Saturday, April 24, 2010
Digital Digest: DVD Reviews of The Unusuals - The Complete Series; I Love Lucy - The Movie; Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1
We've been reporting on a lot of current series being released on DVD lately, as it is pretty common to hear a lot about these releases this time of year. This week, we have word, thanks to a pre-order link on Amazon.com, that the CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose - The First Season is slated for a DVD release with an unknown date at a $41.99 MSRP. Of course, the future of that series is still up in the air as of right now, so that title could be changed to The Complete Series... we'll have to wait and see on that.
Even more strange, though, is the announcement of upcoming and not-yet-aired seasons of two cable series. The Boondocks - The Complete Third Season ($49.95 MSRP) and My Boys - The Complete Fourth Season ($39.95 MSRP), neither of which has aired yet, are already available for pre-order on Amazon.com, also with an undetermined release date. Of course, since these details are all very sparse right now, we will definitely update you when we actually do know something. Obviously, the studios are already thinking about home media before a season even gets a chance to air these days, which is definitely a positive since it ensures that everything is preserved for the DVDs.
The highly anticipated release of The Lucy Show - The Official Second Season isn't too far away, with a scheduled release date of July 13. The cover art gives us a brief glimpse into the special features on the set, including cast commercials, newly recorded interviews, and (as it says) "much more." Given the special features on The Lucy Show - The Official First Season, I'm willing to bet that much more will mean exactly what it sounds like, with emphasis on "much." But before that comes out, don't forget that Here's Lucy - Season Three (which will similarly be loaded with special features) is headed to stores on June 15 and I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities which comes out on Tuesday!
We already reported a few weeks ago the upcoming releases of Adam-12 - Season Five and The Patty Duke Show - The Complete Third Season from Shout! Factory, but now we have release dates for both of them! Expect Adam-12 on August 10 and The Patty Duke Show on August 24. Not many details have emerged about these releases yet, but of course, we'll have them as soon as we possibly can. My best guess would be that they will contain few (if any) special features, but you never know what they'll throw in.
Andy Griffith is back for another season of the great 80's legal drama Matlock with Matlock - The Fifth Season on July 20! It comes at a $49.99 MSRP. And while we are talking about legal dramas, we already have a follow up on the very recent release of Ally McBeal - The Complete Second Season (see our review from last week), as Ally McBeal - The Complete Third Season is already scheduled for July 13. Of course, if you just can't wait for season 3 (or 4 or 5), you can always pick up Ally McBeal - The Complete Series, which has been available since October!
Mill Creek Entertainment is up to their usual trickery again with placing unannounced titles in stores, and once again, something that hasn't been announced is already showing up at Target! Target recently started stocking in some (though not all) stores a 21 Jump Street two season pack that includes both seasons 3 and 4, which is odd, because 21 Jump Street - The Complete Second Season hasn't even officially had a general retail release (although it, too, can be purchased at Target in a two season pack with 21 Jump Street - The Complete First Season). The best part is that it is only $14.99 for the two season pack at Target! In trying to find answers, though, I found something even more interesting on the homepage of Mill Creek Entertainment. There is a graphic that advertises a contest that Mill Creek Entertainment is currently having, and in the picture, it can be very clearly seen that there is a package depicting 21 Jump Street - The Complete Series! We can only assume it'll be coming, but the question is when. Of course, Anchor Bay Entertainment has previously released all five seasons of 21 Jump Street, but Mill Creek's offerings bring practically the same thing at pennies on the dollar!
Finally, the series Jersey Shore... no, forget it, I'm not even going to talk about it. We'll never sink this low on Digital Digest!
UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW
Next week (April 27) brings us a couple of repeats (DVDs that have already been released as part of larger collections), including I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities and It's Garry Shandling's Show - The Complete First Season. Fans of these series will probably already own the aforementioned sets as part of the larger sets, but they may appeal to some viewers. As we already mentioned, we have a review of I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities today in Digital Digest. Additionally, we have two Lifetime sitcoms coming, including Sherri - The Complete Season One and Rita Rocks - The Complete Season One. Look for reviews on those coming up on our regular review page soon.
BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
Last season, ABC brought to American viewers the comedy-drama The Unusuals, which stared Amber Tamblyn as a detective who was transferred from New York City's vice-squad to the homicide unit for one reason: to clean up the corruption that exists within. The series made it through 10 episodes, but was not renewed for a second season. It is now available as an amazon.com exclusive, in The Unusuals - The Complete Series.
