Sony // 1999 // 491 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // March 2nd, 2005
Jamie: It doesn't bother you that we haven't had sex in five days?
Jamie: I just don't understand. What's going on with us?
Paul: What's going on is we're married five months and the sexual part is over. I thought you understood that.
Jamie: Marriage...it's supposed to be different than this.
Paul: Sez who?
Paul: Well they're wrong! It's just like this. It's exactly like this.
Jamie: According to who?
Paul: Everyone! I asked around.
Ah, marriage. It's perhaps the most enduring institution of our culture that enables a loving couple to profess their commitment and caring for one another. It marks both the physical and emotional growth of two individuals and expands their world, allowing them to reach their fullest potential, together as one.
And then there are couples who marry and live in New York...
Paul and Jamie Buchman are young twenty-somethings who had, quite unexpectedly, fallen head-over-heels in love with one another after a chance encounter involving the last copy of The New York Times and dry-cleaning awaiting pickup -- just the sort of situation that has "love" written all over it. Paul's an independent filmmaker whose unbridled ambition is rivaled only by his equally unchecked obsessive nature. Jamie works in a New York high-rise, and her determined confidence is often undermined by her own neurotic worries. If ever two people deserved one another, it's these two. Clearly, theirs is a match made in Heaven...or at least downtown Manhattan. Now they're poised for an enchanted life of wedded bliss together, complete with all the markings of a storybook romance, including the stress of apartment hunting, the fear over declining physical passions, the temptation to stray beyond the relationship, and the horrors of hosting a holiday gathering. Join Paul and Jamie as they navigate the often choppy waters of married life, revealing the reality of every relationship as they experience the highs, the lows, and all those places in between where close physical encounters can be derailed by an ill-timed malapropism and frozen toes in Rockefeller Plaza can ignite the fires of deep-felt love and passion.
Paul: Look, there's always gonna be stuff, but that's...you know. I put up
with your crap and you put up with my crap.
Jamie: That's marriage?
Paul: This is what I'm thinking.
Having co-starred opposite Greg Evigan for three seasons in the mildly entertaining My Two Dads, actor/writer/comedian Paul Reiser (Aliens) decided to develop a new show that would be decidedly more "adult" in its delivery compared to his previous small-screen endeavor. Dispensing of the traditional -- and trite -- comedic elements of screwball comedy and electing to not string along an audience with a situation that leaves them thinking, "I wonder if they'll ever get together," Reiser crafted a show that simply presented unadorned slices of married life. Thanks to his infectious rapid-fire delivery and ability to expose the frequent absurdity of a couple's day-to-day dogmas, Mad About You was practically a home run hit from the inaugural pilot episode. Possibly cribbing a note or two from I Love Lucy of four decades prior, Reiser and co-producer Danny Jacobson presented perfectly flawed characters, Paul and Jamie, both of whom own the troubles and triumphs of this urban couple striving to grow their relationship amid the flotsam and jetsam that afflicts us all. In that, the show presents believable characters (albeit often extreme, clearly for comedic purposes) who endear themselves to us viewers who, probably more often than not, wind up laughing at ourselves before an episode has ended.
Initially airing on September 23, 1992, Mad About You spilled forth as a sort of "Thirtysomething, only shorter and funnier" (as stated by Reiser himself) and became a fast favorite despite its rather undesirable Wednesday at 9:30 pm timeslot. During its first season, the show was briefly repositioned to Saturday nights but ultimately landed the coveted Thursday at 8:00 pm primetime slot on NBC, where it remained through its third season. Even after being shifted throughout the week during Seasons Five through Seven, the show remained a top-rated broadcast and collected numerous awards -- Emmys, Golden Globes, and many others -- throughout its seven-year run. Appropriately, both Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt were awarded for their achievements as Paul and Jamie, an apparently unlikely couple portrayed by an arguably unlikely duo of actors. The chemistry that many thought couldn't culminate between Reiser and Hunt proved to be a perfect balance between Reiser's quick quips and precisely-timed double-takes and Hunt's perpetual motion that serves to keep the interactions wonderfully manic. Certainly, these two have to be considered among the best comedy duos in the annals of TV history.
