Saturday, April 24, 2010

Digital Digest: DVD Reviews of The Unusuals - The Complete Series; I Love Lucy - The Movie; Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1

We have a busy week this week for Digital Digest, with more news about your favorite shows on home media, a look at the releases coming out this week, and (for the first time ever) THREE DVD reviews! We'll be looking at The Unusuals - The Complete Series, I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities, and Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1. So we'll forgo a lengthy introduction this week to get you into this version of Digital Digest!

DIGITAL NEWS

We've been reporting on a lot of current series being released on DVD lately, as it is pretty common to hear a lot about these releases this time of year. This week, we have word, thanks to a pre-order link on Amazon.com, that the CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose - The First Season is slated for a DVD release with an unknown date at a $41.99 MSRP. Of course, the future of that series is still up in the air as of right now, so that title could be changed to The Complete Series... we'll have to wait and see on that.

Even more strange, though, is the announcement of upcoming and not-yet-aired seasons of two cable series. The Boondocks - The Complete Third Season ($49.95 MSRP) and My Boys - The Complete Fourth Season ($39.95 MSRP), neither of which has aired yet, are already available for pre-order on Amazon.com, also with an undetermined release date. Of course, since these details are all very sparse right now, we will definitely update you when we actually do know something. Obviously, the studios are already thinking about home media before a season even gets a chance to air these days, which is definitely a positive since it ensures that everything is preserved for the DVDs.

The highly anticipated release of The Lucy Show - The Official Second Season isn't too far away, with a scheduled release date of July 13. The cover art gives us a brief glimpse into the special features on the set, including cast commercials, newly recorded interviews, and (as it says) "much more." Given the special features on The Lucy Show - The Official First Season, I'm willing to bet that much more will mean exactly what it sounds like, with emphasis on "much." But before that comes out, don't forget that Here's Lucy - Season Three (which will similarly be loaded with special features) is headed to stores on June 15 and I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities which comes out on Tuesday!

We already reported a few weeks ago the upcoming releases of Adam-12 - Season Five and The Patty Duke Show - The Complete Third Season from Shout! Factory, but now we have release dates for both of them! Expect Adam-12 on August 10 and The Patty Duke Show on August 24. Not many details have emerged about these releases yet, but of course, we'll have them as soon as we possibly can. My best guess would be that they will contain few (if any) special features, but you never know what they'll throw in.

Andy Griffith is back for another season of the great 80's legal drama Matlock with Matlock - The Fifth Season on July 20! It comes at a $49.99 MSRP. And while we are talking about legal dramas, we already have a follow up on the very recent release of Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season (see our review from last week), as Ally McBeal - The Complete Third Season is already scheduled for July 13. Of course, if you just can't wait for season 3 (or 4 or 5), you can always pick up Ally McBeal - The Complete Series, which has been available since October!

Mill Creek Entertainment is up to their usual trickery again with placing unannounced titles in stores, and once again, something that hasn't been announced is already showing up at Target! Target recently started stocking in some (though not all) stores a 21 Jump Street two season pack that includes both seasons 3 and 4, which is odd, because 21 Jump Street - The Complete Second Season hasn't even officially had a general retail release (although it, too, can be purchased at Target in a two season pack with 21 Jump Street - The Complete First Season). The best part is that it is only $14.99 for the two season pack at Target! In trying to find answers, though, I found something even more interesting on the homepage of Mill Creek Entertainment. There is a graphic that advertises a contest that Mill Creek Entertainment is currently having, and in the picture, it can be very clearly seen that there is a package depicting 21 Jump Street - The Complete Series! We can only assume it'll be coming, but the question is when. Of course, Anchor Bay Entertainment has previously released all five seasons of 21 Jump Street, but Mill Creek's offerings bring practically the same thing at pennies on the dollar!

Finally, the series Jersey Shore... no, forget it, I'm not even going to talk about it. We'll never sink this low on Digital Digest!


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Next week (April 27) brings us a couple of repeats (DVDs that have already been released as part of larger collections), including I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities and It's Garry Shandling's Show - The Complete First Season. Fans of these series will probably already own the aforementioned sets as part of the larger sets, but they may appeal to some viewers. As we already mentioned, we have a review of I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities today in Digital Digest. Additionally, we have two Lifetime sitcoms coming, including Sherri - The Complete Season One and Rita Rocks - The Complete Season One. Look for reviews on those coming up on our regular review page soon.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

Last season, ABC brought to American viewers the comedy-drama The Unusuals, which stared Amber Tamblyn as a detective who was transferred from New York City's vice-squad to the homicide unit for one reason: to clean up the corruption that exists within. The series made it through 10 episodes, but was not renewed for a second season. It is now available as an amazon.com exclusive, in The Unusuals - The Complete Series.

DVD Review: The Unusuals - The Complete Series
by Pavan

The Unusuals - The Complete Series (Sony, $29.95) is now on DVD with all 10 episodes from its short run. The series premiered in April 2009 on ABC and went into the summer season, but the ratings were not too good and the series was not renewed, unfortunately. The series is a quirky procedural with a nice mix of comedy and drama and deals with the unusual cases department. The series is created by Noah Hawley. In the series, Detective Casey Shraeger (Amber Tamblyn) has just been transferred to the NYPD's Homicide unit from Vice and is instantly thrown into a setting of bullets and bodies. As she begins her new assignment, Casey finds that the squad is full of secrets, which serves her well, since she's keeping a few of her own. She meets her new partner, Jason Walsh (Jeremy Renner), whose last partner, Detective Burt Kowalski, was just murdered. Tasked with tracking down the murderer, Walsh races off to investigate Kowalski's past, with Shraeger trailing behind.

As the duo seeks out the cop killer, the secrets and eccentricities of the rest of the department begin to emerge: Prank-magnet and social climber Detective Eddie Alvarez (Kai Lennox) has no qualms about stealing cases, as long as he can turn them into front-page stories that make him look good; Detective Eric Delahoy (Adam Goldberg) is trying to get himself killed in the line of duty for reasons known only to him and his doctor; his partner, Leo Banks (Harold Perrineau), is convinced he is going to die and refuses to take off his bulletproof vest; and the very religious Detective Henry Cole (Josh Close) is trying to keep his unholy past from both his streetwise partner, Alison Beaumont (Monique Gabriela Curnen), and from his boss, Sgt. Brown (Terry Kinney), who is struggling to rid the Second Precinct of corruption.

As for the episodes, there are only ten of them. Each should be watched in order, but you really don't have to as they are not too connected with each other. The series opens with the "Pilot," as Det. Shraeger is quickly moved to homicide to help investigate the murder of a fellow officer and finds out if he was crooked or not and Casey begins to find out some interesting facts about her new co-workers. In the very next episode "Boorland Day," one of New York's oldest family of criminals, the Boorlands, go on a crime spree that has the detectives running all over the city, but when Walsh and Shraeger learn the surprising reason behind the family's cluster of crimes, they use this information to negotiate its end; meanwhile, Sergeant Brown tells Shraeger that Walsh's former partner, Kowalski, was a dirty cop and asks her to dig into Walsh's past and Cole's efforts to keep his criminal past a secret are threatened by the arrival of Frank Lutz, Cole's former partner in crime. In "42," Banks continues to be haunted by the number 42 while he and Delahoy investigate a string of bus robberies -- one passenger, a clairvoyant, tries to help them catch the robber with her predictions, causing Banks to question whether fate can be stopped. In "The Dentist," while Sergeant Brown is away, Alvarez is in charge, and things aren't going well -- a U.S. Marshall named Foster convinces Alvarez to release Bo Keebler, a man recently collared for trying to rob a Chinese restaurant, into his custody, while Banks decides to stay in his apartment until he turns 43 in order to avoid getting killed. In the finale, "E.I.D.", Beaumont and Cole interview a couple regarding a break-in at their home, although nothing was taken, the couple discovered that an adult film they rented was shot in their apartment, meanwhile Scraeger becomes emotionally invested in trying to help a serial accuser who was the victim of a violent attack 10 years ago after disappearing from a big prep school party.

The episodes are unedited at just over 43 minutes and have all the original music, of course since this series is basically new. This DVD set is ONLY available on Amazon.com as an Amazon Exclusive. Here are all of the episode titles with runtimes included:

Disc 1:
1. "Pilot" (43:15)
2. "Boorland Day" (43:12)
3. "One Man Band" (43:14)
4. "Crime Slut" (43:14)
5. "42" (43:14)

Disc 2:
6. "The Circle Line" (43:13)
7. "The Tape Delay" (43:12)
8. "The Dentist" (43:11)
9. "The Apology Line" (43:11)
10. "E.I.D." (43:11)

Moving on to the packaging, since this is an Amazon.com Exclusive, the packaging is pretty basic. It is a movie style case, with a shot of Shraeger and Walsh on the cover with NYC in the background. Walsh is holding a gun. The show logo and the two main stars' names (Tamblyn and Renner) are on the top. On the bottom the tagline, "Not your usual cases. Not your usual cops" is printed. The back of the case has a quote from People Magazine, another cool shot of Walsh and Shraeger, some episodic photos, and some info on the series and set. Inside the case, we have the two discs on each panel itself. There is no artwork on the disc, it is plain with the show logo and disc number. The inside of the case has no artwork either, but we do have a nice episode leaflet that has episode titles, synopsis, and credits for each episode.

