TITLE: TWO AND A HALF MEN - THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: September 23, 2008 (Warner Home Video)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 519 minutes
Total Running Time of Special Features: approx. 65 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital English...plus Portuguese!
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese; Closed Captioned
* Audio Commentaries! Yes, really!
* “Two Men Talking About Two and a Half Men” behind the scenes featurette
* The ever-present gag reel.
Season 4 of Two and a Half Men is on DVD on September 23, and I really think you’re going to enjoy the show. If you’ve never seen the plot, it’s really an absurd premise but somehow it works. Charlie Sheen, playing one of the biggest stretches of his acting career, plays the character Charlie Harper -- a persistent bachelor known for his numerous one-night-stands with a wild and eclectic variety of women. How Charlie managed to get into character for this taxing role I don’t know, but it surely speaks to his acting talent. On the flip-side we have Charlie’s lovably annoying brother Alan (played by actor Jon Cryer). Alan is an annoying pain in the rear end to Charlie’s fun and all around stick in the mud -- but since they’re brothers and The Odd Couple was such a successful formula, there you go. Thrown into the mix is Alan’s son from a prior marriage Jake, played by Angus T. Jones. Incidentally, you’re at about the right age in 2008 to hear this advice: Pick a stage name. Something besides Angus.
There are all sorts of kooky and zany supporting cast members that I won’t list here for whatever reason I invent if anyone asks, but if you buy the DVD or catch the show in syndication or on CBS, you’ll pick up on it soon enough...worked for me anyway.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Sitcom formulas 8, 13, and 49 are at play here. You’ve got the Odd Couple scenario at play between the two brothers, you’ve got the random kid thrown in to boot (see My Two Days, only inverted), and you’ve got a meddling and shrewish ex-wife lurking in the shadows. That’s 80 percent of the season right there. I love this show, but let’s not call a rabbit a Nobel laureate here -- the show has a general pattern that most episodes follow. They’re all funny, no doubt, though, and you’ll get great laughs. One episode in particular I’ve come to like recently thanks to syndication is “A Live Woman of Proven Fertility,” in which Judith (Alan’s ex) looks ready to finally re-marry, getting Alan off the hook for Alimony. There’s just one problem -- Jake hates his mom’s fiancé (Ryan Stiles -- “The Drew Carey Show”). The Herb character would recur throughout the season.
As far as guests go, Brooke Shields, Morgan Fairchild, and Robert Wagner, among others, all appear in or around the Harper household this season.
Because we value the input of our readers a great deal, we’d like to know: Is there a specific type of TV DVD packaging you like or dislike, or do you really not care what is packaged in so long as it’s, you know, packaged. I’m conducting a poll on our TV DVD board to find out because I’m sincerely curious whether there’s a strong preference, say, against Digipaks, or for slim cases...do you hate those clear plastic cases that some studio use or do you think they’re a great shelf-saver?
http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=231928 . Let us know.
Here, the set uses your average Digipak setup. You can see the purple cover art at the top of this review, so I won’t bother explaining it. The principal cast is there, of course. Rear art features some text to try to sell folks at retail outlets on the show as well as some still photos. Inner cover of the Digipak is a re-hash of the main cover, while the back cover is a very tired Charlie sleeping on the back porch. I empathize. Pak unfolds to reveal three panels. The first contains a booklet with a disc breakdown, while the other two house two overlapping disc holders. All four discs follow the same motif as the main art, with all three principal cast members on disc 1, and one each on 2 through 4. Episodes are broken down in a 7-7-7-3 scheme. Why they couldn’t do 6-6-6-6 is beyond me. The featurette and gag reel are on the final disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
As you might have guessed, menus are purple. Purple is an interesting color choice, but for a show on the air still you have to get to colors like green and purple now so that you still have a color palette left at season 23. The 0:22 version of the main theme plays in the background. The colors and diamonds motif is once again in-play. Cast appears center-left, show logo is center-top-right, and options are center-bottom-right. Episodes appear on a strip center-right, with thumbnail stills center-left. A diamond highlights the selectable option. The other sub-menus follow this same style.
Video and Audio Quality:
The thing about reviewing modern shows is that this section becomes INCREDIBLY easy to write -- there hasn’t been sufficient time for deterioration to occur, and filming in HD affords the episodes increases in video quality not possible with standard definition source footage. There is only one little thing that can occur with newer footage -- and older footage as well. Compression effects can occasionally cause just a little excess noise in the video, which is what occurs here. On older TVs and smaller TVs, you’re not going to notice a thing...only on nicer, larger sets. The above is a repost from a previous review, but it’s still valid here. Why be original when I can contribute to the (work) environment by recycling, eh? Compression is noticeable. Audio is nice, and available in Portuguese. Play All is available. Chapter stops occur at the end of each act. No edit disclaimers. I don’t really know what to say other than in regards to compression. I mean, colors are nice and all, and the runtimes, though occasionally short, aren’t unheard of for modern sitcoms:
Working for Caligula: 22:03
Who’s Vod Kanockers: 22:03
The Sea is a Harsh Mistress: 21:49
A Pot Smoking Monkey: 21:04
A Live Woman of Proven Fertility: 21:20
Apologies for the Frivolity: 20:49
Repeated Blows to his Unformed Head: 21:30
Release the Dogs: 22:00
Corey’s Been Dead for an Hour: 21:32
Kissing Abraham Lincoln: 21:54
Walnuts and Demerol: 21:16
Castrating Sheep in Montana: 21:52
Don’t Worry Speed Racer: 21:32
That’s Summer Sausage, not Salami: 21:57
My Damn Stalker: 22:02
Young People Have Phlegm Too: 21:39
I Merely Slept with a Commie: 22:01
It Never Rains in Hooterville: 21:49
Smooth as a Ken Doll: 21:05
Aunt Myra Doesn’t Pee a Lot: 21:46
Tucked, Taped, and Gorgeous: 22:01
Mr. McGlue’s Feedbag: 22:02
Anteaters. They’re Just Crazy-lookin’: 21:52
Prostitutes and Gelato: 20:38
Gag Reel: 8:06 worth of funny flubs and screw-ups.
Two Men Talking about Two and a Half Men (13:14): Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn are the creators of Two and a Half Men, and they’re sorry...but not very. Mixes clips with interviews about the show and the backstage tidbits of the show. So THAT’S what Chuck Lorre looks like...
Commentary on “Tucked, Taped, and Gorgeous” (22:01): A great commentary here by Chuck and Lee. Part behind-the-scenes, part just their watching the episode.
Commentary on “Mr. McGlue’s Feedbag” (22:02): Commentary by the three lead actors -- Charlie, Jon, and Angus. Jon discovered with this episode how difficult directing apparently is when you’re IN the show.
Total runtime of special features: approx. 65 minutes
This is a great series -- if it wasn’t it wouldn’t be the top rated sitcom on television still. The series also represents one of the last of a dying breed in sitcoms, the traditional multi-camera series. But this show is proof that multi-camera shows can still be popular, and relevant, and hilarious. This show is absolutely great TV.
I’m also thrilled that Warner has put more effort into the special features for this set -- not only is there the usual gag reel, but there are commentaries and a featurette as well. This is a great addition, in my opinion, that serves to increase the watchability of the DVD set.
We’re nearly caught up to the current TV season. This past season should be released at some point in the next several months barring faltering sales, at which point by next fall we’ll be into a pattern of yearly releases coinciding with the new TV season. The downside is that I won’t get to review this awesome series nearly as much. Obviously, this set is strongly recommended.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Final Score: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 09/09/08
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