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WINGS
The Complete Fifth Season

Review by Ed Nguyen

Stars: Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, David Schramm, Rebecca Schull, Thomas Haden Church, Tony Shalhoub, Farrah Forke
Directors: Peter Bonerz, Leonard Garner, Andy Ackerman, David Lee
Audio: English stereo
Subtitles: English close captions
Video: Color, full-screen
Studio: Paramount
Features: None
Length: 535 min.
Release Date: November, 6, 2007

"What's that, pilot Hackett of Sandpiper Air?  Your only aircraft is malfunctioning again and you have no spare parts?"

Episodes ****

Who better than the producers of Cheers to create a romantic television comedy about relationships in a little place where everyone knows your name?  With the 1990's sitcom Wings, they did just that, chronicling the misadventures of siblings Joe and Brian as they juggled flight with romance from Nantucket Island.

In Wings, the two Hackett brothers - tidy, compulsive Joe and self-proclaimed ladies' man Brian - endeavor (in often comical fashion) to keep their one-plane operation, Sandpiper Air, in the black while weathering all manners of mechanical mishaps and romantic miscues.  Sandpiper isn't the only airline around, either - competitor Aeromass is run by the devious and paunchy Roy Biggins (David Schramm), who delights in Sandpiper's frequent crises and, during interludes of relative tranquility, is not shy about engineering a few himself!

Early seasons of Wings highlighted the on-and-off relationship between Joe and Helen (Crystal Bernard), the airport's lunch counter girl and failed cellist.  However, Season Four set the stage for another on-going relationship, that between Joe's brother Brian and Alex, the airport's sole lady pilot.  Rounding out this fraternity of friends are a trio of lovable misfits - Sandpiper's bubbly and indispensable receptionist Fay (Rebecca Schull), mechanic and aspiring cook Lowell (Thomas Haden Church), and former cuisinary expert but now just a simple cabbie, Antonio (Tony Shalhoub).

Read on below to learn what lies behind the next cloud in Season Five of Wings for our intrepid gang of Nantucket natives!

1) Stop in the Name of Love

"You think love is something you order from a clown and pick up at a drive-thru window?"

When it comes to women, Brian Hackett has always had a simple three-step program: chase 'em, sleep with 'em, dump 'em.  But now, Brian just can't stop babbling about his new lady-love Alex.  Could she be the one?  Is Brian ready to make a full commitment and, more importantly, to curtail his former womanizing ways?

2) Terminal Jealousy

"If you're driving a car down Sesame Street, would you in fact end up in Mister Rogers' neighborhood?"

It's another boring day at the Tom Nevers Field airport, so Roy decides to stir up some mischief for fun.  While Brian is nursing a bruised tailbone, Roy convinces the convalescing pilot that Alex is fooling around behind his back with brother Joe.  Then, Roy tricks Helen into insulting the state health inspector who has arrived to inspect her lunch counter!  All in a day's work for Nantucket's puppetmaster of disaster, Roy Biggins!

3) Bye-Bye, Bunny

"I now pronounce you man and ex-wife."

Lovelorn Lowell Mathers, long separated from his nymphomaniac wife Bunny, reluctantly takes the final step at last - divorce!  But where married life was rough on the estranged couple, life as swingin' singles agrees very well with Lowell and Bunny, who hook up again...immediately after their own divorce!

Laura Innes returns in a recurring guest-spot as Bunny.

4) Business or Pleasure

"That was the worst flight of my life.  And I was once in a mid-air collision!"

Mechanical difficulties plague Sandpiper's only plane.  Hoping to resolve his financial woes and perhaps to expand the business, Joe brings in a potential investor.  However, this money guy, Davis Lynch, is more interested in smooching with Helen than in number-crunching with Joe.

Mark Harelik guest-stars in the first of several appearances as Helen's elusive new boyfriend, Davis Lynch.

5)  An Affair to Forget

"If beauty were sunlight, you would shine from a million miles away."

Love is in the air!  Helen plans to go to New York to see Davis, while Brian and Alex have booked a log cabin away in the woods for a weekend retreat.  Even Roy has undergone an image makeover in an attempt to woo the woman of his dreams.  As for poor old Joe?  It looks like he has nothing better to do than to fly his plane around in a fog.

