Sunday, July 08, 2007

SitcomsOnline.com Special: DVD Wall of Shame

SitcomsOnline.com Special
DVD Wall of Shame
By Skees53

Once upon a time, not even a whole decade ago, we were introduced to this concept for the very first time of TV-on-DVD… gone were the days where we paid Columbia House $20 for a handful of the episodes that they decided we want on VHS, and in came the day where we could, for roughly the same price, obtain several episodes, an entire season, or in some cases even an entire SERIES of our favorite shows on DVD. But sometimes these releases are poorly done, and some of them make the DVD Wall of Shame. Here is a look at some of these DVD sets that perhaps are just not meant to be on our shelves:

ALF – Season 1, 2, 3, 4: Lions Gate (or Lionsgate, whatever they are) thinks it is a good idea to capitalize on this show that we all love (but will never admit it) by giving us sets that have lots of flash (some special features, very nice menus, etc.) but syndicated episodes, some running as short as 18 minutes! The excuse? The unedited prints were in “bad shape,” though having seen those episodes less than 10 years ago on the cable network Odyssey (now known as Hallmark, cramming hours of mostly obnoxious programming down our throats all day long), I thought they looked rather presentable—even if they couldn’t take the time to clean the prints up. These sets are out of this world—and they deserve to stay there, too.

The Cosby Show – Season One: This is a classic show, even if it does get obnoxious after it airs the 30th time a week or whatever it is. It is okay though, as long as you avoid it, and maybe, on DVD, you’ll like it more because you’ll see full-length unedited episodes. But you’d be wrong, because this set was released with all syndicated episodes! Our very own site news director Pavan even tried (when this set was released) to get to the bottom of this story and find out why the episodes were edited, only to get a response from a person that shall remain anonymous (it wasn’t from anybody directly connected with the production of the DVDs, but with the marketing of the DVDs) that told him that it doesn’t matter that the DVDs are edited, just be glad they are being released, and stop complaining. Ouch. We’ll complain all we want, thank you very much. And if you want to do that cool Cosby Show dance like the Huxtables do at the beginning of each episode, make sure to stomp on this set extra hard. Luckily, all later seasons have been fine on DVD.

A Different World – Season One: Just like The Cosby Show’s first season, this set was also full of syndicated episodes. Fortunately, this will be rectified for season two as well. Even if your parents love you, they’d have to throw you out on the streets if you had this many problems.

The Golden Girls – The Complete Fifth Season: This set could have been a decent set, as it was the first (and only) of this series to contain any commentaries. But, in the interest of “giving us better quality prints” (this almost always means disaster is about to ensue), Buena Vista decides to include a handful of syndicated episodes on this set. I can’t thank this set for being a friend. Also, not quite making the Wall of Shame (but still deserving to be mentioned) is The Complete Seventh and Final Season, which has some episodes with an aspect ratio issue—how does THAT happen???

Happy Days – The Second Season: One two three… oh wait, you mean I’m not allowed to sing this for copyright reasons? Happy bir… wait copyright reasons again? Oh yes, this set was a disaster. CBS DVD (which was known as Paramount less than a year ago, when they still cared about preserving TV shows on DVD for the most part) has decided that this show has to be released on DVD with almost every original song removed. It isn’t just Happy DaysLaverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Family Ties, and Girlfriends, yes Girlfriends—have these music replacement issues too. And the problem is only getting worse at CBS DVD. The only difference with this show is that music is an integral part of the show, and to remove all of the original music, INCLUDING the theme song, is inexcusable. These days aren’t so happy for this set (or any set in the hands of CBS DVD for that matter).

Home Improvement – The Complete Sixth Season: Buena Vista had been doing a rather decent job of releasing this series on DVD, but then they decided to release the sixth season in a cheaper package than the previous releases. Of course, packaging shouldn’t immediately cause alarm, but then you get inside the package and discover that nearly half of the episodes have this bizarre video compression problem. Then, on top of that, they use syndicated versions for an unknown number of episodes? Does everybody know what time it is? Time to ditch this set!

In Living Color – Seasons 2-5: 20th Century Fox did a decent job with the first season, but then they really dropped a bomb after that, by releasing sets that had ANY kind of music or musical reference deleted from the episode. The result? Episodes that run as short as 16 minutes. You can do what you want, but you probably don’t want to buy this set.

