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DVD Review: Wings: The Final Season

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First, a brief history of the series…

Created by executive producers David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee, Wings is a sitcom about two brothers who run Sandpiper Airlines out of Tom Nevers Field in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Joe Hackett (Tim Daly) runs the day to day operations and his brother Brian (Steven Weber) is the pilot. After several seasons, Joe ends up marrying Helen (Crystal Bernard) who runs the lunch counter at the airport. When Helen's sister Casey (Amy Yasbeck) shows up, she winds up romantically involved with Brian. Other characters in the final season include Sandpiper's counter manager, Fay (Rebecca Shull), and taxi driver Antonio Scarpacci (Tony Shaloub).

I will admit that I was not the biggest Wings fan during its original run, but I did watch it; in fact, I watched almost every episode in the eight-season run. However, it was one of those shows I'd put on just because there was nothing else on that I really wanted to watch. I never saw it in the same league as Frasier or Cheers even though it had some of the same writers and producers as those shows. Wings was never as decorated as those shows either — it was nominated for two Emmy Awards but never won.

I was nervous as to how I would react to seeing the show 12 years after it went off the air, but found myself pleasantly surprised. I had forgotten how good the actors were. The scripts were not always the greatest or the most interesting, but the acting was first rate from everyone involved. The characters are likable, there are none that make you cringe when they show up on screen. The humor was still fresh after more than a decade. Since it was never a topical show there were no jokes that would go over the heads of someone watching it for the first time.

The final season of the show was also the first season without the character of Lowell Mathers, the quirky mechanic played to perfection by Thomas Haden Church. While his absence changed some of the storylines, I really didn't miss him while watching the final season. I can see why season eight was the last season though; the storylines were limited with the same characters and the fact that Joe and Helen were now married. It seemed to have become a domestic sitcom rather than one about two brothers.

The first episode of the final season is "Porno for Pyros." Joe and Helen accidentally burn down Brian's house (a year previously Brian had accidentally burned down Joe's house). The last two episodes of the series are a two-parter called "Final Approach." The show starts out with Helen feeling depressed about how her life is going so Joe gets her interested in playing her cello again. In a side story, Joe and Brian find a suitcase of their father's which contains a ticket to a pawn shop in Boston.

After the show, many of the actors involved went on to bigger and better things. Tim Daly (Private Practice) is still on episodic television as is Tony Shaloub (Monk, now in its final season). Steven Weber had some success with movies and appeared in more than one series. Amy Yasbeck has made films and married actor John Ritter. Crystal Bernard, in addition to making some films, also launched a singing career.

Wings: The Final Season contains three DVDs with 23 episodes. The episodes originally aired during the 1996-1997 season on NBC. Running time for the complete set is eight hours and 59 minutes. There are no extras included other than previews.

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About Susan Keeping

  • cailin gallagher

    Right on target with this review. Solid acting all around for “Wings”. As a New Englander, I loved the location on the series.