Saturday, November 17, 2012
Digital Digest: Cagney and Lacey Update; The Flintstones - Prime-Time Specials Collection, Volume 2 DVD Review; The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams - Season One DVD Review
We all know by now that ABC canceled Cougar Town back in May after three season, and the series was then picked up by TBS for new episodes, which will begin in January. In the meantime, ABC has also licensed the DVD rights to the third season, along with the first two, to Lionsgate. We'll see the third season, along with a re-release of the first two, on February 5.
We've been waiting (and waiting) for VEI's release of Cagney and Lacey - The Complete Series, and we didn't seem to be getting anywhere. This week, though, the "special edition" did show up on VEI's new online store! Unfortunately, all of the currency is given in Canadian dollars, but they are very close to the US dollar. What is even more unfortunate is the shipping: expect to spend roughly $20 to get this thing shipped out of Toronto (though still, even with shipping, it costs less than the "non-special" edition being sold elsewhere, whenever that comes into stock). Apparently, though, we're not alone in our frustrations. Even series creator Barney Rosenzweig shares our frustrations with these issues (along with the shrinking number of TV-on-DVD releases on store shelves) in his latest blog entry, and he doesn't hold back, at all. You can purchase the limited edition set here.
DVD Review: The Flintstones - Prime-Time Specials Collection, Volume 2 (Warner Archive, $14.95)
The rest of the Flintstones primetime specials are now available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection! Following a spate of Saturday morning spin-offs, America's favorite Stone Age family returned to network primetime with a full slate of hysterical pre-historical specials from 1977-1981 – no quitting time for Fred! On this DVD we continue the specials! This quartet of prime-time specials sees the Frankenstone family to Bedrock, Fred facing mortality, Wilma joining the big leagues and Fred take up jogging. Continue your collection for more fun from Fred and the gang!
As we mentioned on the volume one review, the primetime specials started in 1977 with A Flintstone Christmas. Last year, Warner Archive Collection gave us that special and also the 1993 A Flintstone Family Christmas special. Then we got The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979) and Flintstones Little Big League (1978) in a primetime specials volume 1 DVD. Now the remaining four specials are out in volume 2! The Flintstones' New Neighbors (1980): When the gruesome Frankenstone family moves in next door to Fred and Wilma, Fred is furious but Wilma insists they welcome their new neighbors. Can Frank Frankenstone turn Fred's views around? Fred's Final Fling (1980): A mix-up in medical records causes Fred to think that he only has 24-hours to live. Dazed by the news, Fred ponders his end and embarks on a 24 -hour "do-good" blitz. Wind-Up Wilma (1981): After Wilma angrily pitches a melon at two thieves stealing her grocery money, the manager of the Bedrock Dodgers signs her up to pitch in the majors. Jogging Fever (1981): After his wife, his boss and the entire town of Bedrock notice Fred's weight gain, he decides to get in shape by running in the big Rockstone Marathon ... and finds out how badly out of shape he really is. Each special has 6 chapter stops each. As for the runtimes, see below:
1. The Flintstones' New Neighbors (24:17)
2. Fred's Final Fling (24:18)
3. Wind-Up Wilma (24:17)
4. Jogging Fever (24:15)
The packaging for this set is pretty standard and similar to volume 1. On the cover, we have an image from the 1980 special The Flintstones' New Neighbors with Fred, Wilm & Dino looking scared to see them. On the bottom there is a mention of the two titles on this Classic Collection set. On the back, there is a nice photo of Fred, Wilma, Pebbles & Dino inside Fred's car, along with a description of the four specials. We also have four episodic images including Wilma in a baseball uniform. Inside the case, it is pretty bland again. There is no artwork on the panels again. There is one disc and it is on the right panel, so the same format as volume one. The disc artwork has Fred & Wilma looking scared to see the new neighbor with the franchise logo imprinted on it. All similar to the Christmas collection that was released last year and volume one for primetime specials.