The menus on the set are pretty basic, too, but the artwork is good. The main menu is blue in color with a NYC background. On disc one we have a shot of Shraeger on the main menu and on disc two it is Walsh. There is no music playing in the background, unfortunately. Menu options are: Play All, Episode Selections, Subtitles, and On the Set with The Unusuals. The latter is only on disc one, as it is a special feature. Disc two only has a Previews option, showcasing other Sony products on Blu-ray and stuff like Rescue Me, The Shield, and Damages. The Episode Selections menu has episode number, title, and a screenshot from the episode, while the Subtitles menu has us in English SDH only. There are about 7 chapter stops per episode and they are all at the appropriate places.

The video and audio on the set looks really good, as they should be. The video is available in a nice widescreen, and if your DVD player upconverts to HD, it looks like it is in Blu-ray. The audio is also very good and is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. This set is from material from 2009, so it is only a year old and of course it is very well presented here in both video and audio. I don't see any closed-captioning mention, but there are subtitles in English SDH.

Since this is an Amazon.com Exclusive, I wasn't expecting ANY bonus features...but we do have one! It is a featurette titled "On Set with The Unusuals." It runs 5:20 and we basically get a taste of the show and characters. Interviewed are Robert DeLaurentis (executive producer), Noah Hawley (executive producer/creator), Amber Tamblyn, Jeremy Renner, Peter Tolan (executive producer), Kai Lennox, Monique Curnen, and Joshua Close. I wish we had some more, like deleted scenes, but I'm just glad we got SOMETHING!

This is a decent set and if you have never watched the show, you should watch it. It is only 10 episodes and you'll be done fairly quickly. If you were a fan of the show, then you certainly need to buy it. It is too bad the show was canceled, because it was the perfect procedural. I don't like many of those shows, but this was different and not your usual procedural. Noah Hawley has another ABC pilot in the works (titled Generation Y) and I hope it makes it on air. He has good taste and I hope America tunes in if that series makes it on air. As for this set, it is good. You can only buy it on Amazon (see the link below). It has all of the episodes presented well and a nice featurette. So, get ready to watch some unusual cases and unusual cops in action! It is fun!

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
The Unusuals on TV.com


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

After the first season of I Love Lucy on CBS, Desilu decided to create a theatrical movie based upon the series. Of course, at that time, reruns were less common, so they decided to take the easy route of taking three episodes of the series together and add footage to link them together. The movie ended up not being released (to avoid competition with the film The Long, Long Trailer) and was never seen until nearly a half century later. It was eventually released on DVD as part of I Love Lucy - The Complete Series, but now it is available as a stand-alone disc with bonus features in I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities.

DVD Review: I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities
by skees53

I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities
(CBS DVD, $19.99) presents the entire full-length feature film based upon the classic that was shelved for over 50 years, along with some nice special features. In 1953, Desilu edited together a film that linked three episodes: "The Benefit," "Breaking the Lease," and "The Ballet." The film starts with moviegoers going into a theater where Desi Arnaz (as himself) "premieres" the film for the audience, and even has the audience members showing their excitement for the film--in a sense, breaking the fourth wall. Once Desi is able to introduce the film, it starts playing on the big screen and goes in to the episodes that we are all familiar with from the first season. If you've seen the episodes, the movie honestly isn't all that much, as it just presents them in a connect storyline (which really isn't all that connected anyway). The movie runs at 1 hour, 26 minutes.

There is obviously much more to this, though. There are many very nice "rarities" on this DVD, beginning with the episode of the series, "Lucy Goes to Scotland" (26:27). But there is something unique about this episode this time. It is actually presented in full color! It is the only episode of the series that has been fully colorized, and it looks unbelievably great in color, especially since the episode uses very vivid imagery and costumes that almost necessitate color. Black and white purists, of course, will never like any colorization, but this one looks really good.

We also get to see Lucy and Desi's first joint TV appearance, from The Ed Wynn Show in 1949. It only runs about 3 minutes, so there isn't really a whole lot to see here. Next, there is a clip from the 1954 Emmy Awards--the Sixth Annual--where the series wins an Emmy and Desi Arnaz pays tribute to William Frawley, who was upset about being snubbed for Best Supporting Actor (an award that Art Carney ends up taking home). Finally, we have an On-Set Commercial from the series premiere from Philip Morris (2:17), which is basically an extended cigarette advertisement from the Ricardo living room. You'd never see anything like that on TV today!

The DVD comes packaged in a regular DVD case with a color photo of Lucy and Desi on the front, standing in front of a movie marquee. Inside, we find the disc (which has no artwork, like almost everything else from CBS DVD). The menus on the DVD are very basic, with every option being presented on the main menu (along with an option to turn on Spanish subtitles). Additionally, there are production notes on the sub-menu for just about every one of the features.

The video quality on most of the features is excellent, especially on the movie and the episode "Lucy Goes to Scotland." It is amazing how well this series has been preserved over the years, but especially the movie footage, which hasn't been seen in decades. The Emmy footage and the first joint TV appearance both come from kinescopes, so they are a little rough, but viewable. The audio is fine on all of the features, presented in mono, and close-captioning as well as Spanish subtitles are available.

All in all, this is a great DVD, but I'm not sure who it is really great for. If you are a devoted fan, you'd want to get The Complete Series, which includes this exact same DVD (everything on it is the same except the label art) and every episode of the series. If you aren't such a big fan of the series, then the season sets would suffice, as this really only provides a few minutes of footage that can't be found elsewhere. I guess the best person that this DVD would be for is those who own the season sets and just want to add this disc without repurchasing the whole series. That isn't to say that this is a bad DVD, and it is great that CBS DVD put it out, but it would have been better had they released it at the same time as The Complete Series set. No matter how much you love Lucy, this DVD may not be necessary.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
I Love Lucy on TV.com


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

Legal dramas are a major genre of television, and many of the top-rated and most watched series all throughout history have been legal dramas. But before all of the rest came along, there was one guy who had the first truly successful TV legal drama, who managed to win every single case no matter what: Perry Mason. Here is our review for CBS DVD's latest installment of the series, Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1.

DVD Review: Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1
by skees53


Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1
(CBS DVD, $19.99) brings justice the wrongfully accused once again in fifteen episodes of the classic courtroom drama. The series was the pioneer for all legal television dramas and set the tone for decades of courtroom dramas. But Perry Mason was a little different from the courtroom dramas today, most of which portray the prosecutor as the "good guy" who is given a blatantly obvious case of guilt for the defendant and is trying to push a jury for the harshest possible outcome. Perry Mason was a defense attorney who took these "blatantly obvious" cases and successfully managed to defend his client's innocence, and he won every single time (although there was one infamous episode where he actually lost).

The fifth season begins with "The Case of the Jealous Journalist," where a drowning death of a prominent newspaper editor leads to a string of consequences as heirs fight to take control of the paper... and you know one of those consequences will be another death. Jealousy and blackmail turns a lovely wedding into a murder in "The Case of the Missing Melody." A violent storm at sea forces a ship to have to toss the freight in "The Case of the Malicious Mariner," but as it turns out, the captain gets killed too in the process. In "The Case of the Crying Comedian," a man discovers a former love of his has escaped from a sanitarium, and also that her husband is dead... but he knows she couldn't be to blame, so what can be done? The paranormal must be used to solve a murder in "The Case of the Meddling Medium."
In "The Case of the Posthumous Painter," an artist fakes his own death in order to see the values on his paintings rise, but forgets to tell his wife of his plan leading to real trouble for her when she finds out and he ends up murdered. A health club owner is killed with a dumbbell in "The Case of the Left-Handed Liar," and one of his own employees is accused. In "The Case of the Renegade Refuge," a journalist is murdered while trying to hunt down a Nazi war criminal in the United States. A millionaire bribes his daughter-in-law when he thinks she is responsible for his son's shortcomings, but when the son ends up dead, she is charged with murder in "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride."

Each episode is unedited, it appears, and there aren't even any of the usual CBS DVD disclaimers, which is a very positive sign. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "The Case of the Jealous Journalist" (51:49)
2. "The Case of the Impatient Partner" (52:00)
3. "The Case of the Missing Melody" (50:51)
4. "The Case of the Malicious Mariner" (50:46)

Disc 2:
5. "The Case of the Crying Comedian" (50:49)
6. "The Case of the Meddling Medium" (50:47)
7. "The Case of the Pathetic Patient" (50:47)
8. "The Case of the Traveling Treasure" (50:51)

Disc 3:
9. "The Case of the Posthumous Painter" (50:55)
10. "The Case of the Injured Innocent" (50:50)
11. "The Case of the Left-Handed Liar" (50:53)
12. "The Case of the Brazen Bequest" (50:53)

Disc 4:
13. "The Case of the Renegade Refugee" (50:47)
14. "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride" (50:49)
15. "The Case of the Roving River" (50:46)

Once again, the packaging is just a standard Viva pack (as is common with all CBS DVD products now), with a photo of Perry Mason on the front and some black-and-white still photos on the back. Inside the case, we find episode descriptions and original airdates for each episode on the set. There is no disc artwork at all aside from the series logo on a gray background. There are four discs, with four episodes on the first three discs and three episodes on the fourth disc.

