Release Date: October 23, 2012 (Warner Archive Collection)
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 600 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
Alice, Flo, Vera, Mel, and Tommy are back in Alice - The Complete Second Season! Following up on Warner Archive's successful release of the first season this past summer, we now have the sophomore season of the series about a widowed mother and musician trying to make the best of her life as a waitress in Arizona. Based upon the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, the series ran for an amazing nine season run on CBS. This three disc set from Warner Archive brings all 24 episodes of the 1977-1978 season of the series to DVD for the very first time.
Before we go into details on the episodes, you'll notice something strange about the episode count. The set contains 24 episodes… but there were only 22 episodes aired during the second season. So where do the two extra episodes come from? Well, two of the episodes produced for the second season ("The Reporter" and "The Bus") did not air during the second season. In fact, they were held over until the fourth season. But this set includes those episodes, along with a disclaimer at the beginning of the episodes explaining that they didn't actually air in the second season… but were being included for the purposes of historical production context. I kind of like that they did include this, but I also hope to see them included again when the fourth season ultimately is released. You'll also notice that these episodes have the fourth season opening theme and credits, along with the later "used to be sad, used to be shy" variation of the opening credits.
A special visitor shows up for Flo at the Diner in "The Second Time 'Round," and it just happens to be her third husband. An Indian claims that Mel's Diner is on sacred Indian ground in "The Indian Taker." There is a new waiter at Mel's in "86 the Waitresses," and things don't go over so well when it turns out he is making more than the ladies are making. Morey Amsterdam guest stars in "Alice by Moonlight," where Alice takes a night job of singing in a nightclub. The ladies stop by a singles bar in "Single Belles." In "The Sixty Minutes Man," one of the customers at the diner may be famous for ways that the ladies wouldn't prefer. Mel becomes a temporary houseguest at Alice's apartment after a back injury in "That Old Back Magic." Romance is blooming at the diner between two unexpected people in "Love is Sweeping the Counter."
A Christmas trip doesn't go so smoothly for the gang in "A Semi-Merry Christmas." In "Oh, George Burns!," the iconic actor stops by Mel's for a meal, but Vera is convinced that he is actually God! Flo needs glasses in "The Eyes of Texas." In "Love is a Free Throw," somebody has a crush on Alice… but he also happens to be in high school. Everybody is getting on everybody else's nerves in "Close Encounters of the Worst Kind." In "The Pharmacist," Mel's Diner becomes a target of a protest. Alice has a date with Flo's brother in "Love Me, Love My Horse." In "Florence of Arabia," an Arab sheik is interested in Flo as his fourth wife!
Desi Arnaz guest stars in "The Cuban Connection," where he plays a guy having some marital difficulties. Mel faces his 50th birthday in "Mel's Big Five-O." In "Don't Lock Now," there happens to be a thief at the diner. Nedra Volz guest stars. Jerry Reed guest stars in "The Star in the Storeroom," where everybody wants tickets to Jerry Reed's concert, and Flo has connections. Staffing cuts may be coming to the diner in "Mel's Recession." In "Earthquake," everybody is on edge after an Indian predicts an earthquake in Phoenix. The next two episodes in the set, as we mentioned, didn't actually air in the second season. These are "The Reporter" and "The Bus." An investigative reporter seeks refuge at the diner in "The Reporter." In "The Bus," the diner has to deal with a sudden bus load of customers.
The episodes have varying runtimes, but all are around 25 minutes. Exact runtimes are as follows:
1. "The Second Time 'Round" (25:23)
2. "The Indian Taker" (25:21)
3. "86 the Waitress" (25:21)
4. "Alice by Moonlight" (25:26)
5. "Single Bells" (25:33)
6. "Sixty Minutes Man" (25:29)
7. "That Old Back Magic" (25:28)
8. "Love is Sweeping the Counter" (25:32)
9. "A Semi-Merry Christmas" (24:45)
10. "Oh, George Burns!" (25:12)
11. "The Eyes of Texas" (25:19)
12. "Love is a Free Throw" (25:04)
13. "Close Encounters of the Worst Kind" (25:31)
14. "The Pharmacist" (25:31)
15. "Love Me, Love My Horse" (24:59)
16. "Florence of Arabia" (25:33)
17. "The Cuban Connection" (25:31)
18. "Mel's Big Five-O" (25:31)
19. "Don't Lock Now" (25:34)
20. "Star in the Storeroom" (25:33)
21. "Mel's Recession" (25:19)
22. "The Earthquake" (25:17)
23. "The Reporter" (24:51)
24. "The Bus" (25:45)
The packaging on the set is very nicely designed, and consistent with the previous release. On the cover, we have a cast photo, with the series logo in pink this time. There is a large photo of Mel on the back, along with a few episode snapshots and a brief description of the series. Inside the case, there are three discs, each which is designed to look like a dinner plate. The series logo, along with a listing of the episodes, is printed on each disc. With 24 episodes on the set, there are eight episodes on each disc. It is very nice that they included the episode titles on the disc this time, as these were left off on the first season. And, in case anybody was wondering, this first batch of DVDs is being made on pressed DVDs, not DVD-Rs… but we don't know how long that will last.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus on this set are really identical to season one, with only one menu (the main menu). The main menu is designed like a diner "Guest Check," with all of the episodes listed on the check. There is also a Play All option on here. The main menu also has the same photo seen on the cover art. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. There are chapters placed where all of the commercial breaks should be in each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
If there is any downside of these DVD sets at all, it is the one unavoidable fact: this is a late '70s TV series shot on videotape. As a result, the video quality on this series is less than stellar, but it is sufficient, and for the most part, it looks about as good as it has looked in reruns. Some of the episodes look a bit dark, and there are a few video defects in some of the episodes. Oddly enough, these seemed to be even more pronounced on the ones that were held over until the fourth season. But I don't consider any of these issues to be major detractors. The audio is a bit dull, as it is a standard mono track, but it really isn't terrible. Like most of these Warner Archive releases, there are no closed-captions or subtitles.
The set is completely without any special features, and as a Warner Archive release, I wouldn't expect any on any future releases. It would be nice to see some cast interviews, considering that most of the cast is still alive, but I wouldn't expect to ever see anything like that on any Archive set.
This is another great season of a great series! I do have to say that I honestly did like the first season a little better personally (mostly because it had some better stories), but this is another great season of episodes. I think it is safe to say that all of the seasons that included Polly Holliday's character of Flo were favorites of fans, and this being one of those makes it an excellent season. It was also fun seeing some of the guest stars in this season, particularly the appearances of Desi Arnaz in what turned out to be his last appearance ever in primetime television, as well as George Burns who was making his comeback as the "funny old guy" after a bit of a hiatus during this time. I'm hoping that we'll eventually get all nine seasons of the series, but at the very least, it is great to see that we have seen the first two seasons in just a matter of a few short months.