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Rags to Riches - The Complete Series



DVD Release Date: June 5, 2012 (Image Entertainment)
MSRP: $29.99
Packaging: Amaray case
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 20 (2 are 2-hour episodes)
Running time: Approx. 18 hours, 20 minutes
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital Stereo
No subtitles or closed captioning
Special Features: None


When millionaire Nick Foley (Joseph Bologna) learns that his public playboy image could impede a highly profitable company merger he's trying to negotiate, he ends up adopting five orphan girls (including "Martin's" Tisha Campbell). Now, bachelor Nick must struggle between his time-consuming business commitments and the girls' need for a real father. Set in the early '60s, TV favorite Rags to Riches includes musical numbers from the period, hilarious comedy and heart-warming drama.

Also stars Bianca De Garr, Kimiko Gelman ("The Hunger Games"), Bridget Michele, Heidi Zeigler ("Just the Ten of Us") and theatre veteran Douglas Seale. Guest stars include Bill Maher, Alex Rocco, Dick Van Patten, Richard Grieco, Danny Bonaduce and Robert Pine.


Rags to Riches began with a two-hour movie pilot that aired as a NBC Monday Movie on March 9, 1987. It generated an impressive 22.1 viewers, which was good enough for fourth place in the weekly ratings. The show moved to Sunday nights at 8pm beginning with the second episode on March 15, 1987. They would move to Friday nights at 8pm for the second season. It was cancelled after 12 season two episodes aired due to low ratings. The final episode was broadcast on January 15, 1988.

Nick Foley adopts six orphan girls and brings them to live with him in his Beverly Hills mansion in the "Pilot." Rose shuts herself off from the world after receiving a letter about her mother and how she died in "High Society." Nick plans to tear down the girls favorite hangout to build his "Foley Center" in "Foley vs. Foley." Diane falls for a guy that is just trying to use her- Nick seeing the warning signs tries to set limits in "First Love."

Marva wants to start her own catering business and Nick objects in "Business is Business." Patty finds her mother and realizes that her imagination of a mom wasn’t what she expected in "Patty's Mom." Nick’s dying Brother Frankie returns and brings up old wounds between them in "Bad Blood." Diane gets her license in "Born to Ride."

The second season began with the two-hour episode "Vegas Rock," in which Nick and the girls go to Vegas trying to stop a mob boss and to retrieve an Elvis guitar for a school auction. Rose tries to become a lifeguard in "Once in a Lifeguard." Rose considers cheating on a test in "That's Cheating." Nick, tired of the girls bickering, takes them on a very memorable camping trip in "Wilderness Blues."

Patty is given a school assignment to write a story using a diary in "Dear Diary." Nick's godson comes to visit in "Hunk in the House." Marva discovers Rose's new piano teacher is a famous singer who chose a less chaotic career in "Marva in the Key of Cee." Diane enters a beauty contest in "Beauty and the Babe."

A Russian government leader and his son come to America in "Russian Holiday." The girls are entertaining a stern social worker on Christmas Eve-and Nick is nowhere to be found in "A Very Foley Christmas." Marva runs for class president and promises more than she can deliver in "Guess Who's Coming to Slumber?" Diane’s sweet sixteen party is planned in "Sweet Sixteen." Episode summaries are courtesy of the excellent Rags to Riches Online.

Notable guest stars include Bill Maher, Billy Warlock, Khandi Alexander, Grant Cramer, Richard Herd, Jack Kruschen, Sasha Mitchell, Ken Osmond, Gina Hecht, David Paymer, Alex Rocco, Marc McClure, Scott Schwartz, Graham Jarvis, Rob Stone, Dick Van Patten, Richard Grieco, Sid Melton, Eva La Rue, Shannon Tweed, K Callan, Robert Donner, Wolfman Jack, Danny Bonaduce and Robert Pine.

