TITLE: WANDA AT LARGE - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (WBSHOP.com)
Release Date: April 7, 2015 (Warner Archive)
Color / 2003
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 1
Number of Episodes: 6
Running Time: 128 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
"Hi, Wanda Hawkins here," are the words that start many episodes of the short-lived Fox series Wanda at Large, which starred Wanda Sykes as a comedian turned news correspondent. Rounding out the cast are her coworkers Bradley (Phil Morris) and Rita (Ann Magnuson), and her sister-in-law Jenny (Tammy Lauren), Wanda's niece Holly (Jurnee Smollett) and nephew Barris (Robert Bailey, Jr.).
The series debuted on Fox in March 2003 for a six episode first season, and returned for what was supposed to be a 13 episode second season in September of that same year... only to be canceled halfway into that second season. In the end, there were a total of 19 episodes produced, 14 of which actually ran during the original run of the series (the remaining eventually aired on TV One), and now, all of the first six episodes are available on DVD for the first time.
This is a Warner Archive release, meaning that it can only be purchased directly from WBShop.com and other select online resellers.
We're introduced to Wanda Hawkins and how she got her job at WHDC in "The Pilot." Wanda is forced to choose between a relationship and a big story in "King Rat." In "Wanda and Bradley," it's going to take trickery to get the duo to attend a basketball game together for a promotional stunt. It's Wanda's birthday in "Wanda's Party," but she is less than thrilled with her surprise. Wanda puts together an exposť on a horrible councilman in "Death of a Councilman," but when he suddenly dies; her story is creatively reedited in a way that doesn't exactly please her. The season ends with "Alma Mater," where Wanda is about to receive an honorary doctorate... from the same university that expelled her.
The episodes and runtimes are as follows:
"The Pilot" (21:54)
"King Rat" (21:47)
"Wanda and Bradley" (20:20)
"Wanda's Party" (21:59)
"Death of a Councilman" (20:50)
"Alma Matter" (21:59)
There is nothing particularly exciting about the package. The cover art has a large photo of Wanda holding a microphone and the title of the series on the top. On the back, there is a cast photo (with Wanda wrapped in caution tape) and a description of the series in general. Inside, there is a single disc, which has the same artwork as seen on the cover. It should be noted that the disc is an actual DVD-R, so unlike many recent Warner Archive releases, this one is not pressed and truly a DVD-R.
Menu Design and Navigation:
There is literally just one menu on this DVD: the main menu. It gives options of Play All and a list of the six episodes, along with a photo of Wanda (the same one seen on the cover art). Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
Everything looks and sounds fine on this DVD. The series is already twelve years old, but like most series in the past fifteen years, there is very little that can be done to make them look bad on DVD. The only unfortunate thing about this DVD is that it, like most Warner Archive releases, lacks closed-captioning and subtitles. But other than that, everything seems fine.
One really interesting thing about this series is that you can tell it was produced during the somewhat awkward transition of TV series from full screen to widescreen, and this is particularly obvious in the pilot. Most of the episode itself is in widescreen, which had just started to gain acceptance on TV, but the actual footage of Wanda "on the air" is in full screen, leaving those black bars on the sides of the screen. It seems that they sort of got out of this habit after the pilot and went strictly widescreen for everything from that point on. This isn't a flaw of the DVDs, but it seems a little jarring at first to see the first episode make these transitions.
There are no special features on this DVD.
I'm a bit amazed that Warner Archive has decided to go as deep as they have into the archives by releasing this show. This certainly did have a star comedian in it, but this is by no means what Wanda Sykes is best known for. I'm also a bit confused by why Warner Archive decided to just release the first season of the series. There are only 6 episodes in this season, and 13 more in season 2, so one release would have sufficed. In any event, I think that it is great for fans of the series (or probably more likely, fans of Wanda Sykes) to have this series on DVD.
I watched the series a few times during the original run on Fox, but didn't really remember it too well. It really isn't a bad series, but it is also easy to see why it didn't last long. It is sort of odd to think that after the cancelation of this show, Sykes went on to what is probably her most memorable TV role to date, her role as a supporting character on The New Adventures of Old Christine. For those who enjoy Wanda Sykes (and make no mistake, her comedy is great... but it doesn't fit the model of a broadcast network sitcom), this is a bit of a fun show to watch, but it probably isn't something that everybody will want to be in a rush to own.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 05/06/15
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