TITLE: WEBSTER - SEASON THREE
Release Date: August 9, 2011 (Shout! Factory)
Color / 1985-1986, 1987, 1988
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 29
Running Time: 600 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-Captioned
Special Features: None
Emmanuel Lewis is back as the endearing and adorable Webster Long for another string of laughter and life lessons in Webster - Season Three.
Former pro football player George Papadapolis (Alex Karras) and socialite and philanthropist Katherine Calder-Young Papadapolis (Susan Clark) team up as the more-than-capable but hilariously matched foster parents to Webster. Along for the ride are landlords Bill and Cassie Parker (Eugene Roche and Cathryn Damon), Webster's Uncle Phillip (Ben Vereen) and George's father, Papa Papadapolis (Jack Kruschen). While comedy is at the forefront, Webster balances out with touching storylines, making it one of the classic programs of 1980s television.
Created by Stu Silver and co-starring real-life husband and wife Alex Karras and Susan Clark, Webster premiered September 16, 1983, and ran for six seasons from 1983-1989 (1983-1987 on ABC and the final two seasons in first-run syndication).
Season Three opened with a one-hour episode titled "How the West Was Once," in which the Papadapolises visit Lizard Flatz, Arizona and encounter Dusty, a man with interesting stories, a ranch, and Moonhunter, a horse that seems to be a legend, but ends up a reality after saving Webster from a rattlesnake. Alan Autry and Jack Elam guest star. For a class project, Webster gets married and a bunch of problems end up with him and his snotty, controlling 'wife' in "And Baby Makes Breakfast." Webster's friend Rob (Chad Allen) is upset because he feels that he is too tall in "Big Problems." Webster's friend Rob picks up a tabloid and asks Webster some questions from it in "Alien." As a lesson in teaching Webster responsibility, George and Katherine switch roles to where they are the kids and Webster is the parent in "Parent Trap." Katherine is very upset when she finds out that her mother has passed away in "Good Grief." Neva Patterson guest stars as Katherine's mother, Emily Calder-Young.
George takes Webster to a New York Knicks game and introduces him to Patrick Ewing in "One More Shot." Legendary coach John Thompson III also appears as himself. Webster goes to Hollywood with Uncle Phil and his girlfriend in "Great Expectations (1)." After cheating on Phil, the producer gives Phil's part to his now ex-girlfriend, which leaves Phil fired in "Great Expectations (2)." Robbers break into the house while Webster is home alone and he has to know how to act in "Whos to Blame?." Webster gets a chain letter in "Chained." Webster takes a picture and shows it to Katherine, who then starts to think that a neighbor is having an affair in "The Triangle." Webster makes Katherine a dress for her birthday in "The Truth Hurts."
Webster tries to set up Katherine's aunt Charlotte (Gwen Verdon) and Papa Papadapolis in "Hello, I Must Be Going." Webster learns that you can be rich without having a lot of money after he gets struck with lottery fever in "That's Rich." When George is assigned to children's sports after a popular segment on Webster's hockey team, he worries his career will be damaged in "TV or Not TV." Rob's dad kidnaps him and Webster tries to rally up support to try and find him in "Borrowed Time." Jerry dresses up like a clown and takes Webster to the leukemia ward at the children's hospital, where he makes a new friend and realizes how lucky he is to be healthy in "A Friend in Need." Webster falls in love with a girl on Valentine's Day and he thinks she's taken, but he tries to ask her out to a Valentine's party anyway in "Love Papadapolis Style." Webster's Uncle Jack (Mac Davis) has Webster visit him in "Almost Home." Norman Fell guest stars as Charlie.
Webster asks permission to buy a BB gun and he resorts to responsibility to get one in "Farewell to Arms." Katherine's aunt is getting married, and George and Katherine decide to reenact their wedding vows in "There Goes the Bride." Webster and Katheine hatch a scheme to try and rid a habit that George has in "Gotcha." Webster and Katherine both end up cheating on some school-related projects at the same time in "My Family's Honor." George and Katherine both hire a maid who happens to be pregnant and goes into labor in "Special Delivery." Katherine hosts a therapy session at the house in "Cuckoo's Nest." Webster and Papa Papadapolis reminisce through flashbacks in "Rear View Mirror (Part One)." As they continue to reminisce, Webster, Papa Papadapolis, and Jerry receive news that George and Katherine have both survived the hurricane in "Rear View Mirror (Part Two)." Episode summaries courtesy of TV.com.
All of the episodes appear to be unedited. The season premiere, "How the West Was Once," originally aired as an one-hour episode on ABC and it's presented that way on the DVD. All of the other episodes have running times of over 24 minutes, except one that clocks in at 23:49. It should be noted that there's four episodes at the end of the set that didn't air on ABC during the 1985-86 season. These episodes were produced during the third season, but they didn't air until the show went into first-run syndication in 1987 and 1988.
