Saturday, April 07, 2012

Digital Digest: British Wave of American Favorites on DVD; Busy July for CBS and Shout!; L.A. Law - Season One DVD Review


Welcome to this incredibly busy edition for Digital Digest! After last week's sad and almost depressing week with very little news, this first week of April brings us plenty of news. And we have a VERY special review this week which will probably catch most people a bit off-guard, with our review of Revelation Films release of L.A. Law - Season One (yes, you heard us right, L.A. Law). It's actually a release for the United Kingdom, but there are some unique aspects of this release which have brought it to our attention. So let's get started!


DIGITAL NEWS

As mentioned, our review this week is for the United Kingdom release of L.A. Law - Season One. The six disc set was released in January of this year in the UK by Revelation Films. Naturally, if you are in the United States, you are not going to find this release at your neighborhood Target or Walmart. But this release, which is also the very first release of the series on DVD anywhere in the world, is more relevant to everybody than it may initially appear to be. Many times in the past, we've discussed playing foreign DVDs (as the case in the UK would be, region 2) on DVD players in the United States. However, this release of L.A. Law, as was discovered by many fans across the globe after purchasing the set, actually lacks any region coding. Even though the packaging indicates that it is a region 2 release, it will actually play on ANY DVD player without any issues! You can actually even purchase this release in the United States from amazon.com, so that you don't have to pay for international shipping, by going here.

Of course, the DVDs playing in any region sounds fine, but you may be thinking that only the first season has been released, and there is no guarantee that any future seasons will ever be released. But... you'd be wrong! L.A. Law - Season Two is already scheduled for a release on May 7. And if that isn't enough, there are more seasons on the way beyond that. In fact, between now and the end of 2013, all seven of the remaining seasons are scheduled for release! According to information from the UK DVD retailer Play.com (note: if you are not in the UK, you can not order from this site... while they do provide useful information, they do not seem to allow international orders), the anticipated release dates for seasons 2-8 (the remainder of the run of the series!) are as follows:
  • Season 2: May 7, 2012
  • Season 3: July 9, 2012
  • Season 4: October 8, 2012
  • Season 5: January 7, 2013
  • Season 6: April 8, 2013
  • Season 7: July 8, 2013
  • Season 8: October 7, 2013
Of course, there are some caveats about these upcoming releases. First, we don't know for certain that these release dates won't change. Although they are scheduled, and many already even have cover art, anything is always subject to change. Second, even if these releases do come as scheduled, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will be region-free, as the first season was. It is entirely possible that the release of the first season as a region-free release was just a fluke, as the packaging even indicates that it is a region 2 release. But we certainly hope that either it is region-free, or at the very least, somebody finally gets this classic series out in the United States!

We still aren't done with our talk about releases from Revelation Films, though! Note, for the following releases, we honestly just don't know if these are region-free like L.A. Law is or not, but we provide this information for those who may be interested. The studio also released Doogie Howser, M.D. - Season One in January, which was released by Anchor Bay several years ago... but like most other Anchor Bay releases, it is now out-of-print. But now, you can get not only the first season of the series, but according to Play.com, the remaining seasons (2, 3, and 4) are scheduled for May 7, August 6, and November 5! The studio also release Chicago Hope - Season One approximately a month ago, which is another series which has never been released in the United States. Needless to say, the remaining five seasons of that series (2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) are... you guessed it... already scheduled! Release dates for those are June 4, September 10, December 13, and the remaining two seasons are scheduled in 2013 on  March 11 and June 10.

Before we move on to our other news on our own side of the Atlantic Ocean--and believe me, there is a ton of that this week as well--we have one more bit of news about ANOTHER release from Revelation Films in the UK! And this one is a sitcom which Americans have been wanting to see for quite some time. The sitcom Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place is set to be released in the UK (but remember, you can always purchase it online and watch it in the US if you have a region-free DVD player... hopefully these will be region-free without needing a special player, as L.A. Law is) over the next few months. Needless to say, Play.com has tipped us off to release dates for that series, and once again, every season has been scheduled, with release dates of April 23, July 9, October 8, and the final season comes in just after the beginning of the new year on January 7. All in all, there are a ton of great releases coming from this studio, many of which we have never seen in the United States. If we find out about more releases from this studio, and I have a feeling that we will, we'll let you know!

Now to move on to the United States, where there has been a LOT of news floating around everywhere! CBS Home Entertainment is bringing some new releases of some of our favorite classic dramas to DVD on July 3. First up is the primetime '80s soap opera Dynasty, with Dynasty - The Sixth Season, Volume 1 and Dynasty - The Sixth Season Volume 2. Another favorite is released the same day with Mannix - The Seventh Season, which is extra special since many of the episodes from this season have never aired in syndication. The third release (or pair), though, is the most surprising, since it is a release of a series which appeared to be abandoned... but low and behold, it isn't! Also on July 3, we'll see The Streets of San Francisco - Season 3, Volume 1 and The Streets of San Francisco - Season 3, Volume 2. Hopefully, we should have reviews of all of these releases sometime in June!

So, this brings us a bit closer to our final batch of release news... and believe me, we aren't even trying to just fill up space, because the news which we have yet to bring you so far is still news which would normally be worthy of top-billing if we didn't just somewhat randomly pick the order to bring you all of this great news this week. Shout! Factory is planning some major releases in July as well as they complete Designing Women on July 17 with Designing Women - The Final Season. But Shout! is also bringing out some new stuff in July which is guaranteed to excite our readers, as they pick up the DVD rights to the classic sitcom Diff'rent Strokes! The classic sitcom, which many (including myself) assumed to be abandoned, is finally going to be continued with Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Third Season, which is also set to be released on July 17. Now, will the studio also get back to releases of the spinoff of the series, The Facts of Life? We hope so, but so far, there is no word. Also, on July 31, we'll be seeing a series which we tend to not cover as much, but we know it is a huge pop-culture classic, with Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids - The Complete Series!

Our final piece of news--and we only make this our final piece of news because it is something that has been reported on already--is that release dates have now been announced for the first two seasons of The Big Bang Theory on Blu-ray Disc. On July 10, look for Blu-ray releases (the DVD releases have been released long ago, obviously) of The Big Bang Theory - The Complete First Season and The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Second Season.

For the naysayers out there claiming that home media is dead, the news this week certainly seems to indicate quite the opposite. In our two years of Digital Digest, this has probably been one of the busiest weeks of news we've ever seen! 



UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (April 10) is not nearly as exciting of a release date as our news has been this week, but we do have a few great releases, including Laverne & Shirley - The Fifth Season (our review) and Adam-12 - The Final Season (our review). Other releases for Tuesday include Logan's Run - The Complete Series and the completion of the classic anthology series Night Gallery with Night Gallery - Season Three. Finally, if you are north of the border in Canada, there is a release of ALF - The Complete Series, but we really don't know if this set is any different from the US release or not.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: L.A. Law Season One (UK release, Revelation Films)
by skees53

Over the past two decades, NBC has defined their scope of legal drama with the hard-edged (and these days, rapidly waning in popularity as the series are being canceled or "repurposed" one-by-one) legal drama franchise Law & Order, where viewers get to follow some insanely overdramatized court case where somebody most likely murdered somebody, and in the opposite of the classic series Perry Mason, some defendant is guaranteed to fry for it (even though technically the series takes place in New York City, where there isn't a death penalty... but I digress). But just a few years before this franchise defined NBC's legal drama lineup, there was the series L.A. Law, a very popular series (at least at the time) from Stephen Bochco which was significantly lighter in tone, dealt with a dynamic cast with personalities outside of the court room, and kept a serial format as some later legal dramas from David E. Kelly (whom, by the way, was actually a Boston area attorney who got his start when Bochco called him up to be a consultant for L.A. Law, and eventually became executive producer of the series and created his own TV dynasty).

Sadly, L.A. Law, while popular when it aired, has practically disappeared in recent years. A few cable channels have aired it over the years, but it has never been considered a major contender on any of those cable networks. And if you've been looking for DVDs or digital downloads of the series, you've pretty much been out of luck too, as it has not been released in the US or anywhere for that matter--until now, with Revelation Films release of L.A. Law - Season One.

Technically, the release is exclusive to the United Kingdom, and is supposed to be encoded as a region 2 release. But for some reason, the discs are not encoded for any region (meaning that they can be played on any DVD player) and it is available to purchase on amazon.com in the US. Since this is a popular unreleased series with no US counterpart, we thought that it would be helpful to review at least the first season to let fans know what is available.

The series begins with the double-length "Pilot," where firm partner Norman Chaney dies, and leaves behind a huge surprise which is exposed at his funeral. Meanwhile, Michael (Harry Hamlin) is defending a wealthy man accused of rape, and a new partner, Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits) is about to join the firm. Michael becomes attracted to prosecutor Grace Van Owen (Susan Dey... yes, Laurie Partridge grew up to be a star of a legal drama) in "Those Lips, That Eye." Victor defends a girl accused of murdering her own brother in "The Princess and the Wiener King." In "Simian Enchanted Evening," Michael takes matters into his own hands to disrupt Grace's wedding (and succeeds). In the Emmy Award Winning episode "The Venus Butterfly" (an episode which was very bizarrely named after a, well, sexual technique featured in the episode), Grace prosecutes a gay man with AIDS accused of killing his lover in a mercy killing.

Arnie's (Corbin Bersen) latest divorce case involves his own parents in "Fry Me to the Moon," and meanwhile, Michael is about to take on one of his most stressful cases ever. In "Sidney, the Dead Nosed Reindeer," Michael is traumatized after an attorney kills himself... in the courtroom. Grace's latest prosecution case in "Beef Jerky" involves the theft of bull semen. Grace has already successfully won her murder case which she has been prosecuting in "Fifty Ways to Floss Your Lover," but she quickly learns that getting a man sentenced to death only makes herself a target for murder. Grace decides to take a little time off from work to relax after, well, nearly being murdered, in "Oy Vey, Wilderness." The first season ends with "Pigmalion," where Victor has doubts about his latest case.

It appears that the episodes on the set are unedited, with original music intact as well. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Pilot" (1:37:07)
2. "Those Lips, That Eye" (48:34)
3. "The House of the Rising Flan" (48:30)

Disc 2:
4. "The Princess and the Wiener King" (48:38)
5. "Simian Chanted Evening" (48:40)
6. "Slum Enchanted Evening" (48:32)
7. "Raiders of the Lost Bark" (48:41)

Disc 3:
8. "Gibbon Take" (48:45)
9. "The Venus Butterfly" (48:41)
10. "Fry Me to the Moon" (48:39)
11. "El Sid" (48:41)

Disc 4:
12. "Sidney, the Dead-Nosed Reindeer" (48:51)
13. "Prince Kuzak in a Can" (48:44)
14. "The Douglas Fur Ball" (48:38)
15. "December Bribe" (48:39)

Disc 5:
16. "Beef Jerky" (48:40)
17. "Becker on the Rox" (48:47)
18. "Fifty Ways to Floss Your Lover" (48:51)
19. "The Grace of Wrath" (48:53)

Disc 6:
20. "Sparky Brackman, R.I.P." (48:29)
21. "Oy Vey, Wilderness" (48:37)
22. "Pigmalion" (48:33)

The DVD set comes packaged in a thick keepcase, and there is also an outer cardboard sleeve with the exact same artwork as the plastic keepcase. The cover has a cast photo, along with the familiar series "license plate" logo. On the back of the case, there is a brief description of the series, a few episode snapshots, and a listing of all of the episodes on the set... enumerated with roman numerals, oddly enough. Inside, the only artwork is the Los Angeles skyline with a large photo of the license plate logo in the background. The discs have artwork that is designed like... you guessed it, the license plate logo. There are six discs total, with three episodes on Disc 1 (including the double-length pilot), four episodes on each of Discs 2-5, and three episodes on Disc 6.

The menus on the set are very nice, featuring the theme song playing in the background on the menu with video clips on one side of the screen, a stack of law books on the other side, and the series title logo (with the word California replaced by Season One and the year sticker on the license plate replaced with the disc number). Options on the main menu include Play All and Episodes. Once you select Episodes, you get a menu with legal pads (great pun) which have photos of the episodes on them,  along with the title underneath the photo. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.

Perhaps the only weak point of this set is the video and audio quality. While it is certainly sufficient, it has not been remastered, at all. I was honestly shocked at how much grain and debris that the episodes had on them. It was almost like watching a much older series. The episodes are said to be PAL encoded, which is the UK standard, but if it is, there don't seem to be any of the usual PAL to NTSC conversion issues here. The audio is fine, but a bit lower on some episodes. Unfortunately, there are no closed-captions or subtitles for the episodes.

This is a UK release with no US counterpart, so needless to say, there aren't any special features.

This is a fine DVD release, but I certainly hope that somebody gets on the ball to get this released in the United States. The DVDs have already been produced for the UK, and honestly, these DVDs are good enough to be released as they are on this set in the US. It would simply be better to have a US release so that the packaging could be less "European based" and to bring the cost of the set down to a more reasonable price. Most likely, the only matter holding things up is Fox willing to work with a distributor in the US. Until/unless that happens, though, we have this release of the first season, and hopefully with the remaining seven seasons on the way, we'll get those region-free as well. We probably won't be doing any more reviews of the UK releases of this series (though we will have more if we ever get US releases), but we'll certainly keep you updated on any information which we discover on them!

(4/5 stars)

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

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
L.A. Law on TV.com


CLICK OF THE WEEK

CLG Wiki (www.closinglogos.com) - Certainly, not all of the people in the world bother to watch anything on a TV show once the closing credits start to roll (and that large number of people who don't care about who deserves credit are probably why closing credits have been marginalized to a few inches of space while network promos run these days), and even the ones who do likely don't pay attention to those production company logos which appear at the very end of the credits (or sometimes these days right before the closing credits). But for those who do pay attention--and even those who don't pay attention, but are still interested--the CLG Wiki, an offshoot of something that began as an online mailing list and grew into a full-fledged website with photos, audio, video, and discussion of all of these logos.

Hopefully, everybody knows what we mean by closing logos. If not, then perhaps you could start with something familiar such as the Viacom "V of Doom" and work your way around to more rare ones such as the Embassy logos. Of course, that isn't even close to the rarest and most unusual that you can get on this site. There are even some very intriguing ones from around the world. The first logo appearing on this page, from Russia, is literally the scariest and most disturbing closing logo which I have ever seen. There is a ton of unique content to discover on this site, and since it is a wiki, it doesn't depend upon one person making updates on their own schedule, but rather gets updated frequently by many different users. So you should not only check this site out today, but keep coming back for more.

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 16

The Goldbergs - "Animal House" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Barry decides to rush a fraternity, but it doesn’t quite work out as he expects. Meanwhile, Beverly and Murray find themselves getting closer to being empty nesters, which means more hobbies and activities for Beverly and more TV for Murray.

Schooled - "Kick Like a Girl" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Hoping to improve the football team’s chances at winning the title, Coach Mellor and Principal Glascott recruit star soccer player Felicia to kick field goals. But soon, she is treated like one of the guys, which affects her relationship with fellow player Reza. Meanwhile, CB chaperones an overnight ski trip and hopes to get in some quality time with Lainey but is constantly thwarted by socially awkward Tom Scott.

Modern Family - "Pool Party" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mitch and Cam help Lily overcome her insecurities about wearing a bathing suit to a pool party but discover their own. Meanwhile, now that Gloria’s new internship is taking up so much of her time, Jay is feeling particularly neglected.

Single Parents - "Big Widow Wives" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After a house incident leaves Graham in fear of staying in his and Angie’s home, Angie enlists Will to help her get the house back together; however, there is a hiccup in the plan as Angie discovers a possum on the loose that she has to deal with. Meanwhile, Poppy discovers that Douglas is lying to her about a weekly poker game he must attend, as he participates in a weekly widow’s support group instead, causing Poppy to get a little jealous of his emotional vulnerability with the women in his support group.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "The Gang Chokes" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Annoyed that the gang failed to react as he nearly choked to death on an appetizer, Frank decides the waiter, his savior, is the only person who has his back.

Family Time - "Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Devin starts dating an older woman, which has Tony and Lisa concerned; Ebony's school project inspires her to go vegan.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 14)

Wednesday, October 16

  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Watch Jennifer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Dane Cook (Maybe This Time) - Dane appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi) - Whoopi is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Goodman (The Conners/Roseanne/Center of the Universe/Normal, Ohio) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie/Burning Love/Players) - June appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) and Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Thomas and Whitney are panelists on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa chats with the ladies of The View about her book Project Middle School (Alyssa Milano’s Hope #1) on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Rapaport (Awkward/The War at Home) - Michael stops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory/8 Simple Rules) - Kaley is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Paul Rudd (Living with Yourself/Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/Wild Oats) - Paul talks about Netflix's Living with Yourself on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ali Wong (American Housewife/Are You There, Chelsea?) - Ali talks about Dear Girls on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) - William talks about The Good Place on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Angela Kinsey (The Office/Haters Back Off/Your Family or Mine) and Jenna Fischer (Splitting Up Together/The Office) - Angela and Jenna talk about the Office Ladies Podcast on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the BUILD Series at 2pm.
  • Julie Andrews (Julie) - Julie talks about her book Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years on the BUILD Series at 5pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (August/September/October)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series

08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Fourth Season
08/13 - I Love Lucy - Colorized Collection
08/13 - Leave it to Beaver - Seasons One and Two
08/20 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six
08/27 - Baskets - The Complete Season Four
08/27 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Thirteenth Season
09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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10/10 - Daily Show Correspondent Gets Comedy Special; Fox Gets Jenna Dewan for Dance Show
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10/08 - Search Party Moving to HBO Max for Seasons 3 and 4; Disney Gets More Gabby Duran & the Unsittables
10/07 - 2019 New York Comic Con Round Up
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10/03 - The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show Coming Soon to Netflix; Family Time Returns for Season Seven
10/02 - Visit Schitt's Creek Pop-Up; Viacom Networks Finish 2018-19 Strong
10/01 - HGTV Goes Behind the Brady Bunch Build; LMN Sets 25 All-New TV Movies This Fall
09/30 - Freeform Says Everything's Gonna Be Okay with New Comedy; HBO Max Teams Up with Ellen for 4 Projects
09/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 30, 2019)
09/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: thirtysomething Reboot in the Works; Decades Celebrates Brady Bunch 50th Anniversary
09/27 - Fri-Yay: Primetime Emmy Results for Comedy; AFV Gets 30th Anniversary Special
09/26 - Seinfeld Moving from TBS to Viacom Networks in 2021; Tell Me a Story Returns Dec. 5 with New Cast
09/25 - NBC Fall Pilot Review: Sunnyside - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26); CBS Fall Pilot Review: Carol's Second Act - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26)
09/24 - NBC Fall Pilot Review: Perfect Harmony - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26); CBS Fall Pilot Review: The Unicorn - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26)
09/23 - CBS Fall Pilot Review: Bob Hearts Abishola - Premieres Monday (Sept. 23); ABC Fall Pilot Review: mixed-ish - Premieres Tuesday (Sept. 24)
09/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 23, 2019)
09/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Reboots for The Office and Even Hogan's Heroes?; The Boondocks Returning for Two New Seasons on HBO Max
09/20 - Fri-Yay: Primetime Emmy Predictions for Comedy; Paramount Heads to Paris for New Comedy
09/19 - Pop TV Renews Schitt's Creek for Sixth and Final Season, Fifth Season Marathon to Air on Sept. 21; HBO Max Revives The Boondocks
09/18 - NBC Streaming Service Peacock Sets Reboots of Saved by the Bell & Punky Brewster; The Big Bang Theory Coming to HBO Max, While TBS Renews Through 2028
09/17 - ABC Sets Reunions of Cheers, The Drew Carey Show, Girlfriends, Charmed, Castle and More; NBC Renews Titan Games for Season 2
09/16 - Nick Slates Are You Afraid of the Dark? Premiere; Spectrum Originals Drama Goes Back Into Production for Season 2 in 2020
09/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 16, 2019)