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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » 227 - The Complete First Season
227 - The Complete First Season
Columbia/Tri-Star // Unrated // September 28, 2004
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted October 4, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The First Season
Initial impressions and expectations can dramatically affect the outcome of your thoughts and feelings regarding a particular subject. This method of thinking has the potential to severely cloud your ability to comprehend truths, by blinding you with incorrect assumptions. The reason that I mention this is because I fell victim to this line of thinking. Initially, I was expecting that 227 would be one of the worst television series I've ever laid witness too. For the simple reason that the show just didn't look appealing and the fact that I'd never heard of it before didn't help. You'd think that something so entertaining, even about twenty years later would be remembered? Well, when I first started watching the first season of 277, I was ready to rip it apart. Even after the pilot episode, I thought that the show was pretty awful. As it turns out, I was completely wrong. Once I started to get through a few more episodes, I found that I was really laughing. 227 is actually a pretty damn good show. I was happily surprised that the show turned out to be pretty funny. Still, it's far from a superior series.

For those unfamiliar with the show, the 227 tells the tale about the residents of the apartment building 227. Located in Washington, D.C. the inhabitants of the 227 interact in some rather comical situations. The series mainly revolves around Mary Louise Jenkins (Marla Gibbs). She gets most of the camera time and it is certainly well deserved, as she's a pretty funny person. Joining her are her husband Lester Jenkins (Hal Williams), who seems to be a little oblivious to the obvious, Brenda Jenkins (Regina King, Jerry Maguire), the Jenkins's fourteen-year old daughter, Sandra Clark (Jackee Harry, Sister Sister), who is a self-centered, egocentric, man-hungry, gold digging-wannabe, and Rose Lee Holloway (Alaina Reed Hall), Mary's best friend who joins her on a few of her troubling escapades. There are also a few reoccurring characters, Pearl Shay (Helen Martin) is an older woman who is blunt and right to the point and her sixteen year old grandson, Calvin Dobbs (Curtis Baldwin) who is the center of Mary's daughter's attention and extremely clueless. Individually, I'm not sure if I could say that their funny own their own accord, but together, they interact to produce some pretty funny situations.

Some of these interactions that proved to be funny were Mary and company's disapproval of Sandra's way of life. She gets put at the butt of a joke or two. Additionally, since both Lester and Calvin acknowledge just how sexy she is, they get into a little hot water from time to time. There are also some humorous stories that revolve around Calvin and Brenda trying to date. Mary won't let her daughter date boys until she's sixteen. How sweet, motherly love. Another positive aspect regarding this show's character interaction is simply that the acting seems to be done well. While some of the episodes are a bit corny, they characters seem to play off of each other very well.

The episodes in this sitcom are like just about any other sitcom. We have stories that touch upon the all too common issues of family values, lying, job hunting, dating, and love. Despite the common approach, the stories are still pretty funny. In the episode "Honest", Mary gets in a little car accident, she hit a parked BMW. She becomes agonizes over doing the right thing. Should she leave a note offering to pay for the repairs or do absolutely nothing, getting away with only a bruised conscience? While this episode sounds a little dry, there's a lot of lying involved. That's always fun, to watch a group of folks get buried deeper and deeper in what seemed like a little white lie. There's also another pretty good episode, "Letter to the President", which guest stars Leslie Nielsen (Naked Gun). After writing a letter to president Regan, Mary gets investigated by the United States Secret Service. It's a bit weird to see Nielsen in a somewhat serious role, but the episode proves to be really entertaining because of how everyone reacts to the news. There are also some pretty good episodes about dating, "Mary's Brother" and "The Bed of Rose's", where Mary seems to meddle a little too much in Rose's love life. The rest of the season had some fairly entertaining episodes, they weren't filled with endless humor, but there's enough content that they should keep you entertained enough to want to watch another episode or two.

Overall, I was pretty entertained by the first season of 227. While I had initially expected the show to be pretty bland, I found it was not. Despite that I did enjoy its laidback humor I didn't find it to be a really great comedy series. It lacks the same outright humor that other series like Frasier, The King of Queens, or Everybody Loves Raymond have, where they can make just about any daily situation funny and make you want more. Overall, the first season of 227 has enough entertaining episodes to keep you interested and laughing, but I don't imagine you coming back for more. For that reason, I think it's a title worth renting.

Episode Guide
1. 227 Pilot
2. A Daughter Is a Precious Thing
3. Young Man with a Job
4. The Refrigerator
5. Honesty
6. Mary's Brother
7. Family Hero
8. Do You Love Me?
9. Brenda's Last Date
10. Letter to the President
11. The Sidewalk Sale
12. Pity the Poor Working Girl
13. Football Widow
14. The Big Piano Playoff
15. Mary's Christmas
16. The Bed of Rose's
17. A Young Man's Fancy
18. We the People
19. The Redecorating Blues
20. Slam Dunked
21. Fifty Big Ones
22. Pick Six


This release is presented in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. Considering this season first aired in 1985, I was surprised that the quality was good. For the most part, the picture remains to be fairly clean. At times the picture does a look a little fuzzy and randomly compression artifacts occur, as well there are some color distortions. But these problematic issues do not occur a lot. All things considered, the picture does look pretty good.

The audio track in this release is in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The sound wasn't too impressive. It was your standard stereo track that is mainly spoken dialogue, which remains fairly flat throughout the season. All things considered, the track could have been in mono, since there is very little distinction between the channels. There are no subtitles with this release, but it is closed-captioned enabled.

The special features for this release consist of three featurettes. "From Stage to Screen: 227" is a short featurette with playwright Christine Houston and some others. They discuss how the series was originally developed for theater and later adapted for television. Then we have "Three Ladies Remembering 227", which is with Marla Gibbs, Alaina Reed Hall, and Jackee Harry. In this featurette, they reminisce about the show, giving detail to their thoughts about it. Finally, the featurette "Stories From the Stoop" is 20 minutes that discusses the angle that the series took with each episode, the characters, and other aspects of the series. It's with director Gerren Keith, co-creator Bill Boulware, actor Marla Gibbs, and many others. Overall, I thought the extras weren't that exciting. There's some interesting background about the series, but if you're not a big fan, I doubt it will peak your interest.

Final Thoughts:
While I initially thought that the first season of 227 would be a fairly dry and dull experience, I found it wasn't. At a first glance, it does look pretty boring, being that it is a series that focuses upon the daily lives of the inhabitants of an apartment building. However, as it turns out the cast pulled together to produce some fairly comical episodes. I enjoyed watching the first season and was quite surprised to find that I was actually laughing, but I can't say that the experience was extremely thrilling. Since there were some funny episodes, this first season DVD release should appease the fans looking for some fairly good comedy. However, I wouldn't say that there's much replay value. The first season just isn't that funny. So if you're looking for a change from other sitcoms like Frasier, The King of Queens, or Everybody Loves Raymond, the first season of 227 should make for a good rental.

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