Saturday, June 02, 2012

Digital Digest: '70s Sitcom Alice Coming to DVD From Warner Archive?; The River - The Complete First Season DVD Review


Welcome to Digital Digest! It's the first week of June, so summer is all but officially here, but unlike the broadcast TV networks, we aren't here to give you summer repeats. Instead, we've got a whole summer full of news, reviews, and more all summer long! This week, we've got a review of The River - The Complete First Season. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

We always like to follow the Warner Archive Facebook page because they always give a lot of interesting hints on upcoming releases. The classic '70 sitcom Alice (which actually ran well into the mid-'80s), a Warner property that fans have been wanting for years now, has thus far only seen a single disc Television Favorites release which is now out-of-print and leaving fans clamoring for more, although a glimmer of hope has been offered with the addition of the first season being available to purchase to view on your computer from Amazon Instant Video. But late last week, a fan asked about this series on the Facebook page, which elicited this response from Warner Archive:
"Things are looking good for ALICE. Stay tuned!"
That wording is very interesting, and seems to suggest that something may finally materialize on DVD (at least a MOD offering) from Warner Archive! The message is a bit different from what Warner Archive has stated in the past, including indicating that they'd like to do it, but there are source material issues. Given that this is our first real indication of a glimmer of hope, I wouldn't expect the series to appear anytime very soon, but it sounds like we've at least got something hopeful on the radar.

UPDATE: Just minutes before today's Digital Digest, an even bigger (and more definite) clue to a potential release of Alice on DVD was posted on Warner Archive's Facebook page. This "packaged mystery" clue was posted on Thursday to give a hint of something coming soon from Warner Archive, and Warner Archive has been steadily giving away some hints as to what it could be, to which one poster responded with Alice, and Warner Archive gave this response to that person:
"Speaking of good guesses...!"
We'll keep you updated on what seems to be an indication that we will be seeing this classic series on DVD soon!

We've still got a little over a month until CBS Home Entertainment's July 3 release of The Streets of San Francisco - Season 3 (Volume 1/Volume 2), but you won't have to wait much longer for the fourth season. In fact, The Streets of San Francisco - Season 4 (Volume 1/Volume 2) will be coming on August 28! The sets aren't available to pre-order yet, but most likely, they will be very soon. That will leave only the fifth season to be released, and as of right now, there is no scheduled release for that... but given this release schedule, I would expect it to follow soon enough.

That isn't the only August release from CBS, though. On August 21, CBS has Perry Mason - Season 7, Volume 1. For those doing the math, that will be the "lucky 13th" release of the series, leaving only five more releases of the series to get it to completion. It doesn't appear that CBS intends to release more than one volume of this series on the same day (as they have started doing with other series), but at least it is getting out, slowly but surely.

We mentioned a few weeks ago that Sony's MOD offering of Charlie's Angels - The Complete Series (not the original classic series, but the 2011 series which became one of the biggest flops of the past season) was coming to DVD, and now there is a date... and it is very soon. In fact, it'll be shipping starting on June 5, which is this coming Tuesday.

Finally, there is some addition to Hulu this week which we find worth mentioning, with the newly added Garfield and Friends! It isn't the entire series, but 30 of the first 31 episodes are now available to stream for free on the website (the final episode of the first season is missing as of right now). This is definitely worth checking out, as the DVDs of the series are now out-of-print and cannot be easily found.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (June 5) has one sitcom release, with Shout! Factory's release of Designing Women - 20 Timeless Episodes. You can read our review of this set here. Image has their release of Twilight Zone - The Complete Series (Blu-ray), which contains every single episode of the classic series in the high-definition format. Also from Image comes the release of the rare '80s series Rags to Riches, with Rags to Riches - The Complete Series.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW



Blog DVD Review: The River - The Complete First Season (ABC Studios, $29.95)
by Pavan

From Oren Peli, the director of Paranormal Activity, and executive producer Stephen Spielberg comes The River, the most terrifying TV series in memory. It has a chilling legend and lore and it is brought to life in this heart-pounding eight episodes. The paranormal thriller follows the story of world-famous wildlife expert and TV personality Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), host of the beloved series "The Undiscovered Country." After Cole goes missing deep in the Amazon, his family, friends and crew set out on a haunting and treacherous adventure to find him. After Dr. Cole's emergency beacon goes off, they go to find the ship (The Magus). Led by his wife Tess (Leslie Hope), and estranged son Lincoln (Joe Anderson), the rescue mission will lead them deep into the unexplored regions on the Amazon River - a place where nature is cruel, magic is real and nothing is what it seems. So uncover the ancient secrets of the Bouina in the first season of ABC's The River on this two-disc DVD! There's magic out there!

The series stars Bruce Greenwood as Dr. Emmet Cole, Joe Anderson as Lincoln Cole, Leslie Hope as Tess Cole, Eloise Mumford as Lena Landry, Paul Blackthorne as Clark Quietly, Thomas Kretschmann as Capt. Kurt Brynildson, Daniel Zacapa as Emilio Valenzuela, Shaun Parkes as Andres Jude (A.J.) Poulain and Paulina Gaitán as Jahel Valenzuela, Emilio's daughter. Scott Michael Foster recurs as Jonas.

The first season has 8 episodes and we get them all on this DVD. It's like a mini-series and is action-packed. You obviously need to watch them in order. ABC has not picked up a second season, but there was talk of reviving it on Netflix. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any more out of those talks yet. Watching this first season is still worth the time, as there is a conclusion to the story set-up in the pilot. The finale does bring a new chapter, so if we do get a second season on Netflix or a cable network, it will continue from there. Anyway, among the memorable episodes is the premiere "Magus," where everything begins and is set-up. ABC aired the series as a two-hour premiere, so episode two "Marbeley," is part of the premiere. In that episode, which I think is the better hour, Jahel becomes possessed by Emmet Cole's spirit, while Tess becomes undeterred from her goal of finding clues to her husband's whereabouts and the team then discovers a tree draped in spooky children's dolls, as an old legend reminds them that the tree of dolls is an offering site to "La Dajara, the abandoned one", as mentioned by Lena, in this case a spirit of a girl who drowned in the river. Jumping to hour five, "Peaches," The Magus finds itself stranded and in need of some parts, when another ship comes to their rescue, but the new ship's crew of environmentalists are far more dangerous than they appear, despite seeming friendly. Skipping to hour seven, "The Experiment," beginning where the previous episode ends, Emmet Cole's last known location - the research facility, the Magus crew not only discovers that it is abandoned, but also that there has been illegal research and experiments occurring, with the inhabitants of the forest being used as test subjects. In the shocking and thrilling finale, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," after Lincoln is shot dead by a member of the Magus, Jahel disobeys her father by calling upon the river's spirit for help. We get all 8 unedited episodes on this DVD. Runtimes for each episode follow:

Disc One
1. Magus (43:33)
2. Marbeley (42:50)
3. Los Ciegos (42:04)
4. A Better Man (42:40)
5. Peaches (41:21)

Disc Two
6. Doctor Emmet Cole (42:56)
7. The Experiment (42:56)
8. Row, Row, Row Your Boat (43:03)

The DVD comes in a case held by an outer thin box. The thin outer box is in green (fitting!) and has an eye looking through big green with leaves the series logo below and the complete first season mention. The back of the thin outer box has info on the set and series, with a nice quote from the Time.com. We have a nice background photo of a spooky doll, along with five episodic images. Below all that, there is box showcasing the bonus features as well. When we remove the outer box, we get to the case. The case has the same artwork as the thin box, so everything is the exact same. Inside the case we have a cool cast photo on the panels itself. There is also a disc-by-disc breakdown below the cast photo on the panels listing episode titles per disc. As for the discs themselves, disc one is on a little plastic holder that you can flip like a page in a book. Disc two is on the right panel itself, though. It should have been on the back of the plastic holder, I think. Both discs are in the green design with the series logo and a nice design in the background that is different for each disc. Disc one holds episodes 1-5, while disc two holds episodes 6-8. There is also an insert booklet showcasing other ABC TV DVDs that are coming soon like Scandal and Revenge, and it is placed on the left panel.

The menu design is great! We first have the series logo, then it jumps to a wide shot of the Amazon River, then we see clips from the series playing in the background as we have background music from the show playing. Before the main menu, we have auto trailers. On disc one we have trailers for ABC TV DVDs coming this summer and fall, Castle Season 4, and the upcoming theatrical Frankenweenie. Disc two has trailers for movies The Avengers, John Carter and Who Framed Roger Rabbit 25th Anniversary Blu-ray. Back to the main menu, the options are: Play All, Episode Selection, Bonus Features, Set Up and Sneak Peeks. Sneak Peeks is only on disc two and has the same trailers as the auto trailers on disc two. Set Up gives us the option for subtitles in English, French, Espanol, and Portuguese. Bonus Features list what is available on the disc, while Episode Selection gives us a a screenshot from each episode on the disc, along with episode number and title. More on the bonus features below.

