Saturday, March 03, 2012
Digital Digest: Surprise DVD Announcements; Adam-12 - Season Six DVD Review; Heathcliff - Season One, Volume One DVD Review
News this week hasn't been very heavy, but the news that has been floating around this week brings big things that fans have been waiting to see. The first big surprise comes from Sony. The studio has released virtually no new releases of classic TV series in recent years, and some of their older releases are starting to go out of print even. But as TVShowsOnDVD.com announced earlier this week, there is in fact something on the way for April 2, and it will be a pleasant surprise for many. On April 2, look for the second season of the classic Soap spinoff, Benson. However, the release won't be a traditional release, but rather a manufacture-on-demand release, available exclusively from Amazon.com CreateSpace and Warner Archive. It isn't available to pre-order yet, but we'll bring you more details when we know them.
The other big surprise comes from Image, releasing a rare '80s series that most people probably don't even remember... but it certainly existed, and is fondly remembered by fans! On June 5, look for the release of Rags to Riches - The Complete Series. It isn't clear yet whether or not all of the original music will be included. After all, this was a very music intensive series. But once we know the answer to this, we'll let you know.
That isn't Image's only release for June 5, though. On the same day, they will also be releasing a pair of releases of the classic series The Twilight Zone on Blu-ray Disc, including The Twilight Zone - The Complete Definitive Series and Twilight Zone - Fan Favorites. Presumably, the complete series release will have all of the content that is already on the individual season releases, but this will offer fans the opportunity to own the entire series at a slightly lower value price.
MPI appears to be making a bit more progress for their release of the third season of My Favorite Martian, although no date has been set just yet. However, the studio's upcoming release of My Living Doll - The Official Collection, Volume 1 (which we will have be reviewing very soon) has a trailer for the release of the final season of the classic series, even including the packaging artwork. Typically, once MPI gets this far along, it means a release will follow very shortly, but of course, an exact date hasn't been given just yet. We'll certainly be updating fans on this much anticipated release, though.
Last week, we told you about The Paley Center for Media annual PaleyFest, which began yesterday and includes events which are streaming online. There has been a slight change in the schedule, however, and since we brought you the news of this event last week, we thought that we should mention this. On Tuesday, March 6 at 10:00 PM, the cast and crew from the NBC series The Office was slated to take part in one of the panel events. However, due to complications in the production schedule, this event has been canceled. There will be another event taking place at the same time, though, that will be an appropriate substitute for fans of the NBC Thursday night lineup. On Tuesday, at 10:00 PM ET, fans will be able to see a panel discussion from the cast and crew of the NBC series Parks and Recreation. To clarify, here is the schedule for the entire (revised) schedule.
Saturday, March 3 - Community (10:00 PM)
Sunday, March 4 - Once Upon a Time (4:00 PM)
Monday, March 5 - New Girl (10:00 PM)
Tuesday, March 6 - Parks and Recreation (changed from The Office) (10:00 PM)
Wednesday, March 7 - Sons of Anarchy (4:00 PM)
Thursday, March 8 - Bones (8:00 PM)
Friday, March 9 - Castle (4:00 PM)
Saturday, March 10 - Vampire Diaries (4:00 PM)
Sunday, March 11 - Revenge (10:00 AM)
Monday, March 12 - Two and a Half Men (4:00 PM)
Tuesday, March 13 - Mad Men (8:00 PM)
Wednesday, March 14 - Modern Family (4:00 PM)
UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW
Tuesday (March 6) brings one truly new-to-DVD release, with the release of the TV Land sitcom Happily Divorced - Season One. There are several other releases on Tuesday as well from CBS Home Entertainment, but all of them are "best of" Fan Favorites releases of episodes that have already been released. Among these are The Honeymooners (Classic 39 Episodes) (our review), Cheers (our review), Frasier (our review), Hogan's Heroes (our review), The Odd Couple (our review), and Happy Days (our review).
BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
Blog DVD Review: Adam-12 - Season Six (Shout! Factory, $34.93)
Note: This release was released in January, but our review at the time was delayed at the time because we received a defective copy which was missing a disc. We deeply appreciate Shout! Factory for quickly rectifying this situation by sending a replacement copy.
Officers Reed (Kent McCord) and Malloy (Martin Milner) are back on the beat once again for another season of Adam-12 on DVD. The sixth season, the next-to-last, brings fans 24 more beat-blazing and action packed episodes of the iconic Jack Webb series from the '70s to DVD. With stories based upon real cases in and around the city of Los Angeles (as was the case for Webb's other creations), the series follows a veteran officer and a rookie as they cruise the streets of Los Angeles, never knowing what their next call will be and how they'll have to respond.
One slight change this season is that many episodes focus on a single specific division, rather than just being "on the streets" where many different things happen. The season begins with "Harbor Division," where Reed and Malloy work on the harbor. Reed and Malloy have to track thieves by horseback in "Foothill Division." In "Venice Division," Reed and Malloy have to deal with a woman parading around the beach in the nude. Reed and Malloy are challenged by a teenage robber in "Hot Shot." In "Van Nuys Division," the guys have to deal with the crash of a plane. The officers must deal with a know-it-all trainee in "Training Division." Johnny Whitaker guest stars in "Northeast Division," where he plays a lonely boy in a new neighborhood who is frightening his neighbors.
A spilled bottle of perfume in the squad car signals a bad day in "The Sweet Smell." A routine visit to the bank to make a car loan payment becomes more than Reed anticipates in "Trouble in the Bank." In "North Hollywood Division," Malloy is the subject of a magazine article written by his own partner. Reed gets desk duty while Malloy temporarily takes on a new partner in "Taking it Easy." A new police cruiser gets hit in the pursuit of a purse-snatcher in "Krash." In "Routine Patrol," four youths steal a car that is loaded with ammunition, and go on a robbery and shooting spree. Reed and Malloy take on the sky patrol duties in the two-part episode "Skywatch." Reed and Malloy have airport duty in the pre-TSA days in "L.A. International." The season ends with "A Clinic on 18th Street," where a mysterious death turns into a medical fraud investigation.
It appears that the episodes on the set are unedited. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Harbor Division" (24:49)
2. "Rampart Division" (24:27)
3. "Foothill Division" (24:30)
4. "West Valley Division" (24:29)
5. "Venice Division" (24:27)
6. "Hot Shot" (24:29)
7. "Van Nuys Division" (24:28)
8. "Training Division" (24:27)
9. "Capture" (24:29)
10. "Hollywood Division" (24:28)
11. "Northeast Division" (24:28)
12. "If the Shoe Fits" (24:31)
13. "Southwest Division" (24:28)
14. "The Sweet Smell" (24:31)
15. "Trouble in the Bank" (24:32)
16. "North Hollywood Division" (24:28)
17. "Taking it Easy" (24:29)
18. "Krash" (24:29)
19. "Routine Patrol" (24:29)
20. "Sunburn" (24:32)
21. "Skywatch (Part 1)" (24:29)
22. "Skywatch (Part 2)" (24:30)
23. "L.A. International" (24:29)
24. "A Clinic on 18th Street" (24:30)
The previous releases of the series have been in slimcases, but like most other studios, Shout! Factory has been transitioning all of their releases to Viva cases, and this set uses just that. On the cover, there is a photo of Reed and Malloy in front of a bridge, with a few episode snapshots and a description of the season on the back (which mentions 23 episodes on the set, although there are technically 24 with the two-part episode on Disc 4). Luckily, though, episode descriptions have not been lost with this release. A complete listing of all episodes, along with descriptions and original airdates, are printed inside the case. There are four discs in the set, each containing six episodes. The artwork on each disc is very nice, with the series logo and different black and white photos of Reed and Malloy on each disc.
The menus on the set are very simple, but they are very nicely done as well. The main menu resembles a police radio, with "buttons" for Play All and Episodes. The theme song music plays in the background. Once you select Episodes, you get a text listing of all of the episodes on the disc, and the episode plays right away once you select it. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
The video and audio quality of the episodes on the set looks pretty good, as is typically the case for these older Universal series from the '70s (which mysteriously seem to have been better preserved than those from the '80s and '90s). There is some grain and debris here and there, but it isn't too bad. The audio on the set is very loud and clear, and presented in mono as one would expect. Unfortunately, unlike all of the previous releases of the series, this one is NOT closed-captioned. It seems that Shout! Factory has been cutting back on these on their sets lately, which is somewhat understandable (since closed-captioning is not compatible with HDMI, the type of connection that is becoming prevalent for DVD and Blu-ray Disc players), but they aren't yet employing subtitles, which the better alternative.
