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Dream On - Seasons 1 & 2



DVD Release Date: October 12, 2004 (Universal Home Video)
color, approx. 12 HRs. 33 Mins.
MSRP: $59.98
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 29 (plus the series pilot)
Language and Subtitles: English, English Closed Captioning, Subtitles in Spanish or French
Special Features: Introduction by Executive Producer John Landis


HBO presents their cult adult comedy about dreamer Martin Tupper, whose life is full of colorful characters. Divorced and living with his growing teenage son, still friends with his ex-wife, and constantly looking for dates, but without a clue how to relate to women. Working as a book editor, with a ditsy, headstrong secretary, who cramps his style as often as helping him. The series is crammed full of hundreds of clips from all manner of old films, used as metaphors for Martin's reactions. Release includes the original, unedited HBO version of the series, which won HBO its first Emmy.

Dream On premiered in 1990, and was Executive Produced/Produced by John Landis and the future Friends production team of Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. The show would run for 6 seasons and produce 120 episodes.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Brian Benben, Chris Demetral, Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me), Denny Dillon, Jeff Joseph (early episodes), and Dorien Wilson (later episodes) star in this show that featured snippets of imagination shown coming to life, long before other shows appropriated the concept. Memorable episodes included "The First Episode," (Pilot) in which Martin Tupper, New York book editor and product of the first television generation, faces a crisis: his ex-wife-to-be, Judith, is demanding that he sign their divorce papers so that she can re-marry. In "Sole Sister," Martin has to come to terms with his sister who dates his best friend, who is black. The second season began with a one hour episode called "The Second Greatest Story Ever Told," in which Martin falls for an actress. There are numerous guest stars and cameos in this episode. Catherine O'Hara directed "And Your Little Dog, Too," in which a new boss (Michael McKean) threatens Martin's job. Cousin Phil attempts to score with Toby in "The 37-Year Itch." Martin and Eddie smoke marijuana that they find in Jeremy's room in the very funny episode: "Calling the Kettle Black."

Notable guest stars included in the 2nd season opener, "The Second Greatest Story Ever Told," were Fran Drescher, Tom Berenger, David Bowie, Mimi Rogers, Sylvester Stallone, Ricardo Montalban, and Yvonne DeCarlo. Dan Castellaneta (voice actor on The Simpsons) appeared in "The 37-Year Itch." Martin Mull appeared as Martin's therapist in "Futile Attraction." Kathy Kinney (Mimi on The Drew Carey Show) plays a stalker of Martin in "Play Melville For Me." Sitcom regulars Ja'net DuBois and Mindy Cohn appeared in "Toby or Not Toby."


This five-disc set includes all 29 episodes from the first 2 seasons. Season 1 had episodes 1-14 and season 2 had episodes 15-29. The outer DVD cover art features a large photo of Brian Benben with various scenes from the episodes in a tv set. The back of the box has some other, smaller photos and a description of the show. The main DVD box slides out from the left. The inner box is very nicely designed and folds out to display the discs. There are numerous photos featured, as well as quotes from various newspapers describing the show. The episode titles are listed and sorted by disc. Disc 1 has a photo of Brian Benben and contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 has Denny Dillon with episodes 8-14, Disc 3 has Michael McKean and episodes 15-18, Disc 4 has Wendie Malick and episodes 19-23, and Disc 5 has a photo of the 2nd Eddie Charles, who was played by Dorien Wilson, and episodes 24-28. Episode 15 is a one hour episode, so that's why you see the total number of episodes on the set as 29 with this episode being counted as two.

Menu Design and Navigation:

When you first play the first disc, there are previews for some other Universal DVD releases including Quantum Leap: Season 2, Magnum P.I.: Season 1, Law & Order: Season 14, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 5, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Season 3.

The main menu features the theme music playing in the background with the top half of the screen playing various clips from the series and the DVD options at the bottom of the screen. There is a Play All button, Episode Index, and Languages option. When you select Episode Index, there is a sub-menu that shows a still image from the episode with the title and short summary. There is a scenes option that has 4 images from the episode. There a 4 chapter stops per episode. The Universal main logo sequence is played at the beginning of every episode, and there is no way to skip it even if you use the Play All button.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality of this set is excellent. The video is presented in full frame 1.33:1, while the audio is in English Dolby Digital 2.0. Some of the older black and white clips look a little grainy depending on the original source. All episodes appear to be unedited, running anywhere from 23-29 minutes. I think it was common for HBO shows at the time to run various lengths depending on how long the episode submitted was each week.

Special Features:

The only special feature is a 7-minute introduction by executive producer John Landis. He talks about how they used the black and white footage from old movies and tv shows to illustrate Martin's thoughts. He also discusses the casting of the show and that 2 different actors played the part of Eddie Charles. Dream On was a pioneer on cable with the profanity, nudity, and violence he mentions. Finally, he talks about the numerous guest stars and reads from a list while a still image of the person is shown. There was quite a bit of information offered in 7 minutes. I'm surprised though that they didn't include any commentaries with John Landis or members of the cast. Perhaps, they are saving them for any future releases.

Final Comments:

Overall, this was a very slickly produced set that is really only lacking some extras such as episode audio commentaries or interviews with the cast. Dream On was a pioneer of sorts for HBO and paved the way for later comedies such as The Larry Sanders Show, Sex and the City, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show featured some very clever writing and a talented cast, and let's be honest the nudity and strong language was a draw to some people. The use of old black and white clips to illustrate Martin's thoughts was very innovative and gave a unique touch to the series. Hey, whatever happened to Brian Benben?

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.4/5
Special Features: 3.0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 10/12/04

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