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The Nanny – The Complete Series (DVD Review)

The Nanny THUMBThat flashy girl from Flushing with the heart of an angel (and the voice of a slighty more nasal angel) is here at last in The Nanny: The Complete Series. Starring the one and only Fran Drescher in her signature role, The Nanny charmed television audiences throughout its six-season network run. Detailing the comic misadventures of the sweet and sassy Fran Fine (Drescher), her sophisticated employer, Broadway producer Mr. Sheffield (Charles Shaugnessy), his boisterous brood (Nicholle Tom, Benjamin Salisbury and Madeline Zima) and his wisecracking staff (Lauren Lane and Daniel Davis), each hilarious episode ofThe Nanny will now be available,  many on DVD for the first time.  Both an homage to and a subversive take on the classic comedies of the Baby Boomer generation and featuring an unbelievably bright roster of hilarious guest stars, The Nanny is a delightful addition to your television collection – finally available in a complete series collection from your favorite video babysitter, Shout! Factory.

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Series (Guest Score) 

Surprise! I’m not the biggest fan of The Nanny.  Being that this is a really nice set Shout! Factory has put together, I feel this review should be a celebration of the series rather than me ho’humming about it and not really enjoying myself.  Luckily, I know a super fan of the show, and she agreed to show it some love for me.  So, I’m gonna take a quick break, let my good friend Jennifer Gualdoni (Read more of her musings HERE) gloat about this show for a minute.  

As a teenage girl in the mid-90’s, it was a weekly ritual watching Fran Drescher every Wednesday night in her hit sitcom, “The Nanny.” Fran Fine, a feisty and hilarious Jewish girl from Flushing, gets dumped and fired by her boyfriend, Danny, and somehow knocks on the right door while selling Shades of the Orient make-up.  Maxwell Sheffield, (the excellent Charles Shaughnessy) a top Broadway producer and new widow, mistakes Fran as a possible nanny for his three children, Maggie, Brighton, and Grace.  As comedies go, The Nanny is pure gold as Fran charms Niles The Butler (Daniel Davis) and helps bring order and love into the stuffy and unhappy Sheffield family.  She’s feisty and fun with an amazingly colorful closet to boot, and the children aren’t the only ones who fall in love with her style and flair.

Fran Drescher co-produced her hit show with then husband, Peter Marc Jacobsen, and decided to make a 90’s sitcom with all the familiar trappings of a 60’s classic.  The celebrity guest stars are fun to watch and hilarious through the seasons like Dan Aykroyd, Elizabeth Taylor, Rosie O’Donnell, Jay Leno, Ray Romano, Elton John, and even Pamela Anderson as the bimbo nemesis, Heather Biblow.  (In fact, one of James Marsden’s first appearances was The Nanny pilot.)

If you’re a die hard fan of the show, you will be pleased to see “Oy To The World” which was animated and aired in 1995!  (I somehow missed this and have never seen it on my taped re-runs).  You can re-live the 90’s by laughing at all of the Bill and Hillary Clinton jokes (which may come in handy with Hillary running for president in 2016) and the amazing fashion faux-paus that Fran constantly makes.  Season 3 is by far the best season, and you can’t go wrong with any of those episodes as Fran and Maxwell start developing more than just a boss-nanny relationship.

As the series ends, Fran and Maxwell do finally have their “happy ever after” and get married, but one of the BEST episodes of the series is Season 4 “The Engagement,” which will make any softie cry!  Maxwell is going to propose to Fran, and everyone knows it.  They invite all family out to dinner, but he decides to stay back for a little bit longer before joining them.  Sure, Fran thinks he is getting cold feet, but in fact, Maxwell is having difficulty saying goodbye to his dead wife before moving on and finding happiness again.  It is little things like this that make The Nanny wonderful.  It is a comedy, but there is heart behind every episode.

Favorite episodes:

Season 1: “Ode to Barbra Joan” – C.C.’s father comes to town, and they have a frosty relationship at best.  Of course, Fran warms up to him and is gifted with Barbra Streisand concert tickets.  Will Fran finally see her favorite person in the world or be a friend to C.C.?

Season 2: “I’ve Got a Secret” – Maxwell lets one of his celebrity friends stay at his mansion as they recover from plastic surgery, and Fran accidentally reveals the identity to the media.  Whenever I see this episode, I laugh until I cry since it is so funny.

Season 3: “An Offer She Can’t Refuse” – Fran starts dating a handsome Italian man without realizing he is in the mob.  Anytime someone sends me meat in the mail, I think of this episode.

Season 5: “The Bobbie Fleckman Story” – Fran Drescher plays a dual role as Fran Fine and as Bobbie Fleckman, a character she played on This Is Spinal Tap

Season 6“The Finale: Part 2” – Of course Fran and Maxwell are now married and have twins in the finale episode!  C.C.’s name is finally revealed!  A great send off to a colorful show.

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Episodes

This set contains every episode from the series’ six season run.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Clarity/Detail:  The pilot episode is quite impressive and looks pretty outstanding for a DVD.  Once you go beyond that episode it looks like your typical TV show that’s in good shape on DVD.  Some detail is pretty good, especially on medium range shots.  So for the whole, the show is a little soft, but it looks good enough nonetheless.  This is not a bad thing.  I wish something like The Wonder Years would’ve looked this good on DVD.  Being aware of the medium this is being presented in, fans should be very happy and impressed with the image quality.

Depth:  The pilot episode has some free feeling, but pretty much every episode/season following is pretty flat.  There is some okay work in static shots or characters holding place in motionless scenes.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and decent.  Detail is hidden through fabrics and hair, but that’s the nature of the standard definition video beast.  Some crushing of course is present.

Color Reproduction:  Colors surprisingly stand out quite well.  Reds, blues and other colors jump off the screen, sometimes bleeding a bit, but it holds very to some of the extravagant stylings present on the show.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are accurate and consistent.  They never really flicker much at all either.  Detail is decent in close up shots, but not much is present any further out than that.

Noise/Artifacts:  Just the regular DVD issues of noise, blocking and aliasing.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  For being a compressed audio track, this one sounds pretty great.  Its not like The Nanny is a demanding show, but this track is really crisp and clean for a DVD.  The clarity and definition of effects comes through really good.  There’s a nice balance of the vocals and sounds that allow them to employ their own spacing and never float over onto one another.  The canned laughter also is distributed pretty well, never stomping on a scene.  This is a really nicely done track that I can’t imagine sounding much better without jumping to lossless.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Here’s the crux of the entire show.  And it sounds perfect.  Dialogue is clean and clear.  Fran’s nasally charm is represented quite well here.  Volume and placement distribution is accurate to motion, action and character positioning on screen.

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Extras 

The Nanny – The Complete Series comes in a 19-disc box set featuring a shell case that stores 3 regular sized DVD cases and 1 slim DVD case.  It also comes with a very nice color photo booklet episode guide.

Audio Commentary with Fran Drescher

  • “Pilot” – Season 1 Disc 1
  • “Imaginary Friend” – Season 1 Disc 1
  • “I Don’t Remember Mama” – Season 1 Disc 3

Bonus Disc

The Making of The Nanny (SD, 20:57) – Appears to be ported from a previous edition.  Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson discuss the show from ground up.  From Fran’s pitch to him on a plane, to the Sound of Music structure of the show, to casting, to meta self deprecating humor, to headbutting with the network on silly issues.  This features interviews from some of the other cast members (namely the kids from the cast).  Also has some minimal behind the scenes footage from show tapings and photos.

The Unique Vision Of The Nanny (SD, 29:59) – Brand new for this set.  Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson sit down on a couch for a 3-camera chat and reminisce about their careers, auditions, working with network execs and all sorts of stuff.  In great Shout! Factory fashion, this is very no holds barred.  Both let loose and give great anecdotes, stories, honest opinions and have very “inside baseball” stories and memories to share.

The Nanny Finds A Home (SD, 28:48) – I guess this is “Part 2” of the Unique Vision interview with Fran and Marc.  This one goes to town on the production of the show, with both not holding back and sharing all sorts of stories, good and bad, regarding story points, cast, producers and the whole she-bang.  This and the other interview together (as one) alone likely makes the set worth it for any fan of Drescher or the show.

The Nanny Reunion – A Nosh To Remember (SD, 41:50) – A vintage special reuniting the cast to share stories, show behind the scenes footage and unveil bloopers.  All taking place at the home of Fran Drescher.

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Summary 

Shout! Factory’s box set of The Nanny features the complete six season run of the “Fran-tastic” sitcom that played to the perfect strengths of actress Fran Drescher.  This set features some solid to really good audio and video presentation throughout the 19-disc compilation.  The extras here are fantastic, covering everything with an blunt and honest approach as Shout! Factory has made a name for.  There are even a few commentaries thrown in on the first season for good measure as well.  The packaging on this set is very well done and put together and is a plus within itself.  If you’re willing to jump on this set, you’re going to be more than happy with your purchase.  This is about as complete as you’re going to get.  I’m not sure this show would ever be able to or even make the jump to Blu-ray.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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