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"The Golden Girls" The Complete Third Season DVD Review

Buy The Golden Girls: The Complete Third Season from Amazon.com The Golden Girls: Season Three (1987-88)
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), Lynnie Greene (young Dorothy Zbornak), Sid Melton (Salvadore Petrillo)

Notable Guest Stars: Paula Kelly (Marguerite), Edwin Newman (Himself), John Schuck (Gil Kessler), McLean Stevenson (Ted Zbornak), Casey Sander (Sven), Tony Jay (Lazlo), Shawn Schepps (Rebecca Deveraux), Bonnie Bartlett (Barbara Thorndyke), Jim McKrell (Guy Corbin), Bill Dana (Uncle Angelo), Mickey Rooney (Rocko), Scott Jacoby (Michael Zbornak), Rosalind Cash (Lorraine Wagner), Virginia Capers (Greta Wagner), Lynn Hamilton (Trudy Wagner), Bob Dishy (Mr. Terrific), Alice Ghostley (Mrs. Zbornak), Helen Kleeb (Margaret), Beatrice Arthur (Grandma Petrillo)

Running Time: 614 Minutes (25 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
Season 3 Airdates: September 19, 1987 - May 7, 1988
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
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

By Aaron Wallace

"The Golden Girls" returned to the air in 1987 for its third season, again capturing a large audience and winning more than one Emmy.
Built around four women -- three in their "golden years" and one over eighty -- sharing a home, it struck a chord in its premiere with not only peers of its cast but with the average American too. Season One left room for only a few improvements and the second season took care of nearly all those. That doesn't provide much incentive for change and is a good explanation for why the third year stayed mostly the same.

The Complete Third Season encapsulates 25 episodes that are each solid but very few of which stand out as fan favorites -- a far cry from the number of highly memorable selections found in the second season set. That may well be because the show is at its best when it's approaching absurdity and these episodes err on the side of tameness. That isn't to say that these are any less enjoyable. In fact, the third season took episode-for-episode consistency in hilarity to a new height, as not a single one misses the mark in evoking hearty laughter.

By this time, it was clear that the series was a sensation and, as such, the jokes grow increasingly self-referential from this point. Bea Arthur's character of Dorothy takes a hit with a sudden bounty of jokes deriding her physical appearance. Rose's (Betty White) ditzy observations and home-grown tales of wisdom from the backward Viking town of her youth aren't merely fodder for comedy, but cause for celebration, as are Sophia's (Estelle Getty) recollections from the rough life in early 20th century Sicily. The characters themselves now seem aware that "Back in St. Olaf" or "Picture it" signals the imminent arrival of home-run humor, which makes for a more rewarding experience for actor and audience alike.

Three years into the show and they still haven't remembered to get that fourth chair. The girls go for group counseling.

If the show needed work in any area, it was in the credibility of its occasional dramatic scene, though the sophomore season had already come along with the remedy. Indeed, some maturity in this department is evident, and as it was the character of Blanche who stood to most benefit from another dimension (aside from sexual jokes), it's she that most helps these dramatic components along. Sap is pretty rare here, but does occasionally falter. Fortunately, Blanche has finally arrived at believability.

The greatest complaint one can level against the junior year is that it too often relies on flashbacks (newly created material that depicts events in the characters' pasts) and clips (recycled footage previously aired as part of the series), both of which can be fun but invariably feel segmented and can detract from the kind of all-at-once viewing experience that TV-on-DVD provides. Nonetheless, it's a delightful collection... the primary content, that is. The DVD treatment? Not so much.

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

Sophia meets a new friend in the season premiere. This actress is a dead-ringer for young Dorothy Zbornak. The girls adopt a pig in "Bringing Up Baby."

Disc 1

1. Old Friends (24:44) (Originally aired September 19, 1987)
The "old friends" in this season premiere are Rose and her teddy bear, which Blanche mistakenly gives away to a ruthless little girl who blackmails her for the bear's safe return. Sophia makes a new friend, however: a kind man she meets in the park with whom she feels genuine kinship.

2. One for the Money (24:44) (Originally aired September 26, 1987)
Two episodes into the season and the girls are looking back at past attempts they've made to get rich quick in an episode that is itself episodic. Look for a catering outfit, a cut-throat dance competition between Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche, and one of several recreations of a younger Sophia and Dorothy's time in New York.
These flashbacks are wonderful because not only do they show Estelle Getty at a more accurate age, but the actress portraying young Dorothy could not do a better job at emulating Bea Arthur and embodying Dorothy Zbornak.

3. Bringing up Baby (24:49) (Originally aired October 3, 1987)
Rose learns that she's now responsible for her just-deceased uncle's "baby," but as it turn out, it's not an infant, but a pig. Dorothy and Blanche are adamantly opposed to the addition to their home until they learn of a catch that changes their minds.

