Saturday, March 16, 2013

Digital Digest: Jack Benny Update; New Crackle Content; MADtv - The Complete Second Season DVD Review


Welcome to this (really not so special) St. Patrick's Day weekend edition of Digital Digest! This weekend, along with all of your regular features, we've got a review of MADtv - The Complete Second Season. Let's get rolling!


DIGITAL NEWS

We reported on a release of The Jack Benny Program from Shout! Factory last year, and not much has materialized... but now, there seems to be a bit more, courtesy of The International Jack Benny Fan Club website. According to the fan site, the release will be coming to stores on July 23... but if you can't wait that long, it'll be available to own on June 18 from the Shout! Factory website.

Crackle, the free online streaming service from Sony, announced plans to add the series The Shield to the service. The series will be rolled out in seasonal installments through 2014. Unlike many other comparable services, Crackle allows free ad-supported streaming on any device, including mobile devices. While this addition isn't huge news for sitcom fans, it does provide hope that they could do this with more sitcoms in the future. Right now, the service provides mostly sporadic episodes of series, so we can hope for more!


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (March 19) brings us another great Warner Archive release, as they bring us Alice - The Complete Third Season. Also, for fans of Carsey-Werner sitcoms, Mill Creek completes one (and comes close to completing another) with their releases of Roseanne - The Complete Seventh Season, Roseanne - The Complete Eighth Season, That '70s Show - Season Seven, and That '70s Show - Season Eight. Finally, Shout! Factory has Quincy, M.E. - Season Five.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW


Blog DVD Review: MADtv - The Complete Second Season (Shout!, $29.93)
by skees53

In the '90s, one of Fox's most successful series was the sketch comedy series In Living Color. Unfortunately, a fallout with the Wayans family caused the show to be slowly dismantled, ultimately to the point of cancellation in 1994. But Fox wasn't going to give up on sketch comedy. In 1995, MADtv debuted on the network. It wasn't quite the same as In Living Color, but it did bring a return of the old format, and even some of the original writers from that series. Airing on Saturday nights, the series ended up lasting for fourteen seasons with 321 episodes. Several years ago, Warner Home Video released the first season, but sales weren't as good as hoped. Now, Shout! Factory has picked up the rights to release seasons 2-5.

It is hard to summarize all of the episodes of a sketch comedy series, so I'll just go through some of my favorite sketches of the season. One of the recurring themes, particularly early in the season, is the 1996 presidential election. David Herman plays the role of Bob Dole, and Bryan Callen plays the role of Bill Clinton as they go head-to-head in the election. The Vancome Lady (Nicole Sullivan) has jobs at both the Betty Ford Clinic and a casino in this season, neither of which goes very well. Nicole Sullivan and Debra Wilson both play Samantha in a hilarious spoof of the classic series Bewitched. Another one of my favorites is Young Alanis, where Debra Wilson plays the role of Alanis Morissette in elementary school, complete with a parody of her well-known song (which still receives considerable radio airplay today) "Ought to Know." With NBC's Thursday night lineup being a huge deal in this era, the series creates a parody of an ideal show to air between Seinfeld and ER, called Test Pattern. An episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that was "banned" gets a special airing on Nick at Nite in the episode that Adam Arkin hosts. Of course, there are a lot of other memorable recurring segments throughout the season, such as the UBS guy, the losers of the Lowered Expectations dating service, and one of my favorites X-News (which fit the whole "eXtreme" everything era of the 90s).

While the second season is very similar to the first in many regards, one key change in this season was to add a host to each episode of the series. The first of these hosts is Christina Applegate. Other hosts of interest to TV fans are Neve Campbell, Joe Rogan, French Stewart, Andrea Martin, Tommy Davidson, Mark Curry, Adam Arkin, and David Faustino.

The episodes on the set seem to be uncut, but I'm not sure what the source is for the episodes. At the beginning of each episode, there is a brief promo for the episode (like a syndication promo), and once the episode begins, there is a TV rating logo (i.e. TV-14) in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. In any event, I don't think there is anything wrong with these episodes. Runtimes of the episodes, listed by the name of the guest host, are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. Christina Applegate (42:54)
2. Ice-T (42:54)
3. Kim Coles (42:54)
4. Jack Wagner (42:54)
5. Neve Campbell (42:56)
6. Kevin McDonald (42:55)

Disc 2:
7. Joe Rogan (42:55)
8. French Stewart (42:54)
9. Harry Connick, Jr. (42:55)
10. Andrea Martin (42:58)
11. Superbowl Special (42:56)

Disc 3:
12. Rodney Dangerfield (42:55)
13. Queen Latifah (42:54)
14. Tommy Davidson (42:55)
15. Bobcat Goldthwait (42:56)
16. Pauly Shore (42:55)
17. Thomas Calabro (42:55)

Disc 4:
18. Mark Curry (42:55)
19. Adam Arkin (42:56)
20. Ryan Stiles (42:54)
21. David Faustino (42:53)
22. LL Cool J (42:55)

The set comes packaged in a Viva case, with some of the more memorable characters featured inside of "bubbles" on the cover and even more characters featured inside of "bubbles" on the back. There is also a description of the season on the back. Inside, you'll find the four discs, which contain 5-6 episodes per disc (more on the problems from that will come a bit later). Inside the case, a listing of hosts and airdates for the episodes is included.

The menus on the set are very basic... in fact, there is only one menu screen on each disc. On the menu, there is a Play All option, a listing of episodes, and a series of rapidly changing snapshots of Alfred E. Neuman. The theme song continuously loops in the background.

