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St. Elsewhere - Season One


TITLE: ST. ELSEWHERE - SEASON ONE


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 28, 2006 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color/1982-1983
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4 (double-sided)
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 1078 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English and Spanish audio; Closed-captioned; English and Spanish subtitles
Special Features: Audio Commentary by Mark Tinker and Doris Roberts ("Cora and Arnie" episode); "St. Elsewhere: The Place to Be" featurette; "Cora and Arnie: An Outstanding Episode" featurette; "Tim Robbins: The Punk Gets Responsible" featurette; "Dr. Jack Morrison: The Spirit of Care & Empathy" featurette


Introduction:

The greatest medical drama in all of television history is finally coming to DVD! The Complete First Season of St. Elsewhere (no, not that Gnarls Barkley CD...) comes to DVD on November 28th in a four disc set that includes all 22 episodes of the first season of this groundbreaking medical drama that changed the concept of the medical drama. St. Elsewhere took the classical concept of a medical drama (which, prior to St. Elsewhere, were typically about great doctors in great hospitals) and changed it to this idea where you have a bunch of different doctors, some less qualified than others, working in a teaching hospital that is probably the worst hospital in Boston. St. Elsewhere gave us deep insight into the personal lives of doctors too, and let us know that not all doctors are white guys that have a loving wife at home and play golf on the weekends. And it wasn't all serious stuff either, it gave insight into the sometimes absurd personal lives of the doctors as well. The series set the stage for later medical dramas, including Chicago Hope, ER, Grey's Anatomy, and others.

St. Elsewhere wasn't lacking an all-star cast either. The series began with a bunch of unknowns that are now pretty well-known, including Denzel Washington, Howie Mandell, Mark Harmon, and Ed Begley, Jr. And of course, who can forget the ever-so-bombastic Dr. Craig, played by William Daniels? Anybody that appreciates acting or the concept of the medical drama should appreciate this series!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

It is sometimes hard to pinpoint individual memorable episodes in a series that has storylines that span across several episodes, but there are lots of good episodes in the set. The season begins with the "Pilot" episode, where Dr. Cavanaro is on the search for a missing mental patient and Dr. Fiscus begins his relationship with Dr. Martin (for however long that lasts). Tim Robbins makes his first appearance as the terrorist that was admitted to St. Eligius after being injured by his own bomb in "Bypass." James Coco and Doris Roberts guest star in "Cora and Arnie," the award-winning episode where they play a homeless couple and Roberts' character needs to have her foot amputated, but if she does this, will she be able to take care of her unstable husband?

In the 2nd part of the episode "Legionnaires," Dr. Beale learns that one of his mental patients that thinks she is a bird, Tweety, is pregnant, and believes she is stable enough to leave the hospital in "Tweety and Ralph"... but she wants the baby's father to leave with her, another mental patient, who also thinks he is a bird and has even built a bird's nest out of medical supplies! Charles Robinson guest stars in "Tweety and Ralph." Jane Kaczmarek guest stars in a series of episodes beginning with "Graveyard." A former college roommate of Dr. Craig's shows up in "Release," and he wants a sex-change operation!

A female flasher is making for fun and excitement at St. Eligius and Dr. Auschlander faces the prospect of undergoing chemotherapy in "Remission." Candace Cameron guest stars in "Monday, Tuesday Sven's Day," an episode where a hooker (don't worry, it isn't Cameron!) is admitted to the hospital and she gets visitors--lots and lots of visitors. Dr. Ehrlich and Dr. Craig are held hostage in the operating room by a woman that is angry about her husband's vasectomy-gone-wrong in "Dog Day Hospital." Judith Light and Elizabeth Kerr guest star.

Dr. Chandler faces a malpractice lawsuit in "Working" after a patient unexpectedly dies. The hospital has to figure out how to deal with a surgery addict in "Baron Von Munchausen." Finally, the season ends with "Addiction," where Dr. Morrison's wife goes in to labor and Dr. White (a drug-addict) is suspected of pilfering prescription medication.


Packaging:

The packaging is pretty simple, with an outer box that has lots of cast photos on the front of the box and the typical information about the show on the back of the box, with a general greenish-blue color scheme going on. Inside the box, there are two slim cases, with each slim case holding two discs. The back of each slim case has information about the episodes on each disc, including a brief description and original airdates. The discs themselves are double sided, with Episodes 1-4 on Disc 1A, 5-6 on Disc1B, 7-10 on Disc 2A, 11-12 on Disc 2B, 13-16 on Disc 3A, 17-18 on Disc 3B, 19-20 on Disc 4A, and 21-22 on Disc 4B.


Menu Design and Navigation:

I like the simple but nice design used for the menus on this set. Basically, when you put the disc in the player, you are greeted with a menu that has a listing of the episodes on that particular disc and an option for Special Features (on the discs where that is applicable). The theme song plays in the background of this menu. Once you have selected an episode, you get a silent menu that has a picture from the episodes as well as options of Play Episode, Language Selection, and Scene Selection, all of which are self-explanatory. The Scene Selection menu lets you start the episode from 12 different places in each episode, so clearly, there are plenty of chapters placed throughout each one of the episodes, all at very appropriate places. Obviously, the menus are nothing too fancy, but at the same time, they are very nice looking.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality on the set isn't exactly perfect (it looks very dated), but the video and audio is at least good enough to watch. The box says that the audio is presented in stereo, but don't let that fool you, the show is in mono. Additionally, MOST (though not all) episodes contain a Spanish audio track. Closed-captioning as well as both English and Spanish subtitles can be found on every episode.

As far as I can tell, every episode on the set is unedited and contains the original music that was intact during the original broadcast of the episodes. However, without any kind of music list (try searching for St. Elsewhere music on Google, you'll find over 2 million hits and almost every single one of them is for that music album that doesn't have a single thing to do with this series!), it is hard to say for sure if the original music is there. I can confirm, though, that the first episode has two songs included in it that could have potentially been removed from the set that were NOT removed (The Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" and Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run"), so the fact that the set includes these two songs is a positive sign. Keep in mind that we are talking about Fox here, which is probably the worst offender when it comes to music replacement (they'll even replace non-copyrighted music sometimes!). Additionally, though a small and insignificant detail, the MTM kitten with the surgical mask remains on the closing logo, which is much better than the horrible logo replacement that the geniuses on Fox felt a need to do with the episodes that Bravo aired a few years ago. The runtimes for the episodes are as follows:

Disc 1A:
1. "Pilot" (49:12)
2. "Bypass" (49:16)
3. "Down's Syndrome" (49:16)
4. "Cora and Arnie" (49:20)

Disc 1B:
5. "Samuels and the Kid" (48:41)
6. "Legionnaires - Part 1" (49:13)

Disc 2A:
7. "Legionnaires - Part 2" (49:16)
8. "Tweety and Ralph" (49:02)
9. "Rain" (48:45)
10. "Hearts" (49:01)

Disc 2B:
11. "Graveyard" (49:15)
12. "Release" (49:15)
Disc 3A:
13. "Family History" (49:04)
14. "Remission" (49:15)
15. "Monday, Tuesday, Sven's Day" (48:54)
16. "The Count" (49:13)

Disc 3B:
17. "Brothers" (49:13)
18. "Dog Day Hospital" (48:44)

Disc 4A:
19. "Working" (49:14)
20. "Craig in Love" (49:13)

Disc 4B:
21. "Baron von Munchausen" (49:13)
22. "Addiction" (49:14)


Special Features:

This set isn't exactly loaded with special features, but then again, it isn't a disappointment either! The episode "Cora and Arnie" has an audio commentary from producer/director Mark Tinker as well as Doris Roberts, who portrayed Cora in the episode. Also related to this episode is the featurette "Cora and Arnie: An Outstanding Episode" (9:10) where this award winning episode is discussed even further by David Morse, Christina Pickles, Doris Roberts, and Mark Tinker. There really isn't much said in this featurette that isn't said in the commentary, but it is nice to have it anyway. Both of these can be found on Disc 1A.

The remaining special features can be found on Disc 4B. "St. Elsewhere: The Place to Be" (9:23) is just a general featurette about the show itself and includes interviews from Joshua Brand, Howie Mandel, David Morse, Christina Pickles, Doris Roberts, John Tinker, Mark Tinker, and Barbara Whinnery. "Tim Robbins: The Punk Gets Responsible" (6:04) is basically just an interview with Tim Robbins, who played the terrorist that was hospitalized in the first three episodes. He talks about how this was one of his first real jobs and how he almost blew it by showing up late on the set. Finally, we have "Dr. Jack Morrison: The Spirit of Care & Empathy" (7:16), where David Morse talks about the character that he portrayed on the series


Final Comments:

I have to admit, I didn't really get in to this show until Bravo aired it a few years ago, and now I just love this show. And that is unusual for me, as I am not a huge fan of medical dramas in general. It seems that Fox has put together a great DVD set for this series, though more special features would have been nice to have on the set. Regardless, all of the episodes are there and seem to be complete, so I have no serious complaints about this set. If you are a fan of good acting or you just love medical dramas, this is a must own set for your collection!


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: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/22/06

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000GPPNO2/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=188195


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