Saturday, January 28, 2012

Digital Digest: New Big Bang Blu-rays, Bazinga!; Father Dowling Mysteries - The First Season DVD Review

It is hard to tell if it is fall, winter, or spring with the crazy and changing weather that we are having all over the US, but one thing that we can tell for sure is that it is yet another Saturday. So, welcome to Digital Digest! This week, in addition to our regular features, we have a review of CBS Home Entertainment's release of Father Dowling Mysteries - The First Season. Let's get started.


Lately, we've started to see more and more Blu-ray Disc releases of sitcoms, even including That '70s Show - Season One (Blu-ray), which we mentioned last week. Now, Warner Home Video is going back a little bit with The Big Bang Theory, and finally releasing season one and season two on the high-definition format. Of course, the most recent seasons of the series have been released on Blu-ray, but now fans will be able to own every season released to date on Blu-ray. According to, these DVDs should be expected in the first half of the year. had even more news this week with information about Saved by the Bell. Apparently, there is a release of the complete series in the works. Not a whole lot is known about this release just yet. In fact, it is entirely possible that the release is just the previous releases wrapped together in one package. When we do know more, we'll be sure to update you on it.

Fans of the animated comedy American Dad! will be pleased to know that more episodes of that series will be coming to DVD soon, with American Dad! - Volume Seven. The release is scheduled to hit store shelves on April 17. Unfortunately, there isn't a Blu-ray release scheduled at this time, which actually would have been appropriate for this set since it is the first one that will include all high-definition episodes. Still, the DVDs for this set have been perfectly adequate, and fans shouldn't be disappointed.


Tuesday (January 31) brings another slow day of DVDs with only two releases, both from Shout! Factory. First is Leave it to Beaver - 20 Timeless Episodes, which contains twenty of the "best" episodes of the classic series. Additionally, Shout! Factory has Hey Dude! - Season 2.


Father Dowling Mysteries - The First Season

Blog DVD Review: Father Dowling Mysteries - The First Season (CBS DVD, $29.99)
by Todd

Catholic priest Father Frank Dowling (Tom Bosley) continually stumbles over murders, abductions and other high crimes in his hometown of Chicago. Assisted by street-smart Sister Stephanie "Steve" Oskowski (Tracy Nelson), wherever the holy duo go, someone usually turns up dead. While the local police are quick to find a likely suspect, the snooping priest just as quickly finds a good reason to take a closer look. Now, for the first time on DVD, you can enjoy this 2-Disc collection of the first season of Father Dowling Mysteries which includes the Original TV Pilot Movie! Father Phil (James Stephens) is going to have to take 10 o'clock Mass, because Father Dowling has got a murder to solve!

Father Dowling Mysteries began with a two-hour TV pilot movie called "Fatal Confession," which originally aired on NBC on November 1, 1987. The show was picked up for the fall 1988-89 season, but it did not begin airing until January 20, 1989 because of a writer's strike. After the first season was broadcast on Friday nights on NBC, it moved to ABC on Thursday nights for the last two seasons. A total of 43 episodes were broadcast plus the pilot movie. Here are the episodes included on this release:

Disc 1:

"Fatal Confession" (Original TV Pilot Movie) (11/30/87) (1:36:00) - The pilot episode finds Father Dowling and Sister Steve investigating the apparent suicde of a former parishoner. In between saying Mass, hearing confessions and managing the softball team, Father Dowling somehow finds time to conduct his own investigation.
Notable Guest Stars: Susan Blakely, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Scolari, Sada Thompson, Stella Stevens

1-2. "The Missing Body Mystery" (01/20/89) (1:33:44) - Father Dowling lands on the wrong side of the FBI after a dying man falls dead at his feet. Father Dowling puts the church in a bad light when he insists on tracking down the killer.
Notable Guest Star: Robert Walden

3. "What Do You Call a Call Girl Mystery" (01/27/89) (47:47) - Father Dowling comes to the aid of a man whose fiancée was murdered just as she was about to confess being a prostitute. A search leads to three powerful clients, none of whom want to be invovled in a scandal.
Notable Guest Stars: David L. Lander, James Noble

