Saturday, May 19, 2012

Digital Digest: Shout! Acquires Timeless Media Group; Fantasy Island - The Complete Second Season DVD Review

Welcome to Digital Digest! This week, we've got all of your regular features, including a review of Fantasy Island - The Complete Second Season. Let's get started!


DIGITAL NEWS

Mergers have been happening everywhere in the home media business lately, and this week, Shout! Factory has announced a merger of their own with Timeless Media Group. According to Variety, Shout! Factory has purchased the smaller distributor, known primarily for their releases of classic western series acquired from NBCUniversal (although they have released other series as well). TMG will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, a separate entity from Shout! Factory and will continue to operate out of Oregon, but this acquisition opens the door for both distributors to better market the TMG releases and perhaps improve the quality of some of the TMG releases. Honestly, there may be a lot of good to come out of this deal, as it demonstrates Shout! Factory has an ongoing commitment to release television series. We'll let you know what does come of it!

Sony announced a MOD offering this week which should give fans of virtually any series hope that their favorite series will indeed make it to DVD, with their announcement of Charlie's Angels (2011) - The Complete Series. The series was panned by critics and was canceled before all of the eight produced episodes could even be aired (one was left unaired), but those who did enjoy the series, this is the set for you. The availability date is not yet known, but typically, Sony's MOD releases come around the first Tuesday of each month.

CBS Home Entertainment has a release on August 14 of another half season of a classic '70s action series from the Spelling Entertainment library, with Vega$ - The Third Season, Volume 2. This release marks the final release of the series starring Robert Urich, completing the entire series on DVD. It isn't available to preorder on amazon.com just yet, but should be soon.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (May 22) has no sitcom releases, but there are some releases for fans of classic television. First, Shout! Factory completes two classic series with their releases of S.W.A.T. - The Final Season and Route 66 - The Complete Series. You can read our review of S.W.A.T. here. Also, Time Life has The Dean Martin Variety Show - Uncut. You can read our review of this release here.  


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: Fantasy Island - The Complete Second Season (Shout! Factory, $39.97)
by skees53

Welcome to Fantasy Island, the place where your dreams become reality! And now, the entire second season becomes a reality as Shout! Factory picks up the rights to the classic series from Sony, starting with Fantasy Island - The Complete Second Season. The series debuted on ABC on the foothills of success of the similar series, The Love Boat (both were produced by Aaron Spelling), and made up one of the most memorable Saturday night lineups in all of TV history. The series stars Ricardo Montalbán as Mr. Roarke and Hervé Villechaize as sidekick Tattoo, as they welcome guests to the island each and every week to make their fantasies come true, no matter what they may be. And of course, most of those guests were well-know celebrities of the era, particularly TV stars.

Before describing each of the episodes, we'll briefly go over the format of the series. Each episode features two alternating stories (in some of the longer episodes, there are three) about guests coming to the island to fulfill his or her fantasy, for "only" $50,000... or whatever he or she can afford if they don't have that. Rarely, though, does the fantasy that the person hopes to achieve turns out the way it was expected. With 25 episodes, containing a total of 52 stories, it would be difficult to describe every story, but we'll highlight a few of them.

A Vietnam vet who was presumed dead wants his remarried wife and son back in "The Homecoming." In "The Big Dipper," a pickpocket and his daughter post as vacationers to hide from authorities. An archaeologist wants to uncover the secrets of a cursed tomb in "Tomb." In "I Want to Get Married," a librarian comes to the island to get married, but doesn't come with a possible groom. A self-professed wimp comes to the island for strength in "The Toughest Man Alive." A doctor wants a large monetary grant to build a hospital in "The Appointment." In "The Flight of the Great Yellow Bird," a man is on the hunt for Sasquatch. In "Charlie's Cherubs," three girls want to solve a crime, by channeling their idols from Charlie's Angels. World War II vets are looking to recover stolen treasure in "Stalag 3."

In "Vampire," a method actor wants to become what he is about to play. A hypochondriac just wants a cure in "Substitute Wife," but for what? In "The Stripper," an heiress is trying to escape an arranged marriage. A young boxer wants one last opportunity to win, even if it will kill him, in "The Boxer." A TV reporter thinks she may be cursed when her relationships all seem to be dying in "Pentagram." In "A Little Ball," a young nun visits the island to live out her last fantasies before deciding to commit to the church. Two friends are given half a million dollars in "Spending Spree." In "Birthday Party," a woman wants to be reunited with her twins that she gave up for adoption several decades earlier. A gag writer lives out his dreams of being a comedian in "The Comic." Tattoo is kidnapped to get revenge on Roarke in "Cornelius and Alphonse." In "Bowling," a mediocre bowler just wants to be able to compete against professionals. A boy has a fantasy to operate an amusement park in "Amusement Park."

