Saturday, December 24, 2011

Digital Digest: More of Old Christine from Warner Archive; Barney Miller - The Complete Series DVD Review



Merry Christmas, and welcome to Digital Digest! Our scope of coverage will be INCREDIBLY light for these last two weeks of 2011 (simply because there really isn't much in regards for news this week, and there won't be next week), but we'll give it our best as usual. But we do have something new for our blog reviews this week, as we'll begin reviewing some of the complete series sets that we were unable to review in the past for various reasons (though we'll continue to do regular and complete reviews for the sets when the studios send us the releases in a timely fashion). This week, we'll take a look at Shout! Factory's October release of Barney Miller - The Complete Series. Let's get rolling!


DIGITAL NEWS

Looking for the fifth season of The New Adventures of Old Christine? Warner Archive announced on their Facebook page that they are working on an upcoming release for The New Adventures of Old Christine, but exact details and a release date aren't in the pipeline just yet, aside from the fact that it will indeed be a manufacture-on-demand product. We'll have more on this when we know more.

TV Land wrapped up the first season of the Fran Drescher sitcom Happily Divorced a few months ago, but now it is coming to DVD with the release of Happily Divorced - Season One. The two disc set is to be released on March 6 at a $22.99 MSRP.

Shout! Factory has been rather quiet on their releases for Simon & Simon for about a year and a half now, but the silence comes to an end in February with their release of Simon & Simon - Season Six. The set will be released February 21 as a Shout! Select exclusive, at a $49.99 MSRP.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (December 27) is, not surprisingly, one of lightest release dates of the year. The only release of any significance coming on Tuesday is Happiness is Peanuts - Friends Forever. We hope to have a review of this soon in Digital Digest.




Complete Series DVD Review: Barney Miller - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory, $159.99)

Note: This is our first Complete Series Review on Digital Digest. We will include these in Digital Digest from time-to-time, roughly once a month or so, to briefly cover complete series that we did not cover in the past. The purpose of these reviews is not to provide a full-fledged review of the set with all of the details that we normally provide in our reviews, but rather to discuss similarities and differences from previous releases, new special features, new packaging, and other details pertaining to the new release. We will continue to feature complete reviews of these sets anytime that we receive review copies from the studios in a timely fashion.

Barney Miller had a rough time getting going before it debuted in 1975. At the time, network schedules were flooded with police series, all of them action dramas, so who would want to see a police sitcom? These struggles were demonstrated even further with the failure of the original pilot for the series, The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller, but ABC went ahead and gave the series a chance anyway, although as a mid-season replacement. Who knew that the series would end up lasting eight years?

Similarly, the series had a rough start on DVD. In 2004, the very early days of TV on DVD, Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment (now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) released the first season, and nothing was heard from them again, until 2008 and 2009 when they released the next two seasons, respectively. But once again, the series became stalled, until October 2011, when Shout! Factory brought it all to a glorious conclusion with their release of Barney Miller - The Complete Series, a 25 disc set containing every episode of the series, and even the first season of the spinoff series, Fish.

The set is packaged inside of four Viva-cases (and one slimcase, for the first season of Fish), with each case containing two seasons. The cases are housed inside of a larger (and rather sturdy) cardboard box that is designed to look like the door to the Squad Room Detectives on the front, except the lettering is replaced with the title for the set. On the back of the box, we have a description of the set, along with a "Duty Roster" that lists all of the special features contained on the set. Each of the cases inside has a different cast photo relating to the seasons included in the case. On the back of each case, there is a listing of all of the episodes in the case, along with original airdates. But proceed with caution, because some of these (particularly from the first season) are wrong. You'll find out why a bit later in this review. The back of the case with the Fish episodes gives descriptions of each of the episodes. But if you want descriptions for the main series episodes, don't fret--they are included! There is a very nice episode booklet included with the set that contains descriptions for all of the episodes, as well as a brief history of the series.

