Saturday, March 09, 2013
Digital Digest: Date Set for Season 3 of Alice; Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season DVD Review
Shout! Factory's release MADtv - The Complete Second Season is still a few weeks away (oh, and we'll have a review soon, by the way), but it appears that the wait for season three won't be too long. MADtv - The Complete Third Season is scheduled to be released on June 25.
Last week, we mentioned that The Cleveland Show - The Complete Third Season was available to order from amazon.com, as a CreateSpace MOD item. We can confirm that this is actually shipping already, as many customers (including myself) have received their copy of this DVD! So if you want to see these episodes on DVD, your chance to get them has arrived!
UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW
BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
The third and final season was the only season to have full order of episodes. They broadcast 22 one-hour episodes this season. The show continued to air on ABC on Thursday nights at 8pm. Here are the episodes included in this release, including the runtimes:
"The Royal Mystery" (09/20/90) (48:06) - When a murderer targets a British noblewoman, Sister Steve trades places with the royal while Father Dowling tries to corner the killer.
Notable Guest Star: David McCallum, Thomas Calabro
"The Medical Mystery" (9/27/90) (47:09) - Father Dowling and Sister Steve investigate a string of murders at a hospital, where Father Prestwick is in danger of becoming the next victim.
"The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea Mystery" (10/04/90) (48:04) - Father Dowling faces off with an underworld crime boss whom he perceives as the Dark Prince himself.
"The Showgirl Mystery" (10/18/90) (48:03) - Sister Steve's friend, a nightclub showgirl, loses her mogul fiancé on her wedding day.
Notable Guest Star: Bill Macy
"The Movie Mystery" (10/25/90) (47:41) - When St. Michael's is used as a location for a movie shoot, a series of deadly accidents threatens everyone on set.
Notable Guest Star: Philip Charles MacKenzie, Mark Moses
"The Undercover Nun Mystery" (11/01/90) (47:25) - Sister Steve returns to the convent to celebrate its silver jubilee.
Notable Guest Stars: Fionnula Flanagan, John Vernon, Colm Meeney
"The Murder Weekend Mystery" (11/08/90) (47:38) - A murder mystery weekend for writers turns a little too real when the terminally ill host arranges his own murder, then leaves a video challenging the scribes to find the killer.
Notable Guest Stars: Jim Beaver, David Warner
"The Reasonable Doubt Mystery" (11/15/90) (48:06) - While serving an a murder trial, juror Father Dowling expresses reasonable doubt that deadlocks the jury.
"The Vanishing Victim Mystery" (11/29/90) (47:15) - Father Dowling befriends a young woman at the airport, who becomes the target of a kidnapping plot.
"The Christmas Mystery" (12/13/90) (48:08) - While Father Dowling investigates the attempted murder of a young widow, Sister Steve helps out at a department store where there is a gun-wielding Santa.
"The Fugitive First Mystery" (01/03/91) (48:03) - Father Dowling has faith that his con man twin brother is turning over a new leaf.
Notable Guest Stars: Tony Todd, Michelle Forbes
"The Substitute Sister Mystery" (1/10/91) (48:04) - An amnesiac nun wanders into the rectory claiming to be Sister Steve.
"The Missing Witness Mystery" (1/24/91) (48:01) - Father Dowling must figure out if a businessman charged with murder was framed.
Notable Guest Stars: Jenny O'Hara, Charles Frank
"The Prodigal Son Mystery" (1/31/91) (46:59) - A man shows up in Father Dowling's confessional admitting to an affair and claiming to be the priest's long-lost son.
Notable Guest Star: John Rubinstein, Kate Vernon
"The Moving Target Mystery" (2/07/91) (48:05) - A hitman warns Father Dowling that someone wants him dead.
Notable Guest Star: Richard Kline
"The Priest Killer Mystery" (2/14/91) (47:04) - A serial killer targeting priests puts Father Dowling's life in jeopardy.
Notable Guest Stars: Eugene Roche, John Astin
"The Mummy's Curse Mystery" (2/21/91) (46:56) - Father Dowling tries to determine if an ancient Egyptian curse claimed the life of a museum curator.
Notable Guest Star: Grant Heslov
"The Monkey Business Mystery" (03/07/91) (47:37) - When a zookeeper is seemingly killed by a chimp, Father Dowling and Sister Steve attempt to keep the docile primate from being put down while trying to find the real killer.
Notable Guest Stars: Dan O'Herlihy, Ethan Phillips, Vanessa Bell Calloway
"The Hardboiled Mystery" (3/28/91) (47:30) - One of Father Dowling's friends pens a book featuring characters based on real-life people, including Frank and Steve.
Notable Guest Star: Kevin McCarthy
"The Malibu Mystery" (4/04/91) (47:10) - While in Los Angeles for a conference, Father Dowling and Sister Steve stand by an old friend who confesses to a murder they know he did not commit.
Notable Guest Star: Stanley Kamel
"The Consulting Detective Mystery" (4/25/91) (48:04) - After Father Dowling mistakenly gets an innocent man arrested, he loses confidence in his detective abilities.
