Sony // 1980 // 650 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 22nd, 2006
"What you talkin' 'bout, Mr. Drummond?"
The second season of Diff'rent Strokes finds the Drummond family continuing to adjust to their unorthodox but loving family situation. In quick summation: Arnold Jackson (Gary Coleman) and his big brother Willis (Todd Bridges) were adopted by the wealthy, white Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain), whose posh New York apartment houses Mr. Drummond's teenage daughter, Kimberly (Dana Plato), and their sassy but caring housekeeper, Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae). As usual, Arnold finds himself in all sorts of mischief and cutely sasses his way out of most predicaments.
The following episodes are included on this set:
* Arnold's Girlfriend, Part I
* Arnold's Girlfriend, Part II
* Feudin' and Fussin', Part I
* Feudin' and Fussin', Part II
* Mrs. Garrett's Romance
* Birds and Bees
* The Hero
* The Adoption, Part I
* The Adoption, Part II
* Father and Son Day
* Thanksgiving Crossover, Part I
* Thanksgiving Crossover, Part II
* The Rivals
* Hot Watch
* The Dog Story
* The Election
* Friendly Mate
* Poor Drummond
* Big Business
* Return of the Gooch
* Valentine's Day Retrospective
* Skin Deep
* Teacher's Pet
* The Slumber Party
* Arnold Faces Fatality
* The Squealer
By the second season of Diff'rent Strokes, Gary Coleman was a certifiable, wealthy celebrity. The show was in full swing, a critical lump of sour milk but a hit with American audiences. And really, who couldn't love a wisecracking black child with a rich white father? Arnold and Willis Jackson had become not only household names, but also the faces of what white America could do if they'd just all band together and do some multi-cultural adoption.
The classic early '80s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes didn't set the world -- or your TV set -- on fire. That being said, the show must be commended for trying to bring to light the issues of the day, even if shows like All In The Family and The Jeffersons started the trend (and did it the best). The opening episode of season two features Arnold dealing with a bigoted housing developer (guest star Dabney Coleman) and Arnold's first love interest. In true Diff'rent Strokes fashion, a lesson is learned and everyone (save for the "bad guy") ends up happier and wiser than when the episode began.
Thusly, the season starts with a bang (for 1979) and paves the way for some wacky/touching/sentimental/humorous adventures, including Willis trying to explain to Arnold the "facts of life" (fitting, since Mrs. Garrett is their housekeeper), Mr. Drummond fighting for the boy's adoption against a scheming long lost relative, and the kids' disastrous attempt at setting Mr. Drummond up on a date via a computer dating service (sadly, Dr. Neil Clark Warren is nowhere to be found).
What makes Diff'rent Strokes so appealing is A.) the performances and B.) the nostalgia factor. I love watching the show, but not because it's riveting TV or hysterical comedic entertainment -- time has seen to it that Diff'rent Strokes won't age well. Even so, the performances by the lead actors are charming. Gary Coleman shines as little Arnold, a pint sized zinger machine to be reckoned with. Hip Todd Bridges plays the older brother to a tee, balancing big brother toughness with protective sentimentality. The late Dana Plato was wonderful as the girl next door, and watching her performance is difficult -- her eventual descent into booze, drugs, sex, and crime only amplifies what will end up being innocence lost.
I think it would be interesting to get an opinion on Diff'rent Strokes from someone who has never seen the show. Yet that's the catch-22 -- those who haven't seen it most likely don't have any desire to, and those who have seen it (like myself) will be unable to critique it on its own merits because of our fond memories. I give Diff'rent Strokes a happy recommendation, but for different reason than most reviews -- I guess it's just hard to separate the dancer from the dance.
Each episode of Diff'rent Strokes is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. The show looks...well, it looks like it did back when it originally aired on primetime television. The picture has a warm look to it, not as well defined as today's pristine productions. The colors and black levels are all in good shape. There are minor defects in the image, but nothing that will hinder your enjoyment of the show. Overall fans will be happy with the way these transfers look -- all things considered, it won't be getting any better on future mediums.
The soundtrack for each episode is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English. There isn't a whole lot to say about these sound mixes. Each is very front heavy without any directional effects or surround sounds. Hiss and distortion is present during a few silent parts, but overall it's clear and well recorded. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are included on this set.
The second time around is not the charm. Sony has decided not to include any extra features on this set...not that you really need to know what happened to all the kids from the show (their history is already well documented in the E! True Hollywood Story).
Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Not Rated