purchase from Amazon: DVD
Last year Shout! Factory released a fantastic box set of the first season of thirtysomething, the influential drama series that ran on ABC from fall 1987 to the spring of 1991. That box set was praised and reviewed by almost every media outlet, as well it should have. Shout! Factory recently released the complete second season of thirtysomething and there should be equal praise and excitement, if not more. By the time season 2 began, the shows writers and producers (including series creators and television visionaries, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick) had a better grasp of the show they were producing. thirtysomething was firing on all cylinders from the opening frame of the season 2 premiere. If you were a fan of thirtysomething when it originally aired, or if you became aware of the show because of the DVD release last year, you should definitely add season 2 to your collection.
Season two picks up where the first one left off, with Michael (Ken Olin) and Hope (Mel Harris) still trying to juggle life and work. Hope has gone back to work and finds herself torn between wanting another child and reestablishing her career, while Michael seems completely content with her staying home all of the time. Nancy (Patricia Wettig) and Elliot (Timothy Busfield) are moving forward with their divorce, creating mixed feelings as Elliot is discovering that he still loves her. This especially becomes apparent when Nancy begins dating another man. Ellyn (Polly Draper) must deal with the reality that her own parents are divorcing and this adds a strain on her relationship with her boyfriend, Woodman (Terry Kinney). Michael and Elliot watch their business collapsing around them and wind up working for Miles Drentell, of television’s history’s greatest snakes, played to perfection by scene stealing David Clennon.
In addition to these intriguing story arcs that covered most of the season, the writers, producers and directors continued to take narrative chances by having more flashback episodes (how Michael and Elliot met), an episode in which Michael imagines he’s in a “Dick Van Dyke Show” type of sitcom, and a heartwarming episode in which Hope finds an old diary and we flash to the World War II events she’s reading about.
This five-disc set contains all 17 episodes from the second season of the show, which originally aired during the 1988-1989 season on ABC. The bonus features include an in depth look at Miles Drentell, a character so memorable that Herskovitz and Zwick would revive him in their late 90’s gem, Once and Again (speaking of which, here’s hoping Shout! Factory someday gets the rights that show and gives it the DVD treatment it deserves). There are also excellent commentaries throughout the episodes by the creators, writers and cast members, as well as an excellent insert that gives specific details about each episode.
While watching the show in the 21st Century you may feel it’s a little quaint, remember that the creative ground this series broke helped make it possible for shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Friday Night Lights and even Mad Men to take the risks in storytelling and production for which they have become famous.