TITLE: THE NORM SHOW - THE COMPLETE SERIES
DVD Release Date: September 7, 2010 (Shout! Factory)
Number of Discs: 8
Number of Episodes: 54
Running Time: 1185 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: 150 minutes
Languages and Subtitles: English audio, English SDH Subtitles
Packaging Type: Slim cases
Special Features: Commentary on 7 episodes by Norm MacDonald and Bruce Helford
From Norm MacDonald and executive producer Bruce Helford (creator of The Drew Carey Show) comes this warped look at a pro hockey player turned criminal turned social worker.
Meet Norm Henderson. Once a fairly well-known – but not particularly skilled – professional hockey player, Norm had a penchant for gambling and an aversion to paying taxes that resulted in his expulsion from hockey for life. Facing a possible jail term, Norm was instead sentenced to community service as a caseworker in social services, where his mischievous and sarcastic personality has him breaking all the rules, leaving his friends – by the book coworker Laurie (Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne) and neurotic colleague Danny (Ian Gomez, Cougar Town) – to completely help him out of trouble. Also starring Max Wright (ALF) as Norm’s boss Mr. Denby, Nikki Cox (Las Vegas) as Taylor the ex-prostitute social worker and Artie Lange (The Howard Stern Show, Dirty Work) as Norm’s crooked if not crazy half-brother – smart, edgy, dry comedy was the norm.
Airing from 1999-2001, Norm was a well-liked sitcom that ultimately fell victim to the axe at ABC too soon - but you can now own it on DVD thanks to the fine folks at Shout! Factory.
I’m not going to sit here like a fool and talk about 50-something episodes. My trademark pointless babble about things you, the reader, likely already know tends to wear thin after usually no more than six episode descriptions, so let’s make my one-ninth selection of the series’ episodes count:
“Norm and the Prototype” kicks off the series in the abridged first season. Norm, like any other good tax-dodge, is penalized by being given on a silver platter a job that other, less misanthropic types might actually appreciate. But, since sense is rarely a requirement for sitcoms, we proceed where Norm’s first case involves Norm in conflict after he tries to force a now ex-prostitute into a group home. She files a forced report, clearly not thrilled, which is intercepted by Laurie.
The 5th episode of the series, and season, “My Name is Norm,” features Norm pretending to be an alcoholic so that he wouldn’t be required to do as much work. This turns out as well as you’d anticipate.
As the series progressed, Faith Ford (Murphy Brown, Hope & Faith) found herself in a recurring role as Shelley. In “Norm Pimps Wiener Dog,” Norm attempts to impress her. His idea? A Hank Aaron rookie card. How does he aim to get a hold of this very expensive card? The title says it all, folks.
Yet another Shelley-related episode crops up in my List-O-Six. “Norm vs. Tennis” sees Norm allowing Shelley to win at tennis on purpose. Why? Winning turns her on. Meanwhile, there’s a fascinating subplot involving Artie, Laurie, and weight loss.
The final two episodes before the show’s premature cancellation round out the list, as Norm gets shocked, and something about the electric jolt gives Norm the ability to read men’s minds. Norm uses this to advantage before being on the receiving end of a second, disruptive shock in the season – and series’ finale.
Listen, I know those capsule summaries really aren’t doing this show justice, but when it comes to talking about a show like this, I’m either going to talk about it too briefly, or talk about it too much. Your time is valuable, so I’m opting for brevity.
You want special guest stars? I’ve got special guest stars. Abe Vigoda guest stars in “Norm, Crusading Social Worker.” Dennis Miller is in the episode “Norm vs. Love.” Music great Lou Rawls is himself in “Norm and Shelley in Love.” Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, Diedrich Bader, and Tom Arnold guest star in “Gambling Man.” Richard Pryor is in the episode “Norm vs. The Boxer,” while TV legend Cloris Leachman is in “Norm vs. The Oldest Profession.” The great Mickey Rooney is in “Retribution,” while Courtney Thorne-Smith is in “Norm and the Hopeless Cause.” Former late night king Arsenio Hall is in “Norm vs. The Kid.” Stephen Root appears in “Denby Quits” as well as “Norm Comes Back.” Boxing referee-turned-judge Mills Lane appears in “Norm and Wiener Dog vs. Fatherhood.”
