Saturday, March 09, 2013

Digital Digest: Date Set for Season 3 of Alice; Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season DVD Review


Welcome to Digital Digest! We're reaching the end of winter, but before that, we'll "warm you up" with a review of Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

Alice is finally on the way! Rumors were floating last month about a mysterious pre-order listing that appeared on amazon.com last month for the item, but now it seems that it will really be coming on March 19. On that day, Warner Archive will begin shipping Alice - The Complete Third Season. Hopefully, they'll continue with this steady pace of releases of the classic sitcom.

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

Tuesday (March 12) has two releases of interest for fans of classic rural sitcoms, with MPI's releases of The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction - Return to Hooterville: 50th Anniversary Collection. Additionally, CBS completes a classic drama with Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season.



BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season (CBS DVD, $59.98)
by Todd

Sleuth or dare. Heaven help the criminals who cross paths with Father Frank Dowling (Tom Bosley) and Sister Steve (Tracy Nelson). For the first time on DVD, the third and final season of Father Dowling Mysteries has something for every congregation of fans. From undercover nuns and sinister Santas to run-ins with a devil of an enemy and an appearance by "Sherlock Holmes" himself. Frank and Steve investigate their hearts out. With the support of loyal housekeeper Marie (Mary Wickes) and fellow man of the cloth, Father Prestwick (James Stephens), Frank and Steve ensure that Chicago's bad guys don't have a prayer.

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:

Disc 1:
"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

Disc 2:
"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.

Disc 3:
"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

Disc 4:
"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

Disc 5:
"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.

(4/5 stars)


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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Father Dowling Mysteries on TV.com


FOLLOW ME 


Who to Follow: Elizabeth Perkins (Twitter), "Wait...did I leave the gas on?!"
Claim to Fame: While she found her original success in movies, she has worked her way into TV in recent years. One of her first series roles was in the NBC sitcom Battery Park, an experience that she'd probably like for people to forget (don't worry, we did). Later, she went on to the series Weeds, where she stayed through the first five seasons. Her next journey will take her to a starring role in ABC's upcoming mid-season sitcom How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life).
Why You Should Follow Her: We love to follow stars who are coming into a new series, as Perkins will be soon. While I haven't personally seen the series, I have high hopes for it, simply because Perkins has proven to be an awesome actress in her portrayal of Celia Hodes on Weeds. Her Twitter feed suggests that she is a bit like Celia in real life... at least in regards to her sarcasm (sans the hatefulness and bitterness, of course!). While admittedly a lot of her tweets are retweets and responses of others, we still think she's worth following... because she only provides the best of the best.
Pick of the Tweets: "Dont leave your animals in the car. Cuz I will smash your window with a rock." (July 3, 2012)

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, October 17

The Middle - "Meet the Parents" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Frankie is stoked when Axl invites her and Mike to meet and have dinner with girlfriend Lexie’s rich parents, Tammy (Lisa Rinna) and Bennett. But Frankie is worried that their less then luxurious lifestyle may put a damper on their meeting. Meanwhile, Brick is excited to be a part of the Sophomore Slammer fundraiser, in which fellow classmates fake arrest each other and friends come to pay money – which will go to charity – to bail them out. But Brick soon discovers that no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t get arrested.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Kids" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
With the realization that Eddie is finally mature enough to be left on his own, Louis and Jessica see the light at the end of their parenting tunnel and make plans to spend more time with friends Honey and Marvin. Until their neighbors announce a plan of their own: Marvin is getting his vasectomy reversed so the couple can conceive a baby. The Huangs do their best to dissuade them.

black-ish - "Elder. Scam." (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Ruby gets scammed and Dre begins to suspect that she isn’t as sharp as she used to be, particularly because she was the one who used to scam other people. Zoey’s friend Aaron visits and Diane develops an instant crush on him.

The Mayor - "Buyer's Remorse" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
As Courtney settles into his new role as mayor, he’s faced with a dismal approval rating as the citizens of Fort Grey express their lack of confidence in his ability to lead, as well as those on his own staff. He realizes that he needs to take an unconventional approach when dealing with Councilman Ed Gunt (David Spade) and comes up with a plan to quickly turn public opinion in his favor.

The Mick - "The Haunted House" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mickey and Jimmy organize a special Halloween party at their mansion, but the party soon goes awry; Sabrina hopes to further her legacy with the party; Mickey becomes determined to give a group of practical jokers a lesson.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Halloveen" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When the fifth annual Nine-Nine Halloween Heist begins, everybody scrambles to make a plan to come out on top of the competition, which tests various friendships and relationships as they struggle to earn the title of "Amazing Human Slash Genius."

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

Tuesday, October 17

  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) - Jerry appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Bobby Moynihan (Me, Myself & I) - Bobby is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kate Micucci (Raising Hope/Scrubs) - Kate appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • David Arquette (In Case of Emergency/Parenthood) - David stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Jason Alexander (Seinfeld/Bob Patterson/Listen Up!) - Jason visits The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry teaches Harry his signature jump pose on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Brandon Micheal Hall (The Mayor) - Brandon is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Ritter (The Class) - Jason talks about his new ABC show Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on the People Now at 8:30am.
  • Lana Parrilla (Spin City) - Lana appears on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Ron Livingston (Loudermilk) - Ron talks about the Audience Network's Loudermilk on the AOL Build Show at 2pm and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim) - Kimberly talks about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original Darrow & Darrow on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest