Customer Reviews: Designing Women: Season 1
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on June 10, 2009
My Wife would give this show 5 stars. It was one of her all time favorites. As I often watch her shows with her I have to give it 3 stars due to the poor quality of the scan. I'm thinking it was done years ago for VHS release. They just grabbed these scans and ran them through software for DVD and shoved them out the door. If you pause the show you can see signs of compression. If you're watching on a 19" tube, probably not a problem, on a 37" LCD it appears like its out of focus. For a new release this is unacceptable. I/m going to pretend to watch and read my paper.
UPDATED 4/12/11 I have noticed other older shows that were "taped in front of a live audience" having the same problem in sharpness. The tapes were most likely recorded analog at a resolution that is in conflict with a DVD's resolution. If not properly converted in skilled hands these shows will suffer some degrading compared to filmed shows. So I am upping my review to 4 stars.
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on February 26, 2009
What a treat it will be to at last be able to enjoy a full season set of this clever,witty and wonderful television comedy series!. In particular episode two, "The Beauty Contest" in which Julia delivers her famous "Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia" tirade to Miss Georgia World 1986 in response to offensive comments made regarding her sister Suzanne. Let us hope that we will be able to look forward to further full season releases in the near future!...
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HALL OF FAMEon September 8, 2010
Fans of DESIGNING WOMEN began to think that Sony had totally dropped the ball when they only released a five episode "Best Of..." DVD of the series back in 2003. As the years ticked by, with no word about complete season sets of the show, independant company Shout! Factory stepped up to the plate and licensed the rights from Sony (who it seems has completely given up on most of it's back-catalogue TV stuff, including "Facts of Life", "Diff'rent Strokes", "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" and "The Nanny").

The first season of DESIGNING WOMEN isn't the all-time best, with the actresses still trying to find their feet with the characters. Still, the seeds of greatness are sown and the show only gets better from here on in... You'll meet the staff of Atlanta design firm Sugarbaker & Associates, headed by the staunch, free-thinking Julia Sugarbaker (the late, great Dixie Carter) and her sister, the man-crazed former beauty queen Suzanne (Delta Burke). Sweet-natured secretary Charlene Frazier (Jean Smart) and divorced single mother Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts) round out the team. Reserve your table at Tokyo Gardens. DESIGNING WOMEN is back!

Includes the following episodes:

"Designing Women" (Pilot) - The girls are horrified when Suzanne starts dating the ex-husband of Mary Jo! Guest starring Scott Bakula.

"The Beauty Contest" - Mary Jo is worried when Charlene and Suzanne secretly enter her daughter Claudia (Priscilla Weems) in the Miss Pre-Teen Atlanta pageant, but the proceedings unleash a whole new competitive side to Mary Jo's personality instead! Julia lets rip with her "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" tirade.

"A Big Affair" - Charlene's new boyfriend Mason Dodd (Walter Olkewicz) is overweight...something she can't quite get comfortable with.

"Julia's Son" - Julia and the girls welcome home Payne (George Newbern) for a visit from college...along with his forty-something girlfriend Primmie (Natalie Nogulich).

"Mary Jo's First Date" - She's not even rusty...she's totally corroded! The time has come for Mary Jo to re-enter the dating scene. Has she found her match in J.D. Shackelford (Richard Gilliland)?

"Design House" - The girls land a plum spot at the prestigious Design House '86 Expo...but with flaky Suzanne at the helm, are they asking for trouble? This episode also marks the first appearance of the girls' delivery man and former ex-convict, Anthony Bouvier (Meshach Taylor).

"Perky's Visit" - Julia and Suzanne's mother Perky (Louise Latham), along with her friend, the "just a little off the beam" widow Bernice Clifton (Alice Ghostley), visit for Thanksgiving.

"I Do, I Don't" - Julia and her boyfriend Reese (Hal Holbrook) wind up married after consuming "half the alcohol in Georgia"...and now a shamed Julia must deal with the consequences.

"The IT Men" - Lonely after Mason relocates to Japan, Charlene starts dating a new - but very much married - man...

"The Slumber Party" - Fearful for her life when she believes that her maid Consuela is plotting voodoo spells against her, Suzanne joins the girls for a slumber party at Mary Jo's house.

"New Year's Daze" - The girls celebrate New Year's Eve with their boyfriends...Julia is none too pleased that Reese is tied up in New York; whilst Suzanne dates an 82-year-old millionaire. Charlene's undercover boyfriend, Shadow (he of the bullet-hole pants), escapes from prison...

"Old Spouses Never Die" (Parts 1 & 2) - Charlene discovers a lump in her breast, but her regular doctor is dangerously non-plussed in his diagnosis. Meanwhile, Mary Jo and J.D.'s respective ex-partners cause fiction in their relationship.

"Monette" - Charlene is thrilled to see her old highschool best friend Monette (Bobbie Ferguson), who now prefers to be called Monica, move back to town, but she's not prepared for the revelation that Monette is a high-class "love consultant".

