The first season release of Dave’s World is going to upset the show’s fans a bit. Paramount has decided to change the opening theme from Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” to some jazzy piece that doesn’t come close to saying the same thing. This wasn’t even Joel’s performance of the song we’re talking about on the original. I know that the musical rights issues can be a problem. Shows like WKRP suffered from being loaded with songs and racking up a fortune in royalties for home video release. Most of these shows were aired in the days before anyone even knew there was going to be a home market for these programs. But I still don’t understand this one. It’s the show’s theme song and an important part of the show’s look and feel. We’re not simply replacing incidental music or songs that take up significant portions of the show. I think it was a bad move, and I’d be very curious as to just how much money Paramount saved by replacing the song. Average that number out over the set’s sales figures, then find out if the fans would have been willing to pay the difference.
I was first introduced into the somewhat twisted world of Dave Barry in 1986 when I moved to Florida. The Tampa paper carried his Sunday column, and all I can remember is that it had something to do with dinosaurs on the beach and that I couldn’t stop laughing. For years afterward both my wife and I made the column regular Sunday reading. As years went on other things fill one’s life, and I only occasionally read the material until he disappeared almost completely from the Central Florida scene, keeping more to himself some 250 miles to our south. He’s since spent a lot of time playing in a writer’s band with the likes of Stephen King. So, I was pretty eager when Dave’s World first came to television in 1993. To say I was disappointed wouldn’t exactly be fair. The show was pretty funny, but Harry Anderson was so ingrained in my mind from his Night Court role that I never did accept him as Dave Barry. Once I was able to separate the character from the writer, the show was a little better going for me.
Anderson supplies narration to the show in a voice much like that of his column so that we’re placed into that world. It was a nice touch. Dave (Anderson) worked from home. He had a wife (Matthews) who was a teacher. He also had two young children. Most of the show dealt with Dave’s childlike look at the world around him. He found life to border on the ridiculous, and that’s what he wrote about. His world was also populated by the typical guy friends that have become staple in shows like King Of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond.
This first season does a pretty good job of introducing us to the characters and what is a remarkably simple set-up. The episodes were refreshingly uncomplicated, with simple problems that Dave was unable to find simple solutions for. The dog eats the boy’s homework, a frog. That’s the kind of situations Dave finds himself in, and it’s like he’s a fish out of water…in an ocean. Dave Barry himself guest stars in Heat Wave. Other guests this season include Andrea Parker, Pat Morita, Fred Willard, Jane Curtin, Peter Scolari, Amy Yasbeck, Florence Henderson, and Debra Engle.
Each episode of Dave’s World is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. Colors are actually pretty bright and sharp. Black levels are average. The show looks pretty good.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track serves merely as an adequate delivery system for dialog. You can hear everything with no audible distortion. Dynamics don’t really enter into the equation here.
Dave’s World is refreshing in that the show doesn’t rely on innuendo and cleavage to sell itself. You can comfortably bring the whole family to the television without worrying if an episode might require one of those uncomfortable “talks”. There’s plenty of humor for all ages. The writers appear to be mindful of the family setting and sprinkle in both jokes that the little ones might enjoy and a few only the adults will get, all without being raunchy. It was never as funny as the column, but it would be unfair to compare these two different media. Whichever you do watch or read, most people consider Dave Barry to be “The funniest man in America. Everybody says so, but what do they know?”