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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

By Aaron Wallace

The second season of "Ellen" was markedly different from the first. Over the mere three weeks that separated the broadcasts of the first two seasons, the series' main character, Ellen Morgan, became the owner of Buy The Book (her place of employment) and apparently lost two friends and made a new one without explanation. Even with this retooling, the series that began as "These Friends of Mine" still maintains the same feel in its sophomore season that it had in its debut.
Despite the gap in continuity, the drastic changes aren't distracting and are to the show's benefit, even if ratings didn't always show it.

The show's star, Ellen DeGeneres, still commands the lead, standing firmly in the scripts' spotlight. Still by her side as her roommate (at least for the first half of the season) is Arye Gross in the role of Adam Green, whose inconsistent career path becomes a larger focus of the storyline.

Joining them is Joely Fisher, who skillfully plays the role of Ellen's long-time friend Paige Clark. Filling the places of Holly and Anita from the first season, Paige is the flirtatious but loyal studio assistant-turned-executive that fans would come to love by the show's end (despite a season-long hiatus from the series in its third year). Though she doesn't often land the 'A-line' story in her first season, Fisher's character is funny, comfortable, and fits right in to the cast dynamic. After only one or two episodes, the viewer forgets that she hasn't been there all along. The departing characters, who lacked chemistry with the cast, are barely remembered, let alone missed.

Ellen's not very trigger happy in "Guns 'N Ellen." Hand down: serious. Hand up: sarcastic.

Returning in a big way is Joe the Canadian coffee guy, masterfully portrayed by the hilarious David Anthony Higgins. He first appeared in the series as a recurring character in season one and quickly became so popular that he was officially added to the regular cast at the beginning of season two (though he largely remains a supporting character within the confines of the Buy The Book set). Joe's snide candor with Ellen, his passive and neurotic boss, makes for a hilarious and sensational sitcom dynamic.

The recurring characters, especially Audrey and Ellen's parents, become a much more constant and welcome presence in this season as well. The latter's 'critical mother/unintentionally crass father' routine is noticeably similar to the well-known parental dynamic that was beginning on "Friends" at the time as well. In addition to these regulars, Ellen capitalized on its popularity from its debut run by welcoming a tremendous number of celebrity guest stars in the second season, a trend that continued for the next several years. Unlike many shows, the guest appearances here are never greeted with a lot of hoopla from the audience, they are just simply there.

While the tone of the series is largely unchanged, the elements of "Seinfeld" apparent in the first season are boldly fused with elements of "I Love Lucy" starting in the second season, a tone that fits DeGeneres well. Also different in year two is the opening title card and theme as well as a slightly quicker pace in the plotlines.

Produced by Touchstone Television and distributed by Buena Vista International, the series is again aptly presented on DVD by A&E Home Video, a significant portion of which is in fact owned by Buena Vista. Season Two had a full run of 24 episodes and is presented in its production order, which, unlike season one, differs only slightly from the order in which it was aired and is for the better overall.

Following a mostly satisfactory release of its premiere season, the second season of "Ellen" is presented here in its entirety with mostly pleasing audio, video, and bonus features.

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

Why walk when you can rollerblade? Kathy Najimy guest stars in the aptly-titled "So Funny." No tree-huggers need apply in "Ballet Class."

Disc 1 (Volume 1)

1. The Dentist (22:41) (Originally aired September 21, 1994)
In the second season premiere, Ellen tries to impress her new dentist so that he'll take her on a date, but her attempts at charm while inhaling laughing gas quickly make things awkward. Meanwhile, Adam weighs the satisfaction of having a relationship against the freedom of single life.

2. Saint Ellen (22:15) (Originally aired September 28, 1994)
The trio sneaks into a movie premiere to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Ellen, reluctant at first to go, feels bad when she learns that they lied their way into a charity event, prompting her to embark on a mission of charity.

3. So Funny (22:05) (Originally aired October 26, 1994)
Adam's friend (played by Kathy Najimy) comes down for a visit. She's a riot and everyone loves her... except Ellen, who quickly becomes jealous over how funny she is, a talent Ellen had always admired in herself. Meanwhile, Paige becomes paranoid as to why her boyfriend won't take the relationship to the next level.

4. The Thirty-Minute Man (21:27) (Originally aired October 5, 1994)
Ellen falls for one of her most frequent customers at Buy The Book, but when she finds out what he does for a living, she quickly becomes uncomfortable with dating him.

