US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 264 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Spanish 2.0Stereo
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Review Date: February 28, 2009
The Show - out of
Jay: “I'm not Batgirl”.
Michael: “Alright. Then you're Wonder Woman. Cuz everytime I come home I'm wondering 'where's my woman'”?
The face of the American-sitcom tragically under represents minorities. Over the last 10 or 15 years, you can almost count on one hand the number of shows that have focused on an African-American family. There is even less representation for those of Latino or Asian descent. It is shameful. That lack of television diversity means that originality in programming can be hard to find. So when a show comes along that not only focuses on African-American characters, but finds the space to not be required to rinse itself of the African-American experience, with references to people, music and history that may seem oblique to the at large white audience, it is a rare treat that works and must be defended jealously. It works and successfully presents universal access to a show about an African-American family. It’s funny, relevant and to anyone with kids, painful in-laws or parents with quirks - no matter your ethnicity –very much ‘on the money’.
My Wife & Kids is honest-to-goodness a very funny family sitcom. Unfolding like a hybrid of some Damon Wayan’s stand-up with Cosby-esque hi-jinx for the new family, it explores familiar family issues but becomes refreshingly new with the uniqueness of the characters, particularly Wayan’s as the father, Michael Kyle. Michael runs a trucking company and, as he would put it, is the head of his family which includes is busy wife, Jay and their three kids. Jay, played by the lovely Tisha Campbell-Martin, is perfectly suited to Wayan’s often off the wall style comdic style. She is a force to be reckoned with and is unique, strong and has great facial reactions. But it’s her attempts to subdue grins and snickers at Wayan’s silliness during scenes when she is trying to keep a straight face that makes her so loveable.
Two daughters and a son make up the kids; Jr., the oldest, played by George Gore II, is a dull blade – not the sharpest knife in the drawer who, as the season’s progress, will become duller and duller – giving his parents plenty to contend with and mock for our entertainment. Claire, played in the first season by Jazz Raycole, is the middle child and a little contentious – getting ready to become a teenager; she’s argumentative, sly and a little mischievous. Finally, there’s Kady, played by Parker McKenna Posey – the youngest child and a cute one at that.
My Wife & Kids as you find it here during its first season, is well defined and really doesn’t need much in the way of ironing out. Cast member Jazz Raycole, who played Claire for the first season only, is the weakest part of the show – standing out as too serious and too harsh in her angry-teenage girl performance. It’s a performance that doesn’t feel right for the show. When Jennifer Freeman assumed the role for the second season and beyond, the family dynamic settles to perfection – but during season one, the character of Clair isn’t well suited. However, the ground work is laid, the foundation set and most of the house that this show would become, built here in its inaugural season.
My Wife & Kids explores some good storylines, even it its first season finds ways to be relevant to parents, kids and everyone in between. Strained relationships with parents, teenage tantrums, kids telling lies and young boy’s fascination with ‘personal’ time in the ‘water closet’ make for great comedy fodder.
ABC gave the show five solid years before its cancellation. But during those years, it was forced to play musical chairs with the scheduling. The most egregious scheduling, however, was when FOX placed The Bernie Mac Show, the hilarious show based on the Mac’s humor and another rare show with an African-American cast up against My Wife & Kids - a recipe for tearing away at precious viewers.
The first season of this very funny show gives Damon Wayan’s ample opportunity to show off a family friendly version of his humor – abounding with off the cuff impersonations, clever alliterative wordplay and some not all that fresh jokes – but with his delivery – even the jokes we can sometimes see coming seem brand new.
2: Making the Grade
3: A Little Romance
4: He Said, She Said
5: Breaking Up and Breaking It
6: Of Breasts and Basketball
7: Failure to Communicate
8: Grassy Knoll
9: Working It
10: The Truth Hurts
11: Snapping and Sniffing
12: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Lionsgate has treated My Wife & Kids with respect on DVD. Presented in its original filmed ratio of 1.78:1, which is how you will find it on ABC FamilyHD – and 16X9 enhance, it looks very good. A bright show, not uncommon for a sit-com, it is filled with warm colors and they are shown off nicely. Pretty sharp, very clean and a solid overall presentation makes this video an easy one to be pleased with.
My Wife & Kids comes with a quite good English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound option, as well as an English and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital audio option. A good, solid audio presentation with an issue free center channel, good use of the fronts and subwoofer carrying the transition music and the surrounds carry audience laughter more than other sit-coms that I have heard. Again, Lionsgate does a good job and provides a good quality audio.
No Extras, No Stars
Premiering on March 28, 2001 and running for five seasons, My Wife & Kids won a People’s Choice Awards for Favorite New Television Comedy Series. Lionsgate provides all 12 episodes produced for this first season in production order rather than the order in which they aired. Only 11 episodes aired during its first season but the episode “Failure to Communicate” – which ran during the shows second season on ABC, is back again with its first season family.
This is a great show that, despite having zero extra's (something I hope to see corrected for subsequent seasons) I happily and easily recommend for its irreverence, craziness, heart and easy going comedy.