6)  A Black Eye Affair

"This was supposed to be a beautiful night, and I have green hair, a black eye, and blotches!"

After a long series of aborted dates, Davis finally has a chance to revisit Nantucket and to see Helen again.  What starts out as a potentially romantic day quickly devolves into a series of compounding disasters for Helen.  To top it off, Helen's friend Stella has come to town in need of moral support after a bad break-up, and Helen is torn between comforting her friend or seeing Davis again.

A Black Eye Affair is a particularly hilarious episode and a memorable way to finish off Disc One.

7)  Joe Blows

"Where do I go when it finally dawns on me that my life sucks?"

Say it isn't so, Joe!  After the never-ending hassles of satisfying upset customers, making frantic phone calls, listening to needy and unsympathetic friends, and generally being pulled in a dozen directions at the same time, Joe Hackett finally cracks.  He is tired of being everyone's Rock of Gibraltar and tired to being stuck in Nantucket!  His solution?  Drop everything and just vanish!

This two-part episode opens Disc Two.  Note the drowned-man tribute to Sunset Boulevard in this episode!  And now with Joe missing or drowned, Brian finds himself drowning in the mountains of paperwork left behind for Sandpiper Air.

8) 2 Good 2 B 4 Gotten

"I think you're a total psycho who needs a Prozac about the size of a handball!"

When Sandy, a former classmate, returns to Nantucket, Joe fears that she still has an insane crush on him from high school days.  But that's silly, of course.  Sandy is now a practicing attorney; she can't be insane, right?  Is Joe just being paranoid, or is Sandy about to re-enact Fatal Attraction with him at any moment?

Weird title notwithstanding, this is another hilarious episode!

9) Come Fly with Me

"The father of Impressionism is...Rich Little!"

It's another boring night at Tom Nevers Field, and nobody has anything to do.  So, Joe convinces Brian, Helen, and Lowell to join him cruising the town in Boston.  Meanwhile, Tony, Fay, and Roy waste hours dialing into a local radio trivial contest for a chance at the $10,000 prize.

10) Happy Holidays

"Have a Merry, portable, pre-fab, plastic, little Christmas!"

It's Christmas time again on Nantucket, fun and festivities for all...almost.  Fay has turned into an absolute scrooge while planning the airport Christmas party.  Joe can't find a suitable tree.  Brian is wimping out over meeting Alex's family.  And Antonio has a close encounter in his cab with Lowell's ex-wife, Bunny (Laura Innes in a recurring guest appearance).  All that is missing by the episode's hilariously chaotic finale are the cream pies and Keystone Kops!  Or, as Santa stammers in this episode, "Ho-ho-huh?"

11) Ready, Teddy, Go

"Your salad's going to be wearing more dressing than you are!"

Often-absent boyfriend Davis makes a rare visit to Nantucket, much to Helen's delight.  However, she gets a bit too nosy and discovers a very flimsy teddy in Davis' suitcase. Now, Helen develops misgivings over whether such an intimate gift is suitable so early in their relationship...unless, of course, the gift isn't for her (in which case, Davis has a lot of explaining to do)!

12) Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Mathers Don't Roam

"I hate my house.  And nobody lives there."

Fans of the show may recall that in Season Four, Brian Hackett accidentally sank Lowell's houseboat.  Since then, Lowell has been a permanent houseguest at the Hackett home.  Well, no longer!  Lowell finally moves out and purchases his own house.  At first, he has difficulties adjusting to life alone until he receives a stirring pep talk from an unlikely source - Roy Biggins!

This episode opens Disc Three.

13) The Faygitive

"I'm a walking bull's-eye!"

Fay keeps getting strange phone calls and soon becomes convinced that someone is stalking her.  To paraphrase Lowell, Fay has nothing to fear but fear itself....and a crazed loony coming after her hell-bent on revenge!

14) Say Uncle, Carlton

"If you were to carpet Florida, how long would it take to vacuum it?"

Look out!  Wacky Carlton is back!  He's to be honored as Nantucket's retired businessman of the year and wants to hire Antonio as his chauffeur for a few days.  The pay is good, but can Antonio endure the manipulative old geezer's outlandish questions and comments?  Things go from bad to worse when they become trapped together in a cab in the middle of a snowstorm.

Gilbert Gottfried guest stars as Carlton's equally annoying nephew Lewis.

