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"Hot in Cleveland" Season Three DVD Review

Hot in Cleveland: The Complete Third Season DVD cover art - buy from Amazon.com Hot in Cleveland: Season Three (2011-12)
Show & DVD Details

Creator: Suzanne Martin / Executive Producers: Suzanne Martin, Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, Lynda Obst Writers: Chuck Ranberg, Sebastian Jones, Chris Marcil, Anne Flett-Giordano, Sam Johnson, Steve Joe, Rachel Sweet, Eric Zicklin, Alex Herschlag, Suzanne Martin, Vanessa McCarthy / Directors: Andy Cadiff, David Trainer, Joe Regalbuto, Dennis Capps

Regular Cast: Valerie Bertinelli (Melanie Moretti), Jane Leeves (Rejoyla "Joy" Scroggs), Wendie Malick (Victoria Chase), Betty White (Elka Ostrovsky)

Recurring Characters: John Mahoney (Roy), Jon Lovitz (Artie Firestone), Kevin Nealon (George Gross), James Patrick Stuart (Colin Cooper), Steven Weber (Kyle "K.C." Jones), Gilles Marini (Captain LeBeau), Curtis Armstrong (Clark), Gregg Berger (voice of Barry the Parrot)

Notable Guest Stars: Don Rickles (Bobby), Kym Whitley (Jada), Valerie Azlynn (Libby), Kathie Lee Gifford (Christal), Laura San Giacamo (Caroline), Sandra Bernhard (Nan), Orson Bean (Dan), Marissa Janet Winokur (Kim), Kelly Schumann (Sally), Yolanda Snowball (Pam), David DeLuise (Jake), Ryan Gaul (Hotel Employee), Phil Morris (Lou Moore), Sean O'Bryan (Andy), Bette Rae (Roy's Mother), Sean Hayes (Chad), Tim DeKay (Buddy Milliner), Doug Savant (Scott McLoney), Daniel Roebuck (Director Perkins), Dan Cortese (Jimmy Armstrong), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Nurse Sandy), Willie Garson (Dr. Brotz), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Emmy), Joe Jonas (Will), Randy Wayne (Mark), Susan Lucci (Herself), Ryan McPartlin (David), Baron Davis (Himself), Huey Lewis (Johnny Revere), Steve Valentine (Drago), Dave "Gruber" Allen (David Gates), Danielle Bisutti (Verena), Carl Reiner (Max), Dan Gauthier (Nick Costas), Christopher Gorham (Casey), Edward Asner (Jameson Lyons), Alex Borstein (Preston "Preshi" Vanderbosh), Maree Cheatham (Mrs. Filsinger), Reid Scott (Sam), Rhea Perlman (Jacki), Georgia Engel (Mamie), Rick Springfield (Tom Fontana), Craig Bierko (Donald), Andy Richter (Father Brian), Roger Bart (Jimmy), Paul Dooley (Bearded Man aka Santa Claus aka Eric), Joan Rivers (Anka), Kristin Chenoweth (Courtney Price), Jonathan Silverman (Dr. Minton), Josh Cribbs (Himself), Dan Dotson (Himself), Laura Dotson (Herself), James Denton (Kerouac Cowboy), Lyn Alicia Henderson (Lauren Berry), Cybill Shepherd (Apryl Sinclair), Rosa Blasi (Jessica/Dr. Tess Montgomery), Mel Rodriguez (Hector Cruz/Luis), Barry Bostwick (Hugh Fletcher/Judge Thorndike/Senator Jason Von Klauss), Regis Philbin (Pierre), David Spade (Christopher)

Running Time: 506 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-PG on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Extra Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: November 27, 2012 / Season 3 Airdates: November 30, 2011 - June 6, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98 / Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s) / Black Keepcase

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If TV Land never has another hit, they'll still have made a permanent name for themselves in the original programming game with "Hot in Cleveland", a traditional sitcom that has made it to a fourth season. That is no small feat for a show with nonagenarian as its biggest star. Of course, that nonagenarian is Betty White, who is like no other nonagenarian in the history of entertainment.
The lone surviving Golden Girl and a legend whose acting career stretches all the way back to the 1940s, White's seemingly unending wave of modern fame as America's favorite sassy old lady has done wonders for this show.