4. The Housekeeper (24:45) (Originally aired October 17, 1987)
The girls believe their new housekeeper to be a witch when the charms she leaves around the house begin to work. Talented her powers may be, but the maid isn't very good at her job so the residents decide to let her go, only to regret it when they fear she's left a revengeful curse in her wake.

The girls don their housekeeper with gifts to persuade her to lift an alleged curse. Dorothy takes out her flight apprehensions on Blanche. Dorothy addresses the Soviet Union.

5. Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself (24:39) (Originally aired October 24, 1987)
Rose, Dorothy, and Blanche each face their biggest fears: Rose, her phobia of public speaking at her aunt's funeral; Dorothy, her fear of flying on the way; and Blanche, her haunting recurring dream.

6. Letter to Gorbachev (24:47) (Originally aired October 31, 1987)
Rose grows worried by the prospect of nuclear war and pens her concerns to President Ronald Reagan and Soviet head Mikhail Gorbachev. To everyone's surprise, Gorbachev responds with an invitation. Quick jokes that reference popular culture date many episodes through the show, but this is one of the few that is dated in its plot. Still, even younger viewers with little comprehension of world events of that time will be able to find this amusing. Fortunately, it avoids becoming overly political, something that the show wouldn't always succeed at in the future.

7. Strange Bedfellows (24:39) (Originally aired November 7, 1987)
The girls throw their support behind a candidate for local office who isn't a bad guy but crosses a line when he uses a false rumor about he and Blanche to propel his own campaign.

8. Brotherly Love (24:44) (Originally aired November 14, 1987)
Rose fights to get a little sleep while the house is disrupted by strife when Dorothy begins to date her ex-brother-in-law.

Stan sees his brother kissing his ex-wife. Blanche on a date of sorts with Rose's cousin Sven (guest star Casey Sander). Stan displays his receipt filing system.

Disc 2

9. A Visit From Little Sven (24:42) (Originally aired November 21, 1987)
Rose's cousin, Sven, pays a visit to spend a little time with his family prior to his prearranged marriage with a woman he's never met. Rose gets called into work, though, and Blanche has to take Sven sight-seeing instead, peaking the cousin's interest in a woman other than the one he's set to wed.

10. The Audit (24:38) (Originally aired November 28, 1987)
Stan shows up with some bad news: he wasn't always honest with Dorothy about
his financial transactions during their marriage and now their pre-divorce records are being audited. Meanwhile, Blanche and Sophia enroll in an evening Spanish course.

11. Three on a Couch (24:38) (Originally aired December 5, 1987)
A therapist concludes that the girls would be better off living apart after they flash back to various incidents on unrest within their home.

12. Charlie's Buddy (24:49) (Originally aired December 12, 1987)
An old friend of Rose's late husband Charlie shows up to finally meet the woman whose letters inspired him during his time at war. Rose is swept up in nostalgia but the others have concerns over the man's true intentions (when they aren't bickering over which dress will be worn by each).

13. The Artist (24:32) (Originally aired December 19, 1987)
Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose all pose nude for a renowned sculptor in hopes of being the inspiration of his next piece. Jealousy ensues and Sophia is only fanning the flames as she agitates everyone with her pranks.

Blanche's daughter is a little bigger than she remembered. Dorothy tells off a racist snob like only Dorothy can in "Dorothy's New Friend." The hills are alive!

14. Blanche's Little Girl (24:14) (Originally aired January 9, 1988)
Blanche's estranged daughter, once a model, returns home a little heavier than she had left it, and with a mean-spirited man by her side, to Blanche's dismay and Dorothy's outrage.

15. Dorothy's New Friend (24:37) (Originally aired January 16, 1988)
Dorothy loves her friends but often desires more intellectual stimulation, which she finds in her new friend, a respected author. The others find the newcomer to be extremely rude, however, and Dorothy has to try to reconcile her two friendships as she tries to determine whether her friends are just jealous or if there's something to their complaints.

16. Grab That Dough (24:18) (Originally aired January 23, 1988)
Sophia wins a chance for all four girls to compete on "Grab That Show," their favorite TV game show. Making it to Hollywood proves more difficult than expected as they encounter one set back after another, including the rivalry they find once they make it to the set.

17. My Brother, My Father (24:30) (Originally aired February 6, 1988)
As the title suggests, this episode has a brother and a father, but there's a surprise husband and a couple of sisters too. When Sophia's brother, Father Angelo, arrives for a visit, Dorothy and Stan pretend to still be married for his benefit while a freak storm traps them all in the house along with Blanche and Rose, who are dressed as nuns as they prepare for their parts in a local production of The Sound of Music.

Blanche and Rose pick an inopportune time to paint their faces with mud. A personal favorite: the dance competition.

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


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, 2005.