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Stockard Channing in Just Friends - The Stockard Channing Show - 2 Disc Set



DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006 (VEI)
Color/1979 and 1980
MSRP: $19.95 CDN
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 23
Running Time: Approx. 9 Hours
Audio: English
Subtitles: None - unknown if it has closed captioning
Special Features: None


Following the success and critical acclaim from roles in the Joan Rivers' camp classic, 'The Girl Most Likely To...', 'The Fortune', alongside Warren Beatty and Jack Nicolson, Neil Simon's 'The Cheap Detective', and as tough-girl Rizzo in the musical classic 'Grease', the CBS television network offered Stockard Channing her own sitcom series - Stockard Channing in Just Friends (1979) and The Stockard Channing Show (1980).

In both these series Stockard plays an adventurous bright woman, estranged from her husband and determined to make it on her own. By removing herself from the shackles of married life in Boston and creating anew in Los Angeles, Stockard is a million other women who have done the same thing--for better or worse. Striking out on your own is at best a shaky road, and in Stockard's interpretation of Susan - from her wacky jobs at a health club and as a television investigative reporter to her face-to-face confrontation with her Ivy League hubby - "it's pure sophisticated comedy with a streak of reality so broad you could drive a tractor-trailer on it".

These beloved shows offer Stockard Channing's fan base an early glimpse into the talents of a young actress who has since gone on to star in numerous dramatic and comedic roles on the big screen as well as on television. Presented together, for the first time on home video, in this unique two disc collection are the cult TV series that nostalgic fans have been longing for!

Episodes Included / Notable Guest Stars:

Stockard Channing in Just Friends premiered on CBS on March 4, 1979. The series starred Stockard Channing as Susan Hughes, Lou Criscuolo as Milt D'Angelo, Gerrit Graham as Leonard Scribner, Mimi Kennedy as Victoria, Syndney Goldsmith as Coral, Joan Tolentino as Mrs. Fischer, Linda Rose as Miss Yarnell, and Rhonda Foxx as Mrs. Blanchard. It originally followed Alice on Sunday nights at 9:30PM and initially received a 38 share. It was later moved to Saturday nights from June-August 1979.

Here are the 10 episodes included: Pilot; Last of the Red Hots Tubs; Health May Be Hazardous; Lost Weekend; Invasion of the Body Grabber; The Boy in the Band; Same Time, Next Night; The Ziegenfuss Force; A Little Fright Music; The Hollywood Syndrome

Notable guest stars included George Gaynes in "Health May Be Hazardous," Rene Auberjonois in "Lost Weekend," Liz Torres in "Same Time, Next Night," Harry Shearer in "The Ziegenfuss Force," Hamilton Camp in "A Little Fright Music" and John Byner in "The Hollywood Syndrome."

The Stockard Channing Show premiered on CBS on March 24, 1980. Returning from the previous attempt were Stockard Channing as Susan Goodenow and Sydney Goldsmith as Earline Cunningham. Other cast members included Ron Silver as Brad Gabriel, Max Showalter as Gus Clyde and Jack Somack as Mr. Kramer. The series started on Monday nights at 8:30PM (opposite Little House on the Prairie) and was later moved in June to Saturday nights at 8:30PM.

Here are the 13 episodes included: Funny Thing Happened; Catch a Falling Star; Advise and Consume; No. 3 with Sprouts to Go; You Can't Quit Me, I'm Fired; Life Begins at 30; The Threat; Exclusive: Love Finds Brad Gabriel; Susan's Big Band; Puppy Love; Texas Bob and The Consumer Ranch Gang; Print, Pass, and Kick; Ask Gratin Gus

Notable guest stars included Sam Anderson as Arnold in "Catch a Falling Star," Wendie Jo Sperber as Wendy Simon in "No. 3 with Sprouts to Go," Helen Martin as "the Maid" in "Exclusive: Love Finds Brad Gabriel," Nedra Volz in "Susan's Big Band" and Phil Leeds as Ozzie Dumbarton in "Texas Bob and The Consumer Ranch Gang."


This 2-disc set contains 10 episodes of "Stockard Channing in Just Friends" and 13 episodes of "The Stockard Channing Show." The packaging is a 3 panel thin cardboard case. Stockard Channing is featured on the cover of the case. There are several other blue-tinted photos of Stockard in the background and "The Stockard Channing Show" logo at the top. On the back of the box, there is a synopsis of the set, 6 photos of Stockard and other cast members and some quotes about the shows from "The Hollywood Reporter" and "The Los Angeles Times." When you lift up the top panel, there are panels that have the episode listings for "Stockard Channing in Just Friends" on the left side and for "The Stockard Channing Show" on the right side. There are 5 photos of Stockard and other cast members for each sitcom. They incorrectly list 11 episodes for "Stockard Channing in Just Friends." The 11th episode that they list ("Funny Thing Happened") was actually the first episode of "The Stockard Channing Show." The 2 discs are held in the second and third panels. Since information on these shows is so scare online, it would have been nice if they included some kind of episode guide with summaries and original airdates. The discs have the respective show logo on each of them and have a blue '70s flower type background.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very plain looking and easy to navigate. The main menus on each disc featured blue-tinted photos at the top and bottom of the screen. The show logo is in the center of the screen in gold. There are options for "Play All" and "Select Episode." They have the same type of light blue flower background that is used for the rest of the packaging. Your highlighted option is in gold text, and the other option is in purple. When you choose "Select Episode," it takes you to another sub-menu. There is a still image for each episode. A gold border is around the episode you highlight to play. There are chapter stops within the episodes but no separate scene selection menus.

