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Hearts Afire - The Complete First Season



DVD Release Date: August 2, 2005 (Image Entertainment)
MSRP: $39.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 23 half hours (21 episodes)
Running Time: 540 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 27 minutes
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles: None
Special Features: “Bloopers, Outtakes and Montages” on disc 4


One of the best ever written seasons of a sitcom is coming to DVD! Hearts Afire – The Complete First Season is full of laughs, witty dialogues, and an outstanding cast. Hearts Afire aired on CBS from 1992-95. The show was a top 20 hit in its first season lead by John Ritter, Markie Post and Billy Bob Thornton. Ritter played John Hartman, a senator’s aide and a divorced dad living with his two kids. Post plays Georgie Anne Lahti, the new press secretary, who is sexy and sassy. The two heat up the screen in this first season so much that CBS censors and religious groups were all over the show and the network. The rest of the cast includes Thornton’s Billy Bob Davis, as John’s best buddy; his wife played by Wendie Jo Sperber; Beth Broderick plays the dumb receptionist Dee Dee Starr; and George Gaynes plays Senator Smithers. Ed Asner has a recurring role as George Lahti, Georgie Anne’s father.

The show was created & produced by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women). Executive producers include Linda’s then husband, Harry Thomason and John Ritter’s business partner, Robert M. Myman. As you can see, this is a stellar cast and crew. The first season is just sharp and well-written. Too bad the show was ruined after this season due to the censors and religious groups. Some of the things that caused this to happen were: a couple having an affair in a household with children around, relationship between the Senator and his receptionist, Hartman’s ex-wife is now a lesbian with a lover, and Georgie Anne’s smoking early on.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

This whole season was just perfect. I will break down the best of the best. “Bees Can Sting You, Watch Out” is where it all started and it just a brilliant hour; “Three Men and a Bed” is where all the men are having trouble with the women and are forced to share a bed; “John’s Stallion” is where we meet Georgie’s dad; “First Time” is the one where John and Georgie have sex for the first of many times; “Significant Others” is the one where we meet John’s ex-wife and her new lesbian lover; “Everybody Loves My Baby” has the guys dressing up as the Marvelettes for a talent show; “Conversations with My Shrink” is probably the best written episode of the series; “While the Thomasons Slept” is the one where the boys take Bush’s private phone book; “Never Play Touch Football with the Kennedys” has the Senator asking John and Georgie to write a speech for him; “Cold Feet” is the one where something big happens; and “Class Reunion” is the one with John and Billy Bob’s 25th high school reunion.

Guys be alert, Markie Post is well dressed throughout this first season. Especially in “Bees Can Sting, You Watch Out Now” (black dress), “First Time” (another black dress), “Conversations with My Shrink” (nice gold dress), “Miss Starr Dates Georgie Anne’s Pop” (nice blue dress at the end), “Cold Feet” (white prom dress) and “Class Reunion (another black dress at the end).

The guests include, George Hamilton and Roger Clinton (“The Big Date”); Conchata Ferrell (“Significant Others” & “Conversations with My Shrink”); Jule Cobb (“Significant Others”); Robert Foxworth (“Conversations with My Shrink); Mary Ann Mobley (“The Fundamental Things Apply”); Hugh Rodham (“While the Thomasons Slept”); and Rita Moreno (“While the Thomasons Slept in the Lincoln Bedroom”).


The packaging is nice and creative. It is a nice digibook case. The case’s front cover has a photo of John holding Georgie on his back with the Presidential seal and the red, white & blue stars in the background=. The show’s logo, John & Markie’s names, and The Complete First Season marking are also present. A nice red, white, and blue color scheme is on this set. The back of the case has two small different screenshots from the first season: Billy Bob & John and the Senator, Billy Bob, & Dee Dee. The back also has a brief synopsis of the show. A special light red box is shown of the Special Feature found on this set. Another red box, this time a darker red, has the cast credits listed.

When we open the case once, we see a little booklet and disc one on the left side and disc two on the right side. And when we open the case a second time, we see disc three on the left and disc four on the right. The little booklet behind the disc one holder showcases episodes by disc with complete breakdown of the episode, with episode titles, synopsis and nice photos on the top. It is very well designed.

Each disc has the same photo & style. The same photo used on the cover of this set is used on the discs. Disc one holds episodes 1-6, disc two holds episodes 7-12, disc three holds episodes 13-18; disc four holds episodes 19-23 and the nice special feature.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menu screen is well designed, just like the packaging. It starts off with a nice photo of John and Georgie, the Capitol Building and the Hearts Afire wording, with the instrumental theme song playing in the background, and then it fades to the actual menu screen as the theme finishes off. The theme does not loop. On the menu screen itself, the episodes for the disc are listed. There is no play all option, but that is not a big problem with me at all, as I really never use it. When we select and episode, we are taken to a scene selection menu, where we can choose where to begin. On the half hour episodes, there are three selections and on the one hour episodes there are five. You can also use the chapter button on your remote control if you wish.

The navigation on each sub-menu and the main menu is very easy. The design is also quite nice and creative. Kudos to Image Entertainment!

Video and Audio Quality:

The video looks magnificent! If anyone has original copies from the CBS years, those are probably getting a bit dated, so this would be a wonderful improvement. It is also better than the rerun airings from USA Network in 2000. The audio is also very clear and in the original stereo. And what is even more cool is that the original “CBS StereoSound Where Available” tag is in tact in every episode underneath the show’s logo! That is very cool since we did not see this in syndication. Each episode runs on average about 23 minutes and 30 seconds, some more, some less. The one hour episodes run around 47 minutes. All the episodes are for sure the original network broadcast versions, so fans can take it easy and relax, if anyone was worried. The two one hour episodes are in their original one hour format, and not the two part syndicated format, which is astonishing news. Some other interesting notes, in the ending of the one hour pilot episode the “Next Week on Hearts Afire” preview is in tact! And for the episode following that, the preview from the pilot is also in tact. This is a wonderful job by Image Entertainment, Adam Productions and Mozark Productions on this aspect, as USA Network of course edited those two pieces out.

Hearts Afire is was well known for using music in episodes (in particular for the last scenes). Linda Bloodworth loved using music on her shows. She used music in her other series Designing Women, but nothing like this! Almost every episode had music this season. So people buying this set and fans would I’m sure like to know if the original music is in tact. The answer is … well, some of it is in tact. Melissa Pollak, who is a diehard Hearts Afire fan and has an extensive and VERY detailed episode guide, lists all the music for each episode (it is located here: So, I went through all the episodes and checked myself to see which music is there and what is replaced. First, let me tell you just some of the great music voices that were heard in the background. Music artists for Hearts Afire Season 1 include Percy Sledge, Bonnie Raitt, Gregory Abbott, Linda Ronstat, Aaron Neville, Joe Cocker, and even Roberta Flack and Peobo Bryson! So what was used and what was removed? If you all watched the show on USA Network in 2000, you’ll probably know what was used and removed, because whatever was removed on USA, is also removed on this set. Here is the complete breakdown on what music each episode had originally, and a little note saying if it was in tact on the DVD or NOT:

#3 "The Big Date" - First Brother Roger Clinton singing the series title song, Earth, Wind, and Fire's "That's the Way of the World" at the end of the episode (not really music, but it is sung live, and is in tact on DVD/USA Network).

#4 "Three Men and a Bed" - Percy Sledge’s "When a Man Loves a Woman" in the last scene (is in tact on DVD/USA Network).

#6 "First Time" - Gregory Abbott's "Shake You Down" between the scene where John is shaving and mention of the missing snake (NOT on DVD or USA Network, and was replaced with background music); "Skinnamarink" song at the end (is in tact on DVD/USA Network).

#7 "Significant Others" - Bonnie Raitt's multiple grammy-award-winning hit tune, "Something to Talk About," is used effectively as background music in the last scene. (NOT on DVD or USA Network, replaced with background music).

