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Two Guys and a Girl: The Complete Series (DVD Review)

17 Jun, 2016 By: John Latchem

Street 6/28/16
Shout! Factory
$79.97 DVD 11-disc set
Not rated
Stars Traylor Howard, Ryan Reynolds, Richard Ruccolo, Nathan Fillion, Suzanne Cryer, Jillian Bach, Jennifer Westfeldt, Julius Carry, David Ogden Stiers, Giuseppe Andrews.

“Two Guys and a Girl” is like the TV equivalent of an asteroid smashing into the Earth. It may veer out of control for a while, you’re going to notice it and it’s going to make a splash, but it may be more significant for the life it seeds in its wake.

When it started on ABC in 1998, the show was known as “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” a focused on college buddies Sharon (Traylor Howard), Pete (Richard Ruccolo) and Berg (Ryan Reynolds) living in the same apartment building and trying to make it in the world after college, with Pete and Berg in graduate school and working at the pizza place. A pretty basic “Friends” wannabe, the first season dealt mostly with Berg’s eccentricities as a student and Pete trying to figure out his relationship with his girlfriend, Melissa (Jennifer Westfeldt). To force-feed some quirk into the show, producers added a bizarre customer (David Ogden Stiers) who hung around the restaurant all the time, recounting old movie plots as if they were life lessons he had personally experienced.

Stiers was game for the role, but the character (who actually performs a successful Jedi mind trick in one episode) reeked of such lazy writing that every time he appears he saps whatever energy the episode might have.

Luckily, producers took stock of their assets for season two and retooled a little, ditching Stiers, the girlfriend and the boys’ boss, and turning the show into more of a romantic comedy centered on Reynolds (as if they could tell he was going to be a superstar or something). And for the future Deadpool and his pals to play off of, the show brought in Nathan Fillion as Johnny, a love interest for Sharon, and Suzanne Cryer as Ashley, a foil/love interest for Berg as they competed at medical school. Pete was essentially turned into a lovelorn slacker bouncing from job to job.

By season three the show dropped the pizza place and settled into a comfortable blend of “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” with most of the action set in the apartment building where most of the characters take turns sleeping with each other while becoming more pathetic to the outside world.

Alas, by the end of season four the show really started to wear out its welcome before finally bowing out with an episode that let the audience vote online for one of four endings (all of which are shown anyway).

What’s fascinating to watch about the show is how much it feels like a time capsule of a bygone era, even though it’s literally just 15 years ago, which definitely goes to show how much of an exponential leap has been made since just the turn of the century. It’s a bit bizarre to look back at just the late 1990s as a time when cell phones were a luxury, and characters still used landlines, answering machines and VHS. Aside from a few offhand remarks, one could almost get through the show thinking the Internet wasn’t a thing yet.

Also keep an eye out for cameos by Barenaked Ladies and Blink-182, and a “Drew Carey Show” Halloween crossover, plus some notable guest stars, such as Bo Derek as Berg's mom.

The show is consistently charming, if not always insightful. But any show that unleashes both Ryan Reynolds and Nathan Fillion upon the pop culture world has got to be culturally significant for something.

Fillion had been coming off a brief appearance in Saving Private Ryan as the wrong Pvt. Ryan the squad finds at beginning before they really take off to find Matt Damon. It’s such a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it deal that the only way you notice him is watching years later after marathons of “Firefly” and “Castle” and exclaiming, “Hey! It’s Nathan Fillion!”

Suzanne Cryer, previously notable as George’s girlfriend in the famous “Yada, Yada” episode of “Seinfeld,” is now enjoying a stint on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” as the head of a venture capital firm investing in tech apps.

Howard will be recognizable to Norm Macdonald fans as his girlfriend in the 1998 cult comedy Dirty Work. She later had a lengthy run on USA Network’s “Monk.” 

Ruccolo, who could bears an uncanny resemblance to the younger version of a Bryan Cranston character, spent several years afterward bouncing around parts on various shows such as “Joey” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

The “Two Guys and a Girl” DVDs don’t include any bonus materials, which is a shame because a featurette looking back on some of the talent that burst from this show would have been a welcome addition.

The episodes are presented in airdate order, which might cause some confusion since ABC originally aired a chunk out of the intended order, particularly in season one, which can make the show feel very disjointed. This is just one of those things that happens in the industry, as the episodes are pressed onto the disc according to the air order just for simplicity, when it might offer a bit more value to the fans to arrange them in the order they were supposed to air (curious fans should look up an episode guide on the Internet and watch the first season via production order).

In a time in which many TV discs are little more than an afterthought, it’s usually only the shows where the creators maintain hands-on interest, such as the shows from Joss Whedon. However, even with an admirable degree of due diligence, things will fall through the cracks, such as the recent Mill Creek “Married … With Children” restored release that still couldn’t present the “It’s a Bundyful Life” two-parter as the single hour-long episode it was when it originally aired, just because they dug up some studio memo from when the episodes were shot that indicated it carried two different production codes (and if anyone still thinks it wasn’t originally an hour-long episode, I have the VHS of the initial airing, with the original commercials, to prove it).

Of course, the bottom line is, be it “Married … With Children” or “Two Guys and a Girl,” we can at least be grateful the show is available on home video at all.

About the Author: John Latchem

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