All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with the exception of the two-hour "Pilot" episode. The one-hour episodes run 47-48 minutes in length. The "Pilot" episode and "Vegas Rock" originally aired as two-hour episodes and run 1:35:35 and 1:35:11, respectively. The "Pilot" episode is a work print/rough cut and not the final version that NBC originally broadcast. I'll talk about the differences between the work print and original broadcast episode in the video section below. All of the original music appears to be intact in episodes 2-20. They are presented in their original NBC broadcast order. The runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1
Season 1
Pilot (2 hours) (1:35:35)
High Society (47:54)
Foley vs. Foley (47:50)
First Love (47:51)

Disc 2
Business is Business (48:16) *
Patty's Mom (48:21) *
Bad Blood (47:50)
Born to Ride (47:48)
includes opening teaser and NBC "In Stereo" graphic, the season two episodes also have teasers

Disc 3
Season 2
Vegas Rock (2 hours) (1:35:11)
Once in a Lifeguard (48:13)
That's Cheating (48:13)
Wilderness Blues (48:13)

Disc 4
Dear Diary (48:13)
Hunk in the House (48:16)
Marva in the Key of Cee (48:13)
Beauty and the Babe (48:17)

Disc 5
Russian Holiday (48:18)
A Very Foley Christmas (48:19)
Guess Who's Coming to Slumber? (48:18)
Sweet Sixteen (48:22)


The 5-disc set contains all 20 episodes from the first (1987) and second seasons (1987-88). It comes in a standard Amaray movie-style case. A cast photo of the five girls, Nick and Clapper is used as the cover art. The Rags to Riches logo is in red at the top of the case. The artwork is a bit disappointing compared to the German DVD releases. The back of the case has five photos: three episode snapshots and two publicity cast photos. A short synopsis of the set and the DVD specs are provided. A tiny cast photo of the five girls is on the spine of the case. Inside the case, there is just blank space. It would have been great if they included some kind of episode guide for reference. The discs have a cast photo of the seven main cast members. The Rags to Riches logo is in red at the top. Each disc has a different shaded background and includes the episode titles. The discs each have four episodes on them (two of the episodes are two-hours in length).

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are colorful and easy to navigate. The main menu has an animated background like you see in the opening credits. Season one's opening theme song is played on Discs 1-2 before it loops after about 43 seconds. A portion of season two's opening theme song is played on Discs 3-5 before it loops after about 38 seconds. The same cast photo that is used as the cover art is used on the main menu. The show logo is in red above the photo. There are options for Play All, Episodes and Just The Songs in a pink box that has a light blue border in the lower right side of the screen. There's a blue rectangle next to the option you highlight that turns red upon your selection. When you select Episodes, it takes you to another menu. The instrumental ending theme is used during the transition and on this menu. There are video clips played on the right side of the screen. Each disc has a different montage of video clips. The episode titles are listed vertically in white text in a green box on the left side of the screen. The Just The Songs option allows you to play the music videos. When you first insert Disc 1, there are trailers for a few New World (which also co-produced Rags to Riches) trailers for 18 Again (1988) and Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985). Chapter stops are placed at the appropriate places within the episodes.

Video and Audio Quality:

These episodes are now around 25 years old. They generally look pretty good, but the Pilot episode is from a much poorer source. The version of the Pilot they included is from a work print/rough cut and isn't the same final version that NBC originally broadcast. The first thing you will probably notice is that the film quality is much worse. It has film splice lines, scratches and other debris throughout most of the episode. It has a title card for "Rags and Riches" (the working title) instead of the final "Rags to Riches." The actor/writer/director/producer credits are also missing at the beginning of the episode. There are no end credits, although there is a closing logo for Leonard Hill Films. The work print is also missing the "School is In" song. The original score and music transitions before the commercial breaks by J. Peter Robinson are also missing. Strangely enough, the pilot episode has been released complete twice on VHS and last year on a Region 2 DVD in Germany. Today networks sometimes send out these work prints for pilot episodes for review purposes. They typically have quite a few changes from the final broadcast version.

Other than the pilot movie the remaining episodes have improved video quality. They don't look to be remastered for this release, but I'm sure they are a big improvement over your original broadcasts on VHS tapes. Rags to Riches was shot on film, so there is some dirt, debris and other digital artifacts in the episodes. They are all perfectly watchable, but they certainly could have used a little bit of cleaning up. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there are logos for Leonard Hill Films and New World Television (New World International for season two). A couple of the season one episodes even have the NBC "In Stereo" logo at the beginning of them.

