Saturday, March 26, 2011

Digital Digest: Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two

It's time to enter into your weekly dosage of all things digital for your favorite sitcoms--that's right, it is another Saturday, and another edition of Digital Digest! Sadly, as much as we wish that we could, we can't reverse the trend of slowing news each and every week, but we can bring you what we have (as we always do) and a review of Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two. Ready? Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

In what has been another slow news week, the only totally new DVD sitcom announcement is from Lionsgate, with House of Payne - Volume 8. It is scheduled for a June 14 release at a $29.98 MSRP.

The final season of Father Knows Best is officially on the Shout! Select calendar, and a bit earlier than expected. Father Knows Best - Season Six is set for an April 19 release at a $39.98 MSRP. In addition to all of the episodes of the final season of the classic sitcom, he set will contain two episodes of the series Window on Main Street, but unfortunately, it looks as if the reunion movies that Shout! Factory was said to be looking in to will NOT be part of the set.

There is an interesting release of note that was announced some time ago from MPI featuring Don Knotts. Don Knotts - Tied Up With Laughter is a special comedy collection, he is joined by singer-actress Joey Heatherton, actress Jane Powell, former Dallas Cowboys player Lance Rentzel, comic Jack Burns, Knott‘s Love God movie co-star Maureen Arthur and the legendary Jimmy Durante. It also contains a look at his early work and a featurette entitled "Don Knotts with Lucille Ball." It is scheduled for an April 26 release at a $14.98 MSRP.

Hulu, the website where you can watch many series from the present and past, has announced a deal with Viacom to bring many of their series to the website. It is important to note, however, that the "new Viacom" is not the same as the old Viacom (most of those classic series are now part of CBS Television Distribution), so the only thing of interest to us is the series Hot in Cleveland. The series from the Viacom library are available only to Hulu Plus subscribers, so you have to be a paying subscriber to view these series.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (March 29) brings America's original "bad boy" to DVD for the first time with Shout! Factory's release of Dennis the Menace - Season One. The five disc set contains every episode of the first season of the series and a ton of special features. We should have a review of this set soon. You can take a trip to America's Sin City with Dan Tanna in Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two. Or if you are a fan of classic Jack Webb series, you can see the end of the classic series Emergency! in Emergency! - The Final Rescues. We have a review of Vega$ in today's Digital Digest.


BLOG DVD REVIEW

Aaron Spelling was one of the most well-known producers of all time, particularly in the 70s and 80s, and in 1978, he brought to American airwaves (along with creator Michael Mann, who later went on to be a well-known producer himself with the series Miami Vice) the series Vega$. The series stars Robert Ulrich (previously of Soap fame) as private detective Dan Tanna, who helped solve crime in the Sin City by rolling around the strip in his 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Check out our review of Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two.

DVD Review - Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two
by skees53

Vega$ - The Second Season, Volume Two (CBS Home Entertainment, $39.98) has Dan Tanna (Robert Ulrich) continuing to keep a watchful eye as a private eye over the city of Las Vegas to nab the bad guys and win over the ladies at the same time. Tanna takes on crime in eleven more installments of the classic series, along with help from his asssistant Bea (Phyllis Davis), legman Bobby "Binzer" Borso (Bart Braverman) and his police confidant Lt. Dave Nelson (Greg Morris), and a long string of guest stars as both the good guys and the bad guys .

Dick Sargent and Mary Ann Mobley guest star in "Lost Monday," where Binzer's trip to a hypnotist may turn him into a murderer, and it is up to Tanna to stop him before that happens. One of Dan's friends is in Vega$ with his new bride to perform at the Desert Inn in "Comeback," but the happy marriage ends when she dies very early in to the marriage. Bea takes a vacation and comes back engaged in "All Kinds of Love," but there is something unsettling about the man she is about to married in the eyes of Tanna. In "The Magic Sister Slayings," Dan has information about a man trying to get a gambling license that the man would kill--literally--to suppress the information. Cheating in Vegas turns to murder in "Lido Girls." In "Consortium," dead bodies are planted in Tanna's home and car after the girls attend a party that Tanna also attends.
Captain & Tennille guest star in "The Hunter Hunted," where Lt. Nelson begins receiving threats towards his family and asks Dan to stay out of the way--but will he? An illusionist performing at the Desert Inn is sent death threats in "The Man Who Was Watching," but when Tanna gets involved, he may be part of those threats too. A cop from San Francisco comes to visit Dan in the double-length feature "The Golden Gate Cop Killer," but when he turns up dead, Dan is determined to head to San Francisco for revenge. A robbery at the Desert Inn turns into a hostage situation in "Siege of the Desert Inn," and Bea is among those hostages. The season ends with "Vendetta," where Dan has to investigate a murder in his own family before another one occurs.

It appears that all of the episodes are unedited, all containing very consistent runtimes. The set does have the typical CBS Home Entertainment disclaimer on it about how episodes may be edited from their original network versions, but there are no music disclaimers or anything like that. My feeling is that this set is completely safe from edits, although it has been so long since I've seen it that I can't say for sure. Runtimes are as follow:

Disc 1:
1. "Lost Monday" (49:18)
2. "Comeback" (49:20)
3. "All Kinds of Love" (49:15)
4. "The Magic Sister Slayings" (49:19)

Disc 2:
5. "Lido Girls" (49:19)
6. "Consortium" (49:19)
7. "The Hunter Hunted" (49:20)
8. "The Man Who Was Twice" (49:18)

Disc 3:
9. "The Golden Gate Cop Killer" (1:38:33)
10. "Siege of the Desert Inn" (49:20)
11. "Vendetta" (49:27)


The packaging used for the set is the standard CBS Home Entertainment Viva case, which has about become the standard in DVDs lately. The cover art has a large photo of Tanna with the other cast members in the background (smaller pictures of them), and the back of the case has several episode snapshots, along with information about the series. Inside, there are the three discs, which contain no artwork other than the series logo on a gray background. Discs 1 and 2 contain four episodes each, while Disc 3 contains three episodes (one being a double-feature). Episode descriptions and airdates are printed inside of the case, but I do have one major gripe. The episodes for Disc 2 are listed in the center of the case, and are impossible to read unless you remove the middle tray that holds two of the discs. I'm not sure why they put episode descriptions in the middle of the case. But on the positive side, the descriptions for each episode are very thorough.

There really isn't much to say at all about the menus. Each disc has two of the cast members as the menu artwork, and you have a listing of all of the episodes, along with Play All Episode Promos and Subtitles on the main menu. Once you select an episode, you can watch it with or without the episode promos. Surprisingly, there is no Play All option to be found on the menus ("Play All Episode Promos" just gives you the promos). Chapters are placed throughout each episode.

The video and audio quality on the set is actually pretty decent, and looks about like other Aaron Spelling series from the era that have been released by CBS Home Entertainment. The episodes definitely look old, but are cleaned up rather well. Even the episode promos, which are of slightly lower quality than the episodes, honestly don't look all that bad. The audio is presented in mono with English subtitles available, but comes through very loud and clear.

The only special feature on the set is previews for each episode from the original airing of the series ("Next on Vega$"). These run about 30 seconds each. It would have been nice to have seen some interviews or commentaries on these episodes.

These are some excellent episodes, and it has been so long since I have seen this series that it has all seemed new to me. As far as I know, the series hasn't aired anywhere in the United States in over a decade, and has somehow become a "lost" series among the Aaron Spelling series out there, perhaps because it really does scream 70s and because it only lasted three seasons. If you are a fan of similar Aaron Spelling series from the same era, or just a fan of crime dramas in general, you'll love this set, and the only way to see it is to obtain these DVDs, because it doesn't seem like any TV channel will be airing it anytime soon. So take a gamble and head on down to Vega$!

(4/5 stars)

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LOOKING AHEAD

That's it for this week's Digital Digest. The upcoming weeks aren't as bad as they have been when it comes to releases, but let's hope that we can hear more news about more releases! We're craving to see the end (or in some cases, the beginning) of many classic series that we all know and love. Until next time, keep it digital!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, December 7

Live in Front of a Studio Audience - The Facts of Life & Diff'rent Strokes

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes - (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
In this one-night-only event, an all-star lineup of talent will tackle the roles first portrayed in the iconic television sitcom “The Facts of Life,” including Jennifer Aniston playing the role of Blair, Gabrielle Union taking on the role of Tootie, Allison Tolman who will play Natalie and Kathryn Hahn recreating the role of Jo. Previously announced “Diff’rent Strokes” cast member Ann Dowd is also set to appear as Mrs. Garrett in this recreation of “The Facts of Life.” The Sony Pictures Television special can also be viewed the next day on demand and on Hulu.

The live special event will feature reenactments of the hit series “The Facts of Life,” created by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, and “Diff’rent Strokes,” created by Bernie Kukoff and Jeff Harris, and will reunite executive producers Norman Lear, Jimmy Kimmel, Brent Miller, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux and Jim Burrows. Previously announced cast members taking on the famed “Diff’rent Strokes” roles include John Lithgow, who will play Mr. Drummond; Kevin Hart, assuming the role of Arnold; and Damon Wayans and Ann Dowd, who will play Willis and Mrs. Garrett in “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Abbott Elementary - "Pilot" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
In this workplace comedy, a group of dedicated, passionate teachers — and a slightly tone-deaf principal — are brought together in a Philadelphia public school where, despite the odds stacked against them, they are determined to help their students succeed in life. Though these incredible educators may be outnumbered and underfunded, they love what they do — even if they don’t love the school district’s less-than-stellar attitude toward educating children.

The Last O.G. - "Know Thyself" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Amira attends college presentations, and her quick decision surprises Tray, who then works to guide Amira toward a better understanding of her identity; while cleaning out Roberta's storage unit, Shahzad makes a discovery about her past.

Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Wondering Prince" (BET, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Lisa helps Miranda set up her online dating proļ¬le.

Tyler Perry's Assisted Living - "What the Wellness" (BET, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Mr. Brown vows that he's finished eating meat until he's left alone with a lot of soul food.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 6)

Tuesday, December 7

  • Brandy (Zoe Ever After/The Game/Moesha/Thea) - Catch Brandy on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • J. B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Mapleworth Murders/Bent/'Til Death) - J. B. guest hosts Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kristin Davis (And Just Like That.../Sex and the City) and Cynthia Nixon (And Just Like That.../Sex and the City) - Kristin and Cynthia are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. Kristin also talks about And Just Like That... on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Chris Kattan (The Middle) - Chris will be on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jane Levy (Suburgatory) - Jane appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Sterling K. Brown (Starved) - Sterling is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Harlem/Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi talks about her new holiday collection on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.


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

Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Mom - The Eighth and Final Season Punky Brewster (1984-88) - The Complete Series (2021 Release) I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
11/02 - The Honeymooners Specials - A Christmas Carol
11/02 - Mom - The Eighth and Final Season
11/02 - Punky Brewster - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
11/02 - Sex and the City - The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)
11/09 - Saved by the Bell (2020) - Season One
11/09 - Younger - The Complete Series
11/16 - Kevin Can F*** Himself - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
11/23 - Dead Pixels - Seasons One and Two
11/30 - I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (2021 Release) (Blu-ray)
12/07 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/07 - Rick & Morty - Season 5 (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray Limited Edition Steelbook)
12/14 - The Abbott and Costello Show - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
12/14 - Letterkenny - Season 9
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