#8 "Everybody Loves My Baby" – in the ending scene Joe Crocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" is heard (in tact on DVD/USA Network).

#9 "Conversations with my Shrink” - "Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in the last scene (in tact on DVD/USA).

#10 "The Fundamental Things Apply" - Mary Ann Mobley sings "As Time Goes By" (not really music, but it is sung live, in tact on DVD/USA Network).

#12 "Everyday's a Holiday"- "White Christmas" (sung by Bing Crosby) in the last scene (NOT on DVD or USA Network, replaced with background music).

#14 "Trivial Pursuit" - The episode ends with a few bars of the theme music from the movie PSYCHO. (NOT on DVD or USA Network, ending theme plays instead).

#15 "Never Play Touch Football with the Kennedys" - The song used in the last scene is "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby"(NOT on DVD or USA Network, replaced with background music).

#16 "Miss Starr Dates Georgie Ann's Pop" - at the end Engelbert Humperdinck singing; the tune may be called "This Moment in Time." (NOT on DVD or USA Network, replaced with background music).

#17 "While the Thomasons Slept in the Lincoln Bedroom" - Earth, Wind, and Fire's "That's the Way of the World" -- is used as background music to the action in the closing moments of the show. (NOT on DVD or USA Network, replaced with the instrumental version instead).

#19/20 "Cold Feet" - Peabo Bryson/Roberta Flack song, "You're Looking Like Love to Me," used as background music (in tact on DVD/USA Network).

#23 "Class Reunion"- This episode has three songs. 1. While Georgie is getting ready for the party, Aretha Franklin's singing “Respect." 2. While John and Georgie are dancing and exchanging some of the most wonderful words in the entire series, Herb Alpert's "This Guy's in Love with You" is playing in the background. 3. When Jan Lindsay makes her entrance, the music switches to the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" which continues and slowly gets louder -- with the words "I'm in love; I couldn't leave her if I tried" -- over the freeze-frame of John and Georgie (all THREE are NOT on DVD or USA Network, all replaced with background music).

At least we get to hear Percy Sledge, Joe Crocker, Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, and Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack. I’m not that concerned that some of the original music is missing, as the episodes are unedited. So this is better than what USA Network aired. As for the closing theme, it seems about half the episodes or so used the instrumental theme and the others used the real theme "That's the Way of the World."

Special Features:

There is only one special feature on this set, but it is well worth watching! Quality over quantity, I say. The special feature is extensive bloopers, outtakes and montages from the show’s first season. The quality is not that great, because it is from a reel, but it is very watchable. It lasts over 27 minutes. I think this was used at the first season cast and crew Hearts Afire Christmas Party, because somewhere in there, there is a title shot saying “Merry Christmas from Hearts Afire.” Or maybe it was also used for the first season wrap party for the cast and crew. There is also video footage of the crew at first, and then the bloopers/outtakes come. This is something very rare and easy to watch. Thanks again to everyone involved on this set, for this wonderful bonus!

Final Comments:

Image Entertainment has first brought you a wonderful and rare show to DVD, and to top it off, they did a wonderful job. I know the music issue is probably not their fault, and would cost so much money, but I’m glad some music is in tact and that ALL the episodes are unedited. I’m also glad that the rare original stuff, such as the CBS StereoSound and the preview clips for the 2nd episode are in tact. The extra material was very good to watch.

What would I recommend for seasons 2 and 3? Basically the same thing, give us as much original music as possible, and all episodes unedited. I hope they have a blooper montage lying around for the next two seasons that would be nice to see again. I would also like maybe interviews or commentaries with Markie Post, Billy Bob Thornton or whoever else they can find from the show’s cast and crew. This first season is so well written and well played that I recommend everyone getting it. This is how a sitcom should be done. And the late legendary John Ritter is brilliant! Expect season two in November, but for now buy this set NOW!

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

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 07/29/05

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