TITLE: THE JIMMY STEWART SHOW - THE COMPLETE SERIES (WBSHOP.COM) (AMAZON.COM)
Release Date: January 21, 2014 (Warner Archive)
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 606 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
Jimmy Stewart is best known for his movie roles, but he decided to try something different in 1971. In 1971, he decided to try out the world of TV sitcoms, with The Jimmy Stewart Show on NBC. In the series, Stewart plays Professor James Howard, an anthropology professor who is trying to understand the modern world. At home, he has his wife Martha (Julie Adams) and eight-year-old son Teddy (Dennis Larson). But there is a twist: following a sequence of unfortunate events in the pilot, he also has the opportunity for his 29 year old son Peter (Jonathan Daly) to come home to live with him, along with his son's wife Wendy (Ellen Geer) and their eight year old son Jake (Kirby Furlong). It's a sitcom of intergenerational confusion with these 24 episodes, available exclusively from Warner Archive!
The series begins with "By Way of Introduction," where we get to meet the Howard family. All sorts of problems come up when Jim loses his briefcase in "Love in a Briefcase." The family struggles with having one bathroom in "The Price of Plumbing is Numbing." In "Father and Son Game," Jim tries to get Teddy into a father-son baseball game. Jim is the subject of rumors in "Another Day, Another Scholar." In "Guest of Honor," Jim has to deal with a visiting professor who struggles with understanding American customs.
Jim's uncle visits in "A Bunk for Unk," but it isn't very pleasant for Jim. In "A Run for City Commissioner," both Jim's wife and son run for the same seat on the city council, putting Jim in a real bind. We get the story of how the Howards all ended up living together in "Period of Readjustment." In "As the Escrow Flies," Peter and Wendy have found their dream home and are ready to leave home, which is not something that Jim and Martha want. Jake has a dog in "Eight-Nine Pounds of Love," but the Howards really would like to get rid of the troublemaker.
Everybody on campus wants to help an overweight star quarterback lose 10 pounds in "The Quarterback Ache." Luther's exam books end up in the papers to be recycled in "Paper Work." In "Song of the Jailbird," Jim ends up in jail as the result of a student prank gone wrong. Vincent Price arrives to judge a local art contest in "Price is Right." In "Jim's Decision," Jim becomes somewhat of a TV star while promoting an anthropology book. The season (and series) ends with "A Bone of Much Contention," where a developer wants to build a hamburger joint on a site where a rare fossil has been discovered.
The episodes all appear to be unedited, running around 25:15 per episode. One oddity, though, is that they apparently used prints that were prepared for ALN when they aired the series about a decade ago, because the Warner Bros logo seen on the end of the episodes is the AOL Time-Warner logo.
1. "By Way of Introduction" (25:10)
2. "Love in a Briefcase" (25:15)
3. "The Price of Plumbing is Numbing" (25:15)
4. "Father & Son Game" (25:14)
5. "Another Day, Another Scholar" (25:17)
6. "A Hunch in Time" (25:14)
7. "The Identity Crisis" (25:14)
8. "Guest of Honor" (25:12)
9. "Pro Bono Publico" (25:17)
10. "A Bunk for Unk" (25:15)
11. "A Vote for Howard" (25:13)
12. "Period of Readjustment" (25:13)
13. "Luther's Last Love" (25:12)
14. "Cockadoodle Don't" (25:14)
15. "As the Escrow Flies" (25:13)
16. "Eight-Nine Pounds of Love" (25:12)
17. "The Quarterback Ache" (25:13)
18. "Aunts in My Plans" (25:13)
19. "Paper Work" (25:16)
20. "Song of the Jailbird" (25:16)
21. "Price is Right" (25:10)
22. "Jim's Decision" (25:15)
23. "Old School Ties" (25:12)
24. "A Bone of Much Contention" (25:17)
The set comes packaged in a standard three-disc Viva case. On the cover, there is a cast photo, with a few episode snapshots and a series description on the back. Inside the case, you'll find the three discs. The discs all have the same cast photo that is seen on the cover as the disc artwork, and the episodes contained on each disc are listed on the disc. Something interesting to note about this set is that, unlike many recent Warner Archive releases, these are true MOD discs, and the DVDs are presented on DVD-R media, not pressed DVDs as we've been seeing more of from Warner Archive lately.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The set comes with very basic menus. On the main menu (which is the only menu), there is a listing of episodes and a Play All option, along with the cast photo seen on the cover of the set. Once you select an episode, it plays right away. There are chapters placed at all of the commercial break points within the episodes.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on this set is surprisingly very good. I'm not sure if this series has ever been screened anywhere besides the brief appearance that it had on ALN a few years ago, but in any event, the series has mostly been sitting unaired over the past four decades. There are a few artifacts of age here and there, but the video quality is mostly very clear and sharp with few defects. The audio is a very basic (but loud and clear) mono track. However, there are no subtitles or closed-captions.
There are no special features on this set, which is to be expected.
It really was fun to see this series on DVD. Even though it had aired on cable a few years ago, I never had the opportunity to see it, and am glad that Warner Archive has put it on DVD. With that being said, I can honestly understand why the series didn't last. The series was by no means ahead of its time, and really doesn't seem to fit in to the landscape of what we think of as sitcoms in the 70s. Had Jimmy Stewart tried this series a decade earlier, some of the dynamics could have possibly worked, but in watching this, it is almost hard to believe that a sitcom as innocent and slow-paced as this could have debuted in 1971.
Still, there are many Jimmy Stewart fans and classic sitcom fans that are certain to enjoy this set, and it is worth checking out. The series is available on Warner Archive Instant, so those who subscribe to that can check it out on there before committing to the whole series. In any event, I hope to continue to see more of these short-lived one season wonders come from Warner Archive.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 02/09/14
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