Dave's World: Season 2
One of the oldest and most beloved genres in television is the situational comedy or, as it is more commonly known, the sit-com. The traditional format has been for the stories and characters to focus on a family but there have been numerous variations over the long years of its existence. Still, the family is the center of American life and sit-coms will always reflect this fact. Due to the popularity there is incredible turn over with this type of television programming. There are the rare few that will become such a mega hit that they will endure for years but most sit-coms come and go in a blink of an eye. Then there are the ones in between those two extremes. These are the series that last for several years and have managed to achieve a good size following. They are never controversial in nature but consist of something that is vanishing from the American television landscape; gentle, easy going humor. These are the foundation of a pleasant evening, relaxing after a difficult day at work. CBS Paramount has one of the greatest collections of television programming found with any DVD distributor. Of course they have all the classics and big hits but they have also been releasing the programs that we loved but are rarely in syndication. One of these is ‘Dave’s World’. It ran from 1993 to 1997 and I for one always found it to be enjoyable. It is solid family style entertainment and that is a lot more than all too many series can lay claim to. Many of you out there may remember this series fondly, others may never have heard of it. In either case it is something well worth while to get and watch with your family. It is basically about a father, mother and a couple of sons navigating life in the suburbs. Even if this is not your home situation the humor is well crafted and relies on everyday circumstances that everybody is able to relate to and understand.
The series was based on the newspaper column written by Dave Barry. Barry is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist working for the Miami Herald and like many fans of this show I read that column for years. The concept is the at home life of Barry played here by veteran sit-com actor and comedian Harry Anderson. He was best known for his previous TV role of the wild and wacky New York City judge on ‘Night Court’. Anderson started his career as a magician and ‘stand up’ comedian and was a natural for the type of humor presented here. Dave lives in a suburb of Miami and writes his column in his home office. His wife Beth (DeLane Matthews) cares for the home and their two sons, Tommy (Zane Carney) and Willie (Andrew Ducote). In near constant attendance are a few regular characters. Foremost on that list is Dave’s best friend and publisher Kenny Beckett (Shadoe Stevens). He is a bit on the wild side and offers a bit of contrast with the home bound Dave. Dave’s other best friend is Dr. Sheldon Baylor (Meshach Taylor) who lives nearby. Beth’s ever present best friend and secretary to Kenny is Mia (J.C. Wendel) who always is quick to butt in to any situation. She is the proverbial blonde ditz depends on Beth for all sorts of advice.
The series was roughly based on compilation books by the real Barry, ‘Dave Barry's Greatest Hits’ and ‘Dave Barry Turns 40’. Like the original columns the humor here is all slice of life observations made from the perspective of a regular kind of a guy. Barry is not political or controversial he just makes light out of the things and situations that we all encounter each and every day. He deals with the troubles that two young sons can get into or an argument over something silly with his wife. We have all been there but Barry was able to twist these commonplace things into something funny. This is perfectly reflected in the series and that is what makes it an enduring pleasure to watch. The stories are not special and that is their charm. They are able to last after over fifteen years because the comedy is based on the mundane and that never changes.
In the first episode of the season Tommy is going through a rite of passage that every man can relate to; asking a girl to the movies. He calls her up and his pushes his voice down to an unnatural level. Face it guys, we have all been there. His parents come in from grocery shopping and since Tommy is embarrassed by them tell them to hang up the phone once he goes up stairs. Beth tells Dave that Molly is the new girl and Tommy has been constantly talking about her all week; unfortunately the phone is still off the hook. Dave takes little things like this that happen around the home and goes off to his office and turns them into his columns. Anderson’s voice over is frequently heard as he types away. The grownups often gather for a friendly poker game. There they discuss the various problems current in their lives. In this dating themed episode Sheldon is upset about having to re-enter the dating world after his divorce. Another common theme is Dave unable to come up with an idea for his column and it is overdue. Beth has gone back to work so Dave is now also a house husband and tries to help out with the domestic chores; something he is ill prepared for. Unlike the family sit-coms of the fifties this home is far from perfect. The Tommy’s room looks like a pre-teen boy lives there with stuff flung all over. The meals are commonly take out or something that can be reheated or defrosted quickly. This was how much of the audience was living and it gave us all something to identify and laugh. The kids also get into the kind of trouble that never would have happened on ‘Leave it to Beaver’. In one episode Tommy has Dave build him a tree house so he can have some privacy. It turns out that it overlooks the usually open bedroom window of a married couple and well lets just say the boy wants to know what they are doing in there.
This is a fun romp through a gentler time in television when a sit-com only had to be funny and not so cutting edge as to make waves throughout the media. ‘Dave’s World’ is something that feels like a comfortable old pair of jeans. I haven’t seen these episodes in a number of years but I was able to get right back into loving this series. CBS Paramount has more than great TV shows on DVD, they have something of quality and that never goes out of style.