DVD Review: The Unusuals - The Complete Series
The Unusuals - The Complete Series (Sony, $29.95) is now on DVD with all 10 episodes from its short run. The series premiered in April 2009 on ABC and went into the summer season, but the ratings were not too good and the series was not renewed, unfortunately. The series is a quirky procedural with a nice mix of comedy and drama and deals with the unusual cases department. The series is created by Noah Hawley. In the series, Detective Casey Shraeger (Amber Tamblyn) has just been transferred to the NYPD's Homicide unit from Vice and is instantly thrown into a setting of bullets and bodies. As she begins her new assignment, Casey finds that the squad is full of secrets, which serves her well, since she's keeping a few of her own. She meets her new partner, Jason Walsh (Jeremy Renner), whose last partner, Detective Burt Kowalski, was just murdered. Tasked with tracking down the murderer, Walsh races off to investigate Kowalski's past, with Shraeger trailing behind.
As the duo seeks out the cop killer, the secrets and eccentricities of the rest of the department begin to emerge: Prank-magnet and social climber Detective Eddie Alvarez (Kai Lennox) has no qualms about stealing cases, as long as he can turn them into front-page stories that make him look good; Detective Eric Delahoy (Adam Goldberg) is trying to get himself killed in the line of duty for reasons known only to him and his doctor; his partner, Leo Banks (Harold Perrineau), is convinced he is going to die and refuses to take off his bulletproof vest; and the very religious Detective Henry Cole (Josh Close) is trying to keep his unholy past from both his streetwise partner, Alison Beaumont (Monique Gabriela Curnen), and from his boss, Sgt. Brown (Terry Kinney), who is struggling to rid the Second Precinct of corruption.
As for the episodes, there are only ten of them. Each should be watched in order, but you really don't have to as they are not too connected with each other. The series opens with the "Pilot," as Det. Shraeger is quickly moved to homicide to help investigate the murder of a fellow officer and finds out if he was crooked or not and Casey begins to find out some interesting facts about her new co-workers. In the very next episode "Boorland Day," one of New York's oldest family of criminals, the Boorlands, go on a crime spree that has the detectives running all over the city, but when Walsh and Shraeger learn the surprising reason behind the family's cluster of crimes, they use this information to negotiate its end; meanwhile, Sergeant Brown tells Shraeger that Walsh's former partner, Kowalski, was a dirty cop and asks her to dig into Walsh's past and Cole's efforts to keep his criminal past a secret are threatened by the arrival of Frank Lutz, Cole's former partner in crime. In "42," Banks continues to be haunted by the number 42 while he and Delahoy investigate a string of bus robberies -- one passenger, a clairvoyant, tries to help them catch the robber with her predictions, causing Banks to question whether fate can be stopped. In "The Dentist," while Sergeant Brown is away, Alvarez is in charge, and things aren't going well -- a U.S. Marshall named Foster convinces Alvarez to release Bo Keebler, a man recently collared for trying to rob a Chinese restaurant, into his custody, while Banks decides to stay in his apartment until he turns 43 in order to avoid getting killed. In the finale, "E.I.D.", Beaumont and Cole interview a couple regarding a break-in at their home, although nothing was taken, the couple discovered that an adult film they rented was shot in their apartment, meanwhile Scraeger becomes emotionally invested in trying to help a serial accuser who was the victim of a violent attack 10 years ago after disappearing from a big prep school party.
The episodes are unedited at just over 43 minutes and have all the original music, of course since this series is basically new. This DVD set is ONLY available on Amazon.com as an Amazon Exclusive. Here are all of the episode titles with runtimes included:
1. "Pilot" (43:15)
2. "Boorland Day" (43:12)
3. "One Man Band" (43:14)
4. "Crime Slut" (43:14)
5. "42" (43:14)
6. "The Circle Line" (43:13)
7. "The Tape Delay" (43:12)
8. "The Dentist" (43:11)
9. "The Apology Line" (43:11)
10. "E.I.D." (43:11)
Moving on to the packaging, since this is an Amazon.com Exclusive, the packaging is pretty basic. It is a movie style case, with a shot of Shraeger and Walsh on the cover with NYC in the background. Walsh is holding a gun. The show logo and the two main stars' names (Tamblyn and Renner) are on the top. On the bottom the tagline, "Not your usual cases. Not your usual cops" is printed. The back of the case has a quote from People Magazine, another cool shot of Walsh and Shraeger, some episodic photos, and some info on the series and set. Inside the case, we have the two discs on each panel itself. There is no artwork on the disc, it is plain with the show logo and disc number. The inside of the case has no artwork either, but we do have a nice episode leaflet that has episode titles, synopsis, and credits for each episode.
