TITLE: GROWING PAINS - THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (WBSHOP.com)
Release Date: April 14, 2015 (Warner Archive)
Color / 1988-1989
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 529 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
The Seavers are back again, and this time, they're adding to the family! In the fourth season of Growing Pains, we have the birth of a Seaver and Jason gets a stepfather (whether he wants it or not). Along the way, we see Mike trying to deal with the trials and tribulations of what happens in the real world, after high school graduation. Meanwhile, Carol is also growing up, getting ready to go to college, and even has a new boyfriend named Sandy (Matthew Perry)... a relationship that ends in a very special episode that could be described as one of the saddest episodes of a sitcom ever. And Ben is somehow shooting into puberty, and facing all of the consequences of that.
Like the third season, this release is a Warner Archive release, which means that you will only be able to order it from the select online retailers.
In the third season, we left off with Mike graduating college and Maggie expecting a baby. In this season, we begin with Ben wanting to ask a girl (played by Candace Cameron, who was actually starting her second season of Full House at the time) to a Halloween party. A new Seaver enters the world in "Birth of a Seaver." In the two-part episode "Family Ties," Mike has to make a choice: does he want to be Jason's tenant or family member? Jason's mother, Irma, returns from a cruise in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?," and she brings everybody gifts that they really don't care for... but Jason is especially not happy with his. Carol could be the homecoming queen in "Homecoming Queen." In "Nude Photos," Mike is being honored for his work in a photography class, so why doesn't he want his family to know about this honor?
Ben will do whatever it takes to get a girl in "Ben's First Kiss." In "The Nanny," Maggie is ready to go back to work, but first somebody has to be at home to take care of Chrissy... and it doesn't take her long to worry about what the nanny could be doing with Jason. Mike and Julie end up together and alone for the night in "Mandingo." Carol meets a new guy at the library (played by Matthew Perry, in his first appearance as Sandy) in "In Carol We Trust." Maggie is about to win an award in "Mom of the Year," but an important news story about a garbage strike might get in the way of that (look out for a cameo by Robin Thicke in this episode). Things aren't going so well for Boner in college in "Semper Fidelis," so he does what he thinks will work best: he joins the Marines. In "Feet of Clay," Ben finds out the ugly truth about his favorite rock star (played by Brad Pitt).
Jason and Maggie's anniversary doesn't go so well in "Anniversary From Hell." In "Fortunate Son," Mike gets a new job at a convenience store, but when he starts to get preferential treatment from his boss (Dick Van Patten), he begins to suspect it could have something to do with the fact that he is white and his coworkers are not. Carol and Ben are both punished for the same offense in "Double Standard," but they don't exactly get the same punishment. Carol is determined to fail a college interview in "The Recruiter," and part of the scheme involves Mike hiring a homeless man to do some role playing. Richard Sanders guest stars in "Show Ninety: Who Knew?," where Jason's parent/teacher conference with Mike's psychology professor doesn't go so well. The series takes on the issue of drunken driving in a very serious manner in "Second Chance." The season ends with the two part episode "The Looooove Boat," where the entire family goes on a wedding cruise, not to mention a bombshell that Mike and Julie manage to drop on the family.
1. "Fool for Love" (24:08)
2. "Birth of a Seaver" (24:12)
3. "Family Ties (Part 1)" (23:56)
4. "Family Ties (Part 2)" (24:27)
5. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" (24:25)
6. "Homecoming Queen" (24:13)
7. "Nude Photos" (24:16)
8. "Ben's First Kiss" (24:18)
9. "The Nanny" (24:21)
10. "Mandingo" (24:23)
11. "In Carol We Trust" (24:20)
12. "Mom of the Year" (24:23)
13. "Semper Fidelis" (24:20)
14. "Feet of Clay" (23:37)
15. "Anniversary From Hell" (23:54)
16. "Fortunate Son" (22:54)
17. "Double Standard" (23:24)
18. "The Recruiter" (23:11)
19. "Show Ninety - Who Knew?" (23:53)
20. "Second Chance" (23:46)
21. "The Looooove Boat (Part 1)" (23:28)
22. "The Looooove Boat (Part 2)" (23:51)
The packaging of the set is just like the third season, with the DVDs coming packaged in a standard Viva case (but with a yellow color scheme this time). There is a cast photo on the cover, though no Chrissy, and on the back, there is a description of the season and another cast photo (this one does include Chrissy). The three discs inside the case all have the series logo and episode titles printed on them.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Unfortunately, there is one really major flaw on Disc 1. If you play an episode on the disc, you would expect to return back to the main menu (or any menu, for that matter) once the episode has finished playing. That doesn't happen on this set. So, if that doesn't happen, then you would expect to go into the next episode. That doesn't happen either. In fact, on this set, if you decide to play an episode, you better hope that you love that episode, because it will loop forever. What if you hit the menu button on your remote? You are returned to the beginning of your episode. There is literally no way of accessing the main menu on this set after choosing an episode without ejecting the disc and starting over, and that presents an even bigger challenge with DVD players that are capable of remembering where you left off on the disc. It is a pretty bad defect, and I'm not sure how it made it past quality control. Fortunately, Discs 2 and 3 are just fine.
Other than that, the menus are fine. They're very plain, and just have the series logo, a cast photo (same as the one on the cover), and a listing of episodes, but they look fine. It is just a shame that they don't work fine. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality is decent on this set, but it is nothing that is very impressive. There seems to have been minimal efforts to clean the series up and to make everything look good, and by that, I mean very minimal. Everything looks OK though. The audio is fine, with a Dolby Digital Stereo track. There are no subtitles or closed-captions on this set.
The set has no special features.
Despite the disc authoring issues on Disc 1, I'm glad that we have more of the series on DVD. It has always seemed like this series has been abandoned on DVD, but then we least suspect it, another release comes out. Now, we're more than halfway through the series, and some viewers would even argue that this was one of the last really good seasons of the series. While I still think the series had two good seasons after this (and even a few good episodes in the seventh season), this season had several of the classic elements of a "jump the shark" season: Mike already graduated from high school, puberty hit Ben like a rock, Carol was going off to college, and of course, a new baby in the family. This was also the last season of the series before Kirk Cameron started taking the series as some sort of hostage. Most notably, Julie McCullough began to play the role of Julie in this season and it seemed that she was going to become the next big star on the series... until Kirk Cameron demanded that she be fired. And of course, there were tons of "very special episodes" this season, particularly the "Second Chance" episode. In a way, this season is like the perfect example of everything that a sitcom of the 80s had to offer.
I'm hopeful that we see the remaining three seasons released on DVD. Fans of the series have been waiting entirely too long between seasons, and I'm hopeful that this is not a pattern that continues for the rest of the series. While we're at it, it would also be nice to see the spinoff Just the Ten of Us released on DVD as well. For now, though, it is great to see that Warner Archive hasn't completely forgotten about fans of classic sitcoms.
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: 2.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/28/15
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