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

Thursday, July 31

The Big Bang Theory - "The Hesitation Ramification" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Penny’s big acting break on NCIS is a bust, Leonard struggles to help her, which results in Penny asking Leonard a bold relationship question. Meanwhile, Sheldon tries to learn how to be funny and Raj tries to work on his “game” before talking to girls.

The Millers - "Walk-n-Wave" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Worried that his mother has made him feel like he’s better than other people, Nathan befriends a hopeless co-worker, Doug, who turns out to be a social outcast and more than Nathan knows how to handle. Meanwhile, Tom and Adam argue about who’s smarter and take an online test to find out. Andy Richter guest stars as Doug, Nathan’s co-worker. Roseanne Barr guest stars as Darla, Doug’s mother.

Welcome to Sweden - "Get a Job/Farthinder" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Feeling uncomfortable that he is being supported by Emma (Josephine Bornebusch), and hearing about it from from Emma’s mom Viveka (Lena Olin), Bruce (Greg Poehler) looks for work in Sweden and lands a job that doesn’t quite match with his skill set. Meanwhile, he starts to feel left out when Emma begins to make plans without him. Elsewhere, Hassan (guest star Basim Sabah Albasim) helps teach Bruce to drive, while one of Bruce’s former clients, Gene Simmons (guest starring as himself), tracks him down in an effort to clear problems he is having with the IRS.

Working the Engels - "Picture Night" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jenna (Kacey Rohl) is approached by a former client from her old firm, billionaire software genius Sam Taylor (guest star Jacob Tierney), to handle a merger on his behalf. However, it’s the worst time for such a high profile client as Ceil (Andrea Martin), has infected all the office computers with a virus. In addition, Jenna must also help Jimmy (Benjamin Arthur) calm down Sandy (Azura Skye), who has just been served divorce papers.

Married - "The Getaway" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Russ and Lina go on a romantic getaway. Jess gets in trouble for sexting her neighbor.

You're the Worst - "Keys Open Doors" (FX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Gretchen inadvertently asks Jimmy for a key to his house.

Love That Girl - "Gullible Is as Gullible Does (TV One, 10:00PM ET/PT)
After being taken advantage of several times Jasmine attends Suckers Anonymous, a support group for the gullible. Meanwhile, when the bullying at school gets to be too much, Cordell gets a gun to take care of the bully himself. Delroy has to convince Cordell that violence is not the right answer.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 28) (All times ET unless noted)

Thursday, July 31

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Seinfeld) - Catch Julia on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ron Funches (Undateable) - Ron visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse appears on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Carl (The Dick Van Dyke Show) and Rob Reiner (All in the Family) - Carl and Rob are guests on Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Chris is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
  • Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Eric 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.
  • Martin Lawrence (Partners/Martin) - Martin talks about his new FX series Partners on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • George Lopez (Saint George/George Lopez) - George is a guest on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • David Alan Grier (Bad Teacher/Less Than Perfect/DAG) - David appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided and Nat Faxon (Married/Ben Kate) - The stars of FX's Married are guests on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.