Saturday, April 21, 2012

Digital Digest: S.W.A.T. - The Final Season DVD Review


Welcome to Digital Digest, your weekly source for all things digital when it comes to your favorite sitcoms... and other TV genres, of course! We've got all of your news and a preview of next week's releases, as usual, and this week, we've got a review of S.W.A.T. - The Final Season, which comes to DVD on May 22 (yes, we're a month early on this review, since the studio did a great job of getting it to us early) from Shout! Factory. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

Big news was announced this week regarding The Carol Burnett Show. The series has been released in a "best of" format and sold through infomercials over the past decade or so, but now, Time Life is really stepping up the game with a few releases of the series, ranging from a single disc "best of" release to a TWENTY disc set containing fifty complete episodes, along with plenty of bonus features. Full details aren't known yet, but releases will include a single disc release, a two disc release, a six disc set, and of course, the twenty disc set. And, unlike many Time-Life releases, this set will actually be available in stores. The big date for all of these releases is September 25, and you can read more about it all here.

Last week, we mentioned that Sony's MOD release of Benson - The Complete Second Season, which was scheduled to be released a few weeks ago, had shipped with some major defects and the item was subsequently removed from various websites. This week, the listing on amazon.com is showing a new release date of May 1, which leads us to believe that a corrected version of the release will begin shipping on that date. While we don't know this for certain, we'll certainly update you when we know for sure.

Finally, CBS has announced another release of the series Father Dowling Mysteries, with Father Dowling Mysteries - The Second Season. The three disc set, to be released on July 10, will contain all thirteen episodes of the second season of the series.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (April 24) is a great day for fans of black and white series, with releases of two vintage sitcoms which were short-lived (but full of laughs), with Shanachie's release of Car 54, Where Are You? - The Complete Second Season and TV Time Machine's release of I'm Dickens... He's Fenster - Volume One. You can read our review of Car 54, Where Are You? here, and I'm Dickens... He's Fenster is actually just the wide retail release of the set (it has been available from the series official website for several months), and you can read our original review of that set here.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: S.W.A.T. - The Final Season (Shout! Factory, $44.99)
by skees53

Aaron Spelling was known for bringing many series to television over the years, and in the '70s, he seemed to hit his stride with police dramas. The most well-known of those, of course, was Charlie's Angels, but he also introduced series such as Starsky & Hutch and The Rookies. And from The Rookies came a spinoff, one which only lasted for two seasons, but left a legacy as well: S.W.A.T. The series, which starred Steve Forrest as Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson, Robert Urich as Officer Jim Street, Roddy Perry as Sgt. "Deacon" Key, Mark Shera as Officer Dominic Luca, and James Coleman as Officer T.J. McCabe, follows a fictitious version of the real Los Angeles Police Department's Special Weapons and Tactics team as they go into the most dangerous situations that the ordinary police officers just can't handle with their training. In each and every episode, the team gets into dangerous situations where you never know if they're going to make it out alive... well, except that you know that it is a TV series, and that they can't just kill off characters every week.

There is likely going to be a bit of confusion about this release and even debate over whether this is the "complete" second season. Before I go any further, I should say that Shout! Factory didn't exactly do anything wrong, necessarily, with this set. They included all 24 of the episodes which were produced for the second season of the series, while Columbia Tristar (now going by their parent company name of Sony) included all 13 of the episodes which were produced for the first season of the series on their release several years ago. But online episode guides will clearly indicate that there were actually twenty five episodes aired in the second season. So where did the other one go? Well, the episode "Time Bomb," which AIRED during the second season, was actually produced during the FIRST season... and since Columbia Tristar (at that time, at least) had a tendency to release everything in production order. So to be clear, this set DOES complete the series, if you purchase the first season as released by Columbia Tristar (and if you are a fan, I'd strongly recommend that you do so as soon as possible, as nearly all releases from Sony have been going out of print lately).

The season begins with "Deadly Tide," a double-length episode where jewel thieves go underwater while committing their crimes. The team is facing a threatening force when they find a dead officer with the threatening words pinned to his chest in "Kill S.W.A.T." The team has to help in a dangerous eviction (yes, eviction) in "Vendetta." A former US Senator may have sinister motives when he befriends an officer in "Criss Cross." In "Vigilante," a radio repairman tunes into the team's radio frequencies, and arrives on the scene before they can... allowing him to effectively seek his own justice for his wife's murder. In "Ordeal," taking a convict to prison becomes very dangerous for Harrelson. The team is assigned to protect a prosecutor in "The Swinger."