As has been the case with previous releases, the video and audio quality is spectacular. Who could have imagined a series this old looking almost flawless on DVD? There is still some occasional grain and debris, but these episodes mostly look great. The audio is fine too, presented in mono. Each episode is closed-captioned.

There are no special features once again, and it appears that CBS DVD has no intention of including any on this series (aside from the 50th anniversary release a few years back). It is a shame, really.

This is a great set of episodes, but this is the ninth release of the series and CBS DVD only halfway finished with it, mostly because of the half season release model. If they had released it as full seasons, the series would be done now. Still, this poor business practice that CBS DVD engages in doesn't devalue this set at all. It is a great set with great episodes, but I would still like to have the rest of the season in this set. With strong sales on this series (strange, but true, this is actually a top-seller on DVD, presumably due to those in the legal profession who see Mason as an idol), I'm sure we'll see the remaining episodes soon, and perhaps it'll all be remedied with a giant 80 disc complete series set or something along those lines.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Perry Mason on TV.com


LOOKING AHEAD

We'll be back next week with more news and a review of Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One and a review of MPI's upcoming Honeymooners DVDs. We will be doing a lot of reviews in Digital Digest for the next few weeks, as there are a lot of DVDs to review in our backlog, but in a few weeks, we will return with some feature articles! If there is anything that you would like to see us cover, tell us on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us. We don't know what you want out of this feature unless you tell us, and we want to make it a very enjoyable blog feature! Until next time, keep it digital!

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Digital Digest: Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season; DVD Packaging Changes on Older Releases

It's time for Digital Digest, your weekly roundup of news, reviews, and more about TV on DVD! Luckily, we don't have any bad news to report this week, a refreshing change from last week! We have news about newly announced series on DVD, a major update (with excellent news) about Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series, an update about Big John, Little John on DVD (a slight bit of good news to counteract last week's announcement of a delay), and a preview of next week's home media releases. Plus, we have a review of Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season and we're going to take a look at packaging on some of our favorite DVDs, specifically how some DVDs released several years ago are now being repressed with new (and often lower quality) packaging. So enough with the introductions... let's get going!

DIGITAL NEWS

We are finally getting some details in on Shout! Factory's upcoming release of Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (June 29), and one thing is for sure: it is going to be one of the most amazing DVD releases ever. Some of the features announced include:
  • Never-before-seen footage of the cast, as shot by the cast, including Barbara Billingsley, Tony Dow, and Jerry Mathers.
  • Six radio episodes of Stu's Show from Shokus Internet Radio featuring the cast of the series.
  • Featurette focusing on Ken Osmond and Frank Bank.
  • Original promos from the series.
  • Original pilot from the series.
  • Savings bond promo film from the United States Treasury featuring Leave it to Beaver.
  • Physical recreation of the Leave it to Beaver board game, manufactured by Hasbro in the 1950s.
Wow! That is simply an amazing list of special features, particularly that physical recreation of the board game! Aside from the radio interviews from Stu's Show, all of these special features will only be available on the Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series set (they will not be on the individual season sets). The pilot episode of the series was previously released as part of Universal's Leave it to Beaver - The Complete First Season, but this new release appears to be much more worthwhile. It comes at a $199.98 MSRP, which sounds expensive, but in actuality is less than $34 a season, and of course lower prices can be found. You can buy this excellent set now on Amazon.com!

We still have more news from Shout! Factory, though! Special features have been announced for the May 4 release of The Facts of Life - The Complete Fourth Season. It isn't a long list, but both are very nice, and include the movie The Facts of Life Goes to Paris and an interactive trivia game. It comes at a $39.97 MSRP. Also, some details have emerged about the June 29 release of Mad About You - The Complete Fourth Season, specifically in regard to special features. It will contain episode introductions on "select episodes" from Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. Hopefully we'll have more details and be able to follow up on that in the future.

Last week, we reported that Virgil Film's release of the series Big John, Little John had been delayed on DVD, and that a new date had not been announced yet. That has not changed. But, we have found out, thanks to a member of our message boards, that the entire series has been released on a legitimate DVD release (not a bootleg) in Australia, and that it has been released in a region-free format! Your best bet is to just wait for Virgil Film's release (it should come eventually), but if you just can't wait to see the series, you can order it now, directly on Amazon.com.

There have been several--at least a dozen--reports of various current network and cable series coming to DVD soon in the past week. After all, DVDs are typically announced about 3 to 4 months in advance, and most of the studios want their product on the shelves just in time for the new season to kick off. We won't even discuss all of them, because there are just way too many of them and most are beyond the general scope of our website. But as far as the sitcoms are concerned, Amazon.com has made available for pre-order DVDs of ABC's The Middle - The Complete First Season and NBC's action-comedy series, Chuck - The Complete Third Season (also for Blu-ray). There are absolutely no details about these releases yet, but you can pre-order them. Other current series that have popped up for pre-order on Amazon.com in the past week include C.S.I. - The Complete Tenth Season, C.S.I.: Miami - The Complete Eighth Season, Criminal Minds - The Fifth Season, The Good Wife - The First Season, NCIS: Los Angeles - The First Season, and Numb3rs - The Sixth Season. Wow! That is a long list of series from CBS! I'm sure that nursing homes nationwide are overflowing with joy with this news... we're only kidding, we love CBS.

Finally, we end our news with some excellent news about MPI's long-anticipated release of The Mothers-in-Law - The Complete Series. MPI has been talking about this series for well over a year now, but they have finally set a street date (July 27). The set is going to contain all 56 episodes of the series and a ton of special features, including interviews, the original pilot, unaired pilots of related series, and more at an incredibly low $39.98 MSRP! We encourage you to check out this report from TVShowsOnDVD.com which gives the rather lengthy list of special features. The set doesn't appear to be available for pre-order just yet, but we'll let you know when it is!

UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW
There is only one lonely sitcom scheduled for release for next week (April 20), and that is Shout! Factory's long-awaited The Bill Cosby Show - Season Two. It is one of their direct-to-consumer titles, although as is the case with the rest of these titles, it can be purchased on Amazon.com. We haven't received a review copy of it yet, and we aren't sure when/if we will receive one. Also, Warner Home Video is bringing out Falcon Crest - The Complete First Season and CBS DVD has Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1. We will cover both of these titles sometime soon, but you can pre-order all of them now.

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

In 1997, a new legal drama hit the air that was nothing like anything that preceded it. This one contained a lot of humor, sexual innuendo, hallucinations (anybody remember the dancing baby?), and many other unique elements in a series about a woman trying to balance her romantic life and her life at work. Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season is the second of five seasons of this unique series.

DVD Review: Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season
by Pavan

Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season
(Fox, $39.98) is back on DVD in an individual set featuring all 23 episodes from the series' excellent (and most popular) second season. The series premiered in 1997 on Fox and lasted five seasons, becoming one of the most talked about shows in the late '90s. The series was created by David E. Kelley The cast was brilliant led by Calista Flockhart in the title role as a young lawyer working in the Boston law firm Cage, Fish and Associates with other young lawyers. Also starring on this show are all recognizable names: Gil Bellows as Billy, Courtney Thorne-Smith as Georgia, Greg Germann as Richard Fish, Lisa Nicole Carson as Renée, Jane Krakowski as Elaine, with Peter MacNichol as John Cage and Vonda Shepard as Herself. Portia de Rossi as Nelle and Lucy Liu as Ling Woo join the cast this season.

The second season begins with the episode "The Real World," where Fish and Cage hire a new associate, Nelle "sub-zero" Porter (Portia de Rossi) and Cage tells Ally about his attraction to Nelle. In the very next episode, "They Eat Horses, Don't They?," Lucy Liu joins the cast as Nelle's friend and client, Ling Woo, who sues a radio DJ for making sexually explicit comments on air and to the disgust of Ally, drops the case as a legal tactic. In "It's My Party," Ally defends George Madison (special guest star John Ritter), editor of a feminist magazine fired for his religious views on women and Ally finds herself attracted to George, but Elaine implies that she and George are an item. Later, Ally is told to stop wearing miniskirts in court and when she refuses, she is held in contempt and taken into custody. This is one of the best episodes in the entire series! In the very next episode, "The Story of Love," Ally is arrested after a fight with a young woman angry with her best friend for stealing her boyfriend, meanwhile George (John Ritter) begins to show an interest in Ally, and Elaine begs her not to date him. Cage brings in his pet tree frog, Stefan, whom he is training for a competition. And the frog popularity begins after this!
In "Pyramids On the Nile," Fish agrees to hire Ling, to the annoyance of the firm except Nelle, while Ally and Billy defend a couple fired because they were dating and then Billy admits, after the trial, he still has feelings for Ally and they share a kiss. In "Sex, Lies, and Politics," Cage and Ling help a bookstore owner sue a senator after he falsely accuses her of selling pornography, causing her to lose business, while Ally obsesses over the kiss with Billy, and struggles with the urge to tell Georgia. In "Civil Wars," Georgia finds out about the kiss, and rumors spread through the office, while Ally and Cage oppose Fish and Georgia in court over a date rape case, but as tension increases between Georgia and Ally, the two get into a fight in the bathroom with Ling and Nelle, with Elaine filming. In the season finale, "I Know Him By Heart," Ally becomes increasingly depressed about her love life, until Fish gives her a pep talk, while Ally and Renee decide to go on as many dates as possible until they find the right man. Notable guest appearances for this season include, the aforementioned John Ritter (who was nominated for an Emmy), Wayne Newton, Rob Schneider, Jennifer Holliday, Lara Flynn Boyle, Bruce Willis, Anna Nicole Smith, Barry White, Rosie O'Donnell, Jesse L. Martin, Larry Green, and the Emmy winning performance by Tracy Ullman.

