Finally, as of today, May 26, 2009, Designing Women has been released on DVD. Long delayed, the first season of this beloved Southern series, which ran on CBS from 1986-93, introduces us to the outspoken steel magnolia Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), her vapid beauty queen sister Suzanne (Delta Burke), single mom Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts) and the design firm's rambling and naive receptionist/accountant, Charlene Frasier (Jean Smart.) And then, a few episodes in, we meet ex-convict Anthony Bouvier (Meshach Taylor) and the slightly senile matron Bernice Clifton (the late Alice Ghostley), both of whom proving so popular as foils to the four sassy ladies that they ended up staying for the 7-year run of the series.
I have collected many series on DVD, and I usually watch the first few episodes of each before ultimately getting distracted. But Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's witty wordplay in Designing Women, a show I remember vividly from my high school days, is so addictive, Frank and I quickly saw this DVD box set through to the end.
What's amazing about this series is that quite a few of the classic moments you might remember from the show are right there in the first season. For example, the now-closed bar Revolver on West Hollywood's gay Santa Monica Blvd. strip used to show one classic speech of Julia's, where she defends her younger sister Suzanne's reputation as a beauty queen, so often that its patrons often would shout along. And from speaking to Delta Burke a few years back, I learned that this is the case in a few of the Atlanta bars as well; the ladies know it, and often joke about making a surreptitious outing down South to check it out for themselves.
In August, Shout Factory will release Designing Women's 2nd season -- it's great that unlike with some shows, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show for example, we won't have to wait forever to get more of the episodes we love.