In March 1998, ABC introduced audiences to the oddly-but-aptly-named sitcom Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, which centered around the lives of three mid-twenties friends living in an apartment in Boston. Roommates Pete Dunville (Richard Ruccolo, Rita Rocks) and Michael ‘Berg’ Bergen (Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool) are coworkers at Beacon Street Pizza who are also making their way through graduate school. Pete is the more straight-laced, serious one who is studying to become an architect. He’s been with girlfriend Melissa (Jennifer Westfeldt, Notes from the Underbelly) for six months, but feels it’s time to move on. However, he can never seem to find the right time (or courage) to bring it up. Meanwhile, his more spontaneous, laid-back roommate Berg is the type of guy who will never settle down. He changes girlfriends almost as often as he changes his major. At the start of the series, Berg is studying philosophy, while also participating in unusual pharmaceutical trials in order to make some extra cash. However, it’s not long before Berg discovers his calling and switches to pre-med. Living in an apartment upstairs from the guys is friend Sharon Carter (Traylor Howard, Monk). Sharon hates her job as a sales/PR person for a morally reprehensible chemical company, but she loves her paycheck too much to quit.
Over the course of the four seasons, the series explores the lives and loves of this trio as they get themselves into a lot of wacky situations, playfully prank one another, and go through both heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. As these characters grow up (for the most part) and learn to become adults, they have a lot of fun along the way. The series is a lot like Friends—it’s a sitcom and a hangout comedy, but there is also a very serialized nature to the story. One of the things I really enjoyed is that Pete, Berg and Sharon are friends first-and-foremost. There isn’t this ever-looming love triangle that you would expect from most sitcoms. In fact, throughout the series the relationships and romantic pairings among the characters are constantly changing, and I was quite surprised by which characters are ultimately paired together by the end. (For that reason, I won’t be going into much detail about the various relationships in the series in my comments below so as to not spoil some of the twists and turns for new viewers.) They writers keep the show fresh and interesting over the course of the four seasons by constantly introducing new characters for extended arcs, mixing up the romantic pairings, moving the characters around in the apartment building, changing up characters’ careers, and so on.
Shout! Factory’s Complete Series DVD box set comes packaged in two 6-disc DVD keep-cases (each of which is the same width as a standard DVD case) packed in an outer box. The first case houses Seasons 1 & 2 of “Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place“, while the second contains Seasons 3 & 4 of “Two Guys and A Girl“.
For the first two seasons of the series, the show primarily takes place between two locations—Pete and Berg’s apartment and Beacon Street Pizza. In the first season, the main cast also includes pizza shop owner Bill (Julius Carry) and delusional patron Mr. Bauer (David Ogden Stiers, The Dead Zone), who constantly has some life story to recount to Pete, which always ends up being the plot of some major Hollywood film. While the guys are still working in the pizza place in the second season, owner Bill and ever-present patron Mr. Bauer have suddenly disappeared with no explanation. I was really disappointed to see Mr. Bauer go as his scenes were always so much fun.
While first season is only 13 episodes, it feels a bit chaotic at times due to the fact that the episodes are presented in their original broadcast order instead of the production order. (The episodes appear in the following order: 1, 10, 5, 4, 7, 11, 8, 2, 12, 3, 13, 9, 6.) As a result, characters disappear and reappear, folks are in a relationship in one episode but not the next, and jobs/majors constantly change back and forth. The other seasons are much better about this, but for the first season, I would recommend watching them in production order rather than the order in which they appear on these discs.
To help fill out the cast, the second season introduces two new main characters. The first is jukebox repairman Johnny Donnelly (Nathan Fillion, Castle), who quickly becomes a love interest for Sharon. The second is Berg’s med school rival Ashley Walker (Suzanne Cryer, Silicon Valley), and of course there’s some sexual tension under their mutual dislike of one another. These characters blend in and feel like a part of the gang almost immediately, and add a fun new dynamic to the group.
In the second season, the series really starts to show its creativity with many holiday-themed episodes. One of my favorites is “Two Guys, a Girl and a Psycho Halloween” in which the guys host a costume party, but a crazy serial killer who looks just like Berg keeps killing off the guests one-by-one. In “Two Guys, a Girl and Valentine’s Day”, we are introduced to the crazy next door neighbor Irene (Jillian Bach, The Mentalist) who’s completely obsessed with Pete. And in the penultimate episode of the season, “Two Guys, a Girl and Barenaked Ladies”, the Barenaked Ladies keep popping up, singing a narration to Pete’s life.
In the third season, it’s time for the guys to move on from the pizza place and start their careers, and so Berg passes the apron strings on to an extremely bizarre young man named Germ (Cabin Fever), who just recently started working at the shop. Without the pizza place, the series now focuses more time on the apartment life, with Johnny taking on the role of building superintendent and the job’s perk of a free basement apartment. The season also spends a lot of time with Berg and Ashley at work at the hospital.
