Saturday, April 07, 2012
Digital Digest: British Wave of American Favorites on DVD; Busy July for CBS and Shout!; L.A. Law - Season One DVD Review
As mentioned, our review this week is for the United Kingdom release of L.A. Law - Season One. The six disc set was released in January of this year in the UK by Revelation Films. Naturally, if you are in the United States, you are not going to find this release at your neighborhood Target or Walmart. But this release, which is also the very first release of the series on DVD anywhere in the world, is more relevant to everybody than it may initially appear to be. Many times in the past, we've discussed playing foreign DVDs (as the case in the UK would be, region 2) on DVD players in the United States. However, this release of L.A. Law, as was discovered by many fans across the globe after purchasing the set, actually lacks any region coding. Even though the packaging indicates that it is a region 2 release, it will actually play on ANY DVD player without any issues! You can actually even purchase this release in the United States from amazon.com, so that you don't have to pay for international shipping, by going here.
Of course, the DVDs playing in any region sounds fine, but you may be thinking that only the first season has been released, and there is no guarantee that any future seasons will ever be released. But... you'd be wrong! L.A. Law - Season Two is already scheduled for a release on May 7. And if that isn't enough, there are more seasons on the way beyond that. In fact, between now and the end of 2013, all seven of the remaining seasons are scheduled for release! According to information from the UK DVD retailer Play.com (note: if you are not in the UK, you can not order from this site... while they do provide useful information, they do not seem to allow international orders), the anticipated release dates for seasons 2-8 (the remainder of the run of the series!) are as follows:
- Season 2: May 7, 2012
- Season 3: July 9, 2012
- Season 4: October 8, 2012
- Season 5: January 7, 2013
- Season 6: April 8, 2013
- Season 7: July 8, 2013
- Season 8: October 7, 2013
UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW
Tuesday (April 10) is not nearly as exciting of a release date as our news has been this week, but we do have a few great releases, including Laverne & Shirley - The Fifth Season (our review) and Adam-12 - The Final Season (our review). Other releases for Tuesday include Logan's Run - The Complete Series and the completion of the classic anthology series Night Gallery with Night Gallery - Season Three. Finally, if you are north of the border in Canada, there is a release of ALF - The Complete Series, but we really don't know if this set is any different from the US release or not.
BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
Over the past two decades, NBC has defined their scope of legal drama with the hard-edged (and these days, rapidly waning in popularity as the series are being canceled or "repurposed" one-by-one) legal drama franchise Law & Order, where viewers get to follow some insanely overdramatized court case where somebody most likely murdered somebody, and in the opposite of the classic series Perry Mason, some defendant is guaranteed to fry for it (even though technically the series takes place in New York City, where there isn't a death penalty... but I digress). But just a few years before this franchise defined NBC's legal drama lineup, there was the series L.A. Law, a very popular series (at least at the time) from Stephen Bochco which was significantly lighter in tone, dealt with a dynamic cast with personalities outside of the court room, and kept a serial format as some later legal dramas from David E. Kelly (whom, by the way, was actually a Boston area attorney who got his start when Bochco called him up to be a consultant for L.A. Law, and eventually became executive producer of the series and created his own TV dynasty).
Sadly, L.A. Law, while popular when it aired, has practically disappeared in recent years. A few cable channels have aired it over the years, but it has never been considered a major contender on any of those cable networks. And if you've been looking for DVDs or digital downloads of the series, you've pretty much been out of luck too, as it has not been released in the US or anywhere for that matter--until now, with Revelation Films release of L.A. Law - Season One.
Technically, the release is exclusive to the United Kingdom, and is supposed to be encoded as a region 2 release. But for some reason, the discs are not encoded for any region (meaning that they can be played on any DVD player) and it is available to purchase on amazon.com in the US. Since this is a popular unreleased series with no US counterpart, we thought that it would be helpful to review at least the first season to let fans know what is available.