The episodes are unedited and has all the original music! This season was released in the complete series set back in October 2009, so the content is exactly the same as that set. But if you have not gotten that complete set, there is nothing to worry about on this set. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "The Real World" (45:16)
2. "They Eat Horses Don't They?" (44:56)
3. "Fool's Night Out" (45:25)
4. "It's My Party" (43:21)

Disc 2:
5. "Story of Love" (44:30)
6. "World's Without Love" (42:56)
7. "Happy Trails" (45:25)
8. "Just Looking" (45:18)

Disc 3:
9. "You Never Can Tell" (44:03)
10. "Making Spirits Bright" (45:27)
11. "In Dreams" (45:26)
12. "Love Unlimited" (45:14)

Disc 4:
13. "Angels Over Blimps" (45:21)
14. "Pyramids On The Nile" (44:23)
15. "Side Show" (44:42)
16. "Sex, Lies & Politics" (45:25)

Disc 5:
17. "Civil Wars" (45:26)
18. "Those Lips, That Hand" (45:25)
19. "Let's Dance" (44:51)
20. "Only The Lonely" (44:45)

Disc 6:
21. "The Green Monster" (45:02)
22. "Love's Illusions" (45:01)
23. "I Know Him By Heart" (45:19)

Now I didn't get the complete series set, but the case (and the rest of the packaging) for season two is the same as it was on that set. The cover art has a full body shot of Ally in black with the show logo in the middle in orange and white coloring. The color scheme for the set is orange and white. Also on the cover art we have four small black and white headshots of Cage, Nelle, Billy and Ling Woo. The back of the case has info on the set and series, with a close-up of Ally in black and a strip about five episodic photos. Inside the case are the discs of course. Disc one is on the left panel, while discs two and three are on a plastic holder that you can flip like a book. The same goes true for discs four and five. And disc six is on the right panel. Artwork inside the case is in orange and we have a disc-by-disc breakdown of episode titles on the panels. When we remove discs one and six, there is some cool artwork, that I won't spoil. Each disc has the same artwork, of a frog, the show logo, and it matches the set's color scheme.

The menus on the set are very nicely done, with different artwork on each disc. The main screen has a different shot of Ally on each disc. The submenus have other castmembers. The main menu has the theme song playing in the background. It is so catchy! The main menu have an option for Play All and the episode titles are listed right on the main menu. When selecting an episode, it takes you to another menu that have the options Play Episode, Language Selection, and Scene Selection. Language tracks are available in English, French and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish. In Scene Selection, each episode has about 15 different positions you can start at. Chapter stops have the same selections. It is a bit much for an hour-long series.

The video and audio on the set is looks really good. The video is available in a nice widescreen, and if your DVD player upconverts to HD, it looks so nice. The audio is also very good and is presented in Dolby Surround. This season is from 1998-99, so while it is over a decade in age, it is very well presented here in both video and audio. All of the episodes on the set are closed-captioned for those who need them.

One bad thing about this set is that there are no special features available. They should have gave us a seventh disc with some extras. The complete series set had a bonus disc and in that it did have some features for season two. It would be nice if they included the season two material from that on this set. But that would mean more manufacturing for them. So the only way to see bonus features for this season is to buy the complete series set. That is too bad, especially if someone can't afford that or just wanted this season (like me). I basically was a fan for the first two seasons, but I never really watched the show after that much.

This is a good set, but it is exactly the same content that was available for this season in the complete series set. It is good and amazing that all of the original music is intact, though! Kudos to 20th Century Fox for doing that since this show had A LOT of music! Each episode is also unedited in content, so another thing to be grateful for. The packaging and menus are also great. Everything on this set is great, except for the lack of bonus features. It's not like nothing was available. Fox could have given us the same season 2 features on the bonus disc on the complete set, but they didn't. I was hoping they would, because I have not seen those bonus material. Anyway, the episodes are great and this is my favorite season of the show. It has a nice mix of comedy and drama. Ally's short skirts, Cage's frog, wild hallucinations, special guest John Ritter, this season has it all! A must buy if you don't have the complete series set!

(4/5 stars)

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BLOG FEATURE STORY

DVD Packaging Changes on Older Releases
by skees53

About a month or so ago, Target had a really nice deal on the season sets of the series Saturday Night Live that I couldn't resist. I had always liked the series, but never bothered to pick up the DVDs because the MSRP was more than I wanted to pay. I picked up all of the first four seasons without really looking at the packaging, but when I got home, I noticed that the first season had been placed in a newer (and cheaper) standard digipack inside of a slipcase. I hadn't yet opened the set, but was wondering what exactly was going on with this different packaging. As I later found out, the older releases of the series were no longer being printed with the special limited packaging, and I had to go on a hunt all over town to find a USED (yes, USED) copy of the first season in the original packaging--which ended up costing me about $10 more than my new copy from Target in the new packaging.

At the time, I didn't realize that the studios were repackaging TV series on DVD, but in the past few months, it has become a very common practice. In most cases, the original packaging is being shoved aside in favor of the newer Viva packs--you know, the standard plastic DVD cases that can hold multiple discs. Nobody is publicly saying why this practice is occurring, but there are many potential reasons, including cheaper cost of production (perhaps the main reason), lower package weight, smaller package size (beneficial for storage warehouses and store shelves), or perhaps to just make older releases more consistent with newer releases (which are more often than not being released in Viva packs).

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and ABC Studios seem to be spearheading most of these "evolving packages." As I have discovered, 20th Century Fox began the practice with repackaging older releases of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development, and How I Met Your Mother, all of which were previously released in slimcases, in the regular Viva packs. Now, some other older releases series are starting to show up on store shelves in the new packaging, including American Dad!, Family Guy, King of the Hill, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Remington Steele, and even MGM's releases of The Addams Family and Green Acres. All of the 20th Century Fox titles have the same UPC as the original release, same disc content, same disc artwork (sometimes with a few minor changes), but different packaging. Unfortunately, on some of the sets, the different packaging means losing some very nice things included on the original releases, such as detailed episode descriptions. Even more frustrating is Fox's DVDs of The Simpsons, which, even though they have not changed the packaging itself on these sets, they are no longer including the very nice and detailed episode booklets on older releases, instead opting for an empty pocket where the booklet should be.

ABC Studios has been reissuing many of their older titles that were previously released under the Buena Vista Home Entertainment brand, replacing all references to BVHE with ABC Studios. But that isn't all. They have been repackaging many series in their library in the same standard plastic DVD cases as 20th Century Fox, only there is one exception with the ABC Studios products: they are including cardboard slipcovers for most of the products. Packaging has been updated for series including Alias, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, and more. You can also determine which of these sets are the newer ones, as they have the disc count as a banner on the top of the front of the packaging. Just like 20th Century Fox, these sets carry the same UPC as the original releases. ABC Studios has, in the past, had some of the most unique and creative packaging for a lot of their sets, and these newer packages take away what made a lot of these older sets special. You can even see a comparison of the old vs. new packaging for Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season below. It was originally packaged in a digipack, but has since been replaced with a standard plastic DVD case. Note that the disc artwork (not shown) is the same in both versions.

Old Packaging:


Outside of old packaging for Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season.



Inside of old packaging for Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season.

New Packaging:


Outside of new packaging for Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season.


Inside of new packaging for Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and ABC Studios aren't the only studios making these changes. HBO Home Entertainment has been re-releasing several older releases of series, including Da Ali G Show and Entourage, in newer (and cheaper) packaging. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is doing the same thing with All in the Family and Soap, releasing them in the cheaper black spindle cases that everybody seems to hate about Sony. One positive note about Sony, though, is that they are at least changing the UPC so that consumers are aware of what they are getting. And Lionsgate, while not making any packaging changes quite yet (that I'm aware of, anyway) has been excluding episode descriptions/booklets and cardboard slipcases on newer copies of older releases. Warner Home Video hasn't changed a whole lot, but some sets (such as The Flintstones) that were originally released with transparent plastic slipcases are being replaced with standard cardboard slipcases. So far, aside from the Saturday Night Live season sets (which were only supposed to be produced in limited numbers for the special packaging anyway), Universal and CBS DVD products haven't been affected... yet.

So is this all a good thing or bad thing? It depends upon what you are looking for. First and foremost, I find the practice of keeping the same UPC on the repackaged products very shameful, because if somebody orders a DVD online, they have no clue which version they will be getting. This issue has even resulted in Amazon.com being forced to put a disclaimer on some products about the packaging. Aside from that issue, though, let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of new packaging for older sets:
Pros:
  • Thinner and more compact, thus allowing more shelf space.
  • Often less cumbersome than old packaging (particularly folding digipacks).
  • Similar style packaging for all releases of a given series rather than having older style packaging for older seasons and more standardized packaging for newer releases.
  • Plastic cases often show much less wear and tear.
Cons:
  • Plastic cases usually simply look cheaper.
  • Retailer selection of DVDs often includes both older and newer packaging, sometimes meaning only newer packaging available for older sets and only older packaging available for newer sets, thus creating a hodgepodge of packaging between seasons for collectors.
  • Creative packaging designs are usually lost in the transition.
  • Episode descriptions, and in some cases even general lists, are being lost in the newer designs.
All in all, there seem to be about an equal number of pros and cons to the new packaging styles. It really all depends upon what your preferences are. Whenever possible, I've attempted to opt for the original packaging on just about every DVD set that I own, and I have been completely successful in this endeavor so far. Recently, it even meant going to four different Target locations to find the original packaging for the first three seasons of How I Met Your Mother. With a little work (and sometimes scouring used book and DVD stores), you can usually find the version that you are looking for, but using the same UPC certainly does create some confusion.

LOOKING AHEAD

We will, of course, return next Saturday with more news and reviews for you. We're still working on what will be on slate for next week, but we will have reviews coming up of The Unusuals - The Complete Series, Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1, Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One, and who knows what else... sometimes we just review random and unexpected things that we stumble upon (and oddly enough those reviews tend to be the most interesting). We are going to have more feature stories in the next few weeks, and among some that we are working on include stories on out-of-print DVDs, an in-depth look at Blu-ray, a look at some rare (as well as some not-so-rare) finds on public domain DVD, and we will even start talking about the online sources for watching TV shows--the legal ones, anyway. We'll also plan to talk about more special deals on home media as we find them (I didn't mention this anywhere else in the blog today as we aren't fully covering deals yet, but I'll just say that you can find some excellent deals on some rather popular Lionsgate releases at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores). That's it for this week, but remember, we do want to hear your feedback about Digital Digest. Tell us on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us. Until next time, keep it digital!

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Digital Digest: Simon & Simon - Season Four DVD Review; Tenspeed and Brown Shoe DVD Review

We're back for your weekly roundup of everything digital when it comes to sitcoms this week in Digital Digest, and we have a busy week this week. We've got some good news about a few programs on DVD, but unfortunately, we have a disproportionate amount of bad news about others. Plus, we have two features this week that you aren't going to want to miss, including a review of Simon & Simon - Season Four and the incredibly rare 1980s detective drama Tenspeed and Brown Shoe. So, let's get going with this week's edition!

DIGITAL NEWS

At the end of our news last week, we briefly mentioned that Warner Home Video would be hosting a chat on Monday to discuss their TV properties. Unfortunately, as we suspected, the chat was a major letdown with most questions being answered with five simple words: "No plans at this time." But there were a few pieces of good news, such as:
  • A DVD release of Growing Pains, a series that appeared to be abandoned, is in the works for a second season release sometime in 2011.
  • Several short-lived series (though none specifically were mentioned) are under consideration for Warner's manufacture-on-demand format.
  • There are plans to release the Dallas movies once they have finished releasing the season sets. Additionally, they plan to release the remaining seasons of Dallas by next year.
  • The outlook for releases of Friends on Blu-ray is "very good."
It was also mentioned in the chat that Alice has been under consideration for release, but there are supposedly some issues with the masters of the series that need to be resolved. Many series were said to be "under consideration," including further releases of Perfect Strangers, Night Court, Mama's Family, and Knots Landing. Right now, it seems that there is little interest from Warner in releasing several series, including Step by Step, Murphy Brown, The Drew Carey Show, and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. You can read the entire chat transcript here.

Moving on to other news, we have some more unfortunate news to report regarding future releases of The Donna Reed Show. According to Joe Amodei, president of Virgil Films, no further releases are planned by Virgil Films, as they were not able to come to an agreement over releasing further seasons of the series. The first three seasons have been released with a few hiccups along the way, although fans have generally been satisfied with the sets. You can find out some more interesting information about the series, including an e-mail from Mr. Amodei here. It is very interesting that Mr. Amodei specifically mentions that season 4 and 5 will not be released (suggesting that there never was a plan to release the remaining seasons, which the rights are believed to be held by another company), and also that several fans mention in the thread that the fourth season has mysteriously been withheld from syndication. Hopefully something is worked out that will allow Virgil Films (or some other company) to release the remaining seasons. In the meantime, though, you can check out next week's release of The Donna Reed Show - Family Favorites, containing four episodes selected from the first three seasons.

They say that when it rains it pour, and on that note, we have one other minor piece of bad news. Big John, Little John, the rare 1970s NBC Saturday morning sitcom starring Herb Edelman and Robbie Rist, was scheduled to be released in just a little over a week, but that will not be happening now. Still, Virgil Films has indicated that the series will indeed be released at some point in time, it is just a question of when.

We don't want to leave you with all bad news, though. So we thought that we'd tip you off to some really good DVD deals that can be found at the national closeout retailer Big Lots. One of our posters on our message boards has mentioned finding some new titles from Universal appearing at Big Lots at the low price of just $8.00, including season sets of Coach and Magnum, P.I. Check out our thread from our message boards for some finds at Big Lots in the past. Keep in mind that almost all of the titles mentioned several months ago are not going to be found anymore (they've already sold out), and your mileage will definitely vary as each store tends to stock just random titles. Some will not have any TV titles at all, and others may have a ton of TV titles. By the way, in the upcoming weeks, we hope to tell you about more special DVD/Blu-ray deals that we find both online and in-stores, so be on the lookout for that! Never, ever, ever pay full retail price for any set!


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Next week (April 13) brings us The Donna Reed Show - Family Favorites, which contains four episodes from the first three seasons of the series. It is a decent DVD, although serious fans would be more probably prefer the previously released season sets of the series. We also get a chance to head back to Southfork Ranch and see J.R. Ewing go nuts (literally) in Dallas - The Complete Thirteenth Season. Universal brings another season of Jack Webb's series about paramedics in Emergency! - Season Six. Finally, everything is far from quiet on the western front, with two releases of classic westerns from Timeless Media, including Alias Smith & Jones - Seasons 2 & 3 and The Oregon Trail - The Complete Series. If you REALLY enjoy westerns, though, Mill Creek Entertainment has The Definitive TV Western Collection, a collection of an eye-popping SIX HUNDRED episodes of various westerns that are in public domain, with 48 discs of countless different series in a special wooden package. The content is far too extensive to list here, so you should check out this detailed synopsis from Mill Creek Entertainment's website. Even though we don't normally cover public domain releases, this is definitely worth mentioning for western fans. You can order all of these now or pick them up in stores on Tuesday, although Dallas and Emergency! are probably the only two that you will be able to find in stores. You can read our review of The Donna Reed Show - Family Favorites here. The Dallas review will be up shortly.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

Rick and A.J. Simon (Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker) are more than brothers... they're best of friends. In the 80s detective drama, Simon & Simon, they're also private eyes. This week, we are going to take a look at the recent release of Simon & Simon - Season Four, from Shout! Factory.

DVD Review: Simon & Simon - Season Four
by skees53

Simon & Simon - Season Four (Shout! Factory, $49.98) is the latest installment in the detective drama about the Simon brothers, Rick and A.J., who run a private detective agency in San Diego and seem to get in deep trouble with each and every case they take on. The series premiered in 1981 on CBS and lasted an impressive nine seasons, becoming one of the most prominent action dramas of the 80s. The series also features Mary Carver as Rick and A.J.'s mother and Tim Reid (WKRP in Cincinnati and Sister, Sister) as Lieutenant Marcel Proust "Downtown" Brown, their friend in the police department.

The fourth season begins with the double-length episode "C'est Simon," where the fiance of A.J. and Rick's mother is kidnapped and the duo ends up in Paris. Rick and A.J. investigate the death of a food critic in "A Little Wine With Murder?" Rick's boat is repossessed and the man who repossesses it turns up dead in "Manna From Heaven," can A.J. get him out of this mess? Daphne Reid (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, also Tim Reid's wife) and Alex Rocco guest star. The duo tries to solve a 20 year old murder case in "Who Killed the Sixties?" Comic books could be the key to solving a murder in "Almost Completely Out of Circulation." Frank Bonner (WKRP in Cincinnati) guest stars in "Deep Cover," where he plays a news reporter who hires a hit man to kill him, and wants A.J. and Rick to stop the hit man. Look for Daphne Reid in this episode as well. John Astin (The Addams Family), Bernard Fox (Bewitched), and Ned Wertimer (The Jeffersons) all guest star in "Revolution #9-1/2."

Rick and A.J. try to play Santa for a little girl wanting to find her father in "Yes, Virginia, There is a Liberace." Some homeless men are mysteriously disappearing in "Almost Foolproof." Rick and A.J. accidentally bust a smuggling operation and become famous--and realize they need to go their separate ways (at least temporarily)--in the two-part episode "Simon Without Simon." Rick and A.J. have to find a girl who has a drug problem in "Slither." Rick and A.J. investigate a dognapping that results in their own dog being dognapped as well in "Marlow, Come Home." Rick and A.J. help clear Lieutenant Brown's cousin of murder in "Out-of-Town Brown."

The episodes are mostly unedited, but there are two episodes on the set that are the syndicated versions. It is explained that the original masters could not be found, although I have no clue why they couldn't find them. They do, at least, mention this on the menus (although it would have been better to put that on the packaging). The two episodes that are edited are "A Little Wine With Murder?" and "Our Fair City." These do not seem to be too heavily edited, however, and most of the missing material comes from the opening teasers, which are omitted on these episodes. That isn't a huge deal, since it just shows clips from the episode. It is entirely possible, too, that nothing is missing from the episodes and they are merely time-compressed, as was the case with My Favorite Martian - The Complete Second Season. The rest of the episodes are unedited. The original Universal logo can be found at the end of each episode. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "C'est Simon" (1:35:50)
2. "A Little Wine With Murder?" (45:04)
3. "The Dark Side of the Street" (48:05)

Disc 2:
4. "Manna From Heaven" (48:03)
5. "What Goes Around Comes Around" (48:02)
6. "Who Killed the Sixties?" (47:57)
7. "Break a Leg, Darling" (48:03)

Disc 3:
8. "Almost Completely Out of Circulation" (48:05)
9. "Our Fair City" (45:02)
10. "Deep Cover" (48:03)
11. "Revolution #9-1/2" (48:01)

Disc 4:
12. "Yes, Virginia, There is a Liberace" (48:02)
13. "Almost Foolproof" (48:04)
14. "Enter the Jaguar" (48:03)

Disc 5:
15. "Simon Without Simon, Part 1" (48:01)
16. "Simon Without Simon, Part 2" (48:02)
17. "Slither" (47:57)
18. "The Mickey Mouse Mob" (48:02)

Disc 6:
19. "Mummy Talks" (48:00)
20. "Marlowe, Come Home" (48:04)
21. "Out-of-Town Brown" (48:02)

The packaging is similar to the packaging used for seasons two and three, with three dual slimcases. The cover art has the duo sitting in front of the ocean with a green color scheme, and the back has a basic description of the series and a photo of Rick and A.J. with their dog. The slimcases have a photo of Rick and A.J. on each one, with a description and original airdate for each episode on the back of each slimcase.

The menus on the set are very nicely done, with videos showing action clips from episodes on the disc when you first insert the disc. Then, you get a menu that plays the theme song (with more videos in the background) and options of Play All and Episodes. Selecting Episodes takes you to another menu that has the theme song from the first season playing in the background, and all of the episodes on the disc listed with a snapshot from each episode. Chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.

The video and audio on the set is by no means perfect, but it does look really good. The biggest issue is a bit of grain and debris, but you almost come to expect it from a series as old as this one. The audio is a bit muffled, but it is nothing too significant. It is worth noting that there is a significant decline in video and audio quality on the two syndicated episodes. Each episode is presented in mono. All of the episodes on the set are closed-captioned for those who need them.

Unfortunately, there are no special features available on the set, and according to Brian Ward at Shout! Factory, it is unlikely that either Gerald McRaney or Jameson Parker will ever participate on this sets. It is too bad, really. It would be nice to at least have some original promos or something along those lines on future sets.

This series has been a pleasant surprise for me on DVD. I had always ignored the series on TV, and decided to take a chance with the series after finding the first season (which was released by Universal, not Shout! Factory) in the discount DVDs at Big Lots, and was hooked after just one episode. I immediately purchased seasons 2 and 3 and have been anxiously awaiting the release of season 4. We never bothered to review this series in the past because none of our reviewers were particularly interested, but now, I regret that I passed up the opportunity to review this excellent series. All in all, Shout! Factory has put out a decent set, although the two edited episodes are a little frustrating. Still, it is no reason to pass up this set, and fans of 80s detective dramas will definitely want to own this set on DVD. If you are unsure, you might even be able to still pick up a copy of the first season at Big Lots to get a taste of the series, and when you are hooked (trust me, you will be), you can come back here and order this set through our link in this review!

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Simon & Simon on TV.com

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

The Simon brothers weren't the only odd couple of detective dramas in the 80s. Just one year before Simon & Simon premiered on CBS, ABC had a short-lived series from Stephen J. Cannell about an even odder couple of private eyes, accountant Lionel Whitney (Jeff Goldblum) and ex-con/parolee E.L. Turner (Ben Vereen). It is already available on DVD. Check out our review of Mill Creek Entertainment's DVD release of Tenspeed and Brown Shoe.

DVD Review: Tenspeed and Brown Shoe
by skees53

Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (Mill Creek Entertainment, $14.98) was one of the first (and perhaps one of the more unique) entries in the 80s era of detective dramas. There were many series about detectives in the 80s, including Simon & Simon, Moonlighting, Miami Vice, and Hunter. All of these series had one thing in common: they were all series about detective duos, and there was something unique about the duo that made them stand out above the others in their own way. In Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Lionel Whitney (Jeff Goldblum) is an accountant who is very straight-laced and smart when it comes to crunching numbers. His partner, E.L. Turner (Ben Vereen) is an ex-convict who has to work in order to stay out of prison while on parole who is much more street-savvy than his partner. Together, they form their own detective agency in this light-hearted detective drama from Stephen J. Cannell Productions.

Mill Creek Entertainment's release of Tenspeed and Brown Shoe contains twelve of the thirteen episodes of the 1980 series on a three disc set. The original two hour pilot, unfortunately, is not included, as the rights to the pilot are held by CBS Television Distribution, but every other episode of the series is included on this set.

In the first episode on this set, "Robin Tucker's Roseland Roof and Ballroom Murders," a mysterious man is willing to pay a ton of money to find a woman. Can Lionel and E.L. help? John Pleshette (Knots Landing) guest stars. "The Sixteen Byte Data Chip and the Brown-eyed Fox" is a computer caper with a twist when a woman is looking for her missing brother. Lionel and E.L. inadvertently get involved with the mob in "The Millionaire's Life." Lionel and E.L. help a girl break up with her boyfriend in "Savage Says: The Most Dangerous Bird is the Jailbird," but unluckily for them, he is a mobster. E.L.'s parole officer is trying to find a way to get him back in prison in "Loose Larry's List of Losers." The duo investigates the murder of a mental patient in "The Treasure of Sierra Madre Street." Lionel tries to impress his parents with a luxurious office that isn't his own in "Diamonds Aren't Forever," and as it turns out, the office belongs to diamond thieves!

The runtimes of each episode are variable, and I don't know if anything is missing, but my assumption would be that the episodes are unedited. As an added bonus, the original commercial bumpers are even left intact on every episode. It is very nice to see these intact.

Disc 1:
1. "Robin Tucker's Roseland Roof and Ballroom Murders" (49:21)
2. "Savage Says: There's No Free Lunch" (48:23)
3. "Savage Says: What Are Friends For?" (49:53)
4. "The Sixteen Byte Data Chip and the Brown-eyed Fox" (48:25)

Disc 2:
5. "The Millionaire's Life" (48:46)
6. "The Most Dangerous Bird is the Jailbird" (47:18)
7. "It's Easier to Pass an Elephant Through the Eye of a Needle Than a Bad Check in Bel Air" (47:29)
8. "Loose Larry's List of Losers" (49:22)

Disc 3:
9. "This One's Gonna Kill You" (50:11)
10. "Untitled" (49:45)
11. "The Treasure of Sierra Madre Street" (49:23)
12. "Diamonds Aren't Forever" (48:25)

The set is packaged in the same kind of packaging from Mill Creek Entertainment that we've complained about before: the double-thick keepcase with paper sleeves. I don't know why they continue to use this, it is about the worst kind of packaging imaginable. The cover art has a picture of E.L. and Lionel, and on the back, there are a few snapshots from the episodes and a basic description of the series. There are four episodes on each disc, and each disc has a picture of the duo.

The discs have very nice menus, with the theme song playing and videos from the episode playing on top of the screen, and options of Play All and Episode Select. Choosing Episode Select takes you to a menu that lists all of the episodes. Once you select an episode, it plays right away. Chapters are placed throughout each episode, although they could have included more per episode than they actually did.

The video and audio on the set is a little bit rough, but that is somewhat to be expected from a rare series such as this one. There is grain and debris all over the place, but in a way, it gives the series a nice "vintage" look, and is most certainly an improvement over any other sources from which anybody may have this series. Some episodes do look better than others, however. The audio is presented in mono, and the episodes are not closed-captioned or subtitled.

The set is completely devoid of special features. It would have been nice to have had a little bit more background on the series, or better yet, it would have been great if a deal could have been worked out with CBS Television Distribution to include the original pilot.

This was a fun show to watch, and Mill Creek Entertainment deserves major kudos for even putting this out on DVD. I had never even heard of this show prior to hearing this release being announced, and I am sure that many other classic TV fans have never heard of it either. It is a little quirky and easy to see why the show didn't make it beyond a half season, but seeing it on DVD is an interesting look at a rare show and the plots themselves were honestly pretty decent. It is just too bad that the pilot (which explains the back story of how the duo came together) couldn't be included. This is a nice and inexpensive series that is worth adding to the collection of all fans of detective dramas.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe on TV.com


LOOKING AHEAD

We'll be back next week with more news (hopefully more good news than bad news, this has been a rough week) and a review of Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season. We also have a very special Digital Digest feature coming up next week that true DVD collectors are going to want to see regarding a current disturbing practice going on by DVD manufacturers. We're still a work in progress, so we want to hear what you think about Digital Digest. Let us know on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us. Until next week, keep it digital!

