DVD Review: THE NANNY – The Complete Series

May 25, 2015 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

That flashy girl from Flushing, the nanny named Fran, is back and as delightful as ever. While the first three seasons of The Nanny had previously been released on DVD, over the past 6 years, there had been no signs that the final three seasons would ever be available on DVD… until now. The wait is finally over—Shout! Factory has assembled the entire series on DVD for the first time in one big box set, along with some brand-new bonus features.

Fran Drescher stars as Fran Fine, the nasally-voiced cosmetics saleswoman from Queens who accidentally finds herself working for Broadway producer Mr. Sheffield (Charles Shaugnessy) as the nanny to his three children—wallflower Maggie (Nicholle Tom), brat Brighton (Benjamin Salisbury) and innocent Grace (Madeline Zima). Rounding out the cast are sarcastic butler Niles (Daniel Davis), business manager C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), Fran’s best friend Val (Rachel Chagall), her mother Sylvia (Renée Taylor) and her grandmother Yetta (Ann Morgan Guilbert).

There is only one word to describe this series, and that’s Fran-tastic! Each time I sat down to watch an episode or two, I ended up watching five or six. I had only seen episodes here and there when the show first aired, so it was great to finally have access to the entire series to be able to watch at my leisure.

This show is so addictive and so funny. The series feels reminiscent of a classic sitcom like I Love Lucy. While the episodes do make some references to 90s pop culture, the humor and situations feel timeless. Fran usually finds herself at the center of some wacky misunderstanding or some problem and craziness ensues. While the show starts off with witty writing, as the series goes along, there is more and more physical comedy added to the show to help complement the writing and give a more rounded comedic experience. Drescher and the rest of the cast are naturals at the physical comedy and a delight to watch.

Throughout the first five seasons, we get a lot of the will they/won’t they between Fran and Mr. Sheffield, but we also get to see Fran in lots of fun dating situations and relationships. Over the course of the series, we get to see the romance between Max and Fran develop, and while at first Max is confused by Fran’s lingo, he learns to embrace it and by the end is spouting out his own Yiddish phrases. While some may argue that finally putting the couple together may have ultimately led to the show’s demise, I found the final season just as enjoyable as the rest, and it provides great closure for all of the characters.

Over the course of the series we also get to see the other characters, such as the children, develop and mature. The series really lucked out casting the young actors they did. All three of these children gave great performances over the years, and were able to keep up with the comedic timing of the talented adult cast.

My absolute favorite relationship on the show is Niles and C.C.—I love the snarky sarcastic banter between these two. They never miss an opportunity to throw a zinger at the other. But they are also willing to team up for some scheme if there’s something mutually beneficial in it for them both.

There are so many hilarious episodes in this series that it’s hard to mention favorites without falling into an endless list (well, the list would end at 146). So instead I’ll mention some of the show’s more creative episodes, like season three’s animated holiday special “Oy to the World”; season four’s “The Rosie Show” which has a great Fiddler on the Roof parody; in season five’s “The Bobbie Fleckman Story” Drescher reprises her character from This Is Spinal Tap and Frannie Fine swaps places with her; in season six’s “The Baby Shower”, Frannie Fine runs into actress Fran Drescher; and season six also features the musical episode, “Yetta’s Letters”.

Over the course of its six seasons, the series has had some amazing guests appear on the show—from stars-to-be like “Jimmy” Marsden to mega stars like Elton John. Some of the celebrities to appear as themselves included Patti LaBelle, Ben Vereen, Bob Barker, Sally Jessy Raphael, Erik Estrada, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gourme, Roger Clinton, Shari Lewis, Florence Griffith Joyner, Alex Trebek, Jane Seymour, Joe Lando, Marvin Hamlisch, Elizabeth Taylor, John Davidson, Ron Greschner, Joyce Brothers, Monica Seles, Burt Bacharach, Eartha Kitt, Donald Trump, John McD and the McDLT’s, Rosie O’Donnell, Jay Leno, Monty Hall, Hunter Tylo, Shemar Moore, Peter Bergman, Barbara Crampton, Brook Mahealani Lee, Marla Maples, Brian Setzer, Lisa Loeb, Bob Goen, Estelle Getty, Martin Mull, Rita Rudner, and Bruce Vilanch. And the long list of guests over the six seasons included Dan Aykroyd, Carol Channing, Thomas Dekker, Nikki Cox, Allan Rich, Cloris Leachman, Leslie-Anne Down, Andy Dick, Twiggy Lawson, Rita Moreno, Joseph Bologna, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Dayton Callie, Wallace Shawn, Corbin Bernsen, Christina Pickles, Tyne Daly, Lauren Tom, Michael McKean, Milton Berle, John Astin, Jason Alexander, Nora Dunn, Rich Little, Pamela Anderson, Joan Van Ark, Coolio, Ray Romano, Liz Torres, Robert Vaughn, Maria Conchita Alonso, Ray Charles, Whoopi Goldberg, Katherine Joosten, Margaret Cho, Chris Elliott, and a lot more.

Shout! Factory has put together some beautiful packaging to house the 146 episodes of the show. The series comes packed in a colorful, sturdy outer cardboard box. Inside are 3 standard 6-disc DVD cases (each containing two seasons), a slim DVD case containing the new exclusive Complete Series Bonus Disc, and a colorful 22-page episode guide. Each disc offers a Play All option.

The picture quality on these DVDs looks amazing—if it wasn’t in full frame, you wouldn’t even guess this show was 22 years old! The picture is bright, sharp and clear, and the only scenes that showed a bit of grain were those filmed outside—either in the streets of New York, or in one of the family’s many vacations abroad. The stereo audio track was more than sufficient to clearly hear the dialog, any musical performances, and that catchy theme song!

All of the bonus features from Sony’s previously-released Season 1 DVD set (3 episode commentaries and a Making-Of featurette) have been ported over to this release and can be found on the season 1 discs. The exclusive bonus features disc includes an hour of new interviews with Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson as well as the 45-minute Nanny reunion that aired on Lifetime in 2004. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t even more new bonus features included here—the only feature recorded specifically for this DVD set was the 2-part interview with Drescher and her ex husband, and some of that gets a bit repetitive with the Season 1 bonus materials.

For fans who previously purchased the first three seasons as they were released by Sony, unfortunately, half of this set will be a duplicate. I don’t know if Shout! Factory has any plans to release the final three seasons separately in the future, but perhaps you can get a friend hooked on the show by gifting them your original DVDs and picking up this new complete set for yourself.

What’s Included:

All 146 Episodes: (55 hrs)

  • 480p / Fullscreen 1.33:1
  • Audio: English DD 2.0
  • Closed Captioned

Season 1 – 22 Episodes (1993-94) – Discs 1-3
“Pilot (a.k.a The Nanny)”*, “Smoke Gets in Your Lies”, “My Fair Nanny”, “The Nuchslep”, “Here Comes the Brood”, “The Butler, the Husband, the Wife and Her Mother”, “Imaginary Friend”**, “Christmas Episode”, “Personal Business”, “The Nanny-in-Law”, “A Plot for Nanny”, “The Show Must Go On”, “Maggie the Model”, “The Family Plumbing”, “Deep Throat”, “Schlepped Away”, “Stop the Wedding, I Want to Get Off”, “Sunday in the Park with Fran”, “The Gym Teacher”, “Ode to Barbra Joan (a.k.a. Daddy Dearest)”, “Frannie’s Choice”, “I Don’t Remember Mama”*
* Featuring Audio Commentary by Fran Drescher

Season 2 – 26 episodes (1994-95) – Discs 4-6
“Fran-Lite”, “The Playwright”, “Everybody Needs a Bubby”, “Material Fran”, “Curse of the Grandmas”, “The Nanny Napper”, “A Star is Unborn”, “Pinske Business”, “Stock Tip”, “The Whine Cellar”, “When You Pish upon a Star”, “Take Back Your Mink”, “The Strike”, “I’ve Got a Secret”, “Kindervelt Day”, “Canasta Masta”, “The Will”, “The Nanny Behind the Man”, “A Fine Friendship”, “Lamb Chop’s on the Menu”, “Close Shave”, “What the Butler Sang”, “A Kiss Is Just a Kiss”, “Strange Bedfellows”, “The Chatterbox”, “Fran Gets Mugged”

Season 3 – 27 Episodes (1995-99) – Discs 7-9
“The Pen Pal”, “Franny and the Professor”, “Dope Diamond”, “A Fine Family Feud”, “Val’s Apartment”, “Shopaholic”, “Oy Vey, You’re Gay”, “The Party’s Over”, “The Two Mrs. Sheffields”, “Having His Baby”, “The Unkindest Cut”, “The Kibbutz”, “An Offer She Can’t Refuse”, “Oy to the World”, “Fashion Show”, “Where’s Fran?”, “The Grandmas”, “Val’s Boyfriend”, “Love is a Many Blundered Thing”, “Your Feets Too Big”, “Where’s the Pearls?”, “The Hockey Show”, “That’s Mid-Life”, “The Cantor Show”, “Green Card”, “Ship of Fran’s”, “A Pup in Paris”

Season 4 – 26 Episodes (1996-97) – Discs 10-12
“The Tart with Heart”, “The Cradle Robbers”, “The Bird’s Nest”, “The Rosie Show”, “Freida Needa Man”, “Me and Mrs. Joan”, “The Taxman Cometh”, “An Affair to Dismember”, “Tattoo”, “The Car Show”, “Hurricane Fran”, “Danny’s Dead and Who’s Got the Will?”, “Kissing Cousins”, “The Fifth Wheel”, “The Nose Knows”, “The Bank Robbery”, “Samson, He Denied Her”, “The Facts of Lice”, “Fran’s Roots”, “The Nanny and the Hunk Producer”, “The Passed-Over Story”, “No Muse is Good Muse”, “You Bette Your Life”, “The Heather Biblow Story”, “The Boca Story”, “Fran’s Gotta Have It”

