Saturday, May 22, 2010

Digital Digest: 21 Jump Street - The Complete Second Season DVD Review; TV Meets Internet

It's time for another edition of Digital Digest, and we are definitely starting to get in to a "summer slump" around here of less and less news... but we will go on anyway! We actually have NO new sitcom news for this week, but we do have news about some other great series coming soon on DVD! Also, we are going to (for the first time ever, though it has been part of our long-term plan all along) cover a little bit of news about TV technology that is NOT related to DVDs, and also bring you a feature story about internet streaming on your TV. And what Saturday would be complete without a blog review? This week, we're going to make you JUMP with our look at 21 Jump Street - The Complete Second Season. Let's get going!


If you want sitcom on DVD news, normally I'd say that you've come to the right place... but we simply have none at all this week! It has just been one of those weeks. But never fret, we do have some big news from Mill Creek Entertainment! Last week, they brought us three season sets from Stephen J. Cannell Productions, as they have been for months. But that was nothing compared to everything that they have planned for July! As uncovered yesterday on Mill Creek's website, they are planning to release 21 Jump Street - The Complete Third Season on July 27. Normally, we'd be pretty excited about that, and move on to something completely unrelated.

But we aren't going to do that, because they have more--a LOT more--planned for July 27! We mentioned last week that 21 Jump Street - The Complete Series is now available at Best Buy as a Best Buy Exclusive for $49.99, but it will have a general retail release on July 27 at a $69.98 MSRP. Mill Creek's news gets even better though, with Hunter - The Complete Series! Yes, all 152 episodes of the classic detective drama are FINALLY coming to DVD! More than half of the episodes have never even been released on DVD, so this is definitely exciting news! It'll come at a $99.98 MSRP, which may sound a little more expensive than a typical Mill Creek release, but considering that there were seven seasons and discounts will certainly be found on this set, it is a pretty good deal. Hopefully it won't come in those awful paper sleeves, but with the sellsheet describing the packaging as a 50mm Amaray case, I'm not holding my breath on that. We still aren't done with Mill Creek, though! Prime Time Crime - The Stephen J. Cannell Collection is also coming out on July 27, and will include the complete series of four short-lived crime dramas from Stephen J. Cannell, including Missing Persons, Broken Badges, Palace Guard, and UNSUB! None of these series have ever been released on DVD. If that isn't enough, the set also includes 12 episodes from some of Cannell's more popular series, including 21 Jump Street, Booker, Cobra, The Commish, The Greatest American Hero, Hunter, Silk Stalkings, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (OK, so that isn't as popular), and Wiseguy. And it comes at a very low $29.98 MSRP!
Now, we move on from all of that news about Mill Creek and their crime dramas to... well... more crime dramas from other studios! Clearly, this week, crime really is paying! Thanks to an article on, we have learned that Simon & Simon - The Complete Fifth Season is on the way from Shout! Factory on July 20, but it will be a direct-to-consumer title ONLY. It will not have a general retail release. No other details are known at this time. Another article, also found on the same website, brings us some information that we discovered late last week regarding McMillan and Wife. VEI is planning to release McMillan and Wife - Season Two in Canada on July 24. But you won't necessarily have to import it, as VEI will also be marketing this release in the United States at a later date! Could this possibly be a sign that VEI may acquire other classic series from the major studios, kind of like Shout! Factory? Although we don't know the answer on that (nor do we want to draw conclusions that have no factual basis), we can only hope! So far, they've released several Stephen J. Cannell series (including Hardcastle and McCormick, which has yet to see a release in the USA), Gimme a Break!, and Kate & Allie, so anything is possible with VEI.

Finally, for our last news story today, we are going to expand on the digital theme and go beyond just DVD and Blu-ray. This week, Google announced their latest product which they claim will change the way that we all watch TV: Google TV. You can read more about this latest innovation here. We'll talk more about Google TV, specifically what it is, and other similar technology in our special blog feature story today!


Aside from the release of Timeless Media's The Virginian - The Complete First Season, next week (May 25) literally brings us no DVD releases of interest to us. There isn't much that we can do about that, but it does provide all of us with a perfect opportunity to look for bargains on some older sets that we never picked up.


Get ready to JUMP with the detectives who work in a special division that infiltrates high schools to help stop crime! 21 Jump Street is the series that made Johnny Depp a teen hearthrob (something he was never comfortable with) and tackled some of the most serious issues facing teens in a not-so-light fashion. Now, 21 Jump Street - The Complete Second Season is available on DVD--again--from Mill Creek in a four disc set!

DVD Review: 21 Jump Street - The Complete Second Season
by skees53

21 Jump Street - The Complete Second Season (Mill Creek, $14.98) is Mill Creek's value-priced re-release of the Stephen J. Cannell series about undercover officers who do their work as undercover high school students. Although the set has previously been released by Anchor Bay, this time it is being released as a value-priced selection at a price that is much more affordable. The four disc set contains all 22 episodes of the 1987-1988 season of the series.

