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The Golden Girls - The Complete Fifth Season



DVD Release Date: May 9, 2006 (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Color / 1989-90
MSRP: $39.95
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 26
Running time: 616 minutes
Running time of Special Features: Approx. 144 minutes (all in the form of commentaries)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: Commentaries for "Sick and Tired (Part 2)" (Rue McClanahan), "The Accurate Conception" (Bea Arthur), "Dancing in the Dark" (Betty White), "Not Another Monday" (Betty White), "Clinton Avenue Memoirs" (Bea Arthur), and "An Illegitimate Concern" (Rue McClanahan).


The girls are back! The fifth season of The Golden Girls on DVD, that is! Every single episode from the 1989-1990 season of the hit show that made being old "cool" is available on a three disc set from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, and this time, we've finally got some decent special features!

By now, you know the story of The Golden Girls--three women that are of "advanced age" (though not really that advanced, Rue McClanahan was barely over 50 when the show started!) and the mother of one of those women, living together in a house in Miami, basically becoming a "new type" of family. This season continues with a lot of the consistency in story lines that were presented in earlier seasons, but with new adventures, like trips to a sperm bank. And it touches on many serious issues (many "very special episodes," but they are never too sappy with this show) such as chronic fatigue syndrome, suicide, dementia, and even AIDS.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Let's face it--they're all memorable. So I'll just say a little bit about every episode. I've probably seen every episode at least a dozen times, and I'm betting many other fans probably have too (and it never gets old!).

Disc 1 begins with "Sick and Tired," a two-part episode where Dorothy is constantly sick and tired and can't figure out why. This is actually based upon Susan Harris' own struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome. Look for Jeffrey Tambor in this episode, and also look for Richard Mulligan and Park Overall "crossing over" in this episode. Blanche's daughter wants to have a baby--by using a sperm bank--”in "The Accurate Conception." Rose gets a new job as a production assistant (a job that she maintains throughout the remainder of the series) in "Rose Fights Back." Dick Van Dyke plays Dorothy's latest love interest; a lawyer that decides to quit his job in order to fulfill his lifelong dream is to be a clown in "Love Under the Big Top." Rose has a new boyfriend--Miles--in "Dancing in the Dark." In "Not Another Monday," Sophia's friend decides it is time for her life to end. Blanche's brother-in-law visits in "That Old Feeling," and Blanche finds herself falling in love with him--or is it just his resemblance to her deceased husband? Dorothy finds her own fulfillment when she decides to try stand-up comedy in "Comedy of Errors."

Over to Disc 2, Dorothy's son, Michael, is back home, and is looking for a free ride (don't worry, this isn't nearly as bad as that lame show that FOX is airing) in "All That Jazz." Big Daddy is dead in "Ebb Tide;" can Blanche handle it? Stan is homeless in "Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas." Julie McCullough ("Growing Pains") guest stars as an unwed teenage mother in "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Robert Mandan ("Soap") is Blanche's newest boyfriend, and she is really in love with him, but can she handle it when he has a heart attack? There are (appropriately) three different stories going on at once in "Triple Play;" Blanche is selling a car that she doesn't own, Sophia is on her way to becoming a millionaire, and Rose is finding that Miles' daughter doesn't accept her. In "Clinton Avenue Memoirs," Dorothy and Sophia take a trip back to the old apartment in Brooklyn to help Sophia reclaim memories that she lost (the idea of this episode has unfortunately become a reality for Estelle Getty in real life even). Blanche is giving up sex after she gets a pacemaker in "Like the Beep Beep Beep of the Tom-Tom," but can she survive without it? Mark Moses ("Desperate Housewives") plays Blanche's stepson that she never knew she had in "An Illegitimate Concern."