15) Hey, Nineteen

"She's the gusto, Joe!  Grab her!

Courtney, Fay's cute study partner for psych class, has the hots for Joe.  Too bad she's only nineteen!  Minor setback, so to speak, and Brian tries to convince his brother that nineteen is the perfect age - no ticking biological clock, none of that commitment stuff!  Of all the people for Joe to take advice from concerning women, the last one should be his own brother!

16) Exclusively Yours

"That look of terror on your face is very flattering."

Then again, maybe Joe has taken Brian's advice a little too much to heart.  Now, he is dating a different woman every night and even consorting with a charter plane-ful of fashion models.  As for Brian?  He has just made an official full commitment to Alex and now feels shackled while he enviously watches Joe's carefree skirt-chasing!

17) Moonlighting

"I sell funeral plots to crazy people!"

It's the off-season, and everyone needs a way to make ends meet.  The bored friends at Tom Nevers Field take turns regaling one another with tales of nightmarish jobs of the past.  Joe once piloted around a celebrity chimp.  Fay once dressed up as a red lobster mascot.  Antonio once worked as a life insurance salesman.  And Helen was once stuck in a box at a stag party as an impromptu stripper!  Ah, the delights of moonlighting!

18) Sleepless in Nantucket

"Look at me.  I'm an idiot!"

Brian and Alex take the next step in their relationship and move in together.  But, as they begin to discover each other's quirky habits, the two indecisive lovebirds start to wonder if they haven't rushed things.

This episode opens the fourth and final disc in this box set.

19) Boys Will Be Girls

"Well well, if it isn't the Hackett sisters!"

The Hackett brothers' former high school football coach has returned to Nantucket for an upcoming ceremony in his honor.  Hoping to repay him for years of torment in high school, Brian and Joe decide to play a practical joke on the coach one evening in his sleep.  Little do the Hackett brothers realize that the coach has actually kicked the bucket, and suddenly, it's Weekend at Bernie's, Wings-style!

20) Roy Crazy

"Who's to say what attracts one person to another?"

Roy's ex-wife Sylvia has returned to Nantucket expressively to meet her ex-husband again.  Hard to believe someone so sophisticated and lovely was once married to Roy!  Is Sylvia truly sincere about her new feelings for Roy, or is she just using him somehow?  Meanwhile, Helen has her own difficulties with an overly-amorous admirer, spaced-out waiter Mark from a local restaurant.

21) Long Distance Lament

"That guy's using you like a door-mat, and you're taking it!"

Davis breaks yet another date with Helen, and this time, Helen has finally had it!  She breaks up with him and goes on a date with someone else.  Meanwhile, Joe has to juggle dates on the same night with two separate women while, against his better judgment, also consoling a desperate Davis who has flown to Nantucket to patch things up with Helen. Chaos ensues when everyone ends up at the same restaurant that same evening!

22) Call of the Wild

"You, me, and three naked cocktail waitresses playing roulette on Aruba!"

When Brian's old partying buddy, Danny, comes to visit Nantucket, Brian spends more time partying with Danny and reminiscing about the good, ol' wild days than paying attention to Alex.  The end result is a relationship crisis that, this time around, may be beyond Brian's smooth-talking ability to mend.

23) A Decent Proposal

"I can't stop lovin' you!"

Relationships are crumpling all around!  First Helen and Davis, then Brian and Alex, now who next?  In this pivotal episode, Davis pops the big question on Helen to demonstrate his true feelings for her!  Will Helen accept, or is she still conflicted by some unresolved feelings for former beau Joe?

Don't miss the special guest appearance by Ray Charles!

Video **

The episodes of Wings on these discs look much as they might on regular broadcast television.  Texture is mildly grainy, and the image quality is slight faded but otherwise adequate.

Audio **

The audio for Wings is provided in stereo and is broadcast television-quality.

Features zero stars

Disc One opens with a few quick ads promoting a multitude of classic television shows now available on DVD, including Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, I Love Lucy, Cheers, The Brady Bunch, Frasier, and more.

Overall, there are four discs in this box set, with six 22-minute episodes per disc.  Each slipcase also provides episode synopses and original broadcast dates.

Summary:

Wings continues to soar in its fifth season, one of the best in the series' run.

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