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The White Shadow - The Complete Second Season


TITLE: THE WHITE SHADOW - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: March 21, 2006 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color/1979-80
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4 double-sided
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 1173 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 30 minutes
Audio: English; closed-captioned
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Special Features: Commentaries on 3 episodes; "The Shadow of Bruce Paltrow" featurette; "Director's Debut" featurette; Preview of 3rd season DVD bonus featurette "A Series of Moments"


Introduction:

Long before One Tree Hill was the only current show on TV to feature a high school basketball team, there was a show on TV that was REALLY about high school basketball, high school basketball players that aren't all white kids, high school basketball players that face bigger problems in the real world than family squabbles. That show was The White Shadow—a little show that ran on CBS in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and although it never got the ratings it needed to succeed, was perhaps one of the first and most powerful dramas about real issues that inner-city youth faced—much more than just basketball.

In the first season, Ken Reeves (Ken Howard), a white man that was a former professional basketball player, takes on a job as a high school basketball coach at a school that is nothing like what he is used to—an inner city school where most of the players are black. Expecting to come into Carver High to just tell the players how to play basketball and then go on with the rest of his life, he quickly discovers that his job requires him to do much more than just that, and that whether he likes it or not, he is going to be part of the players’ personal lives. The second season continues that same basic idea, except by now, the situations have become even more serious, including drugs, death, bigotry, sex, and more.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Haywood Nelson (What’s Happening!!) plays a freshman that Coach Reeves sees talent in and thinks will be a great asset to Carver's team—but tragedy ensues after Coach Reeves forces him to run laps when he complains of being tired in "Sudden Death." Hal Williams (227) also guest stars. Coach Reeves has a new roommate when Coolidge's apartment burns down in "No Place Like Home," but can they share an apartment without driving each other crazy?

The Harlem Globetrotters help Coach Reeves bring down the egos of his players after they go on a winning steak in "Globetrotters." Coach Reeves has the misfortune of being asked to teach a sex-ed class in "Me?" Hayward is determined to get revenge on a drug dealer after his cousin dies from a lethal overdose of heroin in "Needle," but can he be stopped before it is too late? Jackson's old girlfriend is back in town and he wants to marry her, but she has a new job—working on the streets—in "Delores, Of Course." Theodore Wilson guest stars in "A Christmas Present."

Salami gets caught red-handed with painkillers (during a time when a school district security officer is on a rampage at Carver to "police" the school's drug problems) in "Feeling No Pain," but become even worse for him AND Coach Reeves after he legitimately gets the needed painkillers. Coach Reeves thinks that he should teach the team about individual sports that will be more important later in their life, in particular golf—and is surprised to discover that certain members of his team aren't allowed to enter the country club in "Links." Coach Reeves has a new love interest in one of Carver's chemistry teachers, but he is floored when he discovers that she has a night job in "The Stripper." Somebody is selling angel dust at Carver High, and Coach Reeves will do anything to find out who it is in "Gonna Fly Now."

Everything that Coach Reeves has worked for in the past two years starts to be realized in "The Death of Me Yet," as he gets the team to a championship and has better coaching opportunities on the table—but all of that is meaningless when one of the players is shot and killed. Coolidge's ego gets the best of him after he is offered a role in a television series in "Coolidge Goes Hollywood." Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) appears in the episode. The seniors ponder their future in "A Few Good Men," and Goldstein is offered a full college scholarship, but is that what he really wants?

The breakdown of each disc, with the episodes and running times, is as follows:

Disc 1, Side A:
1. On the Line (48:56)
2. Albert Hodges (48:58)
3. Cross-Town Hustle (48:54)
4. Sudden Death (48:55)

Disc 1, Side B:
5. A Silent Cheer (48:58)
6. No Place Like Home (48:58)

Disc 2, Side A:
7. Globetrotters (48:58)
8. Me? (48:53)
9. Needle (48:55)
10. Sliding By (48:51)

Disc 2, Side B:
11. Delores, Of Course (48:53)
12. A Christmas Present (48:51)

Disc 3, Side A:
13. Feeling No Pain (48:57)
14. Artist (48:51)
15. Salami's Affair (48:51)
16. Links (48:58)

Disc 3, Side B:
17. The Stripper (48:52)
18. Gonna Fly Now (48:52)

Disc 4, Side A:
19. Out at Home (48:54)
20. The Russians are Coming (48:57)
21. The Hitter (48:22)
22. The Death of Me Yet (48:41)

Disc 4, Side B:
23. Coolidge Goes Hollywood (48:56)
24. A Few Good Men (48:50)


Packaging:

First and foremost, I have to say that I REALLY like the artwork included for the packaging. The artwork is so nicely and professionally done, at least in my opinion. It isn't flashy or anything, just very nice artwork. The front cover has a snapshot of five of the players and Coach Reeves, with an orangish-red color scheme—like the color of a basketball. On the inside of the box, there are two slim cases, each one holding two discs. The artwork on the slim cases is exactly the same as the cover art. On the back of each slim case, there are episode descriptions for every episode on the disc, with the airdates as well. Unfortunately, there is no indication on the case as to what side of the disc you need to watch to find the episode you want, but it is printed on the disc.

