TITLE: HOUSE OF PAYNE - VOLUME ONE - EPISODES 1-20
DVD Release Date: December 4, 2007 (Lionsgate Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 20
Running Time: 440 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English and Spanish subtitles
Special Features: “The House That Tyler Perry Built” featurette
How would you like three generations of your family living under one roof? Sound chaotic? Well it is when you like in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne! LaVan Davis and Cassi Davis (a married couple in real life) play Curtis and Ella Payne, a couple is finally alone at home and without kids... at least until a fire causes his nephew and his nephew’s kids to have to move in with them. Put it all together and you’ve got the family sitcom of the new millennium--we haven’t seen many so far anyway!
The series is a little bit (though not too much) like Family Matters in that it presents the elements of a large family living together, though there isn’t an Urkel on the show (fortunately or unfortunately depending upon how you want to look at that). However, this show isn’t just all laughs, it also touches on some serious issues... only in the House of Payne!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Okay, this set is a little misleading... it is called Volume 1, but actually, it is just the first 20 episodes that aired on TBS. The 10 episodes that aired on local stations in syndication are NOT on this set... or any set for that matter. My guess is that these are just lost episodes that are going to be gone, forever perhaps. I know nothing at all about the first 10 episodes, as I have never seen them, but it appears that the series is not really dependent upon them, as the episode “I Can Cry If I Want To” focuses on CJ’s house burning down, forcing him to move in with Curtis and Ella. CJ is concerned that his wife is cheating on him in “More Than Meets the Eye.” CJ catches his son wearing a tutu in “Down and Outted,” could he be gay?
Ann-Marie Johnson guest stars in “Surprise, Surprise,” where Janine’s parents come to make a surprise visit. However, it could be bad news in the next episode, where Janine and CJ could be losing custody of their kids in “Father Knows Best.” The family worries that Malik could have OCD in “Wax On, Wax Off.”
CJ finds out that he may have fathered another child in the two-part episode “Paternity and Fraternity.” Uh oh. Curtis will do anything to get out of jury duty in “And Justice for All.”
There really isn’t anything all that impressive about the packaging. Essentially, we have an outer box with the family sitting on the couch on the cover, and once you remove this outer box, you find a case inside, with the exact same artwork. It is one of those thick Amaray style cases (think about the packaging used for ALF, for those familiar with that set). Inside, three discs can be found, as well as a booklet advertising a bunch of Tyler Perry movies on DVD. The back of the box lists all of the episodes and which disc they can be found on. Disc 1 and Disc 2 each contain 7 episodes and Disc 3 contains 6 episodes as well as the bonus feature.
Menu Design and Navigation:
There is nothing that impressive here either. Basically the main menu on each disc has the family sitting on the couch in the background with the options Play All Episodes, Episode Selections, and Set Up. When you choose Episode Selections, you get a set of screens with the family sitting on the couch (AGAIN) with three pictures on the wall above them... that play videos from the episodes. There is no scene selection menu, but chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
For some reason, and I don’t know why this is necessarily, I wasn’t all that impressed with the video quality of the series. I was expecting something pretty much flawless for a newer series such as this one, but that wasn’t quite what I got. Still, it was mostly pretty good. My biggest complaint though is that the video is presented in full screen. Seriously, how often do we find modern sitcoms on DVD presented in full screen? Almost never. I have a feeling that this is probably how TBS airs the episodes (I’ve never seen it there, so I wouldn’t know), and that is probably why it was put in full screen on DVD, but pretty much every modern show looks better in widescreen on DVD. There really aren’t any complaints about the audio, though there is nothing to necessarily brag about either, with it being presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. English and Spanish subtitles as well as closed-captioning can all be found on the set. I would assume that the episodes are unedited, with each one running at 21:30, almost precisely (only a second or two of variation per episode).
There is one little lonely special feature, called “The House That Tyler Perry Built.” This is almost all clips from the episodes that are on the set, with very short cutaways to Tyler Perry talking about developing the series, and mostly where he got the idea for the series from. This runs at 12 minutes. For a more recent series like this one, I’d really expect more special features, but unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be... at least not this time.
To be fair, this is the first time I’ve ever seen the series, as it isn’t exactly one that leaps out at me as a show I’d particularly enjoy. However, it isn’t a horrible series and given the ratings that the series gets on TBS, it is obvious that there are plenty of fans of the series out there. It is also somewhat interesting in how it is somewhat of a throwback to the ‘80s style sitcoms about families. These are hard to come by in these days where sitcoms such as The Office tend to be the hits on the air. Fans of family sitcoms may just want to try this series out, and of course, fans of the series will definitely want this set.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 12/05/07
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