So, what is the deal with the wrong episode listings for the first season? The menus on the set tell the whole story. As we mentioned, Sony released the first three seasons of the series irregularly over the years, but didn't bother with the final five seasons. When Shout! Factory decided to release the complete series, they had those three releases to work with already. Normally, in such a situation, Shout! Factory would redo such DVDs to go along with their additional seasons that they are releasing, and they did in fact change the artwork on the discs and the packaging for the discs. But it appears, either due to budget issues or time constraints (or perhaps both), Shout! Factory left the first three seasons as they initially appeared on DVD, complete with the original menus, original special features, and original copies of the episodes.

When you get to Season Four, you'll notice a marked improvement in the menus. They aren't quite as bland or cheap looking as the first three seasons. The main menu starts with a shot of the New York City skyline, as the theme song begins to play. Then, the menu goes to a shot of the door for the squad room, with opaque windows where you can just barely see people moving inside the squad room. The options on the menu include Play All and Episodes. Selecting Episodes takes you to a menu just like the duty roster with a text list of all of the episodes on the disc.

Since the first three seasons are taken directly from the Sony releases, one may immediately remember that Sony included two syndicated episodes, "Ramon" and "The Bureaucrat" on their release of the first season. Shout! does a little bit to relieve one of these problems, with their inclusion of an unedited version of the episode "Ramon" on Disc 3 in the season 8 episodes, but unfortunately, "The Bureaucrat" is still the syndicated version on this set, and there is no remedy for it. Throughout the remainder of the set, every episode pretty much runs at 25 minutes, but there is a slight snag in the seventh season on the episode "Rachel," as the episode runs at a bit over 23 minutes. I'm not sure what, if anything, is missing here, but that is definitely a little short. You'll find virtually every logo that Sony has used from the early 90s up until today on the episodes. There is very little consistency on the logos, so you may find a Sony Pictures International logo on one episode, and the mid 90s Columbia Pictures Television on the next.

The quality of the episodes on the set shows some variance throughout. Most of the episodes look decent, but there are some that look very unfocused on the video quality and there are some defects on some of the episodes. The mono audio is perfectly adequate throughout. The final episode of the series actually has a disclaimer stating that it was the "best possible copy" that they could find, but honestly, I didn't think that it looked any worse than some of the other episodes on the set.

The set includes some new special features that were created exclusively for this set, but you won't find them until you get to Disc 3 of the eighth season. First, we have a commentary on the final three-part episode, "Landmark," with Tony Sheehan, Jeff Stein, and Frank Dungan. All of them participate on all three parts of the episode. You'll find much more on this disc, though. First, we have "Inside the 12th Precinct" (29:18) where we see interviews with Hal Linden, Abe Vigoda, Max Gail, and even recent (before his death) interviews with Steve Landesberg. "Salute to the Old One Two" (24:07) is a similar featurette, except this one focuses primarily on the set that was used for the series. "Inside the Writers Room" (16:29) is an interview about the writing of the series, with writers Jeff Stein and Frank Dungan. But what I found to be the most interesting special feature is "The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller" (26:44), which was the original pilot for the series. It has a much different feel from the series that eventually evolved, with a mostly different cast (although Hal Linden and Abe Vigoda are in the original pilot) and different format. In this episode, the first half of the episode follows Barney's day at work, while the second half follows his life at home. You can even compare this episode to the unedited version of the episode "Ramon" (25:10), which as previously mentioned, appears on this disc. Finally, we have "You Don't Know Jack: Excerpt from the Jack Soo Documentary" (7:39). This is just an excerpt from a full-length documentary that was produced about Soo.

As for the special features that were carried over from the previous releases, the first season still contains the rather scant text biographies of the cast members, and the second season still contains the Minisodes from The Facts of Life and Charlie's Angels. These aren't particularly worth viewing, but they are there.

All in all, this is a great set and well-worth the cost at the MSRP, but considering you can find it much cheaper than the MSRP at most places, it becomes an excellent deal. Since this is the only place you can find seasons 4-8 at the present time, it is a no-brainer that you should pick up this set if you don't already own the series, and even if you own the first three seasons, you'll want to upgrade to this set. It is unfortunate that they did not redo the first three seasons on this set to match the remaining seasons, but it isn't a major disaster, if you don't mind a few edited episode slipups (though some people certainly are bothered by such issues).

Complete Series Set Score: (4.5/5 stars)
Worth Upgrading? Yes

To purchase Barney Miller - The Complete Series, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

To purchase individual season sets of Barney Miller, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Seasons 4-8 are not available individually at this time.

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Barney Miller on TV.com


CLICK OF THE WEEK

TV Tango (www.tvtango.com) - If you are a regular reader of our blog, you'll recognize this website as one that we often refer to, but you may not have necessarily clicked on it since we often summarize what we are interested in and refer you to check out the site for further information. In fact, we referred to this website just yesterday in discussing what is coming up for special marathons this holiday weekend. But since the website does have information on special marathons this weekend, we thought we'd also try to introduce you to the rest of the website and everything else that it has to offer for our Click of the Week this week.

The site proclaims to be the "ultimate TV database," and on the main page, you can type in any TV series that you are interested in and find information about it from all of the major TV websites, as well as TV Tango's own database. But there is so much more to the site than just the database. There is a TV Listings page where you can find out what is on tonight and tomorrow night on the major networks, but what is even more fascinating is the ability to go back in time and see what aired on, for example, the day that you were BORN, assuming you were born after 1950. Some dates even have episode titles listed. There is also a very nice blog on the site that you should check out that is updated a few times a week with interviews and other nice features. It isn't really a news blog, but rather a blog with unique features. There are other features on this website as well that make this site definitely worth checking out this holiday weekend.

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, August 17

Abbott Elementary - "Pilot" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
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.

Abbott Elementary - "Work Family" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Jacob reveals a detail about his personal life, Janine realizes she doesn’t know the other teachers as well as she thought. Meanwhile, as Gregory’s stern teaching approach is causing his whole class to underperform, Barbara and Melissa teach him how to relax and make his lessons more fun.

Abbott Elementary - "Step Class" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Janine is thrilled when Ava asks to help her teach the after-school step class, but the two don’t see eye to eye on how to run the program. Later, when Barbara, Melissa and Jacob plan an “eat-off” to decide who makes the best pizza in Philadelphia, Gregory is forced to reveal a secret.

Abbott Elementary - "Desking" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When the students start participating in a new online trend that causes disruption to the school, the teachers band together to put an end to it. Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson provides comforting life advice to Gregory; and later, the teachers finally meet Jacob’s boyfriend, Zach, who joins in to help stop the students “desking”.

Wellington Paranormal - "Mobots" (The CW, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Officer Minogue meets Officer O'Leary's mom when they use her house for a stakeout to investigate why a mass quantity of obsolete electronics goes missing.

Wellington Paranormal - "The Invisible Fiend" (The CW, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Minogue and O'Leary investigate a mysterious home invasion with no visible signs of entry, managing to arrest an invisible creature and bring it back to the station for questioning.

grown-ish - "You Don't Know Me" (Freeform, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The girls enlist Junior's help to find their shady roommate, Lauryn, who has a habit of mysteriously disappearing; Junior wonders if Annika is starting to catch feelings for him; Aaron suspects that Doug isn't being honest with him.

Everything's Trash - "Rom-Coms Are Mostly Trash" (Freeform, 10:30PM ET/PT)
After Phoebe suddenly sees Michael in a new light, she attempts to set him up with Malika, who already has her eye on an old flame; Jayden worries that he and Jessie have lost their spark, so they decide to spice things up.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 15)

Wednesday, August 17

  • Alison Brie (GLOW/Community) - Watch Alison Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Sasheer Zamata (Home Economics/Woke) - Sasheer appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Nicole Byer (Grand Crew/Loosely Exactly Nicole) - Nicole guest hosts Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi co-hosts The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan/Kenan & Kel) - Kenan will be on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) - Zazie appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Simu Liu (Kim's Convenience) - Simu chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Susan Walters (Dear John/The War Next Door) - Susan is a guest on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Blair Underwood (The New Adventures of Old Christine) - Blair will be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Kel Mitchell (Game Shakers/Kenan & Kel) - Kel appears on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect/Suddenly Susan) - Sherri guest hosts a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Josh Peck (Grandfathered/Drake & Josh) and Rhea Perlman (Cheers/Pearl/Kirstie) - Josh and Rhea talk about Netflix's 13: The Musical on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Murray Bartlett (Physical/Looking) - Murry talks about White Lotus on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