"And Justice for Paul" - The girls are arrested when they visit the warehouse of a friend, which contains thousands of dollars worth of stolen designer goods.

"Reese's Friend" - Julia sees red when Reese's new working associate Shannon (Lisa Peluso) makes no secret of wanting to pursue a relationship with him.

"Nashville Bound" - Is Charlene on her way to the Grand Ole Opry? When a talent scout picks her up at a bar, gullible Charlene once again allows herself to be headed for heartbreak.

"Oh, Suzannah" - Eyebrows are raised when Suzanne agrees to temporarily house a Vietnamese orphan. But soon little Li-Sing (Connie Lew) is so taken with her new "mother" that she refuses to leave!

"Mary Jo's Dad Dates Charlene" - Mary Jo is horrified when she notices more than a small spark of chemistry between her divorced father (Geoffrey Lewis) and Charlene.

"Seams from a Marriage" - The girls become swept up in the glamorous world of Sissy and Shelby Tate (Janet Carroll and Guy Boyd), their new zillionaire clients.

"Grand Slam, Thank You Ma'am" - Suzanne's ex-husband, baseball player Jack Dent (Gregg Henry) writes his autobiography - which features many romantic "incidents" that didn't involve Suzanne...

"Bachelor Suite" - Mary Jo becomes the latest victim of the firm's womanising new client Hence Winchester (Ted Le Plat), just when her relationship with J.D. enters it's next stage.

Excerpts from a 2006 cast reunion Q&A are included on the fourth disc. This event was held at the Paley Center after it screened the pilot episode of the show. Series creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and the original girls are all on hand to share their backstage tales. Fascinating for the serious fans.

DESIGNING WOMEN's fanbase should be pleased that Shout! Factory seems firmly committed to their task of releasing the show in it's entirety (the fourth season is about to hit shelves as I'm writing this review). Whether or not they'll be as timely or forthcoming once the show reaches the Julia Duffy/Jan Hooks/Judith Ivey episodes (Seasons 6-7) is a big question though, as those final 2 years aren't as popular with the fans.
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on February 25, 2009
Finally we are getting the seasons of this classic late 80's-early 90's sitcom. I hope they will continue with the rest of the seasons! Thanks to Shout!
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on March 16, 2009
I just LOVE Designing Women and I am sooo happy that we are finally getting to see releases of this show finally coming to fruition. The fans have waited much too long!!!! I thought I was one of the only ones who loved this show until I began to read other remarks. It is simply one of the best shows ever. I loved watching this show everyweek when it was new, and then eventually the reruns on Lifetime. One of my favorite episodes was Tornado watch. I think I could relate to any of the women on this show at one time or another and I think for women, that was very appealing. Not to mention the funny situations they got themselves into. And Suzanne and Anthony.....what a combination!!! As the seasons went on they got better and better together. Thanks so much for making this happen and please lets get the other seasons released, or how about releasing the complete series? Please consider!!
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VINE VOICEon June 6, 2009
Finally, and perhaps fashionably late, the show 'Designing Women' makes a proper, full season, DVD debut. Watching the first full season of this show is both enjoyable if not a bit surprising. Usually, it takes a normal show an entire season to really define itself and find its legs. That is not the case with this show. I was surprised by how many remarkable big moments occurred within the first season. You have the famous Julia Sugarbaker 'The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia' speech, a big episode about women's health and breast cancer, sexual harassment and even issues of race (and of course gender) all packed into one season.

Quality wise, the only video-to-dvd transfer that seemed off was the pilot episode. When I saw it, I was worried how the remainder of the episodes were going to appear. Yet, by the second episode, the transfer and quality are of little concern. Plot/content wise, the episodes do not disappoint. Most left me in tears from laughing or from the sheer honesty/sincere words these characters spoke. What works best with 'Designing Women' is that while it's a comedy and is aimed at making you smile and laugh, it managed to take on big, at times daunting, issues that no one at the time took on. Watching the whole first season will in fact make you wonder what's happened to television because this, like other shows from this era, is a real show that portrayed life-like characters that you can't wait to watch and wish you could have the opportunity to interact with.

I also am more than pleased that Shout Factory chose to include the panel/reunion at the Paley Center for Media from 2006. While some may skip over this feature thinking it's boring and dull, I encourage everyone to actually watch it. Hearing how the show came about from the creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason made me appreciate the show even more. Hearing the actors and their individual anecdotes and stories on the characters, favorite lines, quotes in this live setting really was enjoyable because, like the show, it contained moments of pure amusement and laughter as well as very telling, intimate moments that made me appreciate this show and those involved even more.

In all, a great release and a must own for anyone looking for quality television that'll have you both laughing and thinking at the same time.
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on February 23, 2014
Being much younger than the original viewers, I hadn't seen Designing Women when I ordered the first season of this sitcom on DVD. Having read it was similar to one of my favorite shows, The Golden Girls, I decided to give it a chance.

