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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Party Of Five: The Complete First Season (1 Viewer)

Michael Osadciw

Jun 24, 2003
Real Name
Michael Osadciw

The Complete First Season

Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Year: 1994-1995

U.S. Rating: Not Rated
Canadian Rating: PG

Length: 16 hours
Genre: Television Drama

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
Subtitles: none
Closed Captioned: Yes

Release Date: May 25, 2004

Show Rating: :star: :star: :star: :star:
/ :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

Starring: Matthew Fox (Charlie), Scott Wolf (Bailey), Neve Campbell (Julia), Lacey Chabert (Claudia), Paula Devicq (Kirsten), Scott Grimes (Will McCorkle)

Created By: Christopher Keyser & Amy Lippman

Gracious. Alluring. Lamenting. Inspiring. These are only four words I will use to describe Party of Five: The Complete First Season. I could use more, but I’d rather tell you more about this wonderful series instead. Party of Five is a wonderful piece of work committed to showing the human emotion and companionship after tragedy. The underlying story of this series is of five kids who are orphaned by their parents after a drunk driver tragically kills them. Together they have to learn to live together and carry on with their lives despite their loss. Though they fight with their differences, they are successful in keeping themselves together with the help of each other and others.

Creators Chris Keysor and Amy Lippman approached FOX/Columbia back in the early nineties about creating an evening drama about kids living on their own. The studio thought it was an excellent idea to bring to television, but after reading the first few drafts they were too concerned the program was going to be too depressing. After some reworking of the script, it was decided that the program would start six months after the death of the parents. At this point in time, the kids would be past most of the mourning, but still at the point of not being able to live on their own without problems and the painful feeling of the loss of their parents.

Charlie Salinger is the oldest of the youth. At 24 years old he has enough smarts to keep the family together. While he might not be the best businessman or accountant the family has, he is the head of the household and can provide enough guidance to keep everyone together. His 18-year-old brother Bailey, 15-year-old sister Julia, 10-year-old sister Claudia, and baby brother Owen follow him. Each of these kids is in a different state in their lives and come across the joys and sorrows of being the ages they are. Bailey is a smart teen with very high grades and is readying himself for university. He doesn’t always know the right things to say to be comforting, but he is the biggest role model for his youngest sister Claudia. Claudia is deciding her own path in life. She’s an excellent violinist, but must decide if the arts are really for her. Julia is the young teenage girl who has abandoned her concentration in school after her parents’ death. She is now seeking acceptance from the outside; to be popular with girls her age or to be noticed and loved by boys. She’s looking for new ways to have fun and wanting to live a little more dangerously. Owen, the baby of the family, is taken care of by a young nanny named Kirsten.

Like every drama series, the characters have their personal experiences that intertwine with the rest of the cast. Out of it comes conflict and sometimes good. Kids are usually defiant at this age and are prone to many mistakes. That is what makes Party of Five a popular show among late teens and young adults. The show also struck a nerve with many viewers who found themselves in the same situation as the Salingers. Many kids are orphaned by their parents, or have lost a parent from some kind of accident and the scenarios on screen echoed their personal experiences. Each show tries to carry a positive resolution that hopefully can be passed on to those who seek solitude watching this series.

Party of Five airdates were from 1994 – 2000 and it won a Golden Globe Award for Best T.V. Series – Drama. It also helped launch careers for Scott Wolf (although I thought he’d go further than he did after this series), Lacey Chabert, and Canada’s own Neve Campbell. She, by far, has been the most successful of the entire cast because of this series. Listed below are the twenty-two episodes of Party of Five: The Complete First Season.

Disc 1

Pilot - Five Children orphaned by their parents’ fatal auto accident seek to make their way in San Francisco.

Home Work - Bailey develops a crush on Kirsten; Julia strives to be popular; Claudia searches for the Salingers’ long-lost grandfather.

Good Sports - Bailey’s loyalty to his football teammates places him in jeopardy; Julia’s generosity to some popular new friends causes problems for her siblings.

All’s Fair - An old girlfriend tempts Charlie; Claudia and Julia both lie to get what they want.

Disc 2

Fathers and Sons - Bailey tries to impress Kate’s father; Charlie balks at the constant comparisons with his own dad.

Much Ado About Nothing - Charlie’s infidelity jeopardizes his relationship with Kirsten; Bailey’s preoccupation with Kate angers Claudia.

Kiss Me, Kate - Bailey and Kate disagree over sex, Charlie sets out to impress a potential employer, Claudia’s success goes to her head, and Julia struggles in school.

Something Out of Nothing - The arrival of an old family friend disrupts the Salinger household.

Thanksgiving - The release of the drunk driver who killer their parents divides the family.

Disc 3

Private Lies - Keeping too many secrets from each other threatens the Salingers’ future together.

Games People Play - Bailey learns a secret about Kate; Julia and Claudia each try keeping secrets from prospective boyfriends; a personal crisis prompts Kirsten to turn to Charlie.

