Bosom Buddies: The Second Season – DVD Review

DVD available at Amazon.com

Created by:
Robert L. Boyett, Thomas L. Miller & Chris Thomspson

Cast:
Tom Hanks….Kip Wilson
Peter Scolari…Henry Desmond
Donna Dixon….Sonny Lumet
Holland Taylor….Ruth Dunbar
Thelma Hopkins….Isabelle Hammond
Wendie Jo Sperber….Amy Cassidy

Paramount Home Video presents Bosom Buddies – The Second Season. Eighteen episodes on 3 DVDs. Originally broadcasted from Oct. 8, 1981 to May 27, 1982. Unrated. Theatrical release: June 21, 1931. DVD release: Sept 4, 2007.

The Show

What happens to a freshmen sitcom that doesn’t complete a full run, but is picked up for a second season? It receives tons of notes from the network to retool the show into a more audience-appealing product. Such was the fate of Bosom Buddies. The first season was about two young men who can only afford to live at the Susan B. Anthony, a women’s only apartment building in Manhattan. Kip and Henry dress up as women and dupe the ladies into thinking they are Buffy and Hildegard. This series was The Odd Couple meets Some Like It Hot. The first major note for the sophomore season: Make it less draggy.

“The Truth and Other Lies” ends the subterfuge of Kip and Henry as Buffy and Hildegard to all the supporting characters. Kip’s relationship with Sonny hits a brick wall when she pleads to be taken to his apartment. He can’t do that since she doesn’t know he’s secretly her neighbor. She’s turned off by his offer to hit a nearby hotel. During a private moment, Kip exposes his secret to Sonny. However all the characters get a good view of Buffy stripped bare. Instead of the boys getting kicked out of their cheap apartment by management, they’re told that they still have to dress up as women for the sake of the rest of tenants. This allows them to not go near a wig for several episodes. For Kip, the bigger issue is that Sonny hates him for pulling doubles on her. Can he win her back with his manly charms and insight into the feminine mystique? Can she accept a man who knows what it’s like to walk a mile in her heels?

Another note must have demanded new management at the Susan B. Anthony. The show recast the old woman with a much younger Thelma Hopkins (formerly of Tony Orlando and Dawn). She was able to play sassy without appealing to the Geritol set. They also allowed Thelma plenty of chances to sing during this season.

There must have been a note that Kip and Henry’s jobs weren’t exciting enough. This gets solved in “There’s No Business.” Henry and Kip end up buying their own low budget commercial production house. This allows the boys to do more than be office dorks as they act in ads for rat exterminators and pencil sharpeners. As an added twist, their former boss Ruth Dunbar becomes a silent partner in the business thus insuring that she’s a continuing character.

With these minor changes, the scripts become directionless. “The Reunion” has the boys’ high school reunion being held at the Susan B. Anthony. This makes very little sense since they went to school in Ohio and they graduated six years from when the episode aired. Do that many people from Shaker Heights move to Manhattan? We do get several flashback scenes of how Kip and Henry became buds. There’s also a visual gag when you read the football team roster.

“On the Road to Monte Carlo” has the boys get into an elevator accident. They use their injury settlement money to indulge their pleasures including a trip to the gambling city. Pay close attention to Joe Mantegna’s bit part as a Sheik. The script falls apart as the boys risk all their cash on what should be a surefire bet. “WaterBalloonGate” does have a great premise as the boys get on the Secret Service’s watch list when they nail Richard Nixon’s limo with a water balloon. The episode goes splat at the end as Henry lures Kip back into his man-child state.

“But She’s A Wonderful Person” has Henry attempting to find love via a video dating service. He meets the woman of his dreams only to discover that they differ in only one way: she’s a Satanist. This is a very important episode for Tom Hanks for it is when he first met his second wife, Rita Wilson. Obviously Tom Hanks has no problem making deals with the devil. How else do you explain his Oscar for Forrest Gump? “One for You, One For Me” has Henry dragged off to jail when he sends in the warranty card on a stolen VCR. Who gets arrested for that? They needed a reason for the boys to end up behind bars. A network stooge must have mentioned how teaser footage of stars behind bars always juices ratings. Future Oz warden, Ernie Hudson looks imposing with his shaved head and his eagerness to punk Henry. If only Henry was in his dress, we could have seen exciting women’s lock up action.

We get another flashback episode with “The Way Kip and Henry Were.” This time we see how back at Ohio State these two were stoners who wanted to roam Europe. Ruth lured them into the straight world and screwed them on their salary. It’s a sad episode about their selling out at a discount price. There’s even a fantasy flash forward in “Not the Last Picture Show” where the gang imagines what they’ll be like when they get old. Tom Hanks looks good as a dirty old man. The running joke of the future visions is Ruth’s aging.

“Cablevision” was the final episode of the series. The boys go beyond merely making commercials and crank out a variety show featuring all their co-stars. While watching Kip and Henry juggle, it’s easy to see that the screenwriters were running on fumes. The cable access show seemed more like the actors showcasing their talents for future shows or Love Boat cameos. The running gag of the episode is a special appearance from Penny Marshall. This is significant since Tom Hanks was responsible for her two biggest directorial hits: Big and A League of Their Own. Joel Zwick, director of the season two episodes, helmed My Big Fat Greek Wedding for Hanks. Knowing Tom Hanks does have its perks.

The DVD comes with the warning of music replacement and editing from original broadcast version. Like the first season set, the cover of Billy Joel’s “My Life” is no longer used as the opening song. Instead, we’re treated to “Shake Me Loose” by Stephanie Mills that sounds extra cheesy. The opening credits for Bosom Buddies are nearly 2 minutes long. While folks didn’t mind hearing the Joel hit, the replacement song makes this introduction terminally long. Luckily you can chapter forward to the start of the action. As far as edits go, most episodes clock in around 25 minutes. “One For You, One for Me” is a minute short and “Hildy’s Dirt Nap” is 30 seconds shy. A few Internet sources list 19 episodes for this season, but it turns out they list “One For You, One For Me” under two different names.

While there are plenty of shows that are bemoaned as canceled before their time, Bosom Buddies seemed more like a mercy killing. It had lost its spine and was slowly becoming brain dead. Even with all the changes, Bosom Buddies was dumped after 18 episodes without getting to go the full 22. There’s probably enough reasons about what went wrong during the second season to stuff Buffy’s bra. The show lost its slot on Thursday nights between Mork and Mindy and Barney Miler on ABC. It was moved to Fridays after Benson and before Darkroom, a doomed Night Gallery clone hosted by James Coburn. The producers were probably in major panic mode to attract an audience that had accepted a watered down Soap character. They couldn’t stop fixing elements of the show. The only thing they didn’t do was have Kip and Henry adopt a precious little girl. All these changes did was set the show adrift instead of making it more popular. Once the supporting characters knew they were men, what was the point of the show?

The scripts sunk to the level of variety show sketches. What saved this show from the terminal badness of Silver Spoons and Charles In Charge was the cast. We see the talents of Tom Hanks that allowed him to become Mr. Blockbuster. Peter Scolari was a great sparring partner with their physical moments. The late Wendie Jo Sperber stole moments with the slightest of lines. This was a cast that rose above the material. Bosom Buddies might not have been a hit if the controlling powers had refrained from retooling, but it would have looked fabulous before the cancellation ax.

The Episodes

“The Truth and Other Lies,” “There’s No Business,” “Reunion,”
“One for You, One for Me,” “On the Road to Monte Carlo,” “WaterBalloonGate,” “All You Need is Love,” “Other Than That, She’s a Wonderful Person,” “The Slightly Illustrated Man,” “Two Percent Solution,” “Cablevision,” “The Grandfather,” “Hildy’s Dirt Nap,” “Kip Off the Old Block,” “The Way Kip and Henry Were,” “Who’s on Thirst?,” “Not With My Sister, You Pig” and “Not the Last Picture Show.”

The DVD

VIDEO:
The picture is 1.33:1 and transfered from the video source. There doesn’t appear to be too many glitches.

AUDIO:
The soundtrack is mono. The levels are fine for a show shot before a live studio audience. No subtitles, but it is closed captioned.

EXTRAS:
Sales Presentation (6:49) shows how they put this series in syndication after Tom Hanks became a Hollywood star with Splash.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
Bosom Buddies: The Second Season
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

7
THE VIDEO

6
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

7
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
The second season of Bosom Buddies demonstrates what happens when you kill the prime comic element of a sitcom. After it became unnecessary for Kip and Henry to dress as women to fool the supporting characters, the comic tension was gone. The stories got extra lame. But Tom Hanks showed that even with subpar material, he could shine.

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