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Dharma & Greg - Season One



DVD Release Date: June 13, 2006 (20th Century Fox)
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 3 (Double-Sided)
Number of Episodes: 23
Running Time: Aprrox. 500 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English Stereo or Spanish Stereo; English, Spanish, and French Subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: 3 Audio Commentaries ("Pilot," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father," "The Official Dharma & Greg Episode of the 1998 Winter Olympics") by Jenna Elfman, Mimi Kennedy and Alan Rachins; "When Worlds Collide: The Dharma & Greg Story" Featurette; Post-Show Vanity Cards - Hilarious Remarks from Co-Creator Chuck Lorre; "Reaching Your Inner Dharma" Interactive Game; Bloopers/Outtakes (3 Easter Eggs)


When free-spirited yoga instructor Dharma Finkelstein meets conservative attorney Greg Montgomery, it's love at first sight. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no love in the air when Dharma's hippie parents and Greg's blue-blood establishment parents finally meet after their children have already married at a drive-thru chapel in Reno. With friends and family all suggesting that a quick annulment would be best, it's no surprise that the couple begins to second-guess their impulsive nuptials. But it's soon evident that nothing can stand in the way of true love!

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Dharma & Greg premiered on ABC on September 24, 1997. It was one of the new hits of the 1997 fall season - finishing in a tie for 25th place in the Nielsens with a 9.5 rating. It shared a People's Choice Award for Favorite New Television Comedy Series with Veronica's Closet. Jenna Elfman received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She was nominated 2 other times. In addition, she was nominated for a Golden Globe twice - winning in 1999. The series ran for 5 season from 1997-2002. A total of 119 episodes were produced. Dharma & Greg starred Jenna Elfman as Dharma Finkelstein, Thomas Gibson as Greg Montgomery, Alan Rachins as Larry Finkelstein, Mimi Kennedy as Abby O'Neill, Mitchell Ryan as Edward Montgomery, Susan Sullivan as Kitty Montgomery, Joel Murray as Pete Cavanaugh, and Shae D'lyn as Jane.

From what I've read, fans seem to think the first two seasons were the best. Memorable Season 1 episodes included the "Pilot" - When free-spirited Dharma Finkelstein sees Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Montgomery in the subway, it's love at first sight -- much to the dismay of their parents! Dharma decides to throw a party so the in-laws can meet one another, but the parents can't agree on a party location that everyone finds suitable in "And the In-Laws Meet." Although Dharma panics when the FBI runs a background check on her hippie parents, the real shocker comes from Greg's side of the family in "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father." Realizing her husband is unhappy, Dharma encourages Greg to quit hhis job and choose a career based on what he really enjoys in life in "You Want Fries With That?". While Greg and his drunken buddies catch a flight to Tahoe to go bobsledding, Dharma attempts to make Kitty see that turning 50 isn't so bad in "The Official Dharma & Greg Episode of the 1998 Winter Olympics." In "Much Ado During Nothing," Dharma and Greg decide to make love on the steps of the courthouse while the rest of the city is home watching the final episode of "Seinfeld."

Notable guest stars in Season 1 included Jon Cryer as Brian in "Shower the People You Love With Love." John Byner appeared as Reverend James in "And Then There's the Wedding." Yeardley Smith had a recurring role as Marlene, Greg's acerbic secretary. She made her first appearance in "Yoga and Boo Boo." Bill Maher appeared as himself in "Mr. Montgomery Goes to Washington." Drew Carey guest starred as Dharma's Fantasy Man in "Instant Dharma." Laurie Metcalfe played Spyder in "Instant Dharma." Dick O'Neill appeared as Mr. Waring in "You Want Fries With That?". Paul Sand guest starred as Salazar and Kathryn Joosten played the Elderly Woman in "Old Yeller." Kathryn would later have a recurring role as Claire. Legendary Lakers basketball announcer Chick Hearn appeared as himself in "The Second Coming of Leonard." Alice Ghostley guest starred as Mrs. Binns and Leslie Jordan was Kenny in "Dharma & Greg's First Romantic Valentine's Day Weekend." Jane Seymour appeared as herself in "Dharma's Tangled Web." Dick Clark appeared as himself in "Invasion of the Buddy Snatchers."


