Judge Kent Dixon fondly remembers when he earned his wings, but also wishes he'd opted for buffalo over teriyaki.
The final season…now ready for takeoff!
When does a TV show jump the shark? For those not familiar with the term, "jumping the shark" happens when a movie or TV series reaches the point where it veers off into uncharted territory or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations. I'd also argue that when the near-perfect chemistry of a show's ensemble cast deteriorates after a core actor leaves, the show may also have jumped the shark. For several seasons, Wings was a stand-out comedy, but by the time Wings reached its eighth season, it really was time for final boarding.
Facts of the Case
Brothers Brian (Steven Weber, Brothers & Sisters) and Joe (Tim Daly, Private Practice) Hackett continue to run Sandpiper Air, warts and all, with other series regulars Helen (Crystal Bernard, Young Doctor's in Love), Helen's sister Casey (Amy Yasbeck, Young Doctors in Love), and colleagues Fay (Rebecca Schull, Analyze This), Roy (David Schramm, The Dreamer of Oz) and Antonio (Tony Shaloub, Monk).
All 24 episodes of Wings: The Final Season are included here, spread over three discs as follows:
Overlapping Cheers which ended in 1993 and Frasier which ended in 2004, Wings shared many of the same appealing qualities as its sister shows. The show's creators took their time to get the chemistry right with the core cast and when the show took off (sorry!) in 1990, they had a skilled team of talented comedic actors to ground (sorry again!) the show.
Although he left the cast after season six, Thomas Hayden Church's character Lowell Mather added the stunned but loveable touch Woody Harrelson brought to Cheers as his character "Woody" Boyd. Church's departure after season six was the first major hurdle the show had to overcome and some fans feel that Wings was officially clipped (still sorry!) at that point. Fortunately, the core cast members Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, David Schramm and Rebecca Schull remained with the show for the entire eight-season run, so there was continuity on that front.
While most of the plots from the series' 172 episodes were standard sitcom fare that involved misunderstandings, mishaps and other challenges for the characters to overcome, the lovable characters kept it fun and kept fans coming back. For fans of the Angell/Casey/Lee-style American sitcom, Wings delivered more of the same skilful writing, entertaining characters and chuckles they had grown to appreciate. I have heard Wings referred to as a spin-off of sorts from Cheers. That's actually inaccurate as the only things the two shows had in common was their creative/production teams of David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee, who also created Cheers and Frasier. Despite no direct ties however, several members of the Cheers cast made appearances in episodes of Wings over the years, playing their Cheers characters.
Wings: The Final Season arrives at the gate looking like it has just been through a bumpy trans-Pacific flight. The video presentation is grainy and somewhat soft throughout all episodes, with muted colors and weak contrast. On the brighter side, the audio presentation remains crisp and well-balanced throughout, effectively delivering dialogue and audience reactions. Wings: The Final Season includes no extras of any kind, and for fans of the series, this will likely come as a big disappointment. When a TV show runs for eight seasons and more than 170 episodes, it's almost guaranteed there are outtakes that could have been gathered, commentaries that could have been recorded, and cast or production retrospectives that could have been shot. Paramount's lack of effort on this front is inexcusable.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Given this is the final release for a show which ran eight years, Wings: The Final Season does a relatively pathetic job of winding up the collection on a high note. No extra features of any kind? It almost leaves you wondering if the cast members who never really took flight to other projects and broader success are clinging to fond memories, while those like Tim Daly and Tony Shaloub, who have done quite well for themselves, have nothing new to say about the show. The get-it-out-the-door treatment shown on this release is an insult to loyal fans who have waited patiently to complete their Wings collection.
While the overall quality of Wings: The Final Season may leave a lot to be desired on the video and extra features front, there's nearly nine hours of entertainment in this set. For fans of the series looking to complete their Wings collection, this is likely a must-have release, but for anyone other than the most dedicated fans, I'd recommend little more than a rental.
Despite landing a bit short of the runway Wings: The Final Season
manages to deliver a relatively smooth journey into the sunset for a popular
long-running 90s series. Bon voyage guys!
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