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Case Number 16273

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Wings: The Final Season

Paramount // 1996 // 539 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // April 30th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Kent Dixon fondly remembers when he earned his wings, but also wishes he'd opted for buffalo over teriyaki.

The Charge

The final season…now ready for takeoff!

Opening Statement

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:

Disc One
•  "Porno For Pyros" As they move into their new home, Joe and Helen accidentally burn down Brian's house. But instead of a check, the insurance company sends an investigator.
•  " Like a Neighbor Scorned" Joe and Helen take an immediate liking to their new neighbors, then quickly change their minds. Antonio thinks his uncle had an affair with a movie star.
•  "Maybe It's You" Brian dates an annoying woman just so he can be in a relationship. Joe is the only one not invited to a friend's wedding, and Faye becomes a shoplifter.
•  "Single and Hating It" Hoping to be alone on their first wedding anniversary, Joe and Helen plan a special night out. But then a storm forces them to spend it at a singles mixer.
•  "Too Beautiful For You" Antonio can't handle it when he finally dates a gorgeous woman who actually likes him. Meanwhile, Helen gets competition from a gourmet lunch cart.
•  "The Gift of Life" On Halloween, a medical courier leaves a package at the airport. Now everyone is worried that a vital organ won't be delivered to its intended recipient.
•  "Olive Or Twist" When Brian gets his big insurance check, Casey convinces him to turn a diner into a martini bar. Meanwhile, Faye and Roy prepare for an alien landing.
•  "Wingless (Part 1)" When Joe runs the business into the ground, his only hope is to attract investors. But the only interested party is a businessman who wants to buy it for his son.

Disc Two
•  "Wingless (Part 2)" With Sandpiper Air under new ownership, Joe resents the ideas of his young boss. But then the kid comes up with a great plan that reinvents the airline.
•  "Wingless (Part 3)" After the boss's son bails on Joe and Brian, they find out he needs to make an appearance at his father's board meeting, otherwise they'll lose the airline.
•  "All About Christmas Eve" On Christmas Eve, Antonio gets stuck with a nun, while Helen, Fay and Casey get stuck in a department store. Joe mediates between two old men.
•  "Let's Talk About Sex" Roy starts dating a well-known talk show host, who asks Joe and Helen to appear on her show, and Brian hires Casey to run his errands.
•  "Hosed" Joe buys a vacuum cleaner with an unconditional guarantee, but when it breaks down and he is charged, he exacts revenge. Brian placates Roy to get to his niece.
•  "Just Call Me Angel" While Brian and Joe are flying home on a commercial flight, the regular pilots develop food poisoning, so Brian lands the plane and becomes a media sensation.
•  "Fay There Georgy Girl" On Valentine's Day, Brian and Casey use each other as "date bait." Fay sells the possessions of her three husbands at a flea market and later regrets it.
•  "Escape From New York" Helen's lucky enough to get two free tickets to "Rent" on Broadway, but not so lucky once she gets there. Joe throws his back out and can't escape Antonio.

Disc Three
•  "House of Blues" Brian and Casey find a house to rent, but need Antonio to share the cost. Meanwhile, Joe and Helen's flirtation with nudity only gets them blackmailed.
•  "Ms. Write" Brian falls for the mysterious author of some romantic letters that arrive at his house. Joe and Helen allow Antonio to install their new alarm system.
•  "Dreamgirl" While Fay's away on vacation, Joe hires a beautiful temp and he, Brian and Helen can't stop dreaming about her. Casey gets Antonio a job at her store.
•  "Heartache Tonight" Joe and Helen reluctantly agree to go to Roy's for dinner, where his mother will finally meet his new girlfriend. Brian gives his cold to Casey before her big date.
•  "Oedipus Wrecks" As roommates, Brian and Casey find it weird when they start dating a mother and son. Meanwhile, Roy confronts a clown who taunted him at the circus.
•  "Racing Bull*&@!"—When Joe's opponent drops out of a boxing match, the replacement fighter is Brian, so Helen and Antonio train the fighters, and Roy handles the action.
•  "Final Approach" (Parts 1 & 2) Joe and Brian strike it rich when they finally locate the money left to them by their late father. Later, Joe considers selling Sandpiper so Helen can pursue her dream.

The Evidence

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.

Closing Statement

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.

The Verdict

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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Scales of Justice

Video: 65
Audio: 75
Extras: 0
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 539 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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