This three-disc set includes all 23 episodes from the first season (1997-1998). The DVD cover art features a nice photo of Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson. They sure made a great looking couple. The Dharma & Greg logo is in the center, and the tag line is listed in the top right: "He's old school. She's new age. Together, they're just right." On the back of the box, there are 3 smaller color photos from the cast, including a wedding photo. A summary of the set, a listing of the special features, and the DVD specs are listed. Small solo photos of Thomas and Jenna are on the spine of the box. Two thin, black slim cases slide out from the right of the outer cardboard box. They feature the same photo of Jenna and Thomas as the cover art. There are small photos, episode titles, episode summaries, and original airdates on the back of the slim cases. They have an orange background. The episodes with audio commentaries are noted, and the special features are listed on the second slim case. Inside the slim cases, there is just the black background of the case. Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox has used 3 double-sided discs in this set so there is no disc artwork. This seemed unnecessary to me. They very easily could have put about 6 episodes on 4 discs. Double-sided discs are much more prone to scratches and smudges, which can affect the playing of episodes. Disc 1/Side A has episodes 1-4, Disc 1/Side B has episodes 5-8, Disc 2/Side A has episodes 9-12, Disc 2/Side B has episodes 13-16, Disc 3/Side A has episodes 17-20, and Disc 4 has episodes 21-23 and the special features.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are designed very well and are easy to navigate. The main menus feature a montage of video clips from the show, accompanied by the catchy theme. Each disc has a different set of clips, and they loop after awhile. The backgrounds look similar to what you see in the opening credits. Episode titles are listed vertically in the lower right side of the screen. There is a little black & white yin and yang icon next to the episode you highlight that turns blue upon your selection. When you select an episode, it takes you to a sub-menu that features options for playing the episode. The sub-menus feature a still image from each episode. There are options for Scene Selection, Language Selection, and Commentary (for 3 episodes). There are 5 scene selections per episode, and they feature different images from the episodes in different pink or green bordered bubbles. Language Selection has a lava lamp theme. You can select the Lanaguages (English Stereo or Spanish Stereo) and Subtitles (English, Spanish and French). On the 3rd Disc/Side B, a Special Features option is given. That sub-menu features Jenna Elfman. Well-placed chapter stops are available within the episodes. No Play All button is offered.

Video and Audio Quality:

Dharma & Greg is a more recent show than I thought. I was thinking it was 3-4 years earlier, but the show premiered in 1997. I've caught the show a few times in local syndication and on FX in recent years, and the episodes on the DVD set look about the same. The show is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Dharma & Greg was shot on film, and the episodes look excellent. Colors are bright and the picture is sharp and clean. There are no more than 4 episodes per disc, so there are no major compression issues. The majority of the episodes run 21-22 minutes in length and appear to be unedited. There are a few that are under 21 minutes that are shorter by 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, but I don't know if anything was edited out of them or if any music was replaced (there is nothing on the packaging to indicate anything was changed). I have no original ABC episodes to compare. Look for the Chuck Lorre Productions vanity cards at the end of the episodes. These were shown at the end of the episodes for about 2 seconds. He was the show co-creator and one of the executive producers, and he would give his thoughts and personal beliefs. You can pause to read them, or there is a special features segment where they are listed in larger text over several screens. He has all the vanity cards from Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men listed on his website. The vanity cards are followed by logos for 4 to 6 Foot Productions and 20th Century Fox Television.

The audio is presented in English stereo, as it was broadcast originally. Spanish Stereo is also available. I didn't notice any major problems with the audio. It is at a good volume level, and the dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The laugh track was overdone a bit at times. I'm not sure if they sweetened it or if that was the real audience's reaction. I loved the catchy theme music and music score by Dennis C. Brown. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish and French.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including running times:

Disc 1/Side A
1. Pilot (09/24/97) (22:52)
2. And the In-Laws Meet (10/01/97) (22:19)
3. Shower the People You Love With Love (10/08/97) (22:17)
4. And Then There's the Wedding (10/15/97) (21:27)

Disc 1/Side B
5. The Ex-Files (10/22/97) (21:47)
6. Yoga and Boo Boo (10/29/97) (21:53)
7. Indian Summer (11/05/97) (21:31)
8. Mr. Montgomery Goes to Washington (11/12/97) (21:13)

Disc 2/Side A
9. He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father (11/19/97) (22:08)
10. The First Thanksgiving (11/26/97) (21:53)
11. Instant Dharma (12/10/97) (21:33)
12. Haus Arrest (12/17/97) (22:08)

Disc 2/Side B
13. You Want Fries With That? (01/07/98)
14. Old Yeller (01/21/98) (21:33)
15. The Second Coming of Leonard (02/04/98)
16. Dharma & Greg's First Romantic Valentine's Day Weekend (02/11/98)

Disc 3/Side A
17. The Official Dharma & Greg Episode of the 1998 Winter Olympics (02/25/98) (22:08)
18. Daughter of the Bride of Finkelstein (03/04/98) (21:33)
19. Dharma's Tangled Web (03/11/98) (22:03)
20. The Cat's Out of the Bag (04/01/98) (22:02)

Disc 3/Side B
21. Spring Forward, Fall Down (04/29/98) (20:32)
22. Much Ado About Nothing (05/13/98) (20:57)
23. Invasion of the Buddy Snatcher (05/20/98) (21:22)

Special Features:

There is an impressive amount of special features that offer some variety. 3 Audio Commentaries by Jenna Elfman, Mimi Kennedy and Alan Rachins are available. These are very lively and fun. They give a lot of interesting trivia facts and seem to remember a lot about the episodes. I would have liked to see about 3 more commentaries and have some with other cast members. There is a featurette that has new interviews with many of the cast members and sections for post-show vanity cards and an interactive trivia game. Although it isn't mentioned on the packaging, there are even a few hidden Easter Eggs for bloopers/outtakes. I found 3 of them. It was a bit disappointing to see that Thomas Gibson didn't participate for the audio commentaries or interviews.

