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Dave's World: Season 1
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Harry Anderson, DeLane Matthews, Meshach Taylor. 23 episodes on 3 DVDs. 1993-94/color/9 hrs., 6 min/NR/fullscreen.
Taking its cue from the inauguration of Bill Clinton, Dave's World marked something of a generational shift in the traditional family sitcom. Harry Anderson (Night Court) stars as Dave Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist who injects some Baby Boomer angst in his Bombeck-esque Miami newspaper columns that muse on family life in the suburbs. A child of the '60s, he states in the auspicious pilot episode, "Someone has to be the grown-ups. Now, it's our turn." But Barry, whose philosophy is that "life should be fun," is more prone to connecting with his inner child. Dave's World mostly treads familiar ground. Barry's wife, Beth (DeLane Matthews), would like him to be the responsible one for a change (she's a good audience for her husband's comic riffs, but she is given some good jokes as well, as when she says that naming a team the Miami Heat after the city's worst feature is like naming a team the Dallas Book Depositories). They have two sons who are more natural and less precocious than their sitcom brethren. As Barry's friends, Meshach Taylor (Designing Women) and Shadoe Stevens don't bring much to the table, but J. C. Wendel as a Barry coworker has a charming Terri Garr screwball quality. Dave's World's first season took its inspiration directly from Barry's books, Dave Beary's Greatest Hits and Dave Barry Turns 40, which is perhaps why it rings truest. The episodes deftly mix comical situations with "misty-eyed" voice-over reflections from Barry on his blunder years epiphanies. Among the familiar faces who turn up in some of the episodes include Jane Curtin as a bitter guest at the hotel where Dave and Beth hope to share a romantic getaway in "Lost Weekend." The real Dave Barry cameos in "Heat Wave" as a man buying an air conditioner. Southside Johnny fans will regret that his rendition of Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" was not cleared for use on DVD. But Barry's voice comes shining through. Though never a Top Ten series, Dave's World did last four seasons. It's a nice place to revisit. --Donald Liebenson
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Top Customer Reviews
The DVD set brings back memories, and the show is as witty as I remember it (maybe even more so). The sharp, snappy lines are delivered almost tongue in cheek, brazenly unapologetic, by the characters. Looking at this show after 15 years (has it been that long?!) is revealing as it is much easier to pick out the typical TV-sitcom stereotypes -- Kenny is a parody of himself, it seems, for in the 21st century when do we ever see a blond-maned, egocentric, sport-coat wearing womanizer like that anymore, and still take him seriously? -- but, it all still works. The series thesis -- "look ma, we're old all of a sudden!" -- hits me in a different way, far more personally, than it did when I was a kid, now that I myself have turned 30.
One key element is missing, however, in my eyes a crucial one. Look very carefully at the fine print on the back of the DVD box and you'll see words that say "Music has been changed". They took away the theme song! This was an utter shock as one of THE defining things about this TV series was the catchy animated opening sequence set to Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" (as performed by Southside Johnny). They must not have been able to secure distribution rights for this classic song, which is a pity, as the DVD version only includes generic guitar strumming. This renders the opening sequence totally lifeless, in this reviewer's opinion! I give this show four out of five stars, but took away one star for the omission of this key ingredient.
Still, the DVD is well presented, and I enjoyed the tour through my own childhood years as I watched the antics of this charming family unfold on my TV screen once again.
Just make sure you cue up your own Billy Joel CD to play during the opening credits.
Dave's World has a mild and gentle sense of humor. It's not the best sitcom ever by any standard, but the characters are likable and the show is infused with the spirit of its source material.
This first season does have it's shaky episodes. The one where Dave's divorced buddy insists on joining Dave and his wife during their romantic anniversary diner, for instance, is a mess of hackneyed sitcom cliches. But when episodes zoom in on the little things of daily life (and stay closest too the Barry humor columns), they really shine.
Harry Anderson does a great Dave Barry: likable, goofy and much more mellow than his Judge Harry Stone character on Night Court. His best friend, Shadoe Stevens, is kind of out there and seems to belong in a different show. DeLane Matthews is your typical sitcom wife but brings enough to the part to make her fun to watch. The two kids, Tommy (Zane Carney) and Willie (Andrew Ducote), are just adorable and behave like actual kids, which is refreshing for a 90s show.
This first season is a great start to a very nice show, but expect some bumps in the road in a couple of the early episodes.
Clever writing, well directed and a great score with the exception of the title sequence that sounds stock computerized. Jonathan Wolf (Will & Grace) is responsible for the hot lick piano score. He's the best at what he does.