What’s a boy to do when he is called into work and has to work a graveyard shift and is virtually disallowed to access the internet? Why, watch the first and second seasons of Wings of course, and thoroughly enjoy the wild antics of the folks in an airport on Nantucket Island. You have Joe (Tim Daly, Return to Sender), the uptight anal retentive serious one, along with his younger brother (and general goofball) Brian (Steven Weber, At First Sight). Together they own and operate Sandpiper Air, a sleepy small airline with one plane. They have a customer service attendant, the former stewardess Fay (Rebecca Schull, Analyze This). Their mutual friend is a woman named Helen (Crystal Bernard, Young Doctors in Love) who runs a small kitchen, and there’s an airport handyman named Lowell (Thomas Haden Church, Sideways). Together, their lives (and the wacky people and occurrences that happen to them) compose the hi-larious situation comedy that was created by those who helped previously shape Cheers and who would later shape the long-running show Frasier.
The first thing that surprised me about the show when I was doing some research on it was that it ran for so long, going from 1990-1997. Seasons One and Two encompass this four disc set, with 7 episodes on each disc. The episodes focus on Joe and Brian’s continuous flirtation with Helen, who resists because of a rule she has about not dating pilots, but that rule lasts about a season and a half. Some of the laughs are OK, but the problem with the show living in its era is that some of the jokes are topical references and really show the age of things.
The other problem with this set is the way that it’s marketed. The front cover of the package includes a very prominent picture of Tony Shalhoub (Monk), who plays a cab driver named Antonio. The problem with that approach is that on the first four discs, Shalhoub is barely seen, so there could be a case of false advertising. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t have it’s share of guest stars, as established stars like George Wendt and John Ratzenberger (Cheers) and David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H*) and then unknowns like Megan Mullaly (Will and Grace).
While Wings certainly held its own through the run of its life, for some reason it just doesn’t pass the test of time like I’d thought it did. That may be because I was watching it on 2 hours sleep, but I don’t think so.
Two channel Dolby stereo treatment. It would have been marginally nice to see some more thought put into the sound here, as there are a lot of plane shots that could have used an improved audio selection, but to do that for a TV show would have been a surprise to say the least.
Another full screen treatment for another TV show. Everything is reproduced accurately and vividly, as much as the era and technology will allow, and you can’t ask for anything more than that, unless you’re remastering these things or something.
Aside from some previews, there’s nary an extra to be had. No new retrospective or selected episode commentaries to speak of.
While the era allows some consideration that Wings was a funny show, creators David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee were in a transitional phase of their writing which they didn’t show for another couple of years afterward, with a cast that was familiar with the material and knew how to maximize it. Fans of the show will like that it’s out, but I’d give it a rental and decide from there.