There are no special features at all on this set, which is a bit of a bummer. Still, many series that get this far along in their run on DVD rarely have them.
Despite the lack of special features, this is generally a good DVD set, and fans of the series (as well as other police procedural dramas) are sure to enjoy this set. One thing about a show like this is that it is awfully difficult for the quality of the series to go down as it progresses, as the series doesn't even truly need creative minds to write creative stories. After all, the cases presented in the series are based upon true stories, and since all seven seasons have the same two officers, it pretty much stayed consistent. It is great to see that this series is progressing all the way into the final season, with that release scheduled in just a little over a month. Until then, you have a season full of great episodes to catch up on here.
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BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
Blog DVD Review: Heathcliff - Season One, Volume One (Mill Creek, $12.98)
Heathcliff, one of TV's orange cats from the '80s (there was Garfield too, of course) makes it to DVD yet again with Heathcliff - Season One, Volume One. This latest release from Mill Creek brings the first 32 episodes (half of the first season) of the classic DIC series to one DVD set, all together for the first time. The series, though, isn't the first series featuring Heathcliff. Earlier in the '80s, there was an animated series from Ruby Spears featuring Heathcliff and fellow comic page character Marmaduke. Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats, the more memorable series came a few years after that one was cancelled, and that is the one that is available on DVD.
There are far too many episodes on this set to go into great detail about most of them, particularly when you consider that each episode has two segments (the first featuring Heathcliff and the second featuring the Catillac Cats). In addition, at the end of each episode, there is a one minute (roughly) Pet Tips segment where Heathcliff gives kids advice on how to take care of pets. We'll briefly talk about some of the Heathcliff segments and the Catillac Cats segments.
Heathcliff begins with "The Great Pussini," where Heathcliff has to fight with an opera singing cat for Sonja's affection. Chauncey gets caught by a dog catcher in "Chauncey's Great Escape." Heathcliff tries to teach a lion at the zoo that he is "top cat" in "King of the Beasts." Heathcliff causes chaos when Iggy and Grandpa Nutmeg take him to the golf course in "Teed Off." In "Brain Sprain," Heathcliff may just be a genius cat. Heathcliff helps out a kitten who can't find her mother in "Kitten Smitten."
The Catillac Cats segments begin with "Kitty Kat Kennels," where the gang must help Cleo when her owners put her in a boarding kennel. The gang sneaks in to a carnival after hours in "Carnival Capers. Mungo finds a genie in a bottle in "Wishful Thinking." In "Cat Balloon," Cleo is tired of small town life and wants to experience excitement. A jungle vacation goes wrong for the cats in "Jungle Vacation."
The episodes on the set appear to be unedited for the most part, but there are a few runtimes that appear to be a little low. I'm not sure what, if anything, is missing, though. Nearly all of the episodes feature the original DIC and LBS logos, and the episodes even have a Lorimar Telepictures logo before the opening credits of each episode. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "The Great Pussini/Kitty Kat Kennels" (22:13)
2. "Chauncey's Great Escape/Carnival Capers" (22:08)
3. "Mad Dog Catcher/Circus Beserkus" (22:13)
4. "Rebel Without a Claws/The Farming Life Ain't For Me" (22:13)
5. "Heathcliff's Middle Name/Wishful Thinking" (22:12)
6. "King of the Beasts/Cat Can Do" (22:15)
7. "Smoke Gets in My Eyes/Much Ado About Bedding" (22:12)
8. "City Slicker Cat/House of the Future" (22:15)
9. "Spike's Cousin/For the Birds" (22:13)
10. "Heathcliff's Pet/Swamp Fever" (22:14)
11. "Teed Off/Monstro vs. The Wolf Hound" (21:42)
12. "Soy Cheese/Cat's Angels" (22:14)
13. "Meow Meow Island/Iron Cats" (22:14)
14. "Family Tree/Who's Got the Chocolate?" (22:12)
15. "Be Prepared/Cruisin' for a Bruisin'" (22:10)
16. "Heathcliff Gets Canned/Whackoed Out" (22:12)
17. "Brain Sprain/Cat Balloon" (22:15)
18. "May the Best Cat Win/Comedy Cats" (22:14)
19. "Revenge of the Kitty/Jungle Vacation" (22:14)
20. "Hospital Heathcliff/Hector's Takeover" (22:13)
21. "Going Shopping/Cat in the Fat" (22:12)
22. "Wild Cat Heathcliff/Kitten Around" (22:14)
23. "Cat Burglar Heathcliff/Lucky's Unlucky Day" (22:16)
