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What's Happening Now!! - The Complete First Season


TITLE: WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW!! - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: June 12, 2007 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Color/1985-86
MSRP: $29.95
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 481 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Closed Captioned
Special Features: None, just Previews for Sony DVDs.


Introduction:

The gang from What’s Happening!! return after six years for more comic misadventures when Sony Pictures Home Entertainment debuts the first-run syndicated series What’s Happening Now!!: The Complete First Season on DVD for the first time on June 12 with all 22 first season episodes on 3-discs. It’s been almost two years since the third and final season of What’s Happening!! came on DVD, so it was just a question of when to me when this show would come out, as the parent series sold very well on DVD.

All the major cast members, minus Mama, are depicted about six or seven years later. All of their lives have changed. Raj is an aspiring writer now married to Nadine, a social worker and civic organizer. They later are both foster parents to an orphan named Carolyn, who displays the sass of Raj’s sister Dee, who visits from time to time from college. Raj also purchased a half interest in his favorite high school hangout, Rob’s Place, which he now runs with feisty waitress Shirley. His dimwitted friend Dwayne has become a computer programmer and his other friend Rerun is a used-car salesman known as “Swami Stubbs.” Rerun and Dwyane are both bachelors and share an apartment.

What’s Happening Now!! stars Ernest Thomas as Roger “Raj” Thomas, Anne-Marie Johnson as Nadine Thomas, Haywood Nelson as Dwyane Nelson, Fred Berry as Freddy “Rerun” Stubbs, Reina King as Carolyn, and Shirley Hemphill as Shirley Wilson. With Special Guest Star Danielle Spencer as Dee Thomas.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

TV Land has recently started to air the show, so some might remember the show a little better now. The DVD is going in production order. Visit my "What’s Happening Now!!" Episode Guide for details. Among the memorable episodes is the very first episode “Raj Returns,” in which Raj returns to his old neighborhood now married. Then we have “The House Guest,” where Dwayne and Rerun get into an argument and now are taking turns living with Raj & Nadine. “Dwayne’s Crush” is a good episode where Dwayne’s new girlfriend is actually his dentist’s wife! In “The New Kid” Raj & Nadine take in an orphan named Carolyn. Dee returns for her first appearance in “Dee’s Dilemma” as she ponders in dropping out of college to get into cosmetics. “Raj on the Run” is a hilarious episode as he dresses in drag to run from the FBI. In “Married or Not” Raj & Nadine split up. “Dee and Dwayne” is a classic episode where we see Dee and Dwayne go on a date. Finally, the season finale “The Wedding” has Raj and Nadine getting married again because the first time they got married the minister was not a licensed minister.

Guest stars include Theodore Wilson in “Raj Returns” and “One Enchanted Evening,” Mesach Taylor in “The Bully,” Le Tari in “That Old Gang of Mine,” Belita Moreno in “The Challenge,” Bernadette Stanis in “Married or Not,” and Felton Perry in “Shirley’s Pen Pal.”


Packaging:

The packaging style is consistent from the What’s Happening!! sets with a nice outer box, but this time instead of a digipak we have two slim cases. The box cover has Dwayne, Shirley, a huge picture of Rerun, then Raj and Nadine, all from left to right. The background is in two shades of a green and yellow color with the title in blue with a white border. The back of the box is the same color style as the front and has a long synopsis to what to expect in season one. There is a similar cast photo of the gang (Raj, Nadine, Rerun, Shirley and Dwayne) below that.

The first slim case holds discs one and two. The cover of this slim case is the same as the box cover, but the shade of green and yellow is darker. The back of the first slim case has the same color style as the front, and has a photo of Raj along with a disc by disc breakdown with episode number, title, and a short synopsis of the episode. When we open this first slim case we have two discs inside, disc one on the left and disc two on the right. When we remove disc one there is a nice photo (the same one from the back of the box) with the show logo. There is no artwork when we remove disc though. The background for inside is the same as the front and back, a darker green and yellow.

Slim case two holds disc three. We get the same artwork in the front but the colors are now a blue type. The back of the second slim case has the same color style as the front, and has a nice cast photo of Nadine, Dee, Raj, Shirley, and Dwayne along with a disc by disc breakdown with episode number, title, and a short synopsis of the episode, like slim case one did. There is also a mention on the bottom saying to Collect all 3 seasons of the parent series, What’s Happening!! on DVD. Box arts for all three are shown. Inside the slim case we have disc three on the right side. The left side all it has is the show logo in a darker blue color. When we remove disc three we get another logo art. The background for inside is the same as the front and back, a blue type.

All the discs this season have the same color scheme. The color is blue. Disc one has Raj & Nadine on it and holds episodes 1-7. Disc two has Shirley on it and holds episodes 8-14. Disc three has Rerun on it and holds episodes 15-22. A “Television is better with Sony” booklet is also inside the box. It is so out of date (I mean Jeffersons S6 has been out for quite awhile now, and it says coming soon on this booklet).


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menu screen is fairly easy to navigate and simple, like all Sony releases are. It is very basic and doesn’t even have the theme song playing in the background. The main menu is different on all three discs. Disc one has the same color and style as the box art and the same cast image. Disc two is blue/purple and only has Raj & Nadine surrounding that huge Rerun face. Disc three for some reason has Maurice and Daryl surrounding that huge Rerun face. Maurice and Daryl don’t even appear on this show until season three! Sony must have feel asleep here! This set has chapters that have 4 place marks. There are only two options on discs one and two. Play All Episodes and Episode Selection. The episode selection screen has a screenshot from the episode in a circle with the episode number and title, like all Sony DVDs. Disc three has the same two options but also a Previews section. The previews on this set, Stomp the Yard, Gridiron Gang, Meatballs, ‘80s Movie Hits, and Classic Urban TV Series. That Classic Urban TV Series preview is so out of date! Get with it Sony!


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio are good. The show is newer than What’s Happening!!, so it looks better and sounds better. No complaints from me at all on the video and audio. As for the episode timings, all of them are between 21:50-21:52 except a few. “Dee’s Dilemma” and “Dee and Dwayne” both run 21:47, the lowest of the set. The highest is 21:54, the episode titled “The Challenge.” Every other episode is between 21:50-52, as I said. Do not fret because this show was a first-run syndicated series, so the episodes are not edited. The runtimes are normal for a syndicated series.

The second LBS logo (see second one here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlKEnPuMm9w) is on every episode after the closing credits, followed by the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment logo.


Special Features:

Staying consistent with What’s Happening!!, we get no special features. All we get are previews for other Sony DVD products, with the out of date Urban TV preview. I stated last time during the What’s Happening!! Season 3 Review, “If the follow-up series What’s Happening Now!! is released on DVD, that is a good time to start some special features. But let’s just first hope we get that series on DVD at all.” So, Sony didn’t listen to my special feature suggestion, but at least they are starting to release this series on DVD!


Final Comments:

So we have now started What’s Happening Now!! on DVD. You really need to buy this set so we can be assured of seasons two and three on DVD. Right now the pre-ordering ranking for the set is very low on Amazon. Let’s change that and order this set right now, if you haven’t already. This is a very underrated series. It is very good and if you have never watched it, TV Land currently airs it weekdays at 7am, so try to catch a few episodes. It is as fun as the original series, with a ‘80s twist. So head on over to Rob’s Place for a great time and reunite with Raj, Rerun, Dwayne, and the rest of the gang who are all back for What’s Happening Now!!

See my What’s Happening!! and What’s Happening Now!! page: http://www.sitcomsonline.com/whatshappening


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 06/02/07

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000OVLBGW/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=202287


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