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The Phil Silvers Show (Sgt. Bilko) - The Complete Series


TITLE: THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW (SGT. BILKO) - THE COMPLETE SERIES


Info:

Release Date: November 4, 2014 (Shout! Factory)
Color/1955-1959
MSRP: $129.99
Packaging: Viva Cases in Outer Box
Number of Discs: 20
Number of Episodes: 142
Running Time: approx. 2892 minutes
Running Time of Features: Approx. 190 minutes
Audio: English
Subtitles and Captioning: English Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries (8); Episode Intros (5); Lost Audition Show; Original Network Opening; Original Cast Commercials; Lucy Show episode (with Silvers as guest star); Phil Silvers on Broadway; Phil Silvers and Jack Benny on The Dick Cavett Show; Interviews with Silvers' Daughters; Paul Ryan Show Interview with Silvers; New Phil Silvers Show episode; Phil Silvers Special; Sonny Fox Show interview with Silvers


Introduction:

Sgt. Bilko is reporting for duty in The Phil Silvers Show (Sgt. Bilko) - The Complete Series! The 20 disc set brings together all 142 episodes of the classic series that aired from 1955 until 1959, with many episodes debuting on DVD for the first time ever (and a handful of episodes appearing to audiences for the first time in decades, as they have been withheld from syndication).

The series was one of TV's early sitcoms, and it was created by Nat Hiken (who would later create Car 54, Where Are You?). It starred Phil Silvers as Sgt. Bilko, who led a group of soldiers on an Army post in Kansas. But even though that was his official job, that wasn't quite what he did, ever. The original title of the series was actually You'll Never Get Rich, and that title pretty much sums up what it was about, as Bilko was constantly trying to find ways to get rich, whether it be through some sort of "get rich quick" scheme of the week, gambling, or other purposes. And sometimes it wasn't just trying to get rich, but just trying to get something that he wanted for himself... again often going through unscrupulous means to get those things. The setting moved to a post in California in the final season of the series, and ended after just four years. Today, as the series begins to fade somewhat into obscurity in syndication, Shout! Factory has finally given the series a bit of a revival with this DVD release, containing every episode unedited, along with several special features.


Episodes:

As this is a complete series, we'll just point out some highlights from each season.

As always with complete series sets, we do not have time to go through every episode from every season, so we choose a few highlights. The first season begins with "New Recruits," where Bilko turns to new recruits to raise cash for a poker game. A woman stands in Bilko's way when he is up for a new job in "The WAC." Fred Gwynne guest stars in "The Eating Contest," everything seems to be going well for an eating contest with the arrival of a former eating champion, except he suddenly loses his appetite. Charlotte Rae guest stars in "The Twitch," where a crackdown on gambling on the base means (possibly) trouble for Bilko.

The second season begins with "Platoon in the Movies," where Bilko's latest scheme involves shooting his own training film. The $64,000 Question game show is Bilko's target to get rich in "It's For the Birds," as long as nothing goes wrong. Bilko's is forced to fight the IRS when he is selected for an audit (mistakenly) in "Bilko's Tax Trouble." Bilko tries to pass a lookalike off as Bing Crosby in "Bilko Presents Bing Crosby." Julie Newmar guest stars in "The Big Scandal," where Doberman tells the colonel's wife that he is in love with her after being hypnotized by Bilko.

Season three begins with "Bilko's Merry Widow," where Bilko is trying to get the rights to a Broadway hit for Roseville, but why? Dick Van Dyke guest stars as Private Hank Lumpkin in "Hillbilly Whiz," and Bilko is interested in getting him recruited... to the Yankees. In "Lieutenant Bilko," Bilko learns that a temporary World War II commission was never rescinded, and is now out for backpay. Bilko cooks up a scheme to keep a date with a nightclub singer in Washington DC by trying to get himself sent to the Pentagon to report aliens in "Bilko and the Flying Saucers." Bilko takes a two-week honeymoon with Paparelli in "Bilko's Honeymoon."

The fourth season makes a major change as the personnel of Ft. Baxter end up moving to Camp Fremont in California in the first episode of the season, "Gold Fever." Bilko is convinced that he can talk the Pentagon into making burlap uniforms (after he gets some surplus burlap sacking, of course) in "Bilko the Potato Sack King." A furlough ends with Bilko, Paparelli, and Zimmerman on an aircraft carrier headed to Alaska in "Bilko Joins the Navy." Lucille Ball makes a rare cameo appearance in "Bilko's Ape Man."

