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Lateline - The Complete Series



DVD Release Date: August 17, 2004 (Paramount Home Video)
color/417 mins.
MSRP: $49.99
Number of discs: 3
Number of episodes: 19
Languages and subtitles: English, Closed Captioned.
Special features: None


Tonight, on Lateline: The Complete Series, our guests will be: G. Gordon Liddy, Joan Lunden, Barney Frank, Buddy Hackett, Dick Gephardt, Robert Reich, Michael McKean, Michael Dukakis, Bob Uecker, Jerry Falwell, Pat Schroeder, Conan O'Brien, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford, William F. Buckley, Max Wright, Bob Bennett, Paul Simon (the Senator, not the singer), Alan Simpson, Rosemary Clooney, Rob Reiner, Martin Sheen, Vanessa Williams, Leonard Maltin and believe it or not, 2004 presidential candidates Ralph Nader and John Kerry!

Seriously--that is the list of guests in this rather short-lived NBC/Showtime sitcom. Lateline is a show that is all about spoofing late-night news programs such as ABC's Nightline. Although Al Franken is prominently featured on the cover art, it should be clear that he is by no means the star of the show, but rather it is an ensemble of mostly unknown actors and actresses (depending upon how well you know actors and actresses), including Catherine Lloyd Burns, Miguel Ferrer, Robert Foxworth, Sanaa Lathan, Ajay Naidu, Megyn Price, and of course, Al Franken. The show focused on the production of the show and the comedy involved the behind-the-scenes stuff of the show and how everything always seemed to go horribly wrong behind the scenes.

There is also a special surprise on this DVD set for those that have actually seen the show--there are four episodes that were never aired, at least not in the United States. When NBC had cancelled the show, there were still seven unaired episodes, and while Showtime aired three of those, four were left unseen in the United States, until NOW at least.


The packaging on this set is much better than the packaging that many sitcoms come in. This set comes with individual cases for each disc. The cover art has a huge picture of Al Franken with smaller pictures of the other cast members, although this is a slight bit deceiving since Al Franken is far from being the star of the show.

There are three discs in this set, with the Disc One containing the first six episodes, Disc Two containing episodes 7-12, and Disc Three containing episodes 13-19. Disc One has a picture of Franken on the disc, Discs Two and Three have pictures of the casts members on the discs. Incidentally, the episodes on each disc were broken down by season as well, since Disc One contains all of the first season episodes, Disc Two contains all of the second season episodes, and Disc Three contains all of the third season episodes (the Showtime/mostly unaired season).

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus on the disc are extremely easy to navigate. After waiting through the Paramount DVD logo and copyright stuff, it goes directly to a menu where you can pick which episode you want to watch or can go to Play All. The main menu screens each have pictures of different cast members on each disc.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video quality and audio quality in this set were both of the very high quality that one would come to expect from a show that is as recent as this show. There is nothing at all to complain about concerning the video quality or the audio quality. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital stereo, and the audio was very loud and clear.

Special Features:

There are no special features... absolutely NOTHING! Not even trailers. Certainly a show with a lot of guest stars like this should have some good behind-the-scenes moments, and that probably would have been a nice extra. But since this will likely be the only Lateline release ever (since it is the entire series and there will be no more episodes to put on DVD), that, along with any other extras that should have been there, is probably something that will never be seen.

Final Comments:

Although this show certainly does have some good moments and good writing at times, I wouldn't dare call this a great sitcom by any stretch of the imagination. HOWEVER, even if the plots aren't too exciting, this show was amazing simply for the amount of guest stars that it contained. There probably isn't any other show that contained this many political figures (particularly congressmen and senators), and even the non-political figures are impressive for a show that only lasted 19 episodes. So in short, I wouldn't recommend this show for somebody that is looking for a great sitcom, but I would recommend it for anybody that enjoys watching shows that are (or will become) very rare, or somebody that enjoys politics, because there is certainly no shortage of political guest-stars here.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video quality: 5/5
Audio quality: 5/5
Special Features: N/A
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 07/30/04

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