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, July 31

The Big Bang Theory - "The Hesitation Ramification" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Penny’s big acting break on NCIS is a bust, Leonard struggles to help her, which results in Penny asking Leonard a bold relationship question. Meanwhile, Sheldon tries to learn how to be funny and Raj tries to work on his “game” before talking to girls.

The Millers - "Walk-n-Wave" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Worried that his mother has made him feel like he’s better than other people, Nathan befriends a hopeless co-worker, Doug, who turns out to be a social outcast and more than Nathan knows how to handle. Meanwhile, Tom and Adam argue about who’s smarter and take an online test to find out. Andy Richter guest stars as Doug, Nathan’s co-worker. Roseanne Barr guest stars as Darla, Doug’s mother.

Welcome to Sweden - "Get a Job/Farthinder" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Feeling uncomfortable that he is being supported by Emma (Josephine Bornebusch), and hearing about it from from Emma’s mom Viveka (Lena Olin), Bruce (Greg Poehler) looks for work in Sweden and lands a job that doesn’t quite match with his skill set. Meanwhile, he starts to feel left out when Emma begins to make plans without him. Elsewhere, Hassan (guest star Basim Sabah Albasim) helps teach Bruce to drive, while one of Bruce’s former clients, Gene Simmons (guest starring as himself), tracks him down in an effort to clear problems he is having with the IRS.

Working the Engels - "Picture Night" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jenna (Kacey Rohl) is approached by a former client from her old firm, billionaire software genius Sam Taylor (guest star Jacob Tierney), to handle a merger on his behalf. However, it’s the worst time for such a high profile client as Ceil (Andrea Martin), has infected all the office computers with a virus. In addition, Jenna must also help Jimmy (Benjamin Arthur) calm down Sandy (Azura Skye), who has just been served divorce papers.

Married - "The Getaway" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Russ and Lina go on a romantic getaway. Jess gets in trouble for sexting her neighbor.

You're the Worst - "Keys Open Doors" (FX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Gretchen inadvertently asks Jimmy for a key to his house.

Love That Girl - "Gullible Is as Gullible Does (TV One, 10:00PM ET/PT)
After being taken advantage of several times Jasmine attends Suckers Anonymous, a support group for the gullible. Meanwhile, when the bullying at school gets to be too much, Cordell gets a gun to take care of the bully himself. Delroy has to convince Cordell that violence is not the right answer.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 28) (All times ET unless noted)

Thursday, July 31

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Seinfeld) - Catch Julia on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ron Funches (Undateable) - Ron visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse appears on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Carl (The Dick Van Dyke Show) and Rob Reiner (All in the Family) - Carl and Rob are guests on Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Chris is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
  • Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Eric stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT. He will also be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Martin Lawrence (Partners/Martin) - Martin talks about his new FX series Partners on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • George Lopez (Saint George/George Lopez) - George is a guest on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • David Alan Grier (Bad Teacher/Less Than Perfect/DAG) - David appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided and Nat Faxon (Married/Ben Kate) - The stars of FX's Married are guests on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.