Saturday, July 31, 2010

Digital Digest: Dragnet 1968 - Season 2 DVD Review

Welcome to another edition of Digital Digest! Our normal Digital Digest blogger (skees53) as you know is off for the summer and is missed. As always, we have the latest news, upcoming releases for Tuesday, and our DVD review this week is of a Shout! Factory's Dragnet 1968 - Season 2. Stay out of trouble with the law and read today's Digital Digest!

DIGITAL NEWS

We have quite a bit of news this week for sitcoms. Shout! Factory will release The Facts of Life - The Complete Fifth Season on DVD on Nov. 2 at a $29.93 MSRP. View the packaging, but no info yet if there are bonus features. Shout! Factory will also release Mad About You - The Complete Fifth Season on DVD on Nov. 2 at a $39.97 MSRP. View the packaging, and as with Facts of Life, we are not sure if there will be bonus features. And sticking to Shout! Factory news, they will release The Larry Sanders Show - Season Two on DVD at long last on Nov. 2 with the previously announced The Larry Sanders Shows - The Complete Series for DVD. View the packaging art for the season two release. All of these are being licensed to Shout! from Sony Pictures.

Universal Home Video has officially announced 30 Rock - Season 4 on DVD for Sept. 21. View the press release for packaging, bonus features and more! And Lionsgate tweeted the other day from its Twitter account that Boy Meets World - Season 4 will be out within the next 6-8 months, and TVShowsonDVD.com says that is the first quarter of 2011! So stay tuned!

Warner Home Video has officially announced V - The Complete First Season coming out on Blu-ray and DVD coming now on Nov. 2. (instead of Oct. 16, as we said last week). Pre-order the DVD and Blu-ray.

For more information on titles that we won't cover with full or blog DVD reviews, you can head on over to the news section of TVShowsOnDVD.com for all of the latest details.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (August 3) will not have any sitcom releases. Universal Home Video is releasing Heroes - Season 4. Our blog review will come in the next few weeks. Time Life Media is releasing The Real Ghostbusters - Volume 3. And Universal Home Video is releasing Saturday Night Live - Best Of Will Ferrell: Volume 3. A few weeks ago we did a blog review for that, so check it out.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

This week's review is Dragnet 1968 - Season 2. In 1967, Dragnet returned to TV as Dragnet 1967 after NBC previewed the made-for-TV movie Dragnet 1966. This series ran for four years and produced 98 original episodes. Officer Bill Gannon was Friday's partner for the four year run. The show's title changed each year from Dragnet 1967 to Dragnet 1970 when the series ended. It's been five years since the last DVD and that was from Universal Home Video, now Shout! Factory has picked up the series so we will get the rest of the series on DVD most likely. View our full review of Dragnet 1967 - Season 1 DVD from 2005.

DVD Review: Dragnet 1968 - Season 2
by Seth Thrasher

Dragnet 1968 - Season 2 (Shout!, $44.98) is now on DVD , and let me be the first to tell you how excited I am that Shout! Factory is resuming the release of this classic series. Universal released the first season five years ago, but Shout! Factory is now continuing releases as part of their licensing deal with the aforementioned Universal. So what is the result for you? All 28 episodes of this classic police drama's second season can now be yours on DVD. While I've complained about the price point on many recent Shout! sets, the fact is that when you factor in discounts available at many leading retailers , the price for this set you're likely to actually pay is actually fairly reasonable.

Dragnet's 2nd season, on the air from September 1967 through March 1968, was known on-air that year as Dragnet 1968. The changing year at the end of the title was always one of the most immediately distinct things about the series. Another thing is how, even though the show is always intended to be a straightforward crime drama, a lot of humor can be found, particularly in the interplay between Friday (Jack Webb) and Gannon (Harry Morgan). While several episodes this season are carried on the strength of their dramatic appeal, at other times it's the show interjecting humor that really makes an episode work.

One prime example of the show's example to apply humor to a realistic crime scenario is the season's 11th episode with a purse snatching dog "The Big Dog." The season, for what it's worth, starts off with a bang, as teenager throws acid on the back of another student, then later the same teenager, now running away, crashes a party...with a grenade ("The Big Bang"). The quality and drama continue right into the season's 2nd episode, when Joe is forced to open fire on a robber. The robber is later found dead, with no evidence suggesting that the robber had fired at Joe aside from Joe's own recollection – landing Joe in a great deal of trouble. One of my absolute favorite episodes of the series is this season's fifth episode, "The Big Neighbor." Like many of the best episodes, it interjects humor and creates a great story. Bill invites Joe over for dinner and football, only to be constantly interrupted by Bill's neighbors with their petty complaints. Some of the best episodes of the series, in my opinion, involve Bill and Joe on off-duty hours still finding themselves surrounded by madness. Due to the often-serious plots, known actors –at least for this season – typically weren't used as guests; there are no appearances of then-unknown future stars either.