The discs are double-sided, so there is no artwork. Episodes 1-4 are on Disc 1A, 5-6 on Disc 1B, 7-10 on Disc 2A, 11-12 on Disc 2B, 13-16 on Disc 3A, 17-18 on Disc 3B, 19-22 on Disc 4A, 23-24 on Disc 4B. It seems odd that one side of each disc has 4 episodes and the other side has 2, but there is probably a logical explanation for that (I'm not an expert on the actual DVD technology itself so I don't have that answer).


Menu Design and Navigation:

There is nothing fancy about the menus, but they are adequate. Basically, the main menu lets you select the episode or Play All, or the special features on the disc (if there are any on that disc). All of this is on a background with a basketball court and a silhouette of a man that is all in white—a "white shadow" so to speak. A little blue (why blue? who knows) basketball bounces around as you move through the main menu to make your selection. Once an episode is selected, you get another menu that has a snapshot from the episodes, and the menu options are Play Episode, Scene Selection, Language Selection, and Home. The Scene Selection menu is just out of control! They have placed WAY too many scenes (and chapters for each one) throughout the episode, a total of 12 per episode! But, they are placed in appropriate places, so there isn't much to complain about there. As far as the Language Selection menu is concerned, I just LOVED that menu. It is designed like a scoreboard, and you have to go to the scoreboard to select the subtitles, if you so desire to have them.


Video and Audio Quality:

While there is some variation from episode to episode, the video quality is generally pretty good. Everything looks about how you would expect a show from 1980 to look and sound. The biggest problem that I noticed with the video is the ever annoying problem of the colors seeming to fade out on certain scenes (at first I thought it was just something with my TV, but just to confirm it was the DVDs and not the TV, I checked the scenes on other TVs and noticed the same trouble spots). The sharpness of the picture quality tends to go from good to not-so-good at certain point as well. The problems are rarely anything of major significance, however. There really aren't any other video problems to be concerned with. The audio quality is more than adequate, and there really isn't anything to complain about with it. Closed-captioning is available on the set, as are English and Spanish subtitles. The episode running times, all at around 24:50 seem to suggest that (unlike one exception in the Complete First Season) that EVERY episode is uncut.


Special Features:

They have done a REALLY good job with the special features on this set. There are commentaries for three of the episodes on the set. "Globetrotters" has commentaries by Kevin Hooks, Byron Stewart, Erik Kilpatrick, and Ira Augustain; "Needle" has commentary by Victor Lobl; "The Death of Me Yet" has commentary by Marc Rubin. Personally, even though I liked the Globetrotters episode the least out of those three, I think it had the best commentary because commentaries with actors are the most interesting, particularly when there are several actors getting together as they did there. Sure, there COULD be more commentaries, but three isn't bad for this show.

Besides the commentaries, there are some nice interviews on the DVD set. The first is "The Shadow of Bruce Paltrow (Disc 3B, 18:03). Basically, this is about Bruce Paltrow, the creator of the show, and has interviews with Mark Tinker, Blythe Danner, Erik Kilpatrick, Kevin Hooks, Bethany Rooney, Ken Howard, Timothy Van Patten (and even a telephone interview with his mother, Dorothy Van Patten!), Larry Flash Jenkins, Byron Stewart, Marc Rubin, Victor Lobl, Lori Openden, Ira Angustain and of course, Bruce Paltrow's REAL "shadow"—daughter Gwenyth Paltrow. That is a lot of people! This feature had a lot of archive footage of Bruce as well, though some is from the days when he was working on St. Elsewhere. It is a very nice tribute to Bruce Paltrow, especially considering that many people may not immediately know who he is.

A lot of the stars of the show went on to bigger things after the show, particularly into directing. They include Thomas Carter, Kevin Hooks, and Timothy Van Patten. That is what the "Director's Debut" featurette (Disc 4B, 13:36) talks about… but it has more to do with the show than one may think. Bruce Paltrow knew that some of the cast members had these directing ambitions, and actually allowed them to direct episodes of the show, at their very young age. Included are interviews with the directors mentioned: Thomas Carter, Kevin Hooks, and Timothy Van Patten.

Despite all of that, the BEST special feature on the set isn't exactly a special feature at all—it is a preview of a special feature that will be included on the Complete Third Season DVD set when that is released! The preview of "A Series of Moments" (Disc 4B, 4:13) shows clips of interviews of that particular coming attraction… basically it is the same people that participated in the other interviews, but Ken Michelman also joins them for this one. The feature says it is a special documentary that will be included on the next season set, so since it is getting so much attention now, I think it will be VERY promising… I can't wait to see it! I usually say there is room for improvement for special features on most DVD sets, and there always is, but for a show that seemed unlikely to appear on DVD in the first place, this set is almost perfect.


Final Comments:

I honestly never expected this show to ever be released on DVD, but obviously, I was wrong about that—two seasons down and one more to go, and the "A Series of Memories" preview seems to imply that the third season is definitely coming sometime in the near future. And aside from the glitch on the first season set (putting an edited version of an episode on the set), Fox has done a great job with these sets so far, with the presentation of the episodes as well as with the special features. I honestly can't say that I want or expect more than what Fox has given so far. As far as the episodes themselves are concerned, these second season episodes are very good episodes (even better than season one) and deal with controversial issues that even some shows today would probably shy away from. It is too bad this show never attracted a large enough audience to last more than three seasons, because it is a very well-written drama that never sugarcoats anything... and that is what makes it a good show to watch.


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

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

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 03/10/06

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000CNE0SI/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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