5. The Note (22:02) (Originally aired October 12, 1994)
When Ellen finds a note from one of the members of her book club expressing how much they dislike her, she sets out to find who the disgruntled member is, dragging Paige into an undercover role. Meanwhile, Adam can't manage to be as suave on his date as he is on the phone.

6. The Fix-Up (22:10) (Originally aired October 19, 1994)
Ellen's mother returns this season with more unwanted dating advice. This time, she's set Ellen up on a blind date with the "weird kid" from her high school. Ellen reluctantly agrees to go on the date, but the tables quickly turn as Ellen is the one who comes off as weird. Meanwhile, Adam has mistakenly entered and won a photo competition in Cosmopolitan magazine and Paige is wrapped up in her boss' insurance fraud. These three plotlines intertwine to make for one of the series' more hilarious episodes.

7. The Toast (22:08) (Originally aired November 9, 1994)
Ellen is in charge of her brother's wedding but living up to her critical parents' standards proves to be quite the challenge, especially in light of her slip of the tongue during a toast.

8. Adam's Birthday (21:51) (Originally aired November 16, 1994)
Ellen throws Adam a surprise birthday party that ends up making him feel inadequate when compared to his college friends' lives. He and Ellen agree that it's time for Adam to move out on his own. Both he and Ellen soon discover, though, that the transition isn't as easy as they expected. This episode provides the show's first somewhat dramatic (as far as sitcoms go) storyline.

Season's Greetings from Joe Farrell. Ellen travels to the set of "Full House" in "Ellen's Improvement." Ellen's in a play but it's her parents who are embarassed in "Ballet Class."

Disc 2 (Volume 2)

9. The Trainer (22:20) (Originally aired November 23, 1994)
Paige's dream of making it in the film world finally gets a break when Ellen poses as a personal fitness trainer for Paige's big shot Hollywood boss and makes a good impression. Things don't go quite as Paige expects, though. Meanwhile, now that Adam has moved across the hall and accepted the position of building manager, he learns to deal with... or hide from... angry tenants.

10. Mrs. Koger (22:05) (Originally aired November 30, 1994)
Buy The Book becomes a scene of hostility when Ellen hires a new manager with a history of mental health problems who brings radical ideas to the store and clashes with Joe. Meanwhile, Ellen is convinced that she killed her ornery neighbor by telling her off for being rude.

11. Ellen's New Friend (22:10) (Originally aired December 7, 1994)
Clea Lewis resumes her role as Ellen's annoying friend Audrey, but not yet as a regular cast member. This time Audrey introduces Ellen and Paige to her friend Jessica, a successful traveler writer who rubs elbows with the rich and famous. Meanwhile, Adam reviews his inheritance options.

12. The Christmas Show (22:16) (Originally aired December 14, 1994)
It's Christmas time at Buy The Book, but things aren't so merry when Ellen's new employee and Joe's love-hate relationship causes a scene in front of customers. Ellen has her own problems, too, as she has trouble breaking up with her too-nice boyfriend leading up to New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, Paige tries to find a gift that won't offend her sensitive mother.

13. Ellen's Improvement (22:20) (Originally aired January 4, 1995)
The world turns upside down as Ellen seeks to enlighten herself and in the process gets her sophisticated boyfriend addicted to television, eventually landing her at a taping of "Full House," complete with cameos by Bob Saget and Mary-Kate Olsen.

14. The Apartment Hunt (22:02) (Originally aired January 11, 1995)
Ellen's helping Paige find a new apartment... as far away from Ellen as possible. Meanwhile, Adam tries to catch the thief who steals his newspapers and Paige tries to get information on a hot trial from the juror she's dating.

15. The Spa (21:52) (Originally aired January 25, 1995)
Paige talks Ellen out of their planned ski trip because she got free passes to a weekend spa. The spa sounds nice at first, but the two quickly find that the life of luxury isn't all it's cracked up to be. Meanwhile, Adam tries to make more male friends and so he turns to Joe.

16. Ballet Class (22:01) (Originally aired February 8, 1995)
Ellen sets out to realize her childhood dream of being a ballerina, a dream she shares with Adam. The only problem is that Ellen isn't quite as graceful as she'd like to be, which she soon discovers is the reason her parents kept her from ballet lessons as a child. This scene borrows heavily from one of the more well-known episodes of "I Love Lucy." Meanwhile, Paige's date is an embarrassing blast from the past.

Ellen and her new-old friend, Paige. Ellen tries on the life of a trainer for size.

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Buy Ellen: Season 2 from Amazon.com

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

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

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.