Runtimes:

Disc 1:
The Grenade: 25:07
The Shooting Board: 25:05

Disc 2:
The Badge Racket: 25:05
The Bank Jobs: 25:06
The Big Neighbor: 25:11
The Big Frustration: 25:03
The Senior Citizen: 25:05

Disc 3:
The Big High: 25:05
The Big Ad: 25:05
The Missing Realtor: 25:04
The Big Dog: 25:06
The Pyramid Swindle: 25:05

Disc 4:
The Phony Police Racket: 25:06
The Trial Board: 25:06
The Christmas Story: 24:38
The Big Shipment: 25:06
The Search: 25:07

Disc 5:
The Prophet: 25:04
The Big Amateur: 25:05
The Starlet: 25:08
The Big Clan: 25:04
The Little Victim: 25:05
The Squeeze: 25:01

Disc 6:
The Suicide Attempt: 25:05
The Big Departure: 25:04
The Investigation: 25:07
The Gambler: 25:08
The Big Problem: 25:09

Packaging is straightforward, and, I'm pleased to say it doesn't involve those cheap bulky white plastic cases. The usual sets of slimcases (three, in fact) are used, contained within an outer box. It's simple, it's manageable, and it doesn't break in shipment. That's all you can really ask for in package construction. The packaging is designed relatively similarly to the first, Universal-released, set – a revised, block-letter Dragnet 1968 logo appears at the top with Joe's badge. Joe and Bill appear below it, looking quite unamused. Joe is wielding a flashlight, but because of the angle he's holding it looks like there's a random white-yellow circle in the bottom-left corner. Discs are blue, and feature the large logo, and the disc number in one of the largest fonts I've ever seen used for a disc number.

Main menu is wonderful. The badge animates in, after which the logo and menu options appear, all the while the main theme is playing in the background. Choosing "episodes" results in another animated transition. Episode menu features a small square with clips playing of each episode, arranged in a grid. Episode is selected with a green-orange frame that stands out well against the red background. The *closing theme* plays in the background of the episode menu – you don't see music for episode menus very often, so I just wanted to commend Shout! there. The menus on discs 1 and 6 for bonus features are done in the same style as the episode menu.

Let's talk about the video quality. There's film. There's noise. Colors occasionally look slightly more faded than they would on a modern series. The show is over 40 years old and is from the earliest era of color broadcasting. The video is as good as it's going to look for a show from this era. Flaws are a combination of outright age and the stock that the show was recorded to--nothing much to be done in that regard. Audio is quite decent – but there's really only so much you can do with audio from 1968. It serves its purpose quite well, but won't blow you away as a marvel of audio engineering. Chapter stops occur at the end of each act.

There ARE bonus features – three in fact. The first is found on disc 1, and is the pilot for 1960's Dragnet, the pilot movie to the series Dragnet 1966. The pilot was filmed in 1966, obviously, but not broadcast until three years later. There IS a problem with the set: The "This is the city" opening prologue is missing – leading to the set going straight into the introduction of Friday. This mistake was caught after the discs had already gone to print. If you want a corrected copy with the opening prologue restored, contact info@shoutfactory.com for replacement details. The version on the disc runs 1 hour 35 minutes.

On the final disc, disc six, are two features – a feature on Jack Webb featuring several interviews (runs 26:07)...as well as a trailer for Dragnet 1969 (1 minute). This trailer is absolutely ancient (and the video does reflect that) and is a minute-long ad for Dragnet 1969 on NBC. If you want to see what the video would look like WITHOUT restoration, watch this.
The set also comes with a booklet detailing a few bits about production, and also devoting a large section to talking about Jack Webb. The booklet also contains an episode guide for the season and several color photos.

If you haven't already bought this set, buy it now. It's an absolutely GREAT series featuring a wonderful mix of great writing, great acting, actually believable plots...plus some great location shots of late-60s Los Angeles. The features included are quite good, and add extra value to the unusually reasonable price tag. I can't think of any reasons why not to own this one – it's great television, and really, what more can you ask for.

