Now that it's faded out of syndication, it's incredible that it's been more than 10 years since "Mad About You" first aired in 1992, as it seems like longer than that. After watching several of the episodes contained on this Season One set, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed this show. There were several witty episodes with clever situations, the unlikely chemistry between Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt was pleasant and the writing was solid more often than not. The show even rounded up a remarkable group of various awards.
And then there was a point where enough was enough. Although both Reiser and Hunt are talented actors (and were surrounded by a fine supporting cast), the rather slight concept seemed stretched beyond the breaking point a few years in. "Mad About You" certainly managed a set of enjoyable seasons portraying this couple, but the plots started to become uninspired once the show passed the halfway mark of its run. Hunt's big-screen success in films like "Twister" and "As Good As It Gets" also was likely a factor in the decision to bring the show to a close. While the latter seasons aren't as involving, the first few seasons are certainly very worthwhile viewing.
There has been some confusion over what's listed in this set, as most retailers have not given a very detailed description of the contents. What the "Mad About You Collection" is is a collection of episodes picked by stars Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. In other words, a "best of" that's actually picked by the stars, which is certainly a fun concept. The episodes included are certainly some of the show's finer half-hours, too.
"Virtual Reality" is a very funny episode where Paul (Reiser) invests in a risky virtual reality company without telling Jamie (Hunt), then has to figure out how to tell her that he was seduced by the machine; "Giblets For Murray" has Paul and Jamie hosting Thanksgiving dinner, hoping for it to become a tradition, only to see pretty much everything go wrong; "Our Fifteen Minutes" has Paul directing a "Real World"-ish documentary about his life with Jamie; "The Conversation" has Paul and Jamie trying to get daughter Mabel to fall asleep on their own (the episode was filmed in a single performance take, with no edits or commerical breaks) and "The Final Frontier", which has Paul and Jamie's now-grown daughter (Janeane Garofalo) presenting a look back at her parents. Guest stars in these episodes include Bruce Willis, Lisa Kudrow, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Carol Burnett.
Episodes included: Pilot, Met Someone, Virtual Reality, Cold Feet, Giblets for Murray, Our Fifteen Minutes, Alan Brady Show, Yoko Said, The Finale Parts 1/2/3, Citizen Buchman, The Penis, The Birth Parts 1/2, Letters to Mabel, Moody Blues, Le Sex Show, The Conversation, Paved With Good Intentions and The Final Frontier.
VIDEO: All of the episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. Image quality is a bit inconsistent - generally staying at the kind of quality that reruns present. Sharpness and detail varies - most of the shows appear passably crisp, but occasionally, scenes can look noticably softer by comparison.
Other problems appeared throughout the shows, but none were terribly bothersome. Some noticable pixelation was spotted on a few occasions, as were some instances of shimmer. The show's somewhat subdued color palette remained rather well-rendered, with only a tiny bit of smearing. The episodes varied in quality, some looking better than others, but the overall impression wasn't bad.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack is enjoyable, with crisp dialogue. The rather annoying laugh track doesn't get in the way of either music or dialogue, either.
EXTRAS: Stars Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt offer audio commentaries on "The Pilot" and "The Final Frontier". The star's commentary surprised me a bit - given the length of time since the episodes, I was expecting some scattered comments and the two mostly getting caught up in watching the episodes after all these years. Instead, the two provide a lively and funny chat that has both recalling a lot of stories and details about the production of the two episodes in question, as well as the series in general. The other fun element is that the two still have really nice chemistry here as they bounce ideas about the episodes back-and-forth.
The supplement that extends throughout the set is a series of introductions from Hunt and Reiser - one brief featurette that can be played before each episode. Also on the first disc are a few other supplements, starting with a blooper reel. Then Reiser and Hunt appear in featurettes about the show's guest stars and theme music. Finally, there's the show's TV promos (a total of 6 minutes worth) and promos for other Columbia/Tristar TV titles.
Final Thoughts: I'm usually heavily against "best of" sets, but this set does offer some of the best "Mad About You" moments, and seems to have had a solid amount of participation from stars Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser. While fans await the release of the third season of the show to hit DVD, this "best of" set should be satisfying. Recommended.