Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blog DVD Review: Peyton Place - Part Two

Welcome to our weekly Saturday Blog DVD Review. Today we take a look at Shout! Factory's Peyton Place - Part Two. I know this DVD came out in the summer, but we saved it for a "rainy day." Well, it doesn't rain on the Internet, but that means a slow day, and today it is slow. Peyton Place ran from 1964-1969 on ABC and had over 500 episodes! See skees53's Blog DVD Review of Peyton Place - Part Two:

Peyton Place - Part Two (Shout!, $39.99) is the second installment in the "continuing story of Peyton Place." Peyton Place is that quaint series about life in a small New England town where everything is ideally supposed to be happy and cheerful like Mayberry off of The Andy Griffith Show, but actually, as it turns out, Peyton Place is full of drama and scandal. At the end of the Part One DVD release (which, I have to say, you pretty much have to own and watch that set before even looking at this set, otherwise you will be lost), Allison (Mia Farrow) was facing questions about her love life in addition to coming close to finding out the truth about her father (I won't spoil the whole thing for those who haven't seen Part One, but she has been told that her father died, which isn't exactly the truth). Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal) married Betty Anderson (Barbara Parkins) for what seemed to be a good reason, except Betty had been deceptive and the reasoning was a total lie. Betty's father, George (Henry Buckman) was still battling alcoholism and other life issues. And the strange man, Eliot Carson (Tim O'Connor) had arrived in Peyton Place, and is sure to contribute to even more drama in the "pleasant" New England town.

And that was just Part One! And now, in the "continuing story of Peyton Place," we have 34 more episodes (the packaging actually says 33, but the set contains episodes 32 through 65, and that is 34 episodes by my count), all of the episodes that aired from January 1965 through April 1965. In this part of Peyton Place, the mystery of Eliot Carson could be unraveled at any time, and Constance MacKenzie (Dorothy Malone) needs to do everything in her power to stop it in order to prevent any rifts between her and the new doctor in town, Dr. Rossi (Ed Nelson). The young bride Betty Anderson, having already taken a vow to love Rodney Harrington for better or for worse, has decided to go ahead and go for worse by skipping town on her new husband and mother Julie (Kasey Rogers). George Anderson (Henry Beckman) had already been established to be an alcoholic and an abusive husband, but he is JUST about ready to fly off his rocker this time and be put away (finally). And a new guy has arrived in town, Paul Hanley (Richard Evans), and he is the man responsible for Eliot Carson to prison for all of those years. Just why is he back in town? There is so much more to tell, but it is best to not go into details because otherwise, it will spoil the experience of watching the show.

The packaging is basically the same as the packaging for Part One, with just a standard DVD snapcase with a cardboard sleeve. The overall color scheme is green, and we have a general cast photo for the cover art. Inside, we have five discs, each containing black and white snapshots from the series. Each disc contains seven episodes, except for Disc 5, which contains six episodes. Unfortunately, there are no episode descriptions or even an episode list to be found anywhere in the set, but you have to watch them all in order anyway, so it isn't a HUGE deal.

The menus are very basic, with the theme music playing in the background and options of Play All and Episodes. Audio clips from the series play in the background on the main menu. Each option is self-explanatory. Episodes takes you to a list of episodes, where you can also select to play a preview for each episode. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. There are plenty of chapters within each episode.

The video and audio quality of the set is mostly fine, but it isn't the greatest on all episodes. As far as the video is concerned, there are many grain issues and some serious black level issues on a few episodes. The audio is presented in mono and is fully of hissing and crackling, although I guess the good news is that the audio does not seem to suffer from the common compression issues that audio tracks on most TV shows on DVD seem to suffer. Maybe it is just that it is less pronounced by the other audio issues. Of course, I have to say that the problems aren't too big, but it is just important to note these problems. Each episode is closed-captioned, and the episodes all seem to be unedited, running around 25 minutes per episode.

There are no special features to be found anywhere on this set. It's a shame, but it isn't too bad, because this series kind of speaks for itself, plus special features have a tendency to be centered around one or a few episodes. This series is one where you can't just think about one or two episodes, and instead have to consider the series as a whole.

I never watched or knew anything at all about this series before seeing these DVDs. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I only discovered it because Shout! Factory shipped this set (as well as Part One) to me by mistake, and upon watching the DVDs, I thought it was worthy of reviewing and sharing with TV fans everywhere. I have been impressed with the series, and for an early '60s TV series, it was at least a decade ahead with the mature storylines and not being afraid to go in to controversial topics (teen pregnancy, anybody?). It is almost like the primetime soap operas that dominated the airwaves 15 to 20 years later (think Dallas, Dynasty, etc.), except without all of the cheesy (though admittedly fun) over-the-top catfights and deception that those series thrived in. It is a great show that fans of family dramas are certain to love.

Unfortunately, there is some less than positive news about the future of this series on DVD, although it is nothing definitive. Shout! Factory has exhausted the episodes that they had licensed from 20th Century Fox, and have to work on getting the rights for more episodes. According to Brian Ward, who posted on the Shout! Factory message boards, Shout! Factory is eager and willing to put out more episodes as the series did very well by their standards, but 20th Century Fox is reluctant to release more episodes due to sales that don't meet the standards of Fox (keep in mind, this is a company that uses series such as Family Guy as a benchmark). Hopefully, though, this situation will work out for the best and we'll see more of the "continuing story of Peyton Place."

Reviewed by skees53
(4/5 stars)

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