The menus on the set are pretty basic, too, but the artwork is good. The main menu is blue in color with a NYC background. On disc one we have a shot of Shraeger on the main menu and on disc two it is Walsh. There is no music playing in the background, unfortunately. Menu options are: Play All, Episode Selections, Subtitles, and On the Set with The Unusuals. The latter is only on disc one, as it is a special feature. Disc two only has a Previews option, showcasing other Sony products on Blu-ray and stuff like Rescue Me, The Shield, and Damages. The Episode Selections menu has episode number, title, and a screenshot from the episode, while the Subtitles menu has us in English SDH only. There are about 7 chapter stops per episode and they are all at the appropriate places.
The video and audio on the set looks really good, as they should be. The video is available in a nice widescreen, and if your DVD player upconverts to HD, it looks like it is in Blu-ray. The audio is also very good and is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. This set is from material from 2009, so it is only a year old and of course it is very well presented here in both video and audio. I don't see any closed-captioning mention, but there are subtitles in English SDH.
Since this is an Amazon.com Exclusive, I wasn't expecting ANY bonus features...but we do have one! It is a featurette titled "On Set with The Unusuals." It runs 5:20 and we basically get a taste of the show and characters. Interviewed are Robert DeLaurentis (executive producer), Noah Hawley (executive producer/creator), Amber Tamblyn, Jeremy Renner, Peter Tolan (executive producer), Kai Lennox, Monique Curnen, and Joshua Close. I wish we had some more, like deleted scenes, but I'm just glad we got SOMETHING!
This is a decent set and if you have never watched the show, you should watch it. It is only 10 episodes and you'll be done fairly quickly. If you were a fan of the show, then you certainly need to buy it. It is too bad the show was canceled, because it was the perfect procedural. I don't like many of those shows, but this was different and not your usual procedural. Noah Hawley has another ABC pilot in the works (titled Generation Y) and I hope it makes it on air. He has good taste and I hope America tunes in if that series makes it on air. As for this set, it is good. You can only buy it on Amazon (see the link below). It has all of the episodes presented well and a nice featurette. So, get ready to watch some unusual cases and unusual cops in action! It is fun!
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BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
After the first season of I Love Lucy on CBS, Desilu decided to create a theatrical movie based upon the series. Of course, at that time, reruns were less common, so they decided to take the easy route of taking three episodes of the series together and add footage to link them together. The movie ended up not being released (to avoid competition with the film The Long, Long Trailer) and was never seen until nearly a half century later. It was eventually released on DVD as part of I Love Lucy - The Complete Series, but now it is available as a stand-alone disc with bonus features in I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities.
DVD Review: I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities
I Love Lucy - The Movie and Other Great Rarities(CBS DVD, $19.99) presents the entire full-length feature film based upon the classic that was shelved for over 50 years, along with some nice special features. In 1953, Desilu edited together a film that linked three episodes: "The Benefit," "Breaking the Lease," and "The Ballet." The film starts with moviegoers going into a theater where Desi Arnaz (as himself) "premieres" the film for the audience, and even has the audience members showing their excitement for the film--in a sense, breaking the fourth wall. Once Desi is able to introduce the film, it starts playing on the big screen and goes in to the episodes that we are all familiar with from the first season. If you've seen the episodes, the movie honestly isn't all that much, as it just presents them in a connect storyline (which really isn't all that connected anyway). The movie runs at 1 hour, 26 minutes.
There is obviously much more to this, though. There are many very nice "rarities" on this DVD, beginning with the episode of the series, "Lucy Goes to Scotland" (26:27). But there is something unique about this episode this time. It is actually presented in full color! It is the only episode of the series that has been fully colorized, and it looks unbelievably great in color, especially since the episode uses very vivid imagery and costumes that almost necessitate color. Black and white purists, of course, will never like any colorization, but this one looks really good.
We also get to see Lucy and Desi's first joint TV appearance, from The Ed Wynn Show in 1949. It only runs about 3 minutes, so there isn't really a whole lot to see here. Next, there is a clip from the 1954 Emmy Awards--the Sixth Annual--where the series wins an Emmy and Desi Arnaz pays tribute to William Frawley, who was upset about being snubbed for Best Supporting Actor (an award that Art Carney ends up taking home). Finally, we have an On-Set Commercial from the series premiere from Philip Morris (2:17), which is basically an extended cigarette advertisement from the Ricardo living room. You'd never see anything like that on TV today!
