Saturday, June 11, 2011

Digital Digest: Pretty Little Liars - The Complete First Season DVD Review and Contest

We're in the dog days of summer in many parts of the country (even though summer hasn't even officially started), so if you don't want to overheat your body, there is always the option of staying inside in the air conditioning and enjoying your favorite TV series! And you can start that by checking out this week's edition of Digital Digest, where we bring you news, a preview of next week's releases, and reviews. This week, we have a review of Pretty Little Liars - The Complete First Season. Plus, we have a special contest this week in connection with our review! Let's get going!


There isn't too much news this week, but The Big Bang Theory (DVD/Blu-ray) now has a release date of September 13. Of course, you can pre-order either of those sets now.

The Dick Van Dyke Show has been released on DVD both as individual seasons and as a complete series set, but for fans who just want the "best" of the series, there is a special DVD set on the way: The Dick Van Dyke Show - 50th Anniversary Edition, set for a September 20 release. In addition to 20 classic episodes, it will contain numerous special features, such as the original pilot, interviews, and more, although none of the material is necessarily "new" to the series (all of it can be found on the previous releases).


Tuesday (June 14) has only one sitcom release, and that is House of Payne - Volume 8. We hope to have a review of this set soon. Other releases include Universal's Best of the 80's DVDs, which include "best of" collections of The A-Team, Knight Rider, Magnum, P.I., and Miami Vice.


Pretty Little Liars - The Complete First Season

Many teen dramas have come and gone over the years, all having their own little twists and turns, and in the case of ABC Family's recent successful series Pretty Little Liars, deep and dark secrets. Based upon a series of novels with the same title, the series tells the story of four teenage girls whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their queen bee. But things get a little creepy when a mysterious character named "A" appears and threatens to reveal their secrets--secrets that nobody outside of the clique could possibly know. Now, you can see the first season of this series in Warner Home Video's Pretty Little Liars - The Complete First Season.

DVD Review: Pretty Little Liars - The Complete First Season

Pretty Little Liars - The Complete First Season (Warner, $59.98) is now on DVD and it's no secret! The popular ABC Family original drama series starring Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, and Troian Bellisario has the main four stars. When their best friend Alison mysteriously vanishes, the four girls believe their secrets are safe forever. But when they begin to receive threatening messages from someone named "A," the truth may be only one text away. Filled with mystery, scandal, intrigue and nail-biting suspense, Pretty Little Liars is based on the best-selling book series for young adults from Alloy.

Set one year after the disappearance of Alison, the manipulative and vindictive queen bee, the one-hour drama revolves around four 16-year-old girlfriends--Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily -- who have lost touch with one another until each begins to receive mysterious messages suggesting that Alison is watching them and knows their most private details they are desperate to keep hidden. Suddenly, living in their picturesque suburban community is far from perfect as secrets, lies and betrayals threaten everything they hold dear. Even after Alison's body is discovered, the messages don't stop...and the intrigue of this show doesn't either! The series was ordered for 10 episodes in the first season, but after successful ratings, ABC picked up 12 more episodes to air in mid-season for a total of 22 episodes in the first season. The first half aired in summer 2010, while the second half aired in the winter of 2011. The series returns this coming Tuesday for the second season premiere and I have seen a screener of the season premiere and it is just as juicy, intriguing and addicting as the first season!

Anyway, as for this set, there are many memorable episodes. In the series premiere, "Pilot," this is where it all begins and the pilot is addicting from start to finish! In "To Kill A Mockingbird," the girls try to pay tribute to Alison's memory, but they are still faced with unresolved issues, while Aria has an unpleasant encounter with her father's former mistress. In "There's No Place Like Homecoming," when Emily decides to bring Toby as her homecoming date she soon finds herself in a possibly sticky situation with Toby and Maya, and at the same time, Aria is broken over her hidden relationship with Ezra. In the first half finale, "Keep Your Friends Close," when new evidence leads the FBI to believe that Toby killed Alison, he tries to tell Emily his side of the story yet rats him out. The winter premiere is better than ever in "Moments Later," as the story leaves off from where we left off in the first half finale...which I will not reveal here. In "Careful What U Wish 4," as the school gets ready for the dance-a-thon, Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer have more on their minds than raising money for the school trip to Washington, D.C. Hanna and her mother are having a financial crisis, but when 'A' leaves her an offer that would potentially break Lucas' heart but get her out of money troubles, will she be able to refuse? In "A Person of Interest," after a shocking revelation from the police, the spotlight is turned on the four little liars who look to be crying wolf, but with everything pointing to Ian, how could the girls be wrong? In "Monsters in the End," everyone has something to hide – whether it be a secret romance, who they really are and what their true intentions are. And in the first season finale, "For Whom the Bell Tolls," now that Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer are in possession of the information that Alison left them, the girls decide that it's time to finally put an end to "A" and the mystery surrounding their friend. And the first season ends with a major cliffhanger, just like the mid-season finale.

