Shout! Factory // 1995 // 690 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 23rd, 2010
Paul: (snappy dialogue with no jokes)
Jamie: (more snappy dialogue with no jokes)
The fourth season of the highly acclaimed and brain-pulverizing sitcom about a married couple that only speaks in Wry has arrived.
Paul (Paul Reiser, Aliens) and Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets) are a hip, attractive couple living in New York City, surrounded by boring friends and even more boring circumstances. By day, Paul is an independent documentary filmmaker who shockingly makes enough money to maintain an impressive collection of mom jeans; Jamie runs her own PR firm. By night, they're the cutest, most rip-roaringist witty couple in the metropolitan area. But this season, the honeymoon is over, as the Buchmans face monster life changes, infertility, unemployment, and infidelity.
At the risk of being virtually pilloried by the show's fan base, I'll just say this: Mad About You blows. This show is not funny. There's laughter in the background, sure, and the characters certainly act like funny stuff is happening all the time, but as far as I can tell, there aren't any jokes in this show. It's virtually all delivery. Granted, in the history of the television medium, there haven't been actors as adept as reeling off dialogue with the panache as Reiser and Hunt, but at some point there has to be a joke...somewhere. Right?
Nah. Mad About You is less a sitcom and more a "dramedy," to exploit a deeply annoying made-up genre buzzword. Especially towards the end, when Paul and Jamie encounter their own temptations with infidelity, the comedy takes a back seat. Not that it was ever in the driver's seat, but once the writers get their hands on this Deeply Emotional Plot Development -- the rockiness of the Buchman marriage -- all semblance of ha-ha flies out the window with the swiftness of John Pankow's receding hairline.
This was all quite excruciating for me; I tune into half-hour prime-time comedies with the expectation that I will laugh instead of being subjected to an endless amount of sarcasm and retorts. And then a neutron bomb of turbo-angst drops, when the infidelity storyline kicks in (spoiler: neither of them actually commits infidelity, but that doesn't stop them from being insufferable in their guilt-wallowing). No, they don't get divorce, and yes, there's a massive cliffhanger you'll see coming so don't fret. There is much emotional turmoil to navigate, but the payoff is typical sitcom schmaltz.
The season is given a nice treatment from Shout! Factory, presenting the episodes in their original full frame format and 2.0 stereo mix, joined by a couple of okay extras: introductions by Reiser and Hunt on select episodes, Reiser and Hunt talking about the genesis of the show's theme and some TV spots.
Fans will surely purchase this set and curl up with a quart of Haagen-Dazs to relive the melodrama, but I'd rather do a line of road salt than spend any more time with the Buchmans.
Guilty. I wish I was clever enough to make a play on the word
"Buchman," to reflect my distaste with this overrated series.
Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 690 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* TV Spots