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Ellen on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Coming November 28: Season 5

"Ellen" The Complete Season Two DVD Review

Buy Ellen: The Complete Season Two from Amazon.com Ellen: Season Two (1994-95)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Director: Tom Cherones

Regular Cast: Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen Morgan), Arye Gross (Adam Green), Joely Fisher (Paige Clark), David Anthony Higgins (Joe Farrell)

Recurring Characters: Alice Hirson (Lois), Steven Gilborn (Harold), Clea Lewis (Audrey), Patrick Bristo (Peter), Kate Hodge (Stephanie), Paxton Whitehead (Dr. Whitcomb), William Ragsdale (Dan)

Notable Guest Stars: Andrea Parker (Joanna, "The Dentist"), Kathy Najimy (Theresa, "So Funny"), Bradley Whitford (Doug, "The Fix-Up"), Harry Shearer (Ted, "The Trainer"), Nick Bakay (Lloyd, "Mrs. Koger"), Bob Saget (Himself/Danny Tanner, "Ellen's Improvement"), Mary-Kate Olsen (Herself/Michelle Tanner, "Ellen's Improvement"), Alex Trebek (Himself [voice], "Ellen's Improvement"), Patrick Warburton (Brent, "The Spa" & Jack, "The Thirty Kilo Man"), Elaine Hendrix (Maya, "Ballet Class"), Dann Florek (Mr. Woodruff, "$5,000")

Running Time: 552 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: February 22, 2005
Season 2 Airdates: September 21, 1994 - May 17, 1995
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs; Suggested Retail Price: $49.95
Three individual slim-line DVD cases with cardboard slipcover

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from the season.

Love brings out the gladiator in Ellen. Ellen's annoying friend, Audrey. Mud bath anyone?

Disc 3 (Volume 3)

17. Guns 'N Ellen (22:05) (Originally aired February 15, 1995)
A burglary sends Ellen and the gang to the police station for the second time in two years. Paranoid, the group also takes a self-defense class and Audrey teaches a hesitant Ellen how to use a gun.

18. The Sleep Clinic (22:13) (Originally aired February 22, 1995)
Erotic dreams about Adam freak Ellen out so she seeks the help of a therapist. She's not the only with romantic notions of Adam, though... Audrey now wants him too.

19. Gladiators (22:11) (Originally aired March 1, 1995)
Adam decides to audition for "American Gladiators," but when he gets there, it's Ellen who ends up going through and landing a date with Nitro, who Adam also sets out to befriend. Meanwhile, Audrey sues Paige after a car accident.

20. $5,000 (21:46) (Originally aired March 22, 1995)
The IRS mistakenly sends Ellen five thousand dollars, which she gives to the Helping Hand but then must reclaim. Paige is making money of her own as she poses for Adam's new photo shoot theme: people as inanimate objects. Meanwhile, Joe is paranoid that the government will discover he is an illegal immigrant from Canada.

21. Three Strikes (22:21) (Originally aired March 29, 1995)
Ellen's protest with an animal rights activist group lands her in jail, where her overbearing parents come to her rescue. Things look like they couldn't get any worse until Ellen is sentenced to house arrest under her parents' care.

22. The Therapy Episode (22:12) (Originally aired May 3, 1995)
A near-death experience on a ski lift prompts Adam to find a partner for reproduction, Paige to seek out the thrills in life, and Ellen to examine honesty with her parents in therapy.

23. Thirty Kilo Man (Part 1) (22:20) (Originally aired May 10, 1995)
As the title might suggest, this, the first of two parts of the season finale, resumes the storyline begun in "The Thirty Minute Man." Dan has returned but he's a pizza delivery boy no more. Now he sports a new look and a new career in the vaguely termed 'import/export business.' The changes are a welcome relief to Ellen until his new job starts to look very suspicious. Meanwhile, Adam and Paige go out for dinner, each trying to force the bill on the other. Both storylines end with "to be continued." Not only does this episode begin to bring the season to a close, it also recaps the hilarious events of the entire season. Fans will likely spot this episode's jab at the comparisons of "Ellen" to "I Love Lucy" at the time.

24. Thirty Kilo Man (Part 2) (22:18) (Originally aired May 17, 1995)
In this, the conclusion of the season finale, the usual title card is replaced with a recap segment and then the show begins right where part one left off. Ellen finds that she may have jumped to conclusions while the love bug bites the rest of the gang, except Paige. The entire cast, both regular and supporting, are brought together in this episode that provides both resolution to one season and reason to look forward to another. Fans will probably notice the reference to Ellen and Joely's then-upcoming roles in the Touchstone film Mr. Wrong and "Grease" on Broadway, respectively.

