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!

DIGITAL NEWS

This has been a rather slow and disappointing week for news, but we do have a few items of note. First, TVShowsOnDVD.com 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.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

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 FEATURE REVIEW



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)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Mannix on TV.com


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

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)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Main Reviews Page
Quincy, M.E. TV.com Page


FOLLOW ME

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!
Sitcoms Airing Tonight (Friday, April 18)

Last Man Standing - "April, Come She Will" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Vanessa’s mooching sister April comes to visit, Mike suspects it’s because she needs money. Sure enough, April explains that she’s decided to have a baby but doesn’t have the funds for a donor egg. While Vanessa and Mike aren’t on board, Mandy comes up with a solution. Meanwhile at Outdoor Man, Mike tries pulling a prank on Chuck Larabee that gives him some new perspective.

Last Man Standing - "Tasers" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
A large bouquet of roses is delivered anonymously to the Baxter’s house on Valentine’s Day. Vanessa knows they’re not for her because Mike doesn’t believe in the frivolity of flowers on a Hallmark holiday. As an expression of his love though, Mike buys Vanessa a Taser, which only adds to her disappointment. Meanwhile, Kristin suspects her boss, John Baker (guest star Jonathan Taylor Thomas), may be the secret admirer, while Mandy assumes the flowers are from Kyle.

The Rickey Smiley Show - "The Bachelor" (TV One, 9:00PM ET/PT)
A Bachelor type promotion on the radio station.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 14) (All times Eastern unless noted)

Friday, April 18

  • Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Watch Bryan on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) - Melissa appears on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • William Shatner ($#*! My Dad Says) - William visits The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl/I Hate My Teenage Daughter) - Jaime is a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan & Kel) - Kenan stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Tichina Arnold (Martin/Everybody Hates Chris/Happily Divorced) - Tichina and the cast of the new Lifetime movie A Day Late and a Dollar Short chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She also appears on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Margo Martindale (The Millers) - Margo chats about the new film Heaven is for Real on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings. She will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Tracy is a guest on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. He also talks getting animated for Rio 2 on 106 & Park at 6pm on BET.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin is challenged to a hilarious round of charades on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • George Lopez (Saint George/George Lopez) - George appears on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife) - Albert is a guest on The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Chris Messina (The Mindy Project) - Chris will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Valerie Harper (Rhoda/The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Valerie) - Valerie talks about Signed, Sealed, Delivered on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York at 9:40am. She can also be heard on WGN Radio in Chicago with host Dean Richards on Sunday.
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) - Sofia is a guest on Pop Sugar Now on TV Guide Network at 6pm and on the next day on their website at noon.