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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Designing Women – The Complete First Season (1986 – 87/Shout! Factory DVD)

Designing Women – The Complete First Season (1986 – 87/Shout! Factory DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: C+



When Designing Women first arrived, I was not so impressed and as the show moved on to be a big hit, I rarely tuned in again.  Sure, the lead actresses were formidable and had some good chemistry, but I always felt the show was mixed, despite it having enough edge to deal with social issues in many of its episodes.  That did not make it a Norman Lear show, but that was better than just about all the regressive 1980s sitcom junk we were saddled with at the time.  The Complete First Season (1986 – 87) is now on DVD from Shout! Factory.


Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Jean Smart and soon-to-be-controversial Delta Burke played four women, who did interior decorating for a living and were good at it, but they also had lives to live and that is where the comedy and drama came from.  I was expecting this set to be a torture test, but have to admit that the show not only holds up very well over 20 years since its debut, but is better than I had remembered it.  Meshach Taylor and the great Alice Ghostley eventually became regulars as recurring characters.


All 21 half-hours are here and this was a nicely shot show with a better look than I remembered and broadcast TV was just not showing it to best advantage.  It was considered somewhat groundbreaking at the time and was part of a cycle of such shows that included The Golden Girls, which I still like much more.  However, Designing Women holds its own and its DVD arrival is long overdue.



The 1.33 X 1 color image was shot on film and remains one of the last TV situation comedies to have that luxury, but even at this point, shows were being finished in analog NTSC videotape and that hurts the playback with both aliasing errors and a strained look suggesting older digital dupes of the analog material.  Fortunately, the film prints should be in Sony’s archive and remastered whenever Blu-ray versions are called for.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound is a little better, still problematic at times, but not bad despite being second generation.  Extra include a booklet with episode guide & essay by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, plus the DVD has 43 minutes of a 2006 reunion interview taped at The Paley Center for Media including all four leads and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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