While the complete Seasons One and Two have previously been released on DVD, Sony delivers something that, on the surface, may be summarily dismissed as another of those indifferent "best of" collections. The difference -- and unique appeal -- of this Mad About You Collection is that each episode found within was actually hand-picked by Reiser and Hunt; it's what they consider the best of the series. And, putting their money where their mouths are, both Reiser and Hunt are on hand throughout this four-disc, 21-episode collection to provide sit-down introductions to each episode. They candidly and casually discuss the inspiration and events of each episode, prompted by NYU Professor Richard Brown. (A note of warning: The episode introductions are interspersed with scenes from the episode to come and may spoil some of the situations; I recommend watching the episode first, then watching the introduction.) Each episode, then, is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format. The transfers look great, better than the original broadcasts that I recall. Detail is sharp without much edge enhancement, and colors are rendered natural and stable throughout. The Dolby Digital audio is a restoration of the original stereo soundtrack, and it sounds great, well balanced, and easy to discern each and every time.
Beyond the episode introductions, Reiser and Hunt are on-hand to provide episode-length commentaries for "The Pilot" and "The Final Frontier" episodes; fittingly, the "alpha" and the "omega" of this well-regarded series. Their comments are fun to listen in on, and they provide a remarkable amount of detail that we might expect would be forgotten after a voluminous 164-episode run. The two stars linger around a bit longer in two featurettes, where they discuss the impressive collective of guest stars who appeared on the show (Bruce Willis's appearance found in this set is one I consider to be the best of the series) and the creation of the show's opening theme. If you like bloopers, you'll love "The Seven Warning Signs of Madness." Lastly, you'll find over five minutes worth of TV spots and promos. All in all, it's a very well-rounded and well-thought-out collection.
As for episode specifics, here's what you'll find inside:
* "Mad About You -- The Pilot" (Season 1)
* "Met Someone" (Season 1)
* "Virtual Reality" (Season 2)
* "Cold Feet" (Season 2)
* "Giblets for Murray" (Season 3)
* "Our Fifteen Minutes" (Season 3)
* "The Alan Brady Show" (Season 3)
* "Yoko Said" (Season 4)
* "The Finale Part 1" (Season 4)
* "The Finale Part 2" (Season 4)
* "The Finale Part 3" (Season 4)
* "Citizen Buchman" (Season 4)
* "The Penis" (Season 5)
* "The Birth Part 1" (Season 5)
* "The Birth Part 2" (Season 5)
* "Letters to Mabel" (Season 6)
* "Mood Blues" (Season 6)
* "Le Sex Show" (Season 6)
* "The Conversation" (Season 7)
* "Paved with Good Intentions" (Season 7)
* "The Final Frontier" (Season 7)
As it went along from season to season, some felt that Mad About You was losing its freshness and had begun to repeat itself. Granted, the style of humor remained consistent (it's what made the show take root, after all), yet there was certainly a story and character arc at work here, not the bland restaging of "routines," as some have asserted. Most prominent was the birth of the Buchman's baby, Mabel, at the end of Season Five and the unique situations that preceded and followed that. If ever you've experienced the unparalleled life event of the birth of a child, you already know there's more than enough material there to laugh (and cry) at. Reiser, Jacobson, and Hunt made the most of this and used it to keep the Buchmans on a track of individual and relational growth that was timely and kept the show from becoming merely another multi-year rehash of once-funny moments.
This Mad About You Collection is an excellent release for those who have fondness for the show but, perhaps, aren't inclined to buy each and every season release. It provides a unique opportunity to watch the arc of the show from its first pilot episode to the near-eulogy of the last installment, "The Final Frontier." The laughs are fresh now just as there were then because -- no surprise here -- marriage hasn't changed much since then. For fans who do intend to purchase the show in season-by-season DVD releases, there's plenty of unique material here (the impressive amount of appearance participation by Reiser and Hunt) that would make this a worthwhile purchase, too. This release is a good time awaiting you, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Here's to you and yours!
How could anyone find guilt in this charmingly neurotic couple? Case dismissed.
Review content copyright © 2005 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 491 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Introductions with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt
* Select Episode Commentary with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt
* Blooper Reel: "The Seven Warning Signs of Madness"
* Featurette: "Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt Are Mad About the Theme"
* Featurette: "Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt Are Mad About Guest Stars"
* TV Spots
* Official Site