Saturday, April 28, 2012

Digital Digest: Covert Affairs - Season Two DVD Review


Welcome to Digital Digest! We have another one of those slow Saturdays for you, but fear not, we're here as always with all of your news, a preview of Tuesday's releases, and more! And this week, we have a review of Tuesday's release of Cover Affairs - Season Two! Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

Warner Archive, which has been bringing us all of the Hanna-Barbera classics which have ever existed over the past year or so, has another very rare release (like many of them) went on sale this week without much prior notice. The classic 1973 series Inch High Private Eye is now available to purchase from the website.

There haven't been any Saturday Night Live season releases lately (and it seems unlikely that there ever will be any further ones, as the intention was only to release the first five seasons anyway), but that doesn't mean that the series is done on DVD. Special "best of" releases have always been a mainstay for the series, and the next one to come is Saturday Night Live - The Women of SNL. The single disc release comes from Universal (this has to be confusing, since some releases of the series come from Lionsgate and others from Universal, though it has been mostly Universal lately) on June 3, and looks back at the women who have created some of the most memorable characters of the series. You can read more about the release here.

Earlier this week, Mill Creek announced a deal in which they will be licensing 250 movies (no television series, but movies) for release on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony. While we can't stress enough that this deal only includes movies, and NO television series, this is indeed great news to hear from the studio, as it indicates that the studio is serious about acquisitions from major studios (the same studios which hold all of our favorite series) and is developing relationships with those studios. So while this isn't exactly news that our readers can use right now, we certainly hope that this is a springboard for good news for television fans in the near future, and will certainly keep you updated about any future progress which is made.

Finally, speaking of TV movies, Sony Pictures OnDemand's Choice Collection will be releasing two TV movies featuring classic sitcom stars releasing this Tuesday (May 1). The first one is the 1986 movie titled Kate's Secret. Meredith Baxter (Family Ties and Bridget Loves Bernie) plays the wife who seems to have everything in this made-for-TV-movie, which illuminates the problem of bulimia. In fitness-obsessed Southern California, Kate Stark struggles to hide her eating disorder, characterized by a psychological need to binge eat and purge, from her husband (Ben Masters), best friend (Shari Belafonte), and everyone around her who could help her fight this life-threatening illness. When finally confronted by the seriousness of her situation, Kate encounters the caring Dr. Resnick (Ed Asner), and patients with similar issues (played by Tracy Nelson and Mackenzie Phillips), who help her to acknowledge and accept her problem… the first step to healing. Also being released on May is More Than Friends from 1978. Childhood friends in the Bronx during the 1950s and '60s, Alan Corkus (Rob Reiner, All in the Family) and Maddy Pearlman (Penny Marshall, Laverne & Shirley) grew into awkward teenagers who attended their Senior Prom together. Despite their crossing paths again at City College, where a mutual initiation to sex helps their friendship grow into love, they never seem able to express their true feelings for each other. Years later, both have gone their separate ways, each finding frustration in love and career. When Maddy's love affair with a fellow actor ends disastrously, she surprises Alan with a visit, and the two decide to move in together. But the road to bliss is bumpy, and Maddy decides to move on again, leaving Alan unhappily trying to have relationships with other women, only to have Maddy return again... This charming comedy about their on-and-off relationship, and the bittersweet nature of love between friends -- directed by sitcom director Jim Burrows and from a screenplay by Reiner and Phil Mishkin -- is a realistic take on the perils and pitfalls of modern romance. See links to pre-order both below!

UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (May 1) brings us more of The Dick Van Dyke Show from Image with their release of The Dick Van Dyke Show - Carl Reiner's Favorites. The three disc set contains 20 of the creator's favorite episodes of the series. Shout! Factory has their release of Love is On the Air, containing some of the greatest love themed episodes from series including Leave it to Beaver, That Girl, Dennis the Menace, Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Patty Duke Show, and Hazel. Also from Shout! Factory on Tuesday comes another season of a classic detective drama with Kojak - Season Four (read our review). Of course, as we've already mentioned, Universal has Cover Affairs - Season Two, which we have a review of today. And finally, Sony has a few of MOD offerings with Ten Items or Less - The Complete Third Season and the very rare early '70s suspense anthology series hosted by Sebastian Cabot, Ghost Story - The Complete Series. Additionally, Sony is going to "try again" on Tuesday with their MOD release Benson - The Complete Second Season, which we hope will be improved from the botched set which made it to some customers early last month before being made unavailable. And finally, Sony has the two TV movies: Kate's Secret and More Than Friends starring sitcom stars.

