Bucking the trend for cheaply made, poorly sourced, musically replaced, or even incomplete ("Smother's Brothers") treatments of TV series, Shout Factory has an umitigated winner here.
All the Season 1-2 episodes are present and they look great. Thanks to Steve Tyrell, all the original music appears as well. No rights issues here as the music was composed for and one supposes owned by the show.
Extras are sparse - outside of the ability to jump directly to the songs and a winning cast reunion - sans Jay Anthony Franke, Heidi Noelle Lenhart and William James Jones. They are missed, especially since Ms. Lenhart and Mr. Franke are referred to more than once as having conflicts with those present. Given the close relationship between the "Tiffani" and "Jake" characters, it would have been interesting to hear Mr. Franke's take on the relationship - both onscreen and off.
Given challenging economic times, this is one expenditure that is well worth dipping into whatever disposable income fans of the show have left. One can't help but hope sales are brisk enough for Shout Factory to release the remaining 3 seasons.
Speaking of - here's a pre-emptive request for Shout Factory. If season 5 is released - cast commentaries from the principals for the final episode are a must!
As for content - I tend to disagree with most here. I believe the introduction of the romance of the "Jake" and "Tiffani" characters midway through season 2 really propelled the show, though it curiously disappeared for episodes 16 and 17 - the "Jake" character openly chasing after other girls while the "Tiffani" character watched with disinterest - only to reappear in the Season 2 ending cliffhanger (NBC clearly originally aired these epsiodes out of order). There can be no denying, however, that Mr. Franke and Ms. Packard brought considerable chemistry to the compelling romantic escapades of these two characters.
I believe the loss of the "Jenny" character was significant, as I found Ms. Lenhart to be the most talented singer of the group, evidenced by her performance on Mr. Tyrell's compelling pop efforts, "Castles on Quicksand" and "This Time". Her performance as a "head banging mosh pit reject" was hysterical. As for the "Mark Winkle" and "Lorena Costa" characters - I thought Aaron Jackson was an unfortunate choice to replace Brent Gore in the vocal mix, and that their characters never really achieved the magical on-screen dynamic of the others.
THANKS to Tony Soltis - one the show's principal writers - for visiting with us here and affording us a brief snapshot into the writer's room. While one must always listen with skepticism as all those associated with a project rant on, predictably proclaiming "this is best thing I've ever worked on!", it does appear that those involved here are actually speaking from the heart!