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You know, I wasn’t watching much television back in 1996. It was the end of my junior year and beginning of my senior year of high school. There were all kinds of games, sports, dances, and other things to be involved in. If the television was on during the weekends, then you can rest assured that it was a New Orleans Saints’ or LSU Tigers’ football game. But there is one television series that somehow was able to keep my attention, and it really shouldn’t have because it was aimed at a particularly older audience. Still, Wings was a show I could somehow relate to more then say Step By Step or Family Matters. And let’s face it, Wings has ultimately been the better show over time as well.
Joe and Brian Hackett are brothers that own a small company called Sandpiper Airlines in Nantucket, Massachusetts. They only have one plane and operate out of a very tiny airport inhabited by other small airlines and businesses. Together they are some of the most well known pilots in the area, but also some of the nuttiest. Well, Brian is a bit nutty and carefree while Joe is more business-oriented and serious. Still, in order to deal with the people around them, they’d have to be a little nutty.
An older woman named Fay Cochran runs their front counter and takes reservations. She has a way with words and a smart-aleck wit to match. Roy Biggins runs another small airline and is ready to insult anyone that walks by. Helen Chapel stands behind the lunch counter and takes care of the food orders all day. Antonio Scarpacci is an Italian cab driver that is usually found sitting at Helen’s lunch counter more often then driving passengers. Then there’s Lowell Mather who is the bumbling mechanic/maintenance man that is extremely lovable but dumb as a rock. These are the people that you would see in nearly episode although there are a few others who stopped in from time to time.
Season six brought about a lot more stability to a show that was truly faltering in season five. It had become about relationships that no-one really cared about, and focused on no-one but the Hackett brothers. Sure they are the main characters of the series, but Lowell and Antonio were the most popular by far and kept a lot of fly-by fans. Lowell was truly the funniest one on the show and that was even when he’d get all of five minutes per episode. Antonio just never knew when to quit with Helen, but that all changed this season as we were now given relationships we could truly give a damn about.
Helen had finally given into the charms of Joe Hackett and they were now engaged to be married. It was a long time coming and really needed to happen this season or else it would have pissed off a lot of people to keep prolonging it. Of course now this left Antonio without an object of his desire since Helen was with his good friend, but he got the next best thing. That would be where we are introduced to Helen’s sister Casey who as the bubble-headed spoiled brat was played perfectly by Amy Yasbeck. Having Helen’s sister now a regular on the show opened the way for new storylines including their family history and their mother. It made for some different situations on a series that rarely had left the airport before.
It’s hard to say that this is the best season, but it was one of the best for sure. You can’t look past it to seasons seven or eight (the last season) as candidates for my favorites because Lowell was now gone having leaving after this season’s finale. You also can’t go wrong with any series that has Gilbert Gottfried guest star because the guy is funny no matter what he says. Wings did more things right then wrong (seasons five, seven, and eight), and you really should check out this season to see the better side of the series. There are plenty of good laughs, serious moments, great episodes, and characters you can identify with and really care about.
Whose Wife Is It Anyway: After her one-night stand with Joe, Helen rushes off to New York to her fiancé Davis. And yet Joe is determined to win her back and ends up proposing.
Twisted Sister: Helen’s snobby sister Casey returns for the wedding. But after she ruins Joe’s romantic dinner plans, Helen confronts her and gets a surprise.
The Shrink: Joe worries that Brian is depressed about his girlfriend Alex leaving him, so he gets him to see a psychiatrist, who ends up treating Joe instead.
The Spark And How To Get It: Convinced he is over Alex, Brian hits the singles scene, even though Helen thinks he should see a local woman who is perfect for him.
The Waxman Cometh: Mechanic Lowell inherits $25,000 from a relative and decides to buy the town’s old wax museum, which only he believes is a sound investment.
Is That A Ten Foot Sandwich Or Are You Just Glad To See Me: Casey and Brian are planning an engagement part for Joe and Helen, but everyone thinks they are really having an affair.
All’s Fare: Just as lovesick Antonio works up the nerve to ask out Casey, he gets a job working for a businessman who proceeds to sweep the beauty off her feet. As always with episodes that prominently feature Antonio, this is another good one.
Miss Jenkins: Brian is thrilled when his attractive ninth-grade teacher asks him out, but not so thrilled when he gets low marks for his performance in bed.