(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Dragnet on TV.com


LOOKING AHEAD

Come on back right here next week for more news and reviews. Next week we will have a blog DVD review of Adam 12- Season 5 from Shout! Factory. In the coming weeks we will have a blog DVD review of Heroes - Season 4 so stay tuned. And don't forget to read our full DVD reviews, as we will put up reviews for Gimme A Break! - The Complete Series, The Phil Silvers Show - Season 1 and The New Adventures of Old Christine - Season Three by tomorrow. Until next time gumshoes, keep it digital!
Sitcoms Airing Tonight (Wednesday, April 16)

The Middle - "Vacation Days" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After being forced by his work to take a paid vacation, Mike tries to relax but finds his alone time being invaded by Brick, who wants to cash in and implement all of the personal gift coupons he has given his dad for Father's Day and birthdays over the years. Meanwhile, Frankie is livid when she discovers that Axl has been hanging out at the Donahues for the past few days and didn't let her know that he was even in town, and Sue is horrified when she discovers that someone has given her service at Spudsy Malone’s a bad review online and overreacts in her efforts to better please the customers.

Suburgatory - "Blame it on the Rainstick" (ABC, 8:30PM/ET) (Repeat)
When Noah is released from a court mandated anger management program, George is shocked to find a docile Noah has replaced his former hot-headed friend. Shaken by the change, George decides to put the new Noah to the test. Meanwhile, Tessa ditches “senior tanning” and meets a cool new age band hanging out at the park. The free spirited music group isn’t exactly what they appear.

Modern Family - "The Big Game" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With a big football game coming up and a record to break, Coach Cam is intensely focused and showing no mercy even when the opposing team is playing with an unexpected disadvantage. Elsewhere, Claire is determined to prove to the staff that she is more than just the boss’s daughter, and Phil tries to teach his kids a lesson about optimism, but the universe just isn’t cooperating.

Mixology - "Jessica & Ron" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jessica regrets sending a naked photo to Ron and sets out to get him to delete it after realizing she barely knows him. Meanwhile, Liv complicates things between Jessica and Ron and Maya hits it off with an attractive guy who gives her an offer she can’t refuse…or can she? And the chance to hook up is in Bruce’s favor when he meets a woman who is into red-heads, but things quickly begin to look grim when a famous red-head also enters the bar.

Melissa & Joey - "Born to Run" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel's father sends out a racy photograph; Ryder tries to come up with a winning business idea.

Baby Daddy - "Play It Again, Bonnie" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Bonnie asks Tucker for help in reconnecting with her former boyfriend.

Hot in Cleveland - "The Undead" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Elka (Betty White) throws a fake funeral for Victoria so she can join her husband in hiding. Her nemesis, Susan Lucci attends. Simon (Craig Ferguson) and Joy face a dilemma in their relationship.
Guest Stars: Craig Ferguson, Susan Lucci, Matt Iseman, David Cheaney, Laird MacIntosh

The Soul Man - "Oh My Goddy" (TV Land, 11:00PM ET/PT)
Boyce feels the pressure when he's nominated for a big award. So he goes above and beyond to brand himself as the "Second Chance Preacher."

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Reunited" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph and Leslie work on their relationship.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 14) (All times Eastern unless noted)

Wednesday, April 16

  • Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) - Watch Kunal on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Denis Leary (The Job) - Denis appears on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Tracy visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) - Adam appears on The Pete Holmes Show at midnight on TBS.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi previews her new Lifetime movie A Day Late and a Dollar Short on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Billy Crystal (Soap) - Billy stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin talks about new animated movie Rio 2 and her upcoming show at Carnegie Hall on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Alan Thicke (Growing Pains) - Alan talks about his TV and music career, his son Robin and new reality series, Unusually Thicke, on Katie, so check your local listings. He will also be on The Couch on WLNY 10/55 in New York between 7-9am. Finally, he is a guest on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 at 10am.
  • Judy Greer (Mad Love/Arrested Development/Miss Guided) - Judy takes us on a trip to her happy place...the drugstore on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Tasha Smith (Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse/The Tom Show/Boston Common) and Michael Jai White (Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse) - Tasha and Jai are guests on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Marlon Wayans (The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS. He will also be on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher is a guest on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. He will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Valerie Harper (Rhoda/The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Valerie) - Valerie talks about Signed, Sealed, Delivered (premieres April 20 on Hallmark Channel) on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET. She is a guest on Howard Stern.
  • Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl/I Hate My Teenage Daughter) - Jaime appears on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
  • Seth Green (Dads/Greg the Bunny) - Seth is a guest on a repeat of @midnight at 12am on Comedy Central.