Sunday, July 15, 2007

SitcomsOnline.com Special: TV-on-DVD Hall of Fame; Welcome Back, Pavan

SitcomsOnline.com Special
TV-on-DVD Hall of Fame
By Skees53

After seeing that list of DVDs that made the “DVD Wall of Shame” last week, you may be thinking to yourself that TV-on-DVD is all gloom and doom… but don’t get too far down yet! There are actually some DVD sets out there that are decent, but some just stand out above the rest. Today, we look at a few DVD releases of TV shows that make the list of the “impressive” DVDs. You’ll notice that many of these have already had a complete series release, which perhaps suggests that the DVD producers were truly dedicated to these series. This is the TV-on-DVD Hall of Fame.

Arrested Development The Dick Van Dyke Show I Love Lucy

The Odd Couple Seinfeld Three's Company

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Arrested Development – all releases: The series was never quite a big hit with the mass public as it was with the critics, but when it comes to the DVDs, boy did the critics ever win! We have commentaries, deleted scenes, blooper reels, and of course the episodes themselves presented in their perfect form. What can one complain about?

The Beverly Hillbillies – Volume 1 and Volume 2: For years, we’ve been seeing public domain releases of this great series on DVD, but not much more. But MPI gave us two authorized releases for a change that had the theme song intact, had original sponsorship elements contained within the set, included an unaired pilot, and even had some interviews with cast members on it. Unfortunately, MPI could only release the episodes that they had obtained the rights to release from the Paul Henning estate, which means that the remaining episodes of the series are in the hands of CBS DVD. So far, they seem to have no interest in releasing any more episodes, and if they do, while the video quality may likely be nicer than the MPI releases, we probably won’t see as many special features.

Bewitched – The Complete First Season: You know you are off to a good start when the producers of this DVD set offer an option of original black and white or a colorized version. I won’t even start on which one is better (that is your own decision, but hey, you actually can choose!), but the choice is nice to have. The episodes were all presented (basically) unedited and there were even some special features, including interviews with some of the cast members. The later releases are good too, although they are totally lacking in the special features area. The only bad thing about these sets is that they don’t include the original opening credits, but then again, as a show ages and we watch it in syndication, the syndicated opening credits in a sense become the original opening credits as far as we are concerned.

The Dick Van Dyke Show – all releases: Wow. Just wow. This show is, of course, one of the greatest classic television shows of all time, but it doesn’t always get the same level of appreciation as some other older television shows like I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show. But still, that didn’t stop Image from releasing DVD sets with every single episode with nearly perfect video quality and loads of special features. The series finally got the level of respect that it deserves!

Doogie Howser, M.D. – all releases: Yes, I’m just as surprised as you are to see this series make a list like this… but you’d better bet it deserves to be here! Anchor Bay managed to release all four seasons unedited (and with original music—I never even realized the show had so much music until the DVDs) and include some nice special features as well. Although the sets all lacked commentaries, we had plenty of interviews, trivia, and even Doogie Howser’s personal journal booklet included on one set.

The Doris Day Show – all releases (so far): I’m not going to lie. Before this show came to DVD, although I had heard of the show (only when Louise Jefferson was asking Archie Bunker if he had watched it on an episode of All in the Family), I never knew what it was at all. And I think that can be said for a lot of people. Still, that hasn’t stopped MPI from releasing DVD sets with bonus features like interviews, commercials, unaired footage (including unaired footage from the making of the opening credits), movie trailers, bloopers, even a pilot episode for a spin-off that never came to be! There is only one season left to be released in the series, and supposedly Doris Day herself will be involved in it. This could possibly be the best release yet!

Family Guy – Volume 3 and Volume 4: When Fox released Volumes 1 and 2 of Family Guy on DVD, they were decent sets, but nothing all that impressive. Of course, Fox really didn’t care. Family Guy was just a show that Fox didn’t really care that much about, and was just getting it out on DVD to get fans to shut up about a show that they thought was done with forever. But when those volumes sold very well and the show was brought back, Fox decided that for the DVD releases of the new episodes, they weren’t going to be quite as unimpressive on the DVDs. In Volumes 3 and 4, we have many more commentaries, many more behind-the-scenes featurettes, and even get to see additional footage from episodes. In fact, some of the episodes on Volume 4 run a few minutes longer than they did when they aired on TV and have the original content intact.

Get Smart – The Complete Series: This is the ultimate definition of TV-on-DVD done right. Of course, maybe it just got lucky because it got into the hands of HBO (for those unfamiliar with HBO DVDs, they are always incredibly impressive) rather than a company that just mass produces DVD sets with just episodes, but in any event, we have complete episodes along with commentaries, interviews, audio introductions, documentaries, and a whole lot more.

Here’s Lucy – The Best Loved Episodes from the Hit TV Series: In all fairness, although this was a great show, it doesn’t exactly measure up to the standards set by I Love Lucy in the 50s. But it is still a pretty good show, and this set is a great set! It contains 24 episodes with commentaries, bloopers, unaired footage, original network promos, and much more. The only unfortunate thing about the set is the fact that it is a best-of set, and so far we haven’t seen any season sets (nor is there any indication that we ever will), but we can always hope for the best!

I Love Lucy – all releases: I love these DVD sets! They contain all of the episodes pretty much unedited (though some purists will point out there is a scene missing from one episode… but the justification for removing that scene seemed fair to me) and have original openings available on the set, deleted scenes, outtakes, commentaries, promotional spots, and a whole lot more! There is even more good news on the way: later this year, CBS DVD is releasing a Complete Series set as they have done with several other series. There is no word yet on what this set will contain as a bonus, but I’m sure that whatever it is, it’ll be good.

Miami Vice – all releases: Okay, so it isn’t a sitcom, and there aren’t really that many special features. In fact, only Season One had any special features at all, and even those were pretty lame. But in these sets, Universal took a series that had lots and lots of music and somehow managed to give us all five seasons with not a single song removed due to copyright reasons and (as far as we know) totally unedited… and at a reasonable price too. That alone allows Miami Vice to earn a place in the hall of fame.

The Odd Couple – The First Season: This show took quite a while to make it to DVD, but it was well worth the wait. With Paul Brownstein being involved in this set, it is no surprise that this set was done right. We have a set with complete episodes, commentaries, and plenty of bonus materials, including obscure interviews, promos, and more. The only bad thing about this set was the packaging, which was flimsy and perhaps not very professional looking… but even that was fixed when distribution of the set switched from Time-Life to CBS DVD (which also added a nice bonus disc to the set with some episodes from later seasons). Future seasons of the series to come look like they should be good too, but there is a little cloud hanging over us in the fact that the back of the case for the season two set says that some music has been changed. Hopefully this hasn’t gone the route that many other CBS DVD series have gone lately.

Seinfeld – all releases (so far): Sony usually doesn’t do DVD releases perfectly well. They seem to have at least perfected the situation of accidentally including syndicated versions of episodes, but they still generally lack on bonus features. But they didn’t do that on Seinfeld! They have given perfect releases on all of these so far (as the show deserves) with commentaries, interviews, bloopers, standup comedy footage, documentaries, and much much more! That means there is a whole lot of something about the show that is about nothing!

Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) – 50th Anniversary Edition: This show could have easily slipped by with a sub-par release, but it didn’t. Instead, we got a great set with 21 episodes complete with bonus features such as commentaries, promos, interviews, auditions, and footage from special events related to the show. It should come as no surprise that this was another Paul Brownstein set! Now, if only CBS DVD could release entire seasons of the series.

The Simpsons – all releases (so far): This has been an impressive series on DVD, with totally unedited episodes all the way through, interviews, animatics, artwork, and commentaries on every single episode—so far anyway. Unfortunately, I fear that these sets are going to be getting a little less impressive now that we are moving into the seasons where some so-called fans stopped watching the show. This slow trend can already be seen on the upcoming season 10 release which will reportedly have a few episodes that do not contain commentaries (we can hope this is only a mistake, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that so far). Still, I can see future releases being totally unedited and still having some decent special features on them.

Three’s Company – all releases: This is a great series that could have been easily wrecked on DVD if it had gotten in the hands of the wrong company (specifically in regards to special features). But it didn’t. Anchor Bay released all eight seasons of the series, complete with unedited episodes, interviews, commentaries, promotional material, photo galleries, and more. And on top of that, the sets are all priced VERY reasonably, with list prices in the sub-$30 range (and you’ll easily find them under $20 if you look hard enough). Now if only we could get the spin-offs on DVD.

