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Sledge Hammer - Season Two


TITLE: SLEDGE HAMMER! - SEASON TWO


Info:

DVD Release Date: April 12, 2005 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
MSRP: $39.98
Number of discs: 4
Number of episodes: 19
Running Time: Approx. 570 minutes
Languages and subtitles: English-dolby digital stereo, closed captioning
Special Features: 4 Episode Audio Commentaries with Creator Alan Spencer and Actress Anne-Marie Martin (3 solo by Spencer, 1 together); Gun Crazy: Memorable Moments With The Cast of Sledge Hammer!; Our Favorite Director: A Tribute To Bill Bixby; Top 10 Questions About Sledge Hammer!; Syndication Promo; Network Answering Machine Message; TV Spots; Trivia Game; Still & Memorabilia Gallery; 2 Teleplays (DVD-Rom)

My thoughts:

It would take more than a nuclear explosion to stop everyone's favorite violence-loving lawman! David Rasche returned - along with co-stars Anne-Marie Martin and Harrison Page - in the surprising (because nobody expected the network to renew it) second season of the series that Entertainment Weekly calls "absolutely hilarious." These are the infamous final episodes, in the "sitcom for people who hate sitcoms" that remains one of the most dangerously funny shows in TV history.

Sledge Hammer's second season (1987-1988) ran for 19 episodes on ABC. The first season was great, but many fans think the second season was even better as the characters continued to develop. There were a number of memorable episodes. A female cop with a sadistic/ masochistic fetish falls for and kidnaps Sledge in "Wild About Hammer". After breaking nearly all his bones, Sledge encases himself in a robotic suit to stop a robot in "Hammeroid." In "The Last of the Red Hot Vampires," an old time movie vampire is falsely accused of murdering his cast and crew. Sledge finds himself competing with a British cop (Adam Ant) in "Icebreaker." Sledge's ex-wife marries his best high school friend & forces Sledge to think about his lifestyle in the series finale "Here's To You, Mrs. Hammer." There were many notable guest stars in the 2nd season including: Dan Lauria, Ray Walston, David Leisure, Bill Bixby (who also directed many of the episodes), Richard Moll, Bernie Kopell, Bud Cort, Adam Ant, Edy Williams, Norman Fell, and Davy Jones.

The Season Two DVD cover features a great photo of Harrison Page, David Rasche, and Anne-Marie Martin with an American flag background. I like that they kept a similar look to the season one set, changing the cast photo and quote on the cover. The Digipak box opens up like a book and the inside cover has a color photo of Sledge Hammer holding his gun with a listing of the episode titles on each disc. The back inside cover features Sledge Hammer's Top Ten Pickup Lines. Each of the four discs features a drawing of Sledge and the other cast members, and the discs are in a clear plastic holder. The episodes per disc breakdown is 5, 5, 5, and 4. The back of the dvd box features another photo of Sledge with a smaller one of Sledge and Dori, lists the many bonus features. There is a very informative and interesting 16 page booklet that comes in a small manilla folder labeled 'Confidential Report' From Internal Affairs that looks like the kind of paper that a reporter would write on and flip over. It gives a nice detailed history of the show's development and lists some interesting trivia as well as providing some nice photos. This is a different booklet then came with the first season set and includes a lot of informative details focusing on the 2nd season.

All the menus are well layed out and easy to navigate. There are sections for 'Episodes,' 'Commentaries,' and a 'Play All' episodes feature. Mark Rathke's version of original composer Danny Elfman's (Batman, Spider-Man, Big Fish) Sledge Hammer theme can be heard on the main menu sections as various clips from the episodes are shown on the right hand side of the screen in a small bullet shaped hole. As you make a menu selection, you hear some gunfire. A nice, cool effect. Each disc has a different colored menu background theme - disc 1 is purple, disc 2 is orange, disc 3 is yellow, and disc 4 is green. The sub-menus feature color photos of Sledge Hammer.

When you initially play the first disc, creator Alan Spencer gives a brief introduction and tells us that season 1 was shot on 35mm and season 2 was shot on 16mm which originally gave a softer picture. The episodes have all been newly remastered and look very good. Sledge Hammer was filmed and it has a cinematic look, so the colors still look sharp and vibrant particularly in the outdoor scenes. Some scenes look a bit grainy, and there are other scenes where the picture looks a bit pixelated but there are no major problems. Overall, I'd say the video quality is lower than the season 1 set but that is primarily because it was filmed with 1/3 of the budget. There is an English stereo track. There is a slight hiss, but it's not a major problem and doesn't detract from viewing the episodes. Like the season 1 set, the laugh track which ABC originally used has been wisely removed for the DVD set. Anchor Bay has made all the episodes closed-captioned unlike the first season release which was a major downside. Unfortunately, once again there are no chapter stops within the episodes.