Originally, the series just envisioned White as a guest star to its other leads, middle-aged sitcom veterans Valerie Bertinelli ("One Day at a Time"), Jane Leeves ("Frasier"), and Wendie Malick ("Just Shoot Me"). Fortunately, creator and showrunner Suzanne Martin (a "Frasier" writer and producer) saw fit instead to make White a regular. Partly ignited by a widely-enjoyed Snickers commercial on the 2010 Super Bowl, White has since enjoyed popularity exceeding that of her Emmy-winning runs on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Golden Girls." Remove her from the equation and it's doubtful that "Hot in Cleveland" would be returning to DVD in time for its Season 4 premiere.

Elka Ostrovsky (Betty White) has an extra zero added to her 90th birthday cake. 'Cause she's old! The women of "Hot in Cleveland" convene at the zoo.

"Hot in Cleveland" is clearly aimed at middle-aged women, although White's universal appeal seems to extend the audience some in both directions. The series centers on three single Los Angeles women, each unlucky in love, sharing a house together in Cleveland. That is a fantasy of a premise suitable for vicarious comedic thrills and young love interests. The women are: Victoria Chase (Malick), a vain former soap opera star whose lack of acting work has turned into a newscaster;
Joy Scroggs (Leeves), a leggy Brit for whom the embarrassment of being ditched at the altar decades ago still stings; and Melanie Moretti (Bertinelli), an everywoman writer. The three are kept in check by Elka Ostrovsky (White), their sharp-witted sports fan elderly friend who's always around (she is supposedly the house's caretaker).

"Hot in Cleveland" seems to exist in an alternate universe where the multi-camera sitcom hasn't been deemed stale and become limited to just a few extremely popular youth-friendly CBS shows. Cast members take turns proudly declaring at the start of each episode that it was filmed in front of a live studio audience. And the show plays out exactly like it would have in the late 1980s, only in widescreen and on digital video cameras. The series takes the sensibilities of a modern Disney Channel sitcom and ages them 30-40 years. It's kind of safe and tame and very predictable, but the live viewers (and presumably those also watching at home) in the target demographic reward it with enthusiastic laughter. It's not unwarranted either.

While White is the only standout in the cast, each actress is entirely comfortable with the material and together they create an ensemble dynamic that simply works. They're joined by a guest star pool highly respectable for basic cable that's big on TV veterans. Susan Lucci, Ed Asner, Cybill Shepherd, John Mahoney, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers, Rhea Perlman, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford, Georgia Engel, Steven Weber, and three "Saturday Night Live" alumni (Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, and David Spade) are among the most notable to appear in Season Three. The production values are adequate. The writing is agreeable enough. The whole thing embraces its three-walls, no-ceiling roots and doesn't try to shake up the format or imbue it with irony. It feels like a show destined for syndication and one you might have occasionally watched late afternoons fifteen years ago.

This isn't comedy full of art or intellect. It has little interest in winning over anyone male or under the age of 40. And yet, it's extremely easy to watch and faintly enjoy as a throwback with no clear contemporary counterparts.

Arriving in stores November 27th, the day before Season 4's premiere, TV Land's Season 3 DVD feels just like an old sitcom's release with its straightforward three-disc presentation and minimal bells and whistles. The episodes appear to be arranged by production order, not airdate, which only creates mild variance and at least adds some coherency to one minor storyline.

Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) and Elka (Betty White) pose as a couple on a lesbian cruise in "Beards." Elka (Betty White) and Roy (John Mahoney) "skydive", as she pretends she is younger and skinnier than she really is.

Disc 1

1. Elka's Choice (21:04) (Originally aired November 30, 2011)
As Elka tries to decide on one of her three potential mates, Victoria appears on "The Chatter", where she announces her recent marriage to Joy.

2. Beards (21:06) (Originally aired December 7, 2011)
The women go on a lesbian cruise, with Victoria and Joy posing as a married couple, while both secretly see the hunky Captain LeBeau (Gilles Marini). Melanie and Elka also pretend to be an item to give Melanie common ground with her previously closeted sister (Laura San Giacomo) who is unexpectedly aboard.

3. Funeral Crashers (21:07) (Originally aired December 14, 2011)
The women crash a wake for Melanie to recover her dry cleaning mix-up. Elka and an old boyfriend Roy (John Mahoney) do some crime scene investigation to figure out if the deceased was murdered.

4. Happy Fat (21:07) (Originally aired December 21, 2011)
The women agree to give their frumpy neighbors makeovers and help them lose weight. Elka pretends she is as young as Roy.

