Saturday, December 15, 2012

Digital Digest: China Beach Headed to DVD; Mannix - The Final (Eighth) Season DVD Review; Quincy, M.E. - Season 4 DVD Review

Welcome to Digital Digest! We're getting closer to Christmas, but we've still got a little more than a week to go (oh, by the way, we'll have a special Christmas review for you next weekend). Until then, we've got your regular news, a preview of Tuesday's releases, reviews of Mannix - The Final (Eighth) Season and Quincy, M.E. - Season 4, and a somewhat unusual Follow Me this week. Let's get started!


This has been a rather slow and disappointing week for news, but we do have a few items of note. First, announced a big complete series release that many people have been waiting for over the past ten years that'll be coming soon from Time Life and Warner Home Video. The drama series China Beach will be released early next year from Time Life, with a wide retail release coming later. Music rights have held this series up for many years, but it is interesting to note that the press release indicates that "most" of the original music will be intact. This suggests that there will be a few things missing, but hopefully it won't be anything too noticeable.

CBS will be finishing up the crime drama Father Dowling Mysteries in early 2013 with Father Dowling Mysteries - The Third Season. The five disc set will be released on March 12 at a $59.98 MSRP.


Tuesday (December 18) is the last Tuesday that we'll see anything released for the rest of the year, and it brings very few releases... but they are both solid releases. First, MPI has Here's Lucy - Season Six. We'll have a review of this excellent set posted this weekend. Second, Shout! Factory has Quincy, M.E. - Season 4, which we review today in Digital Digest.


Blog DVD Review: Mannix - The Final (Eighth) Season (CBS DVD, $49.99)

Mike Conners returns to DVD one final time in his role of Mannix in Mannix - The Final (Eighth) Season. The six disc set compiles the final 24 episodes of the classic private eye series in one set, bringing closure to the series that fans waited for years to see on DVD. In fact, many of the episodes in this set are new to most fans, as this season has not been included in any of the American syndication packages of the series (although one episode did air on TV Land a decade ago).

The season begins with "Portrait in Blues," where half of a singing duo is nearly executed, and Mannix has to find out why somebody would want them dead. Mannix's goddaughter goes missing in "Game Plan." Rue McClanahan guest stars. Katherine Helmond guest stars in "A Fine Day for Dying," where a victim of a hit-and-run accident awakes from a year-long coma, only to find someone is out to murder her. Peggy is kidnapped after being mistaken for an informant in "Walk on the Blind Side." Mannix is hired by a mother looking for her son, a counterfeiter, in "The Green Man." In "Death Has No Face," Mannix ends up being framed for murder while on a case. Mannix's latest case involves a mob courier who was Mannix's war buddy (and he is killed while making a delivery) in "A Small Favor for an Old Friend." A Japanese private eye enlists Mannix's help in "Enter Tami Okada."

Mannix attempts to solve the murder of a photographer in "Picture of a Shadow." In "Desert Sun," a trip to Albuquerque to prove an Indian's accidental death was actually murder turns very ugly for Mannix. Mannix is on the case of solving a mystery involving a plane crash victim who undergoes plastic surgery in "The Survivor Who Wasn't." A bomb kills a starlet's husband in "A Choice of Victims," but was he the intended victim? A war vet is out to prove that anybody can give up military secrets under torture in "A Ward Called Courage." In "Man in a Trap," Joe discovers a fellow detective who was shot took a job for a syndicate boss. Peggy's cousin may be a target for murder in "Chance Meeting." In "Edge of the Web," the son of Mannix's friend is jailed for killing his PhD professor after being denied his degree (and being accused of sleeping with the professor's wife). Look for Gerald McRaney in the unusual role of a college professor in this episode... and as is common for any role played by McRaney, the professor is also a Vietnam vet.

A mother receives a ransom note for her son who has been missing for six years in "A Ransom for Yesterday." Thieves attempt to rob every office in a high-rise in "The Empty Tower." Mannix believes in the innocence of a hitchhiker accused of murder, and takes his case, in "Quartet for Blunt Instrument." In the two-part episode "Birds of Prey," a search for a hero who saved a client's son in South America results in another man's death. Tom Selleck guest stars in "Design for Dying," where a publisher with political ambitions hires Mannix to find out if his wife has committed adultery. A hitman kills a mob boss in "Search for a Dead Man," but the dead body vanishes and he has to hire Mannix to find the corpse to prove he did the job. The series ends with "Hardball," where a ruthless drug dealer takes hostages at a courthouse. John Ritter guest stars.

