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"The Golden Girls" The Complete Second Season DVD Review

Buy The Golden Girls: The Complete Second Season from Amazon.com The Golden Girls: Season Two (1986-87)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Director: Terry Hughes

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

Recurring Characters: Herb Edelman (Stan Zbornak), Nancy Walker (Angela), Lynnie Greene (young Dorothy Zbornak), Sid Melton (Salvadore Petrillo)

Notable Guest Stars: Philip Sterling (Dr. Barensfeld), Burt Reynolds (Himself), Phil Rubenstein (Exterminator), Ron Michaelson (Carl), Nan Martin (Frieda Claxton), Johnny Haymer (Commissioner), Lois Nettleton (Jean), David Wayne (Big Daddy Hollingsworth), Scott Jacoby (Michael Zbornak) Marilyn Jones (Bridget Nylund), Paul Rodriguez (Ramone) Stuart Pankin (Jacques), Keye Luke (Toshiro Mitsumo), Paul Dooley (Isaac Q. Newton), Terry Kiser (Santa Claus), Teddy Wilson (Albert), Sam Anderson (Mr. Meyer), Lloyd Bochner (Patrick Vaughn) Janet Carroll (Phyllis), Deborah May (Liz), Christopher Burton (Norman Henderson), Ray Combs (Bob Henderson), John McMartin (Father Frank Leahy), Mario Lopez (Mario Sanchez), Joseph Campanella (Al Mullins), George Clooney (Bobby Hopkins), Barbara Tarbuck (Martha McDowell), Alan Blumenfeld (Mr. Ha Ha), Rita Moreno (Renee Corliss), Paul Dooley (George Corliss), Geoffrey Lewis (Chuck)

Running Time: 644 Minutes (26 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: May 17, 2005
Season 2 Airdates: September 27, 1986 - May 16, 1987
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.

Blanche convinces Dorothy to wear something flashy in "Forgive Me, Father." No Tanners here, but it's a full house in "Long Day's Journey Into Marinara." Sophia wastes no time in plugging her recipes in Rose's video project.

Disc 3

18. Forgive Me, Father (24:50) (Originally aired February 14, 1987)
Dorothy has a co-worker over for what she thinks is a date, until she realizes that he's a priest. The revelation comes as quite a shock to Dorothy and Sophia, but the misunderstandings don't stop there.

19. Long Day's Journey Into Marinara (24:34) (Originally aired February 21, 1987)
Angela makes a return visit and, after lamenting her loneliness in Sicily, decides to move to Miami. Dorothy invites her to stay with them until she can find a place, but bitter sibling rivalry with Sophia is soon awakened. Sadly, this episode marks television veteran Nancy Walker's final appearance as Angela on the show.

20. Whose Face Is It, Anyway? (23:59) (Originally aired February 28, 1987)
A sorority reunion shakes Blanche up when she's the only one of the sisters that hasn't had plastic surgery and she decides to change that. Meanwhile, Rose is filming the ins and outs of life at the house for a class project. The conversations about plastic surgery in this episode are somewhat contradictory to facts presented about the characters in "Vacation," just twelve episodes earlier.

21. Dorothy's Prized Pupil (24:48) (Originally aired March 14, 1987)
Dorothy is tutoring a very promising young boy named Mario Sanchez (played by Mario Lσpez is in his pre-A.C. Slater days). When one of his essays that she secretly entered into a contest wins first place, it's a great joy for both of them until it catches the eyes of the INS. To Dorothy's surprise, it turns out that Mario is an illegal alien and she feels guilt over his troubles. The episode ends with a hint that the story would soon be returned to in the season. Unfortunately, it never is.

22. Diamond in the Rough (24:43) (Originally aired March 21, 1987)
The local hospital is hosting a banquet and the girls are helping with the plans. When the caterer shows up, all three are smitten, but it's predictably Blanche who gets the date. The two fall for each other very quickly but Blanche soon grows concerned over differences in their social class.

Rose the videographer in "Whose Face Is It, Anyway?" What's Slater doing in Miami??? Sophia as a much younger mother (the way Estelle Getty really looked in 1987... not so old, is she?)

23. Son-in-Law Dearest (24:49) (Originally aired April 11, 1987)
Dorothy and Stan eagerly await their daughter's announcement of big news, but it turns out not to be that she's pregnant as they thought, but rather that she's leaving her husband over an affair.
On the less dramatic side, Blanche and Rose are oblivious to problems in the house as they enjoy an all-night I Love Lucy marathon. The roles of Dorothy and Stan's daughter and son-in-law are reprised by actors different than the ones who portrayed them in the first season.

