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Too Close for Comfort - The Complete First Season



DVD Release Date: November 2, 2004 (Rhino Home Video)
color, approx. 420 minutes
MSRP: $39.95
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 19
Language and Subtitles: English, no subtitles.
Special Features: None

Review (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: N/A
Menu Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5


Too Close for Comfort is now on DVD! The Complete First Season is being offered on DVD by Rhino, and if you've never seen the show (or maybe never even heard of the show); this is your chance to see it! It is probably one of the more obscure shows from the 80s, which explains why it isn't shown in syndication anywhere in the United States, but just because a show isn't widely syndicated doesn't mean it isn't a great show--and Too Close for Comfort IS a great show!

Just for a brief introduction for those that have never seen the show... Ted Knight plays a cartoonist named Henry Rush that lives in an apartment building in San Francisco with his wife, Muriel Rush (played by Nancy Dussault). In the first episode of the show, their two grown daughters, Jackie and Sara, live in the same apartment with Henry and Muriel, as the show title implies is "too close for comfort." But when a downstairs apartment in the building (which is also owned by Henry) becomes available, Jackie and Sara move into the apartment... but even though they have their own apartment, they are STILL finding themselves "too close for comfort." They also have a quirky neighbor named Monroe (played by J.M. J. Bullock) that always manages to provide comedy. The show, kind of like other shows from the same era, was never really shy on dealing with touchy issues, but it always dealt with the issues with humor. The show began on ABC in 1980, and eventually moved into syndication and was re-titled "The Ted Knight Show" and underwent many changes. The changes were (in my opinion, at least) for the worse, but fortunately, this set contains the first season, which was a very good season.

The first season of Too Close for Comfort included many episodes that I thought were great. Some of the ones that I thought were the best on this set include "It Didn't Happen One Night" (where Henry, while searching through Jackie and Sara's apartment, finds birth control pills), "A Friend in Need" (where Monroe admits he is a virgin and mistakes the elderly Mrs. Rafkin as a "sexual surrogate"), and "Cosmic Cow vs. The Oval Office" (where Henry gets fired for refusing to apologize for drawing a comic strip that makes fun of Ronald Reagan). There really weren't any guest stars worth mentioning in the first season, but Selma Diamond did make a few appearances as Mrs. Rafkin.

The packaging for this set was done very nicely. Like many other recent boxed sets for other sitcoms, each disc (there are three of them) is packaged in its own slim case inside of a box. The individual cases did seem a little strange due to the fact that if you were looking at the front of each case, the case would open from the left-hand side of the case rather than the right-hand side, but that is just a minor issue that is not difficult to adjust to. On the back of each individual case, there are descriptions of each episode on that disc. These aren't just general descriptions like the ones you would find on a television listings website, but instead rather detailed descriptions that sometimes give away the ending. Maybe that is a good thing or a bad thing... but if you've seen the episodes before, it doesn't matter anyway. You can't really "spoil" a sitcom anyway; every sitcom fan knows that there are only a handful of sitcom plots. The great thing to see is how each individual show handles that particular plot, which is where the enjoyment of the sitcom comes in.

The episodes are divided (almost) evenly among the discs. Episodes 1-7 are on Disc One, episodes 8-14 are on Disc Two, and episodes 15-19 are on Disc Three. The menus on the discs are very well done. The initial menu screen that comes up is a screen where you can choose from Play All or Episode Selection. While this menu is up, the Too Close for Comfort theme song plays in the background. Obviously, if you select Play All, every episode (starting with the first one on the Disc) will play. If you choose the Episode Selection option, you will be taken to a menu where you can choose which episode you want to watch. However, when you select an episode from the menu, you go to yet another screen where you can choose to start from a particular scene or to play the episode from the beginning. Personally, I didn't like this arrangement. I think that it would have been better if the main Episode Selection screen allowed you to play it directly from there and perhaps had a separate menu for somebody that wants to start at a particular scene. Basically, I feel like there are too many menu screens to go through just to play a selected episode from the beginning.

The video quality of this set is fairly adequate. The video quality does show some age, but it isn't horrible. One odd thing that I noticed from time to time, though, was that the picture would occasionally jump around. It doesn't seem to occur often enough to notice though unless you are watching it very carefully and probably shouldn't annoy the typical viewer. The audio quality was very good considering the age of the show. It is a mono audio track (which isn't unexpected for a show from 1980), but the audio is very loud and clear.

There were absolutely no special features at all. The press releases had suggested that there would be some special features, but I couldn't find any on the set, unless they were hidden as "Easter eggs" (which I doubt that they would have been). It seems that the cast of the show (except for Ted Knight, of course, who is deceased) is not the type that has chosen to ignore the show. In fact, they are going to be involved in the cast reunion to celebrate the release of the DVD. It would have made sense to me if they had had the cast do some sort of extras for the set, like a reunion for the DVD set or maybe some audio commentaries. Or if the cast did not want to be involved in actual extras for the DVD set, they probably could have gotten some bloopers or something together. But none of that is on this set. It is a shame, but there are NO special features on this set.

There were a few things with this set that I would consider to be "problems." First of all, although I can't really prove it, I believe that the set offers syndication copies of the episodes rather than the original uncut episodes. Unfortunately, it seems like many (though certainly not MOST) TV-on-DVD releases are becoming this way lately. Also, there was no closed captioning on this set. It is a pretty standard practice to include closed captioning on DVDs these days, but this set does not have closed captioning. I also tried to see if perhaps there were subtitles in lieu of closed captioning, but they were not available either.

In general, I would say that this is a very good set and worth purchasing. Too Close for Comfort may not a memorable show to many people, but it is still a very good show. If you've never seen the show, this is probably the only way you will be able to see it anytime soon. You may be surprised at how great this show is!

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/04/04

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