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Ellen: The Complete Season Four includes a significant moment in television history: the first time the central character in a situation comedy stepped out of the closet and announced she was gay. The widely-seen "The Puppy Episode Part 1" and "Part 2," closely followed by "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," were among the final episodes that season. All dealt movingly and comically with the anxiety Ellen Morgan (Ellen DeGeneres) experiences as she tells her friends, parents, and the world she is gay, a distress quickly washed away by relief. Helping celebrate the event are a number of famous faces in co-starring or cameo roles, including Oprah Winfrey as Ellenís therapist, Laura Dern as a gay woman who helps Ellen come to terms with the truth, Billy Bob Thornton as a grocery clerk in a nutty dream, Bonnie Raitt, k.d. laing, Gina Gershon and others. Part of the fun of watching the 25 episodes on The Complete Season Four are discovering little signs along the way that DeGeneres is planning something big, including a sight gag where Ellen literally steps out of a closet. But there are other tumultuous (yet funny) storylines unfolding in Season Four, including Ellenís agonizing decision to sell her bookstore in order to raise money to buy a house. Ellen remains as manager, working for an executive (Bruce Campbell) who takes over her office with hunting trophies and a desire to cut dead weightónamely Joe (David Anthony Higgins), the attitude-impaired clerk whom Ellen considers a friend. Meanwhile, cousin Spence (Jeremy Piven) navigates a competitive medical residency while romancing Paige (Joely Fisher), and squeaky-voiced Audrey (Clea Lewis) becomes infatuated with a deaf actor who is more attracted to Ellen. Between these big strokes, however, is an endless stream of DeGeneresí hilarious takes on the simplest things: brushing teeth, waiting to get to the bathroom, drinking too much at a wine-tasting party. An heir to Lucille Ball, DeGeneres is also enough of an actress to convey real angst and sorrow when Ellenís parents announce a breakup, or when hopes for love fall through. One gets it all here: great comedy and emotional truth.

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Special Features * 25 episodes on three discs * Writer's commentary on the two-part episode in which Ellen comes out * Cast biographies

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AAE75831 Ellen Season 4 DVD (1997/Ellen DeGeneres) $19.95 $17.99