by pat howard

DVD Wish List | ‘Boston Common’

In DVD Wish List on January 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm

They’ll put anything on DVD nowadays. It’s not very labor-intensive, wildly popular with consumers, and an easy way for studios to try to recoup a few of the bones they laid out for production. And yet, the formula by which titles are selected tends to elude not only the average consumer, but also the media savvy. There are plenty of bygone series I’d love to see released on DVD (or, failing that, digitally).

At the top of my list is the David Kohan-Max Mutchnick collaboration Boston Common, which ran for basically a season and a half on NBC in the mid-’90s. This was the show the Will & Grace team did before their Emmy-winning Eric McCormack-Debra Messing project.

The cast’s faces would likely be familiar to viewers nowadays. Anthony Clark (Yes, Dear), Traylor Howard (Two Guys and a Girl, Monk), and Vincent Ventresca (Prey, The Invisible Man) are among the most recognizable.

The series revolved around Clark’s backwoods Boyd Pritchett and his sister Wyleen (Hedy Burress), who came to Boston to pursue her dreams of a college education. Boyd stumbled into a job as a campus maintenance man, compelled to stay because of his attraction to student Joy (Howard), who was attached to Professor Reed (Ventresca).

Supporting characters included sassy supervisor Tasha (Tasha Smith) and woebegone university employee Leonard (Steve Paymer). Margot Kidder even had a hilarious guest arc as Wyleen’s drama teacher.

What may sound like a paint-by-numbers ’90s sitcom (which I discovered on USA’s USAM block a few years after its initial run) had panache and wit in the hands of Kohan and Mutchnick. It was here that the creative team honed their talents before moving on to their much more successful, much more popular series (sort of like comparing Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night to his follow-up, The West Wing).

There’s an authenticity to a show that doesn’t know whether it will succeed which disappears at some point in hit series. (Think Law & Order‘s early, on-the-skids years.) This quality is present in the 32 episodes Boston Common produced before ending up on the pile of forgotten NBC sitcoms (The Naked Truth, anyone? Fired Up?). The trouble is, this one isn’t forgettable.

DVD status: unknown

Prognosis: unlikely to see DVD release

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  1. would love to see these old episodes. the first season was hilarious!

  2. I wish this would be released on DVD soon!!!

  3. Hey, I agree! I went to college in Boston and it would have been far more fun if it was with these loons.

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