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

Sunday, October 20

The Simpsons - "Treehouse of Horror XXX" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Milhouse is trapped in another dimension; dead Homer's spirit tries some new bodies on for size; Selma finds love in an unlikely place.

Bless the Harts - "Cremains of the Day" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Violet, David and Leonard take Wayne on a ghost hunt to cure his fear of ghosts; Jenny and Betty honor Jenny's late father on his favorite holiday.

Bob's Burgers - "Big Trouble in Little Tina" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Things get spooky when Tina dissects a pig in science class; Bob and Linda battle a giant ball of ear wax.

Family Guy - "Disney's The Reboot" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After the network decides it is time to reboot the series, three versions of the reboot are shown to a focus group, which produces some surprising feedback.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 14)

Sunday, October 20

  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Catch Alec on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 12:05am on NBC.


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
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
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