Video and audio quality are both outstanding. We have Digital Dolby 5.1 surround sound and it is perfect. For the video, we are in widescreen (1.78:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. It is excellent quality but that is expected for newer/current series. If anything goes wrong with audio/video for current series, then there is a major problem. Too bad ABC Studios is not releasing a Blu-ray version of this series, as it would be magical to watch in Blu-ray! Each episode has 8 chapter stops, so it is easy to jump through an episode if you are looking for something in particular.

There are some special features on this set as well! The first disc has an audio commentary for the premiere episode "Magus." Commenting are executive producer-writer Michael Green, executive producer Zack Estrin and director-producer Jaume Collet-Serra. They are pretty funny and gush over Collet-Serra's sensual accent! Then the rest of the special features are on disc two. First up, another audio commentary, this time for the season finale "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" with Michael Green and Zack Estrin returning, but instead of Collet-Serra, we have Emmet Cole himself--Bruce Greenwood! We learn a lot here and their thoughts on the ending and conclusion of this chapter. Next up is by the far the best feature on this set, the featurette "The Magic Out There" (18:06). We take a gripping journey into the heart of darkness with the creators, cast and crew in the behind-the-scenes look at the making of this epic series and explore the documentary-style feel of the show, and its eerie, terrifying visual effects. It's a very good and informative featurette and has interviews with Zack Estrin, Oren Peli (creator), Michael Green, Justin Falvey (executive producer), Jason Blum (executive producer), Joe Anderson, Paul Blackthorne, Daniel Zacapa, Paulina Gaitan, Eloise Mumford, Bruce Greenwood, Scott Michael Foster, Shaun Parkes, Eric Austin (laserbreak pilot), Chase Hartan (production designer), Sarah McGrail (visual effects producer), and Stephan Fleet (visual effects supervisor). And lastly, we have 13 deleted scenes that delve further into the mystery and awe of this series. Seven of the eight episodes have deleted scenes totaling just over 16 minutes. Six deleted scenes are for the premiere episode itself: "Magus" (2:21, 2:17, 0:47, 1:50, 0:30, and 0:40). The rest of the episodes have a deleted scene or two: "Marbeley" (0:49), "Los Ciegos" (0:41), "A Better Man" (0:51), "Doctor Emmet Cole" (2:49), "The Experiment" (0:27, 0:28) and "Row, Row, Your Boat" (0:48). So the only episode without any deleted scenes is "Peaches."

This is a nicely done set for a nicely made show. It was something different that network TV had never seen, so kudos to the cast and crew for giving us something unique. I wish it did better in the ratings, but we all know that is never an exact science. As for the DVD, it is well done. We get great audio/video, menus, packaging and special features. I think the features are adequate for something with 8 episodes. My only real gripe was for disc two placement in the packaging, but that is not a big deal. ABC Studios knows how to make good DVDs, especially for their current series. Let's hope someone resurrects this series for a second season so we can see the second chapter. I think Eloise Mumford is an up and coming star, so we need more of her! Click on our Amazon link to buy this series, as you don't have to travel on the Magus to the Amazon River to buy this series! There's magic right here on this review on this blog! It's a great DVD for a great show!

(4/5 stars)

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CLICK OF THE WEEK

David and Maddie (www.davidandmaddie.com) - For those who are unenlightened, you may need a little bit of light... or Moonlighting... to know the meaning of the two names David and Maddie. For those who are unfamiliar, David and Maddie were the names of the characters played by Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd on the classic '80s detective series Moonlighting. The series ran in the later half of the '80s on ABC, and it was a groundbreaking series which meshed comedy, drama, and romance all in one. The series had many production issues (including going way too far over budget, not finishing episodes in time, and more) over the years, leading to a five season run which yielded only 66 episodes. But the series lives on in the hearts of many, many fans who viewed the series during the original run and still love the series to this day.

David and Maddie is one of the best websites out there for the series, full of content which goes well beyond just the mere basics of the series. Among the content, you'll find a very thorough episode guide with all of the details and analysis for each and every episode of the series, an expansive gallery of publicity photos and magazine cover photos, information about the DVDs and reviews of the DVDs (yes, our own reviews are included!), interviews, and even a discussion about the 3D episode of the series which was planned... but scrapped due to (you guessed it) production problems and a writer's strike. So this week, you'll want to "moonlight" with David and Maddie, our Click of the Week.

