Saturday, March 09, 2013

Digital Digest: Date Set for Season 3 of Alice; Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season DVD Review


Welcome to Digital Digest! We're reaching the end of winter, but before that, we'll "warm you up" with a review of Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

Alice is finally on the way! Rumors were floating last month about a mysterious pre-order listing that appeared on amazon.com last month for the item, but now it seems that it will really be coming on March 19. On that day, Warner Archive will begin shipping Alice - The Complete Third Season. Hopefully, they'll continue with this steady pace of releases of the classic sitcom.

Shout! Factory's release MADtv - The Complete Second Season is still a few weeks away (oh, and we'll have a review soon, by the way), but it appears that the wait for season three won't be too long. MADtv - The Complete Third Season is scheduled to be released on June 25.

Last week, we mentioned that The Cleveland Show - The Complete Third Season was available to order from amazon.com, as a CreateSpace MOD item. We can confirm that this is actually shipping already, as many customers (including myself) have received their copy of this DVD! So if you want to see these episodes on DVD, your chance to get them has arrived!


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (March 12) has two releases of interest for fans of classic rural sitcoms, with MPI's releases of The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction - Return to Hooterville: 50th Anniversary Collection. Additionally, CBS completes a classic drama with Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season.



BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: Father Dowling Mysteries - The Final (Third) Season (CBS DVD, $59.98)
by Todd

Sleuth or dare. Heaven help the criminals who cross paths with Father Frank Dowling (Tom Bosley) and Sister Steve (Tracy Nelson). For the first time on DVD, the third and final season of Father Dowling Mysteries has something for every congregation of fans. From undercover nuns and sinister Santas to run-ins with a devil of an enemy and an appearance by "Sherlock Holmes" himself. Frank and Steve investigate their hearts out. With the support of loyal housekeeper Marie (Mary Wickes) and fellow man of the cloth, Father Prestwick (James Stephens), Frank and Steve ensure that Chicago's bad guys don't have a prayer.

The third and final season was the only season to have full order of episodes. They broadcast 22 one-hour episodes this season. The show continued to air on ABC on Thursday nights at 8pm. Here are the episodes included in this release, including the runtimes:

Disc 1:
"The Royal Mystery" (09/20/90) (48:06) - When a murderer targets a British noblewoman, Sister Steve trades places with the royal while Father Dowling tries to corner the killer.
Notable Guest Star: David McCallum, Thomas Calabro

"The Medical Mystery" (9/27/90) (47:09) - Father Dowling and Sister Steve investigate a string of murders at a hospital, where Father Prestwick is in danger of becoming the next victim.

"The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea Mystery" (10/04/90) (48:04) - Father Dowling faces off with an underworld crime boss whom he perceives as the Dark Prince himself.

"The Showgirl Mystery" (10/18/90) (48:03) - Sister Steve's friend, a nightclub showgirl, loses her mogul fiancé on her wedding day.
Notable Guest Star: Bill Macy

Disc 2:
"The Movie Mystery" (10/25/90) (47:41) - When St. Michael's is used as a location for a movie shoot, a series of deadly accidents threatens everyone on set.
Notable Guest Star: Philip Charles MacKenzie, Mark Moses

"The Undercover Nun Mystery" (11/01/90) (47:25) - Sister Steve returns to the convent to celebrate its silver jubilee.
Notable Guest Stars: Fionnula Flanagan, John Vernon, Colm Meeney

"The Murder Weekend Mystery" (11/08/90) (47:38) - A murder mystery weekend for writers turns a little too real when the terminally ill host arranges his own murder, then leaves a video challenging the scribes to find the killer.
Notable Guest Stars: Jim Beaver, David Warner

"The Reasonable Doubt Mystery" (11/15/90) (48:06) - While serving an a murder trial, juror Father Dowling expresses reasonable doubt that deadlocks the jury.

Disc 3:
"The Vanishing Victim Mystery" (11/29/90) (47:15) - Father Dowling befriends a young woman at the airport, who becomes the target of a kidnapping plot.

"The Christmas Mystery" (12/13/90) (48:08) - While Father Dowling investigates the attempted murder of a young widow, Sister Steve helps out at a department store where there is a gun-wielding Santa.

"The Fugitive First Mystery" (01/03/91) (48:03) - Father Dowling has faith that his con man twin brother is turning over a new leaf.
Notable Guest Stars: Tony Todd, Michelle Forbes

"The Substitute Sister Mystery" (1/10/91) (48:04) - An amnesiac nun wanders into the rectory claiming to be Sister Steve.

