Saturday, May 01, 2010

Digital Digest: Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One DVD Review; The Honeymooners Specials DVD Review

Another Saturday can only mean one thing here on the blog: it's time for more Digital Digest, our weekly feature about all things digital when it comes to sitcoms. News begins to slow down a little this time of the year, with the studios focusing on their releases of current series (many of which have been announced in the past few weeks), but regardless, we still have more news! Also this week, we have reviews of some upcoming DVD sets, including Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One and The Honeymooners Specials. On that note, to quote the great Jackie Gleason, "and away we go!"

DIGITAL NEWS

The "big news" this week is a follow-up on a release of something that was already expected, but will nonetheless please all of the fans... or at least that's what she said. NBC's The Office has long been a fan favorite on DVD, and The Office - Season Six ($59.98 MSRP). Slated for release on September 7, the set is sure to contain plenty of bonus features as the previous releases have. Of course, it will also be available on Blu-ray ($69.98 MSRP). 30 Rock - Season Four ($49.98 MSRP), which also airs on NBC Thursday nights, is slated for release with no date known so far, although my guess would be that it will be around the same time as the release of The Office. It doesn't appear that there will be a Blu-ray release for 30 Rock, at least not for now (there haven't been any at all for the series yet), but if that changes, we'll of course let you know. So far, there is no word on any announcement for the second season of Parks and Recreation, but I'm sure there will be one sooner or later.

Moving from NBC to ABC, which is something the Scrubs actually did a little over a year ago, the final season of Scrubs is coming to DVD sometime later this year, in Scrubs - The Complete Ninth and Final Season ($29.98 MSRP). But that isn't all! There is also a Scrubs - The Complete Series set ($149.98 MSRP) that has been announced, although it is not known at this time whether this set will have anything "extra" compared to the season sets. No Blu-ray release has been put up for preorder just yet, but give it time, it probably will sooner or later. Also, some fans may have been wondering a few weeks ago why one of ABC's best new sitcoms, Modern Family, hadn't been announced. Now, we have found out that 20th Century Fox is bringing Modern Family - Season One to DVD ($59.98 MSRP) and Blu-ray ($69.98 MSRP). Of course, discounts can always be found for both of these.

That is actually all of the sitcom news that we have for this week, but there is one non-sitcom item of interest, that being this report from TVShowsOnDVD.com that shows a pre-order link for an upcoming Blu-ray release of a popular series... but it isn't one that we would be expecting on Blu-ray! The Twilight Zone - Season One, which was already an amazing set on DVD, is now headed for Blu-ray. It comes at a $99.98 MSRP, though, which suggests that Image (the studio releasing it) has a costly project on their hands. Still, I'm sure fans will appreciate the set.

We apologize for the slow news week, but as always, we can't just make up the news!

UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Next week (May 4) is one of the busiest release dates we've seen since we've started Digital Digest, with the highlight being Shout! Factory's release of The Facts of Life - The Complete Fourth Season. It contains every unedited episode of the fourth season along with the movie The Facts of Life Goes to Paris. Lionsgate is continuing on with the former ABC series According to Jim with According to Jim - The Complete Second Season. Our review for both of these sets will be posted shortly on our Reviews Page. A bit north of the border (but don't worry, you can still order it and play it in the United States from Amazon.com) in Canada is the release of Kate & Allie - The Complete Series, which contains every single episode of the series. You can read our review of this set here. There are two DVDs from MPI of The Color Honeymooners, including Second Honeymoon and Valentine Special. You can read our review of these DVDs in today's Digital Digest. Going a bit beyond the realm of sitcoms, there is Shout! Factory's release of the classic medical drama Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One. You can also read our review of this in today's Digital Digest. Finally, if you love the 80's and animated series, you are sure to love Warner Home Video's Saturday Morning Cartoons 1980's - Volume 1, containing episodes of many rare (and admittedly in some cases, awful, though that makes them worth watching) 80's cartoons. We will have a review of this set soon in Digital Digest!

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

Is there a doctor in the house? One who makes house calls, perhaps? Yes there is! And his name is Dr. Marcus Welby (Robert Young). But he is running a busy practice and can't do it all on his own, so enter his new assistant, the young Dr. Steven Kiley (James Brolin). They come together for the successful and often controversial (some topics remain so even today) 1970s medical drama, Marcus Welby, M.D. Now, Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One is available from Shout! Factory.

