Saturday, March 16, 2013

Digital Digest: Jack Benny Update; New Crackle Content; MADtv - The Complete Second Season DVD Review


Welcome to this (really not so special) St. Patrick's Day weekend edition of Digital Digest! This weekend, along with all of your regular features, we've got a review of MADtv - The Complete Second Season. Let's get rolling!


DIGITAL NEWS

We reported on a release of The Jack Benny Program from Shout! Factory last year, and not much has materialized... but now, there seems to be a bit more, courtesy of The International Jack Benny Fan Club website. According to the fan site, the release will be coming to stores on July 23... but if you can't wait that long, it'll be available to own on June 18 from the Shout! Factory website.

Crackle, the free online streaming service from Sony, announced plans to add the series The Shield to the service. The series will be rolled out in seasonal installments through 2014. Unlike many other comparable services, Crackle allows free ad-supported streaming on any device, including mobile devices. While this addition isn't huge news for sitcom fans, it does provide hope that they could do this with more sitcoms in the future. Right now, the service provides mostly sporadic episodes of series, so we can hope for more!


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (March 19) brings us another great Warner Archive release, as they bring us Alice - The Complete Third Season. Also, for fans of Carsey-Werner sitcoms, Mill Creek completes one (and comes close to completing another) with their releases of Roseanne - The Complete Seventh Season, Roseanne - The Complete Eighth Season, That '70s Show - Season Seven, and That '70s Show - Season Eight. Finally, Shout! Factory has Quincy, M.E. - Season Five.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: MADtv - The Complete Second Season (Shout!, $29.93)
by skees53

In the '90s, one of Fox's most successful series was the sketch comedy series In Living Color. Unfortunately, a fallout with the Wayans family caused the show to be slowly dismantled, ultimately to the point of cancellation in 1994. But Fox wasn't going to give up on sketch comedy. In 1995, MADtv debuted on the network. It wasn't quite the same as In Living Color, but it did bring a return of the old format, and even some of the original writers from that series. Airing on Saturday nights, the series ended up lasting for fourteen seasons with 321 episodes. Several years ago, Warner Home Video released the first season, but sales weren't as good as hoped. Now, Shout! Factory has picked up the rights to release seasons 2-5.

It is hard to summarize all of the episodes of a sketch comedy series, so I'll just go through some of my favorite sketches of the season. One of the recurring themes, particularly early in the season, is the 1996 presidential election. David Herman plays the role of Bob Dole, and Bryan Callen plays the role of Bill Clinton as they go head-to-head in the election. The Vancome Lady (Nicole Sullivan) has jobs at both the Betty Ford Clinic and a casino in this season, neither of which goes very well. Nicole Sullivan and Debra Wilson both play Samantha in a hilarious spoof of the classic series Bewitched. Another one of my favorites is Young Alanis, where Debra Wilson plays the role of Alanis Morissette in elementary school, complete with a parody of her well-known song (which still receives considerable radio airplay today) "Ought to Know." With NBC's Thursday night lineup being a huge deal in this era, the series creates a parody of an ideal show to air between Seinfeld and ER, called Test Pattern. An episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that was "banned" gets a special airing on Nick at Nite in the episode that Adam Arkin hosts. Of course, there are a lot of other memorable recurring segments throughout the season, such as the UBS guy, the losers of the Lowered Expectations dating service, and one of my favorites X-News (which fit the whole "eXtreme" everything era of the 90s).

While the second season is very similar to the first in many regards, one key change in this season was to add a host to each episode of the series. The first of these hosts is Christina Applegate. Other hosts of interest to TV fans are Neve Campbell, Joe Rogan, French Stewart, Andrea Martin, Tommy Davidson, Mark Curry, Adam Arkin, and David Faustino.

The episodes on the set seem to be uncut, but I'm not sure what the source is for the episodes. At the beginning of each episode, there is a brief promo for the episode (like a syndication promo), and once the episode begins, there is a TV rating logo (i.e. TV-14) in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. In any event, I don't think there is anything wrong with these episodes. Runtimes of the episodes, listed by the name of the guest host, are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. Christina Applegate (42:54)
2. Ice-T (42:54)
3. Kim Coles (42:54)
4. Jack Wagner (42:54)
5. Neve Campbell (42:56)
6. Kevin McDonald (42:55)

Disc 2:
7. Joe Rogan (42:55)
8. French Stewart (42:54)
9. Harry Connick, Jr. (42:55)
10. Andrea Martin (42:58)
11. Superbowl Special (42:56)

Disc 3:
12. Rodney Dangerfield (42:55)
13. Queen Latifah (42:54)
14. Tommy Davidson (42:55)
15. Bobcat Goldthwait (42:56)
16. Pauly Shore (42:55)
17. Thomas Calabro (42:55)

Disc 4:
18. Mark Curry (42:55)
19. Adam Arkin (42:56)
20. Ryan Stiles (42:54)
21. David Faustino (42:53)
22. LL Cool J (42:55)

The set comes packaged in a Viva case, with some of the more memorable characters featured inside of "bubbles" on the cover and even more characters featured inside of "bubbles" on the back. There is also a description of the season on the back. Inside, you'll find the four discs, which contain 5-6 episodes per disc (more on the problems from that will come a bit later). Inside the case, a listing of hosts and airdates for the episodes is included.

