Shout! Factory Scores Another Hit With Maude: The Complete Fourth Season

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory has, for a long time, been known as the leading name in home entertainment.  That is thanks in large part to the series and movies that it has released and re-issued over the past decade.  From Nickelodeon’s classic Nicktoons Hey Arnold! andThe Wild Thornberrys to more recent series such as The Soul Man to much older fare such as The Jeffersons and All in the Family, and so many others, Shout! Factory has presented great TV series and movies for audiences of all ages for years.  Early last year the company added another notch to its proverbial belt when it released the classic dramedy Maude to its catalogue.  It released the series in its entirety on March 15th, 2015.  It was followed up with standalone season sets of Season Two and Season Three respectively later in the year.  Now the landmark series’ fourth season has finally been released for classic TV buffs and the show’s fans.  The three-disc set is available today in stores and online.  Just as with the series’ previous two standalone season sets this season boasts its own share of heart and humor, proving once again what made (and continues to make) it such an important part of television history.  It all begins with the season’s writing.  This includes not just the season’s episodes but also the smaller details of the episodes.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important in its interpretation of the episodes’ scripts.  Last but hardly least of note in this season is its production values.  Season Four looks and sounds great in its transfer from its original masters to DVD. That will be discussed later.  Whether for that element or the other noted elements, it can be said with certainty that this season is another great addition to any Maude fan’s home DVD library.  It is also shows once more why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in home entertainment.

Over the course of its first three seasons on the air, Maude entertained thousands of audiences across America if not hundreds of thousands.  That is thanks to the work of the show’s writers.  The show’s writers kept audiences laughing and even moved thanks to their ability to balance the show’s comic elements and its deeper, more serious elements.  Season Four is no different.  From the season premiere to its finale this season is loaded with laughs and more moving moments for any classic TV buff and for any fan of this classic landmark series.  One of the most notable points at which that balance is displayed comes in “Maude’s Big Decision.”  This episode is the first of an ongoing story arc that runs throughout Season Four that sees Maude pursuing a political career.  The story sees Maude beginning to decide if she wants to actually take that first step into the world of politics.  The problem is that Walter’s alcoholism becomes a stumbling block in her decision.  It also ends up playing a very direct role in his and Maude’s marriage.  The manner in which the writers tackled Walter’s addiction is impressive in its own right.  They didn’t go over the top and preach about the dangers of alcoholism.  Rather they just had Arthur address Walter’s addiction straight on with Maude. And in reality that is typically the most effective way to address a person’s addiction whether it be to alcohol, drugs, or anything else.  To this day there are so many people who would much rather tip toe around the subject instead of taking the proverbial bull by the horns.  Considering this, it makes this episode’s story just as relevant in society today as it was in its original broadcast.  It also serves to show in its own way the heart that still remained in the series in its fourth season.  It’s just one way in which the series continued to exhibit that balance of heart and humor in its fourth season.  Later in this season the needle aims more towards the comical angle in “Arthur’s Medical Convention.”

“Maude’s Big Decision” is a prime example of how the writing behind Maude maintained its balance of heart and humor in its fourth season.  For all of its seriousness, there is some humor that plays into its bigger story.  That will be discussed later in the discussion on the more minute details of the season’s writing.  Getting back on topic, “Maude’s Big Decision’ is just one example of how Maude’s writing maintained its mix of heart and humor this time out.  “Arthur’s Medical Convention” is another example of the writers’ continued ability to balance Maude’s more comical and more serious elements from one episode to the next.  In the case of this episode, Walter joins Arthur at a medical conference.  Walter, trying to sound important tells Arthur’s fellow doctors that he is a doctor, too.  In an effort to teach Walter a lesson about lying Arthur’s friends play a joke on Walter that results in plenty of laughs not just for Arthur’s friends but for audiences, too.  This episode is such an important one to cite from Season Four because it showed that while Bea Arthur was the show’s lead star, her cast mates could hold their own just as easily by themselves as when set against Arthur’s own sharp comic timing and wit.  Not only that but it also showed the writers’ ability to craft episodes that entertained with both comedy and drama and with each element by itself.  It is just a fun, turn-off-your-brain episode that is loaded with laughs and is sure to be a fan favorite regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Maude.  It’s just one more example of what makes the writing behind Maude: The Complete Fourth Season so important to its presentation. “Mrs, Naugatuck’s Citizenship,” which comes later in the season’s run, also exhibits the importance of the series’ writing this season.

“Maude’s Big Decision” and “Arthur’s Medical Convention” are both clear examples of what makes the writing behind Maude just as important in its fourth season as its first three seasons. They are only two examples of what makes the writing this season so important.  “Mrs. Naugutuck’s Citizenship” is yet another example of what makes this season’s writing so pivotal to its presentation.  It is another example of the writers’ ability to seamlessly weave together the series’ comical and more serious elements.  This episode sees Mrs. Naugutuck studying for her big citizenship test.  But as she studies, it is becoming increasingly evident that something isn’t right with her as she is acting very oddly.  The reveal as to what is wrong is a key moment.  That is because it would have been so easy for the writers to go over the top with the moment’s drama.  Yet they didn’t go that route.  Instead they provided the drama but kept it limited so as to not get campy with the episode’s twist.  The episode’s final moments do just as much of an impressive job lifting the weight of the story as {Bea] Arthur and Hermione Baddeley (who played Mrs. Naugutuck) share their own light-hearted moment.  In examining the episode’s story in whole, its dramatic and comedic elements prove to be expertly balanced from beginning to end.  Again, in seeing this it becomes crystal clear why this episode is another prime example of the importance of the series’ writing in its fourth season.  Of course “Mrs. Naugutuck’s Citizenship” is just one more episode that proves the importance of the series’ writing in its fourth season.  There are plenty of other episodes from which audiences could choose to exemplify the importance of the series’ writing in this season.  All things considered the stories that were crafted for the fourth season of Maude prove in whole that the writers not lost their ability to tell entertaining stories up to this point.  Keeping this in mind, the stories that are presented in Season Four are just part of the writing that should be noted.  The more minute details of the episodes are just as important to note as the stories themselves.

The stories that were crafted for the fourth season of Maude are important in their own right to the season’s presentation.  They are not the only aspect of the writing that should be noted, however.  There are smaller details within each episode that makes the episodes just as enjoyable if not more so.  In “The Christmas Party” the episode opens with Maude and Carol singing ‘Deck The Halls’ as they decorate their Christmas tree.  At the end of the song, Maude jokingly asks Carol, “What the fa la la are we doing,” to which Carol can only laugh.  It’s a small moment.  But is still entertaining in its own right.  And Maude’s attempt to endear herself to a famous poet in “Maude’s Rejection” is just as entertaining.  That is because of just how relentless Maude is in her efforts.  She tried so hard that viewers will find it just as annoying as the poet in question.  The writers’ ability to make the behavior so annoying (and annoyingly fun) is yet another example of how the episodes’ finer details prove to be just as important as the episodes’ stories.  If that isn’t enough the dialogue between the cast in “The Case of the Broken Punch Bowl” proves entertaining in its own right, too.  Mrs. Naugutuck agreeing with both Arthur and Vivian about what really happened to Maude’s punch bowl is so funny in its simplicity.  It’s just one more way in which the finer details of Maude’s writing proves just as important as the stories themselves this time out.  Just as with the stories themselves, there is so much more that could be cited in explaining what makes the smaller details of the scripts just as important as the stories themselves.  It would take far too much time and space to discuss every example, though.  Keeping that in mind the writing is just one part of what makes Maude’s fourth season so enjoyable.  The work of the cast is once again just as important to note as that of the writers.

The work of Maude’s writers proves hugely important to its presentation throughout the series’ fourth season.  The writers expertly balance the series’ comic and dramatic elements from beginning to end and even add in some extra laughs along the way thanks to the episodes’ finer details.  Of course as important as all of this is to Season Four’s writing it is only part of what makes this season so enjoyable.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important as that of the series’ writers.  Being that the cast had already spent the previous three seasons working together on the show the chemistry between the actors was obvious throughout this season.  It is quite obvious in “Maude’s Big Decision” as Maude confronts Walter about his alcoholism.  Both actors made suspension of disbelief so simple.  It showed the seriousness with which both actors took the moment.  In turn it made the moment all the more powerful.  This episode also boasts a great comic moment early on as Vivian confronts Walter, thinking that he had slept with another woman and the impact on Maude.  Walter’s (Bill Macy) reaction to the allegation makes for one of the season’s funniest moments.  To say that his timing was impeccable is putting it lightly.  It won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that haven’t yet seen this season.  But it goes without saying that it will leave audiences in stitches, especially with the added element of Mrs. Naugutuck walking in just as Walter tells Vivian what really happened.  Later in the season’s run Maude is forced to confront her own uber-liberal feminist views when her old friend Stephanie comes to Walter’s company Christmas party.  Mrs. Arthur is just as entertaining when Maude is forced to weigh her own beliefs with Stephanie’s.  On a side note, audiences will be surprised to find out just who plays the part of Stephanie in this episode.  Getting back on track, Arthur’s timing as she is told by her favorite poet that she annoys him and that he really doesn’t like her is just as priceless as any other moment in this season.  She does a total 180 in only a matter of a few seconds, stopping dead in her tracks as she realizes what she has just been told.  It is a perfect take that shows once again Arthur’s talent in front of the lens and just one more of so many moments that could be cited in showing what makes the cast’s work just as important as that of the series’ writers.  Together with that work, both elements come together to show with even more clarity why this latest installment of Maude is just as enjoyable as the series’ previous seasons.  Even with this in mind audiences will find that the writing and acting incorporated into Season Four are not the season’s only important elements.  The season’s production values round out the season’s most notable elements.

The work of both the writers and actors in Maude’s fourth season are both hugely important in their own right to the season’s overall presentation.  That is because both elements work hand in hand with one another.  Even as important as they are to the season’s overall viewing experience they are not the season’s only important, notable elements.  The season’s production values are just as important as its writing and acting.  It should be noted again that Shout! Factory already released Maude in its entirety in a limited edition full-series DVD early in 2015.  So it wouldn’t take much effort to transfer the material from that set to complete standalone season sets.  Even considering that, the efforts that were taken to originally transfer the season’s footage from its masters to DVD for the full-series set paid off in spades.  And it shows here in the series’ fourth season standalone set.  Season Four is presented here exactly as it was in its original broadcast on CBS so many decades ago right down to the grainy look of the footage and the sound balance.  That original presentation has been cleaned up just enough so as to not lose its original look or the welcome feeling of nostalgia generated through the episodes’ grainy look and standout audio balance.  All things considered here the production values presented in the fourth season of Maude prove just as important to its presentation as the season’s writing and acting.  When all three elements are set against one another, all three work together to make Maude: The Complete Fourth Season one more welcome addition to any classic TV buff’s personal DVD library and that of any of the series’ original fans.

The fourth season of CBS’ classic dramedy Maude is another wonderful installment of episodes from what is one of the true landmark series from TV’s golden era.  Now that it is available in a three-disc DVD presentation it is a collection that will be just as welcomed by classic TV buffs as by the series’ original fans.  That is thanks in large part to the work of the series’ writers.  Once again the writers have crafted a full complement of episodes that expertly balances the series’ comedic and dramatic elements from the season’s premiere to its finale.  Sometimes the tow elements are woven together and at other times are presented by themselves.  Regardless of the situation, the writing stands out in every episode both in regards to the episodes’ stories and their finer details.  The work of the cast in interpreting each episode’s script (both on the macro and micro level) is just as important as the work put in by the show’s writers.  Whether together or by themselves, the show’s cast generates plenty of entertainment in every episode.  The outstanding production values presented in each episode (their look and sound) ads even more enjoyment to the season.  That is because it generates a welcome sense of nostalgia for the series’ original fans.  Each element proves to be important in its on right to Season Four’s overall presentation.  Altogether they make this latest season of Maude yet another welcome addition to any fan’s home DVD library and to that of any classic TV buff.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/maude-season-four.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

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