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW



Blog DVD Review: Covert Affairs - Season Two (Universal, $39.98)
by Pavan

Runaway hit USA Network original series, Covert Affairs, stars Golden Globe-nominated Piper Perabo as Annie Walker, a young CIA operative whose exceptional linguistic skills and spot on instincts make her invaluable to the Agency. In season two, Annie's personal and professional lives crash into one another, and the balance of her relationships are forever changed. The series also stars Christopher Gorham, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Anne Dudek, Kari Matchett and Peter Gallagher. Watch all sixteen suspenseful and dynamic episodes uninterrupted, coming from the producer of The Bourne Trilogy, on a four-disc DVD set from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The first half of the second season (10 episodes) premiered last June on USA Network and did well in the ratings airing Tuesday nights in the summer. The second half (6 episodes) returned in November and aired in-season for the very first time, though the ratings dropped. The series will return for a third season July 10, 2012 in its Tuesday at 10pm timeslot. Another sixteen episodes have been ordered and will be split into two halves again. No idea yet when the final six episodes of season three will air, but the first ten episodes will air from July-September, 2012. Anyway, as for this season two DVD, memorable episodes include the season two premiere "Begin the Begin," where Ben and Annie return to Washington D.C., where Ben disappears yet again, however Annie is quickly assigned another mission when she has to protect an Estonian tennis player (Marija Karan) who is considered a CIA asset. In "Around the Sun," during a mission looking into a potential leak at NASA that could threaten the U.S.'s spy satellites, Annie has to get used to working with a new tech operative (Jaimie Alexander) after Auggie takes the OCA position. In "Half A World Away," Auggie is aided by a flight attendant (Rebecca Mader) while on his vacation to the international jazz festival in Istanbul and his trip turns into a mission when he inadvertently records the voice of the man who injured him during the war in Iraq, as Annie later learns the whole story of Auggie's blindness. In "World Leader Pretend," which is the mid-season finale, Annie runs an extraction mission of a Chinese scientist she's been corresponding with who is willing to defect, she runs into complications and is forced to make a difficult choice when they both seem to have been poisoned with polonium, while a friend of the scientist at the Asian Cultural Organization is the prime suspect when Annie discovers he may be a spy for the PLA special forces. Meanwhile, Joan transfers Jai to a new division in Arizona, and after two years, Annie finally tells Danielle her CIA secret, leading her sister to distrust her and ask Annie to move out. In the return, "The Wake-Up Bomb," after failing a mission in Venice, Annie feels lonely during some time off and meets a chef (Santiago Cabrera) with connections to the ETA, a Basque separatist movement, through his brother. In "What's the Frequency, Kenneth," an MI6 operative (Tony Curran) mistakes Annie for an actual Smithsonian employee and attempts to recruit her for a covert op he bases on a hunch about a "dodgy" art restorer at the museum. And on the season finale, "Letter Never Sent," when Annie and Danielle go vacationing in Stockholm, Sweden, it turns dangerous when Danielle is mistaken for a spy. Jai Wilcox reveals his plans to Arthur, after having triggered a somewhat unexpected situation and his father Henry Wilcox ends up being denounced as the source leaking confidential information to journalist Liza Hearn.

Guest stars include Eion Bailey as Ben Mercer, Gregory Itzin as Henry Wilcox, Emmanuelle Vaugier as Liza Hearn, Oded Fehr, Marija Karan, Ben Lawson, Rena Sofer, Mark Moses, Jamie Alexander, Bruce Davison and Rebecca Mader. The episodes all appear to be unedited how you saw them originally last summer/fall on USA Network. Here are the runtimes:

Disc 1:
1. "Begin the Begin" (42:34)
2. "Good Advices" (42:44)
3. "Bang and Blame" (42:49)
4. "All the Right Friends" (41:57)

Disc 2:
5. "Around the Sun" (42:10)
6. "The Outsiders" (42:11)
7. "Half a World Away" (42:47)
8. "Welcome to the Occupation" (42:53)

Disc 3:
9. "Sad Professor" (42:29)
10. "World Leader Pretend" (42:49)
11. "The Wake-Up Bomb" (42:53)
12. "Uberlin" (42:58)

Disc 4:
13. "A Girl Like you" (41:59)
14. "Horse To Water" (42:57)
15. "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" (41:49)
16. "Letter Never Sent" (43:19)