Disc 2:

4. "The Man Who Came to Dinner Mystery" (02/10/89) (47:32) - Father Dowling Mysteries becomes a family affair when guest star Harriet Nelson appears alongside granddaughter Tracy Nelson.
Notable Guest Stars: Harriet Nelson, John Slattery

5. "The Mafia Priest Mystery, Part 1" (02/17/89) (47:47) - Father Dowling finds himself caught in a bizarre mystery when he attempts to prove a fellow priest innocent of murder. He and street-smart schemer Sister Steve get more than they bargained for when they discover the young priest's family is indeed connected to organized crime!
Notable Guest Star: Andreas Katsulas

6. "The Mafia Priest Mystery, Part 2" (02/24/89) (47:51) - Undeterred by appearances, FAther Dowling sets out to prove a young priest innocent of murder after he discovers the priest has been framed by a member of his own family. Nothing is ever easy, of course, and when th real assassin is himself killed. Dowling must rely on a family member who is too afraid to tell the truth.
Notable Guest Star: Andreas Katsulas

7. "The Face in the Mirror Mystery" (03/03/89) (47:50) - When the good Father's evil half-brother shows up unexpectedly, Dowling suspects right away that the evil one is up to no good. After thrwarting his brother's attempted diamond heist, Dowling finds himself in hot water when he discovers that the police can't tell the two brothers apart.
Notable Guest Star: Diane Ladd

8. "The Pretty Baby Mystery" (03/10/89) (46:24) - Father Dowling and Sister Steve find themselves in the most unlikely role of parents when an abandoned baby is discovered at the rectory. When they attempt to reunite mother and child they learn that the mother is being chased by violent kidnappers.

The TV Pilot Movie and premiere episode are presented in their original two-hour format. All of the other episodes have runtimes of 46-47 minutes. There's a disclaimer on the back cover that reads: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for this home entertainment version." This is a standard disclaimer on most CBS DVD releases, so it doesn't necessarily mean any episodes are actually edited. I don't know how much music the show originally used, but hopefully any music substitutions are very minor. The set has a total running time of approximately 7 hours, 54 minutes.

The packaging for this 2-disc set is clear plastic Viva-case. On the cover, we have a photo of Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson, along with the show title at the top and a church glass background. On the back, there are more episode snapshots of Bosley and Nelson, along with a description of the series and the DVD specs. Tom Bosley is featured on the spine of the case. Inside, you'll find the episode titles, original airdates and short summaries listed by disc. The discs just have gray artwork with the series logo on them. Disc 1 contains three episodes (two of which are two-hour episodes). Disc 2 contains five one-hour episodes.

Moving on to the menus, they are simply designed and easy to navigate. The main menu features Tom Bosley on Disc 1 and Tracy Nelson on Disc 2. A partially shattered glass church background is used. The episode titles are listed vertically in yellow text. The episode you highlight is blue than turns red upon your selection. When you select an episode, it takes you to another sub-menu that features a different photo of Bosley and Nelson on each disc. The subtitles menu features a different photo of Bosley and Nelson on each disc. You can turn on the English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on this menu. Chapters are placed throughout each episode at all of the appropriate places.

The video and audio quality is very good. I don't have any original episodes on tape to compare, but it looks like the episodes were probably remastered a bit for this release. These episodes were shot over 20 years ago, so they do show some age. They are presented in their original full frame ratio and in their original broadcast order. Father Dowling Mysteries was shot on film. There were many outdoor scenes and different locations used. According to the IMDB, Father Dowling's church is in Denver, CO and the first season was shot there as well before moving to Los Angeles for the final two seasons. I thought the episodes may look a little brighter, but this may have just been the way they were originally shot. The show has kind of a dark and gritty look to it. The audio is a Dolby Digital English Stereo track. I didn't hear any problems with the audio. This show had a very nice melodic theme and score in the episodes. English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are available on all of the episodes.