DVD Review: Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One
by skees53

Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One (Shout! Factory, $49.98) puts a doctor back in the house with the first 26 episodes (as well as the pilot made-for-TV movie that aired a year before the series premiered) of the classic medical drama about the doctor who made house calls. Dr. Welby (Robert Young) was an older, charismatic physician who had a very traditional demeanor about himself, but often engaged in less than ordinary forms of practice. His assistant, Dr. Steven Kiley (James Brolin) was the young motorcycle riding partner in the business, but despite his appearance, he engaged in very traditional and time-tested forms of practice. Together, they make a medical partnership that is the best around.

The series begins with the March 26, 1969 made-for-TV movie, "A Matter of Humanities," which explains how Dr. Welby and Dr. Kiley come together to create their practice. In "The Foal," Dr. Welby takes a little time away from his weekend golf to help (and by help, that includes moving in for the weekend) a young boy who has been diagnosed as autistic and has nowhere to go for help. A woman is willing to do whatever it takes to obtain an (at the time) illegal abortion in "Don't Ignore the Miracles." A woman suffers a stroke in "Silken Threads and Silver Hooks," but the only thing that her filmmaker husband cares about is making a documentary about her recovery, which hampers her ability to recover. The doctors have a disagreement over how to handle a patient who is addicted to LSD in "Homecoming." In "The Chemistry of Hope," a young boy is diagnosed with leukemia, but his parents don't want him to know that. In "Diagnosis: Fear," Dr. Welby suggests knee surgery for a young basketball player, but the patient insists on faith healing. Who will win that battle?
The civil rights movement comes to Dr. Welby's office when the son of a black leader is injured by the police in "The Soft Phrase of Peace." The doctors have to find out if a scientist has Huntington's disease in "Dance to No Music." One of Dr. Kiley's old friends needs a medical examination to get a job as a bus driver in "Go Get 'Em, Tiger," and that includes passing a drug test--but Dr. Kiley ends up violating medical ethics when he knows that the friend is a recovering drug addict. Steven Spielberg (he went on to some further fame or something like that, so I hear) directs the episode "The Daredevil Gesture," where a hemophiliac tries to keep his condition secret from his classmates. Dr. Kiley meets a young camp counselor who is addicted to prescription drugs in "Enid."

The episodes on the set all appear to be unedited, with runtimes coming in at just under 50 minutes for most episodes. Exact runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
Pilot Film: "A Matter of Humanities" (1:37:48)
1. "Hello, Goodbye, Hello" (48:24)
2. "The Foal" (49:18)

Disc 2:
3. "Don't Ignore the Miracles" (49:19)
4. "Silken Threads and Silver Hooks" (49:16)
5. "All Flags Flying" (49:16)
6. "Echo of a Baby's Laugh" (49:24)

Disc 3:
7. "The White Cane" (49:22)
8. "The Vrahnas Demon" (49:20)
9. "Madonna with Knapsack and Flute" (48:18)
10. "Homecoming" (49:19)

Disc 4:
11. "Let Ernest Come Over" (49:15)
12. "The Chemistry of Hope" (49:18)
13. "Neither Punch Nor Judy" (49:21)
14. "Diagnosis: Fear" (49:05)

Disc 5:
15. "The Soft Phrase of Peace" (49:18)
16. "Fun and Games and Michael Ambrose" (49:16)
17. "The Legacy" (49:19)
18. "Dance to No Music" (49:13)

Disc 6:
19. "Go Get 'Em, Tiger" (49:21)
20. "Nobody Wants a Fat Jockey" (49:18)
21. "The Other Side of the Chart" (49:17)
22. "The Merely Syndrome" (49:16)

Disc 7:
23. "Sea of Security" (49:24)
24. "The Daredevil Gesture" (49:21)
25. "Enid" (49:16)
26. "The Rebel Doctor" (49:18)

The set comes in one of the larger double-sized keepcases, as it is a larger set that contains seven discs. The cover art has a cast snapshot, and the back of the case has basic information about the series, and the background of the series. Inside, the seven discs all have photos of different cast members on each disc. The first disc contains the pilot movie and the first two episodes of the regular series, while each of the remaining discs contain four episodes each. Episode titles are listed inside the case, but there is also a very nice episode booklet with complete descriptions of each episode contained on the set. It is eight pages long and contains several photos throughout, and the best part is, each page is designed to look like a physician's prescription pad! Even the title of the episode booklet is great; on the cover, it says "Family Practice and General Medicine: An Introductory Guide." They did very good with the packaging on this set!

