Single-disc comedy collections are a hoot

Published: Friday, March 9 2012 3:52 p.m. MST

If you love vintage sitcoms but feel overwhelmed by full-season sets — much less, full-series sets — a new batch of single-disc collections are designed for you.

Essentially samplers of six classic shows, each has eight episodes that were selected as favorites via Facebook polls voted on by fans.

"Fan Favorites: The Best of The Honeymooners 'Classic 39' Episodes" (CBS/Paramount, 1955-56, b/w, $14.99). The title here serves to distinguish the filmed half-hour 39-episode sitcom from the many "Honeymooners" skits that were part of Jackie Gleason's variety shows and specials.

Actually, one could make a case that all 39 episodes are classics, but those selected here certainly are the cream of the crop as Gleason and Art Carney buy a TV, learn to play golf and go on a quiz show, among other shenanigans.

Extras: full frame, eight episodes

"Fan Favorites: The Best of The Odd Couple" (CBS/Paramount, 1970-74, b/w, $14.99). Fussbudget Felix (Tony Randall) moves in with sloppy Oscar (Jack Klugman) and comedy magic is born in this sitcom adaptation of the Neil Simon play (and movie). The "Password" spoof is a hoot.

Extras: full frame, eight episodes

"Fan Favorites: The Best of Cheers" (CBS/Paramount, 1982-92, b/w, $14.99). The pilot is here, along with "Simon Says," the riotous episode that has Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelley Long) getting some counseling from John Cleese. Those alone make it worth the money.

Extras: full frame, eight episodes

"Fan Favorites: The Best of Frasier" (CBS/Paramount, 1994-99, b/w, $14.99). The "Cheers" spinoff has episodes primarily about Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde Pierce), and their hapless love lives. But each member of the great supporting cast also has a chance to shine.

Extras: full frame, eight episodes

"Fan Favorites: The Best of Happy Days" (CBS/Paramount, 1974-75, b/w, $14.99). Fonzie (Henry Winkler) often stole the show, so it's no surprise that he is front and center in many of these selections.

Extras: full frame, eight episodes

"Fan Favorites: The Best of Hogan's Heroes" (CBS/Paramount, 1965-68, b/w, $14.99). OK, calling this one a "classic" may be a stretch, but if you take it for the silly World War II POW camp comedy it is, you'll enjoy some chuckles.

Extras: full frame, eight episodes

"Fan Favorites: The Best of MacGyver" (CBS/Paramount, 1987-89, b/w, $14.99). In addition to the half-hour sitcoms above, this hourlong comic adventure series, with the title character (Richard Dean Anderson) using everyday items to create weapons and escape devices, gets the same treatment.

Extras: full frame, five episodes

"Happily Divorced" (TV Land/Paramount, 2011, two discs, $21.99). Fran Drescher's sitcom follow-up to "The Nanny" is this sometimes amusing TV Land series, in which she plays a divorcee whose gay ex-husband lives with her. A 21st century look at navigating the middle-aged dating pool. If you're a fan of Drescher's braying laugh, this one's for you.

Extras: widescreen, 10 episodes, director's cut of first episode, featurettes

"Above Suspicion: Set 1" (Acorn, 2009-10, two discs, $39.99). From the writer of "Prime Suspect" comes this series about a female rookie (Kelly Reilly) who doesn't make the best first impression when she starts her job as a homicide detective but eventually proves her mettle to her boss (Ciaran Hinds). Includes the pilot movie and first sequel, "The Red Dahlia." Not up to "Prime Suspect" but pretty good. Also edgy and gruesome.

Extras: widescreen, five episodes, featurettes, photo galleries

"Tom and Jerry in the Doghouse" (Warner, 1944-2008, $19.97). A mix of Tom & Jerry vintage cartoons from the 1940s and '50s, and those from the recent "Tom & Jerry Tales" TV series. Obviously, the former are best, and well worth the price for casual fans.

Extras: full frame, 22 cartoons

"Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2" (Universal, 2012, $19.98). Animated Barbie sequel has the toy … um, the doll … er, the character, heading to Australia for a surfing competition, facing off with an evil mermaid.

Extras: widescreen, outtakes, music video, "Polly Pocket": "Best Day Ever," trailers

EMAIL: hicks@desnews.com

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