The Golden Girls: The Complete Fourth Season

The fourth season of The Golden Girls encapsulates a time in American television that is not as far a deviation from today's standards as one might think. There are rampant jokes about a President named Bush (see The Daily Show), slews of guest stars attempting to mask fading show quality (see Will and Grace), and four single ladies dishing about sex in a certain city (see Everybody Loves Raymond). While it's questionable whether this was representative of television as a whole, or if The Golden Girls was simply ahead of its time, the latest DVD offering from Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sofia is a fun way to waste a few hours. This season was when The Golden Girls began its decent into what eventually become the early '90s disaster that was The Golden Palace (the spin-off sans Dorothy) — the writing is uneven, the plots are way over-the-top and the attempt at humour through the stereotypical characteristics of each of the characters (Rose is dumb, Blanche a slut, etc.) get repetitive. But you can't help but keep watching these old gals. The chemistry between the four actresses is unmatched even by Sarah Jessica Parker and company, and some of the one-liners (particularly those given by Estelle Getty's Sofia) are absolutely hysterical. Perhaps if viewed when it actually aired, it would be more difficult to see past their golden flaws. The one difference between The Golden Girls and television today is its saving grace in this regard. Instead of extravagant plots or extreme production costs, Golden Girls essentially relies on the basic idea of four women sitting around reminiscing about the past. In an age of one too many concept series or reality competitions, looking back on these funny old ladies feels almost refreshing. The only extra is a segment called "Top Ten Guest Stars of Season Four," which essentially rehashes material already accessible in the individual episodes, and is not particularly well edited. (Buena Vista)