The menus on the set are very basic... in fact, there is only one menu screen on each disc. On the menu, there is a Play All option, a listing of episodes, and a series of rapidly changing snapshots of Alfred E. Neuman. The theme song continuously loops in the background.

I'm not really overly impressed with the video and audio quality of this set, and I think that it likely has to do with the fact that so many episodes were crammed on each disc. Six episodes of a series that originally aired in a one hour time slot is overkill to some extent, and compression--something that hasn't been an issue on many DVDs recently--does seem to be a problem here. There are no subtitles or closed-captioning.

The set has one special feature... sort of. At the beginning of each episode, a promo plays for the episode, which I'm guessing was used for syndication. Other than that, we have nothing else. This set seems like a great set to include interviews. What else are the actors really doing now?

I'm glad that Shout! decided to pick up this series and continue it on DVD, but I certainly hope that they go beyond the fifth season. I enjoyed this series on Fox (up until the last season or two), and in watching this season, I've come to realize that the series really had not quite warmed up just yet. Some of the best actors and actresses of the series have yet to come, including Alex Borstein (now better known for her Family Guy voice work), Will Sasso, Mo Collins, Aries Spears, Stephnie Wier, and of course Michael McDonald. The only people truly memorable from this season are Nicole Sullivan and Debra Wilson. That doesn't mean the rest were bad, it is just that they didn't have the opportunity to play the characters that many fans truly loved on the series. In any event, I'm glad that we've at least got a chance to see this series on DVD, and can't wait to see more.

(4/5 stars)

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

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


FOLLOW ME 


Who to Follow: Rob Lowe (Twitter), "Love: family, dogs, espresso from an IV, politics, story telling, sobriety, acting, music, glassy overhead conditions. Hate: decaf"
Claim to Fame: We'll admit: we're taking a slightly different approach to our Follow Me for this week. Of course, we all know that Lowe's claim to fame primarily comes from movies, such as St. Elmo's Fire. But in recent years, Lowe has become more of a TV actor, appearing in regular roles in The West Wing and Brothers & Sisters. Despite all of that success, many critics have proclaimed that one of his greatest roles has actually been his current sitcom role, where he plays Chris Traeger on the NBC series Parks & Recreation.
Why You Should Follow Him: I'll be the first to admit that I never would have imagined Lowe being such a great sitcom actor, but I actually have come to enjoy him and his role in Parks & Recreation. In a sense, it helped me discover (and want to know) more about him. While he doesn't Tweet every detail of his life, nor does he interact directly with fans all that much (we know some celebs who are very actively interacting with fans), he does seem to be a very interesting and dynamical person, and many of his Tweets are fun to read.
Pick of the Tweets: "Hmmm, I wonder why Netflix just posted a surprise profit report? #WestWing ???" (January 24, 2013)

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


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April/May)

Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season ALF - The Complete DVD Collection The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series

04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
05/02 - Red, White and Blue Collar Sitcoms - Make TV Great Again
05/09 - ALF - The Complete DVD Collection
05/09 - Divorce - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
05/09 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season
05/16 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, May 24

Hollywood Darlings - "She's Not All That" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After years of pretending to be her own assistant to avoid saying ``no'' to people, a non-confrontational Beverley finally hires former child star Lori Beth Denberg to be her assistant; Jodie asks a stranger to pretend to be a fan of Christine's.

Return of the Mac - "An Offer Joe Can't Refuse" (Pop, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Joe is forced to book his own celebrity guests, he finds out there's a daytime mafia controlling the booking of celebrities.

Bunk'd - "Girl Meets World" (Disney Channel, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Xander and Emma learn two of their campers have a crush on one another.

Nobodies - "Devil in a Red Dress" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Larry, Rachel and Hugh, at their most fractured, turn to another writing team for help: fellow Groundlings alums Jim Rash and Nat Faxon.

Lopez - "Cuck You George Lopez" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
George’s friends have him worried that Lori wears the pants in their relationship. Pfeiffer complicates Olly’s work life, and Manolo gets laser eye surgery to please Wendy.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 22)

Wednesday, May 24

  • Zoe Lister-Jones (Life in Pieces/Friends with Better Lives/Whitney) - Watch Zoe on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Hannibal Buress (Broad City) - Hannibal appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Ellie is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Topher Grace (That '70s Show) - Topher stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Gabourey Sidibe (The Big C) - Gabourey is a guest on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Andree Vermeulen (Angie Tribeca) - Andree appears on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Program) - Steve is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • T. J. Miller (Silicon Valley/The Goodwin Games/Carpoolers) - T. J. appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Lennon Parham (Playing House/Best Friends Forever/Accidentally on Purpose) - Lennon appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Eric Stonesteet (Modern Family) - Eric drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Sarah is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens) - Abigail is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jake Smollett (On Our Own) - Jake throws down spicy honey chicken on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Bryan talks about Wakefield on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris and trainer Obi Obadike have tips to lose ten pounds in ten days on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank talks about his new hit, Brockmire, with Clinton Kelly on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie talks about Beat Shazam on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.