Courtesy: Shout! Factory
CBS’ hit sitcom The Nanny was one of the network’s biggest in its initial run from 1993 to 1999. Over the course of its nearly six years on television, the updated take on ABC’s Who’s The Boss? earned the network high praise along with its cast and writers. And thanks to the people at Sony Pictures Entertainment and Shout! Factory, fans of the classic series have been able to relive all the series great moments once again. That is because beginning with its full series DVD release early last year, Shout! Factory has been giving the series proper DVD releases for the most part. Unluckily Shout! Factory was unable to obtain distribution rights for the series’ first three seasons despite being able to release the series in whole in one complete box set. That means its standalone season sets kicked off with Season Four. That set was released last September. It was followed up just last month with the release of Season Five. And Season Six is currently slated for release on Tuesday, March 15th. Since it has yet to be released the focus for now will remain on the series’ recently released fifth season. There is plenty for audiences to appreciate about The Nanny’s fifth season beginning with its most obvious element, its writing. This includes not just the stories that were crafted for Season Five, but also the humor incorporated into each episode and of course the writers’ ability to balance the serial element of Max and Fran’s impending nuptials with the series’ standalone elements. Just as important to the overall presentation of Season Five is the work of the show’s cast. Once again, Drescher and company deliver more than their fair share of laughs throughout each episode. Last but hardly least of note in this the penultimate season of The Nanny is the overall look and sound of the show’s footage. Once again, the show has been presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. And it looks and sounds just as clean as it did in its original run so many years ago. The end result is twenty-three more episodes that will keep audiences watching thanks to that quality presentation and entertained thanks to the combined efforts of the show’s writers and cast. Altogether all three elements noted here show the fifth season of The Nanny to be another *ahem* “fine” installment of The Nanny.
The fifth season of The Nanny very easily could have been the end for this hit CBS sitcom. Why the network opted to try and keep things going after Max and Fran finally tied the knot at the season’s end is anyone’s guess. It’s probably the same reason that the network unwisely jumped the gun last year and re-upped The Big Bang Theory without thinking things through first. Regardless of the network’s motive for its movie, it can be said that the penultimate season of The Nanny is just as enjoyable for audiences today as it was in its original run. Considering so much of what is out there today, it could even be argued that the show, in its fifth season, was and is better than most comedy offerings out there today. It proves this first and foremost through the work of the show’s writers. The writers finally have Max and Fran tie the knot. And while that story line is obviously at the center of this season’s episodes, the writers never allow it to overshadow any of the standalone episodes that are also included throughout the season’s twenty-three episode run. “The Ex-Niles” is a good example of that balance. In the case of this episode, the writers have actually balanced both elements quite well with Niles’ very short departure from the Scheffield home taking most of the episode’s time. Audiences will find themselves laughing tears of joy as Niles ends up “working” for one of Fran’s relatives. Of course, the term “works” is used loosely as he becomes anything but a butler in said scenario, which leads to his return to the Scheffields’ home. That hilarious story line set against Fran and C.C.’s ongoing fight for Max’s affections makes for a great standalone episode that also doesn’t forget about the season’s main underlying plot line. “The Engagement” is another example of how the balance of the writing alongside the stories themselves makes this season so enjoyable for audiences. This episode focuses solely on Max and Fran’s relationship. And in comparison to so many other engagement story lines (both on the big screen and small screen) the writers have gone almost completely opposite of what so many other writers had done before in regards to the engagement. At the same time, the scenes leading up to the engagement offer their own share of laughs. And especially the show’s female audiences will find said scenes funny because of just how much truth there is to those scenes, which will not be revealed here. “Fransom” is yet another example of how the writers’ work and their balance makes this season as enjoyable as it proves to be. Instead of focusing on Fran’s relationship with Max, the writers opt this time to focus on Yetta. Fran hosts Yetta’s wedding shower here and decides to take a break by offering to walk C.C.’s dog Chester. Of course hilarity thy name is Fran. Fran ends up having to rescue Chester and bring him back. There’s just one problem. Fran ends up getting herself kidnapped in the process, leaving Maxwell to have to save the day. Even though the whole thing starts with a wedding shower, the writers still don’t let the wedding talk overpower the rest of the episode’s comic elements. This leads this episode to have its own share of enjoyment and to show once again the writers’ ability to solidly balance both the show’s serial elements with its standalone elements. Of course that ability to entertain audiences and balance the show’s separate elements is just one part of what makes the show’s writing so important to its enjoyment. The humor that is incorporated into each episode is just as important as the episodes themselves.
The episodes that were crafted for The Nanny: Season Five are in themselves clear examples of what makes the writing behind the show so important to its overall viewing experience. The ability of the writers to so expertly balance the show’s serial and standalone episodes from beginning to end is just as important in the overall picture of the show’s writing. While both are key elements to the writing they are just part of what makes the writing so important. The humor that is injected into each episode is equally important to each episode as the stories and their balance. “The Pre-Nup” is a prime example of the importance of the humor injected into the show’s writing. In her effort to get in to see Brighton after he accidentally skates into a brick wall, she convinces a nun to let her borrow her attire so as to slip in to Brighton’s room. This all happens because Fran is not immediate family, so the front desk nurse at the hospital won’t let her go in to see Brighton. The jokes that come after are just as great. Fran jokes about having missed her calling in life because nuns devote their lives to celibacy and not getting married. This ties back in to the episode’s main story line, which centers on Fran having to sign a pre-nup ahead of the wedding. What’s more, Drescher’s character being Jewish, this moment becomes even funnier. The plot will be left to viewers since it isn’t necessarily the center of interest here. But suffice it to say that it is entertaining in its own right. “The Ex-Niles” is another example of why the humor injected into The Nanny remains so important in the show’s fifth season. The whole episode develops after Niles discovers what Fran makes per month while doing some cleaning. This is so funny because of its reality in relation to people knowing one another’s salaries. At the same time, it also plays on Niles’ all too familiar snooping nature. It’s one more way that Niles causes and gets into trouble because of his snooping. In turn it makes for its own share of laughs, too. “The Engagement” was noted earlier because of its original story and for one of the comic elements that was inserted into the story line. That comic element sees Fran discovering (courtesy of Niles and his gossipy nature) about Maxwell’s plan to propose to her. She ends up telling one person about it on the phone, and then it just spreads like wildfire from there. This is so funny because there is so much truth to it. Women will especially appreciate this joke because of that truth. It doesn’t take much for rumors and gossip to spread in such situations. The very concept of having the multi-window presentation of everybody talking about the impending engagement adds even more to the moment. This is a classic setup. And it works just as well here as in any of its other uses in other TV shows and movies. Together with the other noted comic elements written into the episodes (and those not noted), every joke that is written into the show throughout this season adds plenty of great moments that will leave audiences laughing/ In laughing so much said audiences will agree that the humor within each episode is just as important to the show in its fifth season as the stories that make up the season’s twenty-three episode run.
The writing that went into the fifth season of The Nanny paid off in spades. That goes without saying. Everything noted here shows that with full clarity. As important as the writing proves to be to the whole of Season Five, the work of the show’s cast in interpreting each episode’s script can’t be denied. From the season premiere, which sets the season’s events into motion right to the big two-part season finale, the cast’s work is spot on. Daniel Davis’ work is the most notable yet again. His comic timing is perfect regardless of the scene. He shows his ability to adapt to every situation expertly. That is just as evident when he and Lauren Lane are throwing witty one-liners at each other as it is when he and Drescher playfully bounce bits off of each other. The same applies when he and Charles Shaughnessy are on camera together. Each pairing presents a different brand of comedy and in turn comic timing. He handles every one of those moments perfectly, leading to plenty of laughs. Of course there is also no denying Drescher’s comic talents. She is just as capable when teamed up with her cast mates as Davis and the rest of the cast. And just as with Davis, each situation allows her to show her ability to adapt to each situation. Shaughnessy’s straight man portrayal adds even more to the cast’s collective entertainment. He does a great job making audiences want to knock some sense into him at times—not violently, but rather with that sort of slapstick pop to the back of the head. The combination of the trio’s talents together makes for plenty of laughs in each episode. And in the grand scheme of things, it makes for even more reason that audiences will love this season just as much as The Nanny’s first four seasons.
The writing and acting behind the fifth season of The Nanny gives audiences plenty of laughs from one episode to the next. From pop culture references to cultural jokes and more the writers show themselves to be at the top of their game throughout this season. That is shown just as much as the writers were able to expertly balance the show’s serial elements with its standalone elements. The chemistry of the show’s cast throughout this season makes for even more enjoyment for audiences. While both elements are equally important in their own right to the whole of The Nanny’s fifth season, there is still one more element to examine in this season’s presentation. That element is the show’s overall presentation. It is presented here in its original 4:3 presentation just as in the previous seasons’ DVD releases. The look of the footage is surprisingly impressive whether played back on a DVD player or Blu-ray player. Though there’s no denying that up-converted on a Blu-ray player it looks especially impressive. The sound is just as impressive between the intro and outro music and the mic levels. Even when the writers take the show outside of the Scheffields’ house such as in “The Dinner Party” (which sees Fran and Maxwell shopping for a new engagement ring), the natural sound is quite well balanced with Shaughnessy and Drescher’s mics. The same applies as Fran goes to the hospital to find Brighton after his accident and in other moments. Regardless of the situation, the audio and video are handled just as expertly as the writing and acting. Both are just as impressive in this season’s DVD set as they were in the show’s original run. The end result of that attention to detail is twenty-three episodes that will keep audiences engaged just as much for their quality production values as for their entertaining writing and acting. All things considered here, The Nanny: Season Five shows in the end to be one more “fine” addition to the collection of any of the show’s fans.
The fifth season of The Nanny is not the last season of CBS’ hit sitcom. It easily could have been and probably should have been for that matter. That is not to discount the show’s sixth season by any means. But in looking at everything that went into this season—from its writing to its acting, and even to its production values—Season Five would have been a fitting finale for The Nanny. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store now at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/the-nanny-season-five. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:
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