Notable Guest Star: Kurt Fuller
"The Joyful Noise Mystery" (5/02/91) (48:06) - Father Dowling supports the campaign of a potential District Attorney.
Notable Guest Star: Ivan Dixon
The episodes run between 47-48 minutes. A few seem about 30-60 seconds shorter than the average. They may just have had more commercials that week. Once again, there's a disclaimer on the back cover which reads: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for the home entertainment version." This is a standard disclaimer on most CBS DVD releases, so it doesn't necessarily mean any episodes are actually edited. I don't know how much music the show originally used, but hopefully any music substitutions are very minor. The set has a total running time of approximately 17 hours, 29 minutes.
The packaging for this 5-disc set is a clear plastic Viva case. On the cover, we have a photo of Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson, along with the show title and interior church background. A cast photo of Tracy Nelson, James Stephens, Tom Bosley and Mary Wickes is used on the back cover. There are four or five additional episode snapshots below it. Tom Bosley is, once again, featured on the spine of the case. Inside, the episode titles, original airdates and short summaries are listed by disc. A tinted photo of the city skyline is used as the background. Discs 1 and 2 contain 4 episodes. Discs 3 and 4 contain 5 episodes. Disc 5 rounds out the set with the final 4 episodes of the series.
Moving on to the menus, they are simple and easy to navigate. Each main menu features a different photo: Tom Bosley on Disc 1, Tracy Nelson Disc 2, James Stephens on Disc 3, Mary Wickes on Disc 4 and Tracy Nelson and Tom Bosley on Disc 5. The church exterior is in the background. The show logo is in a red bar at the top of the screen. Below that is a gold bar with the season and disc number. The episode titles are listed vertically in yellow text. When you select an episode, it takes you to another sub-menu where there is a different episode snapshot for each episode. The episode title is listed in a red banner at the top. There are options to play the episode or the episodic promo. There is no Play All option. The subtitles menu features a photo of the four main cast members. Chapters are placed at the appropriate places. When you first insert Disc 1, there is an option to play previews or go to the main menu. There are trailers (2:14) for Hawaii Five-O - The Final Season, Perry Mason - The 50th Anniversary Edition and two special editions of Touched by an Angel.
The video and audio quality seems a bit improved over the first two seasons. These episodes could have benefited from additional remastering, but they are all certainly watchable. Episodes are presented in their original full screen 4x3 format. They show some age and have some occasional dirt, debris and other digital artifacts. The series always had a somewhat dark and gritty look, but the episodes in the final two seasons when they moved the show to Los Angeles appear a bit brighter. The audio is a Dolby Digital English Stereo track. There are no major problems. I always loved the opening credits and theme. Composer Bruce Babcock received an Emmy nomination for his work on the score this season. English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are available on all of the episodes.
Only episodic promos have been included as a special feature on the previous two seasons. It's the same story here. These are 35-40 second previews that tell you what's happening "next on Father Dowling". The video quality of these promos isn't as good as the episodes, but they are fun to see. They give you a good idea of what each episode is about. Every episode from the final season has a promo included. It would have been great to see some cast and crew interviews and audio commentaries, but these promos are better than no extras at all.
All 43 episodes and the TV pilot movie are now available on DVD. Paramount released all three seasons in a little over a year, so they did a nice job making them available at a quick pace. I always thought the show was underrated and had a decent-sized following, so I'm not surprised that it didn't take them very long to complete the series. If you enjoy mystery/crime dramas like Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, and Diagnosis Murder, this is a series to check out.
This set is priced noticeably higher than the first two seasons. The final season had nine more episodes and runs seven more hours than the second season, however. Hopefully the price drops considerably in a few months. The first two seasons are great buys at their current low prices. Paramount apparently intends to bundle all three seasons together, so keep an eye for that. It's too bad that this was the only full season of the series. The show was delayed by a writer's strike in the first season. It never really caught on ratings wise the first season on NBC. ABC picked it up for the final two seasons.
This was my first time viewing the complete series. I have always been a Tom Bosley fan from his work on Happy Days, so it was nice to see him have more success on the series. Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson may have seemed like an odd pairing, but they made it work. James Stephens and Mary Wickes were also excellent in their supporting roles. Overall, it was just an enjoyable series. Look for many notable guest stars in the final season, including David McCallum, Thomas Calabro, Bill Macy, Philip Charles MacKenzie, Mark Moses, Fionnula Flanagan, John Vernon, Colm Feeney, Jim Beaver, David Warner, Tony Todd, Michelle Forbes, Jenny O'Hara, Charles Frank, John Rubinstein, Kate Vernon, Richard Kline, Eugene Roche, John Astin, Grant Heslov, Dan O'Herlihy, Ethan Phillips, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Kevin McCarthy, Stanley Kamel, Kurt Fuller and Ivan Dixon.
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That's all for this week. Until next time, keep it digital!
New on DVD/Blu-ray (December/January)
12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
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