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/June)

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
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
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, July 26

The Goldbergs - "Jedi Master Adam Skywalker" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
As the school year comes to a close, Barry and Erica wonder what they’ll be voted for in the yearbook and pressure Adam – who’s on staff – to see the rough layout before it goes to print. But when they accidentally delete it, mass panic ensues and messes up Adam’s relationship with Jackie. Meanwhile, Murray is annoyed when Marvin comes to visit for money, but Beverly convinces him to help Marvin out with a plan, because he’s family.

Speechless - "T-H-- THE C-L-- CLUB" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
JJ gets into an argument with Kenneth over their time together while Dylan decides she must “parent-trap” them both so they can get back together. Meanwhile, the family gets a chance to be members of a country club for a week. Ray sees it as a chance to live the high life while Maya jumps at the chance to spend mother-and-son time.

Modern Family - "Grab It" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Jay’s favorite place in the world, and only refuge, may be losing some of its charm when Phil considers becoming a member. At the Dunphy house, Claire mistakes her influence on Alex’s life choices, and Hayley cares too much about what Alex thinks about hers. Meanwhile, when Cam doesn’t give Mitchell the full story on what his play is really about, it really puts Mitchell in the spotlight.

American Housewife - "Other People's Marriages" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Katie encourages Viv (Leslie Bibb) to stand up to her boorish husband, Alan, but things backfire when Viv succeeds and decides to leave him – and move in with the Ottos.

Modern Family - "Snow Ball" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Manny and Luke put on the school’s lavish winter dance and end up over their heads due to a texting error, it is up to them to fix it before the end of the night. Meanwhile, Gloria, Claire, Mitchell and Cam all volunteer at the dance while Jay’s thinly veiled guise to get out of it by pretending to want to spend time with Phil backfires. During the dance, Claire and Gloria attempt to set up Marjorie (“Saturday Night Live”’s Vanessa Bayer), an overbearing mom, with the school’s principal. Finally, Mitchell is unnerved to be back in high school and is shocked to see a lot of himself in the school bully and feels he needs a little guidance.

The Goldbergs - "Crazy Calls" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After getting their first-ever answering machines, Murray and Pop-Pop wage a message war on one another. Fed up, Erica, Barry and Pops try to stop the fighting by offering a trip to a hockey game as an olive branch. Meanwhile, Adam finally finds a lunch-time home with some lovable geeks in the computer room, but Beverly worries about his social standing and intervenes.

The Carmichael Show - "Maxine's Sister" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Maxine (Amber Stevens West) brings her sister (guest star Aurora Perrineau) to meet the Carmichaels, Bobby (Lil Rel Howery) reveals that they've previously met under unexpected circumstances forcing an exploration on judgment, hypocrisy and what it means to be family.

The Carmichael Show - "The Blues" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Maxine (Amber Stevens West) finds Cynthia (Loretta Devine) in the kitchen crying, she uncovers an uncomfortable possibility that is hard for the whole family to face: Cynthia may be suffering from depression and in need of therapy.

Nightcap - "The Show Might Go On, Part 1" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Jimmy's girlfriend, Christie Brinkley, urges him to quit the show; saving her voice for a speaking engagement, TV personality Bethenny Frankel makes Penny do her dirty work; actor David Hasselhoff tells embarrassing stories about his nephew, Marcus.

Younger - "The Gift of The Maggie" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Liza hunts for a new romance author, bringing her closer to Charles. Maggie slashes an art competitor.

Odd Mom Out - " M.F.A. in B.S." (Bravo, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jill struggles to make the right impression at her art show; New York Times best-selling author Derek Blasberg pays a visit to Brooke and Devon at Von Weber headquarters, but things do not go as planned; Lex gets advice from a stranger.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 24)

Wednesday, July 26

  • Sutton Foster (Younger) - Watch Sutton on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Jim visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Laura Linney (The Big C) - Laura stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. She also chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Reid Scott (Veep/My Boys) - Reid appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Program) - Steve is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Baron Vaughn (Grace and Frankie) - Baron appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Alice Wetterlund (People of Earth/Silicon Valley) - Alice is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared) - Charlie appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kristen Schaal (The Last Man on Earth/Bob's Burgers) - Kristen is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley/The Goodwin Games/Carpoolers) - T.J. discusses his upcoming film The Emoji Movie on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Jade Pettyjohn (School of Rock) - Jade appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Kelsey Grammer (Frasier/Cheers) - Kelsey talks about The Last Tycoon on the AOL Build Show at 10:30am.