Season 5 – 23 Episodes (1997-98) – Discs 13-15
“The Morning After”, “First Date”, “The Bobbie Fleckman Story”, “Fransom”, “The Ex-Niles”, “A Decent Proposal”, “Mommy and Mai”, “Fair Weather Fran”, “Educating Fran”, “From Flushing with Love”, “Rash to Judgment”, “One False Mole and You’re Dead”, “Call Me Fran”, “Not Without My Nanny”, “The Engagement”, “The Dinner Party”, “Homie-Work”, “The Reunion Show”, “Immaculate Concepcion”, “The Pre-nup”, “The Best Man”, “The Wedding” (Parts 1 & 2)

Season 6 – 22 Episodes (1998-99) – Discs 16-18
“The Honeymoon’s Overboard”, “Fran Gets Shushed”, “Once a Secretary, Always a Secretary”, “Sara’s Parents”, “Maggie’s Boyfriend”, “I’m Pregnant”, “Mom’s the Word”, “Making Whoopi”, “Oh, Say, Can You Ski?”, “The Hanukkah Story”, “The In-Law Who Came Forever”, “The Fran in the Mirror”, “The Yummy Mummy”, “California Here We Come”, “Ma’ternal Affairs”, “The Producers”, “The Dummy Twins”, “Yetta’s Letters”, “Maggie’s Wedding”, “The Baby Shower”, “The Finale” (Parts 1 & 2)

(*Some features are ported over from Sony’s previous Season 1 DVD release in 2005.)

  • Audio Commentaries*
    Fran Drescher provides interesting and entertaining audio commentary on three of the first season episodes—”Pilot” (series premiere), “Imaginary Friend” and “I Don’t Remember Mama” (season finale). She talks about the process of making the pilot, and how things changed once the series was picked up. She also discusses the title sequence, the casting, character names, the use of physical comedy, her outfits, and integrating aspects of her own life/personality into the show. It’s amazing how much detail Fran remembers over a decade after filming these episodes—she even recalls the names of the designers who created specific outfits she is wearing.
  • The Making of the Nanny* (20:57)
    Producer Fran Drescher and her ex-husband/co-producer Peter Marc Jacobson talk about how The Nanny came about, what it was like putting together the ensemble cast, Fran’s wardrobe, filming in front of a live audience, physical comedy and more. (There is some duplication here with what Drescher says in her audio commentaries.) There are also interviews with cast members Benjamin Salisbury (“Brighton Sheffield”), Madeline Zima (“Grace Sheffield”), Nicholle Tom (“Maggie Sheffield”) and Ann Guilbert (“Yetta Rosenberg”).
  • The Unique Vision of the Nanny (29:59)
    In this brand-new interview, Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson give viewers the interesting behind-the-scenes story of The Nanny. The formerly-married couple tells the story of how they met, some of their previous acting projects, and Drescher’s eventful trip that led to her aha moment for the series and pitching it to the president of CBS. (This is a more detailed account of the same stories Drescher tells in the previous featurette and commentaries.)
  • The Nanny Finds a Home (28:48)
    In this second half of the interview, Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson discuss the costumes, the cast, the sets, the opening title sequence, some of the show’s iconic scenes, and the perils of continuing the show after Fran and Max get married.
  • The Nanny Reunion – A Nosh to Remember (41:50)
    This cast reunion special originally aired in 2004 on Lifetime, the show’s longtime syndication home. Fran Drescher invites her parents and all of the cast to get together at her home to enjoy some food and reminisce about the show. Features clips, bloopers, and home video footage. Includes cast members Fran Drescher (“Fran Fine”), Charles Shaughnessy (“Maxwell Sheffield”), Lauren Lane (“C.C. Babcock”), Nicholle Tom (“Margaret ‘Maggie’ Sheffield”), Benjamin Salisbury (“Brighton Sheffield”), Madeline Zima (“Grace Sheffield”), Renée Taylor (“Sylvia Fine”), Ann Guilbert (“Yetta Rosenberg”) and Rachel Chagall (“Val Toriello”). While Daniel Davis (“Niles”) never makes it to the reunion, Danny Bonaduce shows up instead.


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Highly Recommended

The Nanny is a timeless sitcom that still holds up extremely well over two decades later. This is the role Fran Drescher was born to play. The episodes are well-written, hilarious and highly-rewatchable. The DVD looks and sounds excellent—it’s amazing this show is 22 years old! This complete series box set comes highly recommended and will provide hours and hours of laughs.