Runtimes and original airdates for each episode are as follows:
1-2. How the West Was Once (Parts One and Two) (09/20/85) (47:50)
3. And Baby Makes Breakfast (09/27/85) (24:32)
4. Big Problems (10/04/85) (24:22)
5. Alien (10/11/85) (24:52)
6. Parent Trap (10/18/85) (24:53)
7. Good Grief (10/25/85) (24:53)
8. One More Shot (11/01/85) (24:51)
9. Great Expectations (1) (11/08/85) (24:51)
10. Great Expectations (2) (11/15/85) (24:51)
11. Who's To Blame (11/22/85) (24:54)
12. Chained (11/29/85) (24:29)
13. The Triangle (12/06/85) (24:52)
14. The Truth Hurts (12/13/85) (24:52)
15. Hello, I Must Be Going (01/10/86) (24:50)
16. That's Rich (01/17/86) (24:52)
17. TV or Not TV (01/24/85) (24:53)
18. Borrowed Time (01/31/86) (24:52)
19. A Friend in Need (02/07/86) (24:13)
20. Love Papadapolis Style (02/14/86) (24:51)
21. Almost Home (02/21/86) (24:48)
22. Farewell to Arms (03/07/86) (24:52)
23. There Goes the Bride (03/14/86) (24:52)
24. Gotcha (03/28/86) (24:52)
25. My Family's Honor (05/02/86) (24:51)
26. Special Delivery (06/04/87) (24:38)
27. Cuckoo's Nest (01/24/88) (23:49)
28. Rear View Mirror (Part One) (03/30/87) (24:50)
29. Rear View Mirror (Part Two) (03/31/87) (24:44)
As with the first and second season packaging, the set comes packaged in a Viva-case. The cover art has a photo of Webster (again) by himself. I guess Emmanuel Lewis is the most marketable star of the series, but it's nice they included other cast members elsewhere. The color scheme of the set is purple, orange and gold. On the back of the case, there is a brief synopsis of the series and third season. There are five episode snapshots on the back of the case which feature the main three stars and others including Jack Kruschen, Gwen Verdon, Eugene Roche and Cathryn Damon. Episode titles and original airdates are listed inside the case by the disc number. An episode guide with summaries would have been nice to have for reference like they included for the first season. Discs 1 and 2 have the same photo of Webster, Disc 2 has a photo of George and Katherine, and Disc 3 has all three of them. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-14, Disc 3 contains episodes 15-21, and Disc 4 wraps up the season with episodes 22-29.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are simple and easy to navigate. They are the same style menus used for seasons 1-2, so that is good for consistency. Each disc begins with a brief scene from an episode that then fades to a montage of video clips in the lower right corner of the screen. There's a still shot of Webster in the top left and the Webster title logo to the right. There's Play All and Episodes options at the bottom of the screen. The instrumental closing theme plays in the background and loops after about 26 seconds. When you select Episodes, there's a transition screen and music that takes you to another menu where there is a text listing of the episodes in white. Chapters are placed throughout each episode at all of the appropriate places. A Shout! Factory Trailer Collection plays at the start of Disc 1 for other titles like Punky Brewster, Small Wonder and Mr. Belvedere.
Video and Audio Quality:
Seasons 1-2 had great video and audio quality. Season 3 follows the same pattern. It's hard to imagine these episodes looking any better considering the age of the series. Webster was shot on tape and the picture remains crisp and clear. The audio is presented in mono. It's loud and clear. Closed-captioning is available for all of the episodes. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there are logos for Georgian Bay Ltd. (the production company of Susan Clark and Alex Karras) and Paramount Television.
Unfortunately, there are no special features included on this set. Season One had only a Webster Trivia Game, while Season Two had nothing at all. The Season One listing on Amazon.com lists an interview with Alex Karras and Susan Clark, but that never materialized on that set. If they shot any interviews, it would be nice to see them if they went to the effort to produce them. Some special features such as audio commentaries by the cast and crew or original promos would have been welcome additions on these releases.
Yippee! Webster - Season Three is now on DVD. Many people were shocked that this series even made it on DVD. To have the first three seasons already on DVD this year (with Season 4 scheduled for November 22) is pretty incredible. Although the show had a pretty good run on the USA Network and WGN, it's been a while since it has been seen in syndication. It's hard to imagine that these seasons have been selling like hotcakes, so it's nice to see their release dates aren't dependent only on sales. These releases were likely planned as quarterly releases well in advance.
Season Three started with a pretty mediocre one-hour episode, but things picked up the rest of the season with some memorable episodes and guest stars like Patrick Ewing, Gwen Verdon, Norman Fell, Chad Allen (recurring) and Ben Vereen (recurring). These first three season releases have been pretty basic with really only the episodes, so it would be great to see some special features on the other seasons. It's been nice to revisit these episodes years later and see them unedited for the first time. Let's hope that Shout! Factory can also continue with some other '80s sitcoms like Mr. Belvedere, Small Wonder and The Facts of Life at some point. Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons would also be wonderful to have complete on DVD. Long live the '80s!
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: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 08/12/11
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