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Designing Women - The Complete Fourth Season



Release Date: September 14, 2010 (Shout! Factory)
MSRP: $44.99
Packaging: Slimcases
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 27
Running Time: 600 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-captioned
Special Features: None


The real belles of Atlanta are back on DVD with The Complete Fourth Season of Designing Women! Join Julia, Suzanne, Mary Jo, Charlene, as well as Anthony and Bernice, for 27 more episodes of female empowerment, southern charm, and most importantly, hilarity. This time, Charlene is about to go into labor with her baby at any time (and eventually does, with a little help from Dolly Parton), Suzanne learns an important lesson about how beauty doesn’t last, Anthony is ready to graduate from college and gets shot by Suzanne over a trivia game, and Bernice may just be on the verge of being declared impotent... no wait, that is incompetent... I think! So put on the southern charm and get ready for the 1989-1990 season of this hit series.


Little pig, little pig, where have you been? That is what Suzanne wants to know when her pig runs away from home in “The Proxy Pig.” Julia goes on a date with a former classmate who is terminally ill in “One Night With You.” It turns out that there may have been an error in the judging in the 1975 Miss Georgia U.S. pageant in “There She Is,” and guess who may have not won after all? A canoeing trip goes all wrong in “Nightmare from Hee Haw.” The ladies get involved in a domestic abuse matter in “The Rowdy Girls,” but Suzanne is busy dressing up in blackface for an on-stage performance. Is Bernice incompetent? That is what her niece thinks in “Bernice’s Sanity Hearing.”

The title says it all in “Julia Gets Her Head Stuck in a Fence.” Suzanne’s weight becomes a heavy issue in the famous episode “They Shoot Fat Women, Don’t They?” Dolly Parton guest stars as herself in the hour-long episode “The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century,” where Charlene finally has her baby. Meanwhile, Suzanne is determined to exploit this birth to win a new car. The Sugarbakers have to decorate two houses--one for a wife and the other for the mistress--in “The Mistress.”

Suzanne is assaulted by animal rights activists in “The Fur Flies.” Can the women successfully negotiate buying a new van with a sleazy car dealer? Find out in “Oh, What a Feeling.” Richard Sanders guest stars in “Tornado Watch,” where a tornado hits Atlanta, but what hits the Sugarbaker house may be much worse than a tornado. Are the ladies macho enough to get a contract to redecorate a bowling alley? They hope so in “Tough Enough.” Charlene is worried that Bill is cheating on her in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Suzanne finds a new friend in “Suzanne Goes Looking for a Friend,” but as it turns out, the new friend is also a lesbian. Suzanne’s maid may be on the verge of getting deported in “Foreign Affairs,” but Anthony may be able to help by impersonating her! The ladies look back at their greatest moments in the clip show “Their Finest Hour.” Anthony is ready to graduate from college in “Anthony’s Graduation,” but a trivia competition with Suzanne accidentally ends with her shooting Anthony!

The episodes all appear to be unedited, with all original music intact and even the original Columbia Pictures Television logo on the end of each episode. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
“The Proxy Pig” (23:45)
“One Night With You” (23:18)
“There She Is” (23:17)
“Nightmare From Hee Haw” (23:14)
“The Girlfriend” (23:16)
“The Rowdy Girls” (23:23)
“Bernice’s Sanity Hearing” (23:08)

Disc 2:
“Julia Gets Her Head Stuck in a Fence” (22:41)
“Julia and Suzanne’s Big Adventure” (22:59)
“Manhunt” (22:40)
“They Shoot Fat Women, Don’t They?” (23:03)
“You’ve Got To Have Friends” (22:40)
“The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century” (47:02)
“The Mistress” (23:11)

Disc 3:
“The Fur Flies” (23:12)
“Oh, What a Feeling” (23:12)
“Anthony and Vanessa” (23:11)
“Payne Grows Up” (23:12)
“Tornado Watch” (23:12)
“Tough Enough” (23:19)
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (23:12)

Disc 4:
“Suzanne Goes Looking for a Friend” (23:14)
“Foreign Affairs” (23:23)
“Have Faith” (23:30)
“Their Finest Hour” (47:53)
“Anthony’s Graduation” (23:12)
“La Place Sans Souci” (23:12)


The packaging is very similar to the first three sets, only we have a purple color scheme this time. The cover art has a snapshot of the ladies with the Sugarbaker house below them, and on the back, we see an ensemble cast shot (but no Anthony!) with information about the fourth season. Inside, there are two slimcases, each containing two discs. The cover art for the case containing Discs 1 and 2 has Charlene and Julia, while the cover art for the case containing Discs 3 and 4 has Mary Jo and Suzanne on it. On the back of each slimcase, there are several snapshots from the episodes, along with a listing of all of the episodes on each disc and original airdates. But if you want to know more about each of the episodes, there is a nice episode booklet included too, that has original airdates, a brief description, guest stars, and production credits. It is just as nice as the booklets included on the previous releases. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-14, Disc 3 contains episodes 15-21, and Disc 4 contains episodes 22-27. Disc 1 has a snapshot of Julia on it, Disc 2 has a snapshot of Charlene, Disc 3 has a snapshot of Suzanne, and Disc 4 has a snapshot of Mary Jo.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus on the set are pretty much the same as the first three seasons. The main menu has the theme song playing with various videos from the episodes playing on the top half, and options of Play All and Episodes on the bottom of the screen, in a purple color scheme. Selecting Episodes takes you to a menu that lists all of the episodes contained on the disc, with a flower used as the cursor on the menu. There is no background music on this screen. There are no scene selection menus, but chapters are placed throughout each episode.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality on the set is definitely not going to impress anybody, as it appears to be a twenty year old series that has not really been remastered at all. However, the series has been preserved rather well, and the quality of the video and audio isn’t that bad at all. Mostly, the video just appears to be dated with a few color saturation issues. The audio is loud and clear on each episode, without any major flaws. Each episode is closed-captioned.

Special Features:

This set again lacks special features, which is incredibly disappointing. It would have been nice to have seen some sort of tribute to Dixie Carter, who recently passed away, on this set, but there is nothing of that sort on the set. Additionally, some commentaries or more interviews would be nice. Where are the creators of the series? This was one of their biggest series ever, and I would think that they would want to have more involvement with these sets. It would be nice to hear from Delta Burke, Jean Smart, Annie Potts, and Meshach Taylor as well.

Final Comments:

This may be a barebones set, but I’m not going to complain too much, because the quality of the set is (generally speaking) pretty good, and as far as I can tell, not a thing is edited from the original broadcasts of the episodes. That is always the most important thing about a series on DVD. This season was one of the best seasons of the series, and there is really only one more truly good season left of the series after this (although seasons 6 and 7 were good too, they hardly lived up to the greatness of the first five seasons). Hopefully, Shout! Factory will get all of the remaining seasons out soon and include some nice bonus features on them. Fans of ensemble comedies will love this series, and anybody who loves The Golden Girls and has never watched this series will want to check it out. It has a lot of similarities with The Golden Girls, although perhaps more dramatic incidents than can be found on The Golden Girls. But this DVD set is definitely designed for greatness, and it should definitely be part of your DVD collection.

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

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall Score: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 10/02/10

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