Joy, Melanie, and Victoria meet on an L.A. hotel rooftop in this prolonged 1980s flashback. Finally guest starring, executive producer Sean Hayes plays Chad, a hand model willing to raise the roof in lieu of clapping.

5. How Did You Guys Meet, Anyway? (21:05) (Originally aired January 4, 2012)
While waiting on the bathroom line at a Browns game, Melanie, Victoria, and Joy recall how they first met on the roof of a Los Angeles hotel in the 1980s. Flashback time!

6. One Thing or a Mother (21:07) (Originally aired December 28, 2011)
It's Friday night and the women all have dates: Victoria with a hand model protective of his gift (Sean Hayes), Elka with Roy whose mother (Bette Rae) provides interference,
Joy with a man (Phil Morris) whose age is a mystery, and Valerie with a man (Sean O'Bryan) whose comfort in bottomlessness reminds everyone of Winnie the Pooh.

7. Two Girls and a Rhino (21:08) (Originally aired January 11, 2012)
With their mix of pheromones inspiring endangered black rhinos to mate, Joy and Elka have to spend a weekend at the zoo. Meanwhile, Melanie and Victoria connect with a state senator (Doug Savant) and a janitor (Tim DeKay), respectively.

8. God and Football (21:07) (Originally aired January 18, 2012)
Melanie dates a dim-witted NFL kicker (Dan Cortese). Joy and Victoria change their lifestyles after enlightening hospital visits.

Victoria Chase (Wendie Malick) is not pleased to share her house with a visiting Susan Lucci. While babysitting the sons of the man whose old swimming jacket she wears, Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) meets another hunk (Steven Weber).

Disc 2

9. Love Is Blind (21:07) (Originally aired January 25, 2012)
Victoria's daughter Emmy (Jennifer Love Hewitt) announces that she is engaged to Melanie's son Will (Joe Jonas), prompting their mothers to try to break them up. Joy pretends to be in her twenties while dating a young blind man (Randy Wayne).

10. Life With Lucci (21:06) (Originally aired February 1, 2012)
Susan Lucci visits, brightening the lives of everyone but her longtime nemesis Victoria, though her intentions and deeds prove to be less than pure.

11. I'm With the Band (20:47) (Originally aired February 8, 2012)
Victoria tries to make her newly-engaged rock star "safety net" (Huey Lewis) jealous by dating his old bandmate (Steve Valentine), with whom he is reuniting for a charity song.

12. Lost Loves (21:09) (Originally aired February 15, 2012)
On Valentine's Day, the women decide to look up old loves on Facebook and reconnect with them.

Elka (Betty White) looks for revenge against the boss (Ed Asner) who fired her back in the 1940s in "Rubber Ball." Victoria (Wendie Malick) dons an unconvincing fat suit for a "Fat Like Me" exposé in her pursuit of a local news award.

13. Tangled Web (21:08) (Originally aired March 7, 2012)
Picking up where the previous episode left off, the women are forced to maintain a charade when it turns out Melanie's new guy is the man who stood up Joy on their wedding day.

14. Rubber Ball (21:07) (Originally aired March 21, 2012)
The women attend a lavish ball to find someone to sponsor their country club application. Elka joins them to get back at the boss (Ed Asner) who fired her sixty-five years ago.

15. Hot & Heavy (21:02) (Originally aired March 14, 2012)
To win a news award, Victoria dons a fat suit for what she hopes is a revealing exposé. Elka, Joy, and Melanie have their own support group adventures.

16. Everything Goes Better With Vampires (21:02) (Originally aired March 28, 2012)
An armed robbery in the neighborhood requires a temporary lockdown of the house, forcing the women to spend time with a Rick Springfield impersonator (Rick Springfield), Melanie's condescending snob of a boyfriend, the women's lazy maid (Rhea Perlman), and Elka's co-writer (Georgia Engel) on an updated Gone with the Wind radio drama.

In "Birthdates 3" Elka is set up with Santa Claus (Paul Dooley). Archie (Jon Lovitz) officiates the spontaneous wedding of Joy (Jane Leeves) and the dying George (Kevin Nealon).

Disc 3

17. Claus, Tails & High-Pitched Males: Birthdates 3 (21:07) (Originally aired April 11, 2012)
The women set each other up on typically disastrous dates. Victoria reconnects with Captain LeBeau (Gilles Marini) and learns of a birth defect, Melanie sees a high-pitched Jersey Boys actor (Roger Bart), Elka gets to know a man resembling Santa Claus (Paul Dooley), and Joy introduces a man fresh out of the priesthood (Andy Richter) to dating.

