Saturday, May 05, 2012

Digital Digest: CBS Home Entertainment Revives Classics; Busy Pre-Fall Season for ABC Studios; Vega$ - The Third Season, Volume 1 DVD Review


Welcome to our not-so-festive Cinco de Mayo edition of Digital Digest! Today, we've got a review today of Vega$ - The Third Season, Volume 1, as well as all of your regular Digital Digest features, with a busy news week. So before you have your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, take a little time to enjoy what we have for you!


DIGITAL NEWS

CBS Home Entertainment has been hard at work lately reviving series which were perceived to be either dead or close to it, and this week is no exception. This week, we got announcements of releases of Melrose Place - The Final Season (Volume 1 and Volume 2) for a July 31 release and Touched by an Angel - The Fifth Season on July 24 (note that the series was released in half seasons for previous releases, so this is a "heavenly" change). But the biggest (and most unexpected) was the announcement for The Untouchables - Season 4 (Volume 1 and Volume 2), finally completing that classic series on July 24.

That isn't all for CBS, though. According to this article, they also have Becker - The Fourth Season on the horizon, but it will be a CreateSpace MOD item from amazon.com. So, you won't find this in stores. In fact, we don't even know when it'll begin shipping as a MOD item, as no date is given. But as soon as we know more, we'll let you know.

Shout! Factory has been very busy with releases lately, and they have a few more of interest to us which were announced just this week. The first one is actually not that big of a surprise, as Shout! had previously announced that they had acquired it, but gave no date at the time. Well, now we have a date (and a pre-order listing) for a series which Sony had abandoned, with The Rookies - The Complete Second Season. It comes on August 7 at a $44.99 MSRP. On the same day, Shout! has a value-priced collection of the classic sitcom Dennis the Menace with their release of Dennis the Menace - 20 Timeless Episodes, a two disc set which comes at a very low $12.99 MSRP

Finally, we save for the end our "you knew it was coming, just a matter of it being announced" titles, or in other words, those DVDs of the current season of your favorite series. With the 2011-2012 TV season beginning to wrap up, it is about time that we get some announcements, and ABC Studios made plenty of them this week. These begin on August 21, with the release of Revenge - The Complete First Season. The following week, on August 28, comes Once Upon a Time - The Complete First Season, but this will be available not only on DVD, but also Blu-ray! Hopefully, that release will sell on Blu-ray, because ABC Studios has been a studio which often tends to try a season on Blu-ray and abandon it, which is what happened when one season of Grey's Anatomy was released on the high-definition format. But speaking of Grey's Anatomy, yet another week later, on September 4, look for Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Eighth Season... but only on DVD! The spinoff of that series isn't too far off, because if you move ahead just one more week to September 11, you'll get Private Practice - The Complete Fifth Season. Naturally, with four consecutive weeks of releases, you've got to expect a fifth one, and you'll actually get two of them on September 18, with Castle - The Complete Fourth Season and Body of Proof - The Complete Second Season. All of this DVD madness from ABC ends on September 25 with Desperate Housewives - The Complete Eighth and Final Season. But if that isn't enough, you'll also be able to own Desperate Housewives - The Complete Series on the same day! That one isn't available to order yet, though.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (May 8) is a bit of a slow day for releases. CBS Home Entertainment has Vega$ - The Third Season, Volume 1, which we have a review for today in Digital Digest. Also, from Shout! Factory, we have Fantasy Island - The Complete Second Season. We have not yet received a review copy of this set, but we will have a review when and if we do receive one.

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: Vega$ - The Third Season, Volume 1 (CBS Home Entertainment, $36.98)
by skees53

Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) is back in Vega$ - The Third Season, Volume 1! The three disc set contains all of the first eleven episodes of the final season of the classic Aaron Spelling production, where Tanna has to battle all of the crime (and the countless beautiful women) on the streets of Las Vegas and at the historic (and now demolished) Desert Inn on the strip. Although the series only aired for three seasons in the late '70s and early '80s on ABC, it left a legacy which is remembered to this date. Rounding out the cast are Bobby "Binzer" Borso (Bart Braverman), Beatrice Travis (Phyllis Davis), and Lt. David Nelson (Greg Morris). 

The season begins with the double-length episode "Aloha, You're Dead," where Dan is kidnapped and taken to Hawaii, and has to find a way out. In "Black Cat Killer," Dan is on the hunt for a cat burglar who manages to murder his victims on the way out. Dan is determined to get the truth after he kills a burglar in "Sudden Death," even after the district attorney absolves him. In "Love Affair," Dan falls in love with a prostitute, with a pimp who has a bombshell secret. In "A Deadly Victim," an alcoholic former attorney hires Dan when an assassin kills a vagrant who foiled a murder attempt.

A nun is determined to turn the Desert Inn into a convent in "Deadly Blessing." In "Christmas Story," Dan's vacation at a ski trip comes with a surprise which is of Maury Povich paternity test proportions. An ex-addict takes vengance on Dan by poisoning his food and drugging him with heroin in "Andreas Addiction." In "Sourdough Suite," a prospector losing a satchel of money could be dangerous for Dan. Beatrice witnesses a murder while flying over a luxurious home in "Murder by Mirrors." Finally, in "Backlash," a mother hires Dan to find out why her grown daughter goes out at night dressed like a teenager.

The series is known for having many guest stars, and in this half-season, you'll see Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Erin Gray, Stepfanie Kramer, Priscilla Barnes, Dick Sargent, Ruta Lee, June Lockhart, and many more.

The episodes all appear to be unedited, with very consistent runtimes floating around 49:20 per episode (none are abnormally short). The exact runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Aloha, You're Dead" (1:34:04)
2. "Black Cat Killer" (49:21)
3. "Sudden Death" (49:22)

Disc 2:
4. "Love Affair" (49:19)
5. "A Deadly Victim" (49:19)
6. "Deadly Blessing" (49:16)
7. "Christmas Story" (49:21)

Disc 3:
8. "Andreas Addiction" (49:22)
9. "Sourdough Suite" (49:23)
10. "Murder by Mirrors" (49:20)
11. "Backlash" (49:22)

The packaging is pretty standard. As usual, we have a standard Viva case, with a large photo of Dan Tanna on the front (and the supporting cast in the far background), and several episode snapshots, along with a description of the series on the back. Inside, you'll find the three discs, which have the standard CBS Home Entertainment style artwork... the series logo on a gray background. Each disc contains four episodes (if you count the double length season premiere as two episodes, anyway). The episode titles, along with descriptions, airdates, and guest stars are printed inside the case, but CBS did a TERRIBLE job in the way which they positioned these descriptions! It is very easy to read the descriptions for the episodes on Disc 1, but to read the descriptions for Disc 3, you'll have to remove Disc 3. The biggest disaster is the listing Disc 2. They foolishly (AGAIN!) decided to print the Disc 2 episode titles and descriptions through the middle of the case, so you can't even read these descriptions (and they put a lot of work into writing them) unless you remove the tray containing the discs. It is a real mess, and I'm not sure why releases of this series are the only one with that issue.

The menus are pretty basic on the set, but nice looking. The main menu is designed to look like a Las Vegas marque, with all of the episode titles listed on the marque. There is also an option to play all episodic promos and to turn on the English subtitles, but no Play All option (CBS seems to have abandoned this option for their DVDs). On the right side of the main menu, you'll find a photo of a different cast member on each disc. Once you select an episode, you get another marque which has a photo from the episode, and options of Play Episode, Play with Episodic Promo, and Main Menu. Once you choose one of the play options, the episode plays immediately. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.

The video and audio quality of the episodes on this set is pretty good, which is a bit peculiar, really. These Aaron Spelling series from this era either look really good or really bad... depending upon which studio maintains the distribution rights for the series. Many of the Columbia (or as they are known now, Sony) series, such as Starsky & Hutch and Charlie's Angels didn't quite hold up that well for quality on DVD, and even in quality in reruns of the series. Meanwhile, the ones which were held by Paramount or Fox (and most, though not all, of those Fox series have since moved to Paramount) tend to look pretty good, even without remastering. With that being said, there is some grain and debris, but it isn't a huge deal. The mono audio track is unimpressive, but it was the standard for the era, and it isn't like we'll ever see some fabulously remixed audio for this series given what is available. The episodes all contain English subtitles.

The only special feature on the set is very minimal, but nice to have. There are original episode promos for all of the episodes, which you can play before the beginning of the episode or play all of the ones for each disc from the main menu. These all run around 34 seconds per episode.

I can't say that there is anything which really impresses me about this DVD set, because it is really just another set of episodes. But the episodes are very enjoyable to watch, and there aren't any quality issues, so the set isn't a problem either. Hopefully, we'll see the remainder of this season soon. Given that CBS has been typically releasing their half seasons on the same date, it is a little disappointing that we didn't get both volumes on the same date for this set. But as long as CBS has it in their plans, it shouldn't be a big deal. As for the series itself, I think another review which I read for another season of the series recently sums it up: formulaic. But here, I like the formula of Dan rolling around the Vegas strip solving crimes. It is simplistic, but fun, and I think fans of some of the other simplistic Aaron Spelling series (particularly the ones from Sony) are guaranteed to love this series and DVD set.

(4/5 stars)

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CLICK OF THE WEEK

DVD Aficionado (www.dvdaf.com) - Lately, we've had a lot of websites for TV series as our Click of the Week. This week, we take a slightly different approach as we look at a website which is for all of you DVD collectors out there. DVD Aficionado is not really a website to go to just to look at a bunch of content that was created about any particular topic, but rather a website that was developed for DVD fans to keep an online inventory of their DVD collection, so that they can share what they own with the rest of the world, keep track of what they own, and even find the DVDs which they wish to own. Oh, and despite all of that use of the term DVD, it is for Blu-ray "aficionados" as well.

There really isn't a whole lot to be said about the website to actually describe it, but the feature which it is most often used for (and it handles it very well) is creating an online inventory of a home media library. Creating an account on the website is very easy (oh, and free, that is very important!), and once you have an account, it is easy to add your DVDs to your online collection, either by entering the title or UPC from the DVD. Once you add the DVD, you get a complete inventory which has full details of all of your titles listed, even including episode titles for your TV series releases (the website handles all DVDs, even those ones which you probably wouldn't want the world to know that you own, but we are mostly interested in the TV releases here). It's really easy to do, and you can share what you own with the whole world.

My personal experience with the website has been pretty good. You can check out some of my vast collection here, as an example. I have not even come close to entering my entire collection, but I was able to enter nearly 500 DVD sets (probably about half of my entire collection, which shows that I probably own too many!) in less than an hour, attesting to how easy the site is to use. So if you have a DVD collection, no matter how small or large, it is well worth the $0 investment that this site requires to have it all organized online, and to make this site not only your Click of the Week, but your click for every time you add a new title to your collection!

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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