‘Maude: The Complete Fifth Season’ Is Yet Anoher Example Of Comedy Done Right

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Television today is a pale shadow of what it once was so many decades ago.  It used to be that even with only a few channels audiences had so many options.  That is because writers in television’s bygone eras were allowed to get away with so much more without fear of repercussions.  They weren’t afraid to take on touchy subjects.  And that is because people weren’t so driven by political correctness.  It’s too bad there are so few TV shows like that out there today.  Thankfully Shout! Factory has been offering audiences options in the past year or so with the release of the classic dramedy Maude both in a full series set and in its own separate standalone season sets.  This past June, Shout! Factory released the series’ penultimate season.  It goes without saying that the series is just as entertaining in its fifth season as in its first seasons if not perhaps more so.  That is due in large part to the work of the series’ writers.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note in the series’ fifth season as that of the show’s writers.  This will be discussed later.  Last and hardly least of note in the fifth season of Maude is the series’ general presentation (its audio and video).  It plays its own important role in the overall presentation of Maude: The Complete Fifth Season.  Together with the work of the show’s writers and its cast, all three elements come together to show why Maude was, and still is today, one of the greatest series of one of television’s greatest eras.

Late this past June, Shout! Factory released the fifth complete season of the classic dramedy Maude.  The series’ penultimate season, it is more proof of why the series was, and still is today, one of the greatest series from one of television’s greatest eras.  This is thanks in no small part to the continued work of the show’s writers.  Audiences will note in watching Season Five’s twenty-four episodes that it boasts just as much heart and humor as it did throughout all four of its previous seasons.  What’s more many of the topics that are covered in each story—gender roles, homosexuality, fidelity (and infidelity) and even bromances (of all things)—are just as relevant today as they were in Season Five’s original run on CBS.  From Walter and Arthur learning to be comfortable in with simply hugging each other to Maude trying to be there for Walter when he faces one of his darkest moments to Maude having to face the very real issue of immigration and beyond, the writers expertly balance the series’ heart and humor from one episode to the next right up to its season finale in which Maude has to find a new housekeeper.  What is truly amazing to think about in considering the series’ writing in its fifth season is the fact that the writers managed once again to craft a whole season’s worth of new, original episodes all while taking on many of the issues that had been tackled time and again in the series’ first four seasons.  If for no reason other than that, the writing deserves its share of credit.  That and the ability of the writers to balance the series’ heart and humor throughout solidifies the importance of the series’ writing in its fifth season.  The work of the series’ writers is just one of the most notable of Season Five’s elements of course.  The work of the show’s cast in interpreting each episode’s script is just as important to note here as the work of the shows writers.

The work put in by Maude’s writers in the series’ fifth season is undeniably important to the series’ presentation.  That is because of the expert way in which they balanced the show’s heart and humor once again all while crafting twenty-four new episodes with topics that had already been tackled more than once in the series’ first four seasons.  While their work is clearly important in its own right to the presentation of the series’ fifth season, it is only one of the most important of the season’s elements.  The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note as that of its writers beginning with lead star Bea Arthur.  Arthur is spot on once again throughout Season Five.  Her comic timing both by herself and with her cast mates.  There are moments here and there in which she breaks down that fourth wall, and does so with such subtlety.  That subtlety makes for its own share of laughs because of how subtle she is in doing so.  In other moments such as when Maude finds Walter fighting for life in the three-part story arc “Walter’s Crisis” she is just as incredible to watch because of her ability to emote without becoming hammy.  In the case of Walter’s dream about Arthur she is just as entertaining thanks to her comic timing with co-star Bill Macy (The Jerk, The Holiday, Analyze This).  Macy is just as entertaining in his own right, too.  There is no denying that.  His reaction when Maude’s friends turn out to be swingers is classic in its own right.  When he and co-star Conrad Bain take on the topic of men being comfortable with something as simple as hugging one another (even when they’re straight) that comic timing is just as evident.  Macy’s portrayal of Walter’s emotional pain in “Walter’s Crisis” is just as incredible to take in.  Just as with [Bea] Arthur, it would have been so easy for him to chew the scenery so to speak in that story arc.  But he didn’t.  He hit the nail right on the head with his portrayal.  It is just one more example of the importance of the cast’s work in Maude’s fifth season and hardly the last.  One could note the work of both Rue McClanahan and Conrad Bain just as much here, too.  But that would take far more time and space than is available here.  Keeping that in mind, it should be clear why the work of the cast in Maude’s fifth season is just as important to its presentation as the work put in by the show’s writers.  It still is not the last notable element to examine in the presentation of Season Five.

The work put in both by Maude’s writers and the show’s cast is important to the presentation of its fifth season.  It works hand in hand to make quite clear why this season is just as enjoyable as the series’ first four seasons.  The work of said parties is collectively only part of what makes Maude’s fifth season so enjoyable.  The work put in by those charged with restoring the footage for Season Five’s home release is just as important to note as that of the show’s writers and cast.  Audiences that were not lucky enough to get their hands on the series’ full six-season box set will be glad to know that the production values presented in Season Five are just as impressive as those presented in the series’ first four seasons, too.  It is clear in watching Season Five that just as much time and effort went in to restoring the show’s footage (including its audio) as was put in to restore Seasons 1 – 4.  The footage is grainy, as it should be.  But it is also clear that it has been cleaned up to look just as it did in its original run.  This is important to note because sadly there are some companies out there who don’t even make that effort.  Rather, they just let the footage look terribly grainy and almost unwatchable.  That isn’t the case here.  In the same vein, the audio is perfectly in sync and sounds just as good.  The combination of both factors shows clearly why the production values presented in Maude’s fifth season is just as important to its presentation on DVD as is the season’s writing and the work of the show’s cast.  All things considered, audiences will agree that regardless of their familiarity with this classic standout series this season is yet another wonderful installment of a show that is one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century.

Maude is one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century, hands down.  Shout! Factory has proven that time and again thanks to the release of the series’ full six-season set some time ago and with the release of its first four seasons.  Now with the release of the show’s fifth season late this past June Shout! Factory has done just the same once again.  The series’ writing is once again a breath of fresh air in comparison to the writing presented in so many of today’s sitcoms.  Its stories are just as relevant today as they were in their original broadcasts.  The same can be said of the topics that each episode takes on.  Throughout it all, the writers once again balanced the heart and humor that made the series so enjoyable in its first four seasons, too.  The work of the cast in interpreting the scripts for Season Five does just as much to exhibit how entertaining Maude remained in its fifth season.  The work put in to restoring the show’s footage for Season Five’s home release is the final touch on this set.  Each element is important to note in its own right in examining the overall presentation of Maude: The Complete Fifth Season.  All things considered, this penultimate season of Maude is yet another clear example of why Maude was and still is today one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century.  Maude: The Complete Fifth Season is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/maude-season-five.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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