The set contains very nice animated menus, with the theme song playing in the background on the menus. The main menu gives options of Play All and Select Episode. Select Episode goes to a very basic list of all of the episodes, with no snapshots or anything from the episodes. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.

I was pretty impressed with the video and audio quality on the set, especially considering the age of the series. The episodes all look excellent, with few problems to report aside from the typical grain and debris that can be found on virtually all older series. The audio, presented in mono, is generally pretty loud and clear. Unfortunately, the episodes are not closed-captioned or subtitled.

There really aren't any special features on this set aside from the already mentioned pilot movie. Even though the pilot movie is essential to set up the background for the series, it isn't actually part of the original series itself, and many studios probably would have ignored it on a DVD release. It is nice to see that Shout! Factory did include it.

I didn't discover this series until about a year ago, when RTV began to air it, but I have been very impressed with this series, and find myself wondering why it doesn't get more airplay in syndication. It is a solid, well-written show, with plots that are still relevant and in some cases even more controversial today than they were in their own day. Plus, it marked the final starring role of one veteran actor's career (Robert Young) and the beginning of a new up-and-coming actor's career (James Brolin). Fans of medical dramas are sure to love this. It may not have the fast pace and flashy production values of today's medical dramas, but it shows the down home side of a pair of decent, caring doctors.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Marcus Welby, M.D. on TV.com

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

When most people think of The Honeymooners, they think of 39 episodes of a great series that aired back in the 50s and MAYBE the few so-called "lost" episodes that aired in the same time period. But actually, there was much more to The Honeymooners, and all the way through the late 70's, there were color episodes and various special being made about the same characters from the original series. MPI has two upcoming releases of these specials coming up, including 1976's Second Honeymoon and 1978's Valentine Special, MPI's first two releases of these specials.

DVD Review: The Honeymooners Specials - Second Honeymoon and Valentine Special (Separate Releases)
by skees53

The Honeymooners - Second Honeymoon
(MPI, $14.98) and The Honeymooners - Valentine Special (MPI, $14.98) are two separate one hour DVD releases that bring back The Honeymooners, including most of the original cast, in their four final one hour specials produced for CBS in the late 70's. They featured Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney, and Jane Kean as the principal cast.

In Second Honeymoon (50:19), from 1976, the Kramdens are ready to celebrate their 25th anniversary and ready to remarry to celebrate the occasion. All seems to be going well for the couple, but after 25 years, the couple has still yet to have a baby. Eventually, a series of misunderstandings makes Ralph believe that Alice is pregnant (although the age of the characters makes the plausibility of that seem highly unbelievable), and he turns to his pal Ed Norton for advice on how to take care of a baby. This DVD has a bonus feature of a parody skit (8:02) of The Honeymooners from a 1967 episode of The Hollywood Palace featuring Audrey Meadows as Alice and Ray Bolger as Ralph. Honestly, it feels just like a regular episode of the series, just with a recasting (but also shows that only Gleason could fill the role of Ralph Kramden).

Valentine Special (50:09), from 1978, focuses on even more misunderstandings in the Kramden household, when Alice decides to buy Ralph a suit for Valentine's Day. But Ralph gets more than just a little suspicious when Alice starts taking measurements of him, and mistakenly believes that she is measuring him for a coffin! But that's not all! He also thinks Alice is cheating on him, and to catch her in the act, Ralph and Ed decide to go undercover--in drag! This DVD has another parody of the series (3:48) from 1971 from another show (though the show is not identified in the clip), and this one is much funnier and much more enjoyable than the parody on the other DVD. This one features George Kirby in the role of Ralph and Sheila MacRae as Alice, adding an interracial marriage dynamic to the Kramden household. And if that isn't enough, Rich Little plays Ed Norton! I wish this one had been longer.

Each DVD is packaged in a standard DVD case, with the entire cast standing in front of a group (for Ralph and Alice's second wedding) on Second Honeymoon and the cast sitting at a table on Valentine Special. There are two episode snapshots and a brief synopsis of the special on the back of the case. Inside, each case contains one disc that has the exact same artwork as seen on the cover.

The main menu is the same on both DVDs, with options of Play, Bonus, and Setup. These are all self-explanatory, with the option of Setup basically being a place to turn on subtitles (English only).