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

Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release) The Neighborhood - Season Four The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three

04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
05/13 - The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Time Life)
05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
06/14 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Eleventh Season
06/14 - Hacks - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/14 - Rutherford Falls - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/21 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season One / Season Two
07/19 - The Neighborhood - Season Four
07/19 - Reno 911! - The Hunt for QAnon (Blu-ray) (DVD)
07/26 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three / Season Four
08/16 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. - Canada)
08/16 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

08/16 - Nexstar Media Group to Acquire The CW Network; Tubi Orders Breaking Bear, New Animated Comedy
08/15 - Abbott Elementary Summer School Marathon on ABC; Freevee's High School Premieres in October
08/14 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 15, 2022)
08/13 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Game Shows Moving to Primetime Emmys; Ring Doorbell Viral Video Show in the Works
08/12 - Apple TV+ Renews Physical for Season 3; Lifetime Orders It's a Wonderful Lifetime and Ripped from the Headlines Titles for Fall & Winter
08/11 - Hallmark Original Series Sets Cast; Remembering Pat Carroll, Roger E. Mosley and Vin Scully
08/10 - Cobra Kai Returns Sept. 9 on Netflix; Marlon Wayans Gets Starz Comedy
08/09 - COZI TV Celebrates Emergency! 50th Anniversary with Documentary; Kaley Cuoco Heads to Peacock for Comedic Thriller Series
08/08 - FETV Acquires Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; Disney+ Orders 2nd Season of Robin Roberts Talk Show
08/07 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 8, 2022)
08/06 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Everybody Still Hates Chris Animated Series in the Works; HBO Max and Discovery+ Merging Into One
08/05 - Disney+ Series Premiere Dates, Includes Dancing with the Stars; Hallmark Orders New Original Drama
08/04 - NBC Moving Days of Our Lives to Peacock, Replacing with News Show; Selena + Chef Returns on HBO Max
08/03 - FX's Atlanta Final Season Launches Sept. 15; Elisabeth Moss Gets New Hulu Series
08/02 - Showtime Orders Comedy Pilot Titled Mason; NBC Renews Weakest Link Revival for Season 3
08/01 - HBO's Los Espookys Returns in September; Good Grief Is Back on IFC
07/31 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 1, 2022)
07/30 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Max Headroom Reboot in Works at AMC Networks; Jeopardy! to Continue Dual Host Plan
07/29 - HBO Max and Hulu to Share Streaming Rights to Abbott Elementary; Reboot Gets Premiere Date
07/28 - ABC to Present Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter; Remembering Tony Dow of Leave it to Beaver and Paul Sorvino
07/27 - The Orville Coming to Disney+ and Continues on Hulu; Retta Continues Partnership with HGTV
07/26 - Mythic Quest Returns for 10 Episodes in Fall; Patton Oswalt's Netflix Comedy Special We All Scream Premieres September 20
07/25 - American Dad! Returns Labor Day on TBS; Krapopolis Gets Special Nov. 27 Preview on Fox
07/24 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 25, 2022)
07/23 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Abbott Elementary Given Full Second Season; Preview of New Beavis and Butt-Head Episode
07/22 - Ghosts Dives Into the Metaverse with a Game; Jo Koy Gets 4th Netflix Special; Remembering Rebecca Balding of Soap
07/21 - South Park's 25th Anniversary Concert Event; FETV's Historic June Numbers
07/20 - Hulu's This Fool Premieres August 12; Mo'Nique Gets Netflix Comedy Special
07/19 - Apple TV+ Comedy Central Park Returns in September; Leah Remini Game Show Is Back on Aug. 1
07/18 - Paramount+ Revives Criminal Minds; AMC Network Sizzling in August with Hot Originals
07/17 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 18, 2022)
07/16 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Beavis and Butt-Head Premiere Date Set; TBS Abruptly Cancels Chad Hours Before Season Premiere