The series begins with the double-length "Pilot," where firm partner Norman Chaney dies, and leaves behind a huge surprise which is exposed at his funeral. Meanwhile, Michael (Harry Hamlin) is defending a wealthy man accused of rape, and a new partner, Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits) is about to join the firm. Michael becomes attracted to prosecutor Grace Van Owen (Susan Dey... yes, Laurie Partridge grew up to be a star of a legal drama) in "Those Lips, That Eye." Victor defends a girl accused of murdering her own brother in "The Princess and the Wiener King." In "Simian Enchanted Evening," Michael takes matters into his own hands to disrupt Grace's wedding (and succeeds). In the Emmy Award Winning episode "The Venus Butterfly" (an episode which was very bizarrely named after a, well, sexual technique featured in the episode), Grace prosecutes a gay man with AIDS accused of killing his lover in a mercy killing.
Arnie's (Corbin Bersen) latest divorce case involves his own parents in "Fry Me to the Moon," and meanwhile, Michael is about to take on one of his most stressful cases ever. In "Sidney, the Dead Nosed Reindeer," Michael is traumatized after an attorney kills himself... in the courtroom. Grace's latest prosecution case in "Beef Jerky" involves the theft of bull semen. Grace has already successfully won her murder case which she has been prosecuting in "Fifty Ways to Floss Your Lover," but she quickly learns that getting a man sentenced to death only makes herself a target for murder. Grace decides to take a little time off from work to relax after, well, nearly being murdered, in "Oy Vey, Wilderness." The first season ends with "Pigmalion," where Victor has doubts about his latest case.
It appears that the episodes on the set are unedited, with original music intact as well. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Pilot" (1:37:07)
2. "Those Lips, That Eye" (48:34)
3. "The House of the Rising Flan" (48:30)
4. "The Princess and the Wiener King" (48:38)
5. "Simian Chanted Evening" (48:40)
6. "Slum Enchanted Evening" (48:32)
7. "Raiders of the Lost Bark" (48:41)
8. "Gibbon Take" (48:45)
9. "The Venus Butterfly" (48:41)
10. "Fry Me to the Moon" (48:39)
11. "El Sid" (48:41)
12. "Sidney, the Dead-Nosed Reindeer" (48:51)
13. "Prince Kuzak in a Can" (48:44)
14. "The Douglas Fur Ball" (48:38)
15. "December Bribe" (48:39)
16. "Beef Jerky" (48:40)
17. "Becker on the Rox" (48:47)
18. "Fifty Ways to Floss Your Lover" (48:51)
19. "The Grace of Wrath" (48:53)
20. "Sparky Brackman, R.I.P." (48:29)
21. "Oy Vey, Wilderness" (48:37)
22. "Pigmalion" (48:33)
The DVD set comes packaged in a thick keepcase, and there is also an outer cardboard sleeve with the exact same artwork as the plastic keepcase. The cover has a cast photo, along with the familiar series "license plate" logo. On the back of the case, there is a brief description of the series, a few episode snapshots, and a listing of all of the episodes on the set... enumerated with roman numerals, oddly enough. Inside, the only artwork is the Los Angeles skyline with a large photo of the license plate logo in the background. The discs have artwork that is designed like... you guessed it, the license plate logo. There are six discs total, with three episodes on Disc 1 (including the double-length pilot), four episodes on each of Discs 2-5, and three episodes on Disc 6.
The menus on the set are very nice, featuring the theme song playing in the background on the menu with video clips on one side of the screen, a stack of law books on the other side, and the series title logo (with the word California replaced by Season One and the year sticker on the license plate replaced with the disc number). Options on the main menu include Play All and Episodes. Once you select Episodes, you get a menu with legal pads (great pun) which have photos of the episodes on them, along with the title underneath the photo. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Perhaps the only weak point of this set is the video and audio quality. While it is certainly sufficient, it has not been remastered, at all. I was honestly shocked at how much grain and debris that the episodes had on them. It was almost like watching a much older series. The episodes are said to be PAL encoded, which is the UK standard, but if it is, there don't seem to be any of the usual PAL to NTSC conversion issues here. The audio is fine, but a bit lower on some episodes. Unfortunately, there are no closed-captions or subtitles for the episodes.
