If you haven’t heard of Dave’s World, you aren’t alone. While I remember watching the series regularly as a kid, I don’t remember it as vividly as the rest of the sitcoms that aired at the same time (that era being 1993-1997), but I do remember enjoying it. What’s odd about this series is that with four seasons of episodes under its belt (ninety-eight episodes in all), the series never hit syndication or found a home on Nick at Nite or TV Land. While it wasn’t a smash hit success, if it lasted for four seasons, clearly someone was watching, so it’s disappearance from airwaves (in the U.S. anyway) is a bit bewildering.
Humorist column writer Dave Barry (Harry Anderson) rarely has to look too far for inspiration for his article in the Miami Record-Dispatch. With an eclectic family surrounding him, including his wife Beth (DeLane Matthews), his sons Tommy (Zane Carney) and Willie (Andrew Ducote), Dave has no shortage of life experiences to pool from. In addition to his family, Dave gets to draw from best buddy and Editor Kenny Beckett (Shadoe Stevens) and his recently divorced neighbor and pal Shel Baylor (Meshach Taylor), who themselves are worth about fifty columns each.
I had no real expectations when watching this show again for the first time since I was ten, but I was really surprised by how intelligently written the show is. From the onset it looks a lot like Everybody Loves Raymond, although the set design may have something to do with that (the set is almost nearly identical to Yes, Dear’s set as well). But as it progresses, you realize that the similarities to Raymond are staggering and one has to wonder if the popular Ray Romano sitcom wasn’t spawned out of a similar pool that Dave’s World was formed out of.
Dave’s World is intelligently written and the humor in place throughout the first season is some of the best I’ve seen from a sitcom, current or otherwise. Every one of the characters delivers and there isn’t a single dead-weight character among the cast. Even the boys that play the sons of Barry and Beth are fantastic, with Willie delivering some of the biggest laughs of the series with his deadpan reactions. An early episode had him asking his mother where the milk was and on every reply she gave, he would simply stare straight ahead and tell her that the milk wasn’t where she was saying it was. Tommy played things a bit straighter and didn’t get as much spotlight as the rest of the cast, but when he did, he had quite a few big laughs. A particular discussion with his father, also in an early episode, revealed that, like his father, he didn’t “want to change the world. I want to be like you.”
While the kids were standouts, it was the banter between Dave and Beth that really kept the show alive. With every volley that Dave threw at her, Beth was able to lob it back as good as he was, most of the time eclipsing what he had to say. The conversations between those two were some of the most intelligent in terms of the sarcasm level, although the ones between Dave and Kenny definitely ranked up there in terms of unintelligent of the show. Kenny himself was a remarkable character, delivering copious amounts of stupid dialogue that one wouldn’t think would be possible for a newspaper editor. Shell’s shtick wore thin as the season went on, as one could only take so much bitter discussion about his ex, but it culminated in a hilarious season finale episode, “Saved by Estelle,” so perhaps it was worth it.
The twenty-three episodes presented here are some of the most smartly written episodes in all of television history and I’m delighted that they’re finally available on DVD. While there isn’t much that would set it apart from other family sitcoms, the sheer amount of laughs packed into each episode make it worth checking out just for that alone. There’s little doubt in my mind that you won’t be laughing your head off by the end of the pilot and with twenty-three episodes that follow a similar pattern available on one set, this set would be very difficult to pass up for TV lovers. Highly Recommended.
When first watching this series I thought something was off at first and it wasn’t until I’d started the second disc did I realize what it was: the original theme for the show (Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right”) was missing and instead replaced with something completely different. I’m sure music rights are a tricky thing to deal with, as the TV-show-on-DVD market has taught us, but that was honestly the only piece of licensed music this show probably ever used, so not securing the rights to it just for this release seemed a bit ridiculous. I suppose it was done to get the set out as cheaply as they could, but…man, that song really fit the shows intro perfectly and now that I know it’s gone, I miss it more than I realized.
The rest of the set is a fair representation of the series first season on DVD. The set arrives in a transparent three disc single width amaray DVD case, with episode information printed on the reverse side of the DVD insert. All twenty-three episodes are included here in a slightly fuzzy 4×3 video transfer, but it’s what you’d expect from a show this age. It certainly looks better than it would have when compared to its original broadcast, but it’s still a bit hazy at times. The included Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 track is clean and clear throughout the set, without any moments of distortion or hiss that I noticed. Overall a solid technical presentation, but nothing really that you wouldn’t expect from a show like this.
And the…well, there aren’t any extras here. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. Just the twenty-three episodes across three discs, but judging by how this show has been treated, the fact we even saw a DVD release at all is miracle enough. Perhaps if this set does well enough and the other three seasons get released, we’ll get to hear from the real Dave Barry’s thoughts on the show, as well as comments from cast and crew.
For now this set comes Recommended. I could see myself rewatching this series with great ease, as it lends itself as a very easy show to get into and watch. Not only that but even after fifteen years, the dialogue and writing in this show is still sharp enough to give today’s efforts a run for their money.
Dave’s World: Season 1 is now available on DVD.