Kate & Allie – Season One: Universal announced (through DVD trailers anyway) a long time ago that a Kate & Allie set would be coming out with the first two seasons… but by the time the press release came out, it was only the first season (6 episodes) at an MSRP of ~$30. Okay, that was hideously overpriced, but even more shocking was the fact that half of the episodes were… syndicated versions! Granted, it wasn’t totally Universal’s fault (they got the prints from FremantleMedia) but why is it that they don’t maintain unedited prints of the shows that they distribute? Sometimes tears and sorrows are all the things we’ve got, especially if we picked up this set without knowing the truth about it. North of the border, VEI in Canada has also been releasing these DVDs, with the same edited episodes on the first season and a few more on the second season, but they don’t make the Wall of Shame simply because they responded to criticism when it was brought to their attention that the episodes were edited and released a relatively flawless Complete Third Season set.

Laverne & Shirley – Season Two: While not quite as bad as Happy Days season 2, it still wasn’t great. We have missing music here and some episodes run incredibly short because of this missing music. Doesn’t CBS DVD understand that music is important in this show and Happy Days? We’re gonna do it… we’re gonna not buy this set, right?

Make Room for Daddy – The Complete Fifth Season: Okay, so we’re starting with season 5? Why? Well this season did mark a change in the series with Danny’s new wife, so we can live with the DVDs beginning with this season. But then, we get syndicated episodes and opening credits moved to just airing at the beginning of each disc! Don’t make too much room on your shelf for this DVD set. On a positive note, according to TVShowsOnDVD.com, S’more Entertainment has taken this show out of the hands of Questar (I don’t even know if they exist anymore to be honest, they seem to be a dead company because their website hasn’t been updated since 2004) and intends to release season 6 soon. Given the fact that S’more hasn’t released any DVD sets that could even potentially make this list, we’ll probably get a good set this time.

Mama’s Family – The Complete First Season: The first 13 episodes of this great show comes on DVD with episodes that are 21 minutes and 35 seconds long… syndicated versions indeed! Every single one of them! And even though syndicated episodes shouldn’t exactly be tolerated, it is made worse by the fact that the show has pretty much always aired twice a day on some cable network in the United States for the past ten years. This set will only curse your happy home.

Married… With Children – The Complete Fourth Season: Okay, so they changed the theme music for copyright reasons. We can live with that; after all, we don’t watch shows just for the theme songs, though it would be dishonest to say that the theme songs don’t give a series a little boost. But seven syndicated episodes? SEVEN? Does this have something to do with that obnoxious kid that lived with the Bundy family in the seventh season? It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for Sony’s excuse for the goof-up here. Apparently, they had unedited episodes, but they claim it is not possible for them to put the new theme song onto those episodes without doing a lot of work. They had to use the only international prints that were available to them. Of course, the “only international prints that were available” for the German version of this set included those seven episodes UNEDITED. This is no marriage made in heaven.

Roseanne – The Complete First Season: The Carsey-Werner syndicated first season curse strikes again!!! What more can I say? I think Roseanne laughs at the end of the closing credits because it doesn’t matter if these sets are edited or not—we still buy them and she still gets her money! Though in all fairness to Ms… Barr… or whatever her last name is… she did seem to be legitimately concerned when it was brought to her attention that the episodes were edited, and all further seasons have been unedited.

That’s My Mama – The Complete First Season, The Complete Second Season: This is a somewhat rare show from the 70s and it was great to see it come to DVD when it was announced. But a majority of the episodes turned out to be SYNDICATED versions. Don’t you be cuttin’ up on my mama.

Too Close For Comfort – The Complete First Season: I have to give Rhino a little bit of credit for releasing this show on DVD, as it is somewhat of a rare show to see on television, but every single episode was edited. This was rectified in the second season set, but we haven’t seen any more releases since then. I’d get too close for comfort with this set if it had full-length episodes.

WKRP in Cincinnati – The Complete First Season: Fans of this series have been waiting forever to have this show on DVD. Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox had us waiting forever simply to sell us, well, crap, in a convenient three disc set. Granted, all of the old jokes and most (though not even all) of the funny moments are there, but we have every single song gone (including doorbell music!) and even some shortened syndicated versions of episodes. Ouch. As God is my witness, I think these DVDs can fly off of your shelf.