This is a UK release with no US counterpart, so needless to say, there aren't any special features.
This is a fine DVD release, but I certainly hope that somebody gets on the ball to get this released in the United States. The DVDs have already been produced for the UK, and honestly, these DVDs are good enough to be released as they are on this set in the US. It would simply be better to have a US release so that the packaging could be less "European based" and to bring the cost of the set down to a more reasonable price. Most likely, the only matter holding things up is Fox willing to work with a distributor in the US. Until/unless that happens, though, we have this release of the first season, and hopefully with the remaining seven seasons on the way, we'll get those region-free as well. We probably won't be doing any more reviews of the UK releases of this series (though we will have more if we ever get US releases), but we'll certainly keep you updated on any information which we discover on them!
To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
L.A. Law on TV.com
CLICK OF THE WEEK
CLG Wiki (www.closinglogos.com) - Certainly, not all of the people in the world bother to watch anything on a TV show once the closing credits start to roll (and that large number of people who don't care about who deserves credit are probably why closing credits have been marginalized to a few inches of space while network promos run these days), and even the ones who do likely don't pay attention to those production company logos which appear at the very end of the credits (or sometimes these days right before the closing credits). But for those who do pay attention--and even those who don't pay attention, but are still interested--the CLG Wiki, an offshoot of something that began as an online mailing list and grew into a full-fledged website with photos, audio, video, and discussion of all of these logos.
Hopefully, everybody knows what we mean by closing logos. If not, then perhaps you could start with something familiar such as the Viacom "V of Doom" and work your way around to more rare ones such as the Embassy logos. Of course, that isn't even close to the rarest and most unusual that you can get on this site. There are even some very intriguing ones from around the world. The first logo appearing on this page, from Russia, is literally the scariest and most disturbing closing logo which I have ever seen. There is a ton of unique content to discover on this site, and since it is a wiki, it doesn't depend upon one person making updates on their own schedule, but rather gets updated frequently by many different users. So you should not only check this site out today, but keep coming back for more.
That's it for this week. Until next time, keep it digital!
SITCOMS AIRING TONIGHT (May 22)
The Middle - "The Graduation" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Season Finale)
As graduation day approaches, tension begins to build between Frankie and Axl when he ignores her requests for answers about the graduation party she's planning for his special day. Meanwhile, Sue hopes that the sixth time's the charm as she once again attempts to pass her driver's test; and during his final days of elementary school, a forgetful Brick is reminded by Vice Principal Dunlap (Marion Ross) that he's the class historian and is responsible for putting together a slideshow highlighting the last four years of school for the school assembly.
Modern Family - "Mistery Date" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Claire takes Manny and Luke along to Alex's academic decathlon for the weekend, Phil attempts to throw together a boys' night at the house, inviting a fellow Bulldog alum (guest star Matthew Broderick) he just met -- but their wires are definitely crossed. Meanwhile, the pressure is on for Alex at the decathlon, Manny and Luke bar mitzvah hop at the hotel trying to find a cute girl, and Cam and Mitch arrange for quite the surprise baby gift for Jay and Gloria.
Modern Family - "Goodnight, Gracie" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Season Finale)
Everyone flies down to Florida to be with Phil after his mom's passing. Claire helps Phil with Gracie's last wish for Frank, and the kids reflect on the gifts grandma left for them. Gloria has to contend with an outstanding arrest warrant in Florida, Cam finds himself fitting right into an elderly women's group at Frank's retirement community, and Jay runs into a pivotal person from his past. Read our review.
How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) - "How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Max stressing out over the opening of his second comedy club, and a lawsuit that comes with it, Max and Polly are butting heads - with Max eating anything in sight to calm his nerves. Meanwhile, Polly helps Julian figure out his feelings for his new girlfriend.