Saturday, August 18, 2012
Digital Digest: More Diff'rent Strokes; MPI Finishing My Favorite Martian; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Complete Final Season DVD Review; The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show DVD Review
Welcome to Digital Digest! This week, we have double reviews, with our reviews of The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Complete Final Season (Season 10). Let's get going!
Anybody who knows this website will know that, while we are fans of just about every sitcom out there, there is one particular show which is a huge favorite of this website... and no, it isn't one of the critically acclaimed series or one that can be seen on multiple TV stations multiple times a day, but rather a sitcom that aired in the late '70s and '80s about a non-traditional type of family. Of course, we're talking about Diff'rent Strokes! And Shout! Factory is on the verge of releasing more episodes of this series on DVD on November 20, with their release of Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fourth Season. The three-disc set will come at a $29.93 MSRP.
It is very rare that we finish up a sitcom that was abandoned over five years ago, but it looks as if we will with My Favorite Martian. It has been known for some time that MPI was planning a release for the third season, but we had not gotten a release date for it... until now. My Favorite Martian - The Complete Third Season will be released on October 30 at a $39.98 MSRP.
Mill Creek is moving ahead with more of That '70s Show on Blu-ray in October when they release That '70s Show - Season Two (Blu-ray). The four-disc set (which oddly enough is one more disc than the series contained on DVD) will be released on October 16 at a $24.98 MSRP.
Several years ago, Virgil Entertainment announced plans to release the '70s Saturday morning sitcom Big John, Little John. Unfortunately, there were many issues that popped up with the release and it was delayed several times, until eventually it just sort of faded off of the schedule. Now, it appears that Big John, Little John - The Complete Series is back on the schedule on October 2... but not from Virgil. Instead, it will be VCI Entertainment handling the release.
Finally, eOne is releasing The Abbott and Costello Show on DVD yet again... but this time in individual seasons. The first season of the series will be available on October 2 and a $39.98 MSRP. Of course, The Abbott and Costello Show - The Complete Series is still readily available on DVD.
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV.com
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Blog DVD Review: The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show (Warner Archive, $24.95)
Heathcliff returns to DVD--and actually steps back a little in time--with Warner Archive's release of The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show! Let's give a little bit of history here. In the '80s, DIC created the popular and memorable animated series Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats, based upon the comic strip by George Gately. That series has seen many DVD releases over the years and has been the one to gain most of the syndication exposure. But before that series, Ruby-Spears (a studio created by the two creators of Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?) gave Heathcliff a shot with a series called The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show. Like many other animated series of the era, though, Heathcliff didn't get his own show. He had to share the half hour with another character, in this one, Dingbat... a vampire dog who runs Odd Jobs, Inc., which will do any odd job out there. It only made it through one season before being replaced by the similar Heathcliff and Marmaduke (an established comic strip, or really comic panel, dog), but now Warner Archive has all 13 episodes of the first version of Heathcliff on DVD.
With thirteen episodes, each containing four segments, that means that there are a total of 52 different segments in this set... far too many to go into great detail on any of them (and they're less than six minutes a piece anyway, so none of them really have time to develop much of a plot). Each episode begins with a Dingbat segment, followed by a Heathcliff segment, then there is another Dingbat segment, followed by yet another Heathcliff segment... but most likely, you'll be more interested in the Heathcliff segments (in fact, the packaging of the set focuses more on the Heathcliff aspect).
A few highlights of the Heathcliff segments involve him trying to outwit a dogcatcher in "Doggone Dogcatcher," a take on Jake and the Beanstalk in "Cat in the Beanstalk," Heathcliff doing anything and everything to "take the cake" in "Cake Flakes," Heathcliff terrorizing a milk factory in "The Great Milk Factory Fracas," Heathcliff becoming a rodeo star in "Rodeo Dough," Heathcliff using creative maneuvers to get the big fish in "The Big Fish Story," Heathcliff outsmarting a burglar in "The Watchcat," and creating more agitation for the milk man in "Milk Run Mayhem."
The Dingbat segments are much more straightforward, and each one involves the characters constantly looking for a job, always managing to get one... and always managing to wreak havoc at work. These are all pretty straightforward, and the titles of the segments (the first and third of each episode) as shown in the episode list pretty much describe their "five minute jobs."
Runtimes for the episodes are as follows:
1. "Health Nuts/Doggone Dogcatcher/U.F.Oafs/Feline Fugitive" (23:40)
2. "French Fried Fracas/Cat in the Beanstalk/Treasure Haunts/The Great Chase" (23:41)
3. "Window Washouts/Angling Anglers/Prized Pooch/Cake Flakes" (23:41)
4. "Detective Ding-a-Lings/Red Hot Riding Hooded Heathcliff/Showbiz Shenanigans/The Great Milk Factory Fracas" (23:40)
5. "Service Station Screwballs/Kitty a la Cart/Beach Blanket Bozos/Mystery Loves Company"(23:40)
6. "Nautical Noodnicks/Gold Digger Daze/Bungling Baby Sitters/Hives" (23:40)
7. "Batty Boo-ticians/Robinson Cruise Ho/Door to Door Sales Creeps/Lion Around the House" (23:40)
8. "Creep Crop Crack-Ups/Heathcliff and the Sleeping Beauty/Retail Ruckus/The Mouse Trapper" (23:40)
9. "Carnival Cut-Ups/Rodeo Dough/Lemans-ter Rally/Pinnochio Rides Again" (23:39)
10. "High Flying Fools/Star Trick/No News is Ghoul News/The Big Fish Story" (23:39)
11. "Nutty Knights/Pumping Irony/Safari Saps/The Watch Cat" (23:40)
12. "Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow/Mascot Rumble/It's Snow Job for a Creep/Heathcliff of Sherwood Forest" (23:36)
13. "Football Flunkies/Milk Run Mayhem/Lumbering Loonies/The Great Cop'n Cat Chase" (23:36)
The set has very basic packaging, in a standard double disc Amaray case. There is a photo of Heathcliff having a garbage can dinner with Sonja and a very small photo of the Dingbat characters at the top of the cover art. On the back, there is a description of the series along with a few episode snapshots. Inside the case. The discs inside the case have photos of Heathcliff and the series logo on a purple background. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-9 and Disc 2 contains episodes 10-13.
There are some issues about the menus which are a true problem. The artwork on the menus is fine, with the main menu containing the a photo of Heathcliff with a paddle that has a mouse attached to it, and a photo of Dingbat and his gang at the top. The options on the main menu are Play All and Episodes. But the problem with the menus is that when you select Episodes, you can't actually choose to play any full episodes. All that you'll find on this menu are the four individual segments from each episode, and you can play them one at a time... without any opening credits or closing credits. You can, however, find these credits if you choose Play All from the main menu, as it will play each episode WITH the opening and closing credits intact. I'm not sure why they didn't include an option to just play entire episodes as originally broadcast without having to use the Play All option, but it is a bit annoying. Still, everything is included for all of the episodes, so it isn't a disaster. Chapters are placed at every segment if you select Play All from the main menu.
The video and audio quality of the set is actually not too bad. In fact, compared to some of the other Heathcliff DVD releases out there, this one... the oldest one... looks reasonably nice on DVD, though not really perfect. The quality reminds you of pretty much any other series of the same era, with most of the defects being a result of the animation technology of the era. There are other video defects here and there, but they aren't really distracting. The audio is reasonably loud and clear, presented in the original mono. There are no subtitles or closed-captions.
With this being a Warner Archive release, there are no special features.
This is a decent set for Heathcliff fans out there, but if you are looking for something more along the lines of the more popular version of Heathcliff, you may find yourself a bit lost with this series. Personally, I enjoy watching the series because it is something a bit different... but the Catillac Cats version of the series is the one that I truly remember. Perhaps if this version had lasted longer, it would have been more memorable. I really enjoyed seeing the Heathcliff segments, but I do have to say that the Dingbat segments sort of became a little too repetitive a little too fast. The characters aren't bad, but I think that they could have done more with them besides giving them new jobs to mess up twice each episode. Of course, they did change that out with Marmaduke in the following season, so that did introduce a bit of a new element. In any event, Heathcliff fans should enjoy this set... and Dingbat fans (are there even any that exist?) will enjoy the Heathcliff segments.
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The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show on TV.com
Let's be honest, though... most of our readers here are fans of classic TV series, particularly sitcoms. So while we may be interested in that aspect for our other home entertainment needs, what will really interest fans of our website is their forum for TV-on-DVD. Here, you'll find very lively (and sometimes a bit too serious) discussion of every minor detail of every TV-on-DVD set which has ever existed. There are many incredibly knowledgable fans of the series over there, and they are eager to help fellow fans get the best experience with their home media library. You'll often find news and industry rumors (sometimes even direct from representatives of the studios) on the website... and usually it shows up here well before it shows up on other places on the internet. And of course, no such website would be complete without DVD reviews. Of course, we like to think that we do well with our DVD reviews, and we do with the objectives that we have when we cover our DVD reviews (focusing more on the content than technical details)... but it goes without saying that the technical details are important too, and fans do want to know that information. The DVD reviews on Home Theater Forum provide that for fans who are interested.
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