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Kate & Allie - The Complete Series



Release Date: May 4, 2010 (Visual Entertainment Inc.)
MSRP: CAN$69.95
Packaging: Multiple Keep cases
Number of Discs: 16
Number of Episodes: 122
Running Time: 3140 minutes
Running Time of Features: 24 minutes
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: Episode of Gimme a Break! ("The Second Time Around")


In the 1970s, Oscar Madison and Felix Unger proved that two divorced men can share an apartment without driving each other crazy, but in the 1980s, Kate McArdle (Susan Saint James) and Allie Lowell (Jane Curtin) proved that two divorced women can share not only an apartment, but also an entire life and even a career, while enjoying it all. That was the premise of the series Kate & Allie, the series that is often credited as "saving the family sitcom" in the 80s, and even putting a new twist on what defines a family.

Beginning as a mid-season replacement for CBS near the end of the 1983-1984 season, Kate & Allie, with only six episodes in the season, managed to come in at an impressive fourth place in the Nielsen ratings at the end of the season (and was in fact the only top ten sitcom that season), making it a no-brainer for CBS to immediately renew it for a second season. The series was produced and directed by Bill Persky, who had previously been known for his work on series such as The Dick Van Dyke Show and That Girl. The series went on to win several Emmy awards and lasted for six seasons, although by the time the sixth season came around, the series lost steam as Allie got married and the kids moved out, killing the original premise of the series. But now, for the first time ever, all six seasons are available on DVD in one collection, in Visual Entertainment Inc.'s release of Kate & Allie - The Complete Series, available in Canada (but can easily be purchased and played in the United States).


We have already reviewed each of the individual season sets on DVD, and the episodes on this set are exactly the same. However, I'll briefly review some of the highlights from those sets, and encourage you to read the individual reviews for each season for more episode information.

The first season starts with "Allie's First Date," where Allie faces her first date post-divorce. Allie moves all of her belongings into the apartment in "Dear Diary." In the second season, Kate and Allie face the possibility of a steep rent increase because they aren't a traditional family in "Landlady," but pretending to be lesbian lovers might just save the day for them. The ladies have an uneventful New Year's Eve in "New Year's Eve." Jennie's new friends are the kind you don't want to meet your parents in "The Bad Seed." For more information about the episodes on these seasons, see our review of Kate & Allie - The Complete First and Second Seasons.

In the third season, Patricia Richardson guest stars in the episode "The Reunion." Allie's plea for part-time work goes awry in the episode "Whatever Happened to Romance?" Look for Ben Stiller in one of his earliest appearances ever in "Too Late the Rebel." Kate and Allie are going to be on Dick Cavett's show in "High Anxiety." For more information about the episodes on this season, see our review of Kate & Allie - The Complete Third Season.

In the fourth season, Jennie may be close to losing her virginity in "Jennie & Jason." In "The Gift of the Magi," Kate and Allie want to give each other anniversary gifts, but not all works as planned. The series spoofs The Mary Tyler Moore Show and I Love Lucy in my personal favorite episode of the series, "Reruns." In "Charles' Dinner," Kate and Allie get a catering job, but not one that Allie is particularly thrilled about. For more information about the episodes on this season, see our review of Kate & Allie - The Complete Fourth Season.

The series begins to decline a bit in the fifth season, but there are still some highlights, such as "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?," where Allie gets a feel for what it would be like to be homeless and "Return of Bob Barsky," where we meet a new love interest of Allie's. This leads to a big ending for the season in the episodes "Bob Smells the Roses" and "Allie Makes Up Her Mind," where a marriage proposal is about to change the series forever. For more information about the episodes on this season, see our review of Kate & Allie - The Complete Fifth Season.

Finally, there was the sixth season, which was definitely the weakest of the series, but just like the fifth season, there are still some highlights, such as "Wedding Bell Blues," where the time for the "I do" comes and goes before you know it. It's time for Allie to leave the apartment in "Allie Moves Out," but will this really mean the end of her living arrangement with Kate or will some creative scripting effort save that? Then there is the series finale, "It's a Wonderful Episode" (sometimes referenced as "Kate and Allie Go to Hell"), where the ladies have a nightmare over losing a check and literally going to hell. For more information about the episodes on this season, see our review of Kate & Allie - The Complete Sixth Season.

Most of the episodes on the set are unedited, but not all of them, unfortunately. There are a few episodes in the first two seasons that are syndicated versions, just as they were in the previous releases, and they are all missing the closing scene as well as other material. Luckily, only seven (out of 122) episodes are edited, and every episode in seasons 3-6 is unedited. It appears that ALL original music is intact within the episodes, as I heard songs from Barbra Streisand, the Beatles, and TV shows such as I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, although without an exact music list, I can't possibly check them all. Exact runtimes are as follows:

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:
7. Baby (24:35)
8. Landlady (24:26)
9. Diner (24:29)
10. Lotsa Luck (24:27)
11. Candidate (24:27)
12. Kate and the Plumber (24:29)
13. The Safe Caper (24:30)
14. Pirates (24:28)

Season 2/Disc 2:
15. Country Dog (24:28)
16. Piano Lesson (24:29)
17. New Year's Eve (24:29)
18. Back to School (24:27)
19. Charles Marries Claire (24:28)
20. If She Goes, I Go (22:29)
21. Rear Window (24:19)

Season 2/Disc 3:
22. Lovely Rita (24:29)
23. Sons and Lovers (24:31)
24. Author, Author (24:30)
25. Dead Cat (22:27)
26. The Bad Seed (22:29)
27. Goodbye, Plumber (22:28)
28. My Dinner With Kate and Allie (24:32)

Season 3/Disc 1:
29. The Reunion (24:28)
30. Make Mine Mink (24:22)
31. Whatever Happened to Romance? (24:24)
32. Evening in Paris (24:23)
33. Picture of an Affair (24:24)
34. The Maltese Chotchke (24:28)
35. Allie's Affair (24:22)
36. Thanksgiving (24:28)

Season 3/Disc 2:
37. Max's New Girlfriend (24:22)
38. Kate's Friend (24:24)
39. Dress to Kill (24:23)
40. Dark Victory (24:19)
41. Grand Central Station (24:22)
42. Chip's Divorce (24:25)
43. Too Late the Rebel (24:25)
44. The Croissant Jungle (24:24)

Season 3/Disc 3:
45. Privacy (24:26)
46. High Anxiety (24:17)
47. Thank You, Shirley (24:26)
48. Ted's Back (24:26)
49. Chip's New Friend (24:26)
50. Winning (24:17)
51. Late Bloomer (23:51)

Season 4/Disc 1:
52. The Trouble With Jason (24:01)
53. Found Money (23:59)
54. The Bully (23:59)
55. General Hospital (24:01)
56. RX for Love (24:01)
57. Halloween II(24:01)
58. Jennie & Jason (24:01)
59. Bringing Up Charles (24:03)

Season 4/Disc 2:
60. Emma’s Coming Out Party (24:00)
61. Stage Mother (23:56)
62. The Goodbye Girl (23:59)
63. Dates of Future Past (23:53)
64. The Gift of the Magi (23:58)
65. Allie's Graduation (24:25)
66. Upstairs, Downstairs (23:58)
67. Emma Goes to College (23:57)
68. Allie and the Three Wolves (24:00)

Season 4/Disc 3:
69. Louis in Love (23:58)
70. Reruns (23:51)
71. Send Me No Flowers (23:51)
72. Dearly Beloved (24:00)
73. Allie on Strike (23:59)
74. Kate Quits (24:01)
75. Charles’ Dinner (23:50)
76. Allie’s Surprise Party (24:02)

Season 5/Disc 1:
77. Fathers and Sons (23:59)
78. A Dilemma with Emma (23:58)
79. Kate and the Cab Driver (23:58)
80. Mother's Day (23:57)
81. Return of Bob Barsky (23:31)
82. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (23:40)
83. Ted's Fix-Up (23:40)
84. Jennie's New Deal (23:39)

Season 5/Disc 2:
85. Hired Wife (23:38)
86. The Marriage Counselor (23:40)
87. The Triangle Has Four Sides (23:39)
88. The Nightmare Before Christmas (23:40)
89. A Catered Affair (23:41)
90. The Band Singer (23:39)
91. Almost Married (23:39)
92. My Day With Paul Newman (23:41)

Season 5/Disc 3:
93. The Namath of the Game (23:40)
94. The Mouse that Squeaked (23:41)
95. Inside Park Avenue (23:40)
96. Working Women (23:41)
97. I Don't, I Don't (23:41)
98. Bob Smells the Roses (23:40)
99. Allie Makes Up Her Mind (23:41)
100. The Clip Show (23:37)

