Saturday, June 22, 2013

Digital Digest: Parks and Recreation DVD Release News; Body of Proof - The Complete Third Season DVD Review; Highway to Heaven - The Complete First Season DVD Review


Welcome to the first Digital Digest of summer 2013! This week, we've got a double feature on our reviews, with Body of Proof - The Complete Third Season and Highway to Heaven - The Complete First Season.

DIGITAL NEWS

There are some certainties in the TV-on-DVD world, and one of those is that sitcoms that are returning in the fall almost always have a DVD release just before they return. This week, we found out when that will happen for Parks and Recreation. The release of Parks and Recreation - Season Five will come on September 3 from Universal. Few details are known right now, except that it will come at a $39.98 MSRP.

TVShowsOnDVD.com has been on top of the upcoming release of Mama's Family from StarVista (formerly Time-Life), and this week, they uncovered a listing from the Walmart website for the first season on DVD. The big news to come out of this is that this set will include the made-for-TV movie Eunice that preceded the series... which, without spoiling the movie, is a bit ironic considering what happens in the movie (but you'll have to see that for yourself!). Like the removed listings from Amazon.com, Walmart is indicating a September 10 release date, but of course that is by no means set in stone. We'll be following up on this, as well as the release of the complete series, of course!


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (June 25) has no sitcom releases, but Shout! Factory has two releases of interest to us, particularly Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids - The Complete Series and MADtv - The Complete Third Season. Meanwhile, CBS wraps up one of the CSI series with CSI: NY - The Ninth Season.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
 


Blog DVD Review: Body of Proof - The Complete Third Season (ABC, $39.99)
by Pavan

In the third exciting season of Body of Proof things are hotter than ever as new characters are introduced and relationships are tested when Medical Examiner Megan Hunt uncovers a new murder mystery every week. Now you can own all 13 episodes from the action-packed third season on DVD on a three-disc set. This set brings fans deeper into the series with exclusive bonus features including featurettes, bloopers and more.

The series aired Tuesdays at 10PM on ABC once again in season three. The series stars Dana Delany stars as Dr. Megan Hunt, Jeri Ryan as Dr. Kate Murphy, Mark Valley as Detective Tommy Sullivan, Geoffrey Arend as Dr. Ethan Gross, Windell D. Middlebrooks as Dr. Curtis Brumfield, Elyes Gabel as Detective Adam Lucas and Mary Mouser as Lacey Fleming. Recurring is Joanna Cassidy as Joan Hunt.
Guest stars include Luke Perry, Richard Burgi, Brian Hallisay, Tim DeKay, Henry Ian Cusick, Ivan Sergei, Christopher McDonald, François Chau, Craig Bierko, Sharon Lawrence, Sarah Jane Morris, Alan Dale, and Kurtwood Smith.

The third season returned in early 2013 in mid-season with some cast changes and a new look. I think it worked very well and it got more action-packed. Unfortunately the series was canceled and it will not return for a fourth season (at least not on ABC). Anyway, as for the memorable episodes, it starts off with the two-part season premiere Abducted," where after being on sabbatical for three months, Megan comes back to work after Peter's death and as she begins the case of an alcoholic who died, she finds that the building behind him has five other dead bodies. In the second hour, after finding out that her daughter had been kidnapped, Megan tries to hide the fact that there is a bomb in the body of their victim, and that her daughter is missing. In the sexiest episodes of the season, "Fallen Angel," Kate falls for a handsome and mysterious man named Sergei at a political event. In "Committed," Joan refuses to let Megan have her father's body exhumed to examine and shortly after, a schizophrenic teen is murdered at a mental institution, as the institution's head doctor (Craig Bierko) comes under suspicion when he obstructs the investigation. In "Dark City," when a plane crashes in Philadelphia due to a crazed U.S. Marshall opening fire while aloft, the entire team of Megan, Kate, Tommy, Adam, Curtis, Ethan, Riley and Stafford must go into disaster mode. In the finale, "Daddy Issues," Megan's father's exhumation is granted and she is shocked to find the coffin empty and Megan later finds a key that that unlocks a secret compartment in her father's old study which holds a missing medical file for a young woman named Lindsay Pratt who was murdered the day before her father died by a serial killer named Earl Brown.

The episodes run usually between 42-43 minutes, all unedited of course. They are very consistent except one episode is under 42 minutes. There are 7 chapter stops per episode. See the runtimes for each episode below:

Disc one
1. "Abducted, Part 1" 42:22
2. "Abducted, Part 2" 42:24
3. "Lost Souls" 42:07
4. "Mob Mentality" 42:02
5. "Eye for an Eye" 42:57

Disc two
6. "Fallen Angel" 42:49
7. "Skin and Bones" 42:04
8. "Doubting Tommy" 42:39
9. "Disappearing Act" 42:42
10. "Committed" 42:34

Disc three
11. "Dark City" 42:16
12. "Breakout" 41:38
13. "Daddy Issues" 42:20

Packaging has a nice thing cover holding a case once again and has shot of Dr. Megan Hunt in a black dress sitting in the medical office's morgue. The tagline "No Guts. No Glory." appears on the front along with the show logo saying "Dana Delany, Body of Proof." The back cover has information on the series & set and about six episodic photos. There is also a section detailing the special features in a white box with technical specifications in another box. Inside the box is the case. The front of the case has the same artwork as the outer box, and the same goes true for the back of the case. Opening the case, we don't get an insert on the left side this time. The panels itself have a nice cast photo that spreads out to both panels. The right panel also has a disc-by-disc breakdown of episodes. We don't get an episode booklet again since the episode titles are listed on the panels. Disc one is on a little plastic holder that you can flip like a page in a book and disc two is on the back side of that plastic holder. Disc three is on the right panel itself. The discs are in red and has artwork of the show's characters. Disc one has episodes 1-5 with artwork of Megan and Tommy. Disc two has episodes 6-10 with artwork of Ethan and Curtis. Disc three has episodes 11-13 plus the extras and has artwork of .

The menu screen has moving images playing in the background in a white/blue style tint. It is nicely designed. Background music from the show is playing in the background. On disc one before the main menu we have auto trailers for Once Upon a Time Season 2 Blu-ray & DVD and a trailer for the The Muppet Movie Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition. The options on the main menu are Play All, Episode Selection, Bonus Features, Set Up, and Sneak Peeks. The latter option is only on disc three and has previews for ABC TV (Scandal, Nashville & Grey's Anatomy) on DVD, Castle, and Revenge. The Set Up section has the option of subtitles in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese and how to register your DVD. The Bonus Features option lists the features available and is only available on disc three. The Episodes option gives us the episode number and title to choose but no screenshot from the episode this time. Each submenu has music from the series playing in the background.

The video is amazing as it should be since the series aired in early 2013. It is digitally mastered and is in widescreen and looks excellent. It's HD-like, even though it isn't Blu-ray. I have a DVD player that upconverts to HD, so who needs a Blu-ray player? Just kidding, I have one of those and it is flawless. The audio is great and sounds very good, as it is in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. We also get to hear the nice closing theme, as on ABC there are promos at the end of the episode. And as mentioned, we get 7 chapter stops. There should be nothing wrong with audio/video with current series and there isn't on this set. Good!

Moving on to the bonus features. Only disc three has features and we have four short "behind-the-scenes" featurettes. The first one is titled "Getting the Shot" (4:16). Fans will enjoy the series' DP (Director of Photography) and Cinematography to get an insightful first-hand look at how the visual tones of the production are created . Interviewed are Jeri Ryan, Dana Delany, Patrick Cady (Cinematography), and Derrick Kolus (Gaffer). Next we have, "VFX The Ultimate Makeover" (3:07). The series is filmed in Los Angeles, but made to look as if it's set in Philadelphia, visual effects play a large role in the making of this series. On this featurette, the cast and visual effects artists walk viewers through what it takes to create the transformation. Interviewed are Corey Jamieson (VFX Artist), Windell Middlebrooks, Jeri Ryan, Dana Delany, Bill Parker (VFX Artist), Paula Schmitt (VFX Artist), and Lawson Deming (VFX Supervisor/Artist). Then we have "All Kinds of Props" (5:31). The cast and crew illustrate the importance of props within the development of each fascinating episodes. Interviewed are Windell Middlebrooks, Jeri Ryan, Chris Call (Property Master), Dave Preston (Props Assistant), Dana Delany, Mary Mouser, and Kendall Bennett (Assistant Art Director). The final behind-the-scenes featurette we have is "Creating the World" (5:29). The executive producers take us onto the set to provide an inside look at the show's world and share how the Walt Disney Studios lot is transformed into the streets of Philadelphia. Interviewed are Christopher Murphey (creator), Dana Delany, Matthew Gross (executive producer/director), Kelly Harris (Location Manager), Susanna Puisto (Costume Designer). And finally we have "Body of Goofs" (4:57) which is of course fun bloopers and outtakes from this season.

Good show, good set. I highly recommend this series and to finish (if this is indeed the last season) your collection. The season was very good and even with the cast changes. We miss the old cast but at the same time the new additions were very solid and Mark Valley and Dana had great chemistry. But so did her and Nicholas Bishop. The DVD itself is good. The special features are good but not as many as last season. The blooper reel was hysterical and the four behind-the-scenes featurettes was really informative and entertaining to watch. It's quick but good. I would have liked some deleted scenes though. We never get them it seems for this show. I hope this show comes back in some form on another network, but right now it doesn't look like it will happen. Such a shame since needed more than 13 episodes to prove itself with the new cast changes. Honestly, it could have thrived on Fridays or even Saturdays on ABC next season. Complete your collection because it's a season like no other!

(4/5 stars)

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

SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Body of Proof on TV.com  

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
 


Blog DVD Review: Highway to Heaven - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek, $14.98)
by skees53

Michael Landon was a fixture on TV (and more specifically, NBC) for several decades beginning in 1959. He started with a role in the long-running series Bonanza, and next he went on to the long-running series Little House on the Prairie. There was hardly any time between those series, and after the end of Little House on the Prairie, it wasn't long before he was back in the game again with yet another series. But unlike those previous two, this one was not set in the "old west," but rather in the "real world," with Highway to Heaven.

The series was a bit different from Landon's previous series, though. This time, he was a bit more "supernatural," playing an angel named Jonathan Smith. His mission was to come down to Earth with a mission (conveniently, there were about 25 of these per year) from God to do certain good deeds on Earth, such as helping people in need, helping people dealing with tough situations, promoting perseverance, equality, and many other "positive" things in life. Helping him along the way was ex-cop Mark Gordon (Victor French). The first three seasons of the series were previously released in edited fashion from A&E Home Video several years ago, but now Mill Creek is back with the series, starting again with the first season... and in unedited fashion.

The series begins with the two part pilot, where Jonathan Smith comes to his first mission to help senior citizens at a retirement home, and meets Mark Gordon for the first time. Jonathan is dealing with two boys who are facing trouble for very different reasons in "To Touch the Moon." Jonathan gets in the middle of a street gang problem in "The Return of the Masked Rider." In the two-part episode "One Fresh Batch of Lemonade," Jonathan has to find a way to help a rising football star who was just injured in a motorcycle accident. Jonathan and Mark have to convince an actor to play a a father in real life (to his own kids) in "Catch a Falling Star." James Whitmore, Jr. guest stars in "Dust Child," where a former Vietnam vet learns that he has a daughter in Vietnam and brings her back to the United States... only for her to face racial prejudice by many, including her own new family.

The series takes on the classic Christmas tale about Scrooge in "Another Song for Christmas." David Faustino makes an appearance in "Plane Death." In "One Winged Angels," Jonathan becomes attracted to a woman whose fiance he is supposed to be helping. Jonathan has to perform a miracle for Mark in "Going Home, Going Home." Jonathan helps a basketball player who only had one thing going for him in "As Difficult as ABC." A woman tries to reconnect with her father who won't see her because she had a child out of wedlock in "A Child of God." In "The Banker and the Bum," an unsuspecting pair of opposites switch bodies for a while. Jonathan and Mark have to rally a group of aging citizens when a corporation plans to buy up and tear down an old neighborhood in "An Investment in Caring." The guys help a family dealing with an aging parent at home in "The Right Thing." The season ends with the two-part episode "Thoroughbreds," where Helen Hunt makes a guest appearance.

