While it's difficult to compare any series to the classic "Married...With Children", "War at Home" does resemble the great "Married..." in some respects. "War", which is going to head into a third season, is a Fox family sitcom that focuses on Dave (Michael Rapaport) and Vicky (Anita Barone), as well as their three children: "Larry" Gold (Kyle Sullivan), Hillary Gold (Kaylee DeFer) and Mike Gold (Dean Collins).
"War at Home" differs from the norm in that not everyone always learns their lesson at the end of the series and the parents aren't always right - in fact, sometimes they're worse than their children. The series does present a family that loves one another at the core, but don't always express themselves in the most positive manner, as Dave frequently picks on Larry for his lack of interest in sports (Larry would rather try out for "Annie Get Your Gun.") While the macho father picking on the nerdy son is fairly stereotypical, it's Sullivan's performance as Larry that makes it work: the actor plays Larry as a twitchy, slightly paranoid nerd that manages to be endearing while still often remaining a mess.
"War"'s one downfall is that the dialogue can become a little too generically low-brow at times. The show's instances of characters ranting to the camera and occasional fantasy sequences occasionally suffer from some groaners in the joke department as well, but they do punctuate a bit pretty well at times. In general, the performances do carry the series, as Sullivan is often highly amusing, as is Rapaport, whose timing and delivery are often sharp. Barone and Rapaport have excellent chemistry, as well. DeFer is stuck with the familiar teen daughter role, but she makes it work. Collins - in what is the "Bud Bundy" (from "Married...", or the Reece role from "Malcolm in the Middle) doesn't get enough chances to shine, but he's good with a one-liner.
While the dialogue has high and too low(brow) moments (the first season is fine overall, but the second season does improve in this area), the plots manage to be above the usual sitcom fluff, such as one episode where Larry takes an interest in Dave's baseball card collection. Thrilled, Dave shares it with him, only to have Larry turn around and put one of the cards on Ebay - managing to get an unknowing Dave as a bidder. Or "13 Going on 30,000", where Dave keeps trying to test Mike's faith when he says he wants a Bar Mitzvah to see if he's going through with it for the right reasons.
Other highlights include: "Drive Me Crazy" (Dave lies for Hillary when their car is pulled over to keep her out of trouble), "Looney Tunes" (Dave thinks that Mike's depressing song lyrics are a cry for help), "Cheers" (After promising to turn the house alcohol-free after Hillary gets caught drinking, Dave and Vicky get caught tipsy) and "Dave Get Your Gun" (Dave becomes upset when Larry gets the male lead in the school production of "Annie Get Your Gun".)
The episode listing below includes all of the episodes of the first season, which are included on this set. However, the set presents the episodes in a somewhat different order, which is the order originally envisioned by the show's creators.
1. 1- 1 11 Sep 05 Pilot
2. 1- 2 18 Sep 05 I.M. What I.M.
3. 1- 3 25 Sep 05 High Crimes
4. 1- 4 2 Oct 05 Guess Who's Coming to the Barbecue
5. 1- 5 6 Nov 05 Like a Virgin
6. 1- 6 13 Nov 05 The Bigger They Come
7. 1- 7 20 Nov 05 Cheers
8. 1- 8 27 Nov 05 The Empire Spanks Back
9. 1- 9 11 Dec 05 Dave Get Your Gun
10. 1-10 18 Dec 05 Breaking Up is Hard to Do
11. 1-11 8 Jan 06 It's a Living (1)
12. 1-12 29 Jan 06 Gimme a Break (2)
13. 1-13 26 Feb 06 Three's Company
14. 1-14 28 Feb 06 How Do You Spell Relief?
15. 1-15 12 Mar 06 Looney Tunes
16. 1-16 19 Mar 06 Oh Grow Up
17. 1-17 26 Mar 06 The Seventeen-Year Itch
18. 1-18 9 Apr 06 13 Going on $30,000
19. 1-19 16 Apr 06 Snow Job
20. 1-20 16 Apr 06 The West Palm Beach Story
21. 1-21 23 Apr 06 The Runaways
22. 1-22 30 Apr 06 Drive Me Crazy
VIDEO: "War At Home" is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is quite nice, as the show looked consistently crisp and detailed throughout the episodes here. While a little bit of shimmering and a few slight instances of artifacting were noticed, the picture otherwise remained smooth, clean and stable. The show's bright color palette looked accurately presented here, with tight, bold colors that never appeared smeary or otherwise problematic.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack remained crisp and clean, with natural, well-recorded dialogue. The occasional touches of music could be a little loud, but this wasn't much of an issue.
EXTRAS: "Living Room Confessions" is a 16-minute featurette that provides interviews with the cast and crew, discussing the show's content, performances and spotlighting some moments. We also get deleted scenes for some of the episodes and a gag reel.
Final Thoughts: "War At Home" has a few uneven moments on occasion in this first season, but the series improves as it goes along and the performances remain enjoyable from the first episode. Overall, the series is an amusing look at family issues and keeps things more realistic, with characters remaining enjoyably imperfect. The DVD set offers fine audio/video quality, along with a few minor extras. Recommended.