Ellen: The Complete Season One
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The first television season of Ellen was actually called These Friends of Mine, and while the series sought to define itself through various tones and shades of comedy, the best episodes captured a middle ground between Seinfeld and Friends. Ellen DeGeneres is both a brilliant centerpiece and generous ensemble player, constantly finding fresh ways to mine laughs from her ever-rambling, guilt-ridden, and perpetually dissatisfied heroine. As Ellen Morgan, bookstore employee and platonic roommate of semi-loser Adam (Arye Gross), DeGeneres finds plenty of opportunity to explore humiliation. In the pilot episode, Ellen's unhappiness with her bad photo on a driver's license prompts an obsessive (and unsuccessful) quest to beautify her ID. "The Promotion" finds Ellen and her posse (besides Gross, costars in these first 13 programs include Maggie Wheeler and Holly Fulger) trying to figure out how to bribe Ellen's boss into giving her a job boost, a futile adventure that ends (don't ask how) in a bad way at the Mexican border.
Among the best episodes is the Seinfeld-ian "The Mugging," starring Mariska Hargitay as a gorgeous woman mugged on her way to Adam and Ellen's front door. A cowardly Adam saw the crime and not only fails to help, he won't admit being an eyewitness lest he lose his shot at romancing the victim. Along those same black-comedy lines, "The Anchor" finds Ellen neurotically pursuing a friendship with a woman she can't stand, simply because the latter heard Ellen speaking badly of her. The 13 shows in this set are presented out of season one's chronological order, but that makes little difference to the best material here. --Tom Keogh
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With that being said, even though there are major differences between this first season and the rest of the series, it is still a great, funny show. Ellen truly is a comedic genius and she works well with this first season cast (though I must say she has much better chemistry with the later casts). Amazon Marketplace has this set for sale pretty cheap; it's definitely worth a look, whether you are a current Ellen fan, or new to the series. The DVDs do not have many special features; there is a commentary or two (with Ellen herself conspicuously absent) and some biographies and that's about it. But you do get 13 pretty darn funny episodes! Highly recommended!
This series features different characters. It is also not called Ellen it is called "These Friends of Mine".
Truth be told the first season was a below average show. Without many likeable characters.
If you are like me and love Ellen you will buy this boxset just so you can own the complete collection when the other series are released on DVD.
Spence, Audrey, Paige and Joe are not in this series. Truth be told this is completely different from the other series including the humor.
The only similarity is Ellen Degeneres.
First of all it took years for the first two seasons to be released at all (which of course is/was the case with other important sitcoms as well and might have legal reasons, I don’t know).
Then the first two seasons are released in the USA and technically they are a real disappointment: bad picture quality, obviously no re-mastering at all, plain, boringly designed menus, one language track only, no subtitles, almost no additional materiel at all. To say the truth this DVD-set is hardly any better than my old tapes of the episodes from German television, these even having the advantage of both the English and the German language track. All this does no justice at all to this groundbreaking show.
Why is one of the best sitcoms ever being treated so unlovingly? Why hasn’t it been released in Europe yet? Why has there been more than half a year since the release of the second season without any hint of the third or fourth or fifth...??? I just don’t get it!
Why can’t Ellen get the same treatment on DVD as e.g. Seinfeld, the DVD releases of which are superb. Important as Seinfeld might be, I don’t think that it is any funnier, wittier, cleverer or more important for US cultural history than Ellen, in my opinion it often even plays in a much lower league, lacking the spontaneity and wit of Ellen DeGeneres, who is not only a much better actor than Jerry Seinfeld (concerning facial expressions and body language alone Seinfeld seems to be made of wood), but also the better, more sophisticated comedian (just compare “SeinLanguage” to “My Point... And I Do Have One” to see what I mean).
I would just like to stand up and say: Please, release the other seasons of Ellen in a quicker pace, and release them in a quality the sitcom and its fans deserve!