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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Melissa & Joey: Season One, Part One
Melissa & Joey: Season One, Part One
Shout Factory // G // May 24, 2011
List Price: $29.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted May 17, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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Melissa and Joey


Melissa & Joey
is a sitcom produced by ABC Family. The series begins by introducing a politician named Mel (Melissa Joan Hart), and her nephew and niece, who are now being raised by her. Being able to raise a family is a tough job though (especially for the super-busy Mel). Thus enters Joe (Joey Lawrence), a likeable and desperate guy in need of a job after losing his high-paying job as a commodities trader due to a Ponzi scheme that was enacted by the father of Mel's niece and nephew. After meeting Joe, Mel decides to give him a job as the family nanny (or as the series jokingly describes him throughout the show -- the "manny"). This sitcom series revolves around the goofball family dynamics and the possible romantic interest between Mel and Joe.

The aspect that makes this series such a success is ultimately the acting displayed by the two lead actors, Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. Both actors have a long history of working in television and on projects that require a keen sense of humor to be displayed from them at the forefront of the characters portrayed. These actors are pros at working with this sitcom-based material. It is a huge benefit to the series that such hilarious and likeable actors were involved in bringing the show to life. Indeed, this element might not seem too surprising to fans of the actors as the title of the show is appropriately named Melissa & Joey. The names of these actors appearing in the title of the show truly helps to sum up the most crucial element at play regarding the level of success the show can find. These performances help to define what makes the show work so splendidly and in spades.

Melissa & Joey also has a positive element that some sitcoms struggle with more than any other aspect: solid script-writing. The stories told in this series are sometimes traditional sitcom fare (family issues is a common theme) but each and every episode tells a story in a compelling way that makes these stories worth being told. The writing for each character is particularly impressive. The characters are written in such a way that viewers can truly identify with these characters and grow to care about them as people. This is an element that is missing from far too many standard comedy series, as too many shows try to rely more on the belief that having non-stop laugh-out-loud moments is more important than building an identifiable and compelling cast of characters. While it is important for sitcoms to be funny (but of course!) it is also important that viewers can relate to the characters. Melissa & Joey manages to succeed at this more than most television sitcoms and this is a heartwarming reason to appreciate the fine work put into creating this show.

The family perspective is truly one of the key aspects to this series. Family based sitcoms are made on a regular basis these days but it is often hard to say that the family element actually seems to work as one of the core elements. The family dynamic is one of the most important aspects which makes this such a successful and enjoyable series - in many ways, even more so than the likability of Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. Melissa & Joey understands how there is so much importance that lies in family bonds even within the realm of this non-traditional family.

The sets and designs used to craft the world inhabited by these characters are impressive and worth mentioning. It seems as though a lot of genuine hard work was done to make this series feel believable and less stagey when compared to other sitcoms. The series is also filmed in front of a live audience and this never seems to affect the overall quality of each episode with the final product. That is definitely a commendable aspect of Melissa & Joey, and one that suggests how the production goes above and beyond ordinary measures. 

This was an impressive sitcom series and one which is easy to recommend to fans of actors Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. It should also be worth checking out for anyone who enjoys quality family entertainment featuring some solid writing and genuinely good laughs. Melissa & Joey took me by surprise and whisked me away in its good-natured heart and the many other successes that establish it as a worthwhile series.

The DVD:


Video:

Melissa & Joey is presented on DVD with a 1:78:1 framed transfer, and the anamorphic widescreen presentation ensures that the image will look natural on 16:9 widescreen television sets. This is clearly a well-filmed show as the colors, contrast, and definition impress visually and suggest a show that would look splendid in High Definition but that remains vital and noteworthy on DVD. The image quality is consistently very strong from the first to last episode presented on this set. There were a few moments where relatively minor pixilation was noticed but it was not a distracting issue. Fans of this series will be pleased by the high quality of the presentation.  

Audio:

There are two audio options for Melissa & Joey. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix is reasonable for a dialogue heavy sitcom. The surrounds are mostly used to create a slightly more enveloping mix that highlights the laugh track and occasional music cues. The 2.0 mix is a noticeably standard presentation for a sitcom series. Either sound mix does a decent job reproducing the dialogue which is the most important element with this kind of show.  No subtitle options are provided.

Extras:

There are only a few extras presented on this 2-Disc release. There is a blooper reel that features some funny flubs made during filming, and this is by far the most enjoyable extra. The DVD cover art suggests that 'Featurettes' are included, but these are really just a few brief clips of Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence answering some questions posed with  "What would Joey do?" and "What would Mel do?" for each respective actor. Lastly, the set includes a brief ad promoting upcoming episodes.

Final Thoughts:

Melissa & Joey was a far more enjoyable sitcom than I expected when I started to watch the series. It was a more genuine and worthwhile series than I could have ever hoped for. While fans of Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence will enjoy this sitcom more than most, this is a series that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The DVD release also boasts a strong audio and video presentation. The only real drawback to this release is a lack of more memorable extras. The 12 episodes included on this release are worth taking a chance on for any fans of well made sitcoms. Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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