has about 4 chapter stops, though a few have 5 stops on the first disc. The episodes all run at approx. 23-24 minutes range. So looks good...though one episode runs short at 22:58, but it probably just ran short. Nothing is edited out or replaced, as far as I can tell. As I mentioned earlier, the episodes are in original airdate order. The original opening credits for the first two seasons are on this set on EVERY episode! Yes, the full 55 second or so opening theme. In syndication we got the short theme for a version from a later season for some reason. The pilot episode has the original opening theme used on the pilot on ABC. It is sort of similar to the first half of the closing credits...a beige background that looks like a family album. Again, in syndication this is not seen at all. And finally, the original 20th Century Fox logo is intact at the end of the closing credits. Totally ‘80s! Here are the episode runtimes:
1. “Strangers in the Night” (23:23)
2. “Outcasts” (24:35)
3. “Gotta Dance” (24:01)
4. “Gorgeous George” (24:20)
5. “What I Did For Love” (24:19)
6. “The Lost Weekend” (24:32)
7. “Sweet Charity” (23:22)
1. “The Lions Sleep Tonight” (23:33)
2. “Tornado” (23:26)
3. “The Cheerleader” (23:34)
4. “Requiem” (23:33)
5. “Delivery” (23:25)
6. “The Contract” (23:32)
7. “Vows” (23:36)
8. “Strike” (23:32)
9. “The Letter” (23:35)
10. “Pinball” (23:32)
11. “The Prize” (23:14)
12. “Speechless” (23:32)
13. “The Teacher” (22:58)
14. “The Dropout” (23:32)
15. “Rivals” (23:32)
16. “Wesley’s Friend” (23:34)
17. “The Will” (23:22)
18. “Valentine” (23:23)
19. “Heather’s Tutor” (23:24)
20. “Amish” (23:35)
21. “Dinner for Two” (23:35)
22. “The Play” (23:29)
According to our new arrival...life is more than mere survival. Yes, that is so true. Our new arrival, this DVD, is more than just a barebones set...we get extras, too! Shout! Factory has done an excellent job with this set up until this point...and they continue here with original extras and an archival one, too. Brian Blum did a great job directing and producing the featurette: “The Owens Family Remembers.” This runs 15:39 and we get all-new interviews from everyone from the cast (except Tracy Wells and the late Christopher Hewett). So we hear from Bob Uecker, Ilene Graff, Rob Stone and Brice Beckham. They all look good. Rob Stone looks nearly the same as he did on the show and Graff still looks stunning. Brice Beckham has grown up and has facial hair and sports legend Bob Uecker was sporting a Mr. Belvedere cap for the interview! Among the topics were Bob Uecker, Christopher Hewett, Brice Beckham, Rob Stone, special episodes, twisted humor of the show, the Family Guy parody, and the cast still being remembered for this show on the street. The Family Guy clip where Stewie sings the Belvedere theme is shown, too!
Then we have an archival extra from Universal. Good job by Shout! here in getting access to this. It must have cost a bit, since the show is from 20th Century Fox. The extra is a sketch from Saturday Night Live in 1992 titled “The Guy Who Plays Mr. Belvedere Fan Club.” Tom Hanks is running the fan club! This sketch runs 6:50. You even see Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Chris Farley and Phil Hartman!
We just might live the good life yet! This set is awesome. Brian Blum has done an excellent job with this set for Shout! The packaging is great, the menus are clever, the episodes are in their original form, and we get all-new interviews with the cast. I have nothing major to complain about here. The only thing really missing are those Belvedere bumpers saying, “Mr. Belvedere will be back in a moment” or something. That would have been neat to have, but it isn’t anything major. Fans of the show will be happy to see this “new arrival” to DVD in unedited fashion. And we hope Shout continues to ‘glare’ some light into this show and release all the seasons on DVD. There are no streaks left in the china...err discs, on this set because Shout! cared! So get out your pens and write in your journals like Mr. Belvedere would tonight that you have to get this Mr. Belvedere DVD as soon as possible because life is more than mere survival and we just might indeed still have the good life yet with more DVD sets!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by pavanbadal
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