Theoretically, I could go on forever and ever about more bad sets, like Sony and their practice of including randomly selected syndicated episodes (and chopping of recaps of multipart episodes), more theme song replacements, more music replacements, and appalling compression issues, but that is about it for the worst offenders. Unfortunately, I can only close by saying look forward to more bad sets coming to you in the upcoming years… what they’ll be, who knows, but beware!

Which sets make your DVD Wall of Shame? Post your picks here.
Sitcoms Airing Tonight (Wednesday, April 23)

The Middle - "The Wind Chimes" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Frankie pleads with a mean and unyielding Rita Glossner (Brooke Shields) to take down her wind chimes, whose noise is driving the Heck family crazy. Meanwhile, Axl and Hutch find a ratty, old couch abandoned on the street and try to figure out a way to retrieve it, instead of complaining to a pretzel manufacturer for skimping on the salt, Brick instead commits himself to coming up with a new pretzel snack idea for the company, and Sue informs the family that she and Darrin are dating again.

Suburgatory - "No, You Can't Sit With Us" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Tessa takes a young social outcast under her wing, she decides to mentor her protégée for the Miss Chatswin pageant to make a statement to Chatswin society. The pageant rivalry between Tessa and Dalia comes to a head and Tessa finds herself stooping to Dalia’s level to win. Meanwhile, George, Noah, Fred and Victor go on a boy’s weekend camping trip where Fred accidently loses Victor in the wilderness.

Modern Family - "Australia" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The entire family tags along as Phil fulfills his mom’s wish for him to return to his roots and visit the country where he was conceived, Australia. Unfortunately, Phil’s attempts to embrace his native land are met by a lot of rejection, while Jay and Claire let work eat into vacation time, and Mitch and Cam get reacquainted with an old friend (guest star Rhys Darby) they can’t stand but is now a big-time celebrity in Australia.

Mixology - "Dominic & Kacey" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After countless meaningless hookups, Kacey confronts Dominic about their relationship status and is taken aback by his response. Dominic then finds himself in unfamiliar territory and turns to Tom of all people for advice. Meanwhile, Maya and Fab try to help a drunken Liv, who has been knocking back drinks all night, after they spot a flock of bar vultures eyeing her. And the chance of hooking up with someone is being hampered for Bruce and Cal as they fend off a table interloper.

Melissa & Joey - "More Than Roommates" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel wants to get rid of the ugly chair that Joe inherited from his late grandmother.

Baby Daddy - "Livin' on a Prom" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben tries to score Bon Jovi tickets for Bonnie; Riley and Danny act as prom chaperones.

Hot in Cleveland - "Elka Takes a Lover" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
On the eve of Victoria's big movie premiere, Emmy (Jennifer Love Hewitt) visits with some surprising news while Elka announces she'staken a younger lover (Chris Elliott).

The Soul Man - "Back in the Day" (TV Land, 11:00PM ET/PT)
A disagreement between Stamps and Kim causes Boyce and Lolli to reminisce about the early days of their relationship. Deion Sanders guest stars.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "A Stalker for Hire" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jennifer and the guys think Joseph hired Leslie's stalker.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Being Responsible" (OWN, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jennifer's fearful of getting tested for HIV.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 21) (All times Eastern unless noted)

Wednesday, April 23

  • Sally Field (Gidget/The Flying Nun) - Watch Sally on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Timothy Simons (Veep) - Timothy drops by The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jim Gaffigan (My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Jim appears on on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tim Allen (Last Man Standing/Home Improvement) - Tim visits Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Paul Scheer (The League) - Paul is a guest on @midnight at midnight on Comedy Central.
  • Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) - Wilmer stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT. He will also be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Sarah chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Chris Messina (The Mindy Project) - Chris will be on Pop Sugar Now on TV Guide Network at 6pm and on the next day on their website at noon.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • David Alan Grier (Bad Teacher/Life with Bonnie/DAG) - David appears on The Queen Latifah Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • William Shatner ($#*! My Dad Says) - William will be on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
  • Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher) - Ari is a guest on The Couch on WLNY 10/55 in New York between 7-9am.
  • Max Charles (The Neighbors) - Max will be on The Couch on WLNY 10/55 in New York between 7-9am.
  • Christine Lakin Step by Step) - Christine will be on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 at 10am all this week.