"MY NAME IS EARL: SEASON TWO"
Season two takes off with Earl (Jason Lee) having plenty of items to cross of his list. However, instead of just following him and Randy (Ethan Suplee) around to do good deeds, we start to see some growth in the character. His passionate desire to do good for karma’s sake has waned a bit, but his newfound conscience always seems to put him back on the right track. Randy’s also got some issues with being a second banana, and he asserts himself in his own ways.
There’s also a hilarious development in Crab Man’s (Eddie Steeples) character, giving him more depth and showing that he truly loves his trailer trash wife Joy (Jamie Pressly). There is not a weak link in the entire cast. The leads are hilarious, and when they tire, the supporting cast takes over. We get to see more of the beautiful Nadine Velazquez as Catalina (and I mean that in both the literal and figurative sense). Of course, Jamie Pressly continues to be totally hot and hilarious at the same time.
The second season breaks some barriers by featuring part claymation in one episode, and even allows the other characters to narrate part of the show. The DVD comes with commentary on some episodes, deleted scenes, bloopers and several featurettes that highlight the claymation process, the guest stars and even web cam spotlights on the characters (where you’ll learn the truth behind Crab Man’s secrets).
"8 SIMPLE RULES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON"
Ritter plays Paul Hennessy, the father of two teenage daughters. One is the blonde ditz, and the other the red-headed rebel. Katy Sagal plays his wife who has gone back to work, leaving Paul to raise his daughters. But as any father knows, you’ve gotta be scared of those teenage boys out there.
Ritter hits this one out of the park, and the show finds its stride within just a few episodes. As much as I have enjoyed this first season, it’s a downer to know that Ritter passed away only a few episodes into the next season. Still, you can find solace in the first season. The characters are well designed, from the girls to the mischievous son who is always there to bust up the girls’ plans.
Ultimately, “8 Simple Rules” is a nice family sitcom that everyone can enjoy, and it’s nice to see it find a home on DVD. The three-disc set comes with a special blooper reel, which is easily as funny as the rest of the series.
"HOME IMPROVEMENT: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON"
While the seventh season does regress a bit into the feminist stand-by of Jill being the ultra-perfect mother, it resists the political preaching enough to make these episodes enjoyable. More irritating, however, is the way the show dips into the “issue of the week” bucket. We see Brad’s flirting with illegal drugs, and we watch how Randy takes on the world’s environmental problems.
I can give a bit of a pass on the show’s message because the kids are no longer little boys and are now teenagers. At least in this season, when the show preaches, it isolates it to just an episode or two. And for the first time, the antics at home have become as funny as the antics on the “Tool Time” show-within-a-show.
Running dry on DVD extras after six other collections released, there’s only bloopers on this one.
"THE MUPPET SHOW: SEASON TWO"
The second season isn’t as fresh as the first one, but for a second try at such a unique premise, it was definitely enjoyable. The guest stars have been stepped up a notch. Instead of seeing names that I don’t even recognize, the Muppets are joined with more notable figures. However, looking at the show almost thirty years down the road, it does become a parade of dead superstars like Zero Mostel, George Burns, Don Knotts and Peter Sellers.
The show shines in its more innovative sketches and songs. Even something as simple as chickens pecking out music on a piano is brilliant. Other more thoughtful spots include an interesting take on the classic rock songs “For What It’s Worth” and “Time in a Bottle.” There are a few too many simple production numbers with no real catch and a few too many old predictable jokes. Still, even almost 30 years later, the Muppets are fun to watch.
In the special features, there’s a bonus episode of the Muppets’ Valentines Day special, which isn’t all that special. However, there’s some contemporary interviews with the Muppets about their careers, and that’s kind of fun to watch.
"THE OUTER LIMITS: VOLUME ONE"
MGM has released the first volume (16 episodes) of the original television shows from 1963 and 1964 in a special double-sided two-disc set. With the Cold War in full swing by now, this series went darker than your standard “Zone” show, presenting the unseen enemy in more than one episode.
Today, many people might have their memories tainted by the 1990s remake of the show, but for classic science fiction, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than “The Outer Limits.” Yes, some of the shows have too much cheesy acting, and yes things tend to run long in the 50+ minute running times of the episodes, but for the era in which these were made, they were masterpieces.