Hope & Faith: Season 1
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // $29.98 // March 31, 2009
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 15, 2009
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"Hope and Faith" aired for three seasons on ABC, and one could argue the series was the core of the channel's well-known "TGIF" Friday night line-up when "TGIF" made a return in 2003. The series wasn't a classic, but it was a prime example of how excellent casting can not only make a creaky concept work, but work long enough to go three seasons without having the core idea start to wear thin.

The series was created by Joanna Johnson, a former cast member of "The Bold and the Beautiful". It focused on Hope Fairfield-Shanowski (Faith Ford), a housewife who lives a quiet, ordinary life with her husband, Charley Shanowski (Ted McGinley) and children Sydney Shanowski (Nicole Paggi, although Megan Fox played the character in later seasons), Haley Shanowski (Macey Cruthird) and Justin Shanowski (Paulie Litt).

Into their lives comes Faith Fairfield (Kelly Ripa), a former soap opera actress (and Ripa was a former soap star) whose character was written out of her series - as a result, she doesn't know what to do and comes to life with Hope. The issue with Faith is that she's more than a little immature, spoiled and wild, making her the complete opposite of Hope and - in the opinon of the kids - more fun than Hope.

The wild sister and the mild sister could have been too kooky and quirky, but somehow Ripa and Ford manage to have enough chemistry in order to make the comedy work and be quite believable as sisters who - at the end of the day and differences aside - genuinely care about one another. The two were the core of the series, and while the other characters had their moments, they were a bit more of an afterthought. McGinley has some amusing lines and plays off Ford and Ripa well, but he's largely a referee between the sisters. The kids offer decent performances as TV kid actors go, but their plotlines are cliches.

The writing isn't noteworthy, but there's a good deal of one-liners each episode, and enough of them connect to keep the chuckles consistent. Ford and Ripa also seem more than comfortable doing physical comedy. Is the show a classic? No, but it's a consistently fun comedy with a solid ensemble cast and it passes the time quite well.

Some of the highlights of this season include: Pilot (Hope gets her world turned upside down with Faith moves in), "The Un-Graduate" (Faith must return to high-school French class in order to earn her diploma), "Summary Judgement" (Faith must earn move to repay her former employer for damages by working as Faith's personal assistant), "About a Book Club" (Faith joins Hope's book club and turns it into a riot), "Car Commercial" (Faith gets hired to star in a used car commercial - guest star Regis Philbin), "Trade Show" (Faith gets booked at a trade show, but doesn't get the reception she anticipated), "Anger Management" (Hope and Faith are sentenced to anger management classes) and the finale, "Daytime Emmys" (parts 1/2).

1. 1- 1 26 Sep 03 Pilot
2. 1- 2 3 Oct 03 Remembrance of Rings Past
3. 1- 3 10 Oct 03 The Un-Graduate
4. 1- 4 17 Oct 03 Summary Judgment
5. 1- 5 24 Oct 03 About a Book Club
6. 1- 6 31 Oct 03 Hope Has No Faith (The Halloween Story)
7. 1- 7 7 Nov 03 Car Commercial
8. 1- 8 14 Nov 03 Hope and Faith Get Randy
9. 1- 9 21 Nov 03 Phone Home for the Holidays
10. 1-10 5 Dec 03 Anger Management
11. 1-11 12 Dec 03 Silent Night, Opening Night
12. 1-12 9 Jan 04 The Wedding
13. 1-13 23 Jan 04 Madam President
14. 1-14 6 Feb 04 The Diner Show
15. 1-15 13 Feb 04 Mismatch
16. 1-16 20 Feb 04 Charley's Baseball
17. 1-17 27 Feb 04 Prom and Circumstance (Almost Paradise)
18. 1-18 5 Mar 04 Jury Duty
19. 1-19 19 Mar 04 Faith's Maid
20. 1-20 9 Apr 04 Hope Gets a Job
21. 1-21 16 Apr 04 Faith's Husband
22. 1-22 30 Apr 04 Jack's Back
23. 1-23 7 May 04 Trade Show
24. 1-24 14 May 04 Daytime Emmys (1)
25. 1-25 14 May 04 Daytime Emmys (2)


VIDEO: Lionsgate presents "Hope and Faith" in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is similar to broadcast quality, with sharpness and detail that are satisfactory - most scenes appeared at least reasonably crisp, but some sequences could look mildly soft. No edge enhancement or pixelation was noticed. Colors looked warm and bright, with nice saturation and no smearing.

SOUND: While the episodes are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the audio may as well be stereo - there's really no need for surround use and the audio is - as expected - dialogue-heavy. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and crisp score.

EXTRAS: Ford, Cruthird and Litt offer commentary on the pilot and on "Summary Judgement", while McGinley, creator Joanna Johnson and executive producer Emile Levisetti offer commentary on "Car Commercial" and "Hope Gets a Job". While it's a nice surprise that any commentaries are offered at all (fairly unusual for a catalog TV release), the commentaries themselves are surprisingly enjoyable. The participants on both tracks have a great deal of fun and remember a surprising amount of behind-the-scenes stories about the production. There's even a few amusing stories and Ford shares an amusing comment about some of the plots on "Murphy Brown". All four tracks are definitely worth a listen for fans.

"Family Dynamic" is a nearly 30-minute documentary (newly filmed) that gives an overview of the show's history, starting with creator Joanna Johnson (who, oddly, looks slightly like a cross between Faith Ford and Kelly Ripa) chatting about some of the initial concepts, development meetings and the luck the creators had when getting the cast together. Finally, we also get some amusing bloopers.

Final Thoughts: While it's certainly not groundbreaking in any way, "Hope and Faith" succeeds because the writing clicks often enough and the likable ensemble cast has very good chemistry with one another. The DVD set for this first season provides satisfactory audio/video quality, along with a surprising amount of extras for a catalog TV release like this. Recommended for fans.

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