24. "The Blizzard Bandit/Harem Cat" (22:17)
25. "Kitten Smitten/Young Cat with a Horn" (20:08)
26. "The Gang's All Here/The Meowsic Goes Round and Round" (22:15)
27. "Snow Job/Condo Fever" (22:15)
28. "Heathcliff Pumps Iron/Mungo's Dilemma" (22:13)
29. "Heathcliff's Double/Big Foot" (22:15)
30. "Terrible Tammy/The Games of Love" (22:14)
31. "Big Top Bungling/Space Cats" (22:13)
32. "Lard Times/The Merry Prankster" (22:13)
The packaging for the set is very nicely designed, with a picture of Heathcliff on the cover (which appears to have been custom drawn for the release) and a few episode snapshots, along with a brief series description on the back. All of the episodes are listed on the back as well. Unfortunately, the Mill Creek black paper sleeves are back, again. Although the set is packaged in a standard sized DVD case (as opposed to the double sized ones that Mill Creek has been using), the three discs are inside the case in black paper sleeves. The disc artwork is the same as the cover work, and the episode numbers included on each disc are printed on the disc. Each disc has a whopping eleven episodes, although it isn't that big of a deal with a series that used low budget animation anyway.
The menus on the set are very basic, with a photo of Heathcliff on the main menu (the same one seen on the cover art). The theme song plays in the background. The main menu has options of Play All and Episodes, as well as Bonus Episode on Disc 1. Once you select Episodes, you get a menu which lists all of the episodes on the disc. But there is one bizarre quirk about all of the menus on the set. You only get 30 seconds to make your choice, and if you don't make your choice, the Play All option executes automatically. Another quirk about the menus is that once an episode finishes playing from the Episodes menu, the next episode plays right away, as if you selected Play All. It is all a little bizarre, but it isn't a huge deal. Chapters are placed before each segment of the episode.
The video and audio quality of the episodes on the set is, to say the least, disappointing. Of course, this was a low-budget syndicated show for kids from the '80s in the first place, so that is somewhat expected. The episodes look and sound very rough, as if they came from VHS transfers. You'll see many video defects throughout the episodes. The audio is a bit dull, but it isn't so bad that somebody should avoid the release. Unfortunately, the episodes are neither closed-captioned nor are they subtitled.
There is one special feature on this set, but it is NOT the one that has been advertised in all of the press releases for the series. Originally, an episode of The Busy World of Richard Scarry was to be included as a bonus on this set. That seems to have been changed, though, as instead, there is an episode of the '80s cartoon The Get Along Gang "Camp Get Along/School's Out" (22:22) on the set. I'm not sure why this change was made, but it is probably more fitting for the set. It can be found on Disc 1, and while I'm mentioning it, it is also worth mentioning that the video quality of this episode is terrible. But it is a bonus, so I can't complain about it too much.
This is by no means an award-winning set, but the reality is, this is as good as it could ever get. This series has been released by other studios in the past, including Shout! Factory, who put out a decent release of the first 24 that still suffered the same flaws that this set suffers, and NCircle, which put out "best of" releases with bizarre editing of the episodes such as removing the Catillac Cats segments and placing them as bonus features. The simple fact is, Mill Creek has released a decent set with a ton of episodes at a great price, and I have confidence that we'll see the remaining episodes of the series, probably in two separate releases. You can't ask for much more when you can get 32 episodes of a series for around $10. I really hope to see more series from the Cookie Jar library from Mill Creek, because Mill Creek is really good at taking programs that have a nostalgia factor and getting them released by any means necessary. If you were a fan of the series when it originally aired or in reruns, there is no reason at all to pass up on this release. It is a great value that is worth taking a chance on even if you've never seen the series before. It may be a bit dated for children today, but some will likely find enjoyment in it anyway. I haven't watched the series at all in probably over 15 years, and it was fun going back and revisiting the series. So you'll definitely want to check out this "cool cat" today.
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Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats on TV.com
CLICK OF THE WEEK
epguides.com - Almost every week in Digital Digest, in our DVD reviews, we link to the appropriate page from the website TV.com. And while it is a great website, it has significantly evolved from the original mission of the website, which was to provide complete episode guides for just about every series out there. The website is loaded with content for every series, reviews, news, and everything these days. So where can you go if you want to find a no-frills website that focuses JUST on episode guides? You might want to try epguides.com.
The website is actually not totally disconnected from the website TV.com. In fact, for a while, both of these sites were linked to one another. But epguides.com will take you straight to the information that you want without getting lost in a "click maze." You can find the series that you are looking for from one page with an alphabetic listing, for example. And once you select the series that you are looking for, you'll normally get a mostly error-free listing of all of the episodes of the series along with airdates, and none of those weird listings for non-existent seasons of series and incorrectly placed episodes. Often times, you can click on the episode titles within that episode list to get full details of the episode from another website, which sometimes is, in fact, TV.com, but it isn't so bad because it takes you straight to the information that you need on that site. So if you are wanting just a quick and no-frills place to go for episode guides, epguides.com is the place for you.
That's it for this week. Until next time, keep it digital!
The Middle - "The Christmas Tree" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Axl comes home from college for Christmas vacation but would rather spend time with his friends over family, he and Frankie must come up with a time management agreement that will satisfy both of them, Meanwhile, Sue's severe allergic reaction to the Christmas tree threatens to ruin her holiday, and after it’s discovered that Brick lied to the school about his Christmas wrapping paper sales, he finds himself running a mini Ponzi scheme in an attempt to pay back the debt.
Back in the Game - "I'll Slide Home for Christmas" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Terry tries to plan a special family Christmas, The Cannon opts to spend the holiday with his old war buddies, causing a major divide in the household. Meanwhile, Danny rallies the Angles to help him give his mom the best Christmas gift ever – The Angles first win. Elliot Gould (“MASH”) guest stars.
Modern Family - "The Old Man & the Tree" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay takes Manny out to cut down their own Christmas tree, and Gloria is on edge with mom in town, but changes her tune when she sees her bonding with Claire. Elsewhere, Mitchell is forced to do last minute shopping when they didn’t get Lily the right gift, and Cameron takes Lily to a charity event where they experience the true meaning of Christmas. Emmy Award Winner Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) directs, and Elizabeth Peña (“La Bamba”) returns as a guest star.
Super Fun Night - "Merry Super Fun Christmas" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Richard reluctantly drives Kimmie, Marika and Helen-Alice to a remote cut-your-own Xmas tree lot upstate, but the trip over the river and through the woods goes terribly wrong when Marika gets them lost and they run out of gas… on Christmas Eve. They think they’re saved when they find a beautiful cabin miraculously stocked with a holiday feast... until the cranky old man who lives there (guest star Paul Dooley) shows up. Meanwhile, Kendall goes it alone with her frosty parents (guest stars Alan Ruck and Mo Gaffney).
Melissa & Joey - "A New Kind of Christmas" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel's sister Meredith gets a furlough from prison and drops by to spend Christmas with Mel and the children.
Baby Daddy - "Emma's First Christmas" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben's quest to procure Emma the hottest toy of the Christmas season creates ill will; Tucker and Riley help Bonnie with holiday decorating.
Kirstie - "Arlo's Birthday" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Maddie is impressed with her son's karaoke abilities, and decides to make him a star.
The Exes - "True Lies" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Eden shares a secret about herself and Phil with Holly, who blabs to Stuart and Haskell, testing boundaries within the group.
Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Sleep Talking" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Angela believes Marcus is having an affair after she hears him talking about another woman in his sleep.
Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Stalked" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph displays a bit of erratic behavior when he feels Leslie's life is in danger.
Wednesday, December 11
- Ken Jeong (Community) - Watch Ken on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
- Bradley Whitford (Trophy Wife) - Bradley stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Jim Gaffigan (My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Jim visits The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
- Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown) - Candice is a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
- Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) and Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Kathy and Whitney are part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
- Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom continues to make the rounds on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Kirstie Alley (Kirstie/Veronica's Closet/Cheers) - Kirstie talks about her return to television in Kirstie on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
- Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Tune in to see Alyssa on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- J.B. Smoove (The Millers/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - J.B. is a guest on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.