The main menu isn't very exciting, but it is perfectly functional. The main menu has the same artwork as the cover art, with no music playing in the background. The theme song would have been nice? The special titles are listed right on the main menu and you select from there. We have a Play All option as well. There are no options for anything else, so it is simple. As mentioned, we have 6 chapter stops on all the specials and they have the correct placements. All this is similar to the Christmas collection and Volume 1 primetime specials DVD.
The video and audio quality of this set looks fine, for the most part. All four half-hour specials were from the same era (1980-81), so they both look the same. There are white dots here and there, but it is still good. Not bad for 1980 and 1981. There are no real major problems for all four specials, so don't worry about it. As for the audio quality, it is clear and crisp. Unfortunately there are no subtitles or closed-captioning. The specials originally aired on NBC, as did all the primetime specials from 1977-1981. Nothing much else to say, it is simple and it works.
There are no special features obviously on this set since it is just four specials. Perhaps maybe some promos or other archival items for these two would have been nice to have, but I didn't expect it.
It is good we are finally getting the primetime specials on DVD and finishing them up. These remaining NBC primetime specials are awesome. Now we have all of the 1977-1981 specials on DVD! Nice! Warner Archive is also releasing the 1993 ABC TV-movies The Flintstones - I Yabba Dabba Do! and The Flintstones - Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby, and we will review those in the coming weeks...so stay tuned. Now all the specials are nearly released! Only The Flintstones' 25th Anniversary Celebration, The Flintstone Kids' "Just Say No" Special, and Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba Dabba Doo Celebration remain, but those are not major ones. Heck, I want The Flintstone Kids or the series from the '70s more. Back to this set, other than my minor nitpicks, this set works and is on par with volume 1. It is simple and is just four half-hour specials, so not much was expected. For die-hard fans, you would be pleased, I think, and if you have volume 1, then this is a MUST. And for casual fans or first-time watchers, you'll like what you see on these four specials. These specials have been rerun on Boomerang a lot, so it is familiar. You won't need to jog over to a store and buy it, just click the link below! Yabba dabba doo, part two!
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DVD Review: The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams - Season One (Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory, $29.93)
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams features Dan Haggerty as James "Grizzly" Adams, a character loosely based on an actual 19th century woodsman.
After being accused of a crime he did not commit, Adams takes sanctuary in a remote mountain area in the American west, where he discovers and befriends an orphaned grizzly cub. The cub eventually grows into a full-sized grizzly bear that Adams affectionately calls Ben. Together, Adams and Ben learn to survive in the wilderness, assisted by an old trader named 'Mad Jack' (played by Denver Pyle - The Dukes of Hazzard) and a Native American named Nakoma (played by Don Shanks). Impressed with the way Adams has adapted to his environment and his uncanny rapport with animals, Nakoma and Jack come to appreciate Adams' harmonious existence with nature. Unfortunately, Adams need to be watchful for bounty hunters, even as he protects the wildlife he grows to cherish.
Compelling, entertaining and hugely popular, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams offered its audience a unique viewing experience, vastly different from the sitcoms and dramas that flooded the airwaves at the time.
The Grizzly Adams franchise began with the 1972 novel The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams by Charles E. Sellier, Jr.. A film of the same title followed in 1974. It starred Dan Haggerty, Denver Pyle and Don Shanks. The film became a runaway success and grossed over $65 million on a low budget of $140,000. NBC aired the film in 1976 and garnered a 43% market share. NBC executives then decided to pick it up as a weekly series. The series premiered on February 9, 1977. It was broadcast on Wednesday nights at 8pm. Thom Pace performed the theme song, Maybe. The animal cast included Bozo as Ben the grizzly bear and Mad Jack's ornery mule named Number Seven. A total of 38 episodes were produced during the show's two seasons.
All 13 season one episodes are included on the 4-disc set. The set is packaged in a double-thick keep case with two discs on each side inside the case. On the cover, we have a photo of Grizzly Adams and Ben. On the back, there is a short summary of the series, along with four episode snapshots. Grizzly Adams, Mad Jack, Nakuma and Ben are pictured. The DVD specs are provided at the bottom of the case. Inside the case, you'll find the discs. Unfortunately, one of the tabs that holds one of the discs had broken during shipment. The disc got scratched pretty badly, but it still plays without any problems. It would have been nice if they used some sturdier packaging. The discs feature a photo of Grizzly Adams and the show logo. Each disc has the episode titles listed on them, but the discs are not numbered, which could lead to some confusion. Unfortunately, there's no episode guide or any inserts included.
Moving on, the main menu is simple and easy navigate. It has a photo of Dan Haggerty holding a rifle over his shoulder. The show logo is next to it. There is a "Play All" button. The episode titles are listed vertically in white text. The episode you highlight has a gold bar over it. Chapters are placed at the appropriate places.
It should be noted that this release doesn't include the 1974 theatrical film. Although the film isn't yet available on DVD, it has been released several times on VHS. The NBC weekly series began on February 9, 1977. In "Adams' Cub," a young girl named Eliza Bowker, traveling to the west with her parents in a covered wagon, gets lost in the vast mountain wilderness. Adams recalls how he met Nakoma, a Native Indian in "Blood Brothers." Adams saves Will Boker (guest star Ken Berry), an entertainer and a magician, from drowning in a river, and takes him back to his cabin in "Fugitive."
When a man named Cartman (guest star Ronny Cox) and his son make a camp at the valley in the mountains, Adams wants to become a great neighbor, but Cartman doesn't want any help from Adams in "Unwelcome Neighbor." Mad Jack accidentally becomes trapped on a raft in rapids and Adams sets up to find the man, but when he finds his personal belongings, Adams is convinced that Mad Jack is gone, and he recalls the first time he met Jack in "Howdy-Do, I'm Mad Jack." Mad Jack accidentally runs into Pinkerton (guest star Don Galloway), a man who wants to bring Adams back to the town for the trial in "Adams' Ark."
While trying to rescue a raccoon, Adams is accidentally buried by a rockslide in "The Redemption of Ben." Norman Fell guest stars. Mad Jack meets a young tenderfoot named Teddy (guest star Charles Martin Smith) in the wilderness, and believes that he is just a clumsy novice, which turns out to be true, when Teddy, or let's say Theodore Roosevelt, attacks Nakoma and Ben and attempts to ride Number Seven in "The Tenderfoot." While escorting Sumi, a young Indian maiden back to the reservation, Mad Jack is stunned to learn that his burro, Number Seven, found a stone of gold in "The Rivals."
Adams, Jack and Nakoma set off into the woods to find a monster, a strange creature that Mad Jack saw in the wilderness, a beast that makes Ben act uncomfortable in "The Unholy Beast." Slim Pickens guest stars as Findhope. Adams' cabin is in danger when a group of beavers, after their valley was destroyed by a forest fire, move into Adams' valley in "Beaver Dam." A tough old settler named Metcalf (guest star Jack Kruschen) and his daughter travel west into the rugged mountain territory, and after a small accident, they end up in Adams' cabin in "Home of the Hawk." Ben and Adams prepare to welcome Mad Jack and Nakuma for the annual feast and celebration, but their preparation is interrupted when an Indian woman arrives, looking for help in "The Storm." Episode summaries courtesy of TV.com .
The video quality isn't the best. They are upfront about it when you first insert a disc. The disclaimer reads: "This program has been reproduced from carefully selected archival films. State of the art technology has been used to present the highest quality production. However, some imperfections in image and sound quality are unavoidable." The episodes really don't look to be remastered, but they are certainly watchable. These episodes are around 35-years-old now. They are presented in their original broadcast order and full screen 1.33:1 ratio. There is a fair amount of dirt, debris, white specks, scratches, film splices, and other digital artifacts. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there are logos for Schick Sunn Classic Productions, Inc. and Viacom (2 versions - the 'V of Doom' purple background logo and at least one episode has the blue background logo). As far as the audio quality, it's not too bad. I didn't notice any major problems with it. No closed captioning is available on the episodes.
