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The Golden Girls on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 NEW!

"The Golden Girls" The Complete First Season DVD Review

Buy The Golden Girls: The Complete First Season from Amazon.com The Golden Girls: Season One (1985-86)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Directors: Terry Hughes, Jim Drake, Paul Bogart

Regular Cast: Beatrice Arthur (Dorothy Zbornak), Betty White (Rose Nylund), Rue McClanahan (Blanche Devereaux), Estelle Getty (Sophia Petrillo)

Recurring Characters: Herb Edelman (Stan Zbornak)

Notable Guest Stars: Charles Levin (Coco), Lisa Jane Persky (Kate Zbornak), Harold Gould (Arnie), Peter Hansen (Dr. Clayton), Alex Rocco (Glen), Billy Jayne (David), Ralph Manza (Augustine Bagatelli), Brent Collins (Dr. Jonathan Newman), Jeane Dixon (Herself) Billy Barty (Edgar Lindstrom), Christine Belford (Kirsten), Bridgette Andersen (Charley), Hallie Todd (Lucy), Robert Picardo (Dr. Revell), Bill Quinn (Priest), Jerry Hardin (Prof. Cooper), Dom Irrera (Waiter), Polly Holliday (Lily Lindstrom), Murray Hamilton (Big Daddy Hollingsworth)

Running Time: 616 Minutes (25 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Surround 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned

DVD Release Date: November 23, 2004
Season 1 Airdates: September 14, 1985 - May 10, 1986
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Six-sided fold-out Digipak 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.

Dorothy is hospitalized in "The Operation." "Second Motherhood" Blanche gets a little "Adult Education." Oh my!

Disc 3

18. The Operation (24:42) (Originally aired February 8, 1986)
When Dorothy discovers she has a small tumor in her foot and needs minor surgery,
she must face her life-long fear of hospitals. Meanwhile, Rose and Blanche rework their dance routine to accommodate Dorothy's absence.

19. Second Motherhood (24:46) (Originally aired February 15, 1986)
Blanche receives another proposal, this time from her very wealthy and extravagant boyfriend. She accepts but soon develops reservations. Meanwhile, Dorothy and Rose attempt to install a new toilet themselves. This episode makes use of new scenery (a rarity in first seasons), including the hall bathroom in the house.

20. Adult Education (24:45) (Originally aired February 22, 1986)
In order to snag a promotion at the museum, Blanche must pass a few courses at college. When she isn't doing well in one of them, she approaches the professor for help, but receives a sexual advance instead. While Blanche is in school, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia all compete to get tickets to a sold-out Frank Sinatra concert.

21. The Flu (Flu Attack) (24:29) (Originally aired March 1, 1986)
Rose isn't feeling well and before long, she's given the flu to Dorothy and Blanche as well. The girls are locked up in the house and at each other's throats until they attend a banquet where they are competing for the top honor, despite their condition.

Dorothy helps Rose with an application in "Job Hunting." Move over, Sandler. This is a different "Big Daddy." Blanche and Rose's first encounter in "The Way We Met."

22. Job Hunting (24:44) (Originally aired March 8, 1986)
The grief counseling clinic where Rose works closes, leaving her in need of a job. Attachment to her former job and difficult finding a new one due to age causes Rose and her roommates much frustration. Filled with inconsistencies, this episode was shot just after the pilot and held until the season's end was approaching.

23. Blind Ambitions (24:45) (Originally aired March 29, 1986)
Rose's sister, Lily, who recently lost her sight, is visiting. The girls quickly notice a problem with Lily's dependence on others in dealing with her blindness. The plotline is seemingly contradictory, however. Lily complains about being overprotected by her sister in the early parts of the episode, and it is her independence that causes her to accidentally catch the stove on fire, bringing the problem to a head. Whatever the case, though, the underlying problem is that Lily needs to help herself in adjusting to a new life. The story runs parallel to another plotline in which the girls reluctantly host a yard sale to raise money for a new TV.

24. Big Daddy (24:43) (Originally aired May 3, 1986)
Blanche's beloved father is coming to town and Blanche is beside herself with excitement. When she learns that he's come to pursue his new dream of professional country singing, though, she feels both concerned and embarrassed. Meanwhile, a nasty storm knocks down a neighbor's tree on the girls' property, but the neighbor refuses to accept responsibility... until a Sicilian curse from Sophia gives him second thoughts.

25. The Way We Met (24:37) (Originally aired May 10, 1986)
In the season finale, Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose can't sleep after a viewing of Psycho leaves them paranoid. They decide to pass the night away in the kitchen, reminiscing the roots of their friendship. The episode flashes back to a time before the series began, and the audience is shown the way in which the four girls were first introduced and their rocky beginnings as roommates.

Confrontation in the kitchen. These ladies stick together.

VIDEO AND AUDIO

Thanks to the Lifetime Network, "The Golden Girls" is among the more heavily syndicated series on television. Therefore, the improvement in picture quality on these discs over television broadcast is exceedingly apparent. Overall, the video is clear, crisp, and detailed. Occasionally a scene may appear darker than one would like, and there is some visible grain on many of the transitional shots of the home's exterior at nighttime,
but this is likely due as much to the age of the show (nearly two decades old) as anything else. The series was filmed and aired in the 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio and is presented as such here.

