'Coach - The Complete Series'
(Craig T. Nelson, Shelley Fabares, Jerry Van Dyke, Bill Fagerbakke, Clare Carey, et al / 18-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Team up with Craig T. Nelson in his Primetime Emmy® Award-winning role as Hayden Fox, the curmudgeonly coach of Minnesota State University's Screaming Eagles football team, as he tries to navigate his way through the sports world, fatherhood and family life without dropping the ball.
DVD Verdict: OK, for those not quite in the know, 'Coach' was an American sitcom that aired for nine seasons on ABC from February 28, 1989 to May 14, 1997, with a total of 200 half-hour episodes.
The series stars Craig T. Nelson as Hayden Fox, head coach of the fictional Division I-A college football team the Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles. For the last two seasons, Coach Fox and the supporting characters coached the Orlando Breakers, a fictional National Football League expansion team.
The program also starred Jerry Van Dyke as Luther Van Dam and Bill Fagerbakke as Michael "Dauber" Dybinski, assistant coaches under Fox. The role of Hayden's girlfriend (and later wife) Christine Armstrong, a television news anchor, was played by Shelley Fabares.
In 2015, NBC ordered a sequel series to Coach, set to focus on Hayden Fox's son, with Craig T. Nelson reprising his role as Hayden. However, on August 31, NBC scrapped its plans to air the series.
So, what about this 21-Disc Box-Set of pure, unadulterated Must See Television do you feel I need to fill you in on, my lovely readers? How about we start at the top and work our way down.
The first episode was dedicated to the memory of John C. Chulay. There, how about them apples! Wait, you don't know who Chulay was? OK, well, John C. Chulay was born on April 9th, 1923 in Indiana, USA as John Cornell Chulay and was an assistant director and production manager for many a TV show.
This was a great show. Craig T. Nelson is a very funny man and this show was deservedly one of the most popular during its long run. Nelson played Hayden Fox, a football coach for the Minnesota Screaming Eagles, at a college, Minnesota State. He had a girlfriend; anchorwoman Christine Armstrong played by veteran singer Shelly Fabares, a daughter Kelly and her boyfriend and later husband Stewart.
The real stars of the show were the people he worked with though. Jerry Van Dyke, brother of Dick van Dyke played Luther, Hayden's assistant coach, Dauber was another assistant coach who was also a student that never seemed to graduate and the not too frequently seen Howard Burleigh the goofy athletic director that let Hayden get by with a whole lot.
Hayden was essentially a nice guy, but he also had many flaws. He was sexist, self centered, obnoxious, basically a football coach. He was an Archie Bunker for his time, but not near as edgy of course. He was always trying to control the lives of his daughter, his girlfriend and his friends at work.
The show had so many great lines. The writing was great as there was never a week character even people that were in one or two episodes. I thought the weakest characters in the show was his girlfriend and his daughter who were mostly just background noise to his work where the real great gags were. Luther was so great. He was such an odd character he almost made the show.
The best episode of the 200 that aired, in my humble opinion, was the one when we learned of Howard Burleigh's society the Society of Loons. The loon is actually a bird the group is named after. I thought I was going to die when I heard the members scream `LOOOOONNNN!' That is classic. I love how Hayden Fox seems to always be at odds with someone whether it is someone that is a bit on the artsy side, an administrator, one of Christine's friends or almost anyone he chooses.
The show works because the dialogue is not forced. The writing was near perfect. All of them had near perfect lines, except for his girlfriend and his daughter who eventually drifted away from the show. The show lost a lot of its charm when Hayden moved to the pros and coached a team in Florida. It was still funny, but not as good as it once was.
Still this is a great show - that also featured special guest appearances by Troy Aikman, Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Frank Gifford, Johnny Unitas, Bobby Vinton and so many more - and so I'm thrilled that Mill Creek Home Entertainment have now released it as this insanely great priced 18-Disc Box-Set. It's a classic and I know you will think that also once you have purchased this Box-Set for yourselves.
FYI: 1) The 'Coach' theme song was performed by the Iowa State University Cyclone Football "Varsity" Marching Band. The Iowa State band was the winner of a national contest for the right to play the piece for TV.
FYI: 2) At the beginning of each episode, the phrase "'Coach' is filmed before a studio audience" is said by Shelley Fabares. For the "Pilot" episode, this phrase was spoken by Clare Carey. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.