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Party of Five: The Complete First Season (5pc) [DVD] [US Import]
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In its seven-year run on television, Party of Five managed to portray extreme emotions in a contained, tasteful, and level-headed way without sacrificing poignancy or richness. Aimed at a teen audience but with crossover appeal to most viewers, the series dealt with recurring themes of loss and disappointment, made all the more interesting because Party of Five's major characters, especially in season one, are youthful siblings coping with the recent deaths of their parents in an automobile accident.
Shocked into a beyond-their-years awareness of the fragility of ordinary life and the importance of loyalty and loving bonds, the Salinger offspring--24-year-old Charlie (Matthew Fox), high schoolers Bailey (Scott Wolf) and Julia (Neve Campbell), 11-year-old Claudia (Lacey Chabert), and baby Owen (various infant actors)--bring a deeply felt, sometimes desperate gravitas to lesser but still significant misfortunes in relationships, peer pressures, and ambitions. On top of that, each has to take on responsibilities beyond their experience--hiring nannies, raising money for mortgage payments, etc.--and make sacrifices robbing them of formative experiences. Charlie, accustomed to adult freedom, has to rejigger his plans and move back home as a surrogate, and often resented, parent(if he doesn't do this, his brothers and sisters could be separated and sent to foster homes.) Ultra-responsible Bailey, with little time for homework, buddies or girls, loses perspective and gets hung-! up on an older, appealing nanny (Paula Devicq). Top student Julia's academic career fades as she seeks a second family among undeserving thrill-seekers. Claudia, a gifted musician, pawns her violin.
Despite all that drama, the essence of Party of Five is the Salingers' homing instinct, the way they survive internal and external conflict to find their way back to reassuring family rituals--among them weekly (free) dinners at the restaurant their late father owned. The 22 episodes on six discs in this boxed set typically test the Salingers' hopes, dreams, and mettle, and while stories can certainly be unsettling, a viewer is never left with serious worries that things won't turn out all right. Among the highlights are "Homework," in which Julia, having made plans to attend a party rather than salvage her failing grade in English lit, stays home instead to save Bailey's bacon by writing his difficult term paper. The powerful "Thanksgiving" concerns a face-to-face meeting between the Salingers and the drunk driver (John Rubinstein) who killed their parents. Most memorable is a suite of episodes featuring Megan Ward as Bailey's girlfriend, Jill, a possible drug addict whose fate rocks the startling season finale, "The Ides of March." --Tom Keogh--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Of course there is sadness, sometimes in abundance, but this gentle likeable series is also full of humour - nicely scripted, well cast, situations credible (except perhaps for some wayward Jill sequences). Yes, for the most part feet are firmly on the ground, the characters with depth. Note, for example, Charlie's dilemma - the job offer of a lifetime, but it means a move to Seattle....
A 1994/95 series. 22 episodes, commentaries and bonuses provided ten years later by creators and cast. They reminisce interestingly about the show initially so often facing the axe - instead to win a Golden Globe and to run for six seasons. Prominent attractions are Neve Campbell before film fame and Matthew Fox before he got "Lost".
Standout episode? The first Thanksgiving without their parents coincides with news of the drunken driver's early release from prison - this a double challenge to them all. Movingly the cast are still affected by the storyline when commentating a decade later. Also moving are accounts of tributes from fans declaring how the show helped them to come to terms with loss.
"Claudia, go to your tent!" How come? Watch and see, this one of the many moments to raise a smile.
All in all, a delight. Warmly recommended.
I see that the second series has been released over in the states - please release it (and the other seasons) over in the UK soon!!
Have been waiting for this for a long time, while it only took ten years it was as cool to enjoy this first season all over again, brought back so many memories and hasn't faded at all, still seems as relevant today as it did in '95.
I can't compare this to any other show on TV, POF has a unique situation, cast and story I just wish they made TV like this over here, like the other reviewer says: all we get is Hollyoaks (re-affirm my take on life and do a re-run of 'This Life' please - save us from the scourge of reality TV and empty UK soaps!!)
The extras were ok, nothing outstanding, these covering the shows creation and writing etc with a few anecdotes thrown in, a few episodes have actor commentaries from Fox, Wolf and Caharlet, but not very many and Neve Campbell (learned her name is pronounced like 'Kev', something I never knew, always thought it was like the Irish pronunciation) is noticeably missing from the proceedings which is a pity, but then the extras weren't the reason I bought the box set, just to have the first season on DVD and be able to travel back to 1995 and visit the Sallangers any time I wanted was more than enough.
When are we gonna get the rest, please, release season 2 on DVD as well, you can't stop now!!
This show has a way of pulling you in and making you feel like you are there with the family, feeling their pain and rooting for them through their trails and tribulations.
Extras are great, good nostalgic look back, but frankly just good to have all episodes together, sans adverts! I may never leave the house again!
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