TITLE: WINGS - THE FIFTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: November 6, 2007 (CBS DVD)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: approx 527 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: n/a
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Special Features: None
Wings has flied its way back on DVD with Season 5 from CBS DVD! In the hilarious Season 5 of Wings, the crew of Sandpiper Air and their friends and family at Tom Nevers Field return for more laughs, more romance, more rivalry, and more surprises. Watch out below, because love is flying high. Millionaire David Lynch steals Helen’s (Crystal Bernard) heart; Lowell (Thomas Haden church) gets together with and divorces Bunny the same day; Joe (Tim Daly) dates a 19-year-old; an old flame returns to woo Fay (Rebecca Schull); and Brian (Steven Weber) and Alex’s (Farrah Forke) relationship gets even rockier. Finally, in the shocking season finale, the romance between Joe and Helen re-ignites! This four-disc set of all 24 season five episodes includes every outrageous twist, oddball character, and wild adventure that made Wings one of the most beloved sitcoms in TV history.
Well, I’m not sure about most beloved in TV history -- I mean if NBC returned Wings to its schedule tomorrow (ignoring the potential writer’s strike for a moment) I doubt most folks would notice its absence that much. People knew it was on, but it was never a marquee show like Cosby Show, Cheers, Frasier, or Friends. However, it is a great show, and after an improved 4th season DVD release, let us have hopes that things have improved here.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Season 5 is pretty good. I have to say how glad I am that TV Land is rerunning the show again. I like the DVDs alright, but I’ll always prefer pushing a few buttons and having the program already there for me to watch, opposed to having to hunt for the disc, insert the appropriate disc, wait for it to load, and then select the episode I want.
I also have to admit, this is the point in the run where the seasons and episodes begin to blur together for me somewhat. Two episodes, outside of the already-mentioned finale, stand out plainly for me, the rest just rather melt together. In episode 2 (available on disc 1), “Terminal Jealousy,” Roy decides to monkey with everyone’s heads. He gets Brian to think that Joe and Alex have someone going on, causing Brian to obsess endlessly, and causing all sorts of havoc. Meanwhile he gets Helen to insult the health inspector, who she knew from high school.
In the later episode “Say Uncle, Carlton,” Antonio gets a job as a chauffeur for Carlton Blanchard. As if that were not bad enough, then Carlton’s pain in the rear nephew Lewis arrives to attend a banquet being held involving his uncle. How do you, the viewer, know just by reading this review that the nephew is annoying? He is played by guest star Gilbert Gottfried.
In addition to Mr. Gottfried, this season has several guests. The first one managed to fly off my radar previously, even though it is strikingly obvious. Laura Innes, just a couple of years away from great success on another NBC show, ER, plays Lowell’s soon-to-be-ex-wife Bunny, in “Bye-Bye, Bunny.” She reappears in “Happy Holidays.” Dan Castellaneta, who you better know as the voice of Homer Simpson, makes an in-person guest spot in the episode “Moonlighting.” Finally, Ray Charles guest stars as himself in the season finale, “A Decent Proposal.”
The packaging is the same as previous sets...outer box with two slimcases inside. Each slimcase holds two discs, one on each side. This style of packaging has become the standard for most TV DVD releases, and for “regular” packaging styles is my packaging of choice. Front cover features the show logo at the top of a white/teal cover. Joe, Brian, Helen, Antonio, and Lowell are photoshopped together in the middle two-thirds. (Fun fact: For whatever reason, there is not a definite edge between the photoshopped images of Tim Daly and Crystal Bernard. The entire cast then splits up over the two-slimcase covers. Each disc follows the same...what color would I call this...“sky teal” color scheme of the rest of the packaging. Top features the logo in front of a white background. A bar of still images cuts across the disc center. Disc number is contained in the pilot wings just below the hole. Season text and relevant set information is below that. Sky Teal color below the still strip. Each slimcase holds two discs. Each disc holds six episodes. Breakdown is not rocket surgery.