Video and Audio Quality:

This set was delayed several times from the original June release date, due to the fact that VEI was searching for better masters. The one bonus episode of "Stockard Channing in Just Friends" that was included on the "Gimme A Break - The Complete First Season" release really didn't look that great. VEI notes on the packaging and when you first play a disc before the menu appears that "These DVDs contain technical anomalies inherited in historical footage." While all the episodes are certainly watchable, you can expect to see some occasional digital tape artifacts, fuzzy and compressed pictures, some brief interference lines and other tape glitches. I would imagine these episodes look much better than if you had originally taped them in 1979-1980 yourself. It appears that they were just transferred over from a tape source and not digitally remastered. There are simply too many episodes on crammed on each disc, however. These episodes likely would have looked a bit better and less compressed if they had used 3 discs (or 2 double-sided discs) and put only 7-8 episodes on each. All the episodes appear to be unedited, running around 23-25 minutes in length. I'm not sure if they are in the original broadcast or production order. Although they don't label this as the "complete" series of each sitcom, it seems like these are all the episodes that were produced. For the closing logo enthusiasts, look for the Little Bear Productions logo. This was the production company created by Stockard and her then husband. These were the only two series created by their production company. Several of the "The Stockard Channing Show" episodes also have a Columbia Tri-Star closing logo on them.

The audio is a Dolby Digital mono track, which is typical of the sitcoms of the era. The volume was a little low and there is some hiss, so you'll probably will have to turn it up a little more than normal. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that these episodes have any subtitles or closed captioning. It is interesting to note that both series used a similar theme. "Stockard Channing in Just Friends" used an instrumental theme for about the first 6 episodes and then used a vocal theme. "The Stockard Channing Theme" used a vocal theme which sounded slightly different than the first series. Both series used the same instrumental closing theme.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc and the running times:

Disc 1 - Stockard Channing in Just Friends
1. Pilot (25:07)
2. Last of the Red Hot Tubs (24:56)
3. Health May Be Hazardous (24:47)
4. Lost Weekend (24:56)
5. Invasion of the Body Grabber (24:41)
6. The Boy in the Band (24:57)
7. Same Time, Next Night (25:00)
8. The Zeigenfuss Force (24:57)
9. A Little Fright Music (24:57)
10. The Hollywood Syndrome (23:50)
11. Funny Thing Happened (23:50) *
* This episode is actually the first episode of The Stockard Channing Show.

Disc 2 - The Stockard Channing Show
1. Catch a Falling Star (23:52)
2. Advise and Consume (23:51)
3. No. 3 with Sprouts to Go (23:51)
4. You Can't Quit Me, I'm Fired (23:58)
5. Life Begins at 30 (23:58)
6. The Threat (23:52)
7. Exclusive: Love Finds Brad Gabriel (23:52)
8. Susan's Big Band (23:46)
9. Puppy Love (23:30)
10. Texas Bob and The Consumer Ranch Gang (23:35)
11. Punt, Pass, and Kick (23:35)
12. Ask Gratin Gus (23:59)

Special Features:

No special features are included. It would have been nice to see an interview with Stockard Channing, since she apparently owns both of the series. They could have had included some cast details or other productions notes. Although it couldn't really be called a special feature, I would have liked to see some kind of episode guide.

Final Comments:

Both of these series were very similar. Stockard played a character named Susan in both of them. Her marriages in both had recently ended, and she was starting a new job in Los Angeles. They used the same apartment set with different furniture. Sydney Goldsmith played her friend and co-worker in both of them. Both series used a similar sounding opening and the same ending theme. They both had the same creators and production people. After watching a few episodes of each, I think "The Stockard Channing Show" had the better premise of the two, and Stockard and Ron Silver had some good chemistry. Unfortunately, neither of them caught on and both were quickly canceled. Stockard has just not had a lot of success with her CBS sitcoms. "Out of Practice" was clearly the best sitcom she has appeared in (she was nominated for an Emmy), but that was also sadly canceled after only one season.

Overall, VEI has done a pretty good job with this set. I would have never expected to see these two short-lived sitcoms released on DVD. While the episodes may not have tremendous video quality, these are likely the best masters they could find and they are all certainly watchable. I'd certainly recommend this set to any Stockard fans to see some of her early work, especially at such a low price. It was also fun to see some recognizable sitcom faces like George Gaynes, Rene Auberjonois, Hamilton Camp, Sam Anderson, Wendie Jo Sperber, Helen Martin and Nedra Volz. Speaking of some short-lived shows I'd like to see on DVD, I have some suggestions for VEI for some potential releases that major studios may overlook: Blansky's Beauties; Who's Watching the Kids?; Hello, Larry; Double Trouble; Goodnight, Beantown; It's Your Move; My Sister Sam; Square Pegs; and Day By Day.

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: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 12/18/06

Note: This set is being released only in Canada, but you can order it online if you are in the US just like the regular - the discs will play in your Region 1 DVD player.

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