The episodes appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Portrait in Blues" (50:42)
2. "Game Plan" (49:47)
3. "A Fine Day for Dying" (50:13)
4. "Walk on the Blind Side" (50:45)

Disc 2:
5. "The Green Man" (50:44)
6. "Death Has No Face" (50:44)
7. "A Small Favor for an Old Friend" (50:43)
8. "Enter Tami Okada" (50:44)

Disc 3:
9. "Picture of a Shadow" (50:44)
10. "Desert Sun" (50:14)
11. "The Survivor Who Wasn't" (50:43)
12. "A Choice of Victims" (50:43)

Disc 4:
13. "A Word Called Courage" (50:47)
14. "Man in a Trap" (50:45)
15. "Chance Meeting" (50:38)
16. "Edge of the Web" (50:44) 
Disc 5:
17. "A Ransom for Yesterday" (50:43)
18. "The Empty Tower" (50:45)
19. "Quartet for Blunt Instrument" (50:43)
20. "Bird of Prey (Part 1)" (50:49)

Disc 6:
21. "Bird of Prey (Part 2)" (50:44)
22. "Design for Dying" (50:46)
23. "Search for a Dead Man" (50:46)
24. "Hardball" (50:45)

CBS has kept the packaging for this set consistent with previous releases. Once again, the set uses a Viva case. On the cover, there is a large head shot of Mannix, the series logo, and of course, there are eight bullets to indicate that this is the eighth season. You'll find a few episode snapshosts and a brief series description on the back. Inside, you'll find the six discs, each containing the standard CBS gray artwork with the series logo. Each disc contains four episodes. Episode titles, descriptions, and original airdates are printed inside the case.

The menus on the set are very simple, but nicely done. The main menu has video clips from the episodes, with the theme song playing in the background. On the bottom of the screen is a listing of all of the episodes, along with a Play All option and a Subtitles option. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately, and chapters are also placed throughout each episode.

The video and audio quality is excellent on this set... again. When they say that these episodes were remastered for the highest quality video and audio, they really do mean it, and it isn't just an exaggeration. These episodes truly look the best that I could ever imagine them looking. The mono audio is very loud and clear, and there are English subtitles available for those who require them.
Sadly, they didn't include any special features for this release of the final season. We only saw special features on the release of the first season (which was actually produced by Paul Brownstein), but since then, we've gotten nothing. Something along the lines of original promos would have been nice. There was also a Here's Lucy episode where Connors appeared in his role as Mannix in 1971... it would have been nice to have seen that included on one of these sets. I seriously doubt that Mike Connors would be interested in participating in any special features since he actually sued CBS over not being properly compensated for royalties on the series.

It is always a time to celebrate when a long running series is completed on DVD, especially when we've gotten (mostly) flawless releases. What is even nicer about this series, though, is that we have about two and a half seasons worth of episodes (including this seasons) that have been withheld from syndication over the years, so owning these DVDs is really the only way to even see a lot of these episodes... and for the younger fans who are too young to remember when the series originally aired, that is like getting brand new episodes of the series. I'm still disappointed in the lack of special features that we got throughout the releases, but the important thing, I suppose, is that every episode is now available on DVD for everybody to enjoy. Fans of crime dramas are sure to enjoy this, and if you just want to see something that you'll probably never see on TV, this set in particular is definitely worth picking up.

(4/5 stars)

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Mannix on


In the Heat of the Night - The First Season

DVD Review: Quincy, M.E. - Season 4 (Shout!, $39.97)
by skees53

NBC was well-known for their Mystery Movie franchise that they had in the '70s. From this franchise, we got a lot of "series" (which were actually just a bunch of movies) including Columbo, McMillan and Wife, McCloud, and more. However, one of the movie series in this franchise ended up being turned into a regular weekly series... that was Jack Klugman's series, Quincy, M.E., the series about the "original crime scene investigator." Klugman played the role of Dr. Quincy (first name was never fully given), a Los Angeles Medical Examiner who would always get to the bottom of each and every crime. Now, Shout! Factory is releasing the fourth season (some would call it the third season, which is technically more correct, but we'll use the title that the studio uses to avoid confusion) on DVD for the very first time.

Quincy heads off for some rest and relaxation in "The Last Six Hours," but it seems that crime will follow him wherever he goes. A race-car driver is killed in "Speed Trap," so was it a homicide? Quincy tries to get a seven-year-old re-evaluated as autistic in "Test for Living." An Affirmative Action doctor is blamed when a patient dies after a surgical operation in "Death by Good Intention." In "Images," Quincy announces that well-known anchor woman (played by Jessica Walter) died in a fire... except she ends up mysteriously appearing at the press conference. Quincy becomes part of an investigation in his own office in "Even Odds." In "Dead and Alive," anonymous messages begin turning up informing a model that someone close to her is in danger of being murdered. Quincy's latest flame moves into a new apartment... and finds two mummified bodies already living there... in "No Way to Treat a Body."

