TITLE: THE PJS - SEASON 2
DVD Release Date: July 5, 2011 (Lionsgate Entertainment)
Packaging: Black plastic case with leaf
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 18
Running Time: 432 minutes
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Stereo
Special Features: None
Get ready for another trip to the projects with Eddie Murphy’s “The PJs.” The PJs is short for the projects--as the main characters (all creations of Will Vinton’s Claymation process) in the show all live in the Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs project. The lead character is Thurgood Stubbs, also known as simply Super (played by Murphy.) Also seen are his wife Muriel (Loretta Devine), elderly neighbor Mrs. Avery (Ja’net DuBois), and children Calvin and Juicy.
The Claymation is very detailed and interesting to watch. Reportedly each episode took several months to produce. While I’m not the biggest fan of the show, it is fun to watch and I did get a few laughs. Eddie Murphy has always been funny in my opinion.
The eighteen episodes that make up season two all aired on the Fox network in late 1999 and early 2000, and cover a variety of topics. The shows are apparently in production order, and not in the order Fox aired them over a decade ago.
Typical episodes center on some crazy scheme by Thurgood, or the nuttiness of the other residents of the housing complex. In “The Jeffersons,” Thurgood decides to run for public office after learning he may be related to Thomas Jefferson. Thurgood goes back to school in “Home School Daze,” Thurgood decides to reopen a closed radio station and become half of a comedy team in “The HJs,” and in “Haiti Lady and the Tramp,” resident “psychic” Haiti Lady falls in love.
“How the Super Stoled Xmas” is, as you can imagine, a special holiday episode in which Thurgood learns the true meaning of the holiday after stealing everyone else’s presents to help pay for a new computer for his wife. And in “Cliffhangin’ With Mr. Super,” we learn that one of the other residents of the building may have become pregnant after accidentally spending the night with Thurgood.
These episodes aired on Fox in the late 1990s, so episode lengths around 22-23 minutes seem about right. I’m told there may have been some music changes to these episodes, but as I am too unfamiliar with the series, I am not sure.
The Jeffersons (22:30)
Home School Daze (22:29)
The Postman’s Always Shot Twice (22:27)
Haiti and the Tramp (22:26)
The HJs (22:26)
The Preacher’s Life (22:30)
Smokey the Squatter (22:28)
Weaves Have a Dream (22:28)
Ghetto Superstars (22:28)
How Super Stoled Xmas (22:30)
Who Da Boss (22:28)
Fear of a Black Rat (22:28)
Last Affirmative Action Hero (22:29)
What’s Eating Juicy Hudson (22:28)
Robbin’ HUD (22:28)
Parole Officer and a Gentleman (22:27)
Let’s Get Ready to Crumble (22:30)
Cliffhangin’ With Mr. Super (22:27)
The discs come in an environmentally friendly Amaray case (thin plastic to be more environmentally friendly) with a leaf attached to the middle to hold the second disc. The outer case shows the show’s logo on a manhole cover with the show’s cast standing around it. While similar to the season one case, it is a different shot of the cast. The back has another picture of the main characters, a list of some of the stars, and a description of the show. The discs themselves also have some nice artwork on them--Thurgood is featured on disc one, and Calvin is on disc two. As with the season one set, there is no insert describing which episode is on which disc. This would be very helpful in knowing which disc to put in to find the episodes (especially since they are in a different order than most online episode guides,) so I guess trial and error is the only way to figure it out.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu is well designed, if a bit boring. The first page has the same photo of the main cast with the manhole logo that is featured on the outer case. Your choices are Play All or Episode Selection. Choosing Episode Selection takes you to a list of episodes held by either Calvin or Juicy (same as the first season) allowing you to select an episode. The show’s theme music plays during all menus. While the menus are attractive, I just feel like some animation could have been helpful. There’s also no subtitles or alternate audio options, so you have to understand English for this set. Chapter marks are placed at commercial breaks.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video quality is decent. This is a show from the last 10 years, so I would have expected very high quality video... but this tends to be a little soft at times. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the stop-motion filming techniques, but I feel like the video could be a little sharper than it is. Nine episodes is a lot to cram on one DVD, so that may be part of the problem.
The frame size is full-screen as it should be. The audio quality in and of itself seems to be fine. There are no noticeable defects in any of the shows I viewed. Everything sounds clear , and the hip-hop music comes through in nice stereo. The audio is fine in Dolby stereo, but the end credits mention that the show was recorded in surround sound. It would have been nice to have had the surround sound on this set as well.
I’m still disappointed by the lack of bonus features. There were none on Season 1 and there are none here. Surely Eddie Murphy would have been willing to discuss the show in commentary or interviews (though I imagine he would probably want a lot of money,) plus there are still show promos, and I would be fascinated to know how the Claymation process for this show was done. It’s just so intricate and so detailed. Special features are an important part of any DVD set, and I just feel like this show is getting short-changed.
The first season set was the first time I’d tried watching “The PJs” and I found the second season of episodes to be just enjoyable. You do not have to be African-American or living in the projects to find the situations identifiable. The show did draw some criticism when it was first on, for being too stereotypical, but I tend to disagree with that sentiment, as does Murphy himself and other fans of the show. Fans of Eddie Murphy or fans of animation in general would enjoy this set.
I’m sure fans are glad to see to see the show coming out, despite the lack of special features. The audio and video quality isn’t the best all the time either. Lionsgate could have done better, but I fear they will follow the same pattern for the third and final season, which has also been announced for DVD. That set should include episodes that did air until cable reruns, so I am looking forward to that.
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
-- Reviewed by Greg Brobeck on 07/29/11
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