The episodes on this set are UNEDITED, and the fact that a WorldVision logo (the original syndication distributor) appears on the end of each episode suggests that these are not the same Genesis prints that we've seen in syndication over the past several years. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Highway to Heaven (Part 1)" (49:04)
2. "Highway to Heaven (Part 2)" (50:24)
3. "To Touch the Moon" (50:02)
4. "Return of the Masked Rider" (49:58)
5. "Song of the Wild West" (50:00)

Disc 2:
6. "One Fresh Batch of Lemonade (Part 1)" (49:16)
7. "One Fresh Batch of Lemonade (Part 2)" (47:45)
8. "A Divine Madness" (48:47)
9. "Catch a Falling Star" (49:04)
10. "Help Wanted: Angel" (49:40)

Disc 3:
11. "Dust Child" (50:13)
12. "Hotel of Dreams" (51:36)
13. "Another Song for Christmas" (48:25)
14. "Plane Death" (49:55)
15. "One Winged Angels" (48:21)

Disc 4:
16. "Going Home, Going Home" (50:18)
17. "As Difficult as ABC" (51:14)
18. "A Child of God" (51:26)
19. "A Match Made in Heaven" (48:22)
20. "The Banker and the Bum" (47:51)

Disc 5:
21. "The Brightest Star" (49:14)
22. "An Investment in Caring" (48:25)
23. "The Right Thing" (49:43)
24. "Thoroughbreds (Part 1)" (50:16)
25. "Thoroughbreds (Part 2)" (46:43)

Since this is a Mill Creek set, what I'm about to say regarding the packaging should be absolutely no surprise: black paper sleeves. Once again, they've created a package with nice cover and disc artwork, but put it all of the discs in black paper sleeves. As usual, though, I'd suggest just moving the discs to a five disc case, although these are a bit harder to find than other sizes. The artwork is very professional looking, with Jonathan and Mark standing on a highway that leads to the sky... literally. The front of the package makes it very clear that the episodes are original broadcast edits (that is the truth, too), and the back has several episode snapshots and a brief description of the series. Inside, the five discs all have the same artwork as seen on the cover. Episode titles are listed on each disc.

The menus on the set are rather straightforward, with the same photo as seen on the cover artwork on the main menu. The theme song plays in the background. Main menu options include Play All, Episode Select, and (on Disc 5 only) Bloopers. Episodes play upon selecting them. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.

One thing that really left me incredibly unimpressed about this set was the video and audio quality. In particular, the video quality has some issues that seem to be related to frame rate issues. That could very much be true if these are international prints of the episodes (since they are unedited unlike all other versions of the series airing in the United States). However, in doing some research, some tech-experts who have seen this set insist that is not at all the problem with this set. But really, it doesn't make a difference if that is the problem or not, because that is what the problem appears to be, and how you'll likely see it. Besides that, the video looks a bit dated, with a lot of artifacts and unnatural looking colors. But those issues are no different than how the series looks in syndication. The audio is decent, though still nothing impressive. There are no captions or subtitles.

The set didn't advertise any special features... but you'll find some anyway on Disc 5. There is one blooper reel (2:53). It is a bit interesting to watch, to see everybody break out of character when something goes wrong. One of my favorites was one of the first ones on there, where a woman asked "who are you?" to Landon's character, and Landon, having forgotten his lines, breaks out of character and responds "I am a Jewish actor." Landon was known for so many serious series, and if he hadn't died at such a young age (he would have only been in his 70s today), I would like to think that we would have seen him do some sort of comedy role at some point in his time... but this is all we'll ever have, it seems.

Nobody can truly say anything bad about this series. I avoided watching it for years myself since I found the premise a bit weird, but as the series came to air on (almost literally) a dozen or so channels at the same time in the past few years, I actually started watching it a few times. It is a rather decent series that tackled some very big issues, but managed to do that in a light-hearted way that always turned out the best for everybody in the end. Sure, it does have a lot of spiritual moments, but the series is really not about any type of the religious "wars" that we see in society, but rather about using spirituality as a positive force in the world. It seems unlikely that any network could really air a series like this today (it would be "too tame" for the mainstream networks, and a religious network would likely throw in elements to make it about why their religion is better than others), and really, it is surprising that this worked in the mid-to-late '80s. But it did.

This Mill Creek release of the first season is certainly worth owning if you are a fan of this series at any level. If you own the previous release of the first season, I'd say without hesitation that this one is worth owning to replace that one. Mill Creek has done an excellent job as usual of "making lemonade out of lemons" (which is similar to the title of one of the episodes in this set), and still giving it to us at a price that won't break the bank.

(4/5 stars)

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

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Highway to Heaven on TV.com


FOLLOW ME

Who to Follow: Patrick Warburton (Twitter), "@paddywarbucks"
Claim to Fame: Patrick Warburton started his "celebrity" career as a model (and even played one on a few episodes of Designing Women early in his career), but he has evolved significantly over the years into a sitcom star. He has since had roles on Seinfeld, NewsRadio, and Less Than Perfect. More recently, he starred in the (now canceled) CBS series Rules of Engagement and also voices Joe Swanson on Family Guy.
Why You Should Follow Him: I think that if you mention Patrick Warburton, you'll find a lot of people have no clue who he is... but everybody knows who his tall stature and booming voice. As mentioned, he has had a long "tour" of sitcoms, and he is likely just at the beginning of his career. On Twitter, he tends to post a lot of light-hearted and rarely offensive observations about life, and is deeply appreciative of his fans. He isn't a constant (i.e. a few times every hour) Tweeter, but he is somebody that many of us are a fan of... even if many people can't remember his name (and we hope that you do now).
Pick of the Tweets: "John tesh and Kenny G walk into an elevator. That's it." (May 22, 2013)

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 18

The Goldbergs - "Revenge o' the Nerds" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
With the children growing up, Beverly decides to reinvent herself and quits being a substitute teacher. She decides to focus her energy on going to night school so she can eventually own her own business. Murray doesn’t like change or things costing money, so he convinces her to get a perm instead. Meanwhile, Erica struggles to balance her academic and social life in college and needs Adam’s assistance.

Speechless - "T-R-- TRAINING D-A-- DAY" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jimmy takes JJ camping to give him “the talk,” Maya trains a ragtag group of new aides, and sparks fly between Dylan and Ray’s bully.

Modern Family - "Sex, Lies & Kickball" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay’s best friend, Shorty, is back from Costa Rica and stays at the house so they can catch up and reconnect. However, Shorty is spending more time with Gloria and seems to be avoiding Jay. Meanwhile, Alex is ready to shed her good-girl image and is going to prove to Claire that her relationship with Ben is definitely a sexual relationship.

American Housewife - "The Lice Storm" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Anna-Kat brings home a lice infestation, Katie uses it to force bonding time with Taylor. Greg attempts to bond with Oliver (and avoid lice) by camping in the backyard, but Greg becomes concerned when Oliver keeps ditching their campout to be with their new sleazy neighbor named Spencer.

You're the Worst - "A Bunch of Hornballs" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jimmy goes out of town for a Romance/Erotica fiction convention while Gretchen throws a divorce party for Lindsay, leading to an unintended deepening of Gretchen's relationship with Boone. Meanwhile, Edgar's friend Max encourages him to overspend on party planning.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

Wednesday, October 18

  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kaitlin Olson (The Mick/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) - Kaitlin is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Mindy appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Olivia is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • James Van Der Beek (What Would Diplo Do?/Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/Café Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Woody Harrelson (Cheers) and Rob Reiner (All in the Family) - Woody and Rob chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. They also talk about LBJ on the AOL Build Show at 2:30pm.
  • Jay Pharoah (White Famous) - Jay appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Laura Dern (F Is for Family/Enlightened) - Laura stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kim Fields (The Facts of Life/Living Single) - Kim talks about A Question of Faith on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She will also be on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Pooch Hall (The Game/Accidentally on Purpose) - Pooch guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim) - Kimberly talks about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original Darrow & Darrow on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Liz Gillies (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll/Victorious) - Liz opens up about the Dynasty reboot on the People Now at 8:30am.
  • Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains It All) - Melissa talks about her new Lifetime movie The Watcher in the Woods on NBC's Today in the 10am hour, on the AOL Build Show at 3:30pm and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • David Arquette (In Case of Emergency/Parenthood) - David is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Patrice Lovely (Love Thy Neighbor) - Patrice appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff can be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 10:50am.
  • Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) - Frankie is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Mark Feuerstein (9JKL/Good Morning, Miami/Conrad Bloom/Fired Up) - Mark appears 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)
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