Here is the breakdown by disc:

Disc 1/Side A:

Pilot Commentary by Jenna Elfman, Mimi Kennedy and Alan Rachins - They give some interesting trivia like who the little girl was who played the younger Dharma. They talk about the opening credits, James Burrows, Thomas Gibson, the costumes and hair, Susan Sullivan and Mitchell Ryan, Joel Murray, and various other topics.

Disc 1/Side B:

Blooper/Outtake from The Ex-Files - This is a hidden Easter Egg. Select the episode from the main menu. When you are on the episode sub-menu, push the up arrow until "Yin" is highlighted in white. You can then see a 12 second blooper with Mimi Kennedy and Jenna Elfman. It appears to be from a VHS tape source and not DVD quality like the episodes, but it was fun to see.

Disc 2/Side A:

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father Commentary by Jenna Elfman, Mimi Kennedy and Alan Rachins - Mimi gave a real-life story about the FBI. They talk about how the apartment was adjusted from the pilot episode and how they moved in a later season. They discuss their filming schedule, Jenna's pugs, Jenna's logic monologues, and a few other interesting trivia bits and stories.

Disc 2/Side B:

Blooper/Outtake from The Second Coming of Leonard - This is another hidden Easter Egg. Select the episode from the main menu. When you are on the episode sub-menu, push the arrow key up until "Yang" is highlighted. You can watch a 13 second blooper with Mimi Kennedy, Alan Rachins and Jenna Elfman.

Disc 3/Side A:

The Official Dharma & Greg Episode of the 1998 Winter Olympics Commentary by Jenna Elfman, Mimi Kennedy and Alan Rachins - This was a hysterical episode that they laughed a lot about. They talked a little about product placement, how they could say one word but not another, Alan's ponytail, The Right Stuff type sequence, and Dharma & Greg's magic moments.

Disc 3/Side B:

"When Worlds Collide: The Dharma & Greg Story" Featurette - This is a 10 1/2 minute retrospective feature that has new interviews with many of the cast members. Interviews include Executive Producer Chuck Lorre, Executive Producer Dottie Zicklin, Jenna Elfman, Mimi Kennedy, Alan Rachins, Susan Sullivan, and Mitchell Ryan. They talk about how the show was developed for Jenna for ABC, how Dharma and other characters were developed, the casting of various people, and how it was like working with each other. It was pretty interesting but not as detailed as it could it have been.

Post-Show Vanity Cards - Hilarious Remarks from Co-Creator Chuck Lorre - He started a trend by writing individual vanity cards for the end of some episodes of Dharma & Greg. These vanity cards only aired for about 2 seconds each week. Now you can view these fan favorites from Season One without having to hit the pause button. There are 11 1/2 vanity cards available. I think they re-used some during Season 1, but all episodes in other seasons seemed to have them. It was a unique idea by him, and they are funny to read.

"Reaching Your Inner Dharma" Interactive Game - This is a trivia quiz. You are given 10 questions. You choose the answer that is most like something Dharma would do or say. When you answer correctly, a clip from an episode that has the answer is given. I managed to get 8 out of 10 after watching 3 episodes and the other special features, so I guess I am at peace with my inner Dharma.

Blooper/Outtake Montage - This is the third and final hidden Easter Egg. Go to the Special Features menu. Push the up arrow and you'll see highlighted hearts above Dharma & Greg. You can view about 27 seconds worth of bloopers/outtakes. There are 5 of them of varying video quality.

Final Comments:

Overall, I think Dharma & Greg fans will be pleased with this first season release. It seems like 20th Century Fox has been considering it for DVD for the last 2 years or so. It has something to offer for old and new fans of the show. The audio commentaries were pretty interesting and had some good bits of trivia, and the other special features were informative. The menus are very attractive. I want to see more bloopers! There was less than a minute available on this set, so there must be more out there. The only downsides I see to this set are the lack of any involvement by Thomas Gibson and the double-sided discs. Hopefully they can get him to participate for some future releases. Jenna and Thomas had some real good chemistry. It wouldn't have worked if they didn't have that spark. It also had an excellent supporting cast. I thought all of the parents were hilarious and added a lot to the show.

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

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

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 06/07/06

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