18. Cruel Shoes (20:47) (Originally aired April 18, 2012)
Joy helps a dying man (Kevin Nealon) check items off his bucket list. Victoria and the women are to model shoes in a charity fashion show.

19. By George, I Think He's Got It! (20:47) (Originally aired April 25, 2012)
Joy and George plan their short future together. Elka's twin sister (Joan Rivers) visits and neither can recall the reason for their long-standing feud. Arnie (Jon Lovitz) resurfaces to pursue Melanie.

20. The Gateway Friend (21:07) (Originally aired May 2, 2012)
The girlfriend/receptionist (Kristin Chenoweth) of the women's miracle plastic surgeon leaves L.A. behind to visit Cleveland.

Joy (Jane Leeves) experiences a water bra malfunction in "Storage Wars." David Spade guest stars as Christopher, a talented hair stylist who comes between the Cleveland women.

21. Storage Wars (21:07) (Originally aired May 16, 2012)
The women find a scandalous letter they believe is written by Abraham Lincoln hidden inside their newly-acquired old painting. Joy pretends she has large breasts in her talks with a new CB radio buddy. Victoria's embarrassing Japanese "Ladypants" commercial reaches America.

22. What's Behind the Door (21:07) (Originally aired May 30, 2012)
Victoria talks "Edge of Tomorrow" creator Apryl Sinclair (Cybill Shepherd) into bringing back their soap opera as an app. They stage a minor reunion written by Melanie, funded by product placement, and stretching a small cast that includes Elka.

23. Blow Outs (21:07) (Originally aired June 6, 2012)
After feuding over a hair stylist (David Spade), Victoria, Joy, and Melanie consider moving out and moving on.


DVD treats "Hot in Cleveland" to satisfactory 1.78:1 standard definition picture. It is subject to some slight compression artifacts, but the image otherwise remains clear and vivid throughout. No effort is made to render these episodes uncensored. The rare curse word remains bleeped, some "nudity" is still pixelated, and an obscene gesture stays out of frame.

Audio is offered in your choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Stereo. The two are comparable and each does a fine job of presenting dialogue, audience reaction, and transitional score. English SDH subtitles are kindly provided.

Less trendy and made-up, the actresses rehearse an episode with scripts in hand and glasses on their eyes in the behind-the-scenes special "Some Like It Hot." The four leading ladies' colorful color poses come together on the DVD's main menus, before each is given their own moment and clips.


The DVD includes just a single bonus feature on Disc 3: the behind-the-scenes special "Some Like It Hot" (21:07).
As this aired in the show's regular timeslot and is counted as a Season 3 episode in online guides, it's a tad disingenuous to designate this a bonus feature. Nonetheless, it is a strong and fun companion that shows us table reads (in which spectacles abound), rehearsals, bloopers, make-up, the live studio audience's warm-up, and interview remarks from the leading ladies and crew members. It feels like a series finale special following a longer run than this show has yet enjoyed.

The discs' main menu plays the instrumental theme and shuffles through the cover stills and clips of the leading ladies. Other menus are neither scored nor animated.

The ordinary black keepcase places the first two discs on a swinging tray. No slipcover or insert is included.

Elka (Betty White), Victoria (Wendie Malick), Joy (Jane Leeves), and Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) clink glasses before a live studio audience.


If you've recently lamented that they don't make sitcoms like they used to, then you must not have seen "Hot in Cleveland." What would have been an ordinary show fifteen to twenty years ago exists today as something of a niche novelty on basic cable. If you're not a woman in your forties or older, this will at best qualify as a guilty pleasure for you. But you needn't be in that demographic to find the show easy to watch and mildly enjoyable. The just above-average writing, strong cast chemistry and lack of direct competition all factor into "Hot in Cleveland"'s ample appeal.

While I can't imagine this being something you're compelled to rewatch frequently, there is undeniable value to such feel-good television comedy. In addition, DVD remains a far superior way to see a TV show these days than on the air or streaming. This set offers essentially nothing in the way of extras, but its presentation is perfectly satisfactory.

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Reviewed November 13, 2012.

Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011-12 Hazy Mills Productions, Sam Jen Productions, TV Land Original Productions
and 2012 TV Land Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.