During a transitional shot of the house on the fourth episode on the first disc, there is a brief glitch in the video. It's certainly noticeable and seems more pronounced than a typical layer change, however, it is extremely brief and in no way hinders viewing the episode. It is important to note, however, that I can't be sure if this is merely a problem on my copy of the disc, or if it exists on all of the products.

With one of the more famous theme songs in television history, fans will of course expect a high-quality sound presentation. This set will not let them down. The sound is crisp, clear, and well-mixed. At no time was I unclear on anything that had been said or in need of adjusting the volume. The show's theme comes through with resounding quality as well.

The mother/daughter tag team of Melissa and Joan Rivers host a fashion commentary, the lone featurette on the set. Joan Rivers comments on Blanche's frilly attire.

BONUS FEATURES

Perhaps the only disappointing aspect of this set is the offering of bonus features, of which there are few. In fact, only one feature is offered on this set, a curious fashion commentary by Joan and Melissa Rivers, reigning gurus of the trade.
Set to upbeat dance music and extremely well-edited, the feature consists of a montage of video clips and a series of jabs at the fashion of the day. The commentary lasts just over ten minutes and is visual, using either shots of the two in the studio or superimposed video of their faces over the scenes from the show. Connecting each quip is a brief clip from one of the show's fashion-related lines. While I can't be sure that the video commentary wasn't filmed with a live audience, it seems as though the Rivers' jokes are edited to end with the laugh track of the show each time, giving the commentary a more humorous feel.

In the tradition of virtual games and princess personality tests on many of Disney's other offerings, this bonus feature is more fluff than substance and aims to please its target audience. While it's a shame that more worthwhile features could not have at least joined this decidedly feminine segment, members of the target audience may very well enjoy it. Perhaps future releases of the show will bring us more in the way of substantive supplements.

A still from the animated Main Menu, Disc 1. The Golden Girls: Season One's packaging.

MENUS, DESIGN, and PACKAGING

A rather flat sounding, instrumental version of the theme song plays over each menu. Three video windows are displayed on the main menu screens, with various clips from episodes on that particular disc playing. The menu options are displayed over an aptly-colored golden background and each option is highlighted in gold when selected.

The episode selection option presents two screens of snapshots from each episode and the episode's title. Each episode also offers around seven to nine chapters for easy scene access and a "play all" feature is also available. On the set up screen, the cover art pictures of Dorothy and Rose greet viewers. Here, one can access captions for the hearing impaired (Rose and Sophia's cover shots are waiting behind this selection) or register their DVD.

On the third disc, the fashion commentary feature can be accessed directly from the main menu, in the bottom right corner.

Disc 1 provides sneak peeks at Home Improvement Season One, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Mary Poppins 40th Anniversary Edition, Boy Meets World Season Two, Popular Season One, Felicity Season 3, and Sacred Planet on DVD.

The Golden Girls: Season One - box and disc art.

The set comes in a nice, slim Digipak, housed inside a glossy slip cover (which, like those from other Buena Vista TV releases on DVD, is susceptible to fingerprints). It looks like Buena Vista is experimenting with new packaging designs, as the first two discs overlap, sharing one panel of the case. While it may appear that one disc lies on top of the other, the upper disc rests just above the surface of the lower, preventing any scratching. The third disc occupies its own panel, for a total of six panels (two of which display still frames from the show). The episode titles are printed on the case, as well as on each disc. Disc 1 pictures Dorothy and Sophia, Disc 2 pictures Rose, and Disc 3 pictures Blanche.

Two inserts accompany the discs. The first offers consumers a chance to win a complete library of Buena Vista's TV-on-DVD products. The second offers a $10 mail-in rebate for those who buy any two of November 23rd's TV releases from BVHE and advertises the upcoming wave of releases from both this show and Home Improvement and Boy Meets World.

The girls disagree on the best way to pick a cantaloupe. Just look at that eveningwear.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"Golden Girls" is a fun show, charming and rampant with hilarity. While its focus, particularly in this first season, is on an older, more feminine crowd, its humorous appeal is universal. Today, nineteen years after its first airing, it can still be enjoyed by even a young, modern, male audience.

The characters are lively and very believable. Their situations are relatable. The series manages to embrace the root of a sitcom and put emphasis on the situation as the source of comedy while not losing sight of the characters as a source of more dramatic inspiration. Both long-time fans of the show and relative newcomers are encouraged to give it a try, as it is sure to please on at least some level.

While Disney's release may not leave all requests granted, it is overall very much a sound presentation. The biggest complaint is the lack of weighty, content-oriented bonus features for fans and collectors. The video and audio are satisfactory and the most important part, the show itself, is exceptionally pleasing, more so than most series' first seasons. Should future releases of "The Golden Girls" be of this same (or even greater) caliber, then they are something to look forward to.

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UltimateDisney.com | DVD Review Index | Disney / Buena Vista TV Shows Page | Search UltimateDisney.com

The Golden Girls on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 NEW!

More TV on DVD Reviewed:
Home Improvement: The Complete First Season
Lizzie McGuire: Box Set Volume 1
Boy Meets World: The Complete First Season


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

Reviewed November 22, 2004.