"The Missing Witness Mystery" (1/24/91) (48:01) - Father Dowling must figure out if a businessman charged with murder was framed.
Notable Guest Stars: Jenny O'Hara, Charles Frank

Disc 4:
"The Prodigal Son Mystery" (1/31/91) (46:59) - A man shows up in Father Dowling's confessional admitting to an affair and claiming to be the priest's long-lost son.
Notable Guest Star: John Rubinstein, Kate Vernon

"The Moving Target Mystery" (2/07/91) (48:05) - A hitman warns Father Dowling that someone wants him dead.
Notable Guest Star: Richard Kline

"The Priest Killer Mystery" (2/14/91) (47:04) - A serial killer targeting priests puts Father Dowling's life in jeopardy.
Notable Guest Stars: Eugene Roche, John Astin

"The Mummy's Curse Mystery" (2/21/91) (46:56) - Father Dowling tries to determine if an ancient Egyptian curse claimed the life of a museum curator.
Notable Guest Star: Grant Heslov

"The Monkey Business Mystery" (03/07/91) (47:37) - When a zookeeper is seemingly killed by a chimp, Father Dowling and Sister Steve attempt to keep the docile primate from being put down while trying to find the real killer.
Notable Guest Stars: Dan O'Herlihy, Ethan Phillips, Vanessa Bell Calloway

Disc 5:
"The Hardboiled Mystery" (3/28/91) (47:30) - One of Father Dowling's friends pens a book featuring characters based on real-life people, including Frank and Steve.
Notable Guest Star: Kevin McCarthy

"The Malibu Mystery" (4/04/91) (47:10) - While in Los Angeles for a conference, Father Dowling and Sister Steve stand by an old friend who confesses to a murder they know he did not commit.
Notable Guest Star: Stanley Kamel

"The Consulting Detective Mystery" (4/25/91) (48:04) - After Father Dowling mistakenly gets an innocent man arrested, he loses confidence in his detective abilities.
Notable Guest Star: Kurt Fuller

"The Joyful Noise Mystery" (5/02/91) (48:06) - Father Dowling supports the campaign of a potential District Attorney.
Notable Guest Star: Ivan Dixon

The episodes run between 47-48 minutes. A few seem about 30-60 seconds shorter than the average. They may just have had more commercials that week. Once again, there's a disclaimer on the back cover which reads: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for the home entertainment version." This is a standard disclaimer on most CBS DVD releases, so it doesn't necessarily mean any episodes are actually edited. I don't know how much music the show originally used, but hopefully any music substitutions are very minor. The set has a total running time of approximately 17 hours, 29 minutes.

The packaging for this 5-disc set is a clear plastic Viva case. On the cover, we have a photo of Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson, along with the show title and interior church background. A cast photo of Tracy Nelson, James Stephens, Tom Bosley and Mary Wickes is used on the back cover. There are four or five additional episode snapshots below it. Tom Bosley is, once again, featured on the spine of the case. Inside, the episode titles, original airdates and short summaries are listed by disc. A tinted photo of the city skyline is used as the background. Discs 1 and 2 contain 4 episodes. Discs 3 and 4 contain 5 episodes. Disc 5 rounds out the set with the final 4 episodes of the series.

Moving on to the menus, they are simple and easy to navigate. Each main menu features a different photo: Tom Bosley on Disc 1, Tracy Nelson Disc 2, James Stephens on Disc 3, Mary Wickes on Disc 4 and Tracy Nelson and Tom Bosley on Disc 5. The church exterior is in the background. The show logo is in a red bar at the top of the screen. Below that is a gold bar with the season and disc number. The episode titles are listed vertically in yellow text. When you select an episode, it takes you to another sub-menu where there is a different episode snapshot for each episode. The episode title is listed in a red banner at the top. There are options to play the episode or the episodic promo. There is no Play All option. The subtitles menu features a photo of the four main cast members. Chapters are placed at the appropriate places. When you first insert Disc 1, there is an option to play previews or go to the main menu. There are trailers (2:14) for Hawaii Five-O - The Final Season, Perry Mason - The 50th Anniversary Edition and two special editions of Touched by an Angel.

The video and audio quality seems a bit improved over the first two seasons. These episodes could have benefited from additional remastering, but they are all certainly watchable. Episodes are presented in their original full screen 4x3 format. They show some age and have some occasional dirt, debris and other digital artifacts. The series always had a somewhat dark and gritty look, but the episodes in the final two seasons when they moved the show to Los Angeles appear a bit brighter. The audio is a Dolby Digital English Stereo track. There are no major problems. I always loved the opening credits and theme. Composer Bruce Babcock received an Emmy nomination for his work on the score this season. English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are available on all of the episodes.

Only episodic promos have been included as a special feature on the previous two seasons. It's the same story here. These are 35-40 second previews that tell you what's happening "next on Father Dowling". The video quality of these promos isn't as good as the episodes, but they are fun to see. They give you a good idea of what each episode is about. Every episode from the final season has a promo included. It would have been great to see some cast and crew interviews and audio commentaries, but these promos are better than no extras at all.

All 43 episodes and the TV pilot movie are now available on DVD. Paramount released all three seasons in a little over a year, so they did a nice job making them available at a quick pace. I always thought the show was underrated and had a decent-sized following, so I'm not surprised that it didn't take them very long to complete the series. If you enjoy mystery/crime dramas like Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, and Diagnosis Murder, this is a series to check out.