Only episode promos are included as a special feature. These are 35-40 second previews that tell you what's happening "next on Father Dowling". The video quality of these promos isn't as good as the episodes, but they are fun to see and they give you a good idea of what each episode is about. They are avaiable for all of the episodes except for "The Mafia Priest Mystery, Part 2." It would have been nice to have some vintage or new interviews with the cast and crew. Sadly, Tom Bosley died in October 2010. This is a show that I know so little about. It would be interesting to hear about the show's production history. The show also featured a number of guest stars. They could have highlighted some of them in a featurette.

Everyone's favorite mystery-solving priest is now on DVD! Despite being a big fan of Happy Days and Tom Bosley, this is a series that I've only seen a handful of episodes over the years. It's always been a series that I've wanted to see in its entirety, but I just never got around to watching it. Only three seasons were made, but the show has popped up in syndication over the years and seems to have a devoted fan base. I've liked what I've seen in the episodes in the past and look forward to catching up with it on DVD.

There was a lot to like about this series. Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson may have seemed like an unlikely pairing, but they had good chemistry and worked well together. The show also had some great writing, directing and production values. I also loved the show's opening theme credits and music. I'll never forget seeing Tom Bosley wearing his beloved Chicago Cubs jacket. With a relatively small main cast, the show brought in quite a few guest stars on a weekly basis. The TV Pilot Movie and first season included notable guest stars like Susan Blakely, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Scolari, Sada Thompson, Stella Stevens, Robert Walden, David L. Lander, James Noble, Harriet Nelson, John Slattery, Andreas Katsulas and Diane Ladd. Before CSI and all of the violent crime shows of today, there were more family friendly mystery shows like Father Dowling Mysteries, Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder and Matlock. It was a different era back then. It's easy to understand why these types of shows remain popular today. Everybody likes a good mystery. If the first season sells well, hopefully we'll see the remaining two seasons released soon.

(4/5 stars)

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CLICK OF THE WEEK ( - The past few weeks, we've been giving you "broader" pop-culture Click of the Week items, but this week, we're switching gears to a TV series that has had a huge impact on pop-culture, and is also related to one of Tuesday's DVD releases. should not have surprising content based upon the name. In fact, it is just what it sounds like: a Leave it to Beaver website. We bring up this website, though, because it is full of great content. Among the content, you'll find frequently asked questions, video clips relating to the show, audio clips, interviews, some of Beaver's "writings," articles, collectibles, and much more. The only thing truly missing from the site, though, is a thorough episode guide. It was a bit surprising to see all of the great content on the site, but no detailed episode guide. It doesn't appear that the website has been updated much recently, though there isn't a whole lot of new stuff to put up Still, there is plenty of content here for you to check out.

That's all for this week. Until next 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

Monday, October 24

Kevin Can Wait - "Beat the Parents" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Kevin and Donna are thrilled when their son, Jack, makes friends with a boy from school, Grayden (Graydon Peter Yosowitz), however, when Donna and Kevin don’t hit it off with Grayden’s arrogant father, Vic (Ray Romano), and his pushy wife, Brandi (Lindsay Broad), they set out to sabotage the boys’ new friendship. Matt Romano guest stars as Vic’s second son, Braden.

Man with a Plan - "Pilot" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Golden Globe Award winner Matt LeBlanc stars as Adam, a contractor who starts spending more time with his three kids when his wife, Andi, goes back to work and discovers the truth all parents eventually realize—their little angels are maniacs.

2 Broke Girls - "And the Godmama Drama" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Oleg and Sophie’s plan to have Max and Caroline as Barbara’s godparents is derailed when Oleg’s domineering mother, Olga (Mercedes Ruehl), arrives from the Ukraine for the baby’s baptism and fires Max and Caroline from their godparent duties.

The Odd Couple - "Food Fight" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Oscar learns that his favorite hangout, Langford’s, is in financial trouble, he impulsively asks Felix to help save it, without considering the disastrous consequences. Also, Felix tries to make his mark on the restaurant when the owner, Fred Langford (Fred Willard), puts him in charge for a few days.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

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.
  • Kate Micucci (Raising Hope/The Big Bang Theory) - Kate is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey appears 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.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Joey/Friends) - Matt appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.