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Kate & Allie - The Complete First & Second Seasons (Canadian Release)



DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006 (Visual Entertainment Inc.)
Color / 1984-1985
MSRP: $36.95 CDN ($33.47 USD)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 28
Running time: Approx. 11 hours
Running time of Special Features: Approx. 24 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: None
Special Features: Bonus episode of Gimme a Break! ("The Second Time Around")


To all of our sitcom fans in Canada: just when you think you're all by yourself, you're not! Just one month ago, Universal released Kate & Allie: Season One--but only in the United States. Now, VEI has the show for all of the Canadian fans of Kate & Allie, with not just the first season, but the first TWO seasons, in a four-disc set!

First and foremost, though, many Kate & Allie fans from the United States are wondering about this set too, and the million dollar question seems to be this: does this set contain just the original versions of the episodes, or does it include syndicated episodes? Sadly, I have to report that, just like the Universal release, a few syndicated episodes did slip in. In fact, seven of the episodes are syndicated versions (this is obvious due to the closed-captioned logo at the beginning of the episodes as well as the missing closing tags with Kate and Allie on the couch).

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The set begins with (on Season 1/Disc 1) "Allie's First Date," where Allie goes on her first date since leaving her husband. Kelsey Grammer guest stars in the episode. Jonathan Brandeis guest stars in "Odd Boy Out," an episode where Chip feels left out being the only boy in the house. Allie moves her belongings into Kate's house in "Dear Diary."

Over to Season 2, on Disc 1, we have the episode "Landlady," where Kate and Allie's landlady demands more for their apartment because they are two families living in one dwelling... so to convince the landlady they are just one family, Kate and Allie pretend to be lesbian lovers, which works fine until they discover that their landlady is also a lesbian and wants Kate and Allie to spend time with her and her lover! In "Pirates," Jennie and Emma want the same part in a school play. It is a classic case of sibling rivalry, even though they aren't TECHNICALLY siblings.

On Disc 2, in the episode "Piano Lesson," Emma is learning to play the piano, but when her instructor begins to get interested in Kate, how will Emma take it? Kate and Allie have a very uneventful New Year's Eve in "New Year's Eve." Allie goes back to school in "Back to School," but she figures that she can cheat to get through. Does she have a backup plan if she gets caught cheating? Kate puts her own job on the line when she stands up for Allie after Allie (quickly) gets fired from her new job in "If She Goes, I Go." In "Rear Window," Chip sees a murder in the apartment across the street! Or did he?

Finally, on Disc 3, in "Sons and Lovers," Allie has a new boyfriend, but can she relate to him or his mother more? Jenny has new friends, and they aren't good people in "The Bad Seed." The second season ends with "My Dinner With Kate and Allie," where both Kate and Allie are both totally single again, and need to find a way to cheer themselves up.


The packaging is actually pretty nice. The cover art for the set is a picture of the entire family inside of a picture frame. The set has four discs and consists of two slim cases. And the slim cases have the exact same picture that is seen on the cover of the set. On the back of each slim case is a listing of the episode and the original airdate. There are no episode descriptions, unfortunately. On the inside of each slim case (double slim cases), you'll find (what else?) the discs. The disc art is pretty plain, consisting of just a blue shadow of the New York City (I assume NYC, although it doesn't exactly look like it) skyline on a white background. The set does not number the discs from Disc 1 to Disc 4, but instead segregates the seasons, meaning that there is a Disc 1 for Season 1 (I'm not sure why they bother to number the disc) and another Disc 1 (as well as a Disc 2 and Disc 3) for Season 2. Season 1/Disc 1 contains the entire first season (6 episodes), Season 2/Disc 1 contains episodes 1-8, Season 2/Disc 2 contains episodes 9-15 and Season 2/Disc 3 contain episodes 16-22.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are plain, but definitely functional. Basically, the main menu on each disc has a photo of the "family," the same one on the cover, with options of Play All or Episodes (and Disc 1 also has the option of Bonus Episode). Play All does exactly what it sounds like it does. Episodes brings up a menu that has (what appears to be) four pictures on the wall, and you choose the episode you want to watch (more episodes can be accessed by using the Next button on the bottom of the screen). There is no scene selection menu, and there are no chapters within the episodes either.

Video and Audio Quality:

The audio and video quality is at least decent on most episodes. The color seemed a bit faded and the picture looked dated, but it is no major deal. The audio quality is decent for the most part (Dolby Digital Mono), but the episode "Baby" seemed to have some problems with the audio. It was not very loud and clear on that episode. Despite the fact that the syndicated episodes have a closed-captioned logo at the beginning of the episodes, none of the episodes are closed-captioned, and there are no subtitles either.

As previously stated, yes, this set does indeed have syndicated versions of seven of the episodes... that is 1/4 of the set! It is probably not appropriate to blame VEI for this, as three of the edited episodes were also edited in the season one release from Universal. FremantleMedia, which appears to own the show internationally, appears to be the culprit here, although that may not be the case.

In any event, here are the runtimes for each episode, as well as the disc breakdown:

Season 1/Disc 1:
1 Allie's First Date 24:27
2 The Very Loud Family 24:29
3 Odd Boy Out 24:25
4 The Family Business 22:29
5 Dear Diary 22:29
6 A Weekend to Remember 22:29

Season 2/Disc 1:
1 Baby 24:35
2 Landlady 24:26
3 Diner 24:29
4 Lotsa Luck 24:27
5 Candidate 24:27
6 Kate and the Plumber 24:29
7 The Safe Caper 24:30
8 Pirates 24:28

Season 2/Disc 2:
9 Country Dog 24:28
10 Piano Lesson 24:29
11 New Year's Eve 24:29
12 Back to School 24:27
13 Charles Marries Claire 24:28
14 If She Goes, I Go 22:29
15 Rear Window 24:19

Season 2/Disc 3:
16 Lovely Rita 24:29
17 Sons and Lovers 24:31
18 Author, Author 24:30
19 Dead Cat 22:27
20 The Bad Seed 22:29
21 Goodbye, Plumber 22:28
22 My Dinner With Kate and Allie 24:32

Special Features:

The only special feature on here is an episode of Gimme a Break!, which VEI recently released in Canada. The episode included is "The Second Time Around" (24:19), which has a special guest star--Rue McClanahan of The Golden Girls. This can be found on the Season One disc.

It would be nice to see some other special features. With this being a Canadian release and not having the reach that a US release would have, it would probably not be possible to have new interviews or anything like that, but perhaps VEI could have found some footage related to the show to include.

Final Comments:

There must be unedited versions of the problematic episodes of this show SOMEWHERE! At first, when I reviewed the horrendous Universal release of Season One of this show, I was quick to point blame at Universal for putting out edited episodes, but now that two different companies have put this show out with the same edited episodes, it almost looks like FremantleMedia (the company that owns international rights to this show, and provided the episodes for both Universal and VEI) may be the one at fault.

However, there is one important distinction with this set that makes it better than the Universal release. This set includes two seasons for roughly the same price as the Universal release that contains just one very short season. This release contains season 1, AND season 2, which was a regular length season. Bottom line is this--this set is priced very attractively and the Universal release is not. So, if you are a Canadian fan of the show and don't mind a few edited episodes - this set is perfect for you. If you are a fan of the show living in the United States and don't mind a few edited episodes, this set is worth purchasing from Canada. And if you just don't like edited episodes at all, then unfortunately, it appears there are no options available to you. Hopefully this will be resolved before season three, when or if it is released.

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

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 1/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 05/31/06

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