The second season begins with the episode "Custody of a Clown," where a ninth grade student is kidnapped and the crew has to solve the crime. The two-part episode "Besieged" takes the division into a rough high school after a student is shot to death in the school parking lot over drugs. Rob Stone, Jason Priestley, and Pauly Shore all guest star in "Two for the Road," where somebody is giving teens fake IDs and they are leading to drunken driving accidents. Hanson and Penhall have to do an investigation when Officer Ioki is accused of impregnating one of the students in a previous investigation in "Higher Education." Homosexual men at a military academy are the target of violence in "Honor Bound." A gymnast dies from steroid use in "How Much is that Body in the Window?" Ioki could be in the country illegally in "Christmas in Saigon." Look for Mindy Cohn in this episode.

In "A Big Disease With a Little Name," Hanson is sent to protect a student who has AIDS from a school that knows the student has AIDS and doesn't want him there. Kent McCord plays Officer Hanson's father in "Chapel of Love." Christina Applegate guest stars in "I'm OK - You Need Work," where there are allegations of abuse in a teen rehab center. Andrew Koenig guest stars in "Champagne High," where somebody has stolen a Porsche. Book burning turns into arson when a science teacher is determined to teach creationism in "Brother Hanson & the Miracle of Renner's Pond." Brad Pitt (yes, Brad Pitt) guest stars in "Best Years of Your Life." The division is abandoned for the summer (since there is no school... it works out very well for the TV season and school year with this series) in the season finale "School's Out," but could funding issues could mean that it could be abandoned for good.

The episodes seem to be mostly unedited, although all of the music has been replaced and some entire scenes are missing due to music copyright issues. Runtimes are as follows

Disc 1:
1. "In the Custody of a Clown" (45:42)
2. "Besieged: Part 1" (46:28)
3. "Besieged: Part 2" (46:06)
4. "Two for the Road" (44:38)
5. "After School Special" (46:32)
6. "Higher Education" (46:16)

Disc 2:
7. "Don't Stretch the Rainbow" (46:17)
8. "Honor Bound" (46:20)
9. "You Oughta be in Prison" (45:33)
10. "How Much is that Body in the Window?" (46:31)
11. "Christmas in Saigon" (45:52)
12. "Fear and Loathing with Russell Buckins" (46:42)

Disc 3:
13. "A Big Disease with a Little Name" (46:09)
14. "Chapel of Love" (45:26)
15. "I'm OK - You Need Work" (46:41)
16. "Orpheus 3.3" (46:36)
17. "Champagne High" (44:33)

Disc 4:
18. "Brother Hanson & The Miracle of Renner's Pond" (46:39)
19. "Raising Marijuana" (45:07)
20. "The Best Years of Your Life" (45:22)
21. "Cory and Dean Got Married" (46:36)
22. "School's Out" (46:37)

The set has menus very similar to the previous set, which are very nicely done. The main menu has a shot of the entire cast with options of Play All and Episode Select. The theme song plays in the background. When you select Episode Select, you go to a screen that looks like a page out of a yearbook where the closing theme plays in the background. It is very appropriate and aesthetically pleasing. Chapters are placed throughout each episode in most of the places where a commercial break would be, although they could use one right after the opening credits and one right before the closing credits as well.

The packaging is just plain awful, but we've come to accept that with these Mill Creek value-priced DVDs. The thick keepcase has decent professional-looking artwork with a cast photo on the front and episode snapshots on the back, but once you get inside, you find those obnoxious paper sleeves with the disc. Would it really cost that much more to include a decent and professional case that holds the discs in a way that won't scratch them up? I don't think it would, because Mill Creek HAS used such packaging on other releases at times, just not the Cannell series. The disc artwork has the series logo on each disc, and also has all of the episodes listed on it. An episode list with brief descriptions would have been nicer, though.

As with the previous set, the video leaves something to be desired. It really does look like something off of a VHS, though in all fairness, this series was done on a tight budget, and it probably looks about as good on this set as it is ever going to. The audio isn't too bad, and is generally loud and clear, but it just lacks anything spectacular. There is no closed-captioning or subtitles on the episodes.

There aren't any special features on the set, though I suppose we can't really complain. Mill Creek was trying to make this set as affordable as possible, and special features aren't exactly free to produce. Still, something like original promos would have been nice, or maybe even (dare I say it?) a list of the original songs that SHOULD have been in the episodes. But when you are selling a DVD set that will retail in the $5-$10 range, the episodes alone is really enough.

This is far from a perfect set, but then again, unless Cannell works out some sort of agreement to release this series with all original music intact, it is the best that we're going to get. I'm sure that Mill Creek is aware of the problems with this and other Cannell series, and honestly, I'm happy that they were willing to take the risk and the possible backlash from putting this product out. It really isn't Mill Creek's fault that the music has been removed. If you already have the Anchor Bay set, you'll probably want to keep that one for the better packaging, but if you don't, this set is just as good... though I'd strongly recommend buying a new case to put the discs in.

