Saturday, February 09, 2013

Digital Digest: Warner Archive to Compete with Hulu and Netflix?; 6-Film Family Movies DVD Review

Regardless of whether or not you're snowed in this weekend, welcome to Digital Digest! We've got some interesting news from Warner Archive that isn't about selling DVDs this week, along with your other regular features... including a review of a collection of some family flicks, with Echo Bridge Home Entertainment's 6 Film Family Movies, which includes movies starring TV stars such as John Ritter and Matthew Perry. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

It appears that Warner Archive is on the verge into expanding to something even bigger... and it has actually already started, somewhat at least! While they haven't said a whole lot about it, a new service called Warner Archive Instant has popped up in the past week, and this appears to be another streaming video service, but the twist here is that it appears that this service will focus on older and more obscure series and movies. Here is a description of the service, straight from their own FAQ:
"Warner Archive Instant is the new streaming service of the Warner Archive (WarnerArchive.com). Warner Archive Instant lets you instantly view hundreds of rare and hard-to-find movies, TV shows and cartoons, culled from Warner Bros. library - the largest entertainment library in the world. Now is your chance to discover - and rediscover - rare movies and TV shows you can't find anywhere else (and some favorites you can) from Warner Bros., MGM, RKO, New Line, Monogram, Allied Artists, Lorimar and more."
So far, under series, they show episodes of 77 Sunset Strip, The Adventures of Superman, Hawaiian Eye, Cheyenne, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Gilligan's Island. While we'd like to see more sitcoms in the mix, this seems to show that they'll be digging much deeper than the usual stuff we see on DVD! But don't bother going over to check all of this out right now... currently, this project is in the beta testing stage, so even though we're able to see what is being offered, none of us can actually check it out yet unless you happen to be a beta tester. In any event, though, we look forward to see what will come out of this! Warner was a pioneer of online TV streaming when they partnered with AOL for the (now defunct) In2TV service in 2005, which was one of the first ad supported services that allowed people to watch retro TV series, and it looks like Warner could be ready to impress us again in a different way. We'll definitely keep you posted!

Speaking of Warner Archive, it wasn't that long ago that they released the classic David Janssen detective drama Harry O - The Complete First Season on DVD, but this week, they managed to finish up the series with Harry O - The Complete Second Season. It is definitely to see that this under-appreciated gem of '70s TV is available to own on DVD! We hope to have a review of this new set in a few weeks.

On April 9, Image has their release of The Dick Van Dyke - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray), but if you can't wait too long for the second season, you won't have to... the second season will follow on May 7.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (February 12) has a release slate that features the final ten episodes of a Showtime series with Weeds - Season Eight (DVD/Blu-ray), as well as Nurse Jackie - Season Four (DVD/Blu-ray). Also, for fans of legal drama, CBS has Matlock - The Eighth Season.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: 6-Film Family Movies (Echo Bridge, $14.99)
by Pavan 

We usually don't cover movies here on the blog, but we have six very good films here and star many TV stars. Four films are TV movies, while two more are theatrical films. John Ritter, Joanna Kerns, Matthew Perry, and a young Reese Witherspoon lead the TV movie pack in this set, while Meryl Streep and Sharon Stone lead the theatrical films on this set. The 2-disc set from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment releases this Tuesday (Feb. 12).

Disc 1:

"Music of the Heart" 1999/Miramax (2:03:08) - Even after a decade of success stories teaching music to inner-city youth, Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep) finds her violin program may be cut. Also stars Aidan Quinn, Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan, Jane Leeves, and Kieran Culkin

"Leave Yesterday Behind" 1978/ABC (1:36:37) - A talented young polo player (John Ritter) is left paralyzed and must overcome the obstacles of his injury. Also stars Carrie Fisher, Buddy Ebsen, and Robert Urich.

"Solomon's Choice" (1:32:01) 1992/NBC - A family is torn when their teenage daughter (Reese Witherspoon) is diagnosed with leukemia and their medically-unstable son is the best bet for a bone marrow transplant. Stars in this TV-movie include Joanna Kerns, Jeremy Sisto, and Bruce Davison. Also known as "Desperate Choices: To Save My Child."

"The Ron Clark Story" 1996/TNT (1:30:27) - An innovative teacher (Matthew Perry) takes risks and dreams big in one of Harlem's toughest classrooms. In this installment, you'll also see Ernie Hudson and James Dugan.