In "A Night to Raise the Dead," Quincy's latest investigation has him trying to dig up an entire cemetery. A malpractice lawyer is after Quincy in "A Question of Death." In "House of No Return," Quincy poses as a murdered PI to find out why the man was killed. A star athlete dies from a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea in "A Small Circle of Friends," leading Quincy to demand a round-up of prostitutes. In "Depth of Beauty," Quincy gets involved in the world of cosmetic surgery. Quincy investigates a doctor who will give any prescription for the right price in the two-part episode "Walk Softly Through the Night." Quincy has to perform autopsies on all of the bodies of the deceased in a plane crash in "Aftermath."

In "Dark Angel," two cops are accused of beating a suspect to death, and Quincy has to prove (or disprove) that. Quincy has to find out why a 17-year-old girl died after undergoing an abortion in "Physician, Heal Thyself." Quincy thinks a lot about life after a spat with his girlfriend in "Promises to Keep." In "Semper-Fidelis," Quincy autopsies the body of a Marine who died in an accident during training... or did he? An autopsy of a construction worker finds much more in "An Ounce of Prevention." In "The Death Challenge," a magician dies during a stunt, so was it an accident or murder? The season ends with "The Eye of the Needle," where Quincy clashes with a holistic medicine doctor after the death of one of her patients.

The episodes appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "The Last Six Hours" (49:15)
2. "Speed Trap" (49:18)
3. "A Test for Living" (49:20)
4. "Death by Good Intentions" (49:11)

Disc 2:
5. "Images" (49:48)
6. "Even Odds" (49:16)
7. "Dead and Alive" (49:14)
8. "No Way to Treat a Body" (49:15)

Disc 3:
9. "A Night to Raise the Dead" (49:45)
10. "A Question of Death" (49:02)
11. "House of No Return" (49:22)
12. "A Small Circle of Friends" (49:44)

Disc 4:
13. "The Depth of Beauty" (49:13)
14. "Walk Softly Through the Night (Part 1)" (49:54)
15. "Walk Softly Through the Night (Part 2)" (48:43)
16. "Aftermath" (49:47)

Disc 5:
17. "Dark Angel" (49:16)
18. "Physician, Heal Thyself" (49:53)
19. "Promises to Keep" (49:11)
20. "Semper-Fidelis" (49:13)

Disc 6:
21. "An Ounce of Prevention" (49:15)
22. "The Death Challenge" (49:18)
23. "The Eye of the Needle" (49:14)

As usual, Shout! kept the packaging style for this set in line with the packaging that Universal used for their releases (although Shout! did switch to Viva cases for their release). The cover art has two photos of Quincy with a blue background, and offers the tagline "The Original Crime Scene Investigator." On the back, there is a brief description of the season, along with a few episode snapshots. Inside, you'll find the six discs, each containing the series logo on a blue background. Episodes titles, descriptions, and airdates are printed inside of the case.

The menus for this set are very simple, but elegant. There is just one menu, the main menu, which has a photo of Quincy, and gives options of Play All and lists all of the episodes. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. There are chapters throughout each episode.

The set looks fine in regards to video and audio quality. A lot of these older Universal series tend to look pretty good, even without a lot of restoration. There are still minor issues here and there, but nothing too big. The audio is presented in mono. And the episodes are all closed-captioned.

I've never actually watched this series too much, but I always liked what I had seen and decided to give the series a chance on DVD. Based upon what I've seen here, I'm more impressed with the series than I was even before. It is a slightly different series from most of the crime dramas of the era, and while it is a little like CSI, it doesn't resort to all of that ridiculous technology and methods that CSI portrays as common techniques for solving crimes (something that has actually complicated some real-life court cases, since jurors believe CSI is real life). Still, despite the differences from other 70s crime dramas, I think fans of those series will still enjoy this series. It is nice that Shout! picked up the series from Universal. Otherwise, it would have remained stalled for a while, I'm sure.

