DVD Reviews: Hill Street Blues, The Nanny & The Facts of Life

While Shout! Factory has already released complete series boxsets for The Facts of Life, The Nanny and Hill Street Blues, they continue to provide single season sets for fans who started buying the show all those years ago.

The Facts of Life: Season Seven was a major season of change for the series. An old face was in the process of saying goodbye while a new face would change the view. The producers for The Facts of Life had a knack for good idea, dumb idea when it came to casting. The first season they had wisely brought on Molly Ringwald. When they shook up the cast, they dumped her. She’d go on to become the ’80s icon in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. The same thing would happen in season seven with a face bound for Oscar glory. “Out of the Fire…” kicks off the season with Edna’s Edibles a pile of ashes. Blair (Lisa Whelchel), Jo (Nancy McKeon), Tootie (Kim Fields) and Natalie (Mindy Cohn) are shocked to find their future plans charred at the end of summer. Luckily George Clooney arrives to save the day as the contractor in “Into the Frying Pan.” Coincidentally, the “Fire” episode was written by future Oscar winner Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby). “Grand Opening” has the store reopen, but they’re out of baked goods and into a gift shop that makes customers look baked. It’s like they were waiting for a Miami Vice convention to hit town. “Men for All Seasons” has the shop be the center of controversy when they sell a naughty calendar. “A New Life” has Blair’s mom visit. She’s pregnant and not interested in having the baby. Things get more complicated in a later episode between Season seven would also be the final time that Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae) was a full time cast member, the next season she’d get hitched and move away in the premiere. She really doesn’t seem to care that the girls are overshadowing her. She shows up for the final two episodes for Tootie’s graduation and discuss their future plans. She didn’t run out on her girls. It was just time for them to fly without her guidance now. The most revealing thing about this season is the height of the casts’ hair.
The Nanny: Season Four heightens the possible love connection between Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) and her boss Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy). “The Tart with Heart” has her boss retract his “I love you” line. It was said during a near crash on a flight to Paris. Did he really mean it? To get over her heartbreak, she dates a blind man (Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander). How can Jason’s heightened hearing handle Fran’s laugh. “The Rosie Show” has her meeting Rosie O’Donnell when she wasn’t so controversial. “Me and Mrs. Joan” attempts to heal the rift between Maxwell and his father. Turns out Dad left Maxwell’s mom for Joan Collins. Can you blame the guy? “Kissing Cousins” has Fran fall madly for Jon Stewart. He’s single, a doctor and Jewish. What could keep them together? How about a dark secret. “You Bette Your Life” brings on Bette Midler. She’s ready for a Beaches moment with Fran. “Fran’s Gotta Have It” sends Maxwell and Fran back to Europe. Can he get him to say those magic words again? Season Four is full of guest stars and secret lust.
Hill Street Blues: Season Six is the penultimate go around for the great cop show. “Blues in the Night” startles viewers with a roll call featuring all new faces. Did the producers clean house? Nope, this is the night shift at the precinct. Shame that NBC hadn’t ordered a “Night Shift” summer replacement series to get more usage out of the sets and create new cops that might get promoted to day shift. The big addition to the shift is a familiar face with a new identity. Dennis Franz had previously played the sleazy Det. Sal Benedetto. Now he’s back at the much more acceptable Lt. Norman Buntz. The season shakes things up by not having the roll call open every episode. The changes don’t ruin the chemistry of the show. There’s plenty of cases for investigation. Capt. Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) investigates corruption in the department and upsets a few folks. The arrival of Buntz makes up for a few minor departures on the cast. Ultimately Hill Street Blues never suffered a bad season.

The video is 1:33:1 full frame for all three shows. The video looks best on Hill Street Blue since it was shot and cut on 35mm. The Nanny and Facts of Life were video productions. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The sound mix is fine. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

No bonus features.

Shout! Factory presents The Facts of Life: Season Seven. Starring: Charlotte Rae, George Clooney, Lisa Whelchel and Mindy Cohn. Boxset Contents: 24 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: October 20, 2015

Shout! Factory presents The Nanny: Season Four. Starring: Fran Drescher, Charles Shaughnessy, Daniel Davis and Lauren Lane. Boxset Contents: 26 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: September 22, 2015

Shout! Factory presents Hill Street Blues: Season Six. Starring: Charlotte Rae, George Clooney, Lisa Whelchel and Mindy Cohn. Boxset Contents: 22 Episodes on 5 DVDs. Released: September 22, 2015

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