Warner Bros. // 1986 // 523 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 27th, 2011
Don't waste another minute on your cryin'.
It's been five years since the first season showed up on DVD. Finally, here's the second installment of the Seaver chronicles and my wife couldn't be happier.
Big things going down this go-round: Mike (Kirk Cameron, Fireproof) lands his dream car thanks to Employee-of-the-Month honors at the burger joint, but a good deed goes punished and he's canned; Ben (Jeremy Miller, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star) fears returning to school because of the threat of a bully; Carol (Tracey Gold, Solar Flare) tutors a popular jock and sparks fly; Maggie (Joanna Kerns, Knocked Up) rushes to convince her daughter that she didn't flush her life down the toilet by marrying and having a family, and Jason (Alan Thicke, Alpha Dog) grapples with a mid-life crisis, but who cares about that -- where are the Mike-centric episodes?
Look at the cover of the set. That's all you need to know about what Growing Pains would become in Season 2: The Mike Seaver Show. By then, Kirk Cameron was on fire, lighting up Tiger Beat covers and appearing in huge posters in my wife's bedroom. Naturally, he took a more prominent role in the show and while the rest of the family weren't kicked to the curb, it's obvious the producers knew they had Golden Goose and kept the Mike locomotive rolling up front.
And guess what: they were right in doing so. Not that Alan Thicke, Joanna Kerns, Tracey Gold or Jeremy Miller were terrible, but Kirk Cameron had definite charm and energy. Mike Seaver is a delinquent, but he's a fun delinquent, a kid who talks a big game about sneaking out and bird-dogging chicks, but when push comes to shove, he's still a good kid; this isn't a teen you'd find slinging dope in The Wire.
But that's characteristic of Growing Pains as a whole. While some sensitive topics were addressed, like runaways (in the Christmas episode) and bullying and proto-pornography addiction (this is the season where Ben calls a sex talk line), there is so little controversy, you could show this season to your toddler and be confident the little kid won't see anything even remotely upsetting. Save for Kirk Cameron's Members Only Jacket of course. Fine, maybe "Boner" isn't the most family-friendly nickname ever.
Who needs controversy? Can't we have an innocuous, three-camera sitcom with an exuberant audience that applauds at act breaks and enjoy ourselves? Why yes, we can, because geez if Growing Pains still has some laughs to give. Some humor may be dated -- a Nixon joke! -- and in these days, where the post-modern, single-camera comedy is the norm, the conventional, family-friendly set-up drifts into the region of corniness, but I had a good time re-connecting with the Seavers. There's a tactile chemistry between the characters and with some decent one-liners from the writers, the end result is a breezy, amusing trip back to Long Island.
Warner Brothers certainly didn't spend the half-decade digging up interesting extras; the DVD set is bare bones -- full frame, 2.0 stereo, nothing for bonus materials.
Fun! And funny! Let's get these seasons deployed on a more frequent basis, okay?
Not Guilty. Go Hooters!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 523 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated