In 1987 we were introduced to a group of couples, of friends: 'thirtysomethings.' A dream cast of characters that from the very first episode resonated with a nation of people who knew these people all too well. Michael (Ken Olin, Brothers And Sisters
) and Hope Steadman (Mel Harris), the suburban 'new-parent' poster children; Elliot (Timothy Busfield, The West Wing
) and Nancy Weston (Patricia Wettig, Brothers And Sisters
), a couple whose marriage is falling apart; Gary Shepard (Peter Horton, In Treatment
), the perpetually 'twentysomething' thirtysomething; Melissa Steadman (Melanie Mayron), Michaels cousin and a struggling artist; and Ellyn Warren (Polly Draper), the driven but restless career-chaser.
thirtysomething channeled the consciousness of baby boomers into a running commentary on what it really meant to be on the cusp of success and failure, marriage and divorce, adulthood and parenthood. Every week the show blurred the lines between television and film, drama and comedy, hard reality and twisted imagination. Each episode of this truly groundbreaking series was its own unit yet somehow fed a larger, growing experience from week to week.
At last, the experience comes to DVD with 21 original episodes restored from the original film elements. Go behind the making of this landmark television series with all-new interviews, commentaries and conversations with the creators, cast and crew.
Featurettes With thirtysomething Creators, Cast and Crew
* From thirtysomething to Forever Making thirtysomething
* A Conversation Between Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick
* Couples & Friends
* Cultural Impact
* Commentaries by Creators, Cast and Crew
The touchstone TV series for baby boomers--and TV watchers of the '80s--thirtysomething
shows its deep intelligence afresh in this splendid boxed set, featuring every episode of the first season (which debuted in 1987) and so much more.In cultural terms, it's hard to overstate the impact of thirtysomething
, which focused on an ensemble of friends, some married, some single, some successful, some struggling--dealing with the aftermath of the '60s ethos, what it meant to balance family and career, and how to reinvent marriage (or to even consider marriage) in the wake of the women's movement. No small task. But thirtysomething
was, and is, up to the challenge. First, even above its stellar cast, is the smart, savvy writing that so distinguished the series when it was on the air. Creators Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz wrote many of thirtysomething's
episodes, including the pilot, which laid out the complex relationships and feelings of the cast members.
And what a cast! Hope and Michael (the dreamily gorgeous Mel Harris and effortlessly handsome Ken Olin) look the perfect couple, and in many ways are, but doubts, temptations, resentments, and other, very real, feelings creep into even their relationship. Nancy and Elliott (Patricia Wettig and Timothy Busfield), meanwhile, are on the brink of breaking up. The singles include dreamer Gary (Peter Horton), ambitious career gal Ellyn (dusky-voiced Polly Draper), and whacky photographer Melissa (Melanie Mayron). The comings and goings of these well-conceived characters would have made for a plenty-compelling series, but Zwick and Herskovitz upped the ante by having them talk about their innermost feelings--yes, even the guys. And that's what makes thirtysomething ring so true--even more than 20 years after its debut.
The boxed set is a treasure trove, including a handsome booklet with a great essay by Zwick and Herskovitz, looking back at the phenomenon they created when they were just 34 themselves. Each episode, and its trivia and awards, are also lovingly detailed. And for completists, the original music accompanies every episode. Onscreen commentaries by Busfield, Harris, Mayron, Zwick, Herskovitz, and writers Joseph Dougherty, Richard Kramer, and others are sprinkled throughout the episodes. There are features on the making of the series; of an inspiring conversation between Kerskovitz and Zwick, taking the viewer instantly back to the days of yuppies, acid-washed jeans, Esprit, "juggling" moms; on the couples and singles in the series; on the writers (who include Paul Haggis, who would go on to write, direct, and win an Oscar for Best Picture for Crash); on the directors; and last but definitely not least, on the cultural impact of thirtysomething. Which, judging from a fresh viewing of the first season, isn't over by a long shot, bucko. --A.T. Hurley