The DVD comes packaged in a regular DVD case with a color photo of Lucy and Desi on the front, standing in front of a movie marquee. Inside, we find the disc (which has no artwork, like almost everything else from CBS DVD). The menus on the DVD are very basic, with every option being presented on the main menu (along with an option to turn on Spanish subtitles). Additionally, there are production notes on the sub-menu for just about every one of the features.
The video quality on most of the features is excellent, especially on the movie and the episode "Lucy Goes to Scotland." It is amazing how well this series has been preserved over the years, but especially the movie footage, which hasn't been seen in decades. The Emmy footage and the first joint TV appearance both come from kinescopes, so they are a little rough, but viewable. The audio is fine on all of the features, presented in mono, and close-captioning as well as Spanish subtitles are available.
All in all, this is a great DVD, but I'm not sure who it is really great for. If you are a devoted fan, you'd want to get The Complete Series, which includes this exact same DVD (everything on it is the same except the label art) and every episode of the series. If you aren't such a big fan of the series, then the season sets would suffice, as this really only provides a few minutes of footage that can't be found elsewhere. I guess the best person that this DVD would be for is those who own the season sets and just want to add this disc without repurchasing the whole series. That isn't to say that this is a bad DVD, and it is great that CBS DVD put it out, but it would have been better had they released it at the same time as The Complete Series set. No matter how much you love Lucy, this DVD may not be necessary.
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BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
Legal dramas are a major genre of television, and many of the top-rated and most watched series all throughout history have been legal dramas. But before all of the rest came along, there was one guy who had the first truly successful TV legal drama, who managed to win every single case no matter what: Perry Mason. Here is our review for CBS DVD's latest installment of the series, Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1.
DVD Review: Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1
Perry Mason - Season 5, Volume 1 (CBS DVD, $19.99) brings justice the wrongfully accused once again in fifteen episodes of the classic courtroom drama. The series was the pioneer for all legal television dramas and set the tone for decades of courtroom dramas. But Perry Mason was a little different from the courtroom dramas today, most of which portray the prosecutor as the "good guy" who is given a blatantly obvious case of guilt for the defendant and is trying to push a jury for the harshest possible outcome. Perry Mason was a defense attorney who took these "blatantly obvious" cases and successfully managed to defend his client's innocence, and he won every single time (although there was one infamous episode where he actually lost).
The fifth season begins with "The Case of the Jealous Journalist," where a drowning death of a prominent newspaper editor leads to a string of consequences as heirs fight to take control of the paper... and you know one of those consequences will be another death. Jealousy and blackmail turns a lovely wedding into a murder in "The Case of the Missing Melody." A violent storm at sea forces a ship to have to toss the freight in "The Case of the Malicious Mariner," but as it turns out, the captain gets killed too in the process. In "The Case of the Crying Comedian," a man discovers a former love of his has escaped from a sanitarium, and also that her husband is dead... but he knows she couldn't be to blame, so what can be done? The paranormal must be used to solve a murder in "The Case of the Meddling Medium."
In "The Case of the Posthumous Painter," an artist fakes his own death in order to see the values on his paintings rise, but forgets to tell his wife of his plan leading to real trouble for her when she finds out and he ends up murdered. A health club owner is killed with a dumbbell in "The Case of the Left-Handed Liar," and one of his own employees is accused. In "The Case of the Renegade Refuge," a journalist is murdered while trying to hunt down a Nazi war criminal in the United States. A millionaire bribes his daughter-in-law when he thinks she is responsible for his son's shortcomings, but when the son ends up dead, she is charged with murder in "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride."
Each episode is unedited, it appears, and there aren't even any of the usual CBS DVD disclaimers, which is a very positive sign. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "The Case of the Jealous Journalist" (51:49)
2. "The Case of the Impatient Partner" (52:00)
3. "The Case of the Missing Melody" (50:51)
4. "The Case of the Malicious Mariner" (50:46)
5. "The Case of the Crying Comedian" (50:49)
6. "The Case of the Meddling Medium" (50:47)
7. "The Case of the Pathetic Patient" (50:47)
8. "The Case of the Traveling Treasure" (50:51)
9. "The Case of the Posthumous Painter" (50:55)
10. "The Case of the Injured Innocent" (50:50)
11. "The Case of the Left-Handed Liar" (50:53)
12. "The Case of the Brazen Bequest" (50:53)
13. "The Case of the Renegade Refugee" (50:47)
14. "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride" (50:49)
15. "The Case of the Roving River" (50:46)
Once again, the packaging is just a standard Viva pack (as is common with all CBS DVD products now), with a photo of Perry Mason on the front and some black-and-white still photos on the back. Inside the case, we find episode descriptions and original airdates for each episode on the set. There is no disc artwork at all aside from the series logo on a gray background. There are four discs, with four episodes on the first three discs and three episodes on the fourth disc.
