June 18, 2014

DVD Review - The Facts of Life: Seasons 1 & 2

The Facts of Life: Seasons 1 & 2
Starring: Charlotte Rae, Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Mindy Cohen, Nancy McKeon
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Retail: $14.98
Running Time: 706 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated


Arriving on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment last month is the Season One and Season of Two of sitcom The Facts of Life, available in individual season sets or 2-Season Combo Pack featuring all 29-episodes.

Spinning-off from NBC's Diff'rent Strokes, the series originally had housekeeper Mrs. Edna Garrett (played by Charlotte Rae) becoming a housemother to the private all-girls school, Eastland School, where Kimberly Drummond (played by Dana Plato) attended in the Diff'rent Strokes in the first season finale (The Girl's School). Though she appeared in the first official episode (Rough Housing), Kimberly was dropped from there series, Mrs. Garrett stayed on as a housekeeper to teenagers to Blair Warner (played by Lisa Whelchel), Molly Parker (played by Molly Ringwald), Natalie Green (played by Mindy Cohen), Cindy Webster (played by Julie Anne Haddock), Nancy Olsen (played by Felice Schacter), Sue Ann Weaver (played by Julie Piekarski) and Dorothy "Tootie" Ramsey (played by Kim Fields).

The first season was rocky, airing only four episodes in the late summer of '79, six episodes in the spring of '80 and two episodes in the summer of '80. Ratings weren't great, but it somehow received a 16-episode second season order, but with major changes. Molly, Cindy, Nancy and Sue Ann was reduced to recurring background characters. Mrs. Garrett was upgraded to the school's dietitian. The first episode of the second introduced the new student, Jo Polniaczek (played by Nancy McKeon), a tough girl who drags Blair, Natalie and Tootie out to a bar, leading to their suspension from the school that is until Mrs. Garret agrees to be responsible for them. The four girls leave their dorm rooms and move into the storage room across from Mr. Garret's bedroom.

The changes in the series boosted the ratings incredibly, lasting 201 episodes and two television movies over the course eight seasons. Plus, there was a post-reunion television movie in 2001, minus actress Nancy McKeon.

Only seasons one thru five were released to DVD from Sony Home Entertainment. Mill Creek Entertainment bought the rights to release several of Sony's large film and entertainment archive, including The Facts of Life to DVD and Blu-ray. Expect more seasons to arrive on DVD in the near future.

While the series is actually two years older than me, I have fond memories of watching the reruns in syndication the late 80s and then again the late 90s on the USA Network when they aired back-to-back episodes at seven o'clock in the morning, which I would watch before heading off to school. That being said, I was eager to to review Two Season Combo Pack, which I binged watched over the last few mornings. Though the 29-episodes are jammed onto three discs, the picture quality is great; actually it is better than I expected it to be. The only downside is that there are no extras or special features. Overall, I have enjoyed revisiting The Facts of Life and I recommend it other fans to seek out the DVD set. 

*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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