The team is after an arsonist posing as a firefighter in "Murder By Fire." In "Silent Night, Deadly Night," what begins as an ordinary Christmas party for children in the hospital quickly turns into a situation where a millionaire's bodyguard is murdered in the same hospital. Some girls who decide to stay at school over the weekend (in part because of Luca) find themselves in grave danger when thieves plan to use the school (which they anticipated being empty) as an entry point to a bank vault in "Lessons in Fear." Chinatown criminals are being given S.W.A.T. secrets after a new lieutenant joins Harrelson in "The Chinese Connection." A group of militants threaten to blow up a radio station if their demands aren't met in "Any Second Now." In "Soldier on the Hill," Vietnam flashbacks cause serious problems for a veteran when he has to be disarmed by the team. The series ends with "Officer Luca, You're Dead," where Luca is charged with manslaughter after he is forced to kill a man who was holding his own wife hostage at gunpoint.

The episodes appear to be unedited based upon their runtimes. Most of the episodes have a Columbia Pictures Television logo from the early '90s on them, so I'm guessing that these were prints made for a network which aired it at that time (which I'm not sure off top of my head which network was airing the series at the time, and although I'm sure some fans would know, I'm not going to make a guess here). Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Deadly Tide" (1:36:35)
2. "Kill S.W.A.T." (49:35)
3. "Dealers in Death" (50:16)

Disc 2:
4. "Vendetta" (50:01)
5. "Criss Cross" (50:03)
6. "Vigilante" (50:09)
7. "Courthouse" (50:04)

Disc 3:
8. "Ordeal" (49:45)
9. "Strike Force" (50:09)
10. "The Swinger" (49:52)
11. "Terror Ship" (49:59)

Disc 4:
12. "Murder by Fire" (49:58)
13. "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (50:09)
14. "The Running Mad" (1:38:57)

Disc 5:
15. "Lessons in Fear" (49:45)
16. "Deadly Weapons" (50:05)
17. "The Chinese Connection" (50:05)
18. "Dragons and Owls" (50:09)

Disc 6:
19. "Any Second Now" (50:09)
20. "Soldier on the Hill" (50:00)
21. "Dangerous Memories" (50:03)
22. "Officer Luca, You're Dead" (50:06)

The DVDs are packaged in a Viva case with very nice packaging artwork. I don't know what it is about the packaging artwork on this set, but it is one of the nicest sets I've ever seen in regards to packaging. On the cover, we have a cast photo, with a grayish blue background. Shout! Factory even followed the tradition of Sony's release of the first season and listed the names of all of the stars underneath the series title. On the back, there is a very short description of the season, along with a few episode snapshots. Inside the case, you'll find the discs (six of them), which have very basic artwork with just the series logo. Each disc contains four episodes (or in some cases, one double-length episode and two regular length episodes). Episode titles are printed inside the case, but unfortunately, there are no descriptions or airdates.

The menus on this set are probably the most elegant and appropriate menus that I've ever really seen on a DVD set. Much like the packaging artwork, the menus feature a cast photo (actually the same one seen on the cover art), with several flashing lights and a floating "target" on the screen, with options of Play All and Episodes. Selecting Episodes takes you to a menu where some of the series incidental music plays, and all of the episodes are typed on a crinkled note, which actually moves around the screen JUST a little bit (not enough to make the menus confusing to navigate). There are also some red, white, and blue lights which move around the screen like a flashlight here... it is a very cool effect. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately, with chapters placed throughout the episode at all of the appropriate places.

The video and audio quality of the episodes on the set is decent, but I don't think anybody will be overly impressed. The colors are kind of dull, and there is some grain and debris... in essence, it looks like most of the '70s Aaron Spelling police dramas. The audio seems pretty decent, with levels remaining consistent throughout the episodes. The episodes are not closed-captioned, unfortunately.

There are no special features on this set at all, which is unfortunate because the first season didn't have any other. But at least we got the series completed on DVD... finally.

I think this series has won the award for the longest wait between seasons for ANY TV series. The first season was released in June 2003... NINE YEARS AGO... to tie in with the Samuel L. Jackson movie (which many people have long since forgotten even existed) released at that time. If fans were to ever give up hope of a series being continued, this would have been the one... but fortunately that was proven to be incorrect, and Shout! Factory has come through to give us the remainder of the series. It is too bad that this show didn't go beyond two seasons, but at least it didn't get a chance to really grow old. Fans of the series are certain to enjoy this, though. Fans of similar police dramas of the same era may or may not necessarily be able to get into this series, as it isn't as light-hearted as other ones (including some of Spelling's other ones) of the era, but nonetheless, it is still a great series to watch.

(4/5 stars)

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

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
S.W.A.T on TV.com


CLICK OF THE WEEK

All Things Carol Burnett (www.carolburnettfan.com) - The big news from this week was, of course, the announcement of several releases of Carol Burnett DVDs from Time Life. The news of these releases has been floating all over the internet, but one website that many people seem to be referring back to, including in the article from TVShowsOnDVD.com which we linked to earlier, is All Things Carol Burnett. It isn't an official website for the star, but it not only comes close to that, but in fact exceeds what you'd normally expect from an official website. On this website, you'll find a complete biography of Burnett, plenty of photos, and more. If you're looking to meet Burnett, you'll find out where you can meet her here... all of her appearances are listed, and it is updated frequently. The site also manages to get every little piece of news imaginable about the star. And finally, there is a connected website dedicate solely to the series itself. While the site is not necessarily a "content haven" as many other sites are, it is the level of dedication, and how well it manages to keep up with the star, which makes this our Click of the Week.


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


New on DVD/Blu-ray (December/January)

American Dad! - Volume 11 Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One

12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One / Review
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two / Review
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, January 24

The Middle - "A Tough Pill to Swallow" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When a devastated Sue discovers that she has been kicked out of college because she forgot to renew her financial aid, Mike tries to come to her rescue and convince a tough college bursar to reinstate her. Meanwhile, having only taken oral liquid medication all of his life, a frustrated Frankie does everything in her power to teach Brick how to swallow a pill when he gets an ear infection; and Hutch becomes angry with Axl after he keeps driving the Winnebago without permission to Orson to visit new girlfriend April – leaving Hutch without any means of transportation to get to class.

American Housewife - "Art Show" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Anna-Kat draws a super plus-sized portrait of Katie for the school art show, Katie sets out to retrieve it by any means necessary. Meanwhile, with Katie away, Doris is left in charge of Oliver and Taylor. She’s determined to whip them into shape with her Tiger Mom skills, but she may have met her match.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Coming From America" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Louis flies the entire family to Taiwan in an effort to make things right with Gene (Ken Jeong). Upon meeting Gene’s beautiful fiancĂ©, Margaret, and seeing the wonderful life he has built for himself, Louis questions whether his life in Orlando is just as great as it could be in Taiwan. Meanwhile, Jessica takes Eddie, Emery and Evan to her favorite childhood locales, including Dihua Street and Shilin Night Market.

The Real O'Neals - "The Real Match" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Jimmy recruits a reluctant Kenny to join his wrestling team for a one-time match, a surprise victory gives him the confidence to join the team full time to become the first, openly gay athlete at St. Barklays. Kenny’s newfound stardom makes Jimmy feel a bit replaced, but when an opponent refuses to wrestle his brother, Jimmy puts his feelings aside and rallies the team around Kenny. Meanwhile, Pat injures his back trying to help Eileen prepare for a weekend getaway, but things only get worse when she tries to be the perfect caregiver to impress VP Murray but fails miserably.

New Girl - "The Hike" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
While on a day hike, Jess and Robby (guest star Nelson Franklin) discover something unexpected about their relationship. Also, Winston throws a surprise welcome home party for Aly (guest star Nasim Pedrad). Meanwhile, Schmidt and Cece fail to impress their new neighbors.

The Mick - "The Master" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
All hell breaks loose, as the kids fight over who will take the master bedroom. Also, Mickey pursues a wealthy businessman who quickly discovers that she is not the prize he thought she was.

Teachers - "Stranger Danger" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
There’s a trespasser at Fillmore and a new security guard is hired. Ms. Snap and Ms. Bennigan hold a “Women Empowering Women” workshop, Mrs. Adler takes stranger danger too far, and Ms. Watson purchases a male safety dummy.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 23)

Tuesday, January 24

  • Retta (Parks and Recreation) - Catch Retta on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
  • Claudia O'Doherty (Love) - Claudia is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • John Goodman (Roseanne/Normal, Ohio) - John talks about Patriots Day on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Yvette Nicole Brown (The Odd Couple/Community) - Yvette visits Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jennifer Esposito (Samantha Who?/Spin City) - Jennifer appears on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
  • Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) - Justina talks about the new Netflix series One Day at a Time on the AOL Build Show at 12pm.