24. To Catch a Neighbor (24:30) (Originally aired May 2, 1987)
New neighbors move in next door and the girls find them delightful. That's why it's such a shock when the Miami Police Department shows up asking to station themselves at the house to monitor the neighbors, who are alleged jewel thieves. The girls reluctantly agree and two cops make themselves at home. The younger one (played by a very young George Clooney) begins to feel like a son while the older one (Joseph Campanella) clashes with Dorothy at every turn due to some romantic tension. Of course it isn't long before the girls find themselves mixed up in all the police action, making this a very exciting episode.

25. A Piece of Cake (23:49) (Originally aired May 9, 1987)
The second flashback episode of the season takes viewers through memories of birthday parties gone hilariously wrong, including the first of several scenes throughout the series that take place in the past with a young Sophia and Dorothy.

26. Empty Nest (24:50) (Originally aired May 16, 1987)
Golden Girls gave birth to several spin-off shows, the first and most successful of which was Empty Nest in its second season, capitalizing on the show's initial popularity. As you might have guessed from the title, this episode serves not only as the Golden Girls second season finale but also as the pilot for Empty Nest. As such, the majority of the episode focuses on Renee (Rita Moreno), one of the girls' friends who feels alone with her children off at college and her husband, Dr. George Corliss (Paul Dooley), always at work. On the advice of her friends, Renee decides to take her "empty nest syndrome" to her husband, but her concerns fall on deaf ears. The remainder of the episode is spent following these two new characters and largely takes place in their home. Renee is presented as if she’s always been part of the show, leaving viewers feeling a bit lost. It's really much more boring than it is funny; the highlights are the scenes that (randomly) incorporate the Golden characters, who live just down the street. It's probably for this reason that the creators ditched this concept and when Empty Nest premiered as its own series a year and a half later, it featured a new cast, premise, and pilot. Only two things remained the same: David Leisure, who stuck around from this episode to the new series, although it was as a different character, and the presence of the four girls, especially Sophia (who would join the Empty Nest cast for its last two years). The spin-off went on to become popular, but as this episode neither concludes the second season of this show or truly launches the new one, it's a bit of a disappointment, but is part of the Golden Girls canon nonetheless.

Eighty shmeighty! Sophia is out to run a marathon! An inflated Blanche auditions in "The Actor."

VIDEO AND AUDIO

While the show itself improved in its second season, its DVD presentation did not. The show is correctly presented in the "fullscreen" aspect ratio of 1.33:1. There's a considerable amount of grain in many scenes, mild ringing occurs around edges, and it sometimes looks too dark. However, the second season first aired nearly twenty years ago, so some lapse in video quality is excusable. There's certainly improvement over the quality of syndicated television, and it's never so bad that it's distracting (with one exception: the episode "Son-in-Law Dearest" for some reason suffers from constantly fluctuating brightness and vibrancy of color).

Audio comes by way of a Dolby Digital Mono track, much to the dismay of many fans. I'm not sure in which way the early seasons' audio was originally broadcast, and a fair amount of research has been unable to turn up a credible, authoritative answer. If it's always been in stereo sound, there doesn't seem to be any explanation for why it isn't presented that way here. To be honest, though, it doesn't amount to a great deal of difference in the end. Television sitcoms, especially those dating back to the 1980s or earlier, are not created or known for their dynamic soundtrack. There's dialogue, music, a laugh track, and the occasional sound effect, all of which are heard here with ease and without flaw. The mono track still plays through the left and right speakers equally. A Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track would have perhaps added a little, but not very much. For future releases, I certainly urge Buena Vista to present episodes in the way they were originally intended to be heard. Hopefully that's the case here, but even if it isn't, everything sounds fine.

Blanche's birthday party guest list. Crime fighting gets scary in "To Catch a Neighbor."

BONUS FEATURES

Columbia-Tristar has "Seinfeld", Warner Brothers has "Friends", and Buena Vista has "The Golden Girls." From the time it premiered twenty years ago to this very day in syndication, it is one of the most-watched shows on television, especially among young women, though it rates well with both genders and all ages. It spawned three series of its own and its reunion special on Lifetime set a new ratings record for the network.
To be sure, it has a very large fan base and is a valuable commodity for the studio. That makes it all the more disheartening to see the aforementioned shows receive stellar DVD releases with things like audio and text commentaries from cast and crew, deleted segments, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and interviews, to name a few; yet for the second time, a complete season of Buena Vista's equivalent mega-hit comes to DVD with only one flimsy bonus feature that yet again pokes fun at the show's fashions, among other things.

