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, September 30

Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Someone" (BET, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After his divorce, Calvin decides to date again.

Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Something's Rotten" (BET, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jazmine gets candid with Ella about wanting to have sex for the first time.

Tyler Perry's Assisted Living - "The Monster" (BET, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jeremy's online plumber training backfires on him, literally.

Tyler Perry's Assisted Living - "Dark Chocolate" (BET, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Sandra tries to mislead Philip about where she's going and who with.

In The Cut - "Big Bruh" (Bounce TV, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Kenny joins an outreach program called Big Bruh, while Jay and Wade deal with a biker crew.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 28)

Wednesday, September 30

  • Julie Bowen (Modern Family) - Watch Julie on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years/Trial & Error) - John is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Lake Bell (Bless This Mess/How to Make It in America) - Lake appears on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • J. B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm/The Millers/Bent/'Til Death) - J. B. is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Ilana Glazer (Broad City) - Ilana appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm on Bravo.
  • Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy/American Dad!/The Cleveland Show) - Seth will be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso/Son of Zorn/The Cleveland Show) - Jason appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Patricia Heaton (Carol's Second Act/The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Beth Behrs (The Neighborhood/2 Broke Girls) - Beth appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Jim talks about The Boys in the Band on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Andrew Rannells (Girls/The New Normal) - Andrew talks about Netflix's The Boys in the Band on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Tia Mowry (Family Reunion/Instant Mom/The Game/Sister, Sister) - Tia will be on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August/September)

Head of the Class - The Complete First Season Modern Family - The Eleventh and Final Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Seven Will & Grace - The Revival -Season Three - The Farewell Season Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season

06/02 - Work in Progress - Season 1
06/09 - Head of the Class - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
06/09 - How to Be a Gentleman - The Complete Series
06/09 - Letterkenny - Seasons 3 & 4
06/09 - Modern Family - The Eleventh and Final Season
06/09 - No Activity - Season 1
06/09 - Superior Donuts - Season Two
06/23 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 10th Season
06/23 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
06/23 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Seventh Season
06/23 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Third Season (Blu-ray)
06/30 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Seven
07/07 - Will & Grace - The Revival - Season Three - The Farewell Season
07/21 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Tenth Season
07/21 - The Thundermans - Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4
07/21 - The Unicorn - Season One
07/28 - The Thundermans - Season 1-4 Bundle
08/04 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Eighth Season
08/04 - The Neighborhood - Season One
08/11 - Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens - Season 1
08/11 - Final Space - The First and Second Seasons (Blu-ray)
09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)

More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

09/29 - The Addams Family Coming to FETV; Netflix Developing Korean Sitcom
09/28 - 2002-2007 Sitcom George Lopez Coming to TBS; Guests Announced for black-ish Election Special
09/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 28, 2020)
09/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Peacock to Launch All 45 Seasons of Saturday Night Live; Renewal for Family Guy and Bob's Burgers
09/25 - Fri-Yay: Schitt's Creek Emmy Sweep; HBO Max Orders New Pretty Little Liars
09/24 - NBC Moves This Is Us, Connecting Premieres; Fox Orders 2 More Seasons for Bob's Burgers & Family Guy
09/23 - Schitt's Creek Heads to Syndication on Stations and Comedy Central; Apple Orders Patricia Arquette Comedy
09/22 - Decades Fall 2020 Schedule; CMT Acquires American Housewife
09/21 - Antenna TV Fall 2020 Schedule, with 2021 Teases; 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards Winners
09/20 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 21, 2020)
09/19 - SitcomsOnline Digest: CBS Prepares for More Sunday Night Movies; The Office Arrives on Blu-ray and More Head of the Class DVDs
09/18 - Fri-Yay: Viewers Discovering Cobra Kai Now on Netflix; ABC Announces Fall 2020 Drama Premiere Dates
09/17 - ABC Officially Orders Katey Sagal Series, Cancels Stumptown; SNL Goes Live All October
09/16 - CBS All Access to Rebrand as Paramount+ in 2021; Fox Says Let's Be Real About Election
09/15 - Netflix Announces Good Times Animated Comedy; More Details on Fresh Prince Reunion on HBO Max
09/14 - Disney+ Orders Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.; TBS Version of Wipeout Announces Hosts
09/13 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 14, 2020)
09/12 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fresh Prince Reunion Brings Unexpected Pair Back Together; Doogie Howser Reboot Officially Picked Up
09/11 - Fri-Yay: Sister, Sister Soars on Netflix; ABC Comedies Returning October 21 for New Seasons
09/10 - TBS Celebrates American Dad! 300th Episode with Special Night; NBC Alters Schedule Due to Possible NHL Stanley Cup Finals
09/09 - COZI TV's The Lone Ranger The Masked Man Marathon; Peacock Gets Fresh Prince Dramatic Series
09/08 - TNT Salutes 15th Anniversary of Supernatural; Alyssa Milano Says Own the Vote 2020 in Webinar Series
09/07 - TV Marathons on Labor Day 2020
09/06 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 7, 2020)
09/05 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Mom Set for New Season Without Star; Chelsea Handler Sells Half Hour Comedies to Peacock and HBO Max
09/04 - Fri-Yay: Fall Network TV Schedule Is Scarce on Sitcoms; Laff's How I Met Your Mother Labor Day Weekend Launch Marathon
09/03 - Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween 2020 Schedule; Dancing with the Stars Season 29 Cast
09/02 - black-ish Returns with Special Episodes on Election; Shout! Factory TV and Pluto TV Launches The Carol Burnett Show Channel
09/01 - HBO Max Slates The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Special; Ayo Edebiri Replaces Jenny Slate as Missy on Big Mouth
08/31 - Home Improvement Tool Time Reunion on History Series; Bunk'd Adds to Cast
08/30 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 31, 2020)
08/29 - SitcomsOnline Digest: CBS Series to Begin Production; Fox Eyeing X-Files as Animated Comedy