The groundbreaking drama THIRTYSOMETHING came out on DVD yesterday.
The extras include featurettes and commentary tracks for nine episodes. The set also includes a beautifully produced 40-page booklet of essays and episode credits.
The show started around the same month we became homeowners, and by the end of the first season we were expecting our first child, so I could really relate to the "small" issues of family life discussed on the show each week, even though at the time I was still a few years away from turning "thirtysomething." I've been curious how well the series will hold up twenty years later -- aside from some of the bad fashions and "big hair."
A National Public Radio reviewer took a look back and opines "...it's actually quite affecting, even 20 years later...I wasn't expecting to have much patience for this show, which I remembered as a sort of self-congratulatory salute to how very special and important and challenging it is to own a house and raise a baby. It doesn't much play that way, though. It plays as a show that takes ordinary feelings seriously..."
The Washington Post notes that the kind of discussions which were "groundbreaking" in the late '80s seem fairly "standard" -- but "still compelling" -- viewed from today. I can't help thinking, though, that in this age of endless reality TV shows, prime time could sure use more substantive, well-crafted dramas like THIRTYSOMETHING, even if honest discussion of daily life has become normal TV fare.
The Post: "It still works remarkably well as a piece of relatable, well-acted and adult television."
Fans of the show might be interested in THIRTYSOMETHING STORIES, which published nine of the show's best scripts in one volume. It includes two of my favorite episodes, "The Mike Van Dyke Show," in which Michael reimagines his life as a '60s comedy, and "New Baby," in which the birth of Gary and Susannah's baby was told in a time chronology which went backwards rather than forwards.
The soundtrack came out when I was in the no man's land between LP's and CD's -- new house and baby, no money for a CD player! -- but I got it on cassette. The guitar theme music can also be heard on MUSIC BY...W.G. SNUFFY WALDEN, along with the great theme music Walden wrote for THE WEST WING.
Previously: April 19, 2006, April 29, 2009, and August 15, 2009.
Update: Laudatory reviews from DVD Verdict and Digitally Obsessed.