Finally, to Disc 3, Rose is worried that she may have AIDS after receiving notification that she may have received a tainted blood transfusion in "72 Hours." Rose must choose between a love of her past and Miles in "Twice in a Lifetime." Blanche's sister writes a book (perhaps based upon Blanche's sexual life?) and Stan's cousin, an actual communist, visits in "Sisters and Other Strangers." Jerry Orbach ("Law and Order") plays Glen O'Brien, the man that Dorothy has always wanted in (and he wants her too, except he is still married) in "Cheaters." Sophia decides to put a curse on the man that was once engaged to her in "The Mangiacavallo Curse Makes a Lousy Wedding Present." Dorothy has a gambling problem in "All Bets Are Off." And finally, the season ends with "The President's Coming! The President's Coming!," a two-part episode where President George Bush is visiting Miami, and decides to visit the girls as well! Harry Shearer ("The Simpsons") does the voice of George Bush, and Quentin Tarantino has a brief role in the clip show footage, but for some reason, Buena Vista decided not to market this entire release around that brief cameo appearance as they did with season 4...


Why even bother discussing this? It is just like season 1... and season 2... and 3, and 4. Nobody can complain to Buena Vista about consistency! Just as a recap, we once again have the three panel digipak, and on the inside, a list of the episodes is on the far left panel, Discs 1 and 2 are on the middle panel, and Disc 3 is on the far right panel. And on the back of the digipak, there are plenty of pictures of the girls, as always. The only thing that really changes from season to season is the color scheme and cover art; well, this time we have a weird orange type of color scheme and the cast photo that appears on the cover is a star with a cast photo of the girls on it. A lot of people around the 'net seem to hate it, but really, is box art why you are buying DVDs? It isn't the prettiest box art I've seen (and let's face it, all of these Golden Girls sets have been disappointing in the box art area), but it does the essential job of letting you know what is inside the box.

The discs themselves are consistent too, again in an orange color scheme. Blanche's face is on Disc 1, Rose's face is on Disc 2, and Sophia and Dorothy share Disc 3. There is one slight difference (and this was a change made for season 4 as well), and that is that the individual discs do not include the episode contents. But, if you have the box, do you really need this anyway? And as for the disc breakdown, we have episodes 1-9 on Disc 1, 10-18 on Disc 2, and 19-26 on Disc 3.

Menu Design and Navigation:

What can be said that hasn't been said before? This is the same as every other season as well. The color scheme is the same orange color as the box, and the main menu has the closing music playing in the background. The main menu options on each disc include Play All, Episode Selection, and Setup (where you can turn on English subtitles and get information on registering your DVDs). Discs 1 and 2 include audio commentaries on some episodes, so there is an menu option to go to these commentaries (appropriately titled "Audio Commentaries") and Disc 1 allows you to view Sneak Peaks (which play at the beginning of the disc as well).

There is no scene selection menu, but there are chapters. But let me warn you, the chapters will drive you crazy on this set! On Disc 2 and Disc 3, the chapters are fine. They are placed after the opening credits, at the commercial break in the middle, and right before the closing credits. But, for whatever reason, something went horribly wrong over on Disc 1! The chapters are placed at very odd positions here. For some reason, the first chapter is placed approximately 2 minutes before the middle commercial break rather than just after the opening credits. And it is never at an arbitrary position either; it is usually at a scene change. I can't figure out what the point of this is!

Video and Audio Quality:

This is just as good as the other releases; well actually, as one would think, this naturally gets better as the seasons go on. I can't find any particular issue of concern on these sets, so I have nothing to complain about here (of course, the Sitcoms Online standard for good video and audio quality is that it looks and sounds at least as good as it should for its age; the websites for the technical DVD fanatics can worry about the "more serious" problems that they may see). The set is closed-captioned, and there are English subtitles.