In Designing Women, I was introduced to Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), the owner of Sugarbaker & Associates in Atlanta, Georgia; Suzanne Sugarbaker (Delta Burke), Julia's younger, self-centered sister; Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts), the sarcastic single mother of two; and Charlene Frazier (Jean Smart), the sweet-natured secretary. These four feisty women break the stereotypes of Southern belles: they are not over-sexed romance queens, ignorant country bumpkins, or good-hearted hookers. These women are down-to-Earth ladies, each with a different personality, making them all the more realistic and entertaining.

What I've learned in these 21 first season episodes, is that Designing Women was definitely not afraid of bending the rules of sitcoms, often telling controversial stories that had not been seen on TV before. For example, in the pilot episode, simply called "Designing Women," Suzanne dates Mary Jo's ex-husband, and while Mary Jo tries to remain calm in the situation, the thought of one of her friends dating her ex-husband and the father of her two children, eventually led to an interesting climax.

The second episode, "The Beauty Contest," is one of my favorites from season one. Charlene secretly signs Mary Jo's daughter, Claudia, up for the Miss Pre-Teen Atlanta beauty contest. Mary Jo is initially against the idea, but along with some encouraging from Suzanne (an ex-beauty queen), she soon becomes a clichéd stage mother of sorts. Near the end of the episode, the present "Miss Georgia World", named Marjorie, makes fun of Suzanne, not knowing Julia hears her. When Julia and Marjorie are left alone, Julia confronts her, proving her wrong about the rumors she had told of Suzanne, ending her soon-to-be famous speech, with the line, "And that, my dear Marjorie, is the night the lights went out in Georgia!"

Season one has some more hilarious and topical episodes: in the third episode, Charlene dates an overweight man; in the fourth episode, Julia's son, Payne, comes to visit, bringing his 41-year-old girlfriend with him; in the fifth episode, Mary Jo starts dating again after divorce; in the seventh episode, Julia and Suzanne's goofy mother, Perky, comes home for Thanksgiving, bringing her absent-minded friend, Bernice Clifton, with her; and in the eighteenth episode, Charlene dates Mary Jo's dad.

Some other most-see episodes are "Monette", when Charlene's old friend, Monette, comes back to town and the other women try to tell Charlene that Monette is the madam of a whorehouse; "Oh, Suzannah" is a quirky, each touching episode, where Suzanne offers to keep a Vietnamese orphan for four weeks, not knowing she will become close to her, not wanting her to leave. On disc four, we also get a special reunion with the four stars of the show and their creator, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, from when they where a part of the Fearless Women seminar in 2006.

Season One of Designing Women is well written and hilariously well-played. To be completely honest, it is way better than I was thinking it would be. It is hasn't even been a year and I've already ordered Seasons Two through Six, and planning on ordering Season Seven in the very near future. This is right up there with the best of the TV sitcoms. It is without a question, one of the best shows centering on the lives of women ever made. I assure you by ordering the First Season of Designing Women (or any other season hereafter) will surely not disappoint you. This is coming from a person who had little faith in this show, but who has now become one of its biggest fans!
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on December 30, 2015
I enjoyed this 1st season of this older show. The writing. I found it humorous, and tactfully honest, but different from other sitcoms of the time, unique in its genuineness about all aspects of male/female humanity and the struggles faced by all peoples, especially those wanting to improve themselves and their situations. Particularly, Anthony (Meshach Taylor), a former African American of prison background, now their furniture delivery man; although character typecast, nevertheless, he was a very good actor for this role. His humor, at least for the viewer, recognizes a man wanting to reform, and showing a man with an internal good heart and a positive attitude, having been given a second chance by these caring females. His character makes it clear that he just made a bad decision, a mistake, now mixing with some strange situations with these variety of 4 female personalities from different southern backgrounds, from conservative to liberal, hard to soft, supporting this agency. This was very good writing for its time. It is funny, putting forth situations that are not that far from human situation.
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on June 8, 2014
I always loved this show, and a few weeks ago, happened to catch it on a channel I normally do not watch. After viewing them again, it brought back memories of why this show was so humorous, and entertaining. Besides the wonderful characters, I also loved that many of the episodes had wonderful messages that inspired me. Unfortunately, these kinds of shows are scarce today, so I am so happy to be able to watch these any time I want to have a laugh!
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on January 16, 2014
What a smart comedy this is. I loved it when it was on TV, and I love it now. The first 5 seasons, anyway, those with Delta Burke. Four beautiful, classy intelligent women and one handsome, intelligent man, running a designing business and dealing with daily life somewhere in the American South. What made this comedy special was the warm relationships between the characters, the fast-paced humor, and the smart exchanges, especially on those inevitable occasions when sparks would fly.
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