Who would have thought that this quality show would ever be released on DVD? Thankfully someone realized that there's still an audience craving intelligent, heartfelt, humanistic drama!
What strikes me upon watching these episodes again after so many years is the superb writing & acting. These are smart, articulate people, living in a more civilized culture than exists in America today. They're also flawed in very human ways, capable of deeply wounding & being wounded, but always ready to take the path of reconciliation & understanding. It's a family that expects more from itself than the lowest common denominator ... and the show is wise enough to acknowledge that such a laudable & worthwhile goal may sometimes have its drawbacks.
Kate was warm but a touch aristocratic, obviously the driving force in the family dynamic. She could be infuriating at times, heartbreaking at others, both in her relationship with Doug & with her children. Nancy could be spoiled, Doug stubborn, Willie a little too carefree in his approach to life, Buddy simply struggling to grow up -- but all were basically admirable, striving to grow & embrace life, rather than hide from it. They took chances, for all the comforts of their cozy home; they were hurt at times, made foolish choices, found unexpected rewards. Not an idealized family, but a very desirable one!
This was very much a writer's show -- the dialogue is sharp, witty, poignant, laced with warmth & humor when needed, often summing up a complex situation with a pithy phrase. Some younger viewers might complain that people don't really talk like that. Perhaps they don't, at least not these days. But again, the writing aspired to more than the barely sufficient. It makes you appreciate language & how it can be used.
But the writing is only half of it -- without fine acting, the best writing in the world falls flat. Luckily the show was blessed with subtle, quietly powerful actors, who could express a wealth of emotion in the inflection of a single word, or a brief glance. Despite the time-specific backdrop & references, this is truly a timeless family, experiencing & responding to all the trials & joys that life brings.
So here's hoping the subsequent seasons are released as well! We need more quality viewing, just to remind people that there's more to life than "reality" shows, spoiled celebrities, and the crass & the vapid (which ought to be the title of half the shows currently on TV). Most highly recommended!