This time it's the "Go For The Gold Trivia Challenge," in which brief clips from the second season are shown, followed by related questions. Just when the feature had some promise of substance, though, questions completely abstract from the show itself show up. A typical question is something like "What percentage of women in nursing homes still see a manicurist?" with three believable options and one outrageous one. A few of the questions are accompanied by jokes about the show and they occasionally ask about the show itself, but when they do, it's either an annoying detail about some object in the background or something painfully obvious to anyone who has just watched all the episodes. Of course it takes its fair share of cheap shots at the series as well.

Perhaps Buena Vista realizes that the show is going to be a big seller with or without a lot of extras and so they choose the latter. If so, it's a terrible disservice to consumers and fans (not to mention the show) and is hardly consistent with the pleasing quality one normally associates with the Disney company. With no involvement from any of the cast or crew and nothing substantive whatsoever, the one bonus feature is an annoying, perhaps even insulting, inclusion and the supplements section of this set gets a rating of 'zero.' Hopefully Buena Vista turns things around in time for season three's release.

The eye roll-inducing "Go For The Gold" Trivia Challenge asks yet another random question that almost no one would know the answer to. The nice teal-green menus match the tint of the Season Two cover art.

MENUS, DESIGN, and PACKAGING

An instrumental version of the theme song plays over each menu, on which three video windows are displayed with various clips from that disc's episodes playing. In a nice touch, each main menu labels which disc it is. The backgrounds match the color of the cover art.

The episode selection option presents two screens of snapshots from each episode and the episode's title. Unfortunately, unlike season one's release, the episodes here are not divided into chapters for easy scene selection. A "Play All" feature is, however, available. The same cast pictures that greeted viewers from the first season's cover art on the "Set Up" and "Captions" screens last time await them here. The "Set Up" screen allows for the selection of captioning for the hearing impaired as well as the standard option to register the DVD with Buena Vista.
Magazines.com, Inc.
On the first disc, the trivia game can be accessed directly from the main menu, in the bottom right corner. This time, the set doesn't open with or include any sneak peeks of any kind.

The set is again packaged in a nice, slim Digipak, housed inside a glossy slip cover, susceptible to finger prints. The first two discs overlap, sharing one panel, and the third disc occupies its own, for a total of six panels (two of which display still frames from the show). The episode titles are printed inside the case, as well as on each disc. Disc 1 pictures Blanche, Disc 2 pictures Dorothy, and Disc 3 pictures Rose, omitting Sophia.

Three 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 seasons one and two (expires 11/30/2005). The final and perhaps most exciting insert is an advertisement for most of Buena Vista's TV-on-DVD catalogue, including a look at the cover art for season three of both "The Golden Girls" and "Home Improvement", which are listed as "coming soon," among others.

In Rose's idea of a good time, Dorothy spends her birthday as parade leader with a bunch of kids in "A Piece of Cake." The *Golden* Rule: No one can ever sit in the fourth chair!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"The Golden Girls" is a delightful series and its second season is even better than its first. As one of the funnier shows in television history, it's sure to amuse just about anyone. In addition to a lot of laughs, there's a lot of heart too. The four stars are excellent actresses and their characters are well-defined. The show's all about friendship, and when it's pulled off this well, it makes for something very special.

The DVD is a big disappointment. The video quality is decent but exhibits plenty of flaws. The audio track is in Mono, which may or may not be accurate, but is sure to disappoint some, even if it isn't a real distraction. The one bonus feature is bizarre and is only loosely related to the series itself, which stands in contrast to the detailed and substantive features poured onto DVD releases of other shows in its ilk. Still, it's important to keep in mind that this is a 1980s sitcom, for which stellar digital presentation isn't going to make as big a difference as it would for a modern-day Hollywood blockbuster film. The lack of great supplements is the biggest drawback, but in the end, it's the show itself that matters, and the show is great. As the only other alternative is watching a few random episodes on TV every day, this set is surely the best of the available options. Therefore, while Buena Vista should be taken to task by reviewers and consumers alike for their sloppy presentation here, the set still garners a recommendation to any fan of the show or of TV comedy based on the content itself. In fact, for the aforementioned crowd, I'd call it a must-have.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

More Buena Vista TV on DVD Reviewed:
The Golden Girls: The Complete First Season
Home Improvement: The Complete First Season
Felicity: The Complete Fourth Season
Sweet Valley High: The Complete First Season
Boy Meets World: The Complete Second Season
Lizzie McGuire: Box Set Volume 1

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

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


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

Reviewed May 14, 2005.