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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
Mission Hill: The Complete Series (1999)

Kevin: I found these in Andy's closet. I think they're pornographic video tapes.
Jim: No way. Andy's porno tapes would never fit into a box that small.

- Scott Menville, Brian Posehn

Review By: Jeff Wilson  
Published: November 30, 2005

Stars: Wallace Langham, Scott Menville, Brian Posehn, Vicki Lewis, Nick Jameson, Tom Kenny
Other Stars: Herbert Siguenza, Jane Wiedlin, Tress Macneill, Dave Thomas, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Director: Scott Alberts, Michael Dimartino

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for mild language, adult themes
Run Time: 06h:50m:05s
Release Date: November 29, 2005
UPC: 053939271928
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B+A- B

DVD Review

Mission Hill initially failed as a part of the WB's schedule, perhaps too intelligent and not flashy enough for the young network's target audience, but the series found a life after death on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming, where it has run several times. For fans of the show, Warner has finally seen fit to release the series on DVD, where its 13 episodes can be appreciated. It's too bad the series didn't get a longer run, as its quirky character design and striking colors, not to mention very funny scripts, deserved a better fate.

The series revolves around two brothers, Andy and Kevin French (voiced by Wallace Langham and Scott Menville, respectively). Andy moved to the city to pursue his dream of becoming a cartoonist, but, at 24, he finds himself treading water as a waterbed salesman. In the first episode, Andy's parents are moving to Wyoming, and Andy is returning to take the family dog, Stogie, back with him. He finds out that he isn't just returning with the dog—Andy's nerdy brother Kevin is coming too. Kevin, a high school senior, has decided moving in with his "cool" older brother is preferable to going out west. Andy has not been informed of any of this, and he is less than happy to find out about it. Much of the series' humor derives from the friction between the two, as Andy's slobby, boozy ways are constantly at odds with the ragtime-loving, geeky clean ways of Kevin. Added to mix are Andy's other roommates, Jim (Brian Posehn) and Posey (Vicki Lewis). Jim, a laconic stoner, defines laid back, while Posey is the steretypical new age hippie chick. There are several supporting characters, most notably neighbors Gus and Wally (Tom Kenny and Nick Jameson), an older gay couple. The series made history when it showed the two kissing in the first episode; television had not shown a gay male couple kissing up to that point.

The 13 episodes don't feature a overriding story arc, but they do follow a loose chronolgical order. The shows rely mainly on the characters for their humor, rather than simple pop culture references (though there are plenty of those here as well). The most topical episode revolves around Andy appearing on MTV's Real World series, and it's among the weakest of the bunch. The best episode is the finale, Plan 9 From Mission Hill (Or, I Married a Gay Man From Outer Space). Here, the screening of an Ed Wood-esque sci-fi movie directed by Wally and starring Gus leads to the story of how the two met, and it's a sweet, funny story. It's probably the only show to ever feature animated versions of scenes from Smiles of a Summer Night and The Lady Eve, as well.

The performances are spot-on throughout, with nary a bad performance in the bunch, and the level of writing is consistently solid. Though it may not appeal to those who didn't experience the late '90s as twentysomethings or late teens, there is still plenty of heart and humor here for those who search it out.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The series features very bold colors, and the transfer allows them to shine beautifully. There appears to be some slight edge enhancement at times, but it's minimal, and not detrimental to enjoying the shows. Subtitles are avilable in English, French, and Spanish.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: A solid 2.0 stereo track suits the material on hand, with no defects that I could hear. It does appear that several of the songs used in the original broadcasts have been changed, due to rights issues. I don't recall the episodes well enough to consider this a detriment, but those who know the series well may well do so.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 65 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Interactive map of Mission Hill with creator commentary
Extras Review: Four episodes feature commentary tracks, with co-creators Oakley and Weinstein, and director Lauren McMullen on all four, in addition to varying cast members. These are good, solid tracks, with plenty of background info about the series and its genesis and production. Not being a diehard fan, I can't say how that crowd would like these, but there are interesting nuggets to be had. Plus, the tone is jovial and pleasant, with everyone having a good time. Also of interest is an "interactive map" of Mission Hill (19m:44s), with selectable items that lead to brief segments about various elements of the series, with commentary by the creators. These range from the characters to the design to the actual production of the series, and all are interesting if you're a fan. Scripts for five unproduced episodes are on the web for those who want to search them out, but were not included in any form on the set.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

The underrated Mission Hill deserved a solid DVD release, and it gets it courtesy of Warner. The series' attractive look and bold colors are preserved, and some informative extras provide added value.

 


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