Saturday, April 21, 2012

Digital Digest: S.W.A.T. - The Final Season DVD Review


Welcome to Digital Digest, your weekly source for all things digital when it comes to your favorite sitcoms... and other TV genres, of course! We've got all of your news and a preview of next week's releases, as usual, and this week, we've got a review of S.W.A.T. - The Final Season, which comes to DVD on May 22 (yes, we're a month early on this review, since the studio did a great job of getting it to us early) from Shout! Factory. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

Big news was announced this week regarding The Carol Burnett Show. The series has been released in a "best of" format and sold through infomercials over the past decade or so, but now, Time Life is really stepping up the game with a few releases of the series, ranging from a single disc "best of" release to a TWENTY disc set containing fifty complete episodes, along with plenty of bonus features. Full details aren't known yet, but releases will include a single disc release, a two disc release, a six disc set, and of course, the twenty disc set. And, unlike many Time-Life releases, this set will actually be available in stores. The big date for all of these releases is September 25, and you can read more about it all here.

Last week, we mentioned that Sony's MOD release of Benson - The Complete Second Season, which was scheduled to be released a few weeks ago, had shipped with some major defects and the item was subsequently removed from various websites. This week, the listing on amazon.com is showing a new release date of May 1, which leads us to believe that a corrected version of the release will begin shipping on that date. While we don't know this for certain, we'll certainly update you when we know for sure.

Finally, CBS has announced another release of the series Father Dowling Mysteries, with Father Dowling Mysteries - The Second Season. The three disc set, to be released on July 10, will contain all thirteen episodes of the second season of the series.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (April 24) is a great day for fans of black and white series, with releases of two vintage sitcoms which were short-lived (but full of laughs), with Shanachie's release of Car 54, Where Are You? - The Complete Second Season and TV Time Machine's release of I'm Dickens... He's Fenster - Volume One. You can read our review of Car 54, Where Are You? here, and I'm Dickens... He's Fenster is actually just the wide retail release of the set (it has been available from the series official website for several months), and you can read our original review of that set here.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: S.W.A.T. - The Final Season (Shout! Factory, $44.99)
by skees53

Aaron Spelling was known for bringing many series to television over the years, and in the '70s, he seemed to hit his stride with police dramas. The most well-known of those, of course, was Charlie's Angels, but he also introduced series such as Starsky & Hutch and The Rookies. And from The Rookies came a spinoff, one which only lasted for two seasons, but left a legacy as well: S.W.A.T. The series, which starred Steve Forrest as Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson, Robert Urich as Officer Jim Street, Roddy Perry as Sgt. "Deacon" Key, Mark Shera as Officer Dominic Luca, and James Coleman as Officer T.J. McCabe, follows a fictitious version of the real Los Angeles Police Department's Special Weapons and Tactics team as they go into the most dangerous situations that the ordinary police officers just can't handle with their training. In each and every episode, the team gets into dangerous situations where you never know if they're going to make it out alive... well, except that you know that it is a TV series, and that they can't just kill off characters every week.

There is likely going to be a bit of confusion about this release and even debate over whether this is the "complete" second season. Before I go any further, I should say that Shout! Factory didn't exactly do anything wrong, necessarily, with this set. They included all 24 of the episodes which were produced for the second season of the series, while Columbia Tristar (now going by their parent company name of Sony) included all 13 of the episodes which were produced for the first season of the series on their release several years ago. But online episode guides will clearly indicate that there were actually twenty five episodes aired in the second season. So where did the other one go? Well, the episode "Time Bomb," which AIRED during the second season, was actually produced during the FIRST season... and since Columbia Tristar (at that time, at least) had a tendency to release everything in production order. So to be clear, this set DOES complete the series, if you purchase the first season as released by Columbia Tristar (and if you are a fan, I'd strongly recommend that you do so as soon as possible, as nearly all releases from Sony have been going out of print lately).

The season begins with "Deadly Tide," a double-length episode where jewel thieves go underwater while committing their crimes. The team is facing a threatening force when they find a dead officer with the threatening words pinned to his chest in "Kill S.W.A.T." The team has to help in a dangerous eviction (yes, eviction) in "Vendetta." A former US Senator may have sinister motives when he befriends an officer in "Criss Cross." In "Vigilante," a radio repairman tunes into the team's radio frequencies, and arrives on the scene before they can... allowing him to effectively seek his own justice for his wife's murder. In "Ordeal," taking a convict to prison becomes very dangerous for Harrelson. The team is assigned to protect a prosecutor in "The Swinger."

The team is after an arsonist posing as a firefighter in "Murder By Fire." In "Silent Night, Deadly Night," what begins as an ordinary Christmas party for children in the hospital quickly turns into a situation where a millionaire's bodyguard is murdered in the same hospital. Some girls who decide to stay at school over the weekend (in part because of Luca) find themselves in grave danger when thieves plan to use the school (which they anticipated being empty) as an entry point to a bank vault in "Lessons in Fear." Chinatown criminals are being given S.W.A.T. secrets after a new lieutenant joins Harrelson in "The Chinese Connection." A group of militants threaten to blow up a radio station if their demands aren't met in "Any Second Now." In "Soldier on the Hill," Vietnam flashbacks cause serious problems for a veteran when he has to be disarmed by the team. The series ends with "Officer Luca, You're Dead," where Luca is charged with manslaughter after he is forced to kill a man who was holding his own wife hostage at gunpoint.

The episodes appear to be unedited based upon their runtimes. Most of the episodes have a Columbia Pictures Television logo from the early '90s on them, so I'm guessing that these were prints made for a network which aired it at that time (which I'm not sure off top of my head which network was airing the series at the time, and although I'm sure some fans would know, I'm not going to make a guess here). Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Deadly Tide" (1:36:35)
2. "Kill S.W.A.T." (49:35)
3. "Dealers in Death" (50:16)

Disc 2:
4. "Vendetta" (50:01)
5. "Criss Cross" (50:03)
6. "Vigilante" (50:09)
7. "Courthouse" (50:04)

Disc 3:
8. "Ordeal" (49:45)
9. "Strike Force" (50:09)
10. "The Swinger" (49:52)
11. "Terror Ship" (49:59)

Disc 4:
12. "Murder by Fire" (49:58)
13. "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (50:09)
14. "The Running Mad" (1:38:57)

Disc 5:
15. "Lessons in Fear" (49:45)
16. "Deadly Weapons" (50:05)
17. "The Chinese Connection" (50:05)
18. "Dragons and Owls" (50:09)

Disc 6:
19. "Any Second Now" (50:09)
20. "Soldier on the Hill" (50:00)
21. "Dangerous Memories" (50:03)
22. "Officer Luca, You're Dead" (50:06)

The DVDs are packaged in a Viva case with very nice packaging artwork. I don't know what it is about the packaging artwork on this set, but it is one of the nicest sets I've ever seen in regards to packaging. On the cover, we have a cast photo, with a grayish blue background. Shout! Factory even followed the tradition of Sony's release of the first season and listed the names of all of the stars underneath the series title. On the back, there is a very short description of the season, along with a few episode snapshots. Inside the case, you'll find the discs (six of them), which have very basic artwork with just the series logo. Each disc contains four episodes (or in some cases, one double-length episode and two regular length episodes). Episode titles are printed inside the case, but unfortunately, there are no descriptions or airdates.

The menus on this set are probably the most elegant and appropriate menus that I've ever really seen on a DVD set. Much like the packaging artwork, the menus feature a cast photo (actually the same one seen on the cover art), with several flashing lights and a floating "target" on the screen, with options of Play All and Episodes. Selecting Episodes takes you to a menu where some of the series incidental music plays, and all of the episodes are typed on a crinkled note, which actually moves around the screen JUST a little bit (not enough to make the menus confusing to navigate). There are also some red, white, and blue lights which move around the screen like a flashlight here... it is a very cool effect. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately, with chapters placed throughout the episode at all of the appropriate places.

The video and audio quality of the episodes on the set is decent, but I don't think anybody will be overly impressed. The colors are kind of dull, and there is some grain and debris... in essence, it looks like most of the '70s Aaron Spelling police dramas. The audio seems pretty decent, with levels remaining consistent throughout the episodes. The episodes are not closed-captioned, unfortunately.

There are no special features on this set at all, which is unfortunate because the first season didn't have any other. But at least we got the series completed on DVD... finally.

I think this series has won the award for the longest wait between seasons for ANY TV series. The first season was released in June 2003... NINE YEARS AGO... to tie in with the Samuel L. Jackson movie (which many people have long since forgotten even existed) released at that time. If fans were to ever give up hope of a series being continued, this would have been the one... but fortunately that was proven to be incorrect, and Shout! Factory has come through to give us the remainder of the series. It is too bad that this show didn't go beyond two seasons, but at least it didn't get a chance to really grow old. Fans of the series are certain to enjoy this, though. Fans of similar police dramas of the same era may or may not necessarily be able to get into this series, as it isn't as light-hearted as other ones (including some of Spelling's other ones) of the era, but nonetheless, it is still a great series to watch.

(4/5 stars)

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

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
S.W.A.T on TV.com


CLICK OF THE WEEK

All Things Carol Burnett (www.carolburnettfan.com) - The big news from this week was, of course, the announcement of several releases of Carol Burnett DVDs from Time Life. The news of these releases has been floating all over the internet, but one website that many people seem to be referring back to, including in the article from TVShowsOnDVD.com which we linked to earlier, is All Things Carol Burnett. It isn't an official website for the star, but it not only comes close to that, but in fact exceeds what you'd normally expect from an official website. On this website, you'll find a complete biography of Burnett, plenty of photos, and more. If you're looking to meet Burnett, you'll find out where you can meet her here... all of her appearances are listed, and it is updated frequently. The site also manages to get every little piece of news imaginable about the star. And finally, there is a connected website dedicate solely to the series itself. While the site is not necessarily a "content haven" as many other sites are, it is the level of dedication, and how well it manages to keep up with the star, which makes this our Click of the Week.


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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

Wednesday, February 28

The Conners - "Shrinks Don't Talk and Kids Don't Sing" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mark adjusts to his first day of college as a commuter student; meanwhile, Becky gets into a disagreement with Beverly Rose’s music teacher over a song.

Not Dead Yet - "Not Polite Yet" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Lexi combines the first two floors of the newsroom, leaving Nell to share a cubicle with T.J., a popular sportswriter who’s friends with everyone … except her.

Abbott Elementary - "Breakup" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Barbara’s church choir uses the gym for rehearsals, Ava notices tensions in the group. Jacob’s eagerness for a full social calendar worries Gregory. Melissa and Janine investigate a new substitute.

That Girl Lay Lay - "Lay Lay Goes Away-Way" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Needing a best friend to talk to, Sadie wishes that phone avatar Lay Lay was real and could help teach her how to stand out; when Lay Lay is magically brought to life, the two friends learn that when they are together, they can accomplish anything.

That Girl Lay Lay - "Out the App 2: E-Lay-Lay-tric Boogaloo" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Needing a best friend to talk to, Sadie wishes that phone avatar Lay Lay was real and could help teach her how to stand out; when Lay Lay is magically brought to life, the two friends learn that when they are together, they can accomplish anything.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 26)

Wednesday, February 28

  • Bob Odenkirk (The Larry Sanders Show) - Watch Bob on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Carrie Preston (Crowded/Happyish/Emeril) - Carrie is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She talks about Elsbeth on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am.
  • Austin Butler (Ruby & the Rockits/Zoey 101/Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide) - Austin appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jenny Slate (The Great North/Big Mouth/Married/Bob's Burgers) - Jenny is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever/Final Space) - Fred sits in with The 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Fortune Feimster (Kenan/Bless the Harts/Champions) and Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Fortune and Tig are guests on After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Son of Zorn/Suburgatory) and Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Broad City/Baby Boom) - Cheryl and Susie are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm on Bravo
  • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover/Shake It Up) - E! News has an interview with Zendaya at 11pm on E!.
  • Alan Cumming (Schmigadoon!) - Alan is joining Drew and Ross Mathews at the Drew'ss News desk to discuss headlines like the Romy and Michele's High School Reunion sequel in the works and the American alternative to the Irish exit on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kim Fields (The Upshaws/Living Single/The Facts of Life/Baby, I'm Back) - Kim discusses her wellness retreat and the upcoming new season of Netflix's The Upshaws on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.
  • Vivica A. Fox (Mr. Box Office/Getting Personal/Arsenio/Out All Night) and Michael Beach (The Game) - The cast of Soul Food reunite and discuss Hulu's new Black Stories Always on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.
  • Diane Farr (Splitting Together/Like Family/The Job) - Diane discusses the CBS drama series Fire Country on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


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

Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Father Knows Best - The Complete Series The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

11/07 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Sixth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/14 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/05 - Father Knows Best - The Complete Series
12/05 - The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/12 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Series
12/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 2 (Blu-ray)
12/12 - That Girl - The Complete Series
12/15 - Letterkenny - Season 11
12/19 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series
12/22 - Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection (includes The Ropers and Three's a Crowd)
01/09 - South Park - Seasons 11-15 (Blu-ray)
01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One

That Girl - The Complete Series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series

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