Grown-Ups - As Claudia and Julia each face the challenges of growing up, Charlie proposes to Kirsten, while Bailey finds himself in a relationship based solely on sex.

Not Fade Away - Sparks fly when Charlie moves Kirsten in without consulting his siblings; Julia uncovers evidence that their mother may have had an affair.

It’s Not Easy Being Green - The Salingers each face problems with their friends and lovers.

Disc 4

Aftershocks - As aftershocks rock their home, Bailey discovers Jill is using drugs, Charlie regrets accepting a loan from Kirsten, and Julia comes in between Libby and her boyfriend.

In Loco Parentis - Bailey and Claudia each struggle to help friends in need, while Julia falls in love with an old friend.

Who Cares? - On the eve of Claudia’s birthday, Bailey heads to Los Angeles to find Jill.

Brother’s Keeper - This family is thrown into turmoil when Charlie is offered a job in Seattle.

The Trouble With Charlie - As Charlie tries getting some time for himself, the pressure of being the head of the household mount.

Disc 5

All-Nighters - As Charlie finds a new apartment, he’s needed more than ever at home.

The Ides of March - Bailey is shocked by Jill’s death; Ross’ homosexuality threatens his adoption of a little girl.

The five-disc set is nicely packed in an outer box like every other TV series. The discs fold out from the inside and feature a few pictures of the stars and an insert listing the episodes on each disc. In all, an excellent little package.

:star: :star: :star:
/ :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

I was a little disappointed with the quality of the video. Presented in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the image at best looks like what I’d see watching the program on satellite TV. The image is gritty from MPEG noise and looks unintentionally soft, and unlike the look of ‘soap opera’ dramas. Interiors look cloudy because of the dim lighting and the lack of real picture detail present. On the plus side, the warm characteristic of the program suits the mood of the show. It’s very comfortable to watch, and colours of those old baggy ‘90s clothes are never oversaturated. Black level is a little too deep making it difficult to see into the shadows. Outdoor scenes look nice and bright, but the colours outside lack a vibrancy seen on other programs. My guess is this is sourced from a very good video source rather than the film elements which doesn’t surprise me at all.

AUDIO QUALITY :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

Encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, the audio is nothing special and suitable enough for nighttime drama. Dialogue is firmly anchored in the center speaker and at times room ambience is projected into the mains to add a sense of depth. When the surrounds are active, they are usually low providing just enough information to transport the viewer into the environment on screen. Don’t expect too much bass in this series (how could you?), but when it does come around its because of the excellent music popular music soundtrack this series had, and it just kept getting better as the seasons went on.

SPECIAL FEATURES :star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

Special features for Party of Five: The Complete First Season can be found on discs one, two and five. On disc one, there is both a cast commentary for Pilot episode and a creator’s commentary for Pilot episode. In the cast commentary, Scott Wolf, Matthew Fox, and Lacey Chabert joins us to tell us about the project and their thoughts at the time, how they were involved and some funny things that happened on the set. Wolf and Fox dominate the commentary, and many times they spend it laughing. It’s a very nice commentary and I enjoyed sitting through it. Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman speak the creator’s commentary. Their commentary was more ‘behind the scenes’ as far as getting the show up and running, and their story is also told in more detail in the featurettes. Both camps continue the commentaries on disc 2 and 5 for the shows Thanksgiving and Ides of March and feature the same quality as the first one.

Disc 5 also hosts the remaining features. Party of Five: A Look Back (58.26, 4:3, DD2.0) can be watched in its entirety or separately in nine subsections. This is an extensive behind the scenes look at the show when it got started, much of it discussed in the commentaries on the other discs, but this time with visuals. We get to see casting tapes before the cast was hired as well as new interviews with all of the cast and creators including Neve Campbell who is missing from the commentaries. It’s an absolute must for any Party of Five fan to check this feature out.

Next is Party of Five: A Family Album (16.56) which is an older compilation of interviews and scenes from the episodes. This was likely made when the show was still on air. Scott Wolf dominates this featurette, and much of the information from Keyser and Lippman had already been discussed in the other feature as well as the commentary. It’s nice that this was included, but it is a little repetitive.

Lastly, there are preview for other CTHE TV shows on DVD, and an insert listing all of the shows included in this season. There are no DVD-ROM features.


What else can I say? This is an excellent release of season one of Party of Five. I’m very happy this show can continue to live on in people’s homes by means of DVD. While I was slightly disappointed with the quality of the video, I don’t feel like I’ve lost much because it looks just as good as watching it by means of satellite TV. I loved Party of Five so much I could watch this season over and over again. That’s the beauty of TV on DVD – I’ll never have to miss an episode ever again.

Michael Osadciw


Stunt Coordinator
Jan 8, 2002
Good review. Just received this today and its pretty good release for a 10 year old TV series. Nice to have the commentaries and some new interviews.

Hopefully it will sell well and we will get all 6 series.
Bring on season 2 and JLH!

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