If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother: When Helen’s mother visits, Helen thinks she’s come to give her a big check for the wedding. And Roy wants in on Fay’s Streisand concert tickets.
The Wrong Stuff: In order to compete with Roy, Brian convinces Joe to hire a legendary astronaut to endorse Sandpiper Air. Only he turns out to be an obnoxious drunk.
Insanity Claus: When he finds out Antonio ate his last jelly donut, a stressed-out air traffic controller snaps and holds the entire airport hostage on Christmas Eve.
She’s…Baaack!: Crazy Sandy Cooper is back, and Joe can’t seem to get anyone to believe she is obsessed with him, since she claims her previous actions were all a joke. This episode is very random right in the middle of the season, and while it isn’t horrible; it’s just way out of place.
Have I Got A Couple For You: Joe and Helen are bore with life on Nantucket, until Fay sets them up with another couple who they love. Unfortunately, the feeling isn’t mutual.
Fools Russian: Roy orders a Russian mail-order bride, who turns out to be out of his league. And even after she meets another man, Roy still won’t let her go.
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off: After Joe and Helen crash a wedding to check out the venue, their bickering forces the bride and groom to have a huge fight and break up.
Remembrance Of Flings Past (Part 1): It’s the big high school reunion, and Brian is excited when his old girlfriend Sarah shows up, with her son in tow. But then Joe gets some disturbing news…
Remembrance Of Flings Past (Part 2): Joe waits for the results from the blood test to see if he is the father of Sarah’s son, but it’s Brian who gets the phone call by mistake.
Gone But Not Faygotten: Fay decides it’s time to retire, so Joe hires Casey to take her place, and she proves to be an excellent worker. But then Fay wants to come back.
Ex, Lies, And Videotape: Brian is asked to appear on a popular women’s daytime talk show, and gets sandbagged when the host brings out his ex-girlfriend Alex.
Portrait Of The Con Artist As A Young Man: Casey gets Lowell a gallery showing of his homemade metal sculptures. But then Lowell freaks out when he is asked to produce more pieces.
The Love Life And Times Of Joe And Helen: Brian buys a camcorder and gets roped into making a video diary about Joe and Helen’s relationship, interviewing all their friends and co-workers.
A House To Die For: With cranky old Carlton Blanchard at death’s door, his greedy nephew starts selling off his possessions, offering Joe and Helen his house at a bargain price. One of the best episodes in the entire season.
Nuptials Off: After Helen realizes she forgot to mail in the paperwork for her divorce from Antonio, she schemes to secretly fly them to Mexico for a quickie divorce.
Et Tu, Antonio?: Antonio happily plays host to his cousin, a successful leather goods entrepreneur but then unexpectedly falls for his beautiful cousin’s fiancé.
Boys Just Wanna Have Fun: While Casey throws Helen a bachelorette party, the guys suffer through Brian’s disastrous party for Joe, with no food, no booze, and a stripper with the flu.
Here It Is, The Big Wedding: The big day has arrived when Joe and Helen say “I do,” but not before Casey paints a permanent mustache on Helen, and Joe gets his hand stuck in a toilet.
The episodes are shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and look good for the most part considering they are close to fifteen years old. Colors are bright when they need to be and the picture is sharp except for a few moments now and then where slight grainy effects are evident.
The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound and considering you are going to hear virtually all dialogue here, then it does a-ok.
Season six of Wings totally rebounded from the horror that was season five and showed why it was one of the best series on television throughout the nineties. The problem is that right after this great season, Thomas Haden Church would be gone and things would never be the same again. Some fantastic episodes and a running storyline dealing with Joe and Helen’s marriage make this season so much fun to watch from start to finish. Sure there are a couple random clunker episodes thrown in here and there, but they can be avoided easily or enjoyed without worrying about the nuptials for a while. Sadly again though there are no special features which just bothers me. A gag reel or maybe some commentaries would have been nice, but nothing. Still, Wings returned to true form here and if you want to see how great a series it was; this is the season to do it with. Better do it now though, because all the real comedy and excitement flies out the door on the wings of Church before season seven touches down.
Paramount presents Wings: The Sixth Season. Created by: David Angell, Peter Casey, & David Lee
. Starring: Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, Tony Shalhoub, Thomas Haden Church, Amy Yasbeck, Rebecca Schull, David Schramm. Running time: 591 minutes on 4 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: March 25, 2008. Available at Amazon.com