(3/5 stars)

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TV Meets the Internet: Watching TV in the 21st Century
by skees53

As we mentioned in our news a bit earlier, Google recently announced Google TV, which they claim will change the way that we all watch TV. I'll talk more about what this is in a minute, but before I do that, here is a nice video that was created by Google to explain the idea for those who take information in better when it is presented visually.

So, for those who skipped the video or for whatever reason just didn't understand it, Google TV takes a 21st century method of viewing programming to an entirely new level. We used to always watch programs on TV, but with more and more options, our TV schedules became more complicated. A lot of us are moving on to DVDs and Blu-ray now (there probably wouldn't even be a Digital Digest without these formats), but even that creates issues, such as storage space for the discs, frustration of finding lost discs, scratched/broken discs, and just the cumbersome practice of getting each and every DVD and loading it. But now that most of us have moved on to high-speed internet and are watching programming online through websites, most notably Hulu, we have found that the easiest way to watch a lot of our favorite series is on our computer. But what is the point of having a nice 50-inch LCD TV when you are watching your favorite series on your 10-inch netbook with a speaker that sounds like a tin can? Google TV claims that it will bridge that gap with new technology partnerships through Sony, Logitech, and Intel to bring the best of the internet, including (but not limited to, although this is the only part we are really interested in) bringing all of your TV series to your screen, anytime you want to watch them, through the internet. It also claims that it will use an interface similar to Google's search engine to make finding your favorite programming much easier.

This is not entirely new, though. For quite some time, Apple has had their product Apple TV, which is pretty nice, but it is very much a proprietary that functions primarily by the user purchasing everything from iTunes. While this may be a good working model for the very popular iPod or iPhone, issues such as limited content and the absence of advertiser supported material make this technology almost useless to some users. Also, with Apple TV, you really aren't streaming much (which Google TV seems to rely upon much more), and are forced to store everything on your hard drive. It doesn't take much to fill up a hard drive.

Additionally, there are devices that exist out there, such as various Blu-ray players and the Roku player, that allow for limited streaming of certain services such as Amazon Unbox and Netflix, but again, the technology is still somewhat limited in what it is able to provide.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about Google TV, of course, and with a few months remaining until it is released, we won't fully know the answers for some time. The main thing that we all want to know is how much will it cost, including any on-going costs. It has already been announced that Google TV will be integrated with select televisions (in other words, the expensive ones) from Sony, and will also be available as a set-top box, but how much of the content will be free/advertiser supported, how much of it will be available for a monthly fee, and how much will be available to purchase on an individual basis? These are all relevant questions that could determine the fate of Google TV.

There are quality issues, as well. While video quality of online streaming video has dramatically improved over the past decade, there are still some quality issues when it comes to the standard connection speeds found in most homes. Additionally, processor speeds cause some concerns as well with computers, though this is an issue that can be somewhat overcome through dedicated technology. The biggest quality issue, of course, is a connection that stalls, something that we all experience every now and then with our internet connection. This is only further complicated with wireless networking, which Google TV will likely utilize.

So, will Google TV revolutionize television? Perhaps, but we'll have to wait and see. Apple and Microsoft have only had limited success in the endeavor so far, but if Google can improve the technology significantly enough, perhaps it will revolutionize TV, and Apple and Microsoft would most likely beef up their efforts to create a similar product. One thing that Google has already stated is that Google TV is designed to supplement our current TV setup, meaning that our Blu-ray players and cable boxes aren't going away yet. But then again, some of the earliest MP3 players were integrated with CD players, and look what has happened to those.

As we learn more about Google TV, we hope to bring you more information about it, but we simply don't know much so far. This could be the future of television, or we could look back at this story a few years from now and realize that we were ridiculous for believing that this is the "future." Who knows. But until then, we'll just take a wait and see approach to see what, if any, effect this has on your TV viewing habits.


We'll be back next week with more news and a review of Peanuts - 1970's Collection, Volume 2 We still want to hear what you think about Digital Digest, so let us know on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us. Until next time, keep it digital!

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, October 28

Bunk'd - "Treehouse of Terror" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Zuri, Jorge and Tiffany enlist the support of an unexpected camper to help restore an abandoned treehouse, so they can use it as a new hangout; Emma and Lou and Ravi and Xander get competitive during a friendly game of billiards.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Do What You Gotta Do" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph experiences an episode of sexual frustration due to Leslie's vow of chastity.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Friday, October 28

  • John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - Watch John on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew visits on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about The Price is Right on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine?/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Ricky stops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces) - Colin joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains It All) - Melissa looks back at her earliest memories on Clarissa Explains It All – and says she was really bossy on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids) - Damon is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.