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Digital Digest: Battlestar Galactica -- The Complete Series DVD Review; Comparing ALF -- Season One DVDs in Region 1 and Region 2

We're back once again for our second edition of Sitcoms Online Digital Digest! For those who didn't check us out last week, this is our new weekly blog feature where we talk about all things related to sitcoms (as well as some non-sitcoms) in the digital world, including DVD, Blu-ray, and even the internet (although we don't have any of those features planned just yet). The news is a little light this week, but we can only have news if it is being announced! We're also going to have a blog review this week of Battlestar Galactica – The Complete Series, as well as our very first look at a Region 2 DVD, ALF -- Die Komplette Erste Staffel, Warner Home Video's German release of the first season of ALF. It'll be a little different from our normal reviews since we're mostly comparing the set to the American version, but you'll want to read it for sure. We will be tweaking a few things on here as the weeks go on (this feature is still a work in development), so there will likely be a few changes in the upcoming weeks. We are still interested in your feedback about our new feature, and would love to hear from you on our message board or Tweet/Facebook!


DIGITAL NEWS

Starting off our news this week is a long list of DVDs that we all knew would be coming (as they do every year) from ABC Studios. Several hits from the current ABC lineup will be hitting stores later this summer, including Desperate Housewives - The Complete Sixth Season (September 21, $45.99 MSRP), Ugly Betty - The Complete Fourth and Final Season (August 17, $39.99 MSRP), Brothers and Sisters – The Complete Fourth Season (August 31, $45.99 MSRP), and one of ABC's newest sitcoms, Cougar Town – The Complete First Season (August 17, $39.99 MSRP). There is no word yet on any Blu-ray releases on any of these series, but I have a feeling that many of these will see Blu-ray releases at some point in time, if not on the same day as the DVD release. We will have more details on all of these in the coming weeks, as we find out all of the details.

It seems that no week would be complete without news from Shout! Factory. While there haven't been any official press releases or details about the releases we've found out about this week, we have learned through Shout! Factory's message boards that The Patty Duke Show – The Complete Third Season (the final one, by the way) will be released in August, and some special features are indeed planned for the set. It is always great to see a series wrapped up! Also, Brian Ward of Shout! Factory mentioned that the third season of California Dreams is currently in the works, but due to slow sales of the first two seasons, it will only be available from Shout! Factory's direct-to-consumer program. But we aren't quite done with Shout! Factory just yet! After announcing Dragnet 1968 – Season 2 just a few weeks ago, there is now word (once again, from Brian Ward) that Adam-12 – Season Five will be coming sometime in August. As always, it seems that Shout! Factory is hard at work to bring us, well, everything on DVD! As was the case with the ABC Studios announcements, we'll have more details on these as we get them.

Hopefully we will have more news than we had this week to share with you next week. But we can't have any news unless the studios plan to release things! There may be some announcements from Warner Home Video next week, as they are planning an online chat about their television series on DVD, so hopefully we will get some interesting news from that! If we have anything, we'll let you know next week.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

There aren't any sitcoms being released next week (April 6), but there are a few great TV series that we love (and you probably do too) that are coming up next week. Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season is a great set that includes all 23 episodes of the second season of the legal drama. They did a great job with the first season, and although we haven't seen this set yet, we can imagine it is just as great. Ally McBeal - The Complete Series, of course, has already been released. Also coming up on Tuesday, from Shout! Factory, is Simon & Simon – Season Four! I will be reviewing this soon in Digital Digest, but I can say right now that I am really enjoying the episodes on this set. The set does mention on the menus that it contains one edited episode, but overall, it is a great set. Universal is releasing a repackaged version of Syfy's (or Sci Fi Channel as it was known when the series originally aired) Battlestar Galactica – The Complete Series on both DVD and Blu-ray, as well as a Blu-ray version of Battlestar Galactica – Season Two. We have a review of Battlestar Galactica – The Complete Series in today's Digital Digest. Finally, The Lucille Ball Specials – Lucy Calls the President is being released, and it is an excellent special that every Lucille Ball fan must own. MPI did a great job with this release, and you can read our review of it from last week's Digital Digest.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW:

This week, we are going to take a look at Battlestar Galactica – The Complete Series, which is being released this coming Tuesday (April 6) on both DVD and Blu-ray.

DVD Review: Battlestar Galactica - The Complete Series

by Seth Thrasher

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series (Universal, $199.98) is the second edition of a complete series set for one of the greatest TV shows this decade, and it's available to own on DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday! The version of the release received for review is the DVD version of the set, and all subsequent comments about the set should be taken with this in mind. The set contains the complete full four seasons of the show, including the original miniseries as well as the "Razor" TV movie that aired prior to the fourth season. Not included is the recently released DVD movie "The Plan," which fills in some details the first season and a half omitted initially; nor does it feature the pilot DVD to the spin-off series Caprica.
Battlestar Galactica (the modern edition) is a "re-imagining" (a reboot, if you will) of a cheesy but fun late 1970s TV series. The new series is really a sign of the times in which it aired, with varying points in the series being incredibly dramatic, whether as a military drama, a political drama, or a space drama. The series, in terms of what it offers fans, really does present something for everyone.

To understand what you're getting into with this series, it's time for a little Battlestar Galactica 101:
With regards to the setting of the series and how we arrive to the events in the series' beginning -- imagine a *slightly* alternate universe. Now imagine a galaxy far, far, away. Humanity lives on twelve different planets in close proximity to one another. They've got spaceships, but much of their other technology appears very retro for one VERY important reason: The Cylons. Cylons were robots created by this version of humanity to do their bidding and make their lives easier, and any other ret-conned reasons introduced in the spin-off series Caprica. Over time, the robots' grew sentient, and got tired of being treated as humanity's butlers. So, they rebelled. Being machines and all, they quickly made Swiss cheese of most advanced technology. Humans eventually won the war, after forty years...mostly because the Cylons quit and went off to another world. Humans and their old robots had more or less a truce...until one day the Cylons came back.

For the sixteen of you reading this review who aren't familiar with the show, I'll stop with the back-story now as I want you to be surprised when you pick up either this set or at least the first season's episodes. When I was introduced to this show in 2008, just prior to the beginning of the show's fourth season, I was completely in the dark and I think my enjoyment of the show is better for it. I want you to have the same experience. It's not nearly as fun if I ruin the surprise. A basic and obvious summary would only be to say that the Cylons inevitably cause mass carnage and humanity is sent on the run for a new home. What follows over the next four seasons is a great ride for one and all.

There are two distinct elements to the packaging to discuss. Unlike the first printing run of this complete series set, this version uses a standard large outer box, in which is housed all four season box sets. The big box is silver and in the course of a three panel wraparound features the majority of the principal cast in grayscale. The show's logo is featured at the top of each side in raised lettering, as well as on the top of the box, again with raised lettering. The inner boxes contained within are similar to what you'd find on store shelves, with one minor difference. Fans will recall that seasons two and four were split in two and aired and later sold as seasons "2.0/2.5" and "4.0/4.5." For this set, both half-seasons have been unified into a single season box. The box generally resembles the 2.0 and 4.0 boxes, with the only changes being minor substitutions of text and a couple of the smaller episode stills on the back. The slim cases in which the discs are housed, as well as the discs themselves, are identical to their previous individual-release counterparts, down to the "Season 2.5" and "Season 4.5" branding.

Menus are generally identical to their season set counterparts, and vary from season to season. The menus for the initial sets were released in the earlier days of TV on DVD and as such don't feature as advanced designs as later seasons.

Video quality is among the best standard-definition DVD releases I've had the privilege to review. The only instances of any sort of debris, grain, or flaws in the video is when the show is *deliberately* going for a slightly grittier look. No sane person would hold *intentional* debris against a producer, and as I consider myself relatively sane, I intend to bear no grudge. Audio is spectacular as well - you can't ask for more on a DVD than a quality 5.1 experience and the show delivers that in spades. Runtimes are all over the place, with the shortest episodes being the same lengths as their original broadcast counterparts. Several episodes are "extended" from original broadcast with material that was cut for time originally that the producers feel is important to the show. It is SO nice to get to watch a set where the changes from original broadcast are *addition* and not subtraction.

Speaking of material removed from episodes, there is an absolute plethora of deleted scenes available as a bonus feature, along with just about anything else you can imagine. A breakdown of features by season brings us the following features each season:

Season One
*Feature Commentary by Director Michael Rymer and Executive Producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore.
*Sketches and Art
*Deleted Scenes
*Battlestar Galactica: The Series Lowdown
*8 Behind-the-Scenes featurettes

Season Two:
*Extended version of mid-season cliffhanger "Pegasus"
*Deleted Scenes
*Podcasts
*Producers Video Blogs

Season Three:
*Extended version of episode "Unfinished Business"
*Deleted Scenes
*Podcasts
*Episode Commentary
*Producer's Video Blogs*
*Webisodes

Season Four:
*Extended versions of "A Disquiet Follows My Soul," "Islanded in a Stream of Stars," and "Daybreak"
*Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
*Sneak Peek at Battlestar Galactica: The Plan
*Episode Commentaries
*Ronald D. Moore's Podcast Commentaries
*David Eick's Video Blogs
*Deleted Scenes

An amazing amount of content, and I'd have to spent a week on the blog dissecting it all. What you really want to know is: "Should I buy this set?" I have two questions in response:

1. Do you already own all of the season sets?
2. Do you have an interest in quality dramas OR (notice: NOT and) anything to do with space?