Season 6/Disc 1:
101. Wedding Belle Blues (24:10)
102. Kate Gets Dumped (24:10)
103. Allie Doesn't Live Here Anymore (24:11)
104. The Odd Couples (24:13)
105. Anchor Away (24:11)
106. Better Late Than Never (24:09)
107. Moving On (24:10)

Season 6/Disc 2:
108. A Tree Grows on West 56th Street (24:12)
109. The Nearlyweds (24:09)
110. Wanted: One Husband (24:10)
111. What's Love Got to Do With It? (24:11)
112. I've Got a Secret (24:10)
113. Chip's Notes (24:10)
114. Love Thy Neighbor (24:10)
115. Trojan War (24:09)

Season 6/Disc 3:
116. Loan-Some Bob (24:09)
117. The Review (24:10)
118. The Wedding (24:09)
119. The Last Temptation of Allie (23:54)
120. The Hockey Team (24:10)
121. My Boyfriend's Back (24:10)
122. It's a Wonderful Episode/Kate and Allie Go to Hell (24:09)


The set is packaged as three Viva-style packs (like the CBS DVD releases) inside of an outer cardboard box, and the packaging artwork is all different from the individual season sets. The outer cardboard box has a cast snapshot with the title "The Complete Series" at the top of the box with a blue and yellow color scheme. The back of the outer box gives a brief overview of the series, as well as a list of some of the guest stars in the series. The three DVD cases inside each contain two seasons. The front of the cases holding Seasons 1/2 and Seasons 3/4 have a photo of Kate and Allie on the front of them, while the front of the case holding Seasons 5/6 has a photo of the entire cast (all wearing the same clothing as on the outer box, but in a different pose). The back of each case lists all of the episodes on the enclosed discs, along with original airdates. There are also photos from the episodes on the back of each case. The disc artwork is the same throughout each season, with the series logo on a New York City skyline background (a different color is used for each season). There is one disc for the first season (containing six episodes), and three discs for each of seasons two through six.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus on this set are the same as the previous releases, with no changes at all. All of the seasons were pretty much the same throughout, with the main menu on each disc having an option of Play All and Episodes. There is also a Bonus Episode option on Season 1/Disc 1 for the Gimme a Break! episode included on the set. The closing theme music plays in the background on the seasons four through six discs. There are no scene selection menus, and there are no chapters within the episodes for the first three seasons (but there ARE chapters for seasons four through six).

Video and Audio Quality:

For some reason, this series has never looked stellar on DVD, with video glitches here and there, faded colors, and video that just looks old and unrestored. But it isn't to the point where the episodes are unwatchable, and to be honest, the episodes look about as good as I ever remember them. Perhaps all of this is a symptom relating to how the series doesn't get around in syndication as much as other series from the era. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, but it is definitely a dull mono track... again, something to be expected from this series. Unfortunately, the episodes are not closed-captioned, despite the fact that many episodes in fact have a closed-captioned logo in the opening credits.

Special Features:

There is one special feature on the entire set: an episode of Gimme a Break! The episode included is "The Second Time Around" (24:19), which guest stars Rue McClanahan. It is mostly included to promote VEI's release of the first season of Gimme a Break!, although VEI is slated to release the entire series sometime in the near future. The 100th episode ("The Clip Show") is about the most insight that you will get about the "behind-the-scenes" of the series on the set, although it does a very nice job of that despite just being an episode of the series. It would have been nice to have had some commentaries or syndication/original airing promos for the series. If you want to see any special features relating to the series at all, you'll have to see Universal's release of Season One (the only release of the series in the United States), which can be picked up for next to nothing at many outlets. You can read our review of that release here.

Final Comments:

The set definitely has some quirks, including edited episodes, sometimes awkward menus, and dismal video and audio quality, but putting all of that aside, I am overall satisfied with this set. VEI has done as good of a job as could be expected with this series (keep in mind, they are not the original rights holder), and they have presented a quality set that is worthy of space on my shelf. And the best part is that it is very reasonably priced. If you already own the season sets, you may not necessarily want to upgrade to this set, as it is largely the same as the previous releases, but if you don't own any of the seasons, you'll want to pick this one up if you love Kate & Allie or really any other sitcom about roommates, such as The Odd Couple, The Golden Girls, or Perfect Strangers. This is an enjoyable and often under-appreciated series that many TV fans are sure to enjoy. Just when you think you're all by yourself... you're not! Thanks, VEI, for getting the entire series out!

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

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall Score: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/29/10

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