As has been the case with previous releases, the video and audio quality is spectacular. Who could have imagined a series this old looking almost flawless on DVD? There is still some occasional grain and debris, but these episodes mostly look great. The audio is fine too, presented in mono. Each episode is closed-captioned.
There are no special features once again, and it appears that CBS DVD has no intention of including any on this series (aside from the 50th anniversary release a few years back). It is a shame, really.
This is a great set of episodes, but this is the ninth release of the series and CBS DVD only halfway finished with it, mostly because of the half season release model. If they had released it as full seasons, the series would be done now. Still, this poor business practice that CBS DVD engages in doesn't devalue this set at all. It is a great set with great episodes, but I would still like to have the rest of the season in this set. With strong sales on this series (strange, but true, this is actually a top-seller on DVD, presumably due to those in the legal profession who see Mason as an idol), I'm sure we'll see the remaining episodes soon, and perhaps it'll all be remedied with a giant 80 disc complete series set or something along those lines.
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We'll be back next week with more news and a review of Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One and a review of MPI's upcoming Honeymooners DVDs. We will be doing a lot of reviews in Digital Digest for the next few weeks, as there are a lot of DVDs to review in our backlog, but in a few weeks, we will return with some feature articles! If there is anything that you would like to see us cover, tell us on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us. We don't know what you want out of this feature unless you tell us, and we want to make it a very enjoyable blog feature! Until next time, keep it digital!
New on DVD/Blu-ray (January/February)
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One / Review
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two / Review
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Monday, February 27
The Big Bang Theory - "The Dependence Transcedence" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Tensions rise when the boys struggle to complete their government project on time and Sheldon tries an energy drink to stay awake. Also, Penny and Amy go to a “party” at Bert (Brian Posehn) the geologist’s house, and Kooothrappali learns Bernadette’s true feelings about her pregnancy when they clean out the future baby room. Dean Norris returns as Air Force Representative Colonel Williams.
Man with a Plan - "Assisted Living" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Adam's parents visit unannounced, they reveal surprising plans for their future living arrangements. Emmy Award winner Swoosie Kurtz and Stacy Keach guest star as Bev and Joe, Adam and Don’s parents.
Superior Donuts - "Takin' It to the Streets" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Franco and Sweatpants discover their new landlord, Fawz, wants to convert their apartment building into luxury condos, they decide to organize a protest. Also, Randy realizes she needs to be nicer to James in order to get a good recommendation for her sergeant’s exam.
2 Broke Girls - "And the Dad Day Afternoon" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Han’s new therapist suggests that Max needs to confront her “daddy issues” and fear of intimacy, she reluctantly heads to Rhode Island to track down her birth father with the diner gang in tow. Also, Oleg is up in arms when Sophie wants him to help out around the house.
Monday, February 27
- Keri Russell (Running Wilde) - Watch Keri on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Connie Britton (Spin City/The Fighting Fitzgeralds/Lost at Home) - Connie appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Slink Johnson (Black Jesus) - Slick is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) - Adam drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Josh Henderson (One on One) - Josh appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. He also talks about The Arrangement on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) - David chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Leighton Meester (Making History) - Leighton stops by Harry, so check your local listings.
- Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly visits Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- John Lithgow (Trial & Error/Twenty Good Years/3rd Rock from the Sun) - John talks about Trial & Error on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on the AOL Build Show at 1:30pm.
- Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly) - Billy dishes on how This is Us is following in Mike & Molly’s footsteps – and why both shows are so beloved on People Now at 8:30am.
- Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) and Craig Robinson (The Office) - Lisa and Craig talk about their new film Table 19 on the AOL Build Show at 2:30pm.
- Sinbad (A Different World/The Sinbad Show) - Sinbad is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
- Bradley Whitford (Trophy Wife) - Bradley visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Craig Robinson (The Office/Mr. Robinson) - Craig appears on The Real, so check your local listings.