Disc 2:

"The Mighty" (1:40:26) 1998/Miramax - Two teens with disabilities unite and overcome their individual limitations together. Starring Sharon Stone, Gena Rowlands, Gillian Anderson, James Gandolfini and Kieran Culkin. .

"A Song from the Heart" (1:30:36) 1999/CBS - When a handsome composer enters the life of blind cellist Maryann Lowery, she learns that her true love has been beside her all along. Starring Amy Grant, D.W. Moffett, and Keith Carradine.

As far as packaging goes, it is a movie style case. The cover art for this set has the covers for each movie on left, with five of the major star names on top (Matthew Perry, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, John Ritter and Sharon Stone). The title "6 Family Movies" is on the right side in big lettering. Back of the case has a description of each movie and star listings. There is no artwork inside, just the discs. Disc one is on the black holder that you can flip like a page in a book, while disc two is on the right panel itself. Disc one has just the titles listed in the artwork in a blue sky background. Disc two is double-sided for some reason, so there is no artwork. Only two films on that disc but for some reason it is double-sided? Weird, since disc four is single-sided and has more movies (4).

The menus are pretty cool. Each movie has a main menu, which I like. We get the cover artwork on each main menu, and you can toggle between the movies by selecting Previous and Next. On each main menu we have Play and Chapter Selection. There are 10 chapter selections for each film except for "A Song from the Heart" has 15. The stops aren't really where they should have a chapter stop, though.

The video and audio quality on these DVDs is good. We have films mostly from the '90s, with just one film pretty old in "Leave Yesterday Behind" from 1978, so I wasn't really expecting a whole lot for that but that film is pretty good in video quality. All of the other ones are from the '90s so they look better and are on par on how they should look. Four of the films are widescreen, so they look the best. The audio, seems to be without any major issues and each film sounds great. There are no subtitles or closed-captioning, as there is no mention of any captioning on the packaging even.

There are no special features on this set and I don't think anyone expected any either.It would have been nice to have the original promos for the TV movies and the trailers for the theatrical movies on here, but it doesn't really matter.

It's a good set. I am not sure why they went with a mix of theatrical and TV movie, but I preferred the TV movies on this set. They are more rare and more interesting to watch. I hope Echo Bridge continues to bring out more TV movies on DVD. "Leave Yesterday Behind" is finally on DVD and I have been waiting for it for years. Now if they could get the John Ritter/Henry Winkler TV movie "The Only Way Out" I'd be ecstatic, since that film hasn't aired on TV since like the late '90s. As long as they give us some sitcom stars starring in these TV movies, we would love it! There are so many out there ye to be released on DVD, especially from the '70s-90s. My only gripe really with this set technically is why disc two was double-sided. I can't figure out why they would. I still recommend you getting this set for the great movies. It's good fun with familiar stars but films you probably have rarely seen! That's good because it is new to you!

(3.5/5 stars)

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Claim to Fame: Best known for playing Fez on That '70s Show, Valderrama has also appeared in many movies and also makes guest appearances in sitcoms in recent years, including Are You There, Chelsea?, Men At Work, and most recently, Raising Hope and Suburgatory.
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Pick of the Tweets: "You don't know cardio till you chase the ice cream man down three blocks... #IceCreamSandwich" (November 14, 2012)

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Saturday, April 20

Game Shakers - "Wet Willy's Wild Water Park" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The Game Shakers go to Wet Willy's Wild Water Park on its last day to try and break the speed record on the extremely dangerous water slide, the Big Ripper.

Cousins for Life - "Operation: Mom" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Stuart's mother, Liz, finds out she can return home for a visit, the family sets out to make her homecoming a huge surprise for Stuart and Clark, but the reunion doesn't go quite as planned.

Knight Squad - "Closing Knight" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The squads fight against each other in one final battle with the top group becoming the Knights of Astoria forever.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 15)

Friday, April 19

  • Beth Behrs (The Neighborhood/2 Broke Girls) - Watch Beth on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Henry Winkler (Barry/Out of Practice/Happy Days) - Henry appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Billy Crystal (Soap/The Comedians) - Billy is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Sarah Chalke (How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)/Mad Love/Scrubs/Roseanne) - Sarah appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • 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.
  • Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP/Scream Queens) - Keke guest co-hosts ABC's Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • Bill Hader (BarrY) - Bill talks about Barry on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Rick Fox (The Game/Mr. Box Office) - Rick talks about Morning Show Mysteries: Countdown to Murder on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Jake Choi (Single Parents) - Jake talks about Single Parents on the BUILD Series at 11am.


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)
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