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Spin City - The Complete First Season


TITLE: SPIN CITY - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 4, 2008 (Shout! Factory)
Color/1996-1997
MSRP: $39.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running time: Approx. 10 1/2 Hours
Running time of Special Features: Approx. 72 Minutes (not counting the commentaries)
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital 2.0
Closed Captioned
Special Features:

  • Prime-Time Partners: Michael J. Fox and David Goldberg - Highlights of The Paley Center for Media Seminar presented in October 1996
  • 7 Audio Commentaries by the Cast, Creators and Crew
  • The Spin: All-new interviews with Michael J. Fox, Barry Bostwick, Richard Kind, Alan Ruck, Michael Boatman, Connie Britton, Alexander Chaplin, Gary David Goldberg and Bill Lawrence reveal the story of how the show began
  • Team Fox - Supporting the Michael J. Fox Foundation


    Introduction:

    Spin City is a smart, sophisticated ABC sitcom about the behind-the-scenes workings of City Hall in the biggest city in America. Workaholic Mike Flaherty (Michael J. Fox) is the Deputy Mayor, serving as Mayor Randall's Winston's (Barry Bostwick, "Rocky Horror Picture Show") key strategist and much-needed handler.

    Mike runs the city with the help of his oddball staff: an anxious and insecure press secretary (Richard Kind, "Mad About You"); a sexist, boorish chief of staff (Alan Ruck, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"); an impeccably groomed gay activist running minority affairs (Michael Boatman, "Arliss"); a sharp and efficient, man-crazy accountant (Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights"); and an idealistic young speechwriter (Alexander Chaplin). Like Mike, they are all professionally capable but personally challenged.

    Spin City was an immediate hit when it debuted in 1996. The series reunited Fox with "Family Ties" executive producer and creator Gary David Goldberg and proved that the magic of their creative partnership was enduring.


    Show History / Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

    Spin City premiered on September 17, 1996 on ABC. For the first season, it aired on Tuesday nights at 9:30-10:00PM. The show ran for a total of 6 seasons from 1996-2002. 145 episodes were produced. The first season cast included Michael J. Fox as Deputy Mayor Michael Flaherty, Barry Bostwick as Mayor Randall Winston, Alan Ruck as Stuart Bondek, Richard Kind as Paul Lassiter, Alexander Chaplin (Gaberman in the first season) as Jamest Hobert, Connie Britton as Nikki Faber, Michael Boatman as Carter Heywood, Carla Gugino as Ashley Schaeffer (episodes 1-12), Deborah Rush as Helen Winston (occasional), Victoria Dillard as Janelle Cooper and Taylor Stanley as Karen. For the 1997-98 season, Faith Prince was added as Claudia Sacks and Jennifer Espositio was Stacy Paterno. Heather Locklear joined the cast as Caitlin Moore from 1999-20002. After 4 seasons, Michael J. Fox left the show as well as Chaplin, Britton and Dillard. Charlie Sheen was brought in to play Deputy Mayor Charlie Crawford for the final two seasons. The show was produced in Los Angeles for the final two seasons after being shot in New York at Chelsea Piers' Stage D in New York. for seasons 1-4. They finished #17 in the Nielsen ratings for the first season. Michael J. Fox was nominated for four Emmys, winning in 2000.

    Memorable episodes included the "Pilot," in which Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty and his staff face a typical day running New York City. Mike agrees to have a TV crew interview him and his staff, but it backfires when a comment he makes on camera upsets Ashley in "Pride And Prejudice." Ex-Mayor Garfield is continaully criticizing and upstaging Mayor Winston, and a plan to appease the ex-Mayor has tragic and hilarious consequences in "Rivals." Mike sees an opportunity to appease disgruntled Police Commissioner (Jerry Adler) by honoring a heroic police canine who has died, but Paul and Carter lose the dog's body in "Dog Day Afternoon." When a major snowstorm closes down the city, it causes a chain reaction of mishaps at City Hall in "Snowbound." When the Mayor's new, inept sign-language interpreter manages to offend the entire deaf community, Mike has to appease one of its leaders (Marlee Matlin) in "Deaf Becomes Her." Mike's girlfriend of three weeks (Daphne Zuniga) wants to have his child (with or without his participation), and the Mayor's remarks manage to break up a legendary rock band before their reunion concert in "Hot In The City." The Mayor drifts into a fantasy while listening to a speech and finds he can't get up for the standing ovation in "Bone Free."

    Notable guest stars included Gretchen Mol as Gwen in "Pride and Prejudice." Nathan Fillion played Guy in "A Star Is Torn." George Wendt appeared as Dan Donaldson in "The High And The Mighty." Woody Harrelson was Tommy Dugan in "Meet Tommy Dugan." Ed Koch played Speaker Saul Rosen, Jennifer Garner was Becky and Stephen Colbert played Frank in "The Competition." Jerry Adler appeared as Police Commissioner Howard Gould in "Dog Day Afternoon." Ken Marino guest starred as Dan Fuchs in "Bye Bye Love." Courtney Thorne-Smith was Danielle Brinkman in "Staring Over." Constance Marie played Gabby Sanchez in "Gabby's Song." Luke Perry appeared as Spence Kaymer in "Kiss Me, Stupid." "An Affair To Remember" features appearances by George Stephanopoulos, Dan Dierdorf, Patrick Ewing, Frank Gifford, William Heredia, Larry King, David Letterman, Al Michaels, Rosie O'Donnell, Anthony Rapp and Daphne Rubin-Vega. Amanda Peet guest starred as Shelley McCroy in "Snowbound." Cynthia Watros was Gayley in "Striptease." Marlee Matlin played Sarah Adelman in "Deaf Becomes Her." Daphne Zuniga appeared as Carrie in "Hot In The City." Isaac Mirzhai appeared as himself in "The Mayor Who Came To Dinner."


    Packaging:

    The 4-disc set contains all 24 episodes from the first season (1996-97). It comes in a cardboard box that holds two slimcases. On the cover art of the outer cardboard box, there is a large photo of Michael J. Fox in the foreground and Alan Ruck, Connie Britton, Richard Kind, Barry Bostwick, Michael Boatman and Alexander Chaplin in the background. An embossed Spin City manhole cover logo is in the upper left of the box. On the back of the box, there is a synopsis of the set, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs. There is a filmstrip of four photos from the show at the bottom. Spin City - Season One is written on the spine of the box. The two slimcases slide out from the right of the thin, outer cardboard box. They have the Spin City logo and New York City in the background, just like the cover art. Slimcase #1 has a photo of Carla Gugino, Alan Ruck, Michael J. Fox and Barry Bostwick. Slimcase #2 has a photo of Richard Kind, Taylor Stanley, Alexander Chaplin and Michael Boatman. The episode titles, original airdates, commentaries and special features are listed on the back of the slimcases. Inside the slimcases, there is a black and white photo of Michael J. Fox at a podium in slimcase #1 and Barry Bostwick at his desk in slimcase #2. The discs have the Spin City logo and a blue background on the bottom. Each disc has a different photo. Disc 1 has Michael J. Fox. Disc 2 has Barry Bostwick and Connie Britton. Disc 3 has Alan Ruck and Richard Kind. Disc 4 has Michael Boatman and Alexander Chaplin. An 8-page booklet is included that has some additional photos of the cast, a listing of the cast and crew, and some pretty detailed summaries for the episodes. The original airdates and which discs and episodes have the special features are noted. There is a also a mini-booklet that promotes some of Shout! Factory's other DVD and CD releases.


    Menu Design and Navigation:

    The menus are attractive and easy to navigate. When you first insert disc 1, there are some Previews (5:36) for some other Shout! Factory releases like Sports Night, My So-Called Life and America's Funniest Home Videos which you can view or skip. The short, instrumental season one theme is heard and the Spin City manhole cover logo is animated and spins until it lands in the upper left corner of the screen. There are a series of videoclips (different on each disc) which play in a triangular shaped area on the right side of the screen. All of the menus have a blue background with arrows. There are options for "Play All," "Episode Selection," and "Special Feature(s)" on the bottom of the screen. Your highlighed option is in gold and turns yellow upon selection. When you choose Episode Selection, it takes you to a sub-menu where there are still images from each episode. There are 3 episodes per screen. The photo and the episode number that you choose is highlighted in gold. Chapter stops are available within the episodes, but there are no separate menus for scene selections.


    Video and Audio Quality:

    It's hard to believe, but these episodes are already over 12-years-old. Spin City was shot on film with multiple cameras and in front of a studio audience. The episodes are presented in their original full frame 1.33:1 ratio and in their original broadcast order. The overall video quality is excellent. The colors and sharpness are very good and without any major problems. One thing I noticed in the episodes is that they had excellent lighting. There are several mentions about it made on the commentaries. They also had a number of outdoor scenes on the streets of New York City, especially in the first season. New York City was really a character on the show. The episodes have running times of over 22 minutes. There apparently is one scene missing of Mike and Ashley spending the night in the office in the "Pilot" according to a poster on the IMDB.com message board. The scene was included on Michael J. Fox's All-Time Favorites, Vol. 1. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there are logos for UBU Productions, LotteryHill Entertainment and DreamWorks.

    The audio is your standard Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. They shot in front of a studio audience, so the laughter is real. There's nothing on the packaging to indicate that any music was changed. Closed captioning is available on all of the episodes.

    Here is the breakdown by disc, including the original airdates and running times:

    Disc 1
    ---------
    1. Pilot (9/17/1996) (22:13)
    2. The Great Pretender (9/24/1996) (22:18)
    3. The Apartment (10/1/1996) (22:18)
    4. Pride And Prejudice (10/8/1996) (22:19)
    5. Rivals (10/15/1996) (22:23)
    6. A Star Is Born (10/22/1996) (22:23)

    Disc 2
    ---------
    7. Grand Illusion (10/29/1996) (22:23)
    8. The High And The Mighty (11/12/1996) (22:23)
    9. Meet Tommy Dugan (11/19/1996) (22:23)
    10. The Competition (11/26/1996) (22:23)
    11. Dog Day Afternoon (12/10/1996) (22:23)
    12. Criss Cross (12/17/1996) (22:23)

    Disc 3
    ---------
    13. Bye Bye Love (01/7/1997) (22:23)
    14. Starting Over (1/14/1997) (22:23)
    15. Gabby's Song (1/28/1997) (22:23)
    16. Kiss Me, Stupid (2/11/1997) (22:23)
    17. An Affair To Remember (2/18/1997) (22:23)
    18. Snowbound (2/25/1997) (22:24)

    Disc 4
    ---------
    19. Striptease (3/4/1997) (22:23)
    20. Deaf Becomes Her (3/18/1997) (22:23)
    21. Hot In The City (4/1/1997) (22:23)
    22. Bone Free (4/29/1997) (22:23)
    23. The Mayor Who Came To Dinner (5/6/1997) (22:03)
    24. Mayor Over Miami (5/13/1997) (22:23)


    Special Features:

    There are some nice special features, including 7 audio commentaries by the cast, creators and crew and some vintage and all-new interviews with the cast and crew. I would have liked to see some bloopers and a few more featurettes, but this was a very good start. Hopefully we'll see special features on all of the future seasons. Here is the breakdown by disc:

    Disc 1

    Prime-Time Partners: Michael J. Fox and Gary David Goldberg (30:56) - These are highlights from the October 1996 closed seminar for its members given by The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio). Robert Batsha, President of The Paley Center, is the host as Michael J. Fox and Gary David Goldberg sit down and answer his questions about their enduring partnership and their then new show. They talk about when and why they decided to collaborate again, what series television gives to them vs. movies, the casting of Michael J. Fox on Family Ties, where Gary David Goldberg got the idea for Spin City, Michael's character and the shooting of the show in New York City. There were apparently questions asked by the audience, but none of them are included on the DVD. They mention at the end they you can watch the seminar in its entirety at The Paley Center for Media locations in New York or Beverly Hills, CA.

    Commentary on the "Pilot" by Co-Creator David Goldberg and Co-Creator Bill Lawrence - They talk about how they pitched the show to Michael J. Fox, the sets, the physical comedy, the casting of Barry Boswtick and Michael Boatman, and their general observations of the episode.

    Commentary on the "Pilot" by Director Thomas Schlamme

    Commentary on "Pride And Prejudiece" by Michael Boatman and Alexander Chaplin - This was the first episode that they shot after the pilot.

    Team Fox - Supporting the Michael J. Fox Foundation (6:09) - This featurette highlights some of the people that are helping with fund-raising for his organization. In 2 years, Team Fox members have raised $3 million for Parkinson's research. This was really emotional for me to watch, since I'm such a big fan of Michael J. Fox. Hopefully one day they will find a cure for this disease which is affecting so many people. For more information, please visit teamfox.org .

    Commentary on "Dog Day Afternoon" by Michael J. Fox and Alexander Chaplin - They talk about the set, how some scenes were not shot in front of the studio audience, Carla Gugino, the physical comedy, some of the early signs of Parkinson's for Michael where he was always keeping his hands occupied, and the background traffic on the set.

    Disc 3

    Commentary on "Gabby's Song" by Richard Kind and Alan Ruck

    Commentary on "Kiss Me, Stupid" by Michael Boatman and Alexander Chaplin

    Disc 4

    The Spin: Making Spin City (35:35) - The cast and creators look back at how the show began and remember its first season. It features all-new interviews with Michael J. Fox, Co-Creator/Supervising Producer Bill Lawrence, Co-Creator/Executive Producer Gary David Goldberg, Richard Kind, Connie Britton, Alexander Chaplin, Alan Ruck, Barry Bostwick, Associate Producer Randall Winston and Michael Boatman. They talk about Michael's character, how they got the idea for the show, Goldberg collaborating again with Lawrence, how New York City was a character, how many different scenes were shot per episode, the critical reception, the casting, the characters and their traits, shooting in front of a studio audience, how they had one director (Lee Shallat Chemel) for the first season, Michael J. Fox's departure from the show, their decision to continue the show, and what they learned from the show. This was a pretty in-depth look at the first season. I was a bit surprised that they didn't talk about why Carla Gugino decided to leave the show after the first half of the season. Hopefully we'll see more interviews which focus on the later seasons on future releases.

    Commentary on "Hot In The City" by Michael J. Fox and Alexander Chaplin


    Final Comments:

    The first season of Spin City is finally on DVD! DreamWorks/Universal had previously released 22 episodes from seasons 1-4 on DVD on two separate volumes in August 2003, but this is the first time that all 24 episodes from season one are available. Although I'm a big fan of Michael J. Fox and I've enjoyed Gary David Goldberg's series (Family Ties and Brooklyn Bridge), I really haven't gotten around to seeing all of the Spin City episodes. It was nice to see them reunite after Family Ties. From what I've seen, this looks like an underrated show. They really had a great ensemble cast and some funny writing. There was also a surprising amount of physical comedy. It really felt like New York City because of the exterior shooting.

    Shout! Factory has done an excellent job with this release. I don't have any complaints. The packaging is attractive. The menus are stylish and easy to navigate. There are 7 audio commentaries and about a hour of vintage and all-new interviews with the cast and crew. The only thing that I would have liked to see is a blooper reel. I'm glad that Shout! is releasing Spin City, because they don't seem to abandon series. They release their series at a good rate. It was fitting that Season One was released on Election Day. Hopefully we'll see more than one season released per year. I'm sure Michael J. Fox fans would like to see at least the first four seasons, while Charlie Sheen fans would want the final two seasons.


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

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

    -- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 11/18/08

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

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001D2WUDE/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

    http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=236318


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