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Kate & Allie - Season One



DVD Release Date: May 2, 2006 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Color / 1984
MSRP: $29.95
Number of Discs: 1
Number of Episodes: 6 (7 including a season 2 bonus episode)
Running time: Approx. 142 minutes
Running time of Special Features: Approx. 65 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: "A Conversation with Susan Saint James and Bill Persky," "Gag Reel," "The Great 80s TV Flashback," bonus episode from second season.


The 1980s brought us many family sitcoms with "new types" of families--there were families where white parents adopted black children, families where the housekeeper became the "mother" of the family, families where the housekeeper became the "father" of the family even... while there are adoptions or housekeepers in Kate & Allie, it presented a new type of family, one that was brought together by two divorced women and their kids, kind of like a female version of The Odd Couple with kids.

Kate (Susan Saint James) and her daughter Emma (Ari Meyers) have lived in their New York City apartment together for a while, when "along comes a friend" named Allie (Jane Curtin), who was just recently divorced from her husband and moves from her cozy Connecticut home to Kate's apartment just to get by. Allie brings along with her both of her children, Chip (Frederick Koehler) and Jennie (Allison Smith), who quickly become accustomed to their "new family" (how realistic is that??).

Episodes Included / Notable Guest Stars:

Kate & Allie premiered on March 19, 1984--and back then, the summer was reserved more for reruns, not for new episodes of a midseason replacement. So, obviously there aren't many episodes in season one--just six of them as a matter of fact. The disc begins with "Allie's First Date," where Allie goes out on her first date after just leaving her husband. Next, we have "The Very Loud Family," which was already released as a bonus feature on the Gimme a Break! DVD set. In this episode, Emma has to do a project for school, and her project is none other than her family life. Jonathan Brandeis has a brief role in "Odd Boy Out," where Chip gets teased for being the only male in an all female household. In "The Family Business," Kate decides to get an unemployed Allie into the business of baking cakes, but Kate causes the business to grow larger than Allie can handle! The move-in becomes totally official when Allie brings in more of her cherished belongings in "Dear Diary." Finally, season one ends with "A Weekend to Remember," where everybody but Allie has plans for the weekend and she experiences loneliness for the first time.


Nothing fancy here... just one disc in a typical Amaray style case. There is a picture of Kate and Allie on the front, a picture of them with their kids on the back, and on the inside, there is a list of all of the episodes on the disc, including original airdates and what the episode is about.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very nice and simplistic, and just like any other Universal sitcom on DVD. The main menu has the closing theme playing in the background, with a picture of Kate and Allie in the center and individual mug shots of each on the side. The main menu options are Play All, Episode Index, Languages, and Bonus Materials. Episode Index takes you to another menu, where you (obviously) just select an episode. There is no scene selection, nor are there chapters placed within each episode. The Bonus Materials menu lets you choose from the special features, which include "A Conversation with Susan Saint James and Bill Persky," "Gag Reel," "The Great '80's TV Flashback," and a bonus episode from season 2, "Back to School."

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality isn't exactly spectacular, but it is good enough to watch. The colors seemed faded and the images weren't very sharp. The audio quality is good, without any obvious flaws, and is presented in Dolby Digital Mono. And there are English subtitles as well as closed-captioning for those that need it.

Here is where the real concern is: half of the episodes on the set are syndicated versions! There are many signs pointing to this, the most obvious being the fact that these particular episodes are missing teasers. These particular episodes run around 22:30, 2 minutes shorter than the others. Plus, these shorter episodes have a “CC” logo during the opening credits. This is just unbelievable; this disc gets released as one of the most expensive (per episode) sitcom DVD season sets EVER and doesn't even have complete episodes?? Here are the run times for all episodes:

1. "First Date" (24:34)
2. "The Very Loud Family" (24:36)
3. "Odd Boy Out" (24:32)
4. "The Family Business" (22:36)
5. "Dear Diary" (22:37)
6. "A Weekend to Remember" (22:36)

Special Features:

There was a minor effort to include some special features on this disc, but they are really lacking... first, we have "A Conversation with Susan Saint James and Bill Persky" (5:23), which is basically just an interview with both of them. It sounds great, and it is nice that they got them to do it, but the problem is that there is no substance at all to it. All they do is talk about what the characters are like basically and they don't get into anything special... very disappointing! The next special feature is "Gag Reel," (10:46) which is just some random outtakes from the show. I'm glad they included these, and they were kind of interesting to see--this is probably one of the good things about the set. Next, we have a bonus episode of the series... an episode from season 2, entitled "Back to School," where (as the title suggests) Allie goes back to school--fortunately this one is unedited, running at 24:31. Finally, there is "The Great '80s TV Flashback" (29:01). This is the same retrospective piece about Universal TV shows from the 80s that has been in many other recent Universal releases.

Final Comments:

I'm not really sure whether or not to recommend this disc. It is hideously overpriced (I don't have official statistics for every DVD set, but I'd be willing to bet that this has to be one of the highest price TV-on-DVD sets based upon amount of footage vs. cost), has mediocre bonus features, and half of the episodes are missing two minutes worth of footage. A fair price for this disc would be in the $10-15 range--and that would be assuming every episode was unedited and that the disc contained more interesting bonus features. Originally, Universal had planned to put this together with the second season; I wonder why they didn't do that. Even if it would have cost $10 more, it would have been a better deal to have them together. If you can find it deeply discounted, get it the episodes are great, otherwise (and I almost never say this) this disc probably not really worth it.

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

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/27/06

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