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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

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

Sophia launches into a story. Sophia's a third wheel in Dorothy's relationship. Mickey Rooney lights up the screen with a guest appearance as an ex-mobster.

Disc 3

18 & 19. Golden Moments (Part I & Part II) (48:18) (Originally aired February 13, 1988)
The packaging proudly boasts that these episodes are presented here in their original entirety, which appears to be the case, though they are combined into one episode. They originally aired on the same night and this presentation seems entirely acceptable.
It's nothing more than a lengthy clip show, built around Sophia's consideration of moving away to live with her son, featuring highlights from the first three seasons, but fun nonetheless.

20. And Ma Makes Three (24:39) (Originally aired February 20, 1987)
Sophia is feeling lonely and so Dorothy invites her to tag along on one of her rare dates, but when Sophia's company becomes habitual, Dorothy's date grows frustrated and forces her to make a choice between the two.

21. Larceny and Old Lace (24:44) (Originally aired February 27, 1988)
Sophia's new boyfriend (Mickey Rooney) has some shady criminal connections in his past, which concerns Dorothy, who is committing a vice of her own as she and Blanche sneak a peek at Rose's offensive diary.

Sophia brings in free help for the remodeling effort. Mr. Terrific hosts his own show. Bea Arthur plays her own grandmother.

22. Rose's Big Adventure (24:19) (Originally aired March 12, 1988)
Rose grows bored with her new boyfriend when he retires and aspires to do nothing more but kick back on the couch. Meanwhile, the girls grapple with frustration over their slow-to-progress garage renovation.

23. Mixed Blessings (24:37) (Originally aired March 19, 1988)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner meets "The Golden Girls"! Season Two's twenty-third episode dealt with an impending marital announcement from one Zbornak child and this one deals with such an announcement from another. This time, Sophia has gone for an overnight trip to EPCOT and in her absence, Dorothy's son turns up to tell his mom that he's engaged... to a black woman old enough to be his mother, a combination that neither family is pleased with.

24. Mister Terrific (24:05) (Originally aired April 30, 1988)
Rose dates a childhood idol, kid's comic super-hero Mr. Terrific. Rose is deliriously happy but problems arise when Mr. Terrific lands Dorothy a part-time job that results in her replacing him.

25. Mother's Day (24:27) (Originally aired May 7, 1988)
After a season full of flashbacks, why not end with the very same? That's apparently what the "Golden Girls" writers were thinking, but it paid off. While waiting on their children to call them, the girls recall Mother's Days of their past, including another segment with young Dorothy and Sophia (plus Bea Arthur as Sophia's mother!) as well as Blanche's mother.

Another one of Bea Arthur's classic facial expressions. Dorothy gets knocked for her appearance, but she clearly looks better in this get-up than Blanche.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Video quality doesn't greatly differ from the last Golden Girls set. The 1.33:1 transfer, which is true to its original broadcast, generally looks better on DVD than on television, but still suffers annoyances. The picture is often grainy and excessively dark, with light ringing around edges and occasional color banding and uninvited visual artifacts and flickering. The transitional shots of the home at night are, as usual, the most problematic. While that's all a little disappointing, the episodes are rather old, after all, and never impede on enjoyment for more than a few seconds.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack is capable and delivers what one expects from a 1980s sitcom that was not designed for the home theater. Occasionally, one channel will cut out for a few moments only to crackle back in later and at other times, a mild echo turns up, but one has to really be listening quite closely to pick up on either of these, which isn't the point.

These newly-created "Scrapbook" menus are more dated than the series itself. Dorothy's scrapbook.

BONUS FEATURES

This space of UltimateDisney.com's last two "Golden Girls" reviews lamented the poor excuses for bonus features found on the first and second season sets. Sadly, such a complaint will be found here once again. Before looking at what is included, one can't help but think of what isn't: audio commentaries, textual commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, retrospective documentaries, the Lifetime network reunion special, original TV spots, and so much more. Similar treatment is bestowed upon just about every other show that is as popular and has met as much success as "The Golden Girls" (and, indeed, far less popular shows) but Disney hasn't yet seen fit to acknowledge its stature in television history, perhaps assuming that fans of the show will take what they get and like it.

