Wings: The Complete First & Second Seasons review by Mike Long

I'm sure that there are those who question the necessity of syndicating televisions series and see it as simply another opportunity for Hollywood to make money. But, I see things a different way, as syndication can also be a great way to discover a TV show that one may have missed during its initial/prime-time run. Just as I found a taste for Ned and Stacey while watching re-runs on the USA Network, I also discovered that I liked a show called Wings -- a show that I would have never thought to have watched while it was on in prime-time. I can now enjoy Wings whenever I want, as The Complete First & Second Seasons of the show have come to DVD.

Wings is set on the island of Nantucket. There, Joe Hackett (Tim Daly) runs a small, one plane airline called Sandpiper Air. Joe is a very tidy and organized man and he works well with his desk attendant, Faye (Rebecca Schull), and his mechanic, Lowell (Thomas Haden Church). Joe has lived on the island all of his life, and is still close to his childhood friend, Helen (Crystal Bernard), who runs the lunch counter in the airport. Sandpiper Air may be small, but Joe is able to hold his own against his larger competition, AeroMass, which is run by the conniving, Roy (David Schramm).

As the series opens, we find that Joe's life is more-or-less OK, until his brother, Brian (Steven Weber) returns to Nantucket. Six years earlier, Brian had ran off with Joe's fianc and the two have been estranged ever since. But now Brian has returned, and being a pilot himself, goes to work for Joe. However, this arrangement isnt easy for Joe, for as tidy and meticulous, Brian is a slob who never plans ahead. Also, Brian sees himself as a ladies man and always flirts. Can these two brothers work together without killing one another or driving everyone else in the airport insane?

Some of you may not understand where the term situation comedy comes from. It refers to a show where there is a situation, which is typically a specific location and the group of people who inhabit that location. We then watch comedy unfold in that situation. Wings is the epitome of a situation comedy. The small Nantucket airport is the perfect environment in which to introduce a small group of core characters who can interact with one another, people from the island, and travelers coming through the airport. Giving Joe, Brian, and Helen a history together also creates an opportunity for storylines.

As for the comedy itself, Wings is very much a hit-or-miss show, and thus, wildly inconsistent. At times, the comedy is incredibly clever and fiendishly subversive. The one-liners are quick and pithy, and may flummox some viewers. These jokes are quite ribald at times, but never in a crass way. On the other hand, much of the humor seems to have come from a "Sitcom Basics" guidebook. The jokes about Roy's weight, Faye's flightiness, or Joe's anal-retentive nature are cheap and rarely very funny. The constant references to Brian's playboy lifestyle aren't clever and they are made all the more unbelievable given the fact that Brian dresses like a mad clown and one has to wonder what kind of woman would find him attractive. And then there are the episodes which fall in-between, such as "Love is Like Pulling Teeth", where Helen has her wisdom teeth out and asks Joe to care for her, when all that he wants to do is watch the big game with the guys. This plot is taken directly from the Three's Company brand of comedy, but the back and forth between Joe and Helen rises above the hackneyed premise.

Thus, Wings is an odd bird. The show reeks of sitcom unoriginality, but some of the episodes are truly inspired comedy. The cast is always game and for the most part they are endearing (although for the first few episodes, there is no chemistry whatsoever between the actors and the performances are quite stiff). At this point in time, I seriously doubt that the show will win over many new fans, but if you're like me, and begrudgingly found a soft spot for this show, then this DVD set is a nice treat.

Wings: The Complete First & Second Seasons flies onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. This four disc boxed set contains the 7 episodes from the show's first season and the 22 episodes from Season Two. The shows are all presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The episodes look fairly good, although the quality varies at times. The earlier shows display some grain on the image and the picture is a bit dark in some scenes. The later shows lose the grainy look. The colors are stable for the most part, although they can be drab at times. The transfer shows hardly any defects from the source material and video noise is kept to a minimum. The DVDs have a Dolby Digital stereo audio track which provides clear dialogue with only a slight hint of hissing. The stereo effects aren't exactly outstanding, but the tracks are well-balanced and the laughter from the studio audience never interferes with the dialogue.

There are no extras on this DVD set.


6 out of 10 Jackasses

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