Saturday, August 03, 2013

Digital Digest: How I Met Your Mother DVD Release Date; Fridays - The Best Of DVD Review


Welcome to Digital Digest! We have all of your regular news and features this week, along with a review of Fridays - The Best Of. Let's get started!

DIGITAL NEWS

We all knew that How I Met Your Mother - The Complete Season Eight would inevitably come to DVD, and this week, TVShowsOnDVD.com has a date! According to the "all things TV-on-DVD" website, the set will be released on the already crowded date of October 1, at a $39.98 MSRP. Once again, there will not be a Blu-ray release, as there was for season four (but no seasons beyond that).

Meanwhile, Lionsgate is preparing to put out more of Charlie Sheen's current sitcom Anger Management out on both DVD and Blu-ray, with Anger Management - Volume 2 (DVD, Blu-ray). Amazon.com gives a release date of September 10 for these releases, but other sources give a release date of October 15 for the title. While we can't say with certainty which one is more accurate, we're inclined to believe it is the October date, given that this was just recently announced. We'll have more once we know more.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (August 6) brings us two new releases. First up is Sony's release of Community - The Complete Fourth Season (review). Also, Shout! Factory has Fridays - The Best Of, which we review today in Digital Digest.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
 


Blog DVD Review: Fridays - The Best Of (Shout! Factory, $39.99)
by skees53

In the '70s, NBC brought new comedy to late nights on Saturday with Saturday Night Live. It wasn't the type of sketch comedy that had graced the screens in the past. Instead, it was a series that sought to see how far you can push the envelope and brought in musical guests every week that appealed to the younger generation, the youth who didn't quite see things the way that their parents saw things. It turned out to be very successful (so much so that it is still on the air today, almost 40 seasons later), and of course, with success comes imitators. And in the 1979-1980 season, one of those imitators came to life on ABC with their live comedy series (also with popular music guests of the time), Fridays.

From the very beginning, though, Fridays tried to make it clear that it was absolutely, positively, NOT Saturday Night Live. The problem is that it sort of was, with the same sort of cast, a weekly musical guest, and even a weekly news segment called "Friday Edition" (almost like "Weekend Update"). Or so it seemed on the surface. While Saturday Night Live was "live from New York" and had these elements and wasn't afraid to push the button, Fridays was a different animal, "live from Hollywood," and seemed to skew even younger, and was much less afraid to go "over the top." The series lasted for 58 episodes over three seasons on ABC, and sixteen episodes are now available for the first time ever on DVD from Shout! Factory.

As usual, it is hard to talk about every great moment in each episode on this set, so we'll stick to some highlights. The set begins with the first episode of the series, where we are given an explanation of why the series is NOT Saturday Night Live... complete with a sketch that mocks SNL. The Clash is the musical guest in episode 3, which includes the controversial sketch "Diner of the Living Dead." In episode 8, Friday Edition has an interview with Jimmy Carter (in the form of John Roarke), and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performs. We go to the 1980 Republican National Convention (sort of) in episode 10. In episode 15, we get to see a spoof of "Duck Soup." Devo is the guest in episode 20, where the transition between Carter and Reagan administration is depicted. Episode 21 has a Star Wars parody... with the character of Woody Allen.

We get a Candid Camera political parody in episode 23, along with a performance from Pat Benatar. In episode 24, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is parodied in The Ronny Horror Picture Show, a tale about liberal couple Brad and Janet arriving at the home of Ronald Reagan. The famous Andy Kaufman marijuana sketch appears in episode 31... and an apology follows in episode 32. William Shatner brings a bit of Star Trek parody with him in episode 39. In episode 41, we get to see a Raiders of the Lost Ark parody. Episode 49 features Valerie Harper. The set ends with episode 50, which features a Hollywood Squares parody.

The episodes on this set are NOT unedited. While most of the episodes seem to be intact, it seems that Shout! has decided to remove some (though not all) of the musical performances in the episodes, and perhaps other material as well. The runtimes for the episodes are all over the place, and are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. Kenny Loggins (44:48)
3. The Clash (41:28)
8. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (48:05)
10. Graham Parker and the Rumour (45:19)

Disc 2:
15. The Cars (36:49)
19. Dire Straits (46:17)
20. Devo (32:22)
21. March 13, 1981 episode (37:51)

Disc 3:
23. Pat Benatar (39:34)
24. December 12, 1980 episode (34:18)
31. Andy Kaufman (38:04)
32. Billy Crystal (46:10)

Disc 4:
39. William Shatner/Kim Carnes (38:30)
41. Karen Allen/Stray Cats (39:25)
49. Valerie Harper/The Cars (52:37)
50. Tab Hunter/KISS (44:59)

The set is packaged in a standard Viva case, as most recent Shout! Factory releases have been. The cover has a cast photo along with a TV and the series logo in the background. On the back of the case, there is a brief description of the series, along with a few episode snapshots. Inside the case, you'll find the five discs, along with a very nice episode booklet. The booklet has a brief introduction to the series from John Moffitt, then includes a detailed listing of every sketch for every single episode included in the set.

The menus on the set are nice, though nothing too special. The main menu has a cast photo similar (but not identical) to the one seen on the cover, with a ticket that has options of Play All and Episode List on it. When you select Episode List, you get a choice four episodes on each disc, with the original airdate and guest stars (if any) listed. Once you select an episode, you get another menu, where you can either play the episode or go to an individual sketch on the episode. Chapters are placed all throughout each episode.

There is literally nothing to be impressed about concerning the video and audio quality of this set. It really doesn't look that great. Of course, this series was never really intended to be seen after the original airing anyway, but the video quality is just sort of dull and the audio has some dropouts and defects in it. Still, I'd take this over not seeing it on DVD at all. The episodes are not closed-captioned or subtitled.

There are quite a few special features on this set, all on Disc 5. "Actors' Conversation" (58:58) is an interview feature that includes John Roarke, Darrow Igus, Bruce Mahler, Michael Richards, Melanie Chartoff, Brandis Kamp, and others talking about their memories of the series. They talked about how they were discouraged from using cue cards and were expected to memorize their lines (and improvise if they forgot) as well as talking about memories of individual episodes. At the beginning of this feature, John Moffit talks about  Maryedith Burrell wasn't able to participate in that interview, but she does appear in her own separate interview (13:34). We get more of the same in "Writers' Interview" (58:55), where just the writers sit down and talk about their experience on the series. In "Andy Kaufman Incident - What Really Happened?" (9:05), John Moffitt and the cast talks about the famous Andy Kaufman moment, where he broke character in the middle of a sketch and got into a fight with everybody else, and whether or not it was real. So was it? Watch this and find out! "Photo Gallery" (5:32) is exactly what it sounds like, a lot of photos from the series to enjoy while the theme music plays in the background. Finally, "Fridays on the News" (8:00) is actual new footage with Paul Moyer from KABC at the time (he recently retired from KNBC) going behind-the-scenes on the set of Fridays. It is rather interesting to note that in this rather informal interview, Moyer is very openly smoking a cigarette on the set with the writers... a much different time, yet it was only about 30 years ago!

I have mixed feelings about this release. I am glad that Shout! Factory released it, for sure, as this is one of those series that I've never seen that I've always wanted to see. However, I'm disappointed that there are few (if any) completely unedited episodes on this set, some running only near 30 minutes. I know that musical performances are difficult to license, but given that this was a best-of release that contained sixteen handpicked episodes, I assumed that everything would be intact. Not the case, at all. Still, it was nice to actually see the show on DVD, and I did enjoy what actually was on this set. This aired mostly in an era where Saturday Night Live was just plain awful and appeared to be bordering on cancellation, and I can see how this series would have been more enjoyable at the time. To me, it almost felt like watching the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live, extended into the '80s with a new cast (despite the fact that Fridays tried to make it clear that it wasn't Saturday Night Live). Despite the flaws with this set, I think that any fan of edgy sketch comedy is sure to enjoy this set, even with the imperfections.

(3.5/5 stars)

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Amazon.com

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


FOLLOW ME

Who to Follow: Danica McKellar (Twitter), "Acting, Math, Yoga & Mommyhood! ...and occasional random thoughts from deep inside my brain..."
Claim to Fame: Danica McKellar first came to fame with her role as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, but following that, she didn't really have any other major regular roles on series. Nonetheless, she found her own success when she decided to get a degree in mathematics, and now she is a role model writing best-selling books about encouraging young girls to show interest in mathematics.
Why You Should Follow Her: While you probably won't be hearing much about her current acting career (or lack thereof) on Twitter, she is still an actress that we all loved and adored when she was a child, and it is great to see that she has grown up to do something even more positive. Her Twitter feed is full of nothing but positive messages and adoration for her fans, no matter why they love her. She isn't completely out of the acting game, so it is possible that we could see her somewhere once again in the future.
Pick of the Tweets: "A nostalgic examination of the cultural impact of WC... @NewYorker: "I Love Winnie Cooper" http://nyr.kr/11BGwlE" (April 24, 2013)

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


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November)

Dr. Ken - Season One Mike & Molly - The Complete Sixth and Final Season Family Matters - The Complete Ninth Season The Lucy Show - The Complete Series The Mindy Project - Season Four

10/04 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Christmas Special (Colorized)
10/04 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #1 (Colorized)
10/11 - Dr. Ken - Season One
10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Series
10/11 - Nurse Jackie - Seasons One and Two
10/11 - Weeds - Seasons One and Two
11/01 - Schitt's Creek - Seasons One and Two
11/08 - Family Matters - The Complete Ninth Season
11/08 - Your Family or Mine - Season One
11/15 - Community - The Complete Series
11/15 - The Lucy Show - The Complete Series
11/15 - The Mindy Project - Season Four
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, December 2

Last Man Standing - "Precious Snowflakes" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mandy chooses local-celebrity Mike as the speaker for her business school’s graduation. After learning that the school requires his speech to be PC and micro-agression free, Mike decides whether or not to play by the rules. Meanwhile, Eve’s friend Cammy (Sarah Gilman) is home from college, bragging about how fantastic her new life has been, leaving Eve feeling slightly fruitless and discouraged.

Dr. Ken - "D.K's New Girlfriend" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When D.K. overhears Allison complain about him overstaying his welcome, he decides to move in with his girlfriend of three weeks. Meanwhile, Pat wants Dave to pretend he’s his adopted son; and Allison is convinced Molly wants to talk about something when she suggests they do a spa day, but the tables turn when Molly is the one doling out the advice.

I Love Lucy - "I Love Lucy Christmas Special" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL features “The Christmas Episode” and the newly colorized “Lucy Gets in Pictures.” Both were colorized with a vintage look, a nod to the 1950s period in which the shows were filmed. The main titles and end credits of the two episodes are seamlessly combined into one set at the beginning and end of the hour, with no interruption between the episodes.

“The Christmas Episode” finds the Ricardos and Mertzes decorating Lucy and Ricky’s Christmas tree and reminiscing about how their lives have changed since the arrival of the Ricardos’ son, Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux). Flashbacks recall the night Lucy tells Ricky she is pregnant, the time Lucy shows up unexpectedly as part of a barbershop quartet and the day Ricky and the Mertzes rehearse taking Lucy to the maternity ward.

“The Christmas Episode” was first broadcast on CBS in December 1956. The episode was not included in the series’ long history of rebroadcasts, first on CBS Daytime and later in syndication. Thought to be lost, CBS rediscovered the episode in 1989.

In the newly colorized “Lucy Gets in Pictures,” Lucy’s lifelong dream of appearing in a motion picture seems to have come true when Ricky arranges for her to play a showgirl in a new musical. Unfortunately, the enormous feathered headdress she is expected to wear as she descends a staircase proves to be too cumbersome. After numerous mishaps on the stairs, the musical’s frustrated director (Lou Krugman) decides to make a change.

“Lucy Gets in Pictures” was originally broadcast Feb. 21, 1955, and was an immediate favorite not only of viewers, but of Lucille Ball herself. She restaged the famous headdress scene, again with Krugman, in the 1962 CBS special, “Opening Night,” and in 1965 in a slightly modified form, this time with actor Danny Thomas, in her second CBS series, “The Lucy Show.”

Liv and Maddie: Cali Style - "Cali Christmas-a-Rooney" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Maddie gets upset that she can't be in Wisconsin for Christmas, so Liv helps cheer her up.

Girl Meets World - "Girl Meets a Christmas Maya" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
As Christmas approaches, Riley gets excited to celebrate her favorite holiday, but for Maya, the holidays only bring back unhappy memories from her childhood.

Bunk'd - "How the Griff Stole Christmas" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The holidays arrive at Camp Kikiwaka with everyone in good spirits -- except for Griff.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 28)

Friday, December 2

  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Watch Chelsea on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • John Goodman (Roseanne/Normal, Ohio) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Andrew Rannells (Girls/The New Normal) - Andrew is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men/The Powers That Be/Bosom Buddies) - Holland chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) - Melissa appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall stops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Scott Patterson (Aliens in America) - Scott is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Kevin Quinn (Bunk'd) - Kevin appears on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Miss Piggy (The Muppets) - NBC's Today catches up with Miss Piggy in the 10am hour.
  • Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent/Someone Like Me) - Gaby appears on Chelsea on Netflix.