Shout! Factory // 1987 // 540 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 2nd, 2009
Suzanne [Boarding a plane]: "Where are our seats?"
Julia: "I don't know. If history teaches us anything, mine will be next to a baby who smokes."
Hot on the heels of the release of Designing Women: The Complete First Season, comes the second year of the show from Shout! Factory. The sophomore batch of episodes carried on the same tone and tradition established in the initial run. It centers on two sisters named Julia (Dixie Carter, Desperate Housewives) and Suzanne (Delta Burke, Delta) Sugarbaker who have launched an interior design firm in Atlanta, despite being polar opposites personally and professionally. Suzanne is a materialistic ex-beauty queen, while Julia is a no-nonsense business lady who is tough as nails. Running the Atlanta firm with them are a down to earth designer named Mary Jo (Annie Potts, Ghost Busters) and a sweet but ditzy office manager Charlene (Jean Smart, 24). The only difference in this next season is that Meshach Taylor (Mannequin) becomes a series regular as Anthony the ex-con, offering a male voice now and then, and we see more of Bernice Clifton played by Alice Ghostley (Grease).
What made Designing Women such a great series was the idea of inverting what the general public thought of stereotypical Southern women. Girls from below the Mason-Dixon Line had a long tradition of being over-sexed, romance-addicted drama queens, simpletons, or whores with a heart of gold. The gals of Sugarbaker Designs were smart, sassy, resourceful, and outspoken, and it was due to the vision of creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The mission of the show was to reinvent women as concerned with femininity as they were poltically and morally savvy. The second year includes a watershed moment called "Killing All the Right People," a poignant episode revolving around a designer dying of AIDS. Designing Women was never scared to tackle touchy subjects in its own sweet, gentle way. It always handled topics tastefully and with respect, although the tough-to-talk-about came sometimes too frequently.
Just like the first set Designing Women: The Complete Second Season contains four single sided DVDs with twenty-two episodes, which originally aired between September of 1987 and March of 1988. Each show is full screen, and the picture has a decidedly '80s television feel with plenty of grain and general softness. It's not crisp, and quality is not far above video standards. Yet this is the first time anybody is releasing full seasons of the show, so fans will be excited simply to have these outside of syndication airings. Audio is a simple two channel mono mix which sometimes sounds more stereo when the music kicks in. There are no extras this time around, although a nice episode guide is included to tell you original air date, writer, director, synopsis, and a list of guest stars. It's pretty bare bones, but at least the episodes are intact. There is also a promise in the guide that seasons three and four are coming soon. Designing Women: The Complete Second Season gives viewers and collectors a chance to see a year where the program matured and fell in to its signature rythm. There aren't any extras, but the bonus is simply having these episodes finally on DVD.
Guilty of redesigning the idea of what Southern women on television could
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 540 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Guide