Norm and the Prototype: 21:14
Norm Dates a Client: 22:02
Norm Dates Danny’s Dad: 22:03
While You Weren’t Sleeping: 22:01
My Name is Norm: 20:32
The New Boss: 22:02
Denby’s Kid: 22:03
Drive, Norm Said: 21:16
Norm, Crusading Social Worker: 22:02
Norm’s Coach: 22:02
Norm vs. Love: 21:21
Norm Pimps Wiener Dog: 20:42
Artie Comes to Town: 20:57
Norm vs. Death: 21:36
Norm and Shelly in Love: 21:34
Maurie Runs for Office: 20:52
Norm and Shelly Break Up: 20:49
Gambling Man: 20:19
Norm vs. Norm 20:59
Norm vs. Denby: 20:18
Norm vs. The Boxer: 21:08
Norm vs. Christmas: 21:24
Norm vs. The Evil Twin: 21:28
Norm vs. The Oldest Profession: 20:40
Norm vs. Jenny: 21:36
Norm vs. Fitz: 21:26
Norm vs. The Wedding: 20:14
Norm vs. Fear: 21:36
Laurie Loses It: 21:15
Norm vs. The Sacrifice: 21:15
I’ve Got a Crush on You: 21:07
Taylor Leaves: 20:30
The Norm Law: 20:21
Norm vs. Halloween: 21:35
Norm vs. The Hopeless Cause: 21:37
Norm vs. Youth (Part 1): 21:16
Norm vs. Youth (Part 2): 21:14
Norm vs. Tennis: 21:13
Norm vs. The Kid: 21:04
Norm vs. Schoolin’: 21:36
Norm vs. Freud: 20:50
Norm vs. Dad: 19:31
Denby Quits: 21:18
Norm Lets Go: 21:38
Norm vs. Danny & Sally: 21:35
Norm and Wiener Dog vs. Fatherhood: 20:56
Norm vs. Homelessness: 21:15
Norm is Fat: 20:07
Norm vs. Deception: 21:03
Norm vs. Cuba: 20:24**
Norm’s Free: 20:34
Norm Comes Back: 21:31
Norm vs. Shelly’s Old Flame: 21:35
Two things of note: Many of the episodes have abnormally short runtimes. While some of the episodes may have run short, I refuse to accept a runtime of 19:31 as being right. Something fishy IS at work on this DVD set.
Update on the Norm vs. Dad episode from Skywalker on our message board:
"I don't know about the rest of the episodes, but Norm vs. Dad had a running time of 19:31 when it aired originally so that one is unedited. There was a promo at the end of the episode talking about a contest where you could send in a joke and have it used in a future episode of Norm which ran about 40 seconds so that's probably why that episode was so short."
Beyond that, something interesting occurs in the episode Norm vs. Cuba. Before the episode, a graphic appears with the following warning:
"The episodes on this DVD set are presented in the order that they originally aired. While "Norm vs. Cuba" was originally produced as a season two episode, it was bumped into the third season lineup, which will explain the inconsistencies with the season's storyline."
I’ve been doing this for six years now, and I’ve never seen anything like that – in fact the only time I’ve ever seen a DVD version of an episode contain a disclaimer in the episode AT ALL was on a M*A*S*H DVD once when Fox was forced to use a syndication print due to deterioration of the original. For my worries about the runtimes, and some more complaints to come, I want to acknowledge the folks who authored this DVD set for including that little info graphic.
Straightforward box and slimcases at work here. Good, simple, easy to open, not prone to stupid breaks due to cheap plastic. Truly, the best packaging for the TV DVD format. Other studios should learn from sets like this and adapt. Box art features a full cast photo, while each slimcase (five in total) features a photo with a different subset of the cast. Each cast member occupies their own disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are fairly well-done. Theme song plays one rotation (no loop) in the background, while photos animate on a bulletin board-like setting. After one round of the theme, the photos become static. Choosing to access the episode menu leads to a short transition, followed by another static bulletin board. Shout! menus are usually a little more lively than this, but overall it’s definitely not bad.
Video and Audio Quality:
Well, I’ve been negative towards this set so far, but I will say one thing – the video quality is impeccable. I’ve done my best to find something to complain about, but I can’t. Video is amazing. Audio is amazing. Chapter stops occur after each act, my preferred placement for chapter stops. There may be edits, and the menus may be sub-standard, but what’s actually here looks good.
While Shout! sets are normally known for their special features, this set feels slightly barren. There are several commentary tracks, mainly on season one and two episodes, by Norm and exec. producer Bruce Helford. Runtimes correspond to episode lengths, obviously, with 7 in total. They run approx. 150 total minutes.
There’s also a booklet to go with the show. I can’t speak to the contents of the booklet as I’m in the middle of packing for a move and have misplaced it, but if previous sets from Shout! I’ve reviewed with booklets are any indication, it’s likely quite well-constructed.
This is an odd little show – depending on the scene, I either love it or don’t care for it. There are a few points where Norm’s sarcasm seems to go slightly over that edge for me, but most of the time I do adore this show. Really, any show that leads to a steady paycheck for a member of the ALF cast is going to be liked by me.
There are an odd number of problems on this DVD set compared to the Shout! product I usually review. One episode runs under 20 minutes and several run under 21 – for a series from 10 years ago that’s just NOT right. The menus also feel like a real step down compared to other sets from Shout! (Sports Night leaps to mind). If you’re a fan of the show, by all means buy this set. You’re still going to enjoy what’s here. If you’re not a fan...consider rental first.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Special Features: 1/5
Final Score: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 08/27/10
To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:
Please e-mail me with your sitcom related questions, sitcoms to add, and suggestions for additional links. © 1999-2014, Todd Fuller Contact Form