Sony // 1986 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erin Boland (Retired) // March 13th, 2004
They're sassy, they're classy, and they're always in fashion!
Designing Women was a CBS sitcom that aired from 1986 to 1993 featuring four Southern belles who ran a design studio, Sugarbaker & Associates, in Atlanta, Georgia.
The episodes focus on the life of four women: Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts, Toy Story), Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter, Different Strokes), Suzanne Sugarbaker (Delta Burke, What Women Want), her beauty-queen sister, and Charlene Stillfield (Jean Smart, Sweet Home Alabama). Anthony Bouvier (Meshach Taylor) is added to the estrogen-laden mix as an ex-con who works for the women delivering furniture. The Best of Designing Women is a presentation of five episodes from the show's 7-year run.
Suzanne's gynecologist is retiring. This of course, is an emergency, so Mary Jo gives her the number of one of her ex-husbands (who happens to be a gynecologist). Suzanne, after a preliminary appointment, ends up dating him. The new relationship leads to a rift in the women's relationship and arguments ensue. When Suzanne announces that the two are engaged, it provides Mary Jo a chance to tie up some loose ends with her ex. Sex jokes fly the whole episode.
"Killing All the Right People"
Sugarbaker & Associates are hired for the project of their careers. An old friend, Kendall, visits the agency and asks the girls to design his funeral. Shocked at his request, the four women ask him why he would want to plan his funeral at such a young age, and Kendall replies that he has AIDS. He tells the women he has been on a treatment plan, but his T-cells are low. Later that evening, Mary Jo ends up at a PTA meeting, and is elected to rally the parents who would like to see the local school distributing birth control (condoms) to teenagers in the district. Mary Jo takes the position and, at the next meeting, delivers a nice speech about preventing diseases like AIDS.
"Reservations for Eight"
When women plan a weekend ski trip, an avalanche strands them and all of their beaus in the cabin. The arguments start when they try to decide who will sleep in which rooms. The girls had stated that the girls would stay with girls and the guys would stay with the guys, but the men don't seem too happy about that arrangement. The weekend drags on, and so do the arguments concerning the old "Battle of the Sexes." Tensions run high, but a little bit of romantic music and some dancing makes up for it pretty quickly.
"Big Hass and Little Falsie"
Mary Jo's uncle has passed away and left her three thousand dollars, provided she spends it on something frivolous. The only thing that Mary Jo can think of: breast implants. Well, the women start discussing breast size, and Julia and Charlene tell Mary Jo that it might be nice to be as petite as she is. When Suzanne gives Mary Jo the number for a surgeon, Mary Jo comes back with a set of falsies, so she can see what she would like. Julia and Charlene aren't really crazy about the idea of Mary Jo with large breasts. Mary Jo decides to try out her new falsies, so she goes out with Julia to pick up some men.
"They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?"
Suzanne has put on a few pounds and is rather sensitive about the issue, as her class reunion approaches. Attending the reunion, Suzanne is forced to confront her weight issues when she meets all of her old classmates. Meanwhile, Anthony has asked Julia and the girls to participate in a charitable fast for fighting world hunger. After an awful time of the reunion, Julia rushes over to comfort Suzanne and tells her the only thing that matters is how she feels about herself. Anthony comes to pick up the World Hunger checks with a little boy whose family died in an African famine. Suzanne is given a new look at life when the boy tells her she is beautiful.
While I am not offended by sex, I really wasn't amused by five episodes of women sitting around making crude jokes about sex. (For future reference, keep the humor out of the gynecologist's office. Please.) The show did have some redeeming qualities though: it did a rather nice job dealing with sensitive women's issues like obesity, and breast size, while bringing up some pertinent social issues as well.
The DVD transfer overall was fairy clean. The main complaints I have focus on the noticeable set lighting, but that was only present in the first episode. The sound wasn't anything outstanding. The soundtrack was as bland, as were most of the sitcoms from the late '80s, with very little music. The only extras on the DVD were trailers.
Overall, the DVD didn't really appeal to me, and I would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone who didn't like Designing Women. In fact, since I wasn't familiar with this show until the DVD showed up on my doorstep, I don't know if I would even recommend it to someone who liked the show. It comes down to this: if you did like Designing Women to begin with, avoid this DVD at all costs.
The Best of Designing Women is pronounced guilty as charged, and will be sentenced to wear those huge glasses, look at that big hair and the bad make-up, and listen to some of their lame jokes for, oh, at least the next 7 years.
Review content copyright © 2004 Erin Boland; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Designing Women Tribute