I'm not really overly impressed with the video and audio quality of this set, and I think that it likely has to do with the fact that so many episodes were crammed on each disc. Six episodes of a series that originally aired in a one hour time slot is overkill to some extent, and compression--something that hasn't been an issue on many DVDs recently--does seem to be a problem here. There are no subtitles or closed-captioning.

The set has one special feature... sort of. At the beginning of each episode, a promo plays for the episode, which I'm guessing was used for syndication. Other than that, we have nothing else. This set seems like a great set to include interviews. What else are the actors really doing now?

I'm glad that Shout! decided to pick up this series and continue it on DVD, but I certainly hope that they go beyond the fifth season. I enjoyed this series on Fox (up until the last season or two), and in watching this season, I've come to realize that the series really had not quite warmed up just yet. Some of the best actors and actresses of the series have yet to come, including Alex Borstein (now better known for her Family Guy voice work), Will Sasso, Mo Collins, Aries Spears, Stephnie Wier, and of course Michael McDonald. The only people truly memorable from this season are Nicole Sullivan and Debra Wilson. That doesn't mean the rest were bad, it is just that they didn't have the opportunity to play the characters that many fans truly loved on the series. In any event, I'm glad that we've at least got a chance to see this series on DVD, and can't wait to see more.

(4/5 stars)

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

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
MADtv on TV.com


FOLLOW ME 


Who to Follow: Rob Lowe (Twitter), "Love: family, dogs, espresso from an IV, politics, story telling, sobriety, acting, music, glassy overhead conditions. Hate: decaf"
Claim to Fame: We'll admit: we're taking a slightly different approach to our Follow Me for this week. Of course, we all know that Lowe's claim to fame primarily comes from movies, such as St. Elmo's Fire. But in recent years, Lowe has become more of a TV actor, appearing in regular roles in The West Wing and Brothers & Sisters. Despite all of that success, many critics have proclaimed that one of his greatest roles has actually been his current sitcom role, where he plays Chris Traeger on the NBC series Parks & Recreation.
Why You Should Follow Him: I'll be the first to admit that I never would have imagined Lowe being such a great sitcom actor, but I actually have come to enjoy him and his role in Parks & Recreation. In a sense, it helped me discover (and want to know) more about him. While he doesn't Tweet every detail of his life, nor does he interact directly with fans all that much (we know some celebs who are very actively interacting with fans), he does seem to be a very interesting and dynamical person, and many of his Tweets are fun to read.
Pick of the Tweets: "Hmmm, I wonder why Netflix just posted a surprise profit report? #WestWing ???" (January 24, 2013)

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, November 25

The Goldbergs - "Eracism" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Adam sets out to create a movie that will tackle racism but realizes he is out of his depth on the subject due to his sheltered upbringing. Meanwhile, Geoff is determined to teach Erica and Barry to become better people.

American Housewife - "Homeschool Sweet Homeschool" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
With Anna-Kat and Franklin (Evan O’Toole) home with mono, Katie seizes the opportunity to use them as the backdrop for her mommy vlog. And when Taylor’s first college paper comes back with an A, Greg questions her TA’s intentions. Meanwhile, Cooper (Logan Pepper) helps Oliver renovate the basement.

The Conners - "Friends in High Places and Horse Surgery" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Darlene begins to develop a friendship with a manager at Wellman Plastics, which lands her in an awkward situation between the boss and her sister, Becky. Meanwhile, Louise’s brother, Neville, tries to win over Jackie by making a thoughtful gesture, creating uncomfortable tension.

black-ish - "Babes in Boyland" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dre and Bow find out that Diane has a secret social media account and realize that she’s not their little girl anymore. After reprimanding her but allowing Jack more flexibility, Diane calls them out for the double standard in how they are parenting. Meanwhile, Junior and Ruby come clean to their respective romantic partners about white lies they’ve told since the beginning of their relationships.

Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Out of Character" (BET, 8:00PM ET/PT)
House of Payne is the hilarious comedy about Retired fire chief Curtis Payne and his lovely wife Ella. Together the loving couple navigate the problems of life with their quirky modern day family.

Tyler Perry's Assisted Living - "Add More Color" (BET, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Mr. Brown gives Sandra advice on how to get what she wants and her outfit for school.

Family Time - "Thanks for the Ticket" (Bounce TV, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Thanksgiving is approaching, and family members come bearing more than just luggage.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 23)

Wednesday, November 25

  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Watch Melissa on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC. She will also be on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • The original cast of Saved by the Bell - The original cast of Saved by the Bell are guests on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC. Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Haskiri Velazquez talk about Peacock's Saved by the Bell in the 9am hour.
  • Rob Corddry - Rob will be on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Chris Rock (Everybody Hates Chris) - Chris appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kal Penn (Sunnyside/Deadbeat/We Are Men) - Kal will be on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Tisha Campbell (Outmatched/Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/Martin) - Tisha is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Ben Falcone (Nobodies/Joey) - Ben appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jean Smart (Samantha Who?/Center of the Universe/In-Laws/High Society/Designing Women) - Jean will be on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jill Kargman (Odd Mom Out) - Jill co-pilots a special Thanksgiving-themed Drew's News on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace talks about Hallmark Channel's If I Only Had Christmas on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT and on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • John O'Hurley (Seinfeld/The Mullets) - John talks about NBC's The National Dog Show on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour.
  • Judy Greer (Kidding/Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided/Love & Money) - Judy talks about Uncle Frank on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