The set has a total running time of approx. 620 minutes. Episodes run between 45-46 minutes. Most one-hour dramas of the era ran closer to 48-50 minutes without commercials, so it appears that these are likely syndication prints. When the show was sold into syndication in the 1980s, they trimmed a few minutes to make room for more commercials. The Viacom logos at the end of the credits are also from the 1980s. All of the episodes do include the show's theme song, "Maybe," by Thom Pace.
Here are the episode titles by disc number, including the runtimes:
"Adams' Cub" (46:24)
"Blood Brothers" (46:22)
"Unwelcome Neighbor" (46:22)
"Howdy-Do, I'm Mad Jack" (46:27)
"Adams' Ark" (45:25)
"The Redemption of Ben" (46:30)
"The Tenderfoot" (46:25)
"The Rivals" (46:23)
"The Unholy Beast" (46:18)
"Beaver Dam" (46:22)
"Home of the Hawk" (46:21)
"The Storm" (46:24)
There are no special features included. It would have been nice to see some original promos or a featurette. The Season Two DVD release will include an interview with Dan Haggerty.
I've seen the 1974 theatrical film and some of the follow-up movies in the Grizzly Adams franchise, but this is really my first time seeing the TV series. I've enjoyed catching up with the series. It's a little slow-paced at times, but there's still a fair amount of action and adventure. The simplicity of the show is definitely part of the appeal. Dan Haggerty was the perfect choice to play Grizzly Adams. When I think of mountain man actors, he's always been one of the first that I think of. Prior to becoming an actor, he had worked as an animal trainer. He worked very well with the animals on the show, especially the grizzly bear. It was also nice to see Denver Pyle in another role before The Dukes of Hazzard. He narrated many of the episodes. Another plus for the series was the beautiful scenery. The show was shot entirely on location in Utah. Finally, the show had a nice music score and the memorable theme song.
Fans have waited a long time for the series to come DVD. Although it's great to see it available in any condition, the set is lacking in several key areas. The packaging is a cheap plastic box that has tabs that can easily break. There are no episode summaries or episode guide booklet included. The discs aren't even numbered, so you would have to check online to see if you are viewing them in the proper order. My main complaint is with the video quality and the use of syndicated/edited episodes. While all of the episodes look to be watchable, they aren't remastered like you've come to expect with many other DVD releases. The episodes are also in the 45-46 minute range when the original episodes were likely 48-50 minutes. They must have lost the original masters, or they were in such poor condition to be unusable. There's really no other reason why they would use these poorer quality and incomplete syndication prints.
Season Two has already been announced for February 19, 2013. Since it's already in production, it seems unlikely that they will be able to make any improvements. Even with a number of issues on the DVD release, it's still an enjoyable series. The Grizzly Adams franchise has always been very popular. If you're a fan of wilderness/adventure TV series, nature and wildlife, this is a show to check out. It's a very family-friendly show. Look for familiar faces such as Ken Berry, Ronny Cox, Norman Fell, Charles Martin Smith, Slim Pickens and Jack Kruschen as guest stars in season one.
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Claim to Fame: Malcolm from the "new millennium's" Malcolm in the Middle
Why You Should Follow Him: Who doesn't remember Malcolm in the Middle? The series was a hit for Fox when it debuted over a decade ago, and these days, the series has maintained some slight shelf life in syndication. The series followed a dysfunctional family (with the unexpected super-genious middle child Malcolm) through their everyday life. Since the series was canceled, Frankie Muniz, who played Malcolm, has largely stayed out of the spotlight. He has, however, made some recent TV appearances in some guest roles, and has been enjoying life through race car driving and his current job of being the drummer for Kingsfoil, a band that has been finding a moderate amount of commercial success. It's a different kind of success, but it makes him (once again) a meaningful celebrity. He seems to really enjoy his fans, regardless of why they are fans of him, and doesn't appear to have regrets about anything.
