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Silver Spoons - The Complete First Season


TITLE: SILVER SPOONS - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: June 19, 2007 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Color/1982-83
MSRP: $29.95
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: Approx. 536 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; No Subtitles; Closed captioned
Special Features: None, just Previews for Sony DVDs.


Introduction:

It's a train ride of laughs in the first season of Silver Spoons, the classic '80s hit sitcom starring 12-year-old Ricky Schroder as the lovable, preppy, wise-beyond-his-years Ricky Stratton. His dad is millionaire Edward Stratton III (Joel Higgins), an overgrown kid with more interest in toys than in business or his beautiful assistant Kate (Erin Gray). This season, Ricky realizes that Edward's relaxed attitude toward discipline doesn't mean Edward doesn't love him. Ricky gets his first taste of puppy love and learns to stand up to the school bully. Kate and Edward realize they have feelings for each other. The family lawyer, Leonard (Leonard Lightfoot), helps Ricky defend himself in court in front of a jury filled with other kids. Plus tons of guest stars including Mr. T, Sharon Stone, Joey Lawrence and Jason Bateman!


Show History / Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

When Silver Spoons began its five-season, 116-episode run for NBC on September 25, 1982, the show turned 12-year-old, Golden Globe-winner Ricky Schroder into an instant teen heartthrob. With his blond, clean-cut, All-American good looks, Schroder dominated the pages of teen magazines in the early-to-mid '80s, won two Young Artist Awards as best actor for the series and inspired a devoted fan base that continues to support his acting career into adulthood (TV's "NYPD Blue," "24").

The series depicted every kid's wildest fantasy. When Ricky Stratton (Schroder) is reunited with his long-lost father Edward (Higgins), Dad turns out to be a young-at-heart, "overgrown kid" who owns a multinational toy company empire and has turned his mansion into a veritable playground complete with a scale model freight train that runs throught the house. The role reversal inherent in the show found Ricky more mature than his father, but under Ricky's influence, Edward eventually matures, while Edward inspires Ricky to act more like a kid. The storylines of Silver Spoons were mainly light situations regarding classic boyhood mischief and the misunderstandings surrounding a father and son getting to know one another. However, in periodic "very special episodes" during the first season, the series dealt with tougher issues including schoolyard bullies and kidnapped children.

Memorable first season episodes included "Me and Mr. T," in which Ricky gets a black eye when he stands up to the school bully, and Edward hires Mr. T as his bodyguard. Ricky gets his first taste of puppy love when a new girl transfers to his school in "Takin' a Chance on Love." Convinced that Kate and Edward should be together, Ricky decides to play matchmaker in "A Little Magic." Edward and Ricky spend their Christmas together by playing Santa to a family with a young boy in "The Best Christmas Ever." After Derek saves Ricky's life, Ricky is forced to pose as Derek's date at a co-ed party in "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World." Edward is bummed out when a toy he created fails in the marketplace, and Ricky has a difficult day at school in "The Empire Strikes Out."

Regular and occasional cast members in the first season included Leonard Lightfoot as Leonard Rollins (Edward's lawyer), Jason Bateman as Derek Taylor (friend of Ricky), Corky Pigeon as Freddy Lippincottleman (friend of Ricky), Booby Fite as J.T. Martin (friend of Ricky) and John Houseman as Grandfather Edward Stratton III. Notable guest stars included Robert Picardo as Louis Morgan in the "Pilot." Mr. T appeared as himself in "Me and Mr. T." John P. Navin, Jr. played the bully, Ox, in "Me and Mr. T and "Twelve Angry Kids." Amanda Peterson appeared as Sally Frumbel in "Takin' a Chance on Love." Christine Belford guest starred as Ricky's mom, Evelyn, in "Evelyn Returns." In a crossover episode with Diff'rent Strokes, Gary Coleman appeared as Arnold Jackson in "The Great Computer Caper." Sharon Stone was Debbie and Frank De Vol was the Musician in "A Little Magic." Joey Lawrence appeared as Joey Thompson in "The Best Christmas Ever." Allison Smith ("Kate & Allie") was Barbara Webster in "The Toy Wonder." John Reilly guest starred as Bob Danish in "Falling in Love Again" and "Won't You Go Home, Bob Danish?". Franklyn Seales made his debut appearance as Dexter Stuffins in "Junior Businessman." He would become a regular starting in the second season.


Packaging:

