Boy, this title really came out of left field. I am one of those DVD collectors who picks out their favorite television shows and collects all the full DVD season sets. I did this with Wonder Woman, with Kung Fu and with The West Wing. I also started collecting full season sets of Mad About You just a couple of months after I started with Friends. I finished all ten seasons of Friends in late 2005, yet I was only two seasons in to Mad About You‘s seven season run. What…gives? The last season of Mad About You that was released was Season Two, which hit store shelves in April of 2003. Two seasons released in 5 years is not exactly the turnaround that fans look for; especially in a show that is no longer on the air. I, as did many fans, naturally assumed that no more seasons would be released after several years passed without a new season dropping.
So, imagine my shock when I read a news item in January of this year that announced Season Three’s surprising release. Maybe the “greatest episodes” set they released in 2005 sold better than they expected. Maybe fan chatter reached those with their finger on the metaphorical button. Maybe Sony made enough off of the sale of the Seinfeld season sets to cover the losses on releasing another season of Mad About You (my personal guess). Whatever the reason, it’s probably best not to ask too many questions, but to just be happy that this thing has finally shown up in stores at all.
It is odd to me that there are people growing up now that have never seen this program. People who might find it strange that movie star Helen Hunt used to be on a TV show with some guy who was apparently a comedian or something. When this show first hit NBC on Thursday nights, Paul Reiser was the draw, and Helen Hunt was an unknown pretty face. The two had a synergy on screen, however, that made them both much better than they had been on their own. It is increasingly rare to find two actors playing a married couple who you actually believe are married. Finding such a dynamic on a half-hour three camera sitcom is pretty much unheard of. Yet here it is, a relationship so believable that it is easy to forget that they each had spouses of their own. (Helen Hunt, incidentally, is married to Hank Azaria, who plays a recurring character on the show.)
Season Three is arguably the best of the show’s run. Season Four saw the couple beginning to move toward parenthood, when the tone of the show changed pretty severely. Season Three, however, is that sweet spot where characters have been well-established, and the writers are free to push them into new and imaginative situations. While some find this show to be a bit too “slapstick” in its humor, I found it to be witty and honest in a manner that was way ahead of its time. Mad About You is modern television’s answer to classic sitcoms like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Now, a whole new generation will be able to enjoy this show’s finest season on DVD.
There is just one audio track here, but it is the always-versatile Dolby stereo track. The track does exactly what you would expect it to do, and nothing more. Dialog is a bit on the muddled side, but certainly not intelligible. The music cues are a bit too boomy, but the audience reactions are not overpowering, as often-times happens when sitcoms make the jump to DVD. I would have liked to have found a full-on 5.1 mix, but the stereo track that is here gets the job done.
The video quality on these episodes is slightly less than adequate. There are some real problems with jaggies which are probably the result of stretching the picture from its original small broadcast size to the wondrous breadth of modern high definition displays. Colors are also a bit washed out, though black levels hold up surprisingly well. These shows look very much like they looked during the original broadcast. While that was fine in the mid-90’s, broadcast quality has changed drastically in the past 10 years.
On the one hand, it;s a real shame that there aren’t any extra features included on these discs. At the very least, I would have liked to have seen the TV spots that were originally broadcast with each episode. However, I don’t want to complain too much, because the fact that these episodes are available at all is something of a small miracle. There are several small trailers and TV spots for other Sony DVD products, but that’s all.
This release all boils down to one thing; beggars can’t be choosers. The audio and video quality leave a lot to be desired. The extra features are non-existent. The only good thing that can be said is that the shows themselves are included. However, the shows are very entertaining. Don’t buy this for outstanding quality. Buy this because it is simply available.