Saturday, May 12, 2012
So, what is the deal with Benson - The Complete Second Season? After it was suddenly pulled last month and rescheduled for May 1, we reported to you last month that the title was pulled due to the set being defective, missing the first episode of the season, containing two episodes of the third season, and the episodes on the third disc all being out of order. Well, now, we have received our review copy (look for our review soon), and can report that the set has improved. The first episode of the season has been added to the beginning of Disc 1 on the "improved" version. Disc 3 is still the same, but it actually isn't a mistake that the episodes are out of order. Apparently, airdate and production order was the same for all of the episodes on the first two discs, but for the episodes on Disc 3, those were aired in a different order than the order in which they were produced... so really, it isn't a mistake, but rather just confusion (although we think most fans do prefer airdate order). And the first two episodes of the third season are still on the end of Disc 3, but that isn't exactly a bad thing, but rather a nice little accidental bonus. The important thing here is that we do have all of the second season episodes in the set now. We'll have a review of this "new and improved" set very soon.
Several releases of clips of episodes have been released over the years, including some which resulted in lawsuits from NBCUniversal against another company which released the series. All of these releases have had one thing in common, though. They were all releases with essentially the best clips of the series. That is, until now. Because now, Time Life has licensed... legally and authentically... from NBCUniversal six complete (or technically, almost complete) episodes of the series for their release of The Dean Martin Variety Show - Uncut.
As we've already mentioned, the set contains six episodes of the series on six discs. Among the episodes included here, we have one episode from each of seasons 1, 2, and 5, and three episodes from season 3. In these episodes, you'll primarily find the typical staples of a variety show of the era, a series with a lot of singing and dancing, along with a few skits and often a stand up comedian performance along the way. The singing and dancing is especially prominent in the first episode, where we get to see a West Side Story medley from The Lettermen, and a (somewhat disturbing) "Strongman Act" performance by David & Goliath, two guys giving an onstage performance wearing nothing but a pair of gold briefs and gold slippers. The second episode shows a few performances from Leslie Uggams, who would later have her own variety series. On the third episode, we get to see a few comedy bits from Buddy Ebsen and Dom DeLuise. Bob Newhart makes one of his earliest appearances in the fourth episode, although it isn't his first. In fact, he is joined by two of his co-stars from the TV series The Entertainers in this episode: Caterina Valente and Dom DeLuise. In the fifth episode, Orson Welles stops by to give us a reading from a Shakespeare play and a magic act which he entertained U.S. troops with during World War II. Finally, in the sixth episode, Broadway star Zero Mostel and Tommy Tune stop by to give a dance routine.
So, it was mentioned a bit earlier that the episodes were "almost" complete. What do we mean by that? Well, Time Life made a bit of a blunder in calling this set uncut, because by their own admission, one of the episodes (January 25, 1968) is missing a song from Dean Martin and Buck Owens because the original master was destroyed. I honestly believe that is the reason which the song is missing. The other performances from Buck Owens are included in the episode. Still, I think that perhaps the episode should have been changed to make this a truly unedited set, because everything else looks unedited. Each episode even has original NBC "in color" bumpers, original NBC closing logos, and even commercial bumpers... although the names of the sponsors in the bumpers are removed and we get a somewhat strange 30 second instrumental interlude of "Everybody Loves Somebody" with a photo of Martin smoking a cigarette in the background. Episodes included, along the runtimes and guest stars, are as follows.
- March 3, 1966 (51:45) - featuring Sid Caesar, Abbe Lane, George Gobel, Marguerite Piazza, The Letterman, and David & Goliath
- January 12, 1967 (52:10) - featuring Jackie Mason, Leslie Uggams, Eddie Foy Jr., Allen & Rossi, and Pat Boone (in closet)
- November 16, 1967 (51:42) - Buddy Ebsen, Cyd Charisse, Dom DeLuise, Barbara McNair, Albert T. Berry, and Phil Harris
- December 14, 1967 (49:47) - Bob Newhart, Dom DeLuise, Caterina Valente, and Guy Marks
- January 25, 1968 (50:23) - Orson Welles, Joey Heatherton, Buck Owens, Buck Melvin, and Professor Backwards
- February 25, 1971 (51:53) - Zero Mostel, Tommy Tune, Jackie Vernon, Fred Smoot, The Golddigers, The Dingalings, and Robert Wagner (in closet)
The set comes packaged in a standard Viva case. On the cover, there is a large photo of Martin, along with a smaller photo of him. There is another photo of him on the back, along with a brief description of the series. Inside, you'll find the three discs, each containing two episodes. The disc artwork simply has the title logo of the DVD set as featured on the cover on each disc. There is also a nice episode booklet inside, which includes a page for each episode featured on the set. Here, you'll find all of the guest stars, original airdates, a list of skits, and a brief "analysis" of the episode.