The episodes appear to be unedited, with most even retaining the original '70s Columbia Pictures Television "sunburst" logo at the end of each episode. As previously mentioned, you'll find many guest stars in the series, far too many to even list them in the episode descriptions, so we list them alongside the runtimes. Runtimes and guests are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "The Sheikh/The Homecoming" (48:49) - David Birney, Georgia Engel, Cassandra Peterson
2. "Big Dipper/The Pirate" (48:52) - Sonny Bono, Diana Canova, Dan Rowan, Danny Wells
3. "The Beachcomber/The Last Whodunit" (48:43) - John Astin, Maurice Evans, Janis Paige
4.  "The Best Seller/The Tomb" (48:46) - Desi Arnaz Jr., Shelley Fabares, Maureen McCormick, Jeannie Wilson

Disc 2:
5. "I Want to Get Married/The Jewel Thief" (48:39) - Ken Berry, Steve Forrest, Meredith MacRae, Henry Polic II
6. "The War Games/The Boston Bruisers" (48:45) - Mary Jo Catlett, Don DeFore, Jonathan Frakes, Anne Francis
7. "Let the Good Times Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger" (1:14:53) - Danny Bonaduce, Mary Ann Mobley
8. "Return/The Toughest Man Alive" (48:42) - Red Buttons

Disc 3:
9. "The Appointment/Mr. Tattoo" (48:42) - Barbi Benton, Bert Convy, Connie Stevens
10. "Island of the Lost Women/The Flight of the Great Yellow Bird" (48:43) - Peter Graves, Lisa Loring, Michelle Pfeiffer
11. "Carnival/The Vaudevillians" (48:42) - John Fielder, Phil Silvers
12. "Charlie's Cherubs/Stalag 3" (48:45) - Yvonne De Carlo

Disc 4:
13. "Vampire/The Lady and the Longhorn" (48:46) - Eva Gabor, Robert Reed, Julia Sommars
14. "Séance/The Treasure" (49:14) - Shelley Fabares, George Maharis, Leslie Nielsen, Eve Plumb
15. "Cowboy/Substitute Wife" (48:52)
16. "Photographs/Royal Flush" (49:15) - Mabel King, Michele Lee

Disc 5:
17. "The Stripper/The Boxer" (49:15) - Stacy Keach Sr., Maureen McCormick, Forrest Tucker
18. "Pentagram/A Little Ball/Casting Director" (1:14:08) - Lisa Hartman, Florence Henderson, Don Knotts, Cesar Romero, Abe Vigoda
19. "Spending Spree/The Hunted" (49:24) - Diana Canova
20. "The Birthday Party/Ghost Breaker" (49:17) - Ken Berry, Annette Funicello, Janet Leigh, Larry Storch

Disc 6:
21. "Yesterday's Love/Fountain of Youth" (49:15) - Lew Ayres
22. "The Comic/Golden Hour" (49:14)
23. "Cornelius and Alphonse/The Choice" (48:28) - Red Buttons, Juliet Mills, Mary Ann Mobley, Regis Philbin
24. "Bowling/Command Performance" (49:19) - Rue McClanahan, Roddy McDowall, Al Molinaro,
25. "Amusement Park/Rock Stars" (47:58) - Jimmy Baio, Scott Baio, William Boyett, Bernard Fox, Tracey Gold, Ted Lange

The set comes packaged in a standard sized Viva case. On the front, there is a picture of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo standing on the island, and on the back, there are a few more photos from the series. These will look familiar to those who have purchased Sony's release of the first season... Shout! used a lot of the same artwork. In fact, the cover art for this set was actually used on the back of the release for the first season! Inside the case, you'll find the six discs, all of which have the same shot of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo as on the cover, except with a green background. A listing of all of the episodes and guest stars is printed inside the case, but there are no descriptions. That is somewhat understandable since there are so many stories in the series, but descriptions were included for the release of the first season.

The menus on the set are very nice, with a photo of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo (for once, it is different from the cover art, while video from some of the episodes on the disc plays in the corner of the screen with the theme music playing. There are options of Play All and Episodes. Once you select Episodes, you get a video of Mr. Roarke saying "welcome to Fantasy Island." The episodes menu simply lists all of the episodes on the disc. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately, and there are chapters within each episode.

Compared to a lot of these Columbia (now Sony) series from Aaron Spelling from this era, these episodes look and sound really good. Not necessarily perfect, though, because there is some debris here and there, and the audio can be a tadbit low at times, but there aren't any serious concerns here at all. Each episode on the set is closed-captioned.

There are no special features on the set. What would have been nice to see would have been original episode teasers. After all, the first season actually DID have these! So apparently they exist, but I suppose it would have been more of a challenge for Shout! to include this since they merely sublicensed the episodes.

This is a great set of episodes for the series, and I think that the stories and guest stars in this season were a lot better than in the first season. I am happy that Shout! Factory decided to pick up this previously abandoned series, and I'm hoping to see more episodes of the series, all the way through the final season, but it remains to be seen how well this one will sell. It is too bad that CBS can't get "on board" too and move ahead with Love Boat, as these series are one of those rare "perfect pairs" of TV series which both should be on DVD. Of course, fans of this series will enjoy this set, but fans of other series of the era, particularly Love Boat, are sure to enjoy this set... it is a fantasy come to life!

(4/5 stars)

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CLICK OF THE WEEK

Magnum Mania (www.magnum-mania.com) - We often like to keep a theme for a few weeks on our Click of the Week, and we're continuing with our '80s action series theme these week with Magnum Mania, a site dedicated to the classic series starring Tom Selleck, Magnum P.I. The series is one of the most beloved high octane series of the '80s (and of all time for that matter) and follows Thomas Magnum as he provides security at the Robin's Nest complex on Oahu... and oh yeah, also providing his detective abilities in cases all over the island.

Magnum Mania is one of best--and actually, in my opinion, the best--website for the series. Unlike many websites which we feature, this one is relatively new, and began in 2006 by a loyal and dedicated fan of the series. But in those very short six years, it has grown into a site for everything related to the series. There is a very thorough episode guide (complete with notes and trivia), a music guide for all of the episodes, an expansive photo gallery, active message boards, PDFs of news articles from the original run (believe it or not, the series actually brought in a record breaking dollar amount for MCA Television when it first entered syndication!), and much more. There are even several pages dedicated to the real Robin's Nest, and everything you'd ever want to know about it. This is truly one of the most thorough and complete websites that I've seen for any series, and it is even more fascinating that it only continues to grow thanks to a dedicated webmaster, which makes this our Click of the Week.

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, October 19

Superstore - "Workplace Bullying" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Tensions arise among the employees after an attempted robbery, pitting Dina (Lauren Ash) against Jonah (Ben Feldman). Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) has a tough time firing the store security guard, and Amy (America Ferrera) discovers that her coworkers have been hanging out without her.

The Good Place - "The Trolley Problem" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Eleanor (Kristen Bell) tackle a famous ethical dilemma, leading to a conflict with Michael (Ted Danson). Meanwhile, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) harbors a secret and confides in Janet (D'Arcy Carden).

Will & Grace - "Grandpa Jack" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jack (Sean Hayes) is stunned to learn that his estranged son, Elliot (guest star Michael Angarano) has a son of his own, Skip (guest star Jet Jurgensmeyer). Moreover, Skip needs the kind of help only Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack can provide. Grace (Debra Messing) and Karen (Megan Mullally) behave badly with the hot new guy at work.

Great News - "Award Show" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
For the first time in years, "The Breakdown" has been nominated for an American Journalism Award. Katie (Briga Heelan) is looking forward to spending the night as a peer with the very reporters she has admired her whole life. Fearing her mother will ruin it, Katie tries to stop Carol (Andrea Martin) from attending but is unsuccessful when Carol secures a position as a seat-filler. Katie is stuck babysitting her mom all night but gets distracted by Jeremy (guest star Reid Scott), a handsome New York Times reporter who looks down on cable news. Chuck (John Michael Higgins) is excited to reunite with all of his old anchormen friends, especially Len Archer (guest star Christopher McDonald), an idol of Chuck's who is receiving a lifetime achievement award.

Better Things - "Eulogy" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam demands satisfaction.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

Thursday, October 19

  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Catch Tracy on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Jim is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Amy Landecker (Transparent) - Amy is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Carl Reinder (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - Carl appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Garcelle Beauvais (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Garcelle guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Cedric Yarbrough (Speechless/Reno 911!) - Cedric is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Angela Kinsey (Haters Back Off/Your Family or Mine/The Office) - Angela talks about the new season of her Netflix show Haters Back Off on the People Now at 8:30am.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Out of Practice) - Henry is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs) - Hayley appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Joanna Garcia Swisher (Reba/Better with You) - Joanna teams up with Michael Symon in the kitchen, giving the scoop on her new show and whipping up a tasty dish on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She also talks about Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
  • Redman (Method & Red) - Redman appears on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
  • Debra Messing and Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Debra and Eric are guests on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest