Saturday, January 15, 2011

Digital Digest: Stingray - The Complete Series DVD Review; Simon & Simon - The Best of Season Two DVD Review

Snow, snow, everywhere snow, but always a lot to watch! It's a three-day weekend and some of you are a little snowed in or just freezing cold, so we'll get your weekend off to a good start with this week's edition of Digital Digest! We've got your news, a preview of what is coming up on Tuesday, and reviews of Stingray - The Complete Series and Simon & Simon - The Best of Season Two this week. We'll get on our way right now!


DIGITAL NEWS

Who's on first? No, I'm not trying to do my best imitation of Dustin Hoffman in the classic film Rain Man, but in that film, Hoffman was definitely doing his best imitation of one of the first "classic duos," Abbott and Costello. E1 Entertainment released The Abbott and Costello Show - The Complete Collector's Edition (see our review) about a year ago, but if you didn't want all of it in one big chunk, The Abbott and Costello Show - Who's On First?, a value-priced collection of six episodes, is coming on February 1. It comes at a $9.98 MSRP.

It's fresh off the press--The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is finally coming to completion on DVD! Just this week, Warner announced the release of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Sixth Season on DVD! The final season, containing 23 episodes, comes to DVD on April 23 at a $29.98 MSRP. You can get it at an even better price, of course, if you pre-order it now at Amazon.com. This is yet another example of a series that seemed to be abandoned on DVD finally being completed, and hopefully we'll be seeing other series in this same boat coming to completion soon.

However, if you like series that appear to be abandoned being finished on DVD, sometimes you only have to wait until the next paragraph. Yet another series is coming to completion on DVD on April 12! On April 12, we'll see Dragnet 1970 - Season 4, which is the final season of what is arguably the most popular incarnation of the classic detective procedural drama. At a $34.93 MSRP (we really don't know where these bizarrely numbered prices come from), the set will contain all 26 episodes of the final season on a four disc set. No special features are known just yet, though the previous two releases from Shout! Factory did indeed include a handful of them. The DVD set is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Shout! Factory released The Larry Sanders Show - The Complete Series a few months ago, but for those who just want the third season of the series (the first two have already been released individually), The Larry Sanders Show - The Complete Third Season is on the horizon. It is set for release on April 26 at a $34.93 MSRP.

We've seen Car 54, Where Are You? - The Complete First Season go from the rumor mill to an actual announcement here in Digital Digest, but the most recent announcement is that the set will be delayed, but it is still indeed on the way. The premiere season will now be released on April 12 due to the studio needing some extra time to produce the set. The set is still not available to pre-order, but it looks like it is shaping up to be an excellent set when it is released.

Finally, we head to the rumor mill, courtesy of this tidbit. CBS Home Entertainment announced some time ago that the eleventh season of the classic series Hawaii Five-O will be coming sometime within 2011, and there is now a rumored (although this is an "in-the-know" rumor) release date of April 19. It is entirely possible that this date could be off by a bit, but as of now, this is the release date for the set.

DIGITAL BARGAINS

When we are aware of a good deal, we always like to pass it on to you, and this weekend, you don't even have to leave your home for it! Amazon.com has a sale going on many Sony DVD sets, promising to save "up to 61%" on many DVD sets, meaning that you can get some Sony DVD releases starting at under $8 a season! You can click here to see what is on sale, but act quickly, because the sale ends on Monday (January 17).

UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (January 18) has a ton of releases from Mill Creek Home Entertainment, including 21 Jump Street - The Complete Fourth Season, My Two Dads - You Can Count on Me!, Simon & Simon - The Best of Season Two, Stingray - The Complete Series, and thirtysomething - Season 1, Volume 1. None of this is new to DVD (they are all best-of releases of previously released season sets, re-releases of out-of-print items, or, in the case of Stingray, an American release of something already released in Canada), but all come at a much lower price than their previously released counterparts. We have reviews of Stingray and Simon & Simon today in Digital Digest, and we should have a review of My Two Dads very soon.

As for releases from other studios, the battle between brothers Bobby and J.R. comes to an end (at least the original fourteen years of it) with Dallas - The Complete Final Season. You can read our review of this set here. Finally, Shout! Factory moves ahead with the series California Dreams, with California Dreams - Season 4, which is a Shout! Select title.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

At the height of the detective action dramas of the 1980s (which was undoubtedly strongly influenced by Stephen J. Cannell), many series came and went, but not all of them left as strong of a legacy as others. And yet, some were groundbreaking and entertaining, and even well-received by fans. One of these is the Stephen J. Cannell series Stingray, which ran for two seasons in the mid-80s on NBC. Ray--last name unknown--is a mysterious fellow. His identity is unknown, his occupation is unknown, and his motives are unknown. The only thing for certain is that he drives a vintage Corvette Stingray, will be there when he is needed most, and expects those accepting favors from him to return the favor by helping him out on a future journey (and they actually do come back in later episodes). Now, Mill Creek is releasing all 25 episodes of the series in Stingray - The Complete Series.

DVD Review - Stingray - The Complete Series
by skees53

Stingray - The Complete Series (Mill Creek, $14.98) is the story of a man of mystery. Ray drives a Corvette Stingray and will help fight crime in a time of need, but nobody knows exactly who he is or why he does what he does. Ray has the skills of MacGyver combined with the crime-fighting abilities of Crockett and Tubbs, has the ability to get himself in to tough situations and make it out, and all the while, he manages to do it with no traceable identity. The series, starring Nick Mancuso, ran from 1986 to 1987 on NBC.

The series begins with the two-part "Pilot" episode, where Mexican drug lord Tony Mendoza (played by a somewhat unrecognizable Gregory Sierra) has returned to the United States and seeks to get revenge on a prosecutor in a unique way, by reducing his mental capacity to that of a child. Now, it's up to Ray to find out who is engaging in this practice and put a stop to it. Ray has to go undercover with a fake Mexican wife to find an illegal drug harvesting operation in "Ancient Eyes." Mark-Paul Gosselaar has a minor role in "Below the Line," where a woman seeks her missing husband, an underwater diver. A police captain is framed for murder in "Sometimes You Gotta Sing the Blues," and Ray must help. In "Abnormal Psych," a college psychology professor is training killers, and Ray's undercover activities may put him in their trap. Ray goes undercover at a psychiatric facility in "Orange Blossom" and uncovers a bizarre plot by Russians to use patients to steal America's brightest minds. A smallpox scare is about to be unleashed in "Less Than the Eye Can See," and Ray has to stop it.
Marcia Strassman guest stars in "Gemini," where a murder is hitting every place in town, and his identity is a perfect match for Ray. Incompetent thieves mess with the wrong person in "Bring Me the Hand That Hit Me." Shannon Tweed guest stars in "Autumn," where a fantasy case becomes a real nightmare for Ray. Doug Savant guest stars in "Night Maneuvers," where a military academy student claims that he saw a fellow cadet commit murder. Jeff Conaway plays a drugged-up TV star in "Cry Wolf." John Amos guest stars in "Blood Money," where a principal of an urban high school is convinced that a full-fledged gang war is about to erupt--and calls upon Ray to help. Kareem-Abdul Jabbar also guest stars. Ray takes on the Russians once again in "Caper."

The episodes are unedited to an extent, but there are some issues with somewhat low running times on a few episodes and some music replacement. At first, it appeared that music was intact, but a little bit of it is changed. Of course, it is important to note that most of the music used in the series was created specifically for the series, and that music remains intact--meaning that most episodes do not suffer from any out of place music. Even in the cases where music WAS replaced, it seems that a better job was done with the replacement on this set than other Cannell series on DVD (such as Hunter). It is interesting to note that the Canadian release from VEI had a small number of songs intact that were not intact on this release, although other songs were replaced on the Canadian release. In any event, and I am almost hesitant to say this (because we all prefer to have original music intact), the music replacements in this series are not really a problem, and everything that is replaced is seamlessly replaced.


Disc 1:
1. "Pilot, Part 1" (47:03)
2. "Pilot, Part 2" (48:40)
3. "Ancient Eyes" (50:10)
4. "Ether" (49:35)
5. "Below the Line" (46:09)

Disc 2:
6. "Sometimes You Gotta Sing the Blues" (48:43)
7. "Abnormal Psych" (46:43)
8. "Orange Blossom" (49:24)
9. "Less Than The Eye Can See" (48:21)
10. "That Terrible Swift Sword" (47:39)

Disc 3:
11. "The Greeter" (49:06)
12. "Gemini" (48:06)
13. "Playback" (45:24)
14. "Bring Me the Hand That Hit Me" (48:19)
15. "Echoes" (46:58)

Disc 4:
16. "The First Time is Forever" (47:49)
17. "Autumn" (48:37)
18. "The Neniwa" (46:52)
19. "The Second Finest Man Who Ever Lived" (48:37)
20. "Night Maneuvers" (48:14)

Disc 5:
21. "Cry Wolf" (48:35)
22. "Blood Money" (48:00)
23. "Anytime, Anywhere" (47:47)
24. "Caper" (48:21)
25. "One Way Ticket to the End of the Line" (48:48)

This is a Mill Creek set, so it should come as no surprise what type of packaging we have: black paper sleeves inside of a double-thickness plastic case. This is really getting annoying. The cover art has a photo of Ray in front of his car and the series logo, and the back has a few publicity photos and some info about the series. The discs all contain five episodes each, and each disc has the series logo and a listing of episodes on the disc printed on the disc.

The menus on the set, like most other Mill Creek sets, are excellent. The main menu has video from the opening credits playing, along with an option for Play All and Episode Select. When you go to the Episode Select menu, you get a list of all of the episodes on the disc, while the theme song continues to play in the background. The menus are all animated throughout. There are plenty of chapters placed throughout the episodes at all of the appropriate places.

This series is one of the few Cannell series that I have seen that actually looks fine on DVD. The source is a little aged and not remastered, but generally speaking, there aren't any real issues of concern here. The audio isn't very complex, but it is definitely loud and clear, and doesn't really suffer any problems. Unfortunately, the set is lacking in regards to subtitles/closed-captioning.

There are no special features on this set. It would have been nice to have seen something on it, such as an interview with Mike Post. His role in the music on this series was very significant, as the series used a lot of music that he wrote just for the series. Perhaps some kind of history about the Stingray itself would be nice as well.

Overall, I'm satisfied with this set, and it has helped me discover a series that I can now say that I love. In fact, I think that this is one of the best Cannell series out there, and this is only my first time seeing the series. Anybody who is a fan of his work should pick up this set. There really is nothing to lose with the low MSRP. I am also happy to see that the quality of this set doesn't really cause much concern, as many other Cannell series from this era have had. Ray may have an unknown identity and occupation, but one thing is known: you should check this series out.

(4/5 stars)

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BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

Rick and A.J. are the Simon brothers, but they don't really have a whole lot in common. Still, they make a great detective team in the classic 80s detective drama, Simon & Simon. Despite being opposites in almost every, they work well together and manage to get to the bottom of every single case that is handed to them. Shout! Factory previously released Simon & Simon - Season 2 in 2009, but for those who just want a little taste of the second season, check out our review of Mill Creek's value-priced selection of Simon & Simon - The Best of Season Two.

DVD Review - Simon & Simon - The Best of Season Two
by skees53

Simon & Simon - The Best of Season Two (Mill Creek, $9.98) is a collection of ten of the best episodes of the classic detective drama about brothers who are "more than brothers, they're best of friends" in a two disc set. Rick (Gerald McRaney) and AJ (Jameson Parker) may be polar opposites, but they get along together very well and make a living by finding missing persons, hunting down stolen loot, and doing whatever else is necessary to help those in need.

Rick and AJ get involved when a psychic sees murder in the future in "Guessing Game." Pat Buttram, Jackie Joseph, and Alan Hale all guest star in "Rough Rider Rides Again," where Rick and AJ help a childhood hero when he is accused of murder. In "Sometimes Dreams Come True," a dream of twin sisters disappearing comes true, and it is up to the Simon brothers to help. Rick and AJ's mother has a friend who insists she saw her dead husband alive in "The Last Time I Saw Michael." An ex-girlfriend of Rick asks her to look in to the disappearance of her husband (who subsequently turns up dead) in "Thin Air."
Lloyd Haynes guest stars in "Psyched Out," where an investigation puts Rick and AJ in a college psychological experiment. Rick and AJ may be in trouble with the state licensing board in the two hour episode "Pirate's Key." Rick and AJ are assigned to deliver a video game to Las Vegas in "It's Only a Game," which turns out to be a much bigger assignment that is more suited for them than it sounds. Finally, in "What's in a Gnome?," the Simon brothers investigate a case of amusement park vandalism.

The episodes appear to be unedited versions, just the same as they were on the Shout! Factory release. Runtimes for the episodes are as follows:

Disc 1:
"Guessing Game" (49:08)
"Rough Rider Rides Again" (49:17)
"Sometimes Dreams Come True" (49:13)
"The Last Time I Saw Michael" (49:13)
"Thin Air" (49:12)

Disc 2:
"Psyched Out" (49:12)
"Pirate's Key" (1:27:05)
"It's Only a Game" (49:13)
"What's in a Gnome?" (49:13)

The packaging on this set is actually a little bit different from other releases from Mill Creek. It still has the double-thick keepcase for the packaging, but there is one thing that it doesn't have (and this is going to make people happy): the black paper sleeves! There are actually two hubs inside on each side of the case to hold the discs. The cover art has a photo of Rick and AJ, and the back has a few snapshots from the episodes, along with a list of the episodes included on the set. The disc artwork is the same as the cover art, but also contains a list of the episodes on each disc. Each disc contains five episodes

The set contains very basic menus, with the main menu containing the series logo and a snapshot of Rick and AJ, with options of Play All and Episodes. The theme song plays in the background. Upon selecting Episodes, you get a listing of all of the episodes on the disc. There are chapters placed within the episodes, but there are only about two, which aren't nearly enough. One complaint that I have about this set is that when one episode ends, the next one begins playing right away. It seems that Mill Creek does this on a lot of their "best of" sets, and I can't understand why.

The video and audio quality on the set is on par with all of the previous releases, meaning that it is good enough, but not excellent. Still, I don't think many people will complain about it too much, as it looks about like any other action drama of the same era does on DVD when not much work is put into remastering. The audio is a little dull, and you may need to turn up the TV a bit to hear it clearly. The episodes are not closed-captioned, nor are they subtitled.

The set contains no special features, which is not unexpected, as this is only a best-of release. Still, it would be nice to see some special features on future season sets from Shout! Factory, which have been (for the most part) lacking in that area.

If you've never seen the series, this set will give you a good taste for it to see if you like it. The second season was where the series began to take on an identity, and these really are among the best of that season. I only recently discovered this series, but it is a nice and fun light-hearted detective drama somewhat in the same vein as Moonlighting. At under $10, it is certainly worth taking a gamble on. But if you're a fan of the series, and just want to own it on DVD, you should probably just pay a little more and go with Shout! Factory's Simon & Simon - Season 2, which contains all of season 2.

(4/5 stars)

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Related links:
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Simon & Simon on TV.com


LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, we've got a review of Matlock - The Sixth Season and more in store for you. We hope to bring you some special articles in the upcoming weeks, although we've been getting DVDs for Digital Digest reviews in at such a steady pace that we've been unable to really get in to those articles. But stick with us, we've got some in the pipelines! Until next time, keep it digital!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, June 25

The Conners - "There Won't Be Blood" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
It’s Halloween, the favorite time of year for the Conners, but an email from the school banning certain costumes, including Mark’s, sets off an argument between Dan and Darlene. Jackie introduces someone new to the family at the Halloween party and insists that Dan vet him, only to immediately wish that she hadn’t.

American Housewife - "Highs and Lows" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
As Oliver and Taylor stumble through their love lives, Katie begins to miss the spontaneity and unpredictability of being young and in love. Meanwhile, Kathryn’s (Wendie Malick) plan to soothe Oliver’s heartbreak backfires when she tracks down an old boyfriend, Dan (Gregory Harrison), and he is not as she remembers. At the same time, Anna-Kat makes strides at school when Franklin is stuck at home with the chickenpox, forcing her to make a new friend.

Modern Family - "A Sketchy Area" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil stumbles into an exciting new career after dropping by Luke’s college; while Claire deals with her dad, Jay, and the merger of Pritchett’s Closets with a tech-savvy, hipper company. Meanwhile, Mitch’s new high-profile case as an assistant district attorney is marred by an unflattering courtroom sketch by the resident artist (Dan Levy).

The Goldbergs - "My Valentine Boy" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With Geoff’s help, Erica and Valley Erica find a new band member to replace Lainey, but Barry convinces Geoff the new band member is trying to steal Erica from him. Meanwhile, Adam and Murray try to out-gift each other so that neither of them has to go to Valentine’s Day dinner with Beverly.

Modern Family - "Torn Between Two Lovers" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Haley can’t seem to choose between her past and present relationships and is forced to make a decision. Meanwhile, Manny returns to college and dorm life while his girlfriend, Sherry, continues to stay at Jay and Gloria’s, and might be overstaying her welcome.

black-ish - "Son of a Pitch" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Junior is working at Stevens & Lido as an intern and takes some time to find his footing; but when he offers an idea during a pitch meeting, Dre immediately puts him in his place. Meanwhile, Bow has a meeting with one of Kyra’s teachers and learns that she has an aptitude for chemistry, but Kyra doesn’t want to transfer to a magnet school.

The Detour - "The Return" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Following a breakthrough, the Parkers return to their hometown to find their daughter.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 24)

Tuesday, June 25

  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Catch Kumail on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover/Shake It Up) - Zendaya stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jenny Slate (Married/Parks and Recreation/Bob's Burgers) - Jenny visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Bill Hader (Barry) - Bill appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Anna Chlumsky (Veep) - Anna is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Stephanie appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld (High Maintenance) - Ben and Katja are guests on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Olivia drops by Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Kathy Bates (Disjointed) - Kathy appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Michael Rapaport (Atypical/White Famous/The War at Home) - Michael visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy/American Dad!/The Cleveland Show) - Seth chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Pefect) and Gabriel Iglesias (Mr. Iglesias/Cristela) - Sherri and Gabriel talk about Mr. Iglesias on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Brie Larson (United States of Tara/Raising Dad) - Brie stops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Robin Givens (Head of the Class) - Robin is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Nina Dobrev (Fam) - Nina drops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Ariana Grande (Sam & Cat/Victorious) - The Ellen DeGeneres Show has the biggest music stars from Season 16, including Ariana, so check your local listings.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge/The Drew Carey Show) - Kate cooks up a meat sauce made with bacon on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) - Justina talks about Family Pictures on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry talks about America's Got Talent on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April/May/June)

Evening Shade - The Complete Collection Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two

04/02 - Archer: Danger Island - The Complete Season Nine
04/09 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fifth Season
04/12 - Evening Shade - The Complete Collection
04/16 - The Big C - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 2
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons (WBShop.com)
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
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