(4/5 stars)

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Quincy, M.E. Page


What to Follow: Modern Seinfeld (Twitter), "What if Seinfeld was still on the air?"
What It Is: Modern Seinfeld is one of the most unusual things we've seen pop up on Twitter. It first appeared on December 9... just a few days ago... and has gone viral in just the past few days, gaining attention from prominent national press and already gaining nearly 200,000 followers (perhaps it'll go past that by the time you read this) in that short period of time. Created by comedian Jack Moore, editor of BuzzFeed Sports, and also a self-professed Seinfeld addict, the Twitter feed brings back to the sitcom about "nothing" back to life, in the form of Tweets about episodes of the series that "could" happen in this modern era. Even if you aren't a fan of the series, it is still a fun Twitter feed to read, and the viral effect of it has shown how fast things can spread over the internet.
Pick of the Tweets: "Jerry breaks up with his gf (Jenna Fischer) because she over-identifies with Liz Lemon. George tries to pick up women on the subway." (December 11, 2012)

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

New on DVD/Blu-ray (November)

The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Remastered Series (DVD) Maude - The Complete Third Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Final (Fourth) Season McHale's Navy - The Complete Series Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Fourth Season

11/03 - Californication - The Complete Series
11/03 - Getting On - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
11/03 - Hank (1965-66) - The Complete Series
11/03 - I Love Lucy - The Complete Series
11/03 - Men at Work - The Complete Second Season
11/03 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/03 - 'Til Death - The Complete Third Season
11/10 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Remastered Series (DVD)
11/10 - Maude - The Complete Third Season
11/10 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Final (Fourth) Season
11/17 - Cristela - The Complete First Season
11/17 - McHale's Navy - The Complete Series
11/17 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Fourth Season
11/24 - George Lopez - The Complete Sixth Seaon
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, November 25

The Middle - "Thanksgiving VI" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Hecks agree to forgo Thanksgiving after Frankie finds out that she’s out of a job until January and must pick up a holiday position, which requires her to work on Thanksgiving in order to make ends meet. Much to her dismay, she ends up once again having to portray an overworked 19th century woman back at Heritage Village during the Harvest Feast and finds herself going face-to-face with Sheila (Faith Ford), a woman who definitely takes her job too seriously. Meanwhile, Sue goes back to work at Spudsy’s over her holiday break in the hopes that she’ll once again run into Logan – the dreamy Abercrombie guy, Axl finds himself in foreign territory when he starts becoming emotional over how his life has turned out, and Mike and Brick find themselves needing to find a bonding experience when the electricity goes out at the house and they are forced to interact with each other.

The Goldbergs - "A Goldberg Thanksgiving" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
As a bet, Beverly challenges Erica to participate in Jazzercise after she thinks her mom’s obsession is lame. When she wins, Erica decides to opt out of celebrating Thanksgiving, so Beverly must find a way to win her daughter back to celebrate the holiday with the family. Meanwhile, uncle Marvin shows up for his annual visit to the Goldberg home and unexpectedly bonds with Adam, which annoys Murray.

Modern Family - "Three Turkeys" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil is cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year with Luke as his sous chef, and Claire has no confidence in them and prepares a secret turkey of her own as backup. Meanwhile, Jay and Gloria had plans to spend the holiday away, but when the trip gets canceled last minute, they decide not to tell anyone, which quickly becomes the worst idea ever since the family dinner gets suddenly moved to their house, and it turns into a mad scramble to cover their tracks. And Mitch is tired of always being the bad cop, so when Lily refuses to wear a nice dress to dinner, he forces Cameron to deal with it, and he comes up with a very unconventional approach.

black-ish - "30 Something" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Things begin to fall apart, in more ways than one, when Dre hurts himself playing basketball right before his 40th birthday. He hands the planning of his big party over to his much younger, hipper assistant, fearing he really is getting too old to be cool. Bow and Ruby face off over who can get Dre the best gift, and the kids try to figure out what to give their dad for his special day.

Talia in the Kitchen - "After the Storm" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After Will steals Talia's spices, she hides from the hurricane.until a mysterious boy discovers her.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 23)

Wednesday, November 25

  • Nathan Lane (Encore! Encore!/Charlie Lawrence) - Watch Nathan on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • James Van Der Beek (Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jay Duplass (Togetherness/Transparent) - Jay appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Vanessa Lachey (Truth Be Told/Dads) - Vanessa and FABLife stylists put audience members to the test with a Thanksgiving preparation trivia challenge and turkey bowling competition for prizes on FABLife, so check your local listings.
  • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo talks about the fight against cancer in children and her Thanksgiving tribute to her dear friend Robin Williams on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Greg Evigan (My Two Dads) - Greg and his daughter Briana talk about the new Hallmark Channel original movie Once Upon a Holiday on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • John O'Hurley (Seinfeld/The Mullets) - John talks about The National Dog Show on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo appears on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly talk about starring in the upcoming holiday movie Angel of Christmas on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Full House) - Candace is tentatively scheduled to appear on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Maura Tierney (NewsRadio) - Maura appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.