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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Drama > British > Hazel: The Complete Second Season (1962 – 1963/Shout! Factory DVDs)/Shades (2000/Acorn Media DVDs)

Hazel: The Complete Second Season (1962 – 1963/Shout! Factory DVDs)/Shades (2000/Acorn Media DVDs)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: C+/C



Two of the oddest scenarios comedies have been build around are represented by these latest two releases. 


One is that of the funny maid, which has always had problems with it (i.e., people are happy with labor, especially if it is an African American as in the 1950s stereotypical series Beulah or the extremely overrated hit film The Help) even if that character seems in control.  Hazel: The Complete Second Season (1962 - 1963) has Shirley Booth in the hit comedy that is a 1950s family sitcom formula with a twist (the show is in color, Hazel is “like family” years before Alice on The Brady Bunch) and you can buy that to some extent, yet the arrangement is very atypical and the episodes mixed.


It is interesting when it touches on class division, though the idea of Hazel-as-family basically tells us that does not matter when it usually and actually does in real life.  Still, the writers (basing this off of a cartoon in The Saturday Evening Post) manage to make this watchable and interesting, written intelligently for an audience it considers literate and the show is not insulting or condescending.  All 24 half-hours are here over 4 DVDs and they hold up as entertainment as well as a sort of time capsule of an ideal America that somewhat existed.  It is interesting to see again after so many years, though some of the shows show their age or do not hold up as much as others.  There are no extras.


The other odd idea is if a lead character ides in the first episode, but remains in the entire series for its remaining episodes.  This has led to bombs like Jennifer Slept Here with Ann Jillian, the notorious bomb My Mother The Car and even the moderate hit action/detective show My Friend The Ghost aka Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased).  Shades (2000) has both lead characters dead and trying to deal with truths about their lives they were not aware of.


Mark (Stephen Tompkinson) and Maeve (Dervla Kirwan) play people who have died in surgery and from being hit by a car respectively.  This alone is more often unintentionally funny than it should be (the way it is written, shot and performed is almost MST3K territory, though they do not intend it that way) this is more of a soap opera than it should be.  At best, the six hour-longish shows here may be a curio for those interested, but I did not buy it much and it never gains traction as it goes along.  Oh, and the gimmick here is that they can speak to strangers who do not know them, but people who did cannot hear them, but the writers cannot even make that work to best effect.  There are no extras here either.

The 1.33 X 1 color image on Hazel varies a bit from show to show, but the prints of each episode are in pretty good shape and are likely newer transfers from the Sony vault.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Shades is not as colorful, yet as soft and should have been better, but is not.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Hazel can show its age, but they are clean and full as far as the lossy format can deliver.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Shades is a cleaner recording, yet it seems a bit weaker in some ways over its shows.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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