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Wings - The Complete Third Season



DVD Release Date: October 24, 2006 (Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD)
MSRP: $38.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 8 hours, 13 min
Running Time of Special Features: None
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo (English) Closed Captioned
Special Features: None.


In season three, comedy has reached its cruising level with the Hackett brothers and company. From the moment Helen returns to Nantucket to the edge-of-your-seat season ender, life in the hangar is more surprising and hilarious than ever.

Created by the same production team responsible for the hugely popular series Cheers, Wings has a similarly homey, familiar feel. Replacing the Boston bar is a small airport on Nantucket Island. The denizens of the bar are replaced with pilots and airport personnel. What the viewers are left with is a delightful show revolving around Sandpiper Air Service, a tiny charter airline co owned by two handsome, charming brothers, a rival airline, Aeromass, and a lunch counter run the brothers' life-long friend, Helen.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The work-horse of the 1990s NBC sitcom lineup, Wings entered its third season in 1991-92. This season, we get treated to Helen working in a New York City strip joint, Joe’s lack of a birthday surprise…or at least a planned one, Roy manipulating the gang into digging him a hole for his new hot tub during a fog out, Roy’s dead wife Sylvia not being dead after all, trying to gain Antonio a green card, Helen and Antonio getting married to do so, Helen and Antonio getting divorced, the brothers childhood house getting demolished, some visiting Cranes, and the engines on Joe’s plane failing at the worst time….and that was just from memory. This is a great season, of a great show. Wings stars Tim Daly as Joe, Steven Weber as Brian, Crystal Bernard as Helen, Thomas Haden Church as Lowell, Tony Shalhoub as Antonio, plus Rebecca Schull as Fay, and David Schramm as Roy. The episodes described above are “The Naked Truth,” “Crate Expectations, “Try to Remember the Night He Dismembered,” “The Late Mrs. Biggins,” “The Bogey Men,” “Marriage, Italian Style,” “Divorce, American Style,” “This Old House,” “Planes, Trains, and Visiting Cranes,” and “As Fate Would Have It.” I didn’t necessarily say these were necessarily the best episodes, just the most memorable --­ if I can still remember them despite having not seen them regularly in two years (since Nick at Nite dropped the overnight airings --­ I never got to catch TV Land reruns even remotely often), then they probably qualify as “Memorable Episodes,” eh?

As far as guest stars, I knocked off two already ­ Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth carry their respective Cheers/Frasier characters over for a guest spot on Wings in the episode with the non-subtle, but still creatively titled, “Planes, Trains, and Visiting Cranes.” Elsewhere, Tyne Daly (“Judging Amy,” “Cagney & Lacey”) guests as Mimsy in “My Brother’s Keeper.” Longtime NBC Nightly News anchor and journalist Edwin Newman appears in “Ladies Who Lunch.” Concetta Tomei (“Providence,” “China Beach”) appears in “The Late Mrs. Biggins” as Roy’s not-dead dead wife Sylvia. Oliver North (yes, THAT Oliver North) appears as himself in “Take My Life, Please.” Peri Gilpin, who would go on to become Roz in Frasier appears in “Four Dates that Will Life in Infamy.” SNL alum and brother of Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, guests in Say it Ain’t So, Joe, along with some guy named Matthew Fox…he’s on some show called “Lost” that airs on ABC…I think people might have seen it. Seriously, though, yeah, he’s in this episode too. I probably should have led with him for this episode, but the sarcasm works better if it’s at the end, in my opinion.


Because I always wanted more orange + sky blue DVD packaging…actually, it works pretty well to lead with, I guess. Seriously, however, the packaging features orange strips, in front of an alternating sky blue/white gradient. The Wings logo is at the top, with an orange strip behind it. The cast photo is in the center, in front of the sky-colored background ­ and the cast photos look horrendously retouched and sharpened it’s just…bad. I’m honestly trying not to be too critical --­ we haven’t even gotten to the video section yet --­ but wow. On the back is orange on the top and bottom, with a white strip running in the center. The white strip has the back-of-box text in a blue font, with the Wings logo and complete third season airplane + wings graphic below the logo. At the bottom is a strip of three images.

Inside the outer box there are two slimcases, each holding two discs --­ one each on the left and right panel of the slimcase. On the front of each slimcase is art similar to the front cover of the outer box, with a different photo. The photo on slimcase 1 has Joe, Helen, and Antonio, while the photo on slimcase 2 has Brian, Lowell, and Roy. Poor Fay. Again, however, the art style (IE: Orange/Sky blue + white) is the same as the front cover. On the back there’s some thin orange stripes on the outer edge --­ which would almost look like a visual cue to “cut here”, if this weren’t automated --­ it’s not even the same width on both cases. There are two sky blue text boxes, divided by a strip of photos. The text boxes each contain info about the contents of a disc in that slimcase. Otherwise, the backs are identical, except for the photos themselves running through the middle strip. It’s only on the discs themselves where the orange finally starts to look like a good idea. AT the top is the Wings logo in front of a White background, with a photo strip running across the center. Below that is orange, with all the production and technical information about the disc in a white font. Just below the center hole in the disc is a set of wings with the Disc number. Disc 1 has episodes 1-6, Disc 2 has episodes 7-11, Disc 3 has episodes 12-17, while Disc 8 has episodes 18-22.

