Unexpected but wonderful!
William Timothy Lukeman | 09/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who would have thought that this quality show would ever be released on DVD? Thankfully someone realized that there's still an audience craving intelligent, heartfelt, humanistic drama!
What strikes me upon watching these episodes again after so many years is the superb writing & acting. These are smart, articulate people, living in a more civilized culture than exists in America today. They're also flawed in very human ways, capable of deeply wounding & being wounded, but always ready to take the path of reconciliation & understanding. It's a family that expects more from itself than the lowest common denominator ... and the show is wise enough to acknowledge that such a laudable & worthwhile goal may sometimes have its drawbacks.
Kate was warm but a touch aristocratic, obviously the driving force in the family dynamic. She could be infuriating at times, heartbreaking at others, both in her relationship with Doug & with her children. Nancy could be spoiled, Doug stubborn, Willie a little too carefree in his approach to life, Buddy simply struggling to grow up -- but all were basically admirable, striving to grow & embrace life, rather than hide from it. They took chances, for all the comforts of their cozy home; they were hurt at times, made foolish choices, found unexpected rewards. Not an idealized family, but a very desirable one!
This was very much a writer's show -- the dialogue is sharp, witty, poignant, laced with warmth & humor when needed, often summing up a complex situation with a pithy phrase. Some younger viewers might complain that people don't really talk like that. Perhaps they don't, at least not these days. But again, the writing aspired to more than the barely sufficient. It makes you appreciate language & how it can be used.
But the writing is only half of it -- without fine acting, the best writing in the world falls flat. Luckily the show was blessed with subtle, quietly powerful actors, who could express a wealth of emotion in the inflection of a single word, or a brief glance. Despite the time-specific backdrop & references, this is truly a timeless family, experiencing & responding to all the trials & joys that life brings.
So here's hoping the subsequent seasons are released as well! We need more quality viewing, just to remind people that there's more to life than "reality" shows, spoiled celebrities, and the crass & the vapid (which ought to be the title of half the shows currently on TV). Most highly recommended!"
About time this quality show was released on DVD
Chloe | USA | 08/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With so much crap out there, getting a quick DVD release, it's amazing a quality series such as Family hasn't been out sooner. I watched this duriing its first run & it was one of the few shows that I was allowed to see at such a late hour (10 PM). It shifted throughout its run to earlier formats, but due to some of its controversial themes, the series was initially put in a later time slot than the typical family viewing hour.
There's so much to love about Family. Sada Thompson was always elegant & graceful as Kate, the matriarch. James Broderick was so down-to-earth & good natured, he was warming as the Lawrence patriarch. Kristy McNichol was lovable as Buddy & made you wish you had a friend like her in real-life. Gary Frank as Willie was carefree & made you wish you had Willie as a brother or even as a boyfriend. He had all of the fine qualities a grounded woman seeks in a man. Was really cute as well.
I implore anyone who has never seen this show to buy this set, as well as longtime fans, such as myself who watched it as a child.
Family was critically acclaimed as a result of its frank depiction of love & relationships. It also garnered an emmy for Kristy & Sada, due to their poignant performances.
I'll buy every season as its released & have many Family marathons to relive the good ol' days of this fine & stellar tv series. Can't wait to get my copy."
Watch The Pilot Episode -- It's Guaranteed To Get You Hooked
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 09/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just finished watching the Pilot episode of "Family" via this nice-looking 6-Disc DVD set containing Seasons 1 and 2 of the series. I've seen many of these episodes previously, but I don't recall ever having seen the Pilot program, which co-stars Elayne Heilveil in the part of "Nancy" (she was later replaced by Meredith Baxter-Birney). You may recall Heilveil co-starring opposite David Janssen in a pretty good 1973 TV-Movie called "Birds Of Prey" (which is also available on DVD).
