TITLE: 'TIL DEATH - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 18
Running Time: 432 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: 21 minutes
Video: Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
* “Pre-Show Antics” with Brad Garrett
The Starks (Brad Garrett, Joely Fisher) and the Woodcocks (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Kat Foster) are back -- still laughing, still loving, and still committed to the crazy institution of marriage. They may still be making mistakes, but they’re still managing to make it work. This season, they continue teaching each other important lessons in love and life in this fun-filled DVD set featuring outrageous deleted scenes and bloopers from what *was* one of the better series on television -- at least until Fox monkeyed around with the format recently, completely destroying the show.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The numbers say that you’re just not watching this show. Fox, having not learned the lesson of 60 years of the television industry but a lesson I learned in my very first introductory broadcast journalism class, decided this year to monkey with the show and completely override the plot of the show. The focus was changed, and the fact that they seem to be pushing renewal is an absolute miracle.
Luckily, this season represents a continuation of the two year “watchable age” of the show to me. The first two seasons were great; it was only recently that the show “jumped the shark” or “nuked the fridge” or whatever phrase you want to use to say the show went downhill. As a treat, three of the more watchable episodes from the current season are included, as the current aired season included three holdovers from the second season’s produced episodes. Episodes are in airing order. The final produced episode for the season, one of the three holdovers aired this year, features Vicki Lewis as a guest -- some of you may remember Vicki from NewsRadio, where she played the character of Beth.
The packaging is fairly simple, and is the standard-issue for Sony sets...outer box holding 2 slimcases. The cover art features the primary characters featured on the show -- the funny part of the image, for the two of you reading this who haven’t seen the cover by now, is that Joely is carrying brad (at least, that’s the way the photo is made to appear)
Both slimcase covers feature Brad and Joely, with the second case’s photo showing a photo of Joely Fisher that seems vaguely familiar (hint: cover art, only without the weightlifting going on). The rear covers feature a list of episodes in each case. With two discs and 18 episodes, you can certainly figure out in a hurry episodes are going to be stuffed on each disc. The first ten episodes are found on the first disc, with the remaining eight on the second disc. The disc art on each disc is an extension of the inner-slimcase art in each case -- the art for case/disc two involves hedges and a fence in front of the sky, with the art on the first package being similar, with a small difference -- the cast members are loitering around the fence.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Static orange menu that changes colors near the bottom towards a red-orange color. The show logo hangs down from chains from the top, center-left on the menu. The Play All option is displayed on a smaller card hanging on more chains down below, with the episode selections menu hanging further down from it. On disc 2, there *is* an option for bonus features, accessible on the same card as the episode selection menu option. The episode selections menu features episode stills and titles across white strips tilted along the image. People who get freaked out when menu options aren’t in a straight line may well not like these menus. Their loss.
Video and Audio Quality:
As it’s a critic’s job to find things to complain about, I probably need to justify this section’s existence somehow. I mean, with newer series the video should be pretty stellar, as should the audio. Right? Yes. If I had to find something to complain about it is that the presentation leaves me nothing to complain about. Video’s good with no discernable issues. Audio is a 5.1 Dolby Digital track that’s as nice as you’re going to find on a sitcom. Chapter stops, in probably my largest quibble, are placed at the end of every *act* rather than every scene, and I’ve found that the scene format is preferable.
Performance Anxiety: 21:08
Four Neighbors and a Funeral: 21:43
Come Out and Play: 21:43
Tale of the Tape: 21:44
Mixed Doubles: 21:13
Vintage Eddie: 21:43
Bedtime Stories: 21:44
No More Mr. Vice Guy: 21:04
Everybody Digs Doug: 21:17
Really Big Brother: 20:29
A Raisinette in the Sun: 21:43
Sob Story: 21:33
Second Marriage Guy: 21:37
Swimming with Starks: 21:43
*Joy Ride: 21:09
*Philadelphia Freedom: 21:28
*Secret Meatball: 21:22
*These three episodes aired as part of the third season, but were produced for season two and so are included here. These feature the revised season three opening titles.
(The runtimes are consistent with the episodes for sale in the iTunes store. Whether that’s an indicator of lack of edits or not, it is at least a sign of consistency of production.)
“Pre-Show Antics of Brad Garrett” (7:51): Now THIS is an interesting feature -- it is video of Brad Garrett’s warm-ups prior to a few episodes of ‘Til Death. One thing people may not know is that prior to his acting career, Brad *was* a stand-up comedian.
Bloopers: 13:30 worth of screw-ups from the second season.
Running Time of Special Features: Approx. 21 minutes.
‘Til Death was a funny show -- at least this season and the season prior. Season three, sans to some degree the holdovers from season two, represents a steep plummet downhill in my opinion. Honestly, if you’re collecting the show for posteriority, you can probably stop here, unless the series magically improves somehow. You can buy the set -- using the convenient Amazon link below -- and give the show a shot. You can also purchase individual episodes in the iTunes music store. Give the show a chance; I really think you’ll like it -- at least if you buy earlier episodes. Technically speaking the set does its job as well as you can ask for a newer sitcom. If you like the show, or the actors in it, I’d recommend buying the show. If you’re on the fence, I’d probably recommend the individual episode downloads first, though avoid season three like the plague.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3.5/5
Final Score: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 01/23/09
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