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Newhart - The Complete First Season


TITLE: NEWHART - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: February 26, 2008 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color/1982-1983
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 546 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: 26 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Spanish, and French Subtitles; Closed-captioned
Special Features: “Guess Who’s Coming to (Bed and) Breakfast” featurette; “You Really Should Wear More Sweaters” featurette; “Getting to the Heart of Newhart” featurette


Introduction:

Have you ever wanted to give up everything in life to own an out-of-the-way inn in Vermont where your only friends and neighbors are, simply put, insane? Well, if you are Dick Loudon, you might just want to do that, and that is exactly who Bob Newhart plays in the 1980s series Newhart! And now, the first season of the series is available on DVD in a three disc set. Mary Frann plays his wife Joanna and Tom Poston plays the often-confused handyman George. The first season has a slightly different cast from the cast that was in place for all of the other seasons, with Steve Kampmann as neighbor Kirk and Jennifer Holmes as Leslie, the nice and sweep housekeeper of the Stratford Inn... quite a change from her cousin Stephanie, who would take over in season two!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

“In The Beginning...” is the title of the first episode, and describes it all... how Dick and Joanna came to the Stratford, the history of the Stratford... which includes some things that some people may not want to know! There is a body in the basement, but it is only a witch in “Mrs. Newton’s Body Lies A’Mould’ring In the Grave.” Larry, Darryl, and Darryl make their first appearances in this episode. Is it Dick Loudon for city council? Find out in “Hail to the Councilman.” Dick fails at getting the Stratford Inn declared a historical landmark in “No Tigers at the Circus.”

The Loudons have to find room at the inn for Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary on Christmas Eve in “No Room at the Inn.” Dick goes skiing and falls... on Leslie... in “Sprained Dreams.” Alley Mills guest stars. Rue McClanahan guest stars in “The Way We Thought We Were.” Julia Duffy makes her first appearance as Leslie’s stuck-up cousin Stephanie in “What is This Thing Called Lust?” Larry, Darryl, and Darryl end up running Kirk’s café when he goes into the hospital to get something removed from his nose in “Ricky Nelson, Up Your Nose.”

A celebrity is coming to the inn... it is none other than Daniel J. Traventi in “A View from the Bench.” Kirk’s café is robbed and the insurance company just can’t believe a word he says in “The Boy Who Cried Goat.” Dick gets lucky when he makes bets and wins money from some horrible golfers in “I Enjoy Being a Guy,” but how can Dick give back the money?


Packaging:

The packaging is pretty simple, with the front cover having a snapshot of the cast and a bed-and-breakfast style sign that has the show title on it. Inside the box, we have two slim cases, one that holds two discs, and the other that holds one disc. Each case has the exact same artwork as the cover. On the back of each case is a listing of all of the episodes on each disc, along with a description and the original airdate. Moreover, the disc artwork is basically the same as the cover art. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-8, Disc 2 contains episodes 9-16, and Disc 3 contains episodes 17-22 as well as the special features.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are plain, but functional, and nobody should have a real problem with them. The main menu basically has options of Play All, a listing of the episodes, and (on Disc 3 only) a Special Features option. There is no music in the background or any frills like that, unless you count the bell shaped cursor on the menus as a frill. When you select an episode, you get options of Play Episode and Scene Selection, which will allow you to start at any commercial break point within the episode. Chapters are placed at all of the appropriate places.


Video and Audio Quality:

While the episodes are great, this show, like many other videotaped shows from the era, does show some age on DVD. The video looks incredibly dated and the colors aren’t all that great. However, fans shouldn’t get too concerned, because it is very much watchable, and the good news is that this is the only videotaped season of the series. The series switched to film in season two, so we can most likely expect better quality once that season is released. The audio is, for the most part, fine, but just not impressive or anything. It is presented in Dolby Digital Mono, and closed-captioning is available, along with English, Spanish, AND French subtitles.

As far as I can tell, the episodes appear to be unedited, but Fox has been known to remove small bits and pieces from episodes to spare the trouble of maybe having to spend a few pennies on what may or may not be a copyright violation. Therefore, I can’t say for certain that the episodes are unedited, but they definitely aren’t syndicated versions. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. “In the Beginning” (26:08)
2. “Mrs. Newton’s Body Lies A’Mould’ring in the Grave” (24:39)
3. “Hail to the Councilman” (24:58)
4. “Shall We Gather at the River” (24:55)
5. “This Probably is Condemned” (24:53)
6. “No Tigers at the Circus” (24:58)
7. “The Perfect Match” (24:53)
8. “Some Are Born Writers, Others Have Writers Thrust Upon Them” (24:57)

Disc 2:
9. “No Room at the Inn” (24:27)
10. “The Senator’s Wife Was Indiscreet” (24:46)
11. “Sprained Dreams” (24:57)
12. “The Way We Thought We Were” (24:54)
13. “The Visitors” (24:35)
14. “What is this Thing Called Lust?” (24:55)
15. “Breakfast Theater” (24:47)
16. “Ricky Nelson, Up Your Nose” (24:56)

Disc 3:
17. “A View from the Bench” (24:57)
18. “The Boy Who Cried Goat” (24:55)
19. “Heaven Knows, Mr. Utley” (24:56)
20. “You’re Homebody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” (24:55)
21. “Grandma, What a Big Mouth You Have” (24:58)
22. “I Enjoy Being a Guy” (24:23)


Special Features:

Fox always attempts to make an effort on special features on these MTM sets, and this is no exception. Of course, that isn’t to say I was necessarily wowed or anything, but a reasonable effort was made. The first special feature is “Guess Who’s Coming to (Bed and) Breakfast?” (4:06), which talks about the inspiration for the series. This features interviews from Bob Newhart and art director Tho. E. Azzari. We get a bonus feature about the fashion and styles worn by the cast members in “You Really Should Wear More Sweaters” (3:48). We have interviews from Julia Duffy Lisa Pharren (makeup artist) in this featurette. Finally, “Getting to the Heart of Newhart” (18:14) talks more about the transition from The Bob Newhart Show to Newhart, and features interviews with all of the previously mentioned people, as well as John Voldstad (Darryl... one of them anyway) and William Sanderson (Larry). This featurette ends with a very nice tribute to Tom Poston and Mary Frann.

The packaging mentions a “What a Cast!” featurette as well, but this is actually included within the “Getting to the Heart of Newhart” featurette rather than as a separate featurette.


Final Comments:

This is by no means the greatest season of Newhart. In fact, the series doesn’t really pick up much until the second season. While we do have a few Larry, Darryl, and Darryl moments in this season, there aren’t as many as there are in the later seasons. In addition, Jennifer Holmes’ character of Leslie wasn’t quite as good as her replacement Stephanie, played by Julia Duffy. We do get to meet Stephanie in this season, but it isn’t until the second season that she actually takes over. Still, this season has some pretty decent episodes, and the only way to show Fox that we want more seasons is to support this one... we all want this series to make it to the final season so that we can see the series finale make it on to DVD!


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

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

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 02/04/08

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0010IOALQ/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=219021


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