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!

DIGITAL NEWS

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).


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

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.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


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:
SitcomsOnline.com Main DVD Reviews Page
Pretty Little Liars TV.com page

LOOKING AHEAD

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!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, April 23

American Housewife - "Grandma's Way" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Katie gets sick, Greg enlists Kathryn’s (Wendi Malick) help in taking care of the kids, but Kathryn leaves the kids to fend for themselves while she entertains an old high school boyfriend. Meanwhile, Taylor gets a taste of her own medicine when she tries to help an unruly Katie.

Bless This Mess - "Pilot" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Newlyweds Rio and Mike drop everything (including their jobs and overbearing mother-in-law) to make the move from big city New York to rural Nebraska in search of a simpler life. They soon realize that becoming farmers isn’t as easy as they planned as they are faced with unexpected challenges.

black-ish - "Good in the 'Hood" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Dre’s sister Rhonda takes Jack and Diane to her part of town in a black neighborhood and claims the twins are scared of their own community. Dre and Rhonda take them to a local diner to show them why it’s so special. Meanwhile, Bow becomes the “office mom” at work, and Junior tries to help her break the label.

Bless This Mess - "The Chicken and the Goat" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After weeks of researching soil revitalization and coming up with a wonderful plan to make their farm successful, Rio and Mike are forced to find a new strategy when the weather forecast is not in their favor. As Mike tries to focus on addressing the dead soil, Rio attempts to connect with new neighbors at the Bowman’s potluck but ends up spicing up her romantic relationship with Mike instead.

The Last O.G. - "Scenario" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Bobby blows an important loan meeting for Tray, who has to reconsider his business relationship with his cousin; Shay drags Amira to a birthday party so she can spend time with her new friend Faith.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 22)

Tuesday, April 23

  • Sophia Bush (Partners) - Catch Sophia on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet) - Timothy is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Harvey GuillĂ©n (What We Do in the Shadows) - Harvey appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ben Feldman (Superstore/A to Z/Living with Fran) - Ben visits E!'s Busy Tonight at 11pm.
  • Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan) - Brooke guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Brie Larson (United States of Tara/Raising Dad) - Brie stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • J. D. McCrary (The Paynes) - J. D. is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Alec appears on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Scott Foley (The Goodwin Games/A.U.S.A./Scrubs) - Scott is a guest on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Bob Saget (How I Met Your Mother/Surviving Suburbia/Raising Dad/Full House) - Bob talks about Benjamin on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on the BUILD SERIES at 4pm.


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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