Among the supporting players in this series are veterans Holly Marie Combs, Laura Leighton, Nia Peeples, and Chad Lowe. Also starring Ian Harding, Bianca Lawson, Keegan Allen and Sasha Pieterse as Alison. Guest stars include Julian Morris, Sara Shepard, Tyler Blackburn, and Charlotte Rae. Episodes are usually around 43-44 minutes and unedited, as they should be. Runtimes are below:

Disc 1:
1. "Pilot" (44:35)
2. "The Jenna Thing" (42:16)
3. "To Kill a Mocking Girl" (44:09)
4. Can You Hear Me Now?" (43:57)
5. "Reality Bites Me" (44:16)

Disc 2:
6. "There's No Place Like Homecoming" (44:06)
7. "The Homecoming Hangover" (43:45)
8. "Please, Do Talk About Me When I'm Gone" (43:23)
9. "The Perfect Storm" (44:08)
10. "Keep Your Friends Close" (44:15)

Disc 3:
11. "Moments Later" (44:08)
12. "Salt Meets Wound" (43:54)
13. "Know Your Frenemies" (44:06)
14. "Careful What U Wish 4" (43:49)
15. "If at First You Don't Succeed, Lie, Lie Again" (44:15)

Disc 4:
16. "Je Suis Une Amie" (44:05)
17. "The New Normal" (42:17)
18. "The Bad Seed" (43:59)
19. "A Person of Interest" (43:54)
20. "Someone to Watch Over Me" (42:26)

Disc 5:
21. "Monsters in the End" (44:06)
22. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (44:06)

The set comes in a thin outer box holding a keep case inside. The artwork is the same on the front side for both with the famous image of the four girls in black outfits covered in mud. Never trust a pretty girl with an ugly secret, as the tagline says at the bottom of the cover! The back of the box has info on the series and set and another shot of the girls in black outfits, but no mud this time. We also have three episodic images and a list of special features. The case's back side is different. We have full body shots of the girls in sexy dresses and poses. Ashley Benson is quite a catch, isn't she? When we open the case, we some inserts on the left side. We have an ad insert promoting items such as Lucy Hale in the upcoming made for home video movie A Cinderella Story, where she sings even, along with ads for ABC Family's new series The Lying Game premiering in August and the latest book from author Sara Shepard. The other insert is a nice episode booklet! It is nicely designed and filled with great episodic photos and a great shot of the girls again in black on the front. We have a disc-by-disc breakdown with episode number, title, writer, director, original airdate and of course a synopsis. There is a little scissor image also if there are any deleted scenes available for that episode. The last page has a nice credit list of all the series regulars.

Anyway back to the case, we have two plastic holders that we can flip like a book in the middle and they each hold two discs, with the first disc on the front and the second disc on the back. So that covers four discs. The fifth disc is on the right panel itself. The disc artwork is simple. We have a purple background with some cool designs, the show logo and disc number. Simple, but effective. No other artwork needed because the panel artwork makes up for that with yet another sexy cast photo of the four girls, this time in hot dresses on a red couch. Ashley Benson once again shines but they all look stunning!

The menu design is good and uses the same artwork as the cover art but it is more of a wide shot and we see more. It's a nice blue color scheme. Before the main menu on disc one we have a trailer for classic films and on disc five we have a trailer for Lucy Hale's upcoming home video movie A Cinderella Story, where she even sings! Unfortunately there is no music playing in the background, which is disappointing as this show has a good theme. The menu options are Play All, Episodes, Deleted Scenes and Languages for discs one-four. Disc five doesn't have deleted scenes but it does have a Special Features option. The artwork for all the submenus is good. Languages features audio in English but you can have subtitles in English or French. Deleted Scenes option doesn't have a submenu, so it just plays them automatically. Episodes option lists the episode titles, and if there is a deleted scene for that episode you can watch it by highlighting the scissor image. I think you're better off watching the deleted scenes through the episodes menu than the deleted scenes option itself. And Special Features on disc five lists all the extras we have.

Video and audio quality are both outstanding. That is no surprised, but we should still be glad that everything is so crisp and clear. HD like quality, even if this isn't a Blu-ray set. So there is nothing much to say here except it is like how you watch it on ABC Family HD. Each episode has 8 or 9 chapter stops, depending on the episode. We get to see the full closing credits, too, something that we don't see on ABC Family but if you watch the series on their website, you see these closing credits.

There are special features and nearly all of them are on disc five. The previous four discs have deleted scenes. These are always nice to see. Disc one has deleted scenes on three episodes (1:44, 1:51, 0:55) with a total of 5 deleted scenes. Disc two has deleted scenes on one episode (1:00) with a total of 2 deleted scenes. Disc three has deleted scenes on three episodes (3:33, 0:41, 0:35) with a total of 5 deleted scenes. And finally disc four has deleted scenes on two episodes (1:43, 0:30) with a total of 3 deleted scenes. So if you're counting at home, can you keep a secret? It's 9 episodes with deleted scenes and a total of 15 deleted scenes! The main special features are all on disc five. The first featurette is a fun one titled "Pretty Little Liars: Two Truths and a Lie" (6:10). Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, and Troian Bellisario all give us choices and we have to figure out which is true and which is a lie. This is a nice fun for DVD feature. Nothing informative really, but good to have. And it's always nice to look at these young stars! The next featurette is an informative one titled "Making of Pretty Little Liars" (16:51). On this we find out all the cool details and scoops from the making of this fine show. Many are interviewed and they are Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, Troian Bellisario, Leslie Morgenstein (executive producer), Sara Shepard (author), Oliver Goldstick (executive producer), Nia Peeples, Chad Lowe, I. Marlene King (executive producer), Ian Harding, Holly Marie Combs, Laura Leighton, Sasha Pieterse, Tammin Sursok, Mandi Line (costume designer), and Keegan Allen.

We're not done yet! Another good featurette is "Little Secrets from the Set" (7:52). In this we are in for the ride on the set filmed by the girls themselves. We have a Shay Cam, Lucy Cam, and Ashley Cam. See what goes on the set and how everyone works. It is a nice behind the scenes thing and we even see Ashley Benson get surprised on her 21st birthday on the set! And the final extra is the same trailer as the auto trailer on this disc - a trailer for Lucy Hale's upcoming home video movie A Cinderella Story, where she even sings! She's good too!

I think Warner Bros. did an excellent job on this set. It's just about perfect, with just some little nitpicks here and there. The important part is we have the episodes in great quality and we can relive these great episodes at any time! The special features are pretty good as well, so nothing major to gripe there either. Now that you have read our review, now is your chance to enter our "Win a Pretty Little Liars DVD Contest." Some lucky fans out there will win a free DVD from us! All you have to do is post on our Facebook post for this DVD and tell us who you think "A" is (or are?)? So can you keep a secret? Well you don't have to because this is no secret--this show is good and so is this DVD! Catch up in time for the new season, which premieres Tuesday (June 14) at 8/7 central on ABC Family!

(3.5/5 stars)

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Related links: Main DVD Reviews Page
Pretty Little Liars page


We'll be back next week with more news and reviews, and hopefully the dog days of summer don't become dead news days of summer! But we'll be here regardless, and in the mean time, keep it digital!

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

Sunday, October 23

The Simpsons - "Treehouse of Horror XXVI" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
In an encore of last season’s Halloween episode, Sideshow Bob finally kills Bart, only to reanimate him; Homer wakes up with short-term memory loss; and Lisa, Bart, and Milhouse get super powers from radiation.

Bob's Burgers - "Teen-a-Witch" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
With Halloween quickly approaching, Tina reveals her brilliant idea that will finally win her first place in the annual costume contest. When Tammy steals her idea, Tina is forced to seek the help of Mr. Ambrose, who leads her to alternate and other-worldly methods of winning. Meanwhile, Bob is on a mission to figure out who is stealing his perfectly crafted pumpkins.

The Simpsons - "Trust But Clarify" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Lisa and Bart investigate Krusty’s suspicious new “Krustaceans” candy. Meanwhile, Homer wants a promotion at the nuclear plant and asks Marge to help him dress the part, and news anchor Kent Brockman struggles to find his feet in the changing media world.

Son of Zorn - "A Taste of Zephyria" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After learning how Zephyria is depicted in the media, Zorn attempts to teach Alan about his culture. Meanwhile, Edie wages war with her new neighbors over their talking garden gnome.

Family Guy - "Inside Family Guy" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
FAMILY GUY takes viewers behind the scenes of a regular “FAMILY GUY” production week, with James Woods as the guide. See the ins-and-outs of what goes into the making of a “FAMILY GUY” episode and watch the drama unfold as Peter is replaced and ends up in the office of Fox Television Group Chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman to pitch his very own new series.

The Last Man on Earth - "Five Hoda Kotbs" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
A post-apocalyptic road trip has everyone at war with each other and Gail is really pushed to her breaking point.

Bizaardvark - "Spoiler Alert: Belissa Returns" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Paige and Frankie hit a writing slump and other bad things start happening to them, Paige begins to think they are cursed; Amelia and Dirk are at odds when the lifestyle Diva declutters the Dare Lair.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Sunday, October 23

  • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Catch Patti on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, October 24
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Watch Ricky on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Inferno on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Chiklis (Daddio) - Michael drops by Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Aya Cash (You're the Worst) - Aya talks about You're the Worst on the AOL Build ShoW at 2pm. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary talks about The Last Man on Earth on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
  • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Good Girls Revolt on People Now at 8:30am.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.