The back of the packaging states that the episodes are in Dolby Digital Stereo/Mono, but maybe only the pilot episode is in mono. Once again, the pilot episode has a rough audio mix, but the other episodes offer improved audio quality. The audio is generally at a good volume level, but there are a few areas in the episodes where it drops much lower. Seasons one and two had different theme songs and opening credits. Both versions are represented on the DVD. Although there are some comedy elements in the show, they didn't use an added laugh track. Subtitles and closed captioning are not available on the episodes.

Special Features:

Unfortunately, there are no special features included. It's too bad because this will probably be the only release of the series in the foreseeable future. The original cast was reportedly available and willing to do interviews or featurettes for a reunion. Although the show ran for only a couple of seasons, it seems like there would be plenty of original material available like network promos, deleted scenes, bloopers or publicity photos that could have been included

It's not listed as a special feature, but there is a separate option on each disc where you can play "Just The Songs" from the episodes. This is a pretty nice feature if you just want to watch the music videos. There's no way to jump to a specific video, however. That would have been a handy option. Some of the videos also seem to end a bit abruptly, but that's a minor issue. Each one-hour episode generally had two music videos. The two-hour "Pilot" and "Vegas Rock" episodes had six or seven.

Disc 1 - 11:49, 10:21, 8:48, 6:40, 4:15, 2:24, 1:26, 3:50, 2:00, 5:31, 3:26, 2:01, 5:02, 3:15, 1:40
Disc 2 - 3:45, 1:51, 3:19, 1:14, 3:55, 1:55, 3:43, 1:47
Disc 3 - 8:38, 6:50, 5:13, 3:05, 1:51, 5:00, 2:48, 1:05, 5:25, 3:31, 2:02, 5:03, 3:06, 1:44
Disc 4 - 4:24, 2:01, 6:13, 4:22, 2:19, 7:25, 5:36, 3:36, 3:49, 1:36
Disc 5 - 6:09, 4:21, 2:44, 7:59, 7:08, 5:12, 3:43, 2:34, :54, 5:42, 4:12, 1:47, 5:32, 3:25

Final Comments:

Before Glee, there was TV favorite Rags to Riches. Although the show ran for only two relatively brief seasons, it seems to have quite a devoted fan base. Fans have waited for many years for it to come to DVD. This is a series that hasn't been seen in the U.S. since the original airings in 1987-88 as far as I know, except for an occasional airing of the two-hour pilot movie on channels such as Lifetime. If you didn't own a VCR at the time and record the episodes, there wouldn't have been any chance to see the show for many years until the internet came along. I'm not sure why the show fizzled out fairly quickly. The pilot episode had over 22 million viewers. It seemed like it had a nice family friendly timeslot on Sundays at 8pm the first season. When it was moved to Friday nights the second season, it had much less opportunity to generate an audience. I remember watching a few episodes the first season, but I didn't recall any specific scenes. After watching a few episodes, I can see why so many people remember it and were anxious for it to come DVD. The music videos are fun and well choreographed. Tisha Campbell was really the standout actress and singer in the series. I think they did a pretty good job making the show set in the early 1960s, although I think some of the hairstyles and clothing looked more like they were from the late 1980s. If you like Glee or the film/play Annie, this show would have a lot of appeal to you.

This is a pretty good basic set, but it could have been a great one if they used a better quality and more complete original copy of the pilot episode and included some special features. I really don't understand what happened with the pilot episode. It has been released complete twice on different VHS tapes and once on the Region 2 DVD in Germany (where it was called Full House). I'm surprised they just didn't make a transfer from the VHS tape, but maybe it was a rights issue with who owns the pilot. Including a work print/rough cut is better than nothing, but it seems like they should have had other options available. The other episodes look perfectly fine and watchable. It seems like the original music is intact and the episodes are unedited in episodes 2-20, so they did a nice job with that as well. I can't believe they could include all the original music at such a low price, so congratulations to their music licensing and clearance people. Overall, I think Image Enterainment and Lakeshore Entertainment did the best job they could with what they had to work with for this very affordable release that offers over 18 hours of quality entertainment.

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: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 06/25/12

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