The video quality is about on par with the episodes on the DVD releases of The Color Honeymooners, which means that the episodes look far from glamorous, but look good enough to watch. The picture quality is very dull and faded, and the audio (in mono, of course) doesn't sound that great because the episodes were recorded in a venue that wasn't designed for television productions, so there is a huge echo effect and you can hear the audience, a lot. Honestly, with that, combined with the very cheap sets used, these feel a lot like watching a stage performance of a play that was recorded on a video camera, but without knowing a lot about the history of this series, perhaps that is what they were going for. It actually does have an interesting artistic value, even if it does look awful blown up on a high definition TV. The specials are subtitled.

I've never been a huge fan of The Honeymooners, but these specials were very fun to watch and a little bit different from the traditional style of the series and characters that we are used to. Fans of the series will definitely want to pick up both of these DVDs, but for others, if you can find it cheap or rent it, it is definitely worth checking out.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase The Honeymooners - Second Honeymoon, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

To purchase The Honeymooners - Valentine Special, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com


Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
The Honeymooners on TV.com

LOOKING AHEAD

Be here next Saturday for more news and reviews in Digital Digest! We'll be reviewing several cartoons (including next week's release of Saturday Morning Cartoons 1980's - Volume 1), some more Mill Creek crime dramas coming out in a few weeks, and more in the upcoming weeks. Be sure to let us know what you want us to cover, by telling 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 (December/January)

American Dad! - Volume 11 Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One

12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
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
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, January 18

Fresh Off the Boat - "Clean Slate" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
On the eve of Chinese New Year, Jessica pushes the entire family to settle all debts, disputes and grudges to ensure good fortune for the coming year. Unsure if she can contain her temper for the remainder of the day, Jessica enlists Emery to makes sure she keeps her cool. Meanwhile, Louis and Evan go on a wild goose chase to hunt down some hate mail, and Eddie is forced to entertain his super lame cousin.

Speechless - " S-I-- SICK D-A-- DAY" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Maya gets sick, Jimmy is forced to be the mom of the house, and Dylan becomes Kenneth’s replacement for JJ when Kenneth also gets sick. Jimmy ends up doing well with Maya’s normal duties, but he tries to keep it from her to avoid her feeling bad. Meanwhile, JJ protects Dylan from a boy she’s interested in. And despite its illness, the family bands together and pulls an all-nighter to finish Ray’s school project.

Modern Family - "Halloween 4: The Revenge of Rod Skyhook" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Luke’s Halloween party isn’t the monster bash he dreamed of and is at risk of having the worst party of the year. Sensing trouble, the rest of the Dunphy’s realize all his party needs is a visit from Rod Skyhook, a little promotion and some adult supervision to get it started. Meanwhile at the Tucker-Pritchett home, Cam faces off with his Halloween nemesis while Lily and Mitchell try to save the day and work to keep him from going to the darkside. Finally, when Jay finds out that Manny is going to a party at the home of an old enemy, he enlists him to deliver a trick he will never forget.

black-ish - "Good Dre Hunting" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Bow convinces a begrudging Dre to try therapy, and he learns how to cope with his anger issues. Meanwhile, Johan becomes a life coach to the kids.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Charlie thinks Mac's mom is holding his mom hostage so the gang installs spy cameras in their house to monitor what's going on. What they end up discovering is the moms are quite entertaining once Dennis makes some quick edits and adds a laugh track to the surveillance footage. Dee wants in on the new hit show and Frank becomes obsessed with banging Charlie's mom now that he's seen her on TV.

Man Seeking Woman - "Horse" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Lucy attempts to forge a relationship with Josh's best friend Mike.

Schitt's Creek - "The Throuple" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
David and Stevie try to come to terms with their new relationship; Alexis and Moira plan a mother/daughter lunch.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 16)

Wednesday, January 18

  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Watch Wendi on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also talks about The Founder on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Louie Anderson (Baskets/Life with Louie/The Louie Show) - Louie appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - Woody stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Eric appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Ted Danson (The Good Place/Becker/Cheers) - Ted visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) - Judah is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) and B.J. Novak (The Office) - Neil and B.J. are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. Neil can also be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 10:20am.
  • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry and his wife Rebecca Romijn chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Friends) - Matt appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Patrick Warburton (Crowded/Rules of Engagement/Less Than Perfect) - Patrick is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Kirstie Alley (Cheers/Veronica's Closet/Kirstie) - Kirstie dishes about the new season of Scream Queens and her weight loss with Jenny Craig on The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.