TITLE: RHODA - SEASON FOUR
Release Date: September 21, 2010 (Shout! Select)
Packaging: Viva Pack
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 600 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
Rhoda Morgenstern is back, and this time, the divorce is final and Joe is gone! In Season Four of the spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda (Valerie Harper) is finally adjusting back to the single life of dating and working, while dealing with her mother Ida (Nancy Walker) and her sister Brenda. The fourth season focuses more on Rhoda and Brenda (Julie Kavner), and their dealings with Benny (Ray Buktenica) and Gary (Ron Silver). Rhoda’s new job also forces her to deal with her boss Jack Doyle (Kenneth McMillan), a gruff man who seems to be modeled after Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And with Ida back from her vacation without Martin (his absence isn’t explained this season), Rhoda and Brenda have a lonely mother to deal with. So let’s “la la la laaa la” into the fourth season of Rhoda!
The season begins with “The Return of Ida,” where Ida returns a yearlong vacation to quite a surprise: Rhoda is divorced! Rhoda finds employment at a costume shop in “The Job.” Ida gets a part-time job working with Rhoda in “Ida Works Out,” and it doesn’t exactly work out all so well. Rhoda may be getting back on the romance merry-go-round in “Rhoda Likes Mike.” Judd Hirsch guest stars as Mike. Rhoda plans a weekend alone with Mike in “The Weekend.” Ida has arranged a blind date for Rhoda in “Blind Date,” and that couldn’t go wrong, right? Ida feels lonely in “Ida Alone,” and it is up to Rhoda and Brenda to raise her spirits.
Rhoda becomes a workaholic in “All Work and No Play.” In “Rhoda Cheats,” Rhoda and Brenda go to night school, and all goes well until Rhoda is accused of cheating. In “Gary and Ida,” Gary’s parents are in Florida and he needs a motherly figure to bond with, but is Ida the motherly figure that he really wants? Rhoda feels guilty after she believes she caused a horse to die in “So Long, Lucky.” Rhoda is forced to play nurse to Jack after a back injury in “Jack’s Back.” The season ends with the two-part episode “Five For the Road,” where a long drive in the dark and rain for a perfect pot roast (at a restaurant that doesn’t even exist anymore) leaves the entire gang stranded in the middle of nowhere.
The episodes mostly appear to be unedited, but there are a few issues worth pointing out. The episode “Happy Anniversary” only runs at 23:30, about a minute and a half less than other episodes. However, fans online have noted that, despite this runtime, the episode is in fact unedited. There is a slight problem with the episode “Five for the Road, Part 2,” however. As it turns out, the last few seconds of the episode are missing from the episode. Fortunately, nothing of any significance is missing from the episode. Runtimes for every episode on the set are as follows:
“The Return of Ida” (24:59)
“The Job” (25:03)
“Lady’s Choice” (25:03)
“One is a Number” (25:02)
“Ida Works Out” (25:02)
“Rhoda Likes Mike” (25:00)
“The Weekend” (25:04)
“Home Movies” (24:59)
“Johnny’s Solo Flight” (25:06)
“Who’s Shy?” (25:03)
“Blind Date” (25:04)
“Ida Alone” (25:05)
“All Work and No Play” (25:02)
“Happy Anniversary” (23:30)
“The Jack Story” (25:02)
“Rhoda Cheats” (25:02)
“Gary and Ida” (25:03)
“As Time Goes By” (25:04)
“Two’s Company” (25:04)
“Brenda and the Bank Girl” (25:02)
“So Long, Lucky” (25:04)
“Jack’s Back” (25:02)
“Five for the Road, Part 1” (25:02)
“Five for the Road, Part 2” (24:47)
The design of the packaging is similar to the previous sets, with a picture of Rhoda on the cover with a green color scheme. The back of the packaging has a brief (two sentence) description of the series in general, with a few episode snapshots to go along with it. What IS different about this set is the style of packaging used this time. Instead of the slimcases, we have a standard Viva pack containing all four discs. Inside, on the left and right sides of the case, we have a listing of all of the episodes on the set, but no original airdates or descriptions are to be found. There is no booklet included as there was on the previous releases. Each disc has a picture of Rhoda on it, in fact the same one seen on the cover art. Each disc contains six episodes exactly.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are not quite as elaborate on this set as they have been in the past, but still very much serve their purpose. The main menu on each disc has the season four closing theme song playing, and gives you all of your options at once: Play All, along with all of the episodes. There are no animated transitional menus or anything along those lines this time. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. There are no scene selection menus, but chapters can be found on each episode in the appropriate spots.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on this set is surprisingly decent, if not great, for the age of the series. As we all remember, the first season looked terrible on DVD, but every set since then has been great. You’ll still see minor video quality issues, such as debris and grain here and there, but the video quality is described as being “beautifully remastered,” and indeed it is! The audio on all of the episodes is great as well. I’ve never seen the series look so great before. Unfortunately, the episodes are NOT closed-captioned this time. It seems that Shout! Factory has been leaving these off of their Shout! Select titles and this one is no exception.
This set is a Shout! Select release, so as one would expect, there are no special features on this set, at all. DVD Producer Brian Ward has indicated that none of the people involved with the series have been readily available for any bonus features, and that is a real shame. I anticipate that we won’t see anything on the fifth season either, whenever that is released.
Another barebones set, but all in all, this set is a great set. The video and audio quality somewhat make up for the lack of special features, but it would still be nice to see something on this set. I was hoping that since season five wasn’t a full season that it would be combined with season four on DVD, but that clearly did not occur. So, hopefully we’ll see this series finished out on DVD soon, and it will almost definitely be a Shout! Select title when it is finished.
As far as the series itself, this (along with season 3) was one of my favorite seasons of the series, as I thought that the series was actually better without Joe. Unfortunately, 35 years ago, fans did not agree with that assessment, and David Groh’s departure is why the show ended up going from being on top to the bottom. Those who loved Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show will certainly love her on her own show, and this set is a must-own for all such fans.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall Score: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 10/02/10
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