Those are all of the good DVD releases, so far anyway. Hopefully, as more and more DVDs are released, this list can grow infinitely long (though sadly, the Wall of Shame seems to be growing more than this list lately). Still, it is nice to know that in the fast-paced world of TV-on-DVD, there are some sets that are definitely worth owning.

Which sets make your TV-on-DVD Hall of Fame? Post your picks here.


Pavan makes his return from vacation tomorrow. I hope that I was able to keep the blog interesting and informative while he was gone. Thanks to Seth and Skees for their articles and Solomon for his regular weekly rants. They made my job easier. The blog will be celebrating its second anniversary next month. Thanks to Pavan for all of his time and effort in bringing us daily updates!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, March 22

Fresh Off the Boat - "Vice Mommy" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Jessica starts her college classes, leaving Evan in charge at home as “vice mommy.” But the transition doesn’t go smoothly, either for her starting school again or with Evan taking over the reins of the Huang household. Eddie and Louis run into conflict when Eddie just wants his dad to treat him as an employee, and not a son, at Cattleman’s Ranch.

Speechless - "P-R-O-M-P--PROMPOSAL" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Outraged that JJ’s girlfriend, Izzy, declines his invitation to prom, Dylan and Ray swing for the fences with a bold plan to make her jealous. Jimmy, Kenneth and Melanie coach Maya through accepting criticism for the good of her company, and one of the DiMeos takes a big step into a new life.

Last Man Standing - "The Passion of Paul" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Rev. Paul calls on Mike to teach Sunday school, Mike calls on Kyle to take his place.

The Cool Kids - "Margaret Ups Her Game" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Margaret tries to date the hottest guy in Shady Meadows but can't seem to rid herself of Leonard.

Sydney to the Max - "You've Got Female" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Sydney organizes a school protest for clubs to be more inclusive of women; young Max befriends a skater girl, but is conflicted because the Dog Boys don't allow girls in their crew.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 18)

Friday, March 22

  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Joey/Friends/Vinnie & Bobby) - Watch Matt on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Illana Glazer (Broad City) - Illana is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Pamela Adlon (Better Things/King of the Hill/The Facts of Life) - Pamela appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • J. K. Simmons (Growing Up Fisher/Family Tools) - J. K. is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Cobie Smulders (Friends from College/How I Met Your Mother) - Cobie appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Stephen Merchant (Hello Ladies) - Stephen is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Keegan-Michael Key (Friends from College/Playing Houe/Gary Unmarried) - Keegan-Michael visits LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Piper Perabo (Turn Up Charlie) - Piper is tentatively scheduled to appear on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Casey Wilson (Black Monday/Marry Me/Happy Endings) - Casey talks about Black Monday on Couch Surfing at 8am.
  • Natalie Morales (Abby's/The Grinder/Trophy Wife/Parks and Recreation) - Natalie appears on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Mark Hamill (The Texas Wheelers) - Mark talks about Knightfall on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • Tony Danza (Taxi/Who's the Boss?/Hudston Street/The Tony Danza Show) - Tony performs on ABC's Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • Maddie Corman (Mr. President/All-American Girl) - Maddie talks about the play Accidentally Brave on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Patti will be on Steve, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January/February/March)

Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season Alice - The Complete Ninth Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season

01/08 - Family Guy - 20 Greatest Hits
01/22 - Fuller House - The Complete Third Season
01/22 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
01/29 - Ballers - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
01/29 - Crashing - The Complete Second Season
01/29 - The Game - The Complete Series
01/29 - Kidding - Season One
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 1 - Volumes 1-5
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 2 - Volumes 6-10
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 3 - Seasons 10-14
02/05 - First Lady of Television - Betty White Collection (40 rare and acclaimed episodes from her early days in television)
02/05 - Mama's Family - Seasons 1-6 - The Complete Series
02/12 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-3 (Blu-ray)
02/12 - Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season
02/26 - What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season
03/05 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
03/12 - Alice - The Complete Ninth Season (WBShop.com)
03/26 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest