Saturday, March 26, 2011

Digital Digest: Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two

It's time to enter into your weekly dosage of all things digital for your favorite sitcoms--that's right, it is another Saturday, and another edition of Digital Digest! Sadly, as much as we wish that we could, we can't reverse the trend of slowing news each and every week, but we can bring you what we have (as we always do) and a review of Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two. Ready? Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

In what has been another slow news week, the only totally new DVD sitcom announcement is from Lionsgate, with House of Payne - Volume 8. It is scheduled for a June 14 release at a $29.98 MSRP.

The final season of Father Knows Best is officially on the Shout! Select calendar, and a bit earlier than expected. Father Knows Best - Season Six is set for an April 19 release at a $39.98 MSRP. In addition to all of the episodes of the final season of the classic sitcom, he set will contain two episodes of the series Window on Main Street, but unfortunately, it looks as if the reunion movies that Shout! Factory was said to be looking in to will NOT be part of the set.

There is an interesting release of note that was announced some time ago from MPI featuring Don Knotts. Don Knotts - Tied Up With Laughter is a special comedy collection, he is joined by singer-actress Joey Heatherton, actress Jane Powell, former Dallas Cowboys player Lance Rentzel, comic Jack Burns, Knott‘s Love God movie co-star Maureen Arthur and the legendary Jimmy Durante. It also contains a look at his early work and a featurette entitled "Don Knotts with Lucille Ball." It is scheduled for an April 26 release at a $14.98 MSRP.

Hulu, the website where you can watch many series from the present and past, has announced a deal with Viacom to bring many of their series to the website. It is important to note, however, that the "new Viacom" is not the same as the old Viacom (most of those classic series are now part of CBS Television Distribution), so the only thing of interest to us is the series Hot in Cleveland. The series from the Viacom library are available only to Hulu Plus subscribers, so you have to be a paying subscriber to view these series.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (March 29) brings America's original "bad boy" to DVD for the first time with Shout! Factory's release of Dennis the Menace - Season One. The five disc set contains every episode of the first season of the series and a ton of special features. We should have a review of this set soon. You can take a trip to America's Sin City with Dan Tanna in Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two. Or if you are a fan of classic Jack Webb series, you can see the end of the classic series Emergency! in Emergency! - The Final Rescues. We have a review of Vega$ in today's Digital Digest.


BLOG DVD REVIEW

Aaron Spelling was one of the most well-known producers of all time, particularly in the 70s and 80s, and in 1978, he brought to American airwaves (along with creator Michael Mann, who later went on to be a well-known producer himself with the series Miami Vice) the series Vega$. The series stars Robert Ulrich (previously of Soap fame) as private detective Dan Tanna, who helped solve crime in the Sin City by rolling around the strip in his 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Check out our review of Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two.

DVD Review - Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two
by skees53

Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two (CBS Home Entertainment, $39.98) has Dan Tanna (Robert Ulrich) continuing to keep a watchful eye as a private eye over the city of Las Vegas to nab the bad guys and win over the ladies at the same time. Tanna takes on crime in eleven more installments of the classic series, along with help from his asssistant Bea (Phyllis Davis), legman Bobby "Binzer" Borso (Bart Braverman) and his police confidant Lt. Dave Nelson (Greg Morris), and a long string of guest stars as both the good guys and the bad guys .

Dick Sargent and Mary Ann Mobley guest star in "Lost Monday," where Binzer's trip to a hypnotist may turn him into a murderer, and it is up to Tanna to stop him before that happens. One of Dan's friends is in Vega$ with his new bride to perform at the Desert Inn in "Comeback," but the happy marriage ends when she dies very early in to the marriage. Bea takes a vacation and comes back engaged in "All Kinds of Love," but there is something unsettling about the man she is about to married in the eyes of Tanna. In "The Magic Sister Slayings," Dan has information about a man trying to get a gambling license that the man would kill--literally--to suppress the information. Cheating in Vegas turns to murder in "Lido Girls." In "Consortium," dead bodies are planted in Tanna's home and car after the girls attend a party that Tanna also attends.
Captain & Tennille guest star in "The Hunter Hunted," where Lt. Nelson begins receiving threats towards his family and asks Dan to stay out of the way--but will he? An illusionist performing at the Desert Inn is sent death threats in "The Man Who Was Watching," but when Tanna gets involved, he may be part of those threats too. A cop from San Francisco comes to visit Dan in the double-length feature "The Golden Gate Cop Killer," but when he turns up dead, Dan is determined to head to San Francisco for revenge. A robbery at the Desert Inn turns into a hostage situation in "Siege of the Desert Inn," and Bea is among those hostages. The season ends with "Vendetta," where Dan has to investigate a murder in his own family before another one occurs.

It appears that all of the episodes are unedited, all containing very consistent runtimes. The set does have the typical CBS Home Entertainment disclaimer on it about how episodes may be edited from their original network versions, but there are no music disclaimers or anything like that. My feeling is that this set is completely safe from edits, although it has been so long since I've seen it that I can't say for sure. Runtimes are as follow:

Disc 1:
1. "Lost Monday" (49:18)
2. "Comeback" (49:20)
3. "All Kinds of Love" (49:15)
4. "The Magic Sister Slayings" (49:19)

Disc 2:
5. "Lido Girls" (49:19)
6. "Consortium" (49:19)
7. "The Hunter Hunted" (49:20)
8. "The Man Who Was Twice" (49:18)

Disc 3:
9. "The Golden Gate Cop Killer" (1:38:33)
10. "Siege of the Desert Inn" (49:20)
11. "Vendetta" (49:27)


The packaging used for the set is the standard CBS Home Entertainment Viva case, which has about become the standard in DVDs lately. The cover art has a large photo of Tanna with the other cast members in the background (smaller pictures of them), and the back of the case has several episode snapshots, along with information about the series. Inside, there are the three discs, which contain no artwork other than the series logo on a gray background. Discs 1 and 2 contain four episodes each, while Disc 3 contains three episodes (one being a double-feature). Episode descriptions and airdates are printed inside of the case, but I do have one major gripe. The episodes for Disc 2 are listed in the center of the case, and are impossible to read unless you remove the middle tray that holds two of the discs. I'm not sure why they put episode descriptions in the middle of the case. But on the positive side, the descriptions for each episode are very thorough.

There really isn't much to say at all about the menus. Each disc has two of the cast members as the menu artwork, and you have a listing of all of the episodes, along with Play All Episode Promos and Subtitles on the main menu. Once you select an episode, you can watch it with or without the episode promos. Surprisingly, there is no Play All option to be found on the menus ("Play All Episode Promos" just gives you the promos). Chapters are placed throughout each episode.

The video and audio quality on the set is actually pretty decent, and looks about like other Aaron Spelling series from the era that have been released by CBS Home Entertainment. The episodes definitely look old, but are cleaned up rather well. Even the episode promos, which are of slightly lower quality than the episodes, honestly don't look all that bad. The audio is presented in mono with English subtitles available, but comes through very loud and clear.

The only special feature on the set is previews for each episode from the original airing of the series ("Next on Vega$"). These run about 30 seconds each. It would have been nice to have seen some interviews or commentaries on these episodes.

These are some excellent episodes, and it has been so long since I have seen this series that it has all seemed new to me. As far as I know, the series hasn't aired anywhere in the United States in over a decade, and has somehow become a "lost" series among the Aaron Spelling series out there, perhaps because it really does scream 70s and because it only lasted three seasons. If you are a fan of similar Aaron Spelling series from the same era, or just a fan of crime dramas in general, you'll love this set, and the only way to see it is to obtain these DVDs, because it doesn't seem like any TV channel will be airing it anytime soon. So take a gamble and head on down to Vega$!

(4/5 stars)

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LOOKING AHEAD

That's it for this week's Digital Digest. The upcoming weeks aren't as bad as they have been when it comes to releases, but let's hope that we can hear more news about more releases! We're craving to see the end (or in some cases, the beginning) of many classic series that we all know and love. Until next time, keep it digital!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, April 25

The Big Bang Theory - "The Decision Reverberation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Koothrappali is worried people won’t take him seriously in his own field after publishing a paper that suggests he may have discovered alien life. Also, Leonard wants to be the principal investigator on a plasma physics study.

Young Sheldon - "A Political Campaign and a Candy Land Cheater" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Unhappy that school funds are going towards football rather than academics, Sheldon decides to run for class president.

Mom - "Triple Dip and an Overhand Grip" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bonnie and Tammy revisit childhood memories on a trip to their old foster home. Also, Christy and Jill regret accepting a date with two guys from their AA meeting.

Life in Pieces - "Misery Turd Name Pills" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
While Joan is bedridden recovering from surgery, she persuades Sophia to spend time with her, which she quickly regrets. Also, Jen and Greg select a name for their new baby only to learn that Matt and Colleen chose the same one; Colleen and Matt invite the family over to get to know Morgan (Joey King); and Heather has a new business idea.

Superstore - "QuinceaƱera" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Jonah (Ben Feldman) struggles to find his place at Amy’s (America Ferrera) daughter Emma’s quinceaƱera, while Dina (Lauren Ash) proves very popular with some teenage boys. Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) and Mateo (Nico Santos) are obsessed with seeing Amy cry.

A.P. Bio - "Sweet Low Road" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When budget cuts threaten to gut Whitlock and put his job in jeopardy, Jack recruits Mary, Stef, and Michelle to take down the Superintendent. Durbin plans an appeal to the heart, while the students plan an appeal to the soul.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Tickling Clocks" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
In an episode that takes place in real time, Jake and the squad must track down a hacker who has infiltrated the Nine-Nine's servers. Rosa deals with relationship issues. Hitchcock and Scully attempt to cook the perfect lasagna.

Abby's - "Mail Bin" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Abby finds a letter from her estranged father in a pile of unopened mail and opens up to the group about their fraught relationship.

Better Things - "The Unknown" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam gets theatrical.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 22)

Thursday, April 25

  • Paul Rudd (Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/Wild Oats) - Catch Paul on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Tig appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie) - Susan is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Lake Bell (Bless This Mess/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/How to Make It in America) - Lake visits E!'s Busy Tonight at 11pm.
  • Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan (Tacoma PD) - Steve and Kevin are guests on E!'s Busy Tonight at 11pm.
  • Bradley Cooper (Kitchen Confidential) - Bradley stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Diedrich Bader (American Housewife/Veep/The Drew Carey Show) - Diedrich visits The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Margo Martindale (The Millers) - Margo appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James talks about Life in Pieces on People Now at 12pm.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso is a guest on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Laurie Metcalf (The Conners/The McCarthys/Getting On/Roseanne) - Laurie talks about Hillary & Clinton on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Queen Latifah (Living Single) - Queen Latifah appears on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the BUILD SERIES at 3pm.
  • Ali Wentworth (Nightcap) - Ali is a guest on ABC's Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • Billy Crystal (The Comedians/Soap) and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) - Billy and Ben talk about Standing Up, Falling Down on the BUILD Series at 1pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March/April)

Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season Alice - The Complete Ninth Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season

02/05 - Family Guy - Part 1 - Volumes 1-5
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 2 - Volumes 6-10
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 3 - Seasons 10-14
02/05 - First Lady of Television - Betty White Collection (40 rare and acclaimed episodes from her early days in television)
02/05 - Mama's Family - Seasons 1-6 - The Complete Series
02/12 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-3 (Blu-ray)
02/12 - Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season
02/26 - What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season
03/05 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
03/12 - Alice - The Complete Ninth Season (WBShop.com)
03/26 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
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)
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