No Love in the DVD Production of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (Third Season Review)

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Hangin' With Mr. Cooper Season 3

It's not often that I can start a review of a home video release before actually opening the product, but HANGIN' WITH MR. COOPER, The Complete Third Season, is one of those rare cases. Going by the Amazon listings for previous releases, Warner Brothers is consistent with the trade dress of these covers to tie them together uniformly. However, that's where any thought to design quality stops. The image of leading man Mark Curry is rendered with all the photographic quality of an inkjet printer working with a picture that has been blown up beyond the integrity of its resolution. The image is cloudy, as though soft-light filtered, but lacking any definition. Similarly, the images from the back cover are stills cropped from the show given no pre-printing treatment to clean them up. Even the text has a slightly blurry look to it, as though the entire thing might have been printed clean and sharp for the back of a trading card, and was then printed in an area larger than intended.

This doesn't mean that the quality of the actual video will be just as poor.

Except  that in this case, you actually can judge a DVD by its casing. As the first episode opens, you can see that the show is presented in its original broadcast quality -- and by original we mean in a time before digital signals, before high definition, when rabbit-ear antennas were still a thing and when the best way to capture your favorite shows was to be in front of them when they aired and record them onto VHS tape.

That's what this looks like on playing -- a playback of a VHS tape, complete with signal quality of a picture-tube television. Apparently there was no love given to these projects at all -- and it's not like there couldn't be. We have several 1990s sitcoms in our home video collection, and all of them have the clean look that comes with digital remastering. Even our 1970s sitcom collections have a look visually better than has been delivered with HANGIN' WITH MR. COOPER.

If you're a fan of the show, you may be inclined to overlook such things, but that certainly limits the series to a niche market. Fortunately for those of us who enjoyed the series the first time around, the comedy still holds fresh, as Cooper (CURRY) prepares for a new school year after having ducked calls all summer from his boss, P.J. (NELL CARTER). But his avoidance ends up costing him an opportunity to be the head basketball coach, and he is left having to apply for the assistant coach's position, if his pride will let him.

Returning in this third season is also the rest of the supporting cast, all Mark's housemates. There's his live-in cousin, Geneval (SAUNDRA QUARTERMAN) and her daughter, Nicole (RAVEN-SYMONE, THAT'S SO RAVEN), as well as the high-maintenance Vanessa (HOLLY ROBINSON PEETE, 21 JUMP STREET), who has been cut off from her world of high-finance and forced to fend for herself, landing a job this season as a receptionist for a doctor's office.

As Coach Cooper continues to learn more and share his life experiences with the kids he mentors and teaches, he finally gets his career back on track, and into the position of head coach, just when things get even more complicated.

This DVD is currently your only option to see these shows, unless you have a stack of VHS tapes in your basement you made when the shows aired. For the fan's, it's better than nothing.

But only just.

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0