So high is the demand for supplementary material on this set that Warner Brothers distributed a disc of four documentaries based on each of the show's main stars produced by
the Lifetime network, which is responsible for most of the series' syndicated re-airings, only one week prior to this release. It doesn't reflect positively on Buena Vista Home Entertainment that fans have to rely on another studio to pick up Disney's slack. It's entirely possible, if not likely, that Disney wouldn't have been able to secure these documentaries for themselves, and at nearly an hour each, they would have been a tall order for a three or even four disc set, but as demonstrated by the list of suggestions above, there's plenty else Disney could do in this department. Interestingly, flyers for the Lifetime disc and for this season set are included inside one another's packaging, evidencing some creative cross-studio promotion that is positive in that it finally results in fans getting a glimpse at some substance but negative in that it indicates that Disney doesn't mind asking their consumers to shell out another $10 to WB to get it.

The fourth season set was recently announced and looks to be no more promising where this is concerned. With that release date (tentatively) only a few months away, it may be too late for it, potentially leaving fans with only three more opportunities for real bonus features. Consumers who are particularly dismayed by this prospect may want to make use of Disney's open ears by calling 1-800-72-DISNEY or sending an email to Disneyinfo@disneyhelp.com, especially those that see less incentive to purchase future sets as a larger sampling of the series comes into their possession.

And now, a look at what does pass for a "bonus" in this set. On Disc One, "Golden Girl Moments" (2:32) strings together moments from "The Golden Girls" in its third season (how'd you guess?). "The Golden Girls' Scrapbook" on Disc Three employs very '80s-ish graphics, some un-"Golden Girls"-like music, and a diary-like frame to offer the choice between selecting one of any of the four stars. Each selection will bring up another menu that offers two brief reels of clips of or about that character from the third season set to a theme. Each reel runs between two and four minutes. All together, these two bonus features provide around 25 minutes of reused clips from the season (which itself used a lot of clips to begin with) that serve to either spoil all the fun if viewed beforehand and merely repeat what one has just seen if viewed afterward. Rather harmless but pointless inclusions, indeed.

The Golden Girls: Season 3, Disc 1 - The Main Menu. One of Disc 2's Episode Selection screens.

MENUS, DESIGN, and PACKAGING

Nothing differs greatly from past releases in this department either. The same scheme is used, only with a lot more pink, which colors the packaging, the discs, and the main menu. Apparently, each "Golden" set is going to be a different color, so pink was probably inevitable, but in such bright abundance, it isn't the most appealing to varied demographics. The menus are decorated with dancing frames of footage taken from the set and the usual "Episode Selection", "Play All", and "Set Up" options are available. Both bonus features are accessed directly from the main menu on their respective discs. Each episode is thankfully divided into about four chapter stops for easy navigation.

The tri-paneled Digipak returns, dressed in a glossy sip cover, and the first two discs once again overlap one another on one panel while the third disc has a panel to itself. Each panel is double-sided and they feature photos from the show. Episode titles are listed on one of them and on the disc that contains them as well. The episode titles are printed inside the case, as well as on each disc. Blanche smiles from the first disc, mom-and-daughter duo Sophia and Dorothy from the second, and Rose from the third. As previously mentioned, an advertisement for the Lifetime documentary DVD on the cast is included inside, along with a mini-catalog of Buena Vista shows on DVD and a TV-on-DVD sweepstakes form.

As is usual, two pages worth of sneak peeks of other Buena Vista titles and releases is found on the first disc. Those included are: The Shaggy Dog, "Home Improvement": The Complete Fourth Season, the promo for the studio's six most popular shows on DVD, the concurrently-released "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" disc, "The Golden Girls": The Complete Fourth Season, "The Golden Girls": The Complete Second Season, and "Desperate Housewives."

"Grab That Dough" pairs Dorothy and Blanche against Rose and Sophia Which nude golden girl is underneath the tarp? I can hardly wait to see...

CLOSING THOUGHTS

One of television's funniest and most memorable (not to mention successful) series, "The Golden Girls" is a treasure for collectors. The third season has audiences laughing in each episode and brings to the table a collection of episodes that don't seem to get as much play in syndication. A little too much segmentation is the only drawback to the hours of otherwise wonderful entertainment. Unfortunately, Buena Vista has issued another bitter disappointment with the "Complete Third Season," which uses acceptable-but-imperfect audio/video presentation and a poor excuse for bonus features that is a disservice to the series and consumers.

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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 November 22, 2005.