Menu Design and Navigation:

This is easy. There’s only one menu per disc. Yes, I’m serious, one per DISC. And just to provide one more case of giggles --­ the menu uses red instead of orange. Considering the cover art released on the internet honestly looks more red than orange, I wonder what happened --­ was red originally planned, then something happened later to change it? Anyway, the one menu does look nice --­ if there were more depth, then there could really be potential here --­ the little propeller plane could be animated, sky could go behind instead of some little generic blue/white gradient….But, what we do have is red strips at the bottom and top. In the middle, it starts white, but gradually turns into sky blue. In the bottom right corner is the airplane, from it the sky blue goes into the bottom right order. Above it, taking up the right side of the center strip is Joe, Helen, and Antonio. They at least do bother to change the photo on the other discs. Disc 2 is a solo photo of Helen. Episode selection info is on the left. Play All is on the bottom in the red strip. Starting in Disc 3, they flip the art, moving the plane to the left. Above it on disc 3 is Brian, while on Disc 4 Joe is featured.

Video and Audio Quality:

Good news is the video isn’t very grainy this season. Bad news is the video is horribly compressed ­ it’s obvious on even the smaller screens I viewed this one. The compression also makes sections of the video look distorted, and makes the colors look duller. Many artifacts. The audio is fine. The vocals are loud and clear, and the music is perfectly balanced. There’s no hiss…the audio is adequate enough, and one of the better moments of the set --­ and it’s a basic 2 channel stereo track. Chapter stops at the end of each scene. While the video doesn’t look spectacular on smaller screens, though, it does look better on the regular screens. The video may have been sampled at some point at 320x240, hence, on any screen that displays a large picture, or at a high resolution, looks quite bad. Understand though --­ pretty much any line that’s not perfectly horizontal tends to distort somewhat --­ hence desk surfaces, tables, etc look bad. The video does NOT improve on the discs with fewer episodes, tending to indicate the sampling issue.

Episode Runtimes
Disc 1:
The Naked Truth: 22:28
Is that a Subpoena in Your Pocket: 22:27
The Taming of the Shrew: 22:27
I Ain’t Got No Bunny: 22:27
If Elected, I Will Not Live: 22:24
My Brother’s Keeper: 22:25

Disc 2:
Crate Expectations: 22:27
Ladies Who Lunch: 22:26
Try to Remember the Night He Dismembered: 22:26
The Late Mrs. Biggins: 22:26
The Bogey Men: 22:25

Disc 3:
Marriage, Italian Style: 22:27
Divorce, American Style: 22:27
Stew in a Stew: 22:27
This Old House: 22:22
Planes, Trains, and Visiting Cranes: 22:29
Das Plane: 22:28

Disc 4:
Take My Life, Please: 22:27
Four Dates that Will Live in Infamy: 22:27
The Bank Dick: 22:28
Say It Ain’t So, Joe: 22:28
AS Fate Would Have It: 22:27

Yes, those runtimes are a bit short, however, they are just 30 seconds off the last release’s times, and for the 91-92 season, NBC cut 30 seconds from Wings for commercial time --­ which is why they cut the theme midseason, in order to make more time for content. This, of course, continued one negative trend (the cutting of episode time for commercials), while starting a new one --­ the elimination or marginalization of opening themes.

Special Features:

Nada. Nothing. A blooper reel, some deleted scenes, commentaries, cast interviews, cast appearances on other shows, episode promos, even…sigh…”themed featurettes”…something, anything just to know that someone at Paramount actually CARED one iota about the quality of this release.

Final Comments:

I’m sorry, I really am. I try to be positive in these reviews, but honestly…these Wings releases have just been poor. Very poor. Poorly designed packaging, no features at all, no subtitles, mediocre to poor video. I love this show, I really do --­ I even like episodes that popular consensus says may not be that great. But I hate the substandard releases given to the show so far. I really do. It’s as if they’re not even trying.

As for what I wish they’d do in future releases, I’ve stated it all in the review already, but here’s a full, official list:

*Better designed packaging
*Consistent visual scheme throughout the set (IE: No orange box, red menus)
*Less compressed video
*Better color definition
*Foreign language subtitles
*Scene selection
*Animated Menus

Or any of these special features
*Cast/crew interviews
*Cast/crew commentary
*Deleted Scenes
*Blooper Reel
*Episode promos --­ either from NBC or syndication or cable
*Clips put together to a certain theme

Something, anything, to let me know that the fine folks at Paramount actually care --­ even just a little bit-- ­ about one of their finer shows. If you’re a fan of the show, go ahead and buy it. If you’re looking for a funny show, I can’t tell you in good faith to put $40 on this set (though you can buy it through AND support via the link at the end of this review, and at a much lower price). You might be better served catching the once-weekly rerun on TV Land (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET) to see if you like the show first --­ as well as giving TV Land a greater incentive to carry this show more often.

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

Video Quality: 2.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3/5
Special Features: 0/5
Final Score: 3/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 10/09/06

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