The episodes on the set are unedited, at least as far as I can tell. It is also worth noting that the set includes four episodes that have not been included in syndication packages, and those are unedited (and, even though most episodes on the set are not, these are newly remastered) on this set. Runtimes are as follows:

Season 1, Disc 1
1. "New Recruits" (26:11)
2. "The Empty Store" (26:08)
3. "The WAC" (26:14)
4. "The Horse" (25:51)
5. "A.W.O.L." (25:49)
6. "The Boxer" (26:02)

Season 1, Disc 2
7. "The Hoodlum" (26:03)
8. "Mardi Gras" (25:49)
9. "The Eating Contest" (26:02)
10. "The Centennial" (25:59)
11. "Bivouac" (25:46)
12. "The Singing Contest" (26:05)
13. "The Twitch" (26:06)

Season 1, Disc 3
14. "The Reunion" (26:02)
15. "The Rich Kid" (25:54)
16. "Hollywood" (26:06)
17. "The Investigation" (25:58)
18. "Kids in the Trailer" (26:02)
19. "The Revolutionary War" (26:06)
20. "The Transfer" (26:00)

Season 1, Disc 4:
21. "The Rest Cure" (25:48)
22. "Dinner at Sowici's" (25:59)
23. "Army Memoirs" (25:59)
24. "Miss America" (25:59)
25. "The Court Martial" (25:46)
26. "Furlough in New York" (26:06)
27. "The Big Uranium Strike" (25:56)

Season 1, Disc 5:
28. "Bilko and the Beast" (26:08)
29. "The Physical Check-Up" (26:06)
30. "The Recruiting Sergeant" (25:59)
31. "Hair" (26:01)
32. "The Con Men" (26:12)
33. "War Games" (26:07)
34. "Bilko on Wall Street" (25:59)

Season 2, Disc 1
35. "Platoon in the Movies" (25:54)
36. "It's for the Birds" (25:58)
37. "Bilko Goes to College" (26:00)
38. "The Girl from Italy" (25:52)
39. "The Face on the Recruiting Poster" (25:50)
40. "Bilko's War Against Culture" (26:00)
41. "The Song of the Motor Pool" (25:52)
42. "Bilko's Engagement" (25:52)

Season 2, Disc 2
43. "A Mess Sergeant Can't Win" (25:54)
44. "Doberman's Sister" (26:01)
45. "Where There's a Will" (25:57)
46. "Bilko's Tax Trouble" (25:50)
47. "Mink Incorporated" (25:59)
48. "Sergeant Bilko Presents Ed Sullivan" (25:54)
49. "Bilko Gets Some Sleep" (25:58)
50. "The Blue Bloods of the Bilkos" (25:56)

Season 2, Disc 3
51. "Love That Guardhouse" (25:52)
52. "Sergeant Bilko Presents Bing Crosby" (25:57)
53. "Bilko Goes to Monte Carlo" (25:57)
54. "Bilko Enters Politics" (25:57)
55. "Bilko's Television Idea" (25:57)
56. "The Son of Bilko" (25:52)
57. "Rock 'n' Roll Rookie" (25:52)
58. "Bilko's Black Magic" (25:59)

Season 2, Disc 4
59. "Bilko Goes South" (25:56)
60. "Bilko Goes Around the World" (25:57)
61. "The Mess Hall Mess" (25:52)
62. "The Secret Life of Sergeant Bilko" (25:54)
63. "Radio Station B.I.L.K.O." (25:54)
64. "Bilko the Marriage Broker" (25:51)
65. "Bilko Acres" (25:51)
66. "The Big Scandal" (25:56)

Season 2, Disc 5
67. "Bilko's Perfect Day" (25:53)
68. "The Colonel Breaks Par" (25:55)
69. "Show Segments" (25:55)
70. "His Highness Doberman" (25:56)

Season 3, Disc 1
71. "Bilko's Merry Widow" (25:58)
72. "Bilko's Boys Town" (26:01)
73. "Hillbilly Whiz" (25:53)
74. "Bilko's Valentine" (25:53)
75. "The Big Man Hunt" (25:53)
76. "Bilko's Double Life" (26:02)
77. "Sergeant Bilko Presents" (25:57)
78. "Papa Bilko" (26:00)

Season 3, Disc 2
79. "Bilko Talks in His Sleep" (25:54)
80. "Cherokee Ernie" (26:01)
81. "Bilko Buys a Club" (26:01)
82. "Lieutenant Bilko" (26:00)
83. "Bilko at Bay" (25:51)
84. "Bilko F.O.B. Detroit" (25:57)
85. "Bilko and the Flying Saucers" (25:55)
86. "Bilko and the Colonel's Secretary" (25:55)

Season 3, Disc 3
87. "Doberman the Crooner" (25:55)
88. "Bilko Presents Kay Kendall" (26:01)
89. "Bilko's Cousin" (25:57)
90. "Bilko's Piegeons" (25:56)
91. "Cyrano de Bilko" (25:55)
92. "The Colonel's Reunion" (25:52)
93. "Bilko Saves Ritzik's Marriage" (25:51)
94. "Bilko the Art Lover" (25:48)

Season 3, Disc 4
95. "Bilko the Genius" (25:46)
96. "Bilko the Male Model" (25:55)
97. "The Colonel's Inheritance" (25:44)
98. "Bilko's Honeymoon" (25:53)
99. "Bilko's Chinese Restaurant" (25:45)
100. "Operation Love" (25:53)
101. "Bilko's TV Pilot" (25:52)
102. "Bilko Retires From Gambling" (25:54)

Season 3, Disc 5
103. "Bilko's Vacation" (25:44)
104. "Bilko's Insurance Company" (25:54)
105. "Bilko's Prize Poodle" (25:53)
106. "Bilko's School Days" (25:56)
107. "Joan's Big Romance" (25:50)

Season 4, Disc 1
108. "Gold Fever" (25:45)
109. "Bilko's Vampire" (25:51)
110. "Bilko's Deluxe Tours" (25:38)
111. "Bilko the Potato Sack King" (25:41)
112. "Bilko vs. Convington" (25:42)
113. "Bilko Joins the Navy" (25:59)
114. "Bilko's Big Woman Hunt" (25:34)
115. "Bilko and the Crosbys" (25:50)

Season 4, Disc 2
116. "Bilko's Allergy" (25:33)
117. "Bilko and the Chaplain" (25:51)
118. "Bilko Presents the McGuire Sisters" (25:45)
119. "Bilko's Secret Mission" (25:50)
120. "Bilko's Giveaway" (25:42)
121. "Bilko and the Medium" (25:47)
122. "Bilko's Bopster" (25:42)
123. "Bilko's Hollywood Romance" (25:42)

Season 4, Disc 3
124. "Bilko's Grand Hotel" (25:38)
125. "Bilko's Credit Card" (25:41)
126. "Viva Bilko" (25:30)
127. "The Colonel's Promotion" (25:42)
128. "Bilko's Sharpshooter" (25:38)
129. "Bilko's Formula Seven" (25:42)
130. "Bilko's Ape Man" (25:47)
131. "Warrant Officer Paparelli" (25:44)

Season 4, Disc 4
132. "Bilko's Godson" (25:47)
133. "Guinea Pig Bilko" (25:48)
134. "Bilko the Butler" (25:34)
135. "Ritzik Goes Civilian" (25:50)
136. "Bilko's Small Car" (25:37)
137. "Doberman, Missing Heir" (25:31)
138. "Bilko's Casino" (25:39)
139. "The Colonel's Second Honeymoon" (25:39)
140. "Bilko in Outer Space" (25:36)
141. "The Bilko Boycott" (25:46)
142. "The Weekend Colonel" (25:39)


Packaging:

The set comes packaged in four Viva cases inside of a large outer box. The cover art has a cast photo with a flag-like background, and on the back, there is a brief description of the series along with a few episode photos. Inside, you'll find cases for each of the four seasons of the series. This is where things get a little odd. Shout! Factory actually took the original CBS DVD release of the first season and placed that in the box, completely as it was originally released. The remaining seasons, though, are "new," and the packaging has been done by Shout! Factory. Luckily, they pretty much kept the outer design of the cases pretty much the same. Things are a little different inside the cases, though, because while the first season includes episode descriptions for each episode, seasons 2-4 do not (Shout! has not been doing these in many recent releases unfortunately).


Menu Design and Navigation:

The set maintains pretty consistent menus throughout. The main menu has photos of some of the characters, and includes a list of all of the episodes on the set, a subtitles option, and special features (on applicable discs). Once you select an episode, if there are commentaries or introductions, you have the option of playing those. Otherwise you go straight to the episode. Chapters are placed within each episode.


Video and Audio Quality:

The episodes on the set all look and sound fine, but it is important to note that the quality differs from episode to episode, rather significantly in fact. The eighteen episodes that were previously released on the 50th Anniversary release are presented on this set in their remastered form, as created for that set. In addition, there were four episodes of the series that were withheld from syndication which are included on this set, and oddly enough, CBS went through the effort to remaster those into higher quality episodes before handing it over to Shout! Factory as well. As for the rest, they're syndication prints straight out of the 80s, complete with the 80s Viacom logo on the end. While they don't look particularly bad, the video quality on these definitely tends to have more defects. The audio is consistent throughout, with a standard mono track. All episodes contain English subtitles.