Is that Ellen or Lucy? It's TV vs. Opera in "Ellen's Improvement."

VIDEO AND AUDIO

Even though the picture quality on Ellen's first release was fine, the quality in this set seems to be just slightly improved on the whole. There is again the occasional grain, but with the episodes airing about a decade ago on television, that's probably to be expected. Two episodes ("The Toast" and "Mrs. Koger"), however, show noticeably poorer picture quality for some reason (perhaps suggesting that there was work done on the others). The series was filmed and aired in the 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio and is presented as such here.

Once again, the audio is crisp and clear. At no time was I unclear on anything that had been said and only occasionally did the laughs from the audience become slightly too loud, perhaps due to sincere amusement. The Dolby Digital stereo track makes excellent use of both speakers.

The commentaries menu One of the episode menus on Disc 1. Part of Arye Gross' bio on Disc 1.

BONUS FEATURES

As with the first season set, audio commentary comprises the bulk of the offered bonus features. This time around, Joely Fisher and David Anthony Higgins provide commentary on two episodes, both on Disc 2, "The Trainer," and "Mrs. Koger" (mistakenly labeled "Mrs. Kroger" on the menu).
On the whole, the commentary tends to be much more entertaining, informative, and satisfying in this season than the last. That is partially due to the fact that both Fisher and Higgins were with the series from the second season until its end. Topics discussed range from shooting locales (most of which were at the Disney Studios in Orlando, Florida) to the obligatory IMDb.com joke which seems to be a staple in television commentary these days. As with any cast narration, there are a few lulls of silence. While most series increase the volume of the episode's original audio track during these lulls, that isn't the case here, leaving a more noticeable silence. Aside from that, the only complaints one might have are that no more than two commentaries were offered (still, that's one more than last season's 13 episode set) and that Ellen herself didn't join in (which will hopefully be remedied on later seasons' releases).

The only other bonus feature is found on Disc 1, a brief biography and miniature filmography for each of the four regular cast members (though they sport a different picture, the bio for DeGeneres and Gross are the same as in the first season set).

Ellen: Season Two Main Menu A look at A & E's packaging.

MENUS, DESIGN, and PACKAGING

An animated montage of pictures from the show introduces the main menu screen, a new smiling picture of Ellen atop a yellow background with three menu choices (only two on the third disc, as there are no bonus features there), all set to the second season's theme song. The first two options allow you to "Play All" or select particular episodes.
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Choosing the latter takes you to a series of menu pages in which each episode is named along with a brief description and a small snapshot, making for easy identification. The third option brings up the cast bios on Disc 1 and the commentary choices on Disc 2.

The set features three slim-line DVD cases, each about as thin as a slim CD jewel case, housed together inside a cardboard slipcover. The cases share the box's cover art, the only differences being quotes from critics and volume labels (Season 1 Volume 1, etc).

The backsides of the slim cases provide disc specifications and information on episodes, with a title, description, and snapshot for each. The back of the slipcover features a description of the set as well as two photos.

Each disc features a yellow-tinted photo collage in the background with purple lettering across it. The discs are also labeled by volume and list the episodes contained on it. Each episode is divided by four or five chapters. There is no on-screen scene index for these chapters, but it does make for easy access. One insert is included in the set: the same four page, double-sided flyer for A&E's TV-on-DVD library that was included in the season one release. It features advertisements for upcoming releases as well as an A-Z listing.

Ellen and Paige sneak out in "The Spa." Paige's date is a blast from the past!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The second season of "Ellen" brought many changes to the series. The result is a remarkable improvement on an already-strong sitcom that puts it in the company of some the 1990s' funniest shows. The revised cast comes alive with a certain chemistry that was lacking in the previous season. Any fan of comedy is sure to find it at least entertaining.

The audio tracks are pleasing and with the exception of two episodes, so is the video quality. Though an additional commentary track, perhaps from Ellen herself, would be appreciated, the two that are offered are a pleasure to listen to.

A&E presents this hilarious Buena Vista series quite satisfactorily, overall, and it therefore garners a recommendation.

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Ellen on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Coming November 28: Season 5

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Ellen: The Complete Season One | Ellen: The Complete Season Three | Ellen: The Complete Season Four
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Boy Meets World: The Complete Second Season

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Reviewed February 18, 2005.