King of Queens: 8th Season – Let’s start with this one, since the show just went off the air this week. As with its previous season sets, it remains disappointing that we’re not getting any special features whatsoever, especially since its cousin, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” is also on its eighth season on DVD and it’s filled with audio commentaries and deleted scenes. The comedic trifecta of Kevin James, Jerry Stiller, and Patton Oswalt certainly makes the show worth watching, but with no special features, the temptation to stick with the syndicated reruns is pretty high.
Wings: Season Four – And, hey, speaking of sets with no extras, welcome back to “Wings”! I’m going out on a limb and guessing that you probably don’t remember how the third season ended, but the gang – Joe, Brian, Helen, Roy, Fay, and Lowell – were on a plane, preparing to crash. Well, not to give anything away, but they all survived. “Wings” is one of those sitcoms that’s just…okay. There’s nothing wrong with it, and you’re always guaranteed to laugh several times during an episode, but it’s pretty much a mainstream affair, i.e. always safe, never edgy. Worth noting: Kirstie Alley appears in one episode as her “Cheers” character, Rebecca Howe. No special features. Again.
Martin: The Complete Second Season – Martin Lawrence can be a very funny man, and, as a result, his sitcom could be a very funny affair at times…but, almost without fail, the funniest moments are almost never when he’s trying to play characters other than himself. Maybe it’s just the painful memories of the “Big Momma’s House” movies, but Lawrence always seems like he’s trying too hard when he’s portraying Sheneneh Jenkins, Jerome the Pimp, or whichever alter ego he’s stepping into. “Martin” is invariably at its best when it’s just Lawrence and his ensemble cast: Tisha Campbell, Carl Anthony Payne II, Thomas Mikal Ford, and Tichina Arnold. Plus, “SNL” alum Garrett Morris was still kicking around the show at this point, playing the owner of WZUP, where Martin worked. Too bad there are…everybody now!…no special features.
Frasier: The Complete Ninth Season – Why keep you in suspense? There are no special features on this set, either. But it must be said that, even nine years into its run, “Frasier” remained one of the most consistently intelligent and funny comedies on network television. Kelsey Grammar and David Hyde Pierce were spectacular as the brothers Crane, and the rest of the ensemble – John Mahoney, Jane Leeves, and Peri Gilpin – were consistently strong as well. This season provided a highly disappointing reunion between Frasier and his “Cheers” compatriots Cliff, Carla, Norm, and Paul, but there were plenty of great episodes, including those focusing on Daphne’s brother (Anthony LaPaglia), father (Brian Cox), and mother (Millicent Martin).
Will & Grace: Season Six – What the…? This set actually does have special features! Mind you, it’s not like it’s fully tricked out or anything – there’s only a couple of featurettes and an outtake reel – but given the competition we’ve looked at so far, hey, something’s better than nothing! Will and Grace was always a funny show, but as it progressed, it had an awful tendency to fall back on celebrity stunt casting. Still, this year featured semi-regular stints by John Cleese, Minnie Driver, and Dave Foley, guest roles for Mira Sorvino, Jack Black, Dylan McDermott, Tim Curry, and Sharon Osbourne, and classic appearances by Barry Manilow and Jennifer Lopez as themselves.
Mind of Mencia: Season 2 Uncensored – The experience of watching Carlos Mencia’s Comedy Central series has really been tainted by all the accusations of plagiarism that have been leveled against him in recent months, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some laughs to be had. A lot of it comes via the guest stars who join in with Mencia’s comedic jabs; fellow stand-ups like Dave Attell and Tracy Morgan appear, as do Jamie Kennedy, Cheech Marin, and the late Peter Boyle. Mencia’s cultural observations are generally pretty funny; it’s just a matter of whether he gets too low-brow in the process, or whether some of the gags can stand up to the occasional poor actors who turn up to participate in the on-stage sketches. (Needless to say, it’s the pre-filmed material that tends to contain the bigger laughs.) Fans will be pleased to find that there are about a half-hour’s worth of bonus features.
Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons – If you’re a kid, there’s clearly much amusement to be had from watching dinosaurs walk, talk, and make with the jokes…but, if you’re most adults, you’re probably of the mindset that four seasons was probably about three too many. It’s a little unfortunate, since the writing for “Dinosaurs” was pretty clever at times, with plenty of jokes intentionally aimed over the heads of its audience, which was generally pretty young. I’ve got to make specific mention of the final episode of the series, which had me shouting, “Damn, why couldn’t I have watched this before we did our piece on TV finales?” As God as my witness, it closes with the beginning of the Ice Age and offers the very clear implication that all of the characters will all be dead soon. Jesus, that’s dark. Can you imagine “The Flintstones” doing that?!?