Case 1: Discs 1 and 2: Episodes 1-6 and 7-12
Case 2: Discs 3 and 4: Episodes 13-18 and 19-24
Menu Design and Navigation:
Yay, Photoshop is fun! Someone cropped out the Wings logo (and accidentally left in a couple of superfluous pixels), then added a white stroke effect around it. They took a photo of a cast member, varying by disc, and added the Outer Glow effect. The Season Five text is done in a white font with teal stroke in a font I forget the name of, but have around here somewhere. Disc # is done in a circular form to its right. The episodes are selected from a drop-down list on the main menu, with blue bars on the left side each having an episode title. The bottom bar says Play All. Behind all this is an alternating dark blue/grayish-blue background. A different cast member occupies the left-most menu space on each disc. On disc 1 it’s Brian (with a little toy airplace), on disc 2 it’s Alex, on disc 3 it’s Joe, and on disc 4 it’s Helen.
Regarding the excessive Photo-shopping: Come on, when I can name the specific Photoshop layer effects being used, I’m not just being nit-picky or a Photoshop Nerd, someone has slacked off. It is not even the advanced layer effects being used. A stroke (outline) effect is one of the most basic ones there is.
Video and Audio Quality:
Aw, snap. You know how giddy I seemed to be in the previous release when the VQ seemed much improved. Maybe I was sick that day, or maybe it was a fluke, but something is clearly wrong with the VQ of yet ANOTHER Wings DVD set. It looks like the episodes were transferred straight from some VHS tapes. There is debris and grain everywhere, the colors are dull and lifeless, there is occasional compression artifacting, there are interlacing issues...it is just not pretty. The audio volume is slightly low, and lacks richness and depth. The laugh track sounds a bit off. The music sounds good, which is the only bright spot. Chapter stops, which may be the most positive technical part of the show, occur at the end of each scene.
Disclaimer at the bottom of the slimcases warns, “Episodes may be edited from their original network versions,” so that makes runtimes important:
Stop in the Name of Love: 22:20
Terminal Jealousy: 22:19
Bye-Bye, Bunny: 22:20
Business or Pleasure: 22:20
An Affair to Forget: 22:19
A Black Eye Affair: 22:20
Joe Blows (Part I): 21:49
Joe Blows (Part II): 22:19
2 Good 2 B 4 Gotten: 22:20
Come Fly with Me: 22:19
Happy Holidays: 22:00
Ready, Teddy, Go: 22:10
Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Mathers Don’t Roam: 22:20
The Faygitive: 22:20
Say Uncle, Carlton: 22:19
Hey, Nineteen: 22:19
Exclusively Yours: 22:20
Sleepless in Nantucket: 22:19
Boys Will Be Girls: 22:19
Roy Crazy: 22:19
Long Distance Lament: 22:19
Call of the Wild: 22:19
A Decent Proposal: 22:10
A sub-22:00 runtime on any show made before the year 2000 is always a red flag with me. A sub-22:00 runtime on any show made in the mid-90s is even worse. Shows were still routinely running in the 23:00-24:00 range as late as 1996 and 1997. The 22:20 episodes SEEM short, but I cannot firmly say if they are edited or not. The fact that 22 of 24 episodes seem to time out so evenly scares me. However, the 21:49 just does not seem right. That 22:00 seems low as well. Maybe some minor scenes were altered or edited for music issues.
None. Nada. Zero. There are no deleted scenes, blooper reels, featurettes, commentaries, promos, trivia sections, or anything present on this set besides the episodes themselves. There are not even previews for other CBS DVD properties. Well, I suppose THAT IS a good thing.
This wasn't great - but watching the set on an old TV helped. You're not gonna like this set if you own a new TV and have been spoiled by the wonders of High Definition TV. And even on old sets there are flaws in the video, and the audio still seems a bit muffled. I was a little hard on the set earlier - it's not *that* bad. But it's not that good either. It's...mediocre. I really wish Paramount would try harder, because with bare-bones sets like these it just makes no sense to pay money for the sets when you can just watch/record the episodes on TV Land, and get similar quality, with similar episode cuts (just a guess). Would it kill them to include features?
Unless you love this show, or at least like it a good deal, I don't know if this is the DVD set for you. There's just not much here other than the show. Watch the show on TV Land and try before you buy.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 2.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Final Score: 3/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 11/04/07
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