If you can answer NO to 1, or YES to EITHER part of 2, then I think it's well worth your money to buy this set. It's a tremendous show. The first two-and-change seasons are among the best television I've ever watched, and the remaining less-than-two seasons, while a bit weaker, are still GREAT television. If you already own ALL of the season sets, or you already own the FIRST printing run of the complete series set, there's ZERO reason to buy this. It's solely for people like me who hadn't cashed in on the full run of DVDs yet for whatever reason.

Those of you who aren't yet fans of this great show, and don't want to plop down anywhere from $100 to $200 for a complete series set, at least do me this favor: Go to your video renter of choice and depending on their rental policies either rent season one, or more specifically get a hold of the first two discs of season one. Set aside two three hour blocks, and watch the miniseries and first few episodes. If you're not hooked after that, there's nothing I can do for you. But hopefully, in watching these episodes you come to the same conclusion I, and an army of other BSG fans, have all reach in that this was one of the best TV series of our time.

(5/5 stars)

To purchase this on DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

To purchase this on Blu-ray, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Battlestar Galactica on TV.com


BLOG FEATURE STORY:

ALF - Region 1 vs. Region 2 (Including a Look at German Season One Release)
by skees53

Back in 2004, in the infancy of our DVD reviews, we had a review of Lionsgate's release of ALF – Season One. It is funny to look back at our old reviews now and how much we've evolved since then, but one thing hasn't changed, and that is the practice of some shows appearing on DVDs in their edited or syndicated versions. At the time, we foolishly assumed that anything on DVD would be unedited, but boy, were we wrong.

ALF – Season One was heavily butchered on DVD, with tons of cuts made both for the sake of time for airing on TV as well as cuts made to avoid copyright issues with music contained within the episodes. But last week, we talked about international DVDs Warner Home Video's release of ALF – Die Komplette Erste Staffel in Region 2 (specifically in Germany). Despite the $45 price tag on it (that included shipping), I went ahead and purchased it from Germany's version of Amazon, Amazon.de to check it out after I heard that it contained much better episodes than the Region 1 version.

Before you go any further, you should check out my blog feature from last week where I talked about purchasing international DVDs and playing them on DVD players purchased in the United States. You may need to modify your DVD player (this is at your own risk, I would suggest doing it with an older one as well, because the modifications can and will void any warranties that you have on the DVD player) or purchase a DVD player that is region-free out of the box. Upon purchasing this set, I was successfully able to modify an eight-year-old Oritron brand (that is basically about as close to the bottom of the barrel that you can get without buying an Apex brand DVD player) DVD player that I had sitting in storage for years to play the DVD set.

So let's talk about what was different when I first received the set. The packaging was definitely different from the Region 1 version. Of course, that is to be expected since a different studio released it on DVD. The cover art had a picture of ALF on it with a planet logo that had "Die Komplette 1 Staffel" (which is German for "The Complete First Season") on it, and the back had a lot of writing in German. But it did mention on the back that it had audio tracks AND subtitles in "Deutsch" (German), "Französisch" (French), "Englisch" (English), and "Spanisch" (Spanish). Just like the Region 1 release, it contained a standard DVD case inside of a cardboard sleeve, and the DVD case inside was exactly the same. Inside the DVD case, there were four discs, with Disc 1 having a picture of ALF, Disc 2 having a picture of Brian, Disc 3 having a picture of Lynn, and Disc 4 having a picture of Willie. There was also a very nice episode booklet that resembled a typical Warner episode booklet like the ones that we have in the United States, except it was all in German. Even the episode titles were translated into German.

I could only hope that the DVD would work in my DVD player when I put it in. I was actually a little concerned that it might not, and maybe there was a detail that I missed in playing Region 2 DVDs. Fortunately, it really was as simple as I thought it would be, and the only thing necessary was to modify the DVD player. When the menus popped up on the screen, I was surprised to discover that, despite the packaging all being in German, the main menu was actually in English. Unlike the Region 1 DVDs where ALF greeted you and interacted with you on the menus, the main menu on here just had the theme song playing with a still photo of ALF (the same one as seen on the cover art) and options of Play, Episodes, and Languages.



The Play option went to a menu that had no words at all, but instead just numbers for each episode. I suppose that this is designed to make the set more accessible to a wider variety of languages. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-14, Disc 3 contains episodes 15-20, and Disc 4 contains episodes 21-25. There was one difference from the American version, though. The episodes on this set are presented in their original airdate order. The Region 1 set episodes were presented in the production order. For fans of the series, the airdate order makes much more sense to the continuity of the series.



What is most important, though, is the content of the episodes themselves. As was indicated last week, the episodes are almost all unedited. There was one minor edit on the episode "For Your Eyes Only" to remove a Chipmunks song, and it is actually a pretty abrupt and noticeable cut, but it doesn't remove any continuity to the episode. What is unusual, however, is that the Region 1 version actually has the song removed as well, but is edited differently to include a few seconds of dialog that are NOT found in the Region 2 version. An interesting editing practice that I found on the Region 1 DVDs is that some of the episodes were modified to create fake opening teasers for episodes that did not originally have them. As for the unedited episodes on the Region 2 DVD set, these "fake opening teasers" appear after the opening credits as they were intended to appear. At some point in the future, we will revisit this set (as well as other seasons of ALF) to talk about some specific edits. The runtimes for each episode are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Pilot" (24:12)
2. "Strangers in the Night" (24:43)
3. "Looking for Lucky" (23:43)
4. "Pennsylvania 6-5000" (24:41)
5. "Keepin' the Faith" (24:42)
6. "For Your Eyes Only" (23:30)
7. "Help Me Rhonda" (24:42)

Disc 2:
8. "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?" (24:36)
9. "Jump" (24:44)
10. "Baby, You Can Drive My Car" (24:43)
11. "On the Road Again" (23:42)
12. "Oh, Tannerbaum" (24:43)
13. "Mother and Child Reunion" (24:41)
14. "A Little Bit of Soap" (24:43)

Disc 3:
15. "I've Got a New Attitude" (24:42)
16. "Try to Remember (Parts 1 and 2)" (48:10)
17. "Border Song" (24:44)
18. "Wild Thing" (24:43)
19. "Going Out of My Head Over You" (24:24)
20. "Looking Through the Windows" (24:44)

Disc 4:
21. "It Isn't Easy Bein' Green" (24:42)
22. "The Gambler" (24:33)
23. "Weird Science" (24:33)
24. "La Cucaracha" (24:26)
25. "Come Fly With Me" (24:34)

We all get a little annoyed by having to wait on FBI warnings on a disc, but we should be lucky that we only have one in the United States. This set, on the other hand, has over THIRTY (maybe closer to 40 or 50, I lost count) warnings about copyright infringement at the end of the last episode on each disc, for each and every country that the set is sold in (and it is a long list). Luckily, you aren't forced to watch these, but it takes forever. And of course, the one that applies to the United States is, well, not there, since this set is not intended to be sold in the United States.

The video and audio quality is generally fine, although it isn't perfect and there is a good reason for this. These episodes are presented in PAL format, which is slightly different from the NTSC format that we use in the United States. The DVD player can translate the formats just fine for us, but since PAL uses a different frame rate than NTSC, there is some minor loss of video quality on this set. There aren't really any video defects of note, however. The audio on the set sounds fine. As mentioned already, there are subtitles and audio tracks in English, German, Spanish, and French. It is actually interesting to listen to ALF's voice in the alternate languages, even if you can't understand what he is saying.

The set has no special features at all. On the Region 1 release, we had some bloopers, the original pilot episode, and some trivia facts. Also, the Region 1 DVDs had the very nicely produced menus. The Region 2 set has none of that, as is a common practice on foreign DVDs.

If you can afford to buy the set and/or you are a diehard ALF fan and want the unedited episodes, this set is definitely worth owning. You can purchase it on Amazon.de (a link to the product page can be found below), but be careful about ordering on there, specifically make sure that you are able to translate the German on the website (Yahoo! Babelfish is a great resource for that). You don't have to create a new account; your Amazon.com account information works on all of their international websites. Also, make sure that you have equipment that is capable of playing the DVDs. Season Two is also available (there is a link for that as well), and Season Three is supposed to be released sometime in the near future. There are, of course, some minor tradeoffs as mentioned with owning the Region 2 set vs. the Region 1 set, but personally, I like the Region 2 set a lot more than the Region 1 set.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase the Region 2 ALF - Season One DVD, click below:
Amazon.de

To purchase the Region 2 ALF - Season Two DVD, click below:
Amazon.de

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
SitcomsOnline.com ALF - Season One DVD Review (Region 1)
ALF on TV.com


LOOKING AHEAD

We'll have some more news and reviews for you next week! We have many reviews coming up in the upcoming weeks, including Ally McBeal – The Complete Second Season, Simon & Simon – Season Four, and even the incredibly rare early 80s detective drama from Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe! We also have many feature stories in the works, including one about a current practice going on in new pressings of older DVDs that is creating challenges for serious DVD collectors. Remember to tell us what you think about our new feature on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to tell us what you think! Until next week, keep it digital!

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