The Pilot episode for "Family" is simply wonderful, perfectly introducing us to the Lawrence "family". I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this Pilot. Everybody in the cast, from Sada Thompson right on down the line, is just perfect. I'd recommend this Pilot (and this DVD set) to anyone who enjoys family-type dramas. The Pilot episode was filmed in late 1975, and was originally telecast on March 9th, 1976.
There are a few very funny moments in the Pilot show too, especially when an angry Doug (James Broderick) screams at Willie (Gary Frank) after the family learns that 13-year-old Buddy (Kristy McNichol) has taken the car out for a spin -- "Willie, you stay here and try to figure out how you can possibly have an I.Q. of 140 and not use ANY of it!!" ~LOL~ (You see, Willie has secretly been giving Buddy driving lessons. And the fact that Willie has recently dropped out of school doesn't exactly help to make dad any happier with young William either.)
The "Family" Pilot features the burgeoning acting talent of an extremely young-looking (and future Emmy-winning) Miss McNichol, who gives a spot-on performance in the series' premiere as "Buddy", a girl who has her own set of problems to deal with -- e.g., she's being called "Shrimp-o" at school; she's upset at being the shortest (and flattest) girl in her class; she gets quite an earful while eavesdropping on her parents' argument; and she ends up in a police car before this Pilot reaches its conclusion (that "driving without a license" thing, remember).
It was quite a debut show for Kristy indeed. And she pulls it off like a veteran. A remarkable actress. (But she had already co-starred in one TV series prior to "Family" -- a short-lived drama called "Apple's Way", which lasted for 28 episodes in 1974 and '75.)
This DVD collection of six single-sided discs gathers together the short 6-episode first season of "Family" and the entire 22-program second season, for a total of 28 hour-long shows (the episodes run for about 49 to 50 minutes on the DVDs).
The video and audio look and sound mighty good here too. Colors aren't super-saturated, but I'll bet the PQ here is every bit as good as when these shows first aired on ABC-TV in 1976 and 1977.
"Family" appeared on network television for five seasons (86 total episodes), from 1976 to June of 1980. Aaron Spelling and Mike Nichols were two of the creative forces who brought this intelligently-written and well-acted drama into American homes for those five TV seasons.
Upon digging a little into the background of this series, I was surprised to learn that some of the original music for "Family" was credited to Pete Rugolo and John Rubinstein. (Rubinstein, who composed the low-key musical themes for the Pilot broadcast, played Nancy's husband "Jeff Maitland" in various episodes throughout the series; while Rugolo's signature trademark, as far as I'm concerned, will forever be his one-of-a-kind music that he created for the 1960s TV series "The Fugitive".)
I also have learned that at least one episode of "Family" was directed by actress Joanne Woodward. I hadn't realized that tidbit of information either, prior to preparing this review. So, the "Family" talent runs deep, both in front of the camera and behind it.
"Family" gets its very first home-video release of any kind with the September 5, 2006, arrival of this DVD set from SPHE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). There aren't any bonus features within this set, but the quality of the episodes themselves makes this collection more than worthwhile.
Video is presented in its proper TV ratio (1.33:1 Full-Frame). The audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. There are no subtitles, but English Closed-Captioning can be accessed if you've got a caption-capable television.
Packaging for this 6-DVD set comes in the form of three slim cases which slide into an outer cardboard carton (each of the plastic cases holds two DVDs).
I look forward to additional "Family" seasons reaching the DVD market in the future (knock wood). I'm sure that other fans of the show are hoping that the remaining seasons are released on DVD too. Because once you've taken a look at this series' dandy premiere episode, you're bound to want to see more of a "Family" named Lawrence."
Family-The Best Drama on TV EVER!!!
Marlo H. | Minnesota, USA | 06/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, how I miss this show! Well written, superbly acted--I still think of that blue house in Pasadena as the home I'd love to go back to myself. There was nothing bad about this show, ever. I could cry when I want to watch t.v. now and see the so called 'dramas' we're stuck with. If this ever comes out on DVD (and I hope it does soon!) I will be so happy!"