Season 1 had a tremendous amount of bonus material, and season 2 picks up right where they left off. There is one audio commentary on each disc. The rest of the bonus features can be found on the 4th disc.

Alan Spencer does audio commentaries on 4 episodes. He seems to have slowed down his delivery a bit, but he still talks at quite a pace. He tries to jam as much info as possible, so they are very interesting and entertaining to listen to. In "Wild About Hammer," he talks about how their budget was cut in the 2nd season, guest star Beverly Leech, how he negotiated with ABC over scenes, how they used early product placement, and about the tag scene which had a disclaimer where they messed with the color as a joke. His favorite episode is "The Last of the Red Hot Vampires" which was a very personal episode for him. This episode was directed by Bill Bixby and a had a great guest cast of Bernie Kopell, Bud Cort, and Greta Blackburn. He's not a Mr. Belvedere fan and talks about they did jokes on the show (I have to admit I'd buy a Mr. Belvedere DVD set). This was a neat episode that was a tribute to Bela Lugosi. Anne-Marie Martin joins Mr. Spencer on the "Icebreaker" commentary. They talk a lot about the guest star Adam Ant, about Dori's big 80's hair, and how they played up the relationship of Sledge and Dori in the 2nd season. Alan Spencer does the commentary on the series finale "Here's To You, Mrs. Hammer." He talks in general about the last season and how they cast David Rasche's real life wife as his ex-wife on the show. Listen to the closing minutes of the episode for one of the wackiest commentaries that you will ever hear! You have to love his sense of humor.

All of the other bonus features are found on disc 4. Here is a breakdown:

Gun Crazy: Memorable Moments With The Cast of Sledge Hammer! (13:38). This is an all new documentary featuring interviews with David Rasche, Anne-Marie Martin and Harrison Page. David and Harrison are still recognizable. They just look older. Anne-Marie still looks as gorgeous as ever. They talk about their favorite episodes and comic moments of the series.

Our Favorite Director: A Tribute to Bill Bixby (5:52). This is an all new documentary featuring interviews with Alan Spencer, David Rasche, Harrison Page, and Anne-Marie Martin. Bill Bixby was the director for many of the episodes in the 2nd season. They share their memories and have a lot of respect for him. He was a very inventive director who was a great help to the show. Various clips from the episodes are shown including his uncredited cameo in "Hammer Hits The Rock". A great tribute to a great man.

Top 10 Questions About Sledge Hammer - These are questions submitted by fans. There are 2 text menus of questions. When you select a question, there is a video clip of Alan Spencer providing the answer. The clips are pretty short, but they provide enough detail to answer the question in most cases.

Syndication Promo (5:56) - Sledge Hammer went into domestic and international syndication after it was cancelled by ABC. When it went into the international market, they had never seen the show before. This is a reel of Sledge Hammer's greatest hits that gives an introduction to the show and characters.

Network Answering Machine Message - At the end of the October 8th, 1987 episode "Wild About Hammer" they did a joke at the end where they distorted the color on the screen. They aired a disclaimer before they did it, but some stations didn't air the disclaimer. ABC set up a message explaining the joke for those confused viewers who called in to report the problem.

TV Spots - 4 commercial promos which originally aired on ABC. These are not the best quality as they appeared to come from a videotape source, but they are still fun to watch. Premiere Spot (:32), Regular Timeslot Spot (:35), Triumphant Return Spot (:28), and Christmas Spot (:30).

Trivia Game - 20 questions about the show. This is an interactive trivia quiz where a question is listed and there are 3 multiple choice answers. An incorrect answer and you will hear a gun shot. When you give a correct answer, there is a brief videoclip that shows the answer from the episode. There is a nice bonus treat when you correctly answer all 20 questions. Well worth the effort!

Still & Memorabila Gallery - 46 cast and memorabila photos provided by Alan Spencer

Teleplays (DVD-Rom) - Scripts for "Wild About Hammer" and "Last of the Red Hot Vampires" that you can view on your computer in PDF format

This was a show that deserved better treatment by ABC and a longer run. I think it's great that short run shows with a cult group of fans can find a home on DVD. It would have been impossible to produce such great sets without Alan Spencer's involvement. You can tell how much he loved the show and cast. I wasn't sure if Anchor Bay was going to produce a set as loaded with special features as season 1, but they managed to pull it off. Trust me, they know what they're doing!

Review (out of 5 stars):

Video quality: 4.4/5
Audio quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4.8/5
Menu Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.7/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 04/11/05

To order the DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007LPSI6/ref=nosim/happydaysonline


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