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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Golden Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
The Golden Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // May 9, 2006
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Lacey Worrell | posted June 4, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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The Show:
The Golden Girls on DVD is an absolute treat. No longer do fans have to wait for their favorite episodes to air on Lifetime television, only to see favorite scenes chopped out in favor of extra commercials. With the release of Season Five, there are only two seasons left to go, and it appears that each season is as eagerly anticipated by fans of the show as the last.

The premise of this show is quite unique: four women share a house in Miami. There is perennially naïve Rose, sarcastic Dorothy, promiscuous Blanche, and Dorothy's outspoken mother, Sophia, who has lost the ability to censor her often outrageous comments after suffering a stroke. The premise of The Golden Girls remains a standout because of the fact that it emphasized the fact that women over 50 could be fun, fabulous, and sexually free. The 80s were a happening time for geriatric television, when one considers strong shows such as Murder, She Wrote and Matlock, but The Golden Girls will always stand out as one of the few sitcoms in television history to feature women in their golden years.

Standout episodes this season include the two-part season opener, "Sick and Tired," where Dorothy develops chronic fatigue syndrome. This episode was based on the show's creator, Susan Harris's, own struggle with chronic fatigue. A particularly strong scene occurs at the end of the episode, where Dorothy gives an unsympathetic doctor a well-deserved tongue lashing. "Comedy of Errors" is great fun; Dorothy wants to become a stand-up comic and gets heckled by her own mother! Other funny episodes include "The Mangiacavallo Curse Makes a Lousy Wedding Present," which centers around a wedding and features Estelle Getty at her absolute funniest as Sophia, as well as a great interaction between Dorothy and Blanche over Blanche's jealousy at having fixed Dorothy up with a too-eligible bachelor. "An Illegitimate Concern" provides an interesting turn of events when Blanche's late husband's son appears at the girls' doorstep. The problem is, this is the first Blanche has ever heard of him.

This season also featured the introduction of Rose's cheapskate college professor boyfriend, Miles, in "Dancing in the Dark." In this episode, Rose is worried that she is not smart enough for Miles's educated friends. Although later episodes that featured Miles grew tiresome, this first one is actually quite nice, and it features Betty White at her comic best as she tries to mingle at a cocktail party at Miles's house.

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" finds the girls counseling a teenager who has become pregnant and subsequently estranged from her father. Growing Pains fans will recognize the actress playing the teen as Julie Costello, who played Mike Seaver's love interest and Chrissy's first nanny on that show.

Fans may be split over message episodes "Not Another Monday," "All Bets Are Off," and "72 Hours." In "Not Another Monday," Sophia attempts to convince a good friend not to end her life. Fans discover Dorothy's past problem with gambling in "All Bets Are Off," and "72 Hours" finds Rose worrying over the fact that she may have received blood tainted with HIV. Of these, "All Bets Off" is the most enjoyable and believable one. Even at the beginning of "72 Hours," it is obvious the writers are not going to end the episode with a major character being HIV-positive. And in "Not Another Monday," suicidal behavior appears to be resolved with nothing more than a pep talk from Sophia.

I absolutely hate "Love Under the Big Top," which reminds me of a previous episode that featured Mickey Rooney as a bank robber. The guest star in this one is the legendary Dick Van Dyke, who is the new man in Dorothy's life. He doubles as both a clown and a lawyer and although the final scene is quite funny, it's just a ludicrous plot cooked up for Van Dyke to be a guest star.

While not quite as enjoyable as Season Four, fans and newcomers to the show will find terrific episodes in Season Five. Overall, Season Five's episodes are great, as they are every season.

The DVD

Video:
The Golden Girls: The Complete Fifth Season is presented in full screen, and like the three seasons that came before it, it is a pleasantly surprising improvement over what one might expect when viewing it on television. The pastel and jewel-toned colors of the ladies' outfits (it was twenty years ago, people!) are incredibly vivid, and the lines are sharp and clear. The fact that this series recently celebrated its 20th anniversary is not apparent, at least in terms of picture quality. In my experience watching endless television shows on DVD, the television-to-DVD improvement of The Golden Girls ranks as one of the best.

Sound:
This season is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which is adequate, but not remarkable in terms of quality. I'm not sure that this is such a travesty, as sound quality is not always a top priority for the intended audience of this show (women of all ages). Well, let's face it, there are plenty of men who secretly like this show, too!

Extras:
The only extra of note on this season is that there are six optional audio commentaries included. While this is a nice bonus, the release of the series as a whole has failed fans in terms of extras. The Golden Girls wasn't some little, obscure show that lasted a few seasons and is affectionately thought of by a few people – this was a HUGE show that has already gone down in television history as one of the best sitcoms ever. It won Emmys not only for acting, but for writing too, and it continues to win new fans every time reruns are broadcast.

The commentaries are just okay. The best one features Rue McClanahan's reminiscences of the wardrobe and costumes that were worn on the show. She goes into great detail about how she has preserved the outfits, and even dishes on how much she weighed during certain seasons. Bea Arthur doesn't have much to say other than to gush about how great the writing was, which it was, but she offers few other details. Buena Vista has two more seasons to get the extras right, or millions of fans will be disappointed. I hope the powers that be are listening! One can dream.

Final Thoughts:
This collection is a must-own for even the most casual Golden Girls fan. Season Five was yet another strong season for a much-beloved series that has truly stood the test of time.

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