Saturday, July 03, 2010

Digital Digest: Matlock - The Fifth Season DVD Review (7/20)

Welcome to another edition of Digital Digest! Our normal Digital Digest blogger (skees53) will be gone and missed for the next few months, if you didn't know yet. As always, we have the latest news, upcoming releases for Tuesday, and our DVD review this week is of CBS DVD's Matlock - The Fifth Season. It's a light news week it seems I guess because of the 4th of July weekend, so glad you can make it.


Looks like the summer doldrums have come because it was an uber slow week in terms of digital news. Maybe the 4th of July holiday has something to with that? Warner Home Video has sent out the press release and cover art for The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Third Season streeting Sept. 14. Pre-order it on both DVD ($44.98 MSRP)and Blu-ray ($54.97 MSRP). Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has also sent out a press release and an updated cover art for The Middle - Season 1 streeting on Aug. 31. Pre-order today!

The only other story of note was a story on where's Season 4 of Boy Meets World. Lionsgate is re-releasing the first three seasons that Buena Vista released, but still nothing on season four. It's such a slow week, that is all we have. No exclusives or anything. Hopefully it picks up next week. We'll be here still when it does, but to make up for that we have a cool review of Matlock today!

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 for all of the latest details.


Tuesday (July 6) will only have two sitcoms in store. Shout! Factory will release Rhoda - Season 3. Look for our review by the end of this weekend. Also out on Tuesday is CBS DVD's The Game with The Third Season. We will also have a review of that up by the end of the weekend. And also of note Dragnet - Season 2 is coming from Shout! Factory. If all goes planned, that will be our blog review next week.


It's time for a DVD review of Grandpa Simpson's favorite show! Yes, Matlock: The Fifth Season! The format of the show was similar to that of Perry Mason, with Matlock identifying the murderer and then confronting him or her in a dramatic courtroom scene near the end. One difference, however, was that whereas Mason usually exculpated his clients at a pretrial hearing, Matlock usually secured an acquittal at trial, from the jury. See our review of this DVD release below!

DVD Review: Matlock - The Fifth Season
by Seth

Matlock: The Fifth Season (CBS, $49.99) is back on the docket for another 21 great episodes of the great courtroom and crime drama Matlock. While the show is often stereotyped in popular culture as being a show designed mainly to appeal to the elderly, it does have quite a strong draw among the less aged. In some ways, particularly when Don Knotts shows up for one of his periodic episodes, it feels almost like a continuation of his Andy Taylor role two decades earlier. Sure he's called Ben Matlock, but deep down inside he's still playing some version of the same character, and that's appealing. The show also stars Nancy Stafford, Clarence Gilyard, and Julie Sommars.

Two episodes in the fifth season take place in an unusual setting - Los Angeles. Early in the season – the season's double-length second episode – Ben travels out west to the City of Angels to try a case. Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Ben first gets charged with Contempt of Court, then later is accused of murder after the judge who charged him turns up dead. Michelle and Conrad then fly out to Los Angles to help out. The episode originally aired and promoted on NBC as A Matlock Movie Mystery (hence, the double-length running time) before going under its normal title of "Nowhere to Turn."

Ben apparently didn't let a negative experience dissuade him from returning to the city in the season's finale. In the final episode for the show's next to last season on NBC, Ben is tricked by Julie into flying out west...where he then gets to meet a one-time movie queen, a favorite of Ben's, who is now a cosmetics mogul...that's on trial for killing her blackmailing ex-lover. Speaking of celebrity, if you watch the episode "The Madam," you get to see half the principal cast for the later series Walker, Texas Ranger. Clarence Gilyard, who of course was a regular on Matlock at the time, would later go on to play Travette, while the episode features an appearance by actor Noble Willingham, who would go on to play CD on the series. Also appearing this season in a recurring role is Andy's old sidekick from The Andy Griffith Show, Mr. Don Knotts! Don was always great no matter the show, but there's something about the pairing of Andy and Don that's just television gold. Other guest appearances this season include Amy Yasbeck (Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Wings), Mike Farrell (M*A*S*H), and Diana Muldaur (L.A. Law, Star Trek: The Next Generation).

With regards to edits: "The Secret, Part 2" runs THIRTY SEVEN MINUTES. That's 37, with a 3. There's NO way on the face of this earth that's in the same zip code as a proper runtime. Seriously, that's TEN minutes shorter than ANY other episode. Especially given that the show did air as two parts originally, *something* has been lopped off drastically. TEN minutes. And you can't just attribute it to being a part 2. "The Trail, Part 2" later in the set runs 46:34. While I'm sure NBC would have appreciated the extra advert slots, it's just ridiculous to think it's intact. CBS DVD's having put its "Some episodes may be edited" disclaimer here is like putting a disclaimer on a porcupine warning that it may be sharp and pointy.

