"Dharma and Greg" follows the formula of creator Chuck Lorre perfectly: simple concept, solid casting and consistent jokes. None of his shows ("Big Bang Theory", "Two and a Half Men") reinvent the wheel or even come close to it. All of the shows are standard TV fare, but the difference is that significant attention has been paid to all the ingredients. The concepts have never really been the reason why Lorre's shows have been as successful as they have been, in my opinion, it's really the attention to detail at all levels.
"Dharma" follows the romance of Dharma Finkelstein (Jenna Elfman) and Greg Montgomery (Thomas Gibson). She's a liberal and he's a conservative lawyer. Her parents are hippies and his are wealthy and snobbish. The show certainly could have been a trainwreck without Elfman, who plays Dharma in a way that's fun and sweet without being way too lightweight. In other hands, Dharma could have been too wacky or over-the-top, but Elfman makes the character sweet and real, successfully pulling off the show's occasional emotional moments. Without at least a hint of gravity to the proceedings, the series wouldn't have been as believable and I don't think audiences would have cared as much. More than a lot of sitcoms, "Dharma" really had to walk a fine line when it came to crafting the right balance between lightweight humor and genuine heart.
Elfman also played off Gibson well, as the two had solid chemistry with each other. Gibson's performance was also entertaining, as while the actor was supposed to be the yin to Elfman's yang, the actor provided a performance with depth and a nice balance of seriousness and humor.
It also helped that the two were surrounded by a supporting cast that were strong enough to nearly steal the scenes from the leads. Alan Rachins and Mimi Kennedy had great timing and were quite amusing as Dharma's aging hippie parents, but Mitch Ryan and Susan Sullivan were even a bit better as Greg's snooty parents. As enjoyable as Gibson and Elfman were as a loving couple, the aspect of trying to watch the two sets of very different parents come to terms with one another's differences was also enjoyable viewing. Shae D'Lyn and Joel Murray were also able to give a bit more depth to the role of Dharma and Greg's friends than is usually seen in a show like this.
The second season of the series really sees a pleasing step forward for the series and it's part of the reason why these episodes hold up as well as they do. The core relationship of the series seems on stronger footing as the characters are a little more well-realized this time around and the actors clearly feel more comfortable in their roles. The writing has a bit more zip, as well, with some episodes during this second season that are real highlights.
Some of the highlights include: "It Takes a Village" (Abby and Larry literally pull together a village worth of aides to help Dharma and Greg with their new child, which is fine until it dawns on Greg that they aren't going anywhere anytime soon), "Are You Ready For Some Football?" (Greg takes Dharma to a football game and is shocked when she turns into a rabid fan) and the three part story arc "See Dharma Run", "Run Dharma Run" and "See Dharma Run Amok, where a frustrated Dharma decides to create change by running for office.
The only oddity is watching the series and realizing that it was aired 15+ years ago. It doesn't feel that long since quality TV in the late '90's. Nearly 15 years later, "Dharma" still holds up reasonably well.
24 2-01 23/Sep/98 Ringing Up Baby
25 2-02 30/Sep/98 It Takes a Village
26 2-03 07/Oct/98 Turn Turn Turn
27 2-04 14/Oct/98 The Paper Hat Anniversary
28 2-05 21/Oct/98 Unarmed and Dangerous
29 2-06 28/Oct/98 A Closet Full of Hell
30 2-07 04/Nov/98 Valet Girl
31 2-08 11/Nov/98 Like, Dharma's Totally Got a Date
32 2-09 18/Nov/98 Brought to You in DharmaVision
33 2-10 25/Nov/98 Yes, We Have No Bananas (or Anything Else for That Matter)
34 2-11 09/Dec/98 The House That Dharma Built
35 2-12 16/Dec/98 Are You Ready for Some Football?
36 2-13 06/Jan/99 Death and Violins
37 2-14 20/Jan/99 Dharma and Greg on a Hot Tin Roof
38 2-15 03/Feb/99 Dharma and the Horse She Rode In On
39 2-16 10/Feb/99 See Dharma Run
40 2-17 17/Feb/99 Run, Dharma, Run
41 2-18 24/Feb/99 See Dharma Run Amok
42 2-19 03/Mar/99 Everybody Must Get Stones
43 2-20 31/Mar/99 Dharma Drags Edward Out of Retirement
44 2-21 05/May/99 It Never Happened One Night
45 2-22 12/May/99 Bed, Bath and Beyond
46 2-23 19/May/99 A Girl Can Dream, Can't She?
47 2-24 26/May/99 The Dating Game
Video:"Dharma and Greg" is presented here in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Fox. Thankfully, the studio has done a very fine job presenting the series on DVD, as the episodes looked to be at broadcast quality, if not slightly better. Sharpness and detail were very good throughout much of the running time, with only a few minor scenes here-and-there looking softer than the rest. The show's bright, lively color palette appeared well-saturated and warm, with no concerns. Overall, a similar presentation to the first season and again, certainly satisfactory.
Audio: Clear, well-recorded dialogue. Not a whole lot of activity, understandably. However, what's there sounds perfectly acceptable in terms of quality.
Extras: None, which is too bad as the first season did get a pretty nice selection of supplemental features.
Final Thoughts:: Nearly 15 years later, the second season of "Dharma and Greg" finds the series still charming after all these years, with performances that improved as the show went along. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, but no extras. Recommended.