There are some "shorter" episodes in this set, but I wouldn't be concerned about them, because they are definitely longer than the current syndication standard and not much shorter than the rest of the episodes (and let me make this clear now: these episodes are to the best of my knowledge UNEDITED, and I see no reason at all for anybody to believe otherwise). The episodes also include the original opening credits, which as much as Lifetime would want you to believe, were not exactly the same for all seven seasons (but they didn't change too much). The runtimes for each episode are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Sick and Tired (Part 1)" (24:01)
2. "Sick and Tired (Part 2)" (23:51)
3. "The Accurate Conception" (24:01)
4. "Rose Fights Back" (23:39)
5. "Love Under the Big Top" (23:31)
6. "Dancing in the Dark" (23:49)
7. "Not Another Monday" (24:01)
8. "That Old Feeling" (23:28)
9. "Comedy of Errors" (23:51)

Disc 2:
10. "All That Jazz" (24:00)
11. "Ebb Tide" (24:01)
12. "Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas" (23:36)
13. "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (23:40)
14. "Great Expectations" (23:55)
15. "Triple Play" (24:01)
16. "Clinton Avenue Memoirs" (23:55)
17. "Like the Beep Beep Beep of the Tom-Tom" (22:49)
18. "An Illegitimate Concern" (24:00)

Disc 3:
19. "72 Hours" (23:10)
20. "Twice in a Lifetime" (23:55)
21. "Sisters and Other Strangers" (24:00)
22. "Cheaters" (24:00)
23. "The Mangiacavallo Curse Makes a Lousy Wedding Present" (22:50)
24. "All Bets are Off" (23:50)
25/26. "The President's Coming! The President's Coming! (Parts 1 & 2)" (46:43)

Special Features:

Finally!!! We have special features that are REALLY worth it! After going through a disappointing four seasons with very meaningless special features (not to mention the nauseating "Quentin Tarantino Special Edition" stuff they tried to pull on us in season four!), the girls themselves are actually participating in this set in commentaries! Unfortunately, they aren't doing commentaries together (they each do them individually), but Betty White, Bea Arthur, and Rue McClanahan do have two episode commentaries each. They are as follows:

"Sick and Tired (Part 2)" - Rue McClanahan
"The Accurate Conception" - Bea Arthur
"Dancing in the Dark" - Betty White
"Not Another Monday" - Betty White
"Clinton Avenue Memoirs" -Bea Arthur
"An Illegitimate Concern" - Rue McClanahan

So, my thoughts? Well, these are good, but they would have been MUCH better if they would have done commentaries together; at least two could have done them together, not necessarily all three for one commentary (although that would be even nicer). There are long periods of silence on some of these commentaries, but when they do talk, it is interesting to hear their thoughts and insights. Rue McClanahan just can't stop talking about all of the outfits she took from the wardrobe department after the show had ended! And although it isn't a WHOLE lot (maybe one or two occurrences), be prepared to hear some colorful language on Bea Arthur's commentaries... I guess that is just her way of expressing things! I really thought that the choice of episodes for the commentaries was a little strange. For example, why doesn't "72 Hours" have a commentary? And "Sick and Tired (Part 2)" is obviously the second part of a two part; why would they include a commentary for just one part of a two part episode like that? And even further, that is a Dorothy-centered episode, so why is Rue doing the commentary? Don't get me wrong, I'm very pleased with the commentaries, but they could have done better in organizing these. The commentaries can be turned on by using the Audio Commentaries option on the main menu (don't try playing the episode the normal way and using the audio button to access it; it doesn't work here).

Final Comments:

I know what you might be thinking: as often as this show airs on Lifetime, why should I buy it on DVD? The simple answer is that these DVDs present the show in an uncut form that seems to resemble nothing even close to what Lifetime airs, and plus, for a great series like this, it is a good idea to own every episode of it! This is one of those very rare shows where you can sit down and watch an episode over and over again fifty billion times (I feel as if for some of them I have), and still laugh at the same jokes, or sometimes even discover jokes that you never really noticed before.

While I would like to see a better effort in special features on the last two releases (yes, last two! Five down, two more to go!), such as better episode choices for commentaries, more than one person doing a commentary, and maybe even some cast interviews, this set is great, and is certainly better than the other seasons that have been released to date. I have a feeling that we will see the remaining two seasons released within the next year (perhaps even by the end of 2006), and then maybe even The Golden Palace... who knows! But for now, pick this one up--I strongly recommend it!

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

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 05/04/06

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