As far as packaging goes, we have an outer box that holds a case this time instead of slim cases in season one. The outer box is all white with a shot of Annie Walker holding a gun in a suit. Her shirt is a a bit unbuttoned. The tagline "Under Cover Girl." is printed on the front along with the series logo mentioning "From the Producer of The Bourne Trilogy." The back has artwork of Piper with the men (Gorham, Ramamurthy, and Gallagher). Sad they didn't include the females. We also have a description of the series and set and a list of bonus features. When we open the case, there are two plastic holders which you can flip like a page in a book. Discs one and two are on the first holder, with disc one on the front and disc two on the back. Discs three and four are on the second holder, with disc three on the front and disc four on the back. Disc artwork is plain in grey with lettering in blue (last time it was red). There is no artwork on the discs besides the blue lettering and the series logo. On the panels, we have a disc-by-disc breakdown featuring the episode titles, descriptions, and bonus features. We also have some nice episodic photos. There is an also an ad inset that features Covert Affairs new season this summer.

The menu screens are really good. Before the main menu on disc one there are auto trailers for series from USA Network and Syfy. Then we get to the main menu which has the closing theme playing in the background, like season one. The artwork is the same as the cover artwork with Annie in the suit, but a more wider shot of her. The options for the main menu are: Play All, Episode Index, Bonus Features, Setup, and Previews (on disc one only). Previews has more trailers for such series as The Office, Parks & Recreation and other Universal DVDs. Setup has English Digital Dolby 5.1 audio, but this time also DVS (Descriptive Video Service), and you can turn on English subtitles. Episode Index has the episode number, title and if it has a deleted scene or alternate scene you can choose that here. You can also choose those in the Bonus Features section, which lists all the special features for the disc.

The video quality is superb, as it should be since it is a new series and the season ended last December. It looks like HD even on DVD and it is in widescreen, as my DVD upconverts it to full screen. If this series were being offered on Blu-ray, I can't imagine how better it would look since this DVD is such great quality. The audio is perfect as well. It is clear and crisp and with Dolby Digital 5.1, you can't go wrong. There are 4 chapter stops per episode, so that is convenient if you want to skip to a scene you're looking for in particular.

There are plenty of special features. I'll detail them by disc. We don't have any audio commentary, which is disappointing. On disc one, we have three deleted scenes for "Good Advices" (1:15). Disc two has an alternate scene for "Around the Sun" (1:06). I am glad they went with the actual scene, as we get to see Piper in a bra and underwear instead, as this alternate scene was not good. For the episode "Half A World Away," we have a deleted scene and an alternate scene running a total of 1:16.

Moving on to disc three we have two more episodes with deleted scenes. The first is "Sad Professor" (1:01) and the other one is "Uberlin" (0:50). And finally on disc four, we have the main special features! First, we have deleted scenes for the final two episodes of the season: "What's the Frequency, Kenneth" (1:20) and "Letter Never Sent" (0:58). Now onto the main features, we have a "Gag Reel" that runs 2:15. This is self-explanatory and always fun to watch flubs and goofs, and this time the opening theme is playing in the background! Then we have the "Piper Perabo Comic-Con Intro Scene" (2:50), which was used to introduce the series to Comic-con last year. Nice to see they added that as it is very cool to see. Probably the best feature on the set is "Covert Affairs On Location." This has behind the scenes look at the different locations they went to. It is broken into by different locations. First up is Istanbul (6:30). Christopher Gorham gives us an inside look at the location shoot via a camcorder! We also see Rebecca Mader, Gene Klein (producer), and Felix Enriquez Alcala (director). This was certainly very fun! The next location is Venice (3:32). This one has a tour from co-executive producer Matt Corman. We also see Christopher Gorham, Piper Perabo, Elan Dassani (VFX Supervisor), Jamie Barber (director of photography), and Stephen Kay (director). Next up is Berlin (2:58) as Corman gives us a tour again and we also see Peter Gallagher, Doug Liman (executive producer), Stephen Kay, and Christopher Gorham. And finally it is on to Stockholm (3:15). On this location we see Jamie Barber, Piper Perabo, Stephen Kay, Christopher Gorham, Anne Dudek, and Chevy Chen (VFX Supervisor). So Gorham was in all of them!

Overall this is a great set and a great show. Again, it's not Alias, but that doesn't matter because it shouldn't set to copy a show like that. This is its own show and it works. Piper Perabo is brilliant on this show and was nominated for a Golden Globe in season one and I think she is just as good in season two. Christopher Gorham turned in a brilliant performance in "Half A World Away," and I hope he is honored in some way this award season. This DVD is well-produced with good packaging, menus, audio/video and special features. There is really nothing to complain about except audio commentaries was missing this time. Another featurette would have been cool in addition to the On Location ones. New series on DVD are expected to be as good as this set is. Again, the only thing making this set not a 5 star set is it needed one more big special feature. But 4 1/2 stars once again, like in season one, is not too shabby! Kick some spy butt with the sexy Piper Perabo by buying this DVD below, as we get ready for season three on July 10 at 10pm ET/PT on USA Network!

(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Covert Affairs on TV.com


CLICK OF THE WEEK

The SNL Archives (snl.jt.org) - We talked about Universal's June release of another release related to the series Saturday Night Live in our news section today, but if you want to know more (or literally everything) about the classic TV series, then The SNL Archives is the website to be. The website doesn't necessarily look like much from the main page (mainly because it isn't cluttered like some sites tend to be), but you'll find any information which you are looking for on this website. Of course, the website has all of the basic information, such as cast and guest stars from each episode over the nearly forty seasons which the series has aired. But there is so much more.

Have you ever wondered which season your favorite sketch aired? You can certainly find it on here. If you're trying to remember certain characters from the series over the years, you'll find them on here. If you just want to know who did the "live from New York" line on a given episode, even that is on there, along with a still photograph of the actor saying it. It gets even better, because you can go through every season of the series and find a precise listing of all of the sketches from each episode, the order in which they aired, and even all of the songs performed by the musical guests.

There is so much information about each of the episodes on the site, and the best part is that when you are done looking through all of this, you can watch the episodes online if you subscribe to Hulu+ (although they are terribly edited versions which are often missing about half of the episode due to licensing issues... but it is something). So even if it isn't Saturday night quite yet at the time of this posting, it can be Saturday night all the time when you visit The SNL Archives.

That's it for this week. Until next time, keep it digital!


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March)

227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete First Season The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season

02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, March 22

The Goldbergs - "O Captain! My Captain!" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Beverly substitutes for Barry’s chemistry class in hopes to inspire students in the same way as Mr. Keating from “Dead Poets Society,” much to Barry’s embarrassment.  When Beverly refuses to give Barry special treatment, Murray pushes Barry to work hard and prove to her that he can get a good grade.

Speechless - "R-O--ROAD T-R--TRIP" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The family goes on an annual impromptu family road trip, but Ray has something in store, which angers Maya when she finds out what it is.  But Maya’s relentlessness proves to be helpful when she takes control of an emergency situation involving Ray’s appendix.

Modern Family - "Ringmaster Keifth" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Trying to recover from his Thanksgiving debacle, Cam decides to treat the family to a New Year’s Day feast. After realizing that Cam’s recent attempt is also a complete fail and in order to salvage their meal, Mitch uses a “concierge gift card” that he received as a Christmas gift. Cam soon discovers that the concierge who is on his way to save the day is none other than his ex-boyfriend, Keifth (Kelsey Grammar), a former circus ringmaster who left him without saying goodbye. Meanwhile, Phil’s dad, Frank (Fred Willard) arrives with his new girlfriend, who happens to be Phil’s childhood babysitter, which sets him on a confusing tailspin. Finally, Gloria and Jay have to decide who should take care of little Joe if something should ever happen to them.

black-ish - "40 Acres and a Vote" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With Obama leaving office and the upcoming election, Dre finds a new candidate to believe in – Junior. Junior is running for class president and is overqualified for the job, but he just can’t seem to connect with his fellow classmates. Dre becomes his campaign manager and tries to make Junior appeal to the masses. Meanwhile, Pops, Johan and Jack discuss why they’re not voting in the upcoming election, and Bow is worried that Zoey’s college essay is not going to get her into college.

Schitt's Creek - "Stop Saying Lice!" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Johnny tries to stop the spread of lice; Moira tries to get out of having a garden named after her.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 20)

Wednesday, March 22

  • America Ferrera (Superstore) - Watch America on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She will also be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - Woody stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Michael McKean (Laverne & Shirley) - Michael appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's Burgers) - H. Jon is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Josh Gad (The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Greg Proops (True Jackson, VP) - Greg is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Eugene Mirman (Bob's Burgers) - Eugene appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Laura Dern (Enlightened) - Laura stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. She also talks about Wilson and The Founder on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge/The Drew Carey Show) - Kate is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
  • Rhea Perlman (Cheers/Kirstie) - Rhea talks about Me and My Grandma on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 4:30pm.