Fran Drescher, the nasally, whiny-voiced beauty we all either love or hate, returns in The Nanny – The Complete Second Season, and the show hits its stride, if you’re of the belief it ever had one. With mileage out of the mutually aloof Fran Fine-Maxwell Sheffield (played by Charles Shaughnessy) relationship, The Nanny does manage a few chuckles, even from someone such as myself. Let’s make things clear right out of the gate: I’m not a Nanny fan. If I had free reign to decide on everything that w…uld, and would not, be watched on my television, this hit show from the nineties would never make the cut. Never mind that its star is an absolute knockout. (You know she must be gorgeous if you still find her attractive in spite of that voice.) But alas, I don’t have that autonomy, for I am married. That, along with the frequent airings on Lifetime, spells out whom the show’s demographic really is – women… in particular, women, who wish to escape in the form of a fairy tale with real-world context. I can’t fault them for liking it; and the show really does succeed in reaching that demographic. I’m just not of the multitude.
Sony’s package includes all 26 of the second season episodes completely uncut. Most of the laughs are hokey and telegraphed, but a few will occasionally take you off-guard, especially during Niles the Butler (hard to believe this guy’s from my home state of Arkansas, as his British accent easily bests Shaugnessy’s – who’s actually from England!) and C.C. Babcock’s banter. Also of value is the aforementioned relationship between boss and employee, as the show, from its very first episode (“Fran Lite”), plays up the continual “they’re perfect for each other, but don’t know it” angle. I don’t hate this series, and some may really feel it’s blasphemous to make this comparison, but I honestly look at it as an I Love Lucy for the nineties. I get the same escapist feeling from both programs, and neither one invokes much laughter in accordance with my personal tastes. But neither show is fly-by-night either, and I’ve got a feeling each will hang around for some time to come.
The series is presented in its original 1.33:1 framing, and it looks just as good – maybe slightly better – than it does on TV. This is one of those “filmed before a studio audience” jobs, but not like Friends or Seinfeld is. No, this is old school, and if not for the fashions and pop culture references, it could easily pass for an eighties series, such as Charles in Charge or Webster. For the most part, the show sticks to one mega-set – the Sheffield mansion – or lots of little mini-sets (the rooms within it), depending on how you look at it, though this season does see The Nanny stretching out with more adventurous set-pieces.
The 2.0 track provides a simple, straight-forward balance of dialogue and sound. It’s a clean presentation with no audible contaminants. I doubt the original sound presentation has done any serious aging or deteriorating, and this set preserves that quality with no trouble whatsoever. The musical score and opening theme song sound as boisterous as ever – overall, it’s a respectable track, and as good of a mix as any fan of the series could hope for.
None… at… all.
The audience is there for this hit show, and despite the lack of extras, they should be pleased at the presence of this second season on DVD. The 26 episodes are abridged in syndication (just ask my wife), so don’t think, if you’re a fan, there’s nothing of value here. Good, solid A/V accompanies this, further justifying the purchase for fans. For those of you that aren’t, just put some cotton in those ears, and let the Nanny fan in your life have his/her day.
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