By Rob Blackwelder
The beginnings of HBO's appointment-TV revolution (which later spawned "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos"), this show was one of the first to demonstrate that the creativity in television was migrating to cable.
The droll, sex-farce sitcom stared Brian Benben as Martin Tupper, a recently (and reluctantly) divorced book editor whose inner thoughts and copious fantasies are played out on-screen in the laugh-out-loud form of clips from cheesy old movies and TV shows he watched as a kid.
An early project from the creators of "Friends" -- untethered by censors and with their wit at its sharpest -- the show has a well-plotted story arc in which Martin gradually adjusts to life without his sweet-tempered but more mature ex-wife (Wendie Malick, later to star in "Just Shoot Me") while getting incredibly lucky (R-rated style) with a weekly variety of Manhattan women. These frequently madcap short-term relationships may briefly feed his battered ego but always set his psyche reeling into ironically innuendo-insinuating out-of-context clips from Ronald Reagan flicks and "Leave It to Beaver" episodes.
The funniest moments in any "Dream On" are often its incidental laughs provided by the likes of Denny Dillon, as Martin's diminutive, hilariously callous secretary from hell who is always ready with a stinging remark, and a string of name guest stars (and not-yet-stars such as Courtney Cox) put to particularly good use.
I loved this show so much during its original run from 1990 to 1996 that I could still remember its theme song -- and this DVD collection demonstrates that its sharp, original humor holds up fantastically. (Pity the same can't be said for the alto-sax scene-transition music.) As with all TV shows (especially sitcoms) "Dream On" has its dud episodes -- usually the ones based on cliché, as when Martin nearly has a nervous breakdown over having to tell his already-savvy 13-year-old son about the birds and the bees. But my overall reaction to Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD? I can't wait for seasons 3 and 4.
The only bonus feature is a clip-heavy introduction from producer and sometimes-director John Landis. It's a good primer for the show, but I would love to have seen a guest-star guide for cueing up, say, Courtney Cox in her skivvies or Salma Hayek, Fran Drescher, Teri Garr, Mimi Rogers, David Bowie, Ava Gabor, James Woods, Jennifer Tilly, David Hyde Pierce, Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Shue, Scott Bakula, Melvin Van Peebles, Kim Catrall, etc.
SOUND & PICTURE
Both are fine. Sound is Dolby 2.0.
SUBS: English, French, Spanish
THE SHOW: ***1/2
THE DVD: **1/2