RULES OF ENGAGEMENT:
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT turned up in an abbreviated run as a mid season replacement and proved to be an amusing little sitcom, one which greatly benefits from the presence of Patrick Warburton and David Spade. Warburton is the absolute master of deadpan comic delivery and RULES OF ENGAGEMENT really comes alive anytime he gets to deliver a Punchline in his inimitable style. As for Spade, he’s got that smarmy comic lechery down to a science and it is also a patented laugh getter.
The basic premise of RULES OF ENGAGEMENT focuses on three different stages of relationships, we have the old married couple represented by Jeff (Warburton) and Audrey (Megyn Price), young love in the form of the newly engaged Adam (Oliver Hudson) and Jennifer (Bianca Kajlich), and finally, the single lifestyle comes to us in womanizing horndog Russell (Spade). RULES OF ENGAGEMENT generates much of its comedy from the clashing worlds and clashing attitudes of the afore mentioned different stages of relationships.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($30) comes to DVD in a single disc set that features the following seven episodes that were aired in the show’s freshman year: Pilot, The Birthday Deal, Young And The Restless, Game On, Kids, Hard Day's Night and Jeff's Wooby. These first seven episodes show the series has promise, but I’d like to see more focus on Warburton’s character in future installments, as he is definitely the funniest thing in the series.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Not surprisingly, the episodes look better on DVD than they do on a typical SD network broadcast, but then again, not at good as HD. Image quality is very pleasing, with everything appearing sharp and well defined. Colors are attractive and are rendered a fully saturated level. Both the blacks and whites appear accurate; while contrast has the telltale signs of a flat sitcom lighting design. The picture appears clean and is free from overly noticeable compression artifacts.
All of the episodes that constitute RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON come with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The tracks do sound good and get the job done, but the mixes are pure sitcom. Everything is pretty much dialogue driven and center channel heavy. Channel separations remain fairly mild and seem relegated to the laugh track and music. Fidelity is Grade "A" Television Sitcom; in other words, the music sounds fairly lively and sound effects are never too thin. Dialogue is always easy to understand and the voices are warmly recorded. No other language tracks or subtitles have been included on the DVD.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Rules Of Engagement: From Table Reading To Taping offers a glimpse at a few scenes in their various production stages. Set Tour With Oliver Hudson is pretty self-explanatory, as are the Bloopers.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT is a sitcom with promise- more Warburton and Spade would be a good thing. Sony’s DVD collection looks and sounds pretty sweet. As there are only seven episodes, it makes for a good evening’s entertainment.
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