This set is priced noticeably higher than the first two seasons. The final season had nine more episodes and runs seven more hours than the second season, however. Hopefully the price drops considerably in a few months. The first two seasons are great buys at their current low prices. Paramount apparently intends to bundle all three seasons together, so keep an eye for that. It's too bad that this was the only full season of the series. The show was delayed by a writer's strike in the first season. It never really caught on ratings wise the first season on NBC. ABC picked it up for the final two seasons.

This was my first time viewing the complete series. I have always been a Tom Bosley fan from his work on Happy Days, so it was nice to see him have more success on the series. Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson may have seemed like an odd pairing, but they made it work. James Stephens and Mary Wickes were also excellent in their supporting roles. Overall, it was just an enjoyable series. Look for many notable guest stars in the final season, including David McCallum, Thomas Calabro, Bill Macy, Philip Charles MacKenzie, Mark Moses, Fionnula Flanagan, John Vernon, Colm Feeney, Jim Beaver, David Warner, Tony Todd, Michelle Forbes, Jenny O'Hara, Charles Frank, John Rubinstein, Kate Vernon, Richard Kline, Eugene Roche, John Astin, Grant Heslov, Dan O'Herlihy, Ethan Phillips, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Kevin McCarthy, Stanley Kamel, Kurt Fuller and Ivan Dixon.

(4/5 stars)


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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
Father Dowling Mysteries on TV.com


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Who to Follow: Elizabeth Perkins (Twitter), "Wait...did I leave the gas on?!"
Claim to Fame: While she found her original success in movies, she has worked her way into TV in recent years. One of her first series roles was in the NBC sitcom Battery Park, an experience that she'd probably like for people to forget (don't worry, we did). Later, she went on to the series Weeds, where she stayed through the first five seasons. Her next journey will take her to a starring role in ABC's upcoming mid-season sitcom How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life).
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Pick of the Tweets: "Dont leave your animals in the car. Cuz I will smash your window with a rock." (July 3, 2012)

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, July 3

The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now in Living Color! - (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
CBS will honor the memory of legendary actor, producer, director, writer, comedian and Emmy Award winner Carl Reiner with THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW – NOW IN LIVING COLOR! A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO CARL REINER, featuring two colorized back-to-back classic episodes of the beloved 1960s series, Friday, July 3 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. As series creator and co-star, Carl Reiner personally supervised the original colorization of the episodes.

The special features “Coast to Coast Big Mouth,” which ranked #8 on TV Guide’s list of the “100 Greatest TV Episodes of All-Time,” and “October Eve,” which Mr. Reiner considered to be one of the series’ funniest episodes. Both were written by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff.

In “Coast to Coast Big Mouth,” Laura Petrie blurts out a top secret on a national television quiz show, revealing that comedian Alan Brady wears a toupee. The episode, which was the show’s fifth and final season premiere, was originally broadcast on Sept. 15, 1965. “Coast to Coast Big Mouth” won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 1966.

In “October Eve,” a painting of Laura returns to haunt her when, despite her having posed fully clothed, the artist (played by Carl Reiner) takes the liberty of “undraping” her. The episode was first presented on April 8, 1964, during season three.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 29)

Friday, July 3

  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Watch Kevin on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 12:35am on ABC.
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - Tina appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Laura Dern (Enlightened) - Laura is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Mark Duplass (Togetherness/The Mindy Project/The League) - Mark appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa guest hosts a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Brett Gelman (Camping/Fleabag/Love/Married/Go On) - Brett appears on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Tika Sumpter (mixed-ish/The Game) - Tika talks about the season finale of mixed-ish and her latest project helping new moms on a repeat of Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Peter Gallagher (Grace and Frankie/The Secret Lives of Men) - Peter talks about Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist and Grace and Frankie on a repeat of Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March/April/May/June)

Martin - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Seventh and Final Season The Good Place - The Final (Fourth) Season Head of the Class - The Complete First Season Modern Family - The Eleventh and Final Season

02/04 - Martin - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
02/11 - Step by Step - The Complete Sixth Season (WBShop.com)
02/18 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/25 - Better Things - The Complete Third Season
03/17 - Crashing - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/07 - Cheers - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
04/14 - Police Squad! - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/14 - The Righteous Gemstones - The Complete First Season
04/21 - Step by Step - The Complete Seventh and Final Season (WBShop.com)
05/05 - Kidding - Season 2
05/19 - The Good Place - The Final (Fourth) Season
05/19 - The Good Place - The Complete Series - Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)
05/26 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
05/26 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Series
06/02 - Work in Progress - Season 1
06/09 - Head of the Class - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
06/09 - Letterkenny - Seasons 3 & 4
06/09 - Modern Family - The Eleventh and Final Season
06/23 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Third Season (Blu-ray)
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