The Series (4/5)
When I was younger I thought Fran Drescher was anathema to my comedic sensibilities. If she was on screen, I was away from the screen, the one exception being her brief appearance in This is Spinal Tap (of note, she plays her Spinal Tap character in this series again in one episode), as it seemed rather fitting to her personality, and also This is Spinal Tap is a movie I watch far too often to nitpick such things about it. That being said they say hindsight is 20/20, and having the opportunity to look back and view Drescher's greatest success, the 1990's sitcom, the Nanny with older more experience eyes, far from any of my past perceived notions of her work certainly changed my perception of the show, and it’s lead actress.
As it turns out that although very traditional in it's setup and comedic execution The Nanny was an excellent little sitcom that used the talents of it's star and cast very well, and also expanded it's formula beyond the realm of typical sitcom into areas of experimentation (within boundaries), and proved to be quite a funny show even 18 years past the end of it's run.
The series stars Drescher as Fran Fine, a woman who finds herself out of work and on her own after a breakup with her boyfriend finds her out of work not only finds her out of a relationship, but also out of a job, as she was employed at his Bridal Boutique. She is now a door-to-door makeup sales person, and finds herself at the door of Broadway producer Max Sheffield. Sheffield is a widower who is now looking for a Nanny to help in the raising of his 3 children, and thinks Fine is there for the job. She quickly writes out a resume in lipstick, and ends up with the job. The show then takes a fish out of water approach to Fine's very outrageous New York mentality, to the Sheffield's more understated lifestyle.
The show though very much grounded in the 90's stylistically feels much more like a show that could have been created in the first Golden era of Television in the 1950's and 60's with Drescher playing a Lucille Ball style role. The comedy is very traditional humor with the joke being setup to a punchline, but works in the world created for the show. On top of this we also get character development that builds across the series, and a consistent story. Granted, some of the story appears as a cliched romance between the leads, but it works well, especially in episodes like Season 4's Engagement where Fine and Max are on the verge of engagement, but he struggles to leave his late wife’s memory behind. It's moments like this that add depth to the show's drama and to it's comedy, and in the end help it stand the test of time against similar shows from the era.
Shout! Factory have presented the Nanny in a series of 1:33:1 full frame transfers. These look quite good for what they are with mostly stable colors, and fine details. No one will mistake these for looking new, but they look better then they have in the past. The image can be a bit soft at times, but that is to be expected.
The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 in English. The dialogue comes through nice and clearly, and though not the most expansive track leaves nothing to complain about.
The first 3 seasons of the Nanny have been released before by Sony, the last 3 seasons are new to the format. So some of the extras have been ported over from prior releases. The set is housed in the nice sturdy boxes Shout! is known for with these sets. There are 3 audio commentarires from Drescher on Imaginary Friend, the Pilot, and I Don't Remember Mama. The bonus disc included with the set includes a 42 minute Nanny Reunion, and 2 featurette/interviews with Jacobsen and Drescher one entitled The Unique Vision of the Nanny, and the other called the Nanny Finds a Home. We also get a 21 minute making of the Nanny. The set also includese a physical episode guide in the box.
I remember ignoring the Nanny back in the 90's only to discover that it was quite a fun engaging sitcom presently. The DVD from Shout! offers quality A/V and every episode of the series plus a nice slate of extras HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.