The cover art features a large photo of Ricky Schroder at the bottom and his name and "Silver Spoons - The Complete First Season" at the top of the box. There is a background with various shades of blue used throughout the packaging. Next to Ricky, Joel Higgins is wearing a railroad cap and sitting on the train with pretty Erin Gray by his side. On the back of the box, there is a photo of Ricky Schroder standing and 3 smaller photos from the episodes: Joel Higgins and Ricky Schroder, Ricky Schroder and Mr. T, and Amanda Peterson kissing Rick Schroder. A synopsis of the set and the DVD specs are listed. Two slim cases slide out from the right of the outer cardboard box. Slim case #1 holds discs 1 & 2 and has a photo of Ricky Schroder, Erin Gray, Joel Higgins and Leonard Lightfoot. Nice to see first season cast member Leonard Lightfoot included. Slim case #2 holds disc 3 and features a photo of Joel Higgins, Ricky Schroder and Erin Gray. Episodes titles and short 1-2 sentence summaries are listed on the back of the slim cases. It would have been nice if they could have listed the original airdates. Also, the episode summaries are in dark blue text and they are a bit difficult to read on the blue backgrounds. I think it would have better to use a different color for the episode titles and put the summaries in white. Inside the slim caes, they have a blue background and feature various toys and items such as an Army figure, car, baseball glove, plane, train, arcade game, etc. The discs feature the Silver Spoons logo and an individual cast member on each of them. Disc 1 has Ricky Schroder and a green background and holds episodes 1-8. Disc 2 has Joel Higgins and a yellow background and holds episodes 9-16. Disc 3 has Erin Gray and a red/pink background and rounds out the set with episodes 17-22. An outdated "Television is better with Sony" booklet is included which promotes some other Sony TV DVD releases.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very simple and easy to navigate, like other Sony releaes. They usually have these basic menus without the the theme song playing in the background. The main menu is different on all three discs. They feature the Silver Spoons logo in white and red with the season and disc number. A photo of a cast member with a different colored background is used on each disc. Disc one has the same photo of Ricky Schroder as the cover art and a teal background. Disc two features Joel Higgins in a railroad cap and plaid jacket and a light blue background. Disc three has Erin Gray and a purple background. A Play All Episodes and Episode Selection option is given on each disc. There is a tiny red star next to the option you highlight that turns gold upon your selection. When you choose Episode Selection, it takes you to another sub-menu. This screen features screen captures from the episodes in flag-shaped boxes. A toy car and plane are in the background. Four episodes are listed per screen. The episode title you highlight has tiny red stars around it. There is an arrow at the bottom that leads you to the next menu or back to the main menu. A Previews option is given on the third disc. Trailers are available for Catch and Release (2:31) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2:25) - which I recently saw and highly recommend. A third trailer is for '80s Hits including Ghostbusters, The Big Chill and Stripes. There are chapter stops within the episodes no separate scene selection menus. A chapter stop is available aftr the opening theme credits.


Video and Audio Quality:

With the episodes being only 25 years old, I was expecting them to be a bit better quality. They are presented in their original 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. While the press release states the episodes were digitally remastered, the packaging makes no mention of it. I just saw episodes recently on Comcast's On Demand "Tube Time" service, and the episodes on there didn't look that great. While the episodes on the DVD look a bit improved, I think Sony could have cleaned them up even more. There is some pixellation and other video distortions evident in some scenes, as 8 episodes a piece are crammed on discs one and two. These likely would have looked better had they spread them out on a four-disc set. Although the episodes don't look as good as I would have hoped, they all appear to be unedited with running times around 24 to 24 1/2 minutes in length. The "Pilot" episode clocks in at a whopping 28 minutes, 18 seconds. They are presented in their original broadcast order. For the closing logo enthusiasts, the Embassy Television logo is embedded on some episodes and part of a standalone white and blue logo on others. On one episode, the logo was omitted entirely. The Sony Pictures Television logo follows at the end of all of the episodes.

The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The dialogue is generally at a good volume and easy to understand. The theme song, "Together," written by Rik Howard and Bob Wirth has never sounded better. Closed captioning is available on all of the episodes.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
1. Pilot (28:18)
2. Boys Will Be Boys (24:12)
3. Grandfather Stratton (24:12)
4. Me and Mr. T (24:12)
5. Takin' a Chance on Love (24:13)
6. Evelyn Returns (24:12)
7. The Great Computer Caper (24:12)
8. I'm Just Wild About Harry (24:13)

Disc 2
---------
9. Honor Thy Father (24:13)
10. Father Nature (24:13)
11. A Little Magic (24:13)
12. Falling in Love Again (24:12)
13. The Best Christmas Ever (24:12)
14. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (24:09)
15. Twelve Angry Kids (24:13)
16. The Toy Wonder (24:12)

Disc 3
---------
17. Popcorn (24:13)
18. Junior Businessman (24:14)
19. Three's a Crowd (24:12)
20. The Empire Strikes Out (24:12)
21. Won't You Go Home, Bob Danish? (24:13)
22. The X Team (24:13)


Special Features:

With this being the 25th anniversary and the debut release of the show, the lack of special features is very disappointing. There were rumors in January that the cast was being asked to participate in some special features. The press release even mentions "exclusive bonus features," but none are to be found on this set. It would be great to see some new interviews and hear some audio commentaries on future seasons. Sony missed a golden opportunity of having the cast reunite and do a promotional tour and Today Show appearance, like they did for The Facts of Life Seasons 1-2 release.


Final Comments:

Ricky Schroder, Joel Higgins and Erin Gray... together, they're going to finally find their way on DVD on June 19th! I have to say a special thank you to Judith Moose, author of "Together: A Sitcom Lover's Guide to Silver Spoons." Judith worked tirelessly over the last few years with an online petition and had many conversations with Sony to try and convince them that there was a market for the show. It's been a long road, but it's finally come to an end. I'm confident there will be a market for the show. People crave nostalgia. This show is full of it.

Who can forget the train and arcade games in the living room, the duck phone, the racecar bed and the high-tech (at the time) gadgets throughout the house? If you were like me and a child of the '80s, this was one of many sitcoms that you grew up watching. Silver Spoons has rarely been scene in local syndication since the early to mid-90's. Besides a brief taste on Nick at Nite in 2001 and 2005, it has never been shown on national cable. Sounds like a perfect show to catch up on and reminisce with on DVD for only $20. As special guest star Mr. T would say, I pity the fool who doesn't buy this set.

Sony has done a decent job with this set, but there is some room for improvment as far as better remastering the video and including some special features. As I say in all my first season reviews, it is important to show your support for the first season so we can be assured of future seasons. Too many shows have been abandoned or have long delays between seasons due to low initial sales. I know you can't wait for the fashion, Alfonso Ribeiro breakdancing, big name guest stars and very special episodes from season 2-5.

Happy 25th Anniversary to Silver Spoons!


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

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 06/05/07

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000OVLBH6/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=202431

For much more information on the show, visit our extensive fan site: Silver Spoons Online


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