Disc 1:
The Mother: 47:03
Nowhere to Turn: 1:35:55
The Madam: 46:35

Disc 2:
The Personal Trainer: 46:35
The Narc: 46:35
The Secret Part, 1: 46:34

Disc 3:
The Secret, Part 2: 37:25
The Brothers: 47:03
The Cover Girl: 47:03

Disc 4:
The Biker: 47:04
The Broker: 47:01
The Fighter: 47:03
The Critic: 47:02

Disc 5:
The Parents: 47:04
The Man of the Year: 47:03
The Arsonist: 47:04
The Formula: 47:03

Disc 6:
The Trial, Part 1: 46:33
The Trial, Part 2: 46:34
The Accident: 47:03
The Celebrity: 47:04

It's a CBS DVD release, so don't expect too much time spent on the packaging or design sections. Listen, I know that these clear hard plastic packages have become the standard for TV DVD. Yes, I know that the packaging is being used not only by CBS, but by Fox, ABC/Buena Vista, and at least one or two other studios are releasing their stuff almost entirely in this format now. I don't care. My experiences with this packaging are forever colored by my early experiences with it. When every DVD set you receive for over a year in the package type is broken on receipt, you tend to have a low opinion. Does the package do a great job of storing six DVDs in a remarkably slim container? Absolutely. Am I worried that one small bit of plastic breaking could lead to half a dozen discs floating around the box? You bet. Box art itself is well-designed, with all the colors, and logos, and cast photos being complimentary to one another. I'm never a fan of a cast photo that's been Photoshopped together from individual photos, as is the case here, but it's really not that big of a deal.

Getting to what's ON the DVD? First of all, I really do have to hand it to the graphic design team, the two menus that DO exist on the set (Main Menu and a "Set Up" menu that toggles subtitles) are extremely well designed...though some sort of background music might be nice.

The video looks to be a tad cleaned up compared to its WGN America airings, but you aren't going to be blown away by eye-popping visuals. Audio too is rather sedate. Does the stereo track do a serviceable job? Yes. Is it going to knock your socks off? No. Chapter stops occur at the end of each act.

No special features to redeem the set. When you take into account the fact that one episode appears to be short by ten minutes, there are serious, serious flaws in the set. 37-and-change minutes is just NOT right. I don't care if it is the second part or night, NO TV show in 1991 ran that short. Heck, the only show in 2010 that runs that short is The Price is Right, which clocks in at 38 minutes or so per episode. There are only two series I've ever seen that featured a worse edit. WKRP in Cincinnati was edited abysmally top to bottom, and in addition there was a DVD set of Tracey Takes On (I believe it was the third and fourth seasons) which featured episodes sometimes cut by up to half. Those two? Definitely worse. But few DVD sets can claim to have an episode with a full 25% missing, and this set can claim just that. If you care about edited episodes, you've probably already canceled your order and I'm sorry to hear that. The show is immensely enjoyable, but a 25% edit to an episode is just a tough pill to swallow. If you love the show, by all means buy it, but I can't in good conscience recommend a set with one episode cut so substantially. Especially since no episode like this was edited on the first four sets.

(3/5 stars)

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Related links: Full DVD Reviews Page
Matlock Page


Come on back right here next week for more news and reviews. You'll have to come on back next week to see what the review here will be (maybe Dragnet?)! And don't forget to read our full DVD reviews, as we will put up reviews for The Game and Rhoda there. Until next time, keep it digital America! Happy 4th!

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

Tuesday, October 25

The Middle - "Halloween VIII: The Heckoning" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Halloween approaches, Frankie is taken aback when she discovers that, if the circumstances ever arose where she and Mike got divorced, the kids would all choose to live with Mike. Meanwhile, Sue tries everything in her power to get her room back from Brick, and having to be so nice around girlfriend April all of the time leads Axl to lash out at his family.

American Housewife - "Westport Zombies" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Katie, jealous of Taylor’s friendship with neighbor Viv (Leslie Bibb), reluctantly competes in the Westport Halloween “Zombie Run” after she finds out they’ll both be running. Meanwhile, Greg and Anna-Kat get a little too much in character for the “zombie” part of the run’s obstacle course.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Louisween" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
It’s Louis’ favorite holiday, and he makes every attempt to scare Jessica into the Halloween spirit, but she is buried in her word processor, drafting her first horror novel. Meanwhile, Emery and Evan debate costume choices, and Eddie and his crew are excited to party with high schoolers at Nicole’s house.

The Real O'Neals - "The Real Halloween" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Halloween arrives, or what Kenny refers to as “the gay Super Bowl,” he plans to go to Boystown to watch the festive costume parade. In an effort to prevent Kenny from attending, Eileen agrees to let him throw his own Halloween party at home. Eileen’s tolerance is ultimately tested when Kenny recruits Stuart and his gay friends to join the big party, and he makes a BIG costume change. Meanwhile, Jimmy and Shannon plan to pull off an epic Halloween prank.

Atlanta - "Junteenth" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Why my Auntie trying to make me go to one of these bougie Junteenth parties again? I don't like them sadity people and I'm gonna miss my shows. Le sigh.

Family Time - "Head of House" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When the Stallworths have an unexpected visitor, they learn of a vicious crime that took place in their home years ago.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Tuesday, October 25

  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Catch Will on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Friends) - Matt is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) - Cobie appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Skylar Astin (Ground Floor) - Skylar is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub (How to Be a Gentleman/Veronica's Closet/The Larry Sanders Show) and David Koechner (Another Period/Hank/The Office) - Mary and David are guests on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - John appears on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Erinn Hayes (Kevin Can Wait/Guys with Kids/Worst Week) - Erinn plays a celeb guessing game with Rach, who’s serving up no-fail make-your-own takeout, on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET. She will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Cheryl Hines (Son of Zorn/Suburgatory/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Cheryl is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) - Abbi will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She will also be on the AOL Build Show 4pm.
  • Don Rickles (C.P.O. Sharkey/Daddy Dearest) - Don is a guest on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.