TITLE: WINGS - THE SIXTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008 (CBS DVD)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: 9 Hours 51 Minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: N/A
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Special Features: None
Itís official! The Hackett brothers and employees of Tom Nevers Field have touched down for Season Six of Wings, one of the funniest sitcoms ever! This season, Sandpiper Air owner Joe Hackett (Tim Daly) finally wins over Helen (Crystal Bernard) as they become engaged and plan their wedding. And not a moment too soon, as Helenís competitive sister Casey (Amy Yasbeck) arrives to shake things up, catching the eye of cab driver Antonio (Tony Shalhoub) and the ire of Joeís newly-single brother Brian (Steven Weber). Plus, batty Fay (Rebecca Schull) quits her job then regrets it, dim-witted Lowell (Thomas Haden Church) turns budding artist, and surly Roy Biggins (David Schramm) welcomes a mail-order bride! With all 26 Season Six episodes on DVD for the first time ever, nowís the time to take flight with Wings!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
When you add a new character to a TV series, the end result always either seems organic (that is, the addition makes sense in the context of the story) or forced (IE: you spend all season wondering why they did that). The addition of Casey to the show, at first, seems a bit forced, but within an episode or two feels right, and really begins to make sense in terms of the show. The Casey character debuts in the seasonís second episode, ďTwisted Sister.Ē In the episode ďIf itís Not One Thing, Itís Your Mother,Ē Casey and Helenís mother arrives -- and when Helen finds out that their mother gambled away the $10,000 for her and Joeís wedding, needless to say she isnít happy -- and a lifetime of feeling like Casey was the favorite finally gets to her. Finally, Ray Charles guest stars as himself in the season finale, ďA Decent Proposal.Ē Finally, in the season finale, Joe and Helen get married. This was also Thomas Haden Churchís final episode as a regular before leaving the series, leaving the show to headline his own show, ďNed & Stacey.Ē
This season does feature a few guest stars: Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation) appears in the episode ďAllís Fare.Ē Debbie Reynolds appears as Casey and Helenís mother Deedee in the episode ďIf Itís Not One Thing, Itís Your Mother.Ē Robert Culp (The Greatest American Hero) appears in the episode ďThe Wrong StuffĒ. Former series regular Farrah Forke makes a return appearance as Alex in ďEx, Lies, and Videotape.Ē Finally, Gilbert Gottfried makes a guest appearance in the episode ďA House to Die For.Ē
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a packaging change! Gone is the outer box and slimcases used for the first five seasons. Effective with season six, the Wings DVD releases now feature a packaging style identical to that used by most other CBS DVD sitcom releases. Yes, theyíve finally switched to that awful translucent white hard plastic case with the flimsy disc holders. How flimsy are the disc holders, you ask? The little plastic pieces that go in the center ring to hold a disc in place broke off on holders 1 and 4 on both my copies of Wings S6 and Becker S1 *in transit!* Not only that, but rather than individual disc art, the discs now all feature that same silver disc with slightly debossed lettering used on the rest of the CBS DVD comedies. This packaging, while on the surface appearing to be nicer than the old style, is actually constructed more cheaply, resulting in a more fragile product. For a product whose MSRP went *up* a dollar, thatís not good.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are well designed, though I guess Iíve just become so used to seeing animated menus and themes in the background and all that, as done with the top-tier series, that Iím just not used to a DVD release with static menus. Whatís presented isnít half bad, and perhaps Iíve been a little hard on this element in the past. The Photoshop skills at CBS DVD arenít half bad (though, to be clear, these menus are quite clearly an exercise in said program). The only use of the golden-orange color used on the packaging is on the outline (the stroke) of the show logo, as well as the bottom edge of a bar running across the top. Teal is heavily featured. The episode titles are listed in a font Iíd expect to see on That 70s Show, not Wings. But itís readable, which at the very least manages my biggest concern. Selected episodes are indicated by a pair of lighter teal half-wings on either side of the episode title. Play All is available at the bottom of the menu. There are no sub-menus or other menus.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video quality isnít horrible -- it wonít make you want to take a 50-pound sledgehammer to your television or any other such dangerous acts of symbolism...but itís not great. The colors appear dull and faded and a bit skewed towards the red colors. There is also a problem of a bit of a compression evident against walls and panels of solid colors. The audio is just fine -- itís nothing special, but itís also not problematic.
Good news on at least one front: The long-standard disclaimer about ďSome episodes may be edited from their broadcast versionsĒ (or something along those lines, I forget the exact wording) is GONE! But does that mean there are no edits, or does that just mean they stopped issuing the disclaimer? Read below for runtimes:
Whose Wife is it Anyway? -- 22:50
Twisted Sister -- 22:49
The Shrink -- 22:49
The Spark and How to Get It -- 22:48
The Waxman Cometh -- 22:49
Is That a Ten Foot Sandwich or Are You Just Glad to See Me? -- 22:49
Allís Fare -- 22:48
Miss Jenkins -- 22:29
If Itís Not One Thing, Itís Your Mother -- 22:49
The Wrong Stuff -- 22:49
Insanity Claus -- 22:48
Sheís...Baaack! -- 22:48
Have I Got a Couple for You -- 22:49
Fools Russian -- 22:49
Letís Call the Whole Thing Off: 22:34
Remembrance of Flings Past (Part 1): 22:50
Remembrance of Flings Past (Part 2): 22:49
Gone but not Faygotten: 22:18
Ex, Lies and Videotape: 22:43
Portrait of the Con Artist as a Young Man: 22:49
The Love Life and Times of Joe and Helen -- 22:48
A House to Die For -- 22:49
Nuptials Off -- 22:48
Et Tu, Antonio? -- 22:19
Boys Just Wanna Have Fun -- 22:48
Here It Is: The Big Wedding -- 22:48
None. New interviews or some audio commentaries would have been nice. Or how about adding some promos? CBS DVD did that for Family Ties and The Love Boat, so why not on this set? Bloopers also would have nice for this set.
I fully admit it; I think Iíve been spoiled by HDTV. I look at the picture quality on something like Wings, from under 15 years ago, and I canít help but notice all the flaws. Meanwhile, super-nice-quality HD shows come along, and make video quality that isnít horrible look that much worse.
But even removing the HD bias out of the equation, the video on Wings still has issues -- the video just seems off. The colors donít seem quite right, there is noise and compression issues, and lots of other small things that just hurt this video, even compared against other standard-definition fare from the same time period. Something is just wrong with the video on these Wings episodes. Itís not a catastrophic meltdown of video qualityÖ itís just something that isnít quite right. Compounding this setís problems is the new, cheaper packaging. Even with the appearance of being MORE sturdy, the packaging itself winds up being more fragile than the old slimcases. The uniform silver discs just wind up looking dull, and the whole presentation makes it appear as though all of the creative juices that go into a TV DVD package were sucked out.
In an attempt to show readers exactly why I score the way I score reviews, in addition to the pre-defined criteria, for the first time Iím presenting to you both Key Complaints and Key Compliments of the set. The most pressing issues on either side are tagged as [Major]. The little things are tagged with [Minor], while the rest are tagged [Medium].
[Major] The video quality noticeable issues with colors being somewhat off
[Major] The video quality appears overly sharp in quite a few places
[Medium] Against solid color backgrounds in the video, some noise is present from compression
[Medium] No special features
[Medium] The new packaging is more fragile
[Minor] The new uniform silver discs lack creativity
[Minor] The menus still lack any of the niceties of other DVD releases, such as animations or background music
[Minor] This season had a couple of episodes that just werenít very good.
[Medium] The audio is fairly good.
[Medium] This season had several episodes that were quite good
[Medium] No edits that I could find
[Minor] The menus, while still basic, are an improvement in the readability department
Overall, this set has several issues which may serve to dissuade some fans of the show from picking up this set, if they havenít already. The video has issues -- a known factor through nearly all Wings DVDs. The menus are more readable now, but still fairly basic. The new problem is with the packaging. Itís generic, and itís fragile, and neither is a good thing. Recommended, but only because the majority of the season is still good to great TV -- even if there are a few stinkers this season.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 2.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 2.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Final Score: 3/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 03/30/08
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