Special Features:

There are several episodes on the set that have audio introductions from the late Allan Melvin (these were recorded for the 50th anniversary DVD release from 2005). Shout! included them on the seasons 2-4 episodes, but since CBS decided not to carry those over into their season 1 release (which is included as CBS produced it with this set), the season 1 episodes contained on the complete series set have had the intros removed. The episodes that include these are as follows:

"A Mess Sergeant Can't Win"
"Doberman's Sister"
"Bilko's Tax Trouble"
"The Big Scandal"
"Hillbilly Whiz"
"Bilko the Art Lover"
"Bilko Joins the Navy"
"The Weekend Colonel"

Commentaries were recorded for some of the episodes in the 50th anniversary release, and once again, all of those have carried over into this release (CBS did include those on their season one release, so they are included for every season this time). Episodes and commentaries are as follows:

"New Recruits" - Allan Melvin
"The Court Martial" - George Kennedy
"Doberman's Sister" - Larry Storch and Mickey Freeman
"Hillbilly Whiz" - Dick Van Dyke
"Bilko Joins the Navy" - Larry Storch and Mickey Freeman

Season one is exactly the same as it was presented on the previous release from CBS, so the special features are all the same. "Lost Audition Show" (33:07) is an unaired pilot for the series from Nat Hiken's personal archive. It is taken from a 16mm print and is in very rough shape, but nice to see nonetheless. The original network opening (0:25) shows the opening credits as they originally aired on CBS, which aired under the title of You'll Never Get Rich at the time and was sponsored by Philip Morris cigarettes. Original cast commercials (2:37) shows some of the original commercials that aired during the series featuring the cast, including cigarette commercials (of course), but also a Pontiac commercial. Season 1 concludes an episode of The Lucy Show, "Lucy and the Efficiency Expert" (25:30), which guest starred Phil Silvers.

Season two has some special features that were carried over from the 50th anniversary release, such as "The Cast of Phil Silvers on Broadway" (7:14) and "Phil Silvers and Jack Benny on The Dick Cavett Show" (5:03), but there is one new special feature, an interview with Phil Silvers' daughter Cathy Silvers (8:43). In this interview, she talks about growing up with a famous father, her role of Jenny Piccalo on Happy Days, and a bit about what she is all about these days: healthy living.

On season three, we have a pair of new special features for this release. First up is an interview with Silvers' other two daughters, Nancey and Tracey (27:18). This interview is more focused upon the show itself, as well as Silvers' personal life and influences. Next up is an episode of The Paul Ryan Show in which he interviews Silvers (25:30). I had to look up exactly what this was because I had no clue, but apparently this was an interview series that started on public access (of all places) in Los Angeles before getting syndicated. It's sort of an interesting interview to watch, particularly since Silvers is very candid and seems to really be enjoying the interview.

Season four begins with the first part of a special starring Phil Silvers, "Keep in Step" (21:00), which aired on CBS in 1959. Up next is a promo for The New Phil Silvers Show (3:19), but even better, the set also includes an actual episode of The New Phil Silvers Show, "Harry the Good Neighbor" (25:34). The show is quite a bit different from Bilko since he is now living a more typical domestic lifestyle, but a lot of the personality traits of Bilko are still seen in his character on this series. The special features end with Silvers' last TV interview with Sonny Fox (5:05).

There aren't any real complaints about the special features, and we also got some new special features here. But there are also some special features that were included on the Paramount 50th Anniversary "best of" release from 2005 that did not make it to this set. Among those are episode intros for the season 1 episodes (missing since CBS decided not to carry those over to their season 1 release, though seasons 2-4 are included here), Nick at Nite marathon promos, a clip from The Ed Sullivan Show, a clip from the 1956 Emmy Awards, an excerpt from the Friars Club Stag Roast, memories of the series from Jack Klugman and Tony Randall (from TV Land's 5th anniversary celebration), and a photo gallery. The diehard fan may want to pick up that release in addition to this set for those special features, though there isn't a whole lot extra being offered on that set.


Final Comments:

It is nice to see yet another series wrap up on DVD, and especially to see it come all at once (which seems to be the new model for TV on DVD). This set doesn't disappoint at all, and it is also a series that seemed to have absolutely no hope for ever being continued (much less finished) on DVD. It is too bad that the whole series couldn't be remastered, but the fact that we got the series on DVD at all is a big accomplishment on its own.

Prior to viewing this release, I had not watched the series a whole lot, and I still haven't had the chance to view every episode on this set. A lot of that has to do with the fact that this series is becoming one that is (unfortunately) fading into obscurity. It did air on MeTV recently, but even there, it was relegated to late night slot on the weekend, and never a prominent part of the lineup. In a sense, it can be hard to get into a series like this since it is an older black and white series (one of the only ones to air only in the 50s that remains memorable), and being a sitcom that takes place in the military has a tendency to cause some viewers to ignore the series since they think it is a "military comedy." But that isn't what the series is at all, as it is really more of a straight comedy that just happens to take place in the military, much like Gomer Pyle.

If you've never seen the series, I would suggest first picking up a used copy of the 50th anniversary release containing 18 selected episodes of the series to see what it is like (it can be found for just a few dollars), and if you like it, then you should definitely jump into this set. Of course, if you've seen the series and are already a fan, you should have no reservations about picking up this complete series release.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/14/14

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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00MIA0JHY/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=330871


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