InsidePulse DVD Review – Coach – The First Season



Barry Kemp


Craig T. Nelson ………. Coach Hayden Fox
Jerry Van Dyke ………. Assistant Coach Luther Horatio Van Dam
Shelley Fabares ………. Christine Armstrong Fox
Bill Fagerbakke ………. Dauber Dybinski
Clare Carey ………. Kelly Fox
Kris Kamm ………. Stuart Rosebrock
Kenneth Kimmins ………. Howard Burleigh

The Show

When you think of great TV shows that aired in the early 90’s and lasted through almost the entire probably think of ‘Friends’ or ‘Seinfeld’. Maybe even ‘Roseanne’ or ‘Home Improvement’. Maybe even ‘Murphy Brown’ or ‘Frasier’. All fine shows that have been either #1 in the ratings or at the very least in the top 10. It was a great time for watching TV. But there is a problem with lots of great TV shows airing at the same time. Some good shows get lost in the shuffle. A show like ‘Wings’ comes to mind as a surprise hit around this time. Another show that fits that description is ‘Coach’.

‘Coach’ is about what the name implies. Hayden Fox is the head coach of a university football team. The college is the fictional, Minnesota St. University, whose mascot is the screaming Eagles. Hayden eats, sleeps and lives football. His partner, Christine, however, does not share his passion for the sport, which frequently causes friction in their relationship. While Hayden often fits the stereotype of a dumb jock, he sincerely cares about his friends and family, and tries his best to make things work out.

Hayden is the “center” of the show. He has a girlfriend named Christine and a 19-year-old daughter named Kelly. Hayden has two assistant coaches on his team by the names of Luther and Dauber. There is also the athletic director for the college named Howard. Hayden is a likable character and it’s easy to see why Craig T. Nelson won an Emmy for this role later on. Christine is okay as Hayden’s girlfriend. To be honest, she is my least favorite character. She is the opposite of Hayden, though, which may be why they make a good couple. Most of the drama in this first season is between Hayden and Christine and it’s caused by their differences. Hayden’s daughter, Kelly, is a likable character as well. She is involved a lot in this first season and is the other main drama-setter for Hayden. But the drama is minor at best.

This show is all about the comedy. It may put some people off that this is an old-fashioned show with a laugh track. But ‘Friends’ and ‘Seinfeld’ and all the others had them too, so get over it. The comedy comes mostly from Luther and Dauber. Hayden is usually involved as well, but it’s the “dumb jock” routine from Dauber and Luther that is funny. You can’t help but laugh at them in these early episodes. Jerry Van Dyke plays Luther and he is the brother of the famous, Dick Van Dyke. He is just as a funny as his brother. However, here is a little fact that you may or may not know. Jerry Van Dyke actually opened a soda shoppe in my hometown of Benton, Arkansas. People have met him in person and let me tell you..he is nothing like Luther. He’s not really that nice of a person. Maybe it’s the Hollywood actor thing where they don’t like to be bothered in certain situations. I don’t know, but he’s not dumb like Luther and he doesn’t like to be thought of as Luther, eventhough this was the show that found him the greatest success. Now that is out of the way, Jerry Van Dyke as Luther is a likable guy and funny. And that is all that matters here.

It may surprise a lot of people that this show lasted 9 seasons. I know it surprised me. I liked the premise of the show when I watched it as a kid and a teenager, because I liked football. And if you don’t like may not like this show that much. But the show found success. The success and quality of the show started to wane as the years went on. But at the beginning..this show was at its best. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a quality show that is entertaining and worth at least one look by everyone.


Disc One:

Episode 1 – The Pilot
Kelly’s return to Minnesota for college awakens Hayden’s fatherly instincts. As a result, Hayden’s relationship with Christine may be disrupted.

Episode 2 – Kelly and The Professor
Kelly tells Hayden she has a date with a professor from school. Hayden does everything he can to find out who he might be.

Episode 3 – Kelly, Meet Christine
Christine demands Hayden be truthful with Kelly about their relationship.