The third season gives another fun Halloween episode, “Halloween 2: Mind over Body”, in which a reanimated mad scientist swaps everyone’s brains—I always love a good body swap episode, and this cast does some hilarious impressions of one another. In another creative episode, “Bridesmaid Revisited”, The Dan Band appears as a group of singing troubadours, serving at Pete’s conscience. And I also particularly enjoyed the comedic Rear Window-meets-The Truman Show like “The Monitor Story”, in which Johnny discovers surveillance monitors in his superintendent apartment.
In the third season Irene is back, taking on a larger role, and interacting with the group a lot more. Near the end of the season we are introduced to firewoman Marti (Tiffani Thiessen, Beverly Hills, 90210) as a potential new love interest for Pete, and Germ is back as an orderly at the hospital, adding a fun new element to that workplace.
The fourth and final season brings even more relationship drama, and a couple of new locations—the firehouse and a rundown house in need of rennovation. In this season’s Halloween episode, “The Satanic Curses”, a scorned Irene calls upon Satan to get her revenge, giving her neighbors some hilarious ailments. There is also a particularly fun episode, “The One Without Dialogue”, which plays out like a silent movie with no dialogue, just a swing/big bang music soundtrack.
For the fourth season finale, “The Internet Show”, the creators filmed four different endings and let the internet vote on which one to air. The three alternate endings appear on the DVD immediately following the episode. While none of the endings provide complete closure to the series, it does feel like the show has reached its final romantic couplings, so there is a bit of closure in that aspect. However, It would have been great if they had been given one final short season to finish up.
The cast of this series is so much fun. The original trio of Richard Ruccolo, Ryan Reynolds and Traylor Howard work really well together and feel like real-life friends. All three of the actors have great chemistry and play off one another perfectly. Right from the first episode, Reynolds and Ruccolo are perfectly in sync with one another, performing these almost dance-like choreographed interactions in the apartment. Ryan Reynolds has that same charm and sarcastic humor that can be seen in his recent portrayal of Deadpool. And with Traylor Howard, I was instantly reminded of how much I enjoyed her on Monk—she’s just a joy to watch.
The later additions to the cast were also excellent choices. Nathan Fillion’s penny-pinching Johnny is a perfect pairing for Sharon, Suzanne Cryer is hilarious as the uptight, socially awkward Ashley, and Jillian Bach had me constantly laughing out loud with her portrayal of Irene. There are also so many great guest stars over the course of the four seasons, including Dick Martin, Cheryl Ladd, Fred Willard, Jon Cryer, Anthony Head, Sam Lloyd, Stephen Tobolowsky, James Avery, Mo Gaffney, Carmen Electra, Howard Hesseman, Rena Sofer, Terry Kiser, James Denton and Ali Landry. Plus some fun appearances by Robert Goulet, Nomar Garciaparra and Adam Carolla playing themselves.
As for the DVD presentation, the picture quality is quite outstanding, especially given the age of the series. The picture is for the most part pristine and clear, with a few exceptions. There is one episode in which the guys are on a boat with fog and the picture becomes quite blurry; and in some of the darker scenes and exterior scenes there is a bit of excess grain. The video is presented in full-frame 4:3 format, and I suspect that when originally viewed on older TVs, the very top of the screen was hidden due to overscan. However, on my more modern TV, I caught a glimpse of a boom microphone in a handful of episodes. There was also some film dirt at the top of the screen in a couple of scenes of one episode. The stereo audio track on the DVDs seemed a bit louder then normal, but is more than sufficient at providing clear dialogue. Unfortunately, there is no new supplemental material included on this DVD set, besides the series alternate endings that are a part of the final episode and the bloopers that appear during the credits of some of the episodes.
- All 81 Episodes of the series
- 480p / Full Frame 1.33:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
- Subtitles: None
- Closed Captioned
Nothing, besides the series alternate endings that are a part of the final episode, and the bloopers that appear during the credits of some of the episodes.
I binged all four seasons of the Two Guys and a Girl box set over the course of a week and found it to be quite an enjoyable watch. I hadn’t seen the series since it originally aired, and so I didn’t remember a lot of what happens. The cast is wonderful and has great chemistry with one another. It was a lot of fun to see these now-familiar stars in some of their early work!
The creators constantly change things up to keep the show fresh and interesting, and to explore many different relationships between the characters. The series has some really fun and creative episodes (especially the Halloween-themed ones) that can be watched over and over again. This collection has a an excellent video presentation and provides almost 30 hours of enjoyment. So if you missed this show during its original run, or want to watch it all over again, this collection is well worth the investment!