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, April 18

The Big Bang Theory - "The Inspiration Deprivation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The concept of what it would mean for women everywhere if Amy were to win a Nobel Prize causes Amy to have a meltdown. Also, Koothrappali and Wolowitz try to relive the good old days after Wolowitz buys a scooter that looks like the one he had years ago. Oscar-winning actress Regina King returns as Janine.

Life in Pieces - "Jungle Push Resort Anniversary" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When the Short family arrives at their vacation resort in the Yucatan, their accommodations aren’t quite what they expected. Also, Heather is ridiculously overprotective of Sophia during the family activities; Jen and Greg discover that Matt and Colleen have been duping everyone; and John and Joan get separated from their tour group in the jungle. Nat Faxon guest stars as Hayes, an expat proprietor at a Yucatan eco-resort.

Mom - "Lumbar Support and Old Pork" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bonnie has an unexpected reaction when she learns that Adam’s bar is doing well. Also, Christy and Tammy go on a double date.

Life in Pieces - "Demo Nosebreath Surgery Match" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Colleen and Matt try to impress a potential birth mother, they have a hard time competing against another rich, swanky couple. Also, Jen’s pregnancy takes a toll on Greg; Heather lets John take credit for her housekeeping while Joan recovers from knee surgery; and Tim arranges for Tyler to record a demo at a friend’s studio. Joey King guest stars as Morgan, a 17-year-old pregnant teen who is considering placing her baby for adoption with Matt and Colleen.

Superstore - "Easter" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Suspicious that people are making fun of her, Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) spy on Cloud 9 employees through the security system, while Dina (Lauren Ash) tries to track down an unsanctioned Easter Bunny in the store. Glenn (Mark McKinney) preps for his church’s Passion play.

A.P. Bio - "Personal Everest" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jack is outraged when his old high school bully is hired as a motivational speaker at Whitlock. Meanwhile, Mary, Stef, and Michelle set their own personal goals of female empowerment, unintentionally causing a rift between Helen and Durbin.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Bimbo" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Holt and Jake investigate a case at Kevin’s university. Back at the precinct, Terry and Amy take the squad out for lunch.

Abby's - "Book Club" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When it’s revealed that Fred has a crush on a bar patron, Abby and Beth encourage a reluctant Fred to start dating.

Better Things - "Easter" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam helps Max and bakes for Phil.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 15)

Thursday, April 18

  • Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) - Catch Sharon and Rob on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. They will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Retta (Parks and Recreation) - Retta visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Lake Bell (Bless This Mess/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/How to Make It in America) - Lake appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Bill Hader (Barry) - Bill is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Anna Faris (Mom) - Anna stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Michael chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood/Survivor's Remorse/Happily Divorced/Everybody Hates Chris/Martin) - Tichina guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew drops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Beth Behrs (The Neighborhood/2 Broke Girls) - Beth is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James chats about Life in Pieces on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country/Murphy Brown) - Lily drops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP/Scream Queens) - Keke guest co-hosts ABC's Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) and Rick Fox (The Game/Mr. Box Office) - Holly and Rick talk about Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Morning Show Mysteries on Access Live, so check your local listings. Holly will also be on E!'s Daily Pop at 12pm.
  • Fiona Gubelmann (Wilfred) - Fiona appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


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

Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season Alice - The Complete Ninth Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season

02/05 - Family Guy - Part 1 - Volumes 1-5
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 2 - Volumes 6-10
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 3 - Seasons 10-14
02/05 - First Lady of Television - Betty White Collection (40 rare and acclaimed episodes from her early days in television)
02/05 - Mama's Family - Seasons 1-6 - The Complete Series
02/12 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-3 (Blu-ray)
02/12 - Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season
02/26 - What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season
03/05 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
03/12 - Alice - The Complete Ninth Season (WBShop.com)
03/26 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
04/02 - Archer: Danger Island - The Complete Season Nine
04/09 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fifth Season
04/12 - Evening Shade - The Complete Collection
04/16 - The Big C - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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04/01 - Better Things Gets 4th Season in 2020; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Returns in May on Fridays
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03/21 - Antenna TV's Gimme a Break! Spring Break Marathon; Netflix Gets Mindy Kaling Comedy Series
03/20 - COZI TV Celebrates April Fools with Pranks; HBO Comedy Gets 4th Season
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