There are no special features on the set. Interviews would have been nice, although I'm not sure exactly who they could have interviewed aside from perhaps Bob Newhart or Robert Wagner... everybody else featured on these episodes is either dead or so far away from showbiz these days that it would be a real stretch to bring them in.
The series has a rather large fan base around the world, and there are actually quite a few good websites for the series out there. One of the best ones, though, is Miami Vice Chronicles. The website began in 1996, but actually, the research for this great site dates all the way back to 1988... probably before some of our readers were even born! Quoting the webmaster from the About page, "In 1988, during the final season, I took it upon myself to research the one final iconic piece of the series that was incomplete for us: the music. That research led to me spending almost 2 weeks huddled over microfiche machines in my university’s graduate library, poring through the archives of USA Today’s TV section, carefully copying down the original episode descriptions, air dates, guest stars, and most importantly, the songs used for that episode (a feature that only USA Today provided for the series)."
Needless to say, this website demonstrates a lot of hard work that has been done over the years, and represents a highly valuable website for fans of the series. For example, in the Photo Gallery, you won't just find a bunch of press photos which are reproduced by the masses. Instead, you'll find things such as all of the pages from the official series calendars which were published in the '80s, memorabilia related to the series, books, and magazine covers. The Episode Guide gives very detailed information about the cast and crew for each episode, along with decent descriptions for the episodes. One of the best resources, though, is the Music Guide, where you'll find a listing of every single song from every single episode of the series. There truly is nothing to dislike about this site, our Click of the Week.
New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April)
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 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Thursday, April 27
The Big Bang Theory - "The Cognition Regeneration" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Leonard isn’t thrilled when Penny considers taking a new job offered by her ex-boyfriend, Zack (Brian Thomas Smith).
The Great Indoors - "The Heartbreaker" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jack sets up a double date to get Eddie out of a post-divorce rut, but the night gets awkward when they run into Denise (Essence Atkins), Eddie’s ex-wife. Also, when Emma decides to breakup with her boyfriend, Greg (Andy Ridings), Clark is torn between making a move on her and salvaging his friendship with Greg.
Mom - "A Cricket and a Hedge Made of Gold" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Marjorie takes a break from the group, Bonnie becomes the go-to for everyone’s problems, and Christy tries to overcome a painful memory from her past.
Life in Pieces - "Ear Scorn Registry Manuscript" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Colleen goes to Tim for help with an embarrassing ailment, she begs him not to tell the family. Also, Dougie (Fortune Feimster) enlists Joan to help her buy a gift for Matt and Colleen’s wedding; Heather gets jealous when her friends want to include Jen in their mommy group; and Professor Sinclair Wilde (Cary Elwes) encourages Joan to ask her family to read a draft of her book.
Superstore - "Ladies' Lunch" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
During the morning meeting, Glenn (Mark McKinney) accidentally tells the employees the real reason Amy (America Ferrera) has been late to work lately. Meanwhile, Dina (Lauren Ash) tries to cheer up Amy by kidnapping her for a "ladies' lunch." Jonah (Ben Feldman) and Garrett (Colton Dunn) invent a game to pass the time, tricking Glenn and Mateo (Nico Santos) in the process. Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) helps Amy take a fearless step with a dramatic new look.
Superstore - "Cheyenne's Wedding" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
It's Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) and Bo's (recurring guest star Johnny Pemberton) dream wedding, but not everything goes according to plan. Meanwhile, relationships unravel as Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) dodge relationship rumors. Glenn (Mark McKinney) tries to change Jeff's (recurring guest star Michael Bunin) mind after learning of upcoming layoffs, Dina (Lauren Ash) talks her way into the wedding party and Mateo (Nico Santos) dodges Jeff throughout the wedding.
Thursday, April 27
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Seinfeld) - Catch Julia on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Thomas stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- John Benjamin Hickey (The Big C/It's All Relative) - John visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- America Ferrera (Superstore) - America chats about Superstore on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Geoff Stults (Enlisted) - Geoff is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
- Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Michael plays Pyramid on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Perrey Reeves (Entourage) - Perrey makes a kale salad on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Courting Alex/Accidentally on Purpose/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Geena Davis (The Geena Davis Show/Buffalo Bill) - Geena talks about A League of Their Own on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Anna Baryshnikov (Superior Donuts) - Anna talks about Superior Donuts on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
- Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.