Pick of the Tweets: "7-Eleven is selling fire wood in Phoenix.... That's cute. The thought of needing fire wood in Phoenix. " (November 3, 2012)
SITCOMS AIRING TONIGHT (May 23)
The Big Bang Theory - "The Santa Simulation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sheldon revisits some Christmas memories during a game of Dungeons and Dragons, while Penny, Bernadette and Amy try to find a girl for Koothrappali when he joins the girls for ladies' night.
Two and a Half Men - "I Scream When I Pee" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Alan’s smokin’ hot, famous ex-wife, Kandi, wants him back. Meanwhile, Berta isn’t interested in celebrating her birthday, so Walden helps make it special. April Bowlby (“Drop Dead Diva”) returns as Alan’s second ex-wife, Kandi.
Save Me - "The Book of Beth" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Series Premiere)
“Save Me” premieres with Emmy nominee Anne Heche (“Hung”) starring as Beth Harper, an absentee wife and mother who suffers a dramatic near-death experience and is revived only to discover that she now receives messages from God. As she warms up to her powers and begins dispensing advice that is astonishingly accurate, her husband Tom (Michael Landes, “Final Destination 2”) is skeptical and their teenage daughter Emily (Madison Davenport, “Shameless”) is horrified. Complicating matters even more, Tom’s mistress Carly (Alexandra Breckenridge, “American Horror Story”) shows up to confront Beth about the affair and quickly gets a shocking surprise. Read our review.
Save Me - "Take it Back" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Beth (Anne Heche) begins a new life on the straight and narrow and wants to make amends with old friends she has offended. Her efforts to return a long-ago stolen espresso machine to next door neighbor Maggie (Joy Osmanski) are rebuffed. Meanwhile, Tom (Michael Landes) learns to adjust to his wife’s newfound ability to communicate with God and they both try to re-establish some sense of normality with their old friends and their daughter Emily (Madison Davenport).
The Office - "Couples Discount" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Office pairs off into pretend couples to take advantage of a Valentine’s Day discount at a local mini-mall. Erin (Ellie Kemper) assures Pete (Jake Lacy) she will break up with Andy (Ed Helms) when he returns, but he has good reason to doubt her. Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) share a meal with Brian, the documentary's sound man.
Parks and Recreation - "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Andy (Chris Pratt) visit Ben (Adam Scott) and April (Aubrey Plaza) at their new jobs in Washington D.C., and Leslie feels overwhelmed by the city -- especially after meeting two of her idols (Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe). Meanwhile, Ron (Nick Offerman) throws a “thank you” barbeque for the entire Parks and Recreation staff.
Men at Work - "The Gibbs-Orcism" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Tyler's new girlfriend is all too familiar to Milo and Gibbs, so they do their best to hide the truth from him. Neal and Amy do their best to avoid the "anniversary curse," but they can't seem to escape their fate.
Anger Management - "Charlie, Kate and Jen Get Romantic" (FX, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Martin tries to undermine Charlie and Kate's relationship by telling Kate that Charlie and Jennifer are getting back together.
Big Time Rush - "Big Time Bonus" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Gustavo gives the guys a bonus for their hard work, but they quickly begin to make bad decisions with their money. Carlos hires a personal assistant, James buys a snake he can't live without, Kendall accidentally buys a truck full of oranges and Logan can't resist the power of tipping and getting favors done in return.
Wendell & Vinnie - "The Dutch & Us" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Wendell befriends a lonely student from Holland, Jann. But when Jann abandons Wendell for a cooler crowd, Vinnie decides to help Wendell win him back by putting them in a situation where they're forced to spend time together.