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"The Golden Girls" The Complete Sixth Season DVD Review

Buy The Golden Girls: The Complete Sixth Season from Amazon.com The Golden Girls: Season Six (1990-91)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Director: Matthew Diamond

Regular Cast: Beatrice Arthur (Dorothy Zbornak), Betty White (Rose Nylund), Rue McClanahan (Blanche Devereaux), Estelle Getty (Sophia Petrillo)

Recurring Characters: Herb Edelman (Stan Zbornak), Harold Gould (Miles Webber), Debra Engle (Rebecca Devereaux), Richard Riehle (Det. Parres)

Notable Guest Stars: Don Ameche (Brother Martin), Martin Mull (Jimmy), Ruby Dee (Mammy Watkins), Peggy Rea (Mrs. Contini), Christopher Daniel Barnes (Kevin Kelly), Siobhan Fallon (Abby), Sonny Bono (Himself), Lyle Waggoner (Himself), George Grizzard (George Devereaux), Cesar Romero (Tony Delveccio), Brenda Vaccaro (Angela), Mitchell Ryan (Rex Huntington), Monte Markham (Clayton Hollingsworth), Debbie Reynolds (Trudy Steele), Marvin Mitchelson (Himself), Meg Wyllie (Myra), Don Lake (Mr. Porter), Alan King (Mel Bushman), Kristy McNichol (Barbara Weston), Barney Martin (Karl), Hal Linden (John Nerretti), Sid Melton (Don the Fool), Bill Dana (Uncle Angelo)

Running Time: 615 Minutes (25 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: November 14, 2006
Season 4 Airdates: September 22, 1990 - May 4, 1991
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Six-sided fold-out Digipak with cardboard slipcover

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

By Aaron Wallace

After five very successful years as the lead in the 1970s sitcom, "Maude," Bea Arthur decided to quit while she was ahead and leave the show. Her fellow cast members, Rue McClanahan among them, were much dismayed. Nearly twenty years later, when Arthur had spent five years at the head of another very successful sitcom, "The Golden Girls", she was once again ready to move on. The "Golden" cast was as unhappy about it as "Maude"'s had been and poor Rue McClanahan was staring down the barrel of Arthur's career-killing gun for the second time.
"The Golden Girls" still had a lot going for it, though, having just ranked as the sixth most-watched show for the second year in a row at the end of its fifth season and having earned another slew of accolades to boot. Thankfully, the series prevailed. "Maude" concluded with its sixth season in 1978 but in 1990, an older Arthur was persuaded to stick around for a while, finally bringing "The Golden Girls" a total of seven full seasons.

Bea Arthur wasn't the only hurdle the show faced in 1990. The fifth season had seen the departure of original head writers Terry Grossman and Kathy Speer, who were replaced by Marc Sotkin, and the welcoming of two new show-runners, Richard Vaczy and Tracy Gamble. By the time the sixth season rolled around, regular director Terry Hughes had left as well. Vaczy and Gamble weren't around for long either; their short tenure ended when they were replaced by Jamie Wooten and Marc Cherry (the man who went on to create "Desperate Housewives") as writers and producers.

So did these changes cripple the show? Initially, yes. The first few episodes of Season Six are probably the weakest of the entire series, feeling awkward and disjointed. This brief sour spot is presumably due to a still-new writing team needing to work out the kinks. Fortunately, things turn around quickly and in a big way. The rest of Season Six offers up some of the best of "The Golden Girls." While the show was strong from day one, it hit its stride in the fourth season and had a nice long stretch of high quality comedy. I've previously written at length about what goes right in this show, from brilliant and daring writing to a cast of four made in Heaven, and it's all in top form in the sixth season. In fact, viewed in quick succession, it's even stronger than I recall from the original airing and reruns. Were it not for the first handful of episodes being such a drag, I might have gone so far as to call it my favorite (as it is, Season Four still holds the title).

Only Chuck Norris could stand up to a glare from Bea Arthur. It's just another night out on the town for Blanche.

The one thing that distinguishes this lot of episodes from all those before it is its ability to tackle dramatics.
"The Golden Girls" has played up drama on a number of occasions, sometimes barely pulling it off and sometimes falling flat on its face, but after things get going in Season Six, it's achieved with finesse again and again. Comedy is always the focus, but more serious notes are skillfully blended throughout. That may very well be thanks to Marc Cherry, whose ability to fuse comedy and drama is now renowned (and indeed, those familiar with "Desperate Housewives" can pick up on a very Cherry moment here and there in his "Golden Girls" episodes). That comes in handy as the relationships between Rose and Miles and Dorothy and Stan continue to build. The problems of excessive activism that inflicted the fifth season, too, are remedied in time for this one. There's only one clip show (something on a marvel for this series) and it's surrounded by some of the most memorable episodes. In short, Season Six gets very high marks.

The Complete Sixth Season was released to DVD on November 14, just six months after Season Five reached stores, and already the final season has been announced for early next year. The speedy release schedule is surely an indication of the show's reliable popularity. Unfortunately, the set gets about the same treatment as the previous ones in the technical department but pulls out a pleasant surprise in the area of bonus features.

A Note on Syndicated Cuts

The fifth season's DVD release was criticized for presenting the edited cuts of the show used for syndication rather than the original cuts for at least some of the episodes. Without taped copies of the original recordings in my possession, I'm unable to confirm this, but reports from those who do have the original recordings and a statement from Buena Vista blaming damages to the master copies for the use of syndicated cuts seem to indicate the veracity of this complaint. The cuts were extremely minimal, but annoying nonetheless. So has it happened again for The Complete Sixth Season? Again, without the original recordings, I can't be sure. The runtimes for these episodes are a bit shorter than the ones we have documented for the first four seasons and even sometimes a bit shorter than those in Season Five. However, I haven't yet heard complaints from those same sources. I can say that there were no jarring cuts that stood out as possible editing. It may very well be that the network ordered shorter episodes as the series moved into its sixth season.