Episode 4 – I’m in Love With a Boy Named Stuart
Hayden gets to meet Stuart, Kelly’s new boyfriend at dinner. But the more that Hayden learns about Stuart, the more he hates him. That is until he needs Stuart’s help.

Episode 5 – The Loss Weekend
A losing streak makes Hayden unpleasant company for Christine. That’s too bad as they had big plans this weekend.

Episode 6 – Gambling for Meat
Hayden suspends Luther for 30 days for gambling when he bets against the team and wins a steak at the “Touchdown Club”. The trouble doesn’t stop there, though.

Episode 7 – 19 Candles
Hayden plans a quiet birthday party for Kelly, who is turning 19. The mood changes when Kelly invites Stuart to the party as well.

Disc Two:

Episode 8 – Parents’ Weekend
Hayden’s ex-wife, Beth, is coming up for “Parents’ Weekend”. Hayden hasn’t told Beth about Christine and Christine has an uncontrollable urge to get a look at Hayden’s ex-wife.

Episode 9 – I’m Sorry I Told You My Wife Was Dead
Hayden consoles a wealthy alumnus’ widow to secure a substantial donation. However when things don’t go Hayden’s way, he stops at nothing to make them go his way.

Episode 10 – Define Romance
Hayden feels threatened when Christine takes someone else to the opera after Hayden declines her offer to go. As a result, Christine forces Hayden to “define” their relationship.

Episode 11 – Whose Team Is It, Anyway?
Hayden needs a victory in his last game to have a winning season this year. They may not happen, since Hayden may have to bench his star player for skipping practice.

Episode 12 – Hoot, Hoot, Hike
The poetry of football is turned into a ballet by Kelly’s dance instructor, who envisions a little something more with technical advisor Hayden.

Episode 13 – Dauber’s Blow-Out
Dauber plans to hold his out-of-control season-ending party. But Riley Pringle, band director and anti-fun head of the Conduct Committee, has other ideas when he joins Hayden in supervising the party.

Score: 7.5/10

The Video:

The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is decent with minimal distortion. Colors look bright. No real problems here, except that some episodes appear clearer than others.

The Audio:

The audio included is in English Dolby Digital Mono sound. No problems here either. Roughly the same quality as the original broadcasts.

The Extras:

Unique Package Design of “Limited Edition” Set

I didn’t know where else to mention this, but this has to be one of the most unique designs for the DVD packaging. This “limited edition” first season set comes in a lift up playbook style notebook that is made of the same material as a football and the design looks like a football. The lift up flap inside of the notebook features football plays. Inside of the notebook are CD sleeves that hold the discs. Inside of the notebook is a “playbook.” The cover of the playbook says “Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles Play Book”. Inside of the playbook are episode descriptions for all fourteen episodes included with the set. That is the 13 episodes for the first season and the bonus episode from the second season. This is not really a DVD extra, but it’s a unique design for the DVD that fits the show perfectly. It adds a little something to the overall score for the DVD.

The Great 80’s TV Flashback

This is just like the extra that was on the Charles in Charge – The Complete First Season DVD set. Both sets were made by Universal. It basically is a featurette that talks about other great TV shows from the 80’s. The shows featured are ‘The A-Team’, ‘Knight Rider’, ‘Miami Vice’, ‘Magnum P.I.’, ‘Charles in Charge’, ‘Quantum Leap’, ‘Simon & Simon’, ‘Murder, She Wrote’, ‘Kate & Allie’, and ‘Gimme a Break’. This is a little odd, since ‘Coach’ was more in the 90’s than the 80’s. It came out in 1989, which is not really “80’s” in my opinion. But it’s there..if you want to look at it.

Season 2 Bonus Episode – “Homewreckers”

Just what it says. It’s a full episode from the second season. In this episode, Hayden and Luther almost completely destroy Christine’s house while she is away for the weekend. Again..they did this on the ‘Charles in Charge’ DVD set as well. I definitely liked this extra better than the “Flashback” extra. Not a whole lot has changed from the first season and this second season episode. That is a good thing. It also helps that this episode is extremely funny! One of the funniest I have seen from this show.

Score: 6/10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Coach – The First Season
(OUT OF 10)