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Mad About You Collection [DVD] [Import]
In the early to mid-1990s, Mad About You was about as good as sitcoms got. As newlywed couple Paul and Jamie Buchman, stars Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt crackled with rapid-fire wit, and a chemistry that created some genuinely moving moments. The Mad About You Collection is a set of 21 highlight episodes from all seven seasons; Reiser and Hunt selected the episodes and introduce each with a 4- to 6-minute Q&A. From the first season are the pilot and the story of how they first met. From the second season are Paul's encounter with Christie Brinkley in a virtual-reality investment opportunity and the recap of the marriage proposal. From the third season are the zany family Thanksgiving dinner in which Murray the dog eats the turkey, Paul's attempt to create an "honest" 15-minute film about a day in their lives (this was before the reality-TV craze), and Carl Reiner's guest appearance as a TV legend. From the fourth season are Yoko Ono playing herself and the three-part finale in which some hints of infidelity lead to serious marriage problems. Mel Brooks appears as Uncle Marty ("Firm embrace!") in the fifth season, and Bruce Willis makes a goofy guest appearance in the two-part season finale, "The Birth."
It's well-known that TV series that try to keep themselves relevant by making momentous changes usually go quickly downhill (a phenomenon known as "jumping the shark"). In Mad About You's case, it was the birth of baby Mabel, or perhaps it was that the lead characters' neuroses simply began to wear thin. Either way, the later seasons became more erratic, and it might not be a great loss to see only a few episodes from them. The selections from the sixth season focus on Jamie and Paul writing letters to Mabel, and Paul directing his parents in The Pirates of Penzance while Jamie battles postpartum depression. In the seventh-season episodes, Paul and Jamie ask their therapist about resuming sexual activity, they try to teach Mabel to go to sleep by herself, and Paul runs over his mother-in-law. Then in the series finale, Janeane Garofalo plays a grown-up Mabel telling how her parents discovered they weren't really married, and what happened over the following years.
In addition to the episode intros, the set's bonus features are enjoyable and informative commentary tracks by the two stars on the first and final episodes, a blooper reel, and featurettes on the guest stars and the theme music (you can see Reiser playing the piano). The involvement by the stars might appease the frustrated fans who bought the first two complete seasons on DVD then waited in vain for the third. DVD fans have become accustomed to having complete seasons, because no matter how well highlight episodes are selected, some favorites are bound to be missing (how about the what-if-they-hadn't-met episode, or the Rashomon-like taxi ride?). On the other hand, the previous sets had no bonus features, and a fan boycott that results in poor sales might mean no more Mad About You DVDs at all. That would be a shame, for even with its shortcomings, The Mad About You Collection reminds us that the series had a special ability to make us laugh and cry. --David Horiuchi
Having said that there is a pro: Seasons 6 and 7 are finally available on DVD
So I am glad this set is finally released, but quality has been sacrificed.
The box it comes in is mediocre at best. It's a 3 star box.
The show itself is fantastic and holds up well over time. It's a 5 star show.
The image quality of the show on the discs is VHS quality, not DVD quality. It's a 1 star for image quality.
Ultimately it's not even close to being worth the full retail price of $70. It's worth $20 for a used copy if you really like the show like I do. But don't pay full price. Ideally the full price would be $20. At $20 this is a decent value considering the poor image quality. I paid $30 for a used copy and am pretty cheesed off about the quality at that price. If I'd paid the full $70 retail price I'd be positively livid.
About the box...it's plenty good enough to keep the discs safe on your DVD shelf for decades to come. It's the transit to your house that can damage it. So just check out every disc and make sure everything looks to be in good condition before you pass whatever return window you have. But don't let the box be the reason you don't buy the set if you want to own the show. If you do get a bad one, Amazon will send you a new one without argument because...Amazon.
The actual show is great and holds up fine 2 decades later. It's VERY 1990's in terms of fashion and general stuff the characters are interested in. So it's kind of a blast from the past to rewatch it. I had completely forgotten about Lisa Kudrow being a regular side character as Phoebe Buffay's (From Friends) sister Ursella, who's character had numerous appearances on Friends as well. So stuff like that became a pleasant surprise the second time through the series, as I had just plain forgotten about it.
All in all it's a fine show that probably would never get a chance by networks today because it takes more than 2 episodes to get acquainted with the characters and networks want to see super high ratings immediately. But its still better than most of the junk on network TV today. It's a theme that any modern couple should still be able to relate to.
On that note I like it a lot more now that I'm married than I did when it originally aired while I was in high school. I can just personally relate to the characters more now. So if you remember liking this show in the 90's, you might find you like it a lot more now if you've gotten married since you last watched the show.
As for the print quality, it's not HD because the show wasn't filmed in HD. It was filmed in standard definition because there was no HD in the 1990's. And since the show wasn't originally filmed in HD video or on actual film stock, there is nothing that can be done to up convert it to full HD later. It cannot be done.
But even by standard definition standards, this isn't a good quality transfer by any stretch of the imagination. The digital image has been heavily compressed to fit each season onto 2 discs each. (14 discs total for 7 seasons). So the resulting quality is pretty poor. It's watchable, especially on a smaller TV. But it's not DVD quality. It's maybe a half step above VHS quality. This is where the full retail price tag on this set becomes completely unacceptable.