A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from the season. (It was very difficult to choose just ten).

In the hospital for the second consecutive episode, Rose meets her long-lost father. Martin Mull is stuck in the '70s and Dorothy sets out to modernize him in "Snap Out of It." Blanche's old nursemaid (Ruby Dee) confronts her with a dark secret from her past in "Wham Bam Thank You, Mammy."

Disc 1

1. Blanche Delivers (22:27) (Originally aired September 22, 1990)
The season premiere picks up with the storyline of Blanche's daughter, Rebecca, who is pregnant via artificial insemination. Though Blanche claims to have come to terms with the pregnancy, when Rebecca shows up in Miami to have her baby, she still feels ashamed.

2. Once in St. Olaf (23:58) (Originally aired September 29, 1990)
Sophia goes in for surgery and gets lost in the hospital, worrying a frantic Dorothy. Elsewhere in the building, Rose meets a monk who claims to be her father.

3. If At Last You Do Succeed (23:51) (Originally aired October 6, 1990)
A bum no more, Stan has finally found success in one of his business ventures and it catches Dorothy's eye. Meanwhile, Blanche tries to unearth a St. Olaf fortune.

4. Snap Out Of It (23:59) (Originally aired October 13, 1990)
Dorothy and Sophia coax a recluse (Martin Mull) out of his apartment for the first time in decades while Rose tries to determine Blanche's true age.

5. Wham Bam Thank You, Mammy (23:57) (Originally aired October 20, 1990)
Blind-sided by another scandal from her Big Daddy's sordid past, Blanche banishes her childhood caretaker. Meanwhile, Sophia looks to prison singles for a date for Dorothy.

Christopher Daniel Barnes (a.k.a. movie Greg Brady and Prince Eric) wants a passing grade from Dorothy. Sister Sophia Sonny Bono seduces Dorothy, much to her roommates' surprise.

6. Feelings (23:57) (Originally aired October 27, 1990)
Rose takes action when she suspects her dentist of taking advantage of her and Dorothy stands up against a high school that demands she pass a failing athlete.

7. Zborn Again (23:57) (Originally aired November 3, 1990)
Rose deals with the age-old awkward question of what to do about a new friend that you'd rather not have while Dorothy tries to decide if she wants her old flame, Stan, back in her life.

8. How Do You Solve A Problem Like Sophia? (23:36) (Originally aired November 10, 1990)
Nun-like she's not, but Sophia enrolls in a convent nonetheless when a friend passes away. Meanwhile, Blanche wrecks Rose's car and sticks Rose with the ensuing lawsuit.

9. Mrs. George Devereaux (23:57) (Originally aired November 17, 1990)
Blanche's husband, George, returns from the dead to reveal that he's been alive all along. That's not the only miraculous turn of events in the house: Dorothy is courted by two celebrity men (Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner).

Blanche gives Sophia an extreme makeover in "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Before They Die." Dorothy and her sister-in-law mourn at Phil's funeral. Rose begs Miles to skydive with her in "The Bloom Is Off The Rose."

Disc 2

10. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Before They Die (23:56) (Originally aired November 24, 1990)
Blanche dispenses love advice to the rest of the house, leading Rose to declare her celibacy to Miles and Sophia to declare her love to a new suitor. Naturally, neither goes well.

11. Stand By Your Man (23:46) (Originally aired December 1, 1990)
Blanche mistakenly asks a handicapped man on a date and Rose keeps a puppy in the house in spite of Blanche's rules.

12. Ebbtide's Revenge (23:52) (Originally aired December 15, 1990)
Dorothy's oft-discussed, cross-dressing brother Phil dies. The death is hard for her but even harder for Sophia, who still resents Phil's wife for his lifestyle.

13. The Bloom Is Off the Rose (23:51) (Originally aired January 5, 1991)
In an effort to relive her marriage to Charlie, Rose asks Miles to be more daring. Blanche finds herself involved in an abusive relationship and it's up to Dorothy to help her.

14. Sister of the Bride (23:51) (Originally aired January 12, 1991)
Blanche's brother, Clayton, visits Miami with a bombshell announcement: he's marrying a man. Meanwhile, Rose believes she'll be honored with an award for volunteer services.

As Miles' secret identity unravels, we get a rare peek at his home. Debbie Reynolds stops by to interview for a position as the fifth Golden Girl. Sophia shakes things up at a retirement home like only Sophia can.

15. Miles to Go (23:56) (Originally aired January 19, 1991)
Miles reveals his secret identity: a murder witness enrolled in the witness protection program. Rose is distraught by the deception upon which their relationship has been built.

16. There Goes the Bride - Part 1 (23:55) (Originally aired February 2, 1991)
Stan re-proposes to Dorothy and when she considers saying yes, Sophia refuses to speak to her.

17. There Goes the Bride - Part 2 (23:46) (Originally aired February 9, 1991)
While Dorothy prepares for her wedding to Stan and readies to move out of the house, the girls begin interviewing potential roommates.

18. Older and Wiser (23:03) (Originally aired February 16, 1991)
While Dorothy is busy with her substitute teaching, the other roommates get new jobs. Blanche and Rose are hired as models while Sophia becomes the new activities director at a nursing home (or so she thinks).

Stan proposes to Dorothy... again. Dorothy and Sophia share a mother-daughter moment on the sofa.

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The Golden Girls on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 NEW!

Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Reviewed November 29, 2006.