Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blog DVD Review: The Paper Chase - Season One

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the weekly Blog DVD Review! Today we take a look at Shout! Factory's The Paper Chase - Season One. The Paper Chase is a 1978-79 television series (later revived feom 1983-86) based on a 1970 novel by John Jay Osborn, Jr., as well as a 1973 film based on the novel. It follows the lives of law student James T. Hart and his classmates at Harvard Law School. See skees53's Blog DVD Review of The Paper Chase - Season One:

The Paper Chase - Season One (Shout!, $49.98) takes viewers through the "first years" of James T. Hart (James Stephens), a first year law school student at Harvard Law School, and his dealings with his tough as nails professor, Charles Kingsfield (John Houseman). James is a young man that grew up in a small Midwestern town and now faces a totally different world that he was never prepared for at Harvard Law School, but is determined to make it in spite of the challenges, the biggest challenge being Professor Kingsfield. As Professor Kingsfield's opening narrative for each episode says, "the study of law is something new and unfamiliar to most of you, unlike any other schooling you have ever known before. You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush and, if you survive, you'll leave thinking like a lawyer." The series was based upon the popular film and book of the same title, and ran for one season on CBS in 1978-1979, and was later revived as one of the first series on Showtime in 1983 to 1986.
Marilu Henner (Taxi) guest stars in the pilot episode, where we first meet our cast of characters, and things don't start out so well for Hart as he arrives late for Kingsfield's class. One of Hart's classmates may be in serious trouble, and decides to count on Hart to defend him from expulsion in "Great Expectations." Hart finds the perfect girlfriend but learns a secret that he'd rather not know when her father is killed (by mobsters) in "Nancy." Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City) guest stars in "Da Da," where one of Hart's classmates is having a hard enough time dealing with married life, let alone the fact that his wife (Cattrall) is pregnant! The women's liberation movement hits Harvard Law when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is on campus and asked why he has never hired a female law clerk in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
One of the classmates finds out why it is never acceptable to cheat in "An Act of Desperation." In "The Man in the Chair," the study group has a new member that is in a wheelchair and they do a lot for him--in fact, too much--which backfires. Hart tutors a black woman that was admitted to the college by affirmative action when he is short on cash in "A Matter of Honor." Hart gets to be Kingsfield's apprentice in "The Apprentice." We go into another class at the law school in "Once More with Feeling," and this professor (Robert Reed, The Brady Bunch) has some serious ethical problems. Hart is out to do better than Kingsfield did on an earlier case in "The Clay Footed Idol." Hart and Kingsfield go directly against each other in a legal case in "The Tables Down at Ernie's."
The set has the three standard double slimcases inside the slipcase. Inside each slimcase, we find two discs (for a total of six discs), which really have no artwork except for the series name on different law-related backgrounds. The back of each slimcase lists all of the episodes contained on the discs, and there is also an episode booklet that contains episode descriptions, original airdates, and even quotes from some of the episodes. The menus on the set are very basic, with the theme song playing in the background (performed by Seals and Croft of "Summer Breeze" fame, by the way), and options of Play All and Episodes. That is really about all there is to the menus. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately, with chapters placed at all of the appropriate places.
The video and audio quality of the episodes has a tendency to be a little rough at times, but it isn't terrible. The picture quality is rather clear, but there are some issues with grain and scratches, and there are some unusual color issues at the beginning of some of the episodes. The audio is somewhat dull, but adequate, presented in mono. Closed-captioning is nowhere to be found on the set. There is some variance in runtimes (running anywhere from about 46 minutes to 48 minutes), and since I've never seen the series before this DVD set, it is hard to say whether or not this is normal. However, my best guess is that this fluctuation is nothing to be concerned with, and that the episodes are probably fine.
Unlike virtually every other recent Shout! Factory release, we are left with no special features on this set. It is unfortunate, but it isn't a big deal. The series really didn't produce any prominent actors, as most of them did not really go on to bigger things after the series ended. Really, in a way, the lack of special features almost is almost fitting for a series like this--it allows the episodes to speak for themselves.
This is the first time that I've ever seen the series, and I have to admit that I found the series, much like Professor Kingsfield's demeanor, a bit difficult to approach at first. This is definitely one of those series that requires an attention span to watch the episodes. You can't just have it on in the background while you are doing something else; you have to fully focus on the series (again, just like you would if you were studying for Kingsfield's class). But there is no question that this series is a quality series with solid writing and scripts. This is not a series that I'd recommend for any classic TV fan in general, because many people out there will have a hard time understanding the series, but for fans of more "sophisticated" programming (or law school students) are certain to enjoy this series. Of course, fans of the film will also enjoy this series, as there are many similarities to the film. You will now be dismissed... but only when I permit you to do so!

Reviewed by skees53
(4/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, October 18

The Big Bang Theory - "The Planetarium Collision" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Amy doesn’t have time to work on super-asymmetry, Sheldon goes to great lengths to ensure she’s available to work with him even it if means accidentally sabotaging her career in the process. Also, Koothrappali doesn’t want Wolowitz to join him in hosting a show at the planetarium. Emmy Award winner Bob Newhart returns as Arthur Jeffries.

Young Sheldon - "A Research Study and Czechoslovakian Wedding Pastries" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Dr. Sturgis (Wallace Shawn) recommends Sheldon and Missy for a university research study on twins, and Mary is unhappy when the test results go to Sheldon’s head.

Mom - "Big Sauce and Coconut Water" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Christy is certain that Bonnie is in over her head when she invites a freshly paroled Tammy (Kristen Johnston) to stay with them.

Murphy Brown - "Three Shirts to the Wind" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Murphy and the team weigh the pros and cons of accepting the offer to have the first interview with a headline-grabbing former White House senior advisor (David Costabile) who wants to promote his divisive book and agenda on “Murphy in the Morning.” Also, Avery moderates a lively political discussion on his show with locals in Buffalo, N.Y.. Original series cast member Charles Kimbrough returns as Jim Dial in his first of three episodes, and Merle Dandridge guest stars as the team’s arrogant network boss, Diana Macomber.

Superstore - "Toxic Workplace" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) get combative to keep their new relationship hidden from their co-workers. Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) spirals when he learns Kelly (Kelly Stables) wants to transfer to a new store, and Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) struggles to organize a Cloud 9 carpool.

The Good Place - "Jeremy Bearimy" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The group explores the three main branches of ethical thought.

Will & Grace - "Tex and the City" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack (Sean Hayes) visit Jack’s grandson, Skip (guest star Samuel Faraci), in Texas to watch him perform at his church’s talent show. But when Jack learns Skip plans on singing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” he becomes afraid for his grandson’s safety. Karen (Megan Mullally) tags along to check out the portion of the border wall she sponsored, only to discover that Beverley Leslie (guest star Leslie Jordan) has claimed it as his own. Back home, Grace (Debra Messing) and Noah (guest star David Schwimmer) try to figure out if something is wrong in their relationship because their numerous attempts to have sex have failed.

I Feel Bad - "I'm Vain A.F." (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
An upcoming launch party at GamePunch throws Emet’s vanity into overdrive. Intent on scrubbing a bad picture off the company website, Emet is dead set on redeeming herself and getting the perfect photo at this year’s party – that means getting her hair done, professional make-up and toning up a problem area: her husband.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 15)

Thursday, October 18

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Seinfeld) - Catch Julia on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Laura Benanti (The Detour/Go On/Starved) - Laura stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Mulaney (Mulaney) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Meredith Hagner (Search Party/Men at Work) - Meredith is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Maya Rudolph (Forever/Up All Night) - Maya drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Stockard Channing (Out of Practice/The Stockard Channing Show/Stockard Channing in Just Friends) - Stockard visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Jenna Fischer (Splitting Up Together/The Office) - Jenna appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • John Stamos (Grandfathered/Jake in Progress/Full House) - John talks about You on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Fishman and Maya Lynne Robinson (The Conners/Roseanne) - Michael and Maya Lynne are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET. Michael and Lecy Goranson can be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM.
  • John Goodman (The Conners/Roseanne/The Trouble in Normal, Ohio) - John talks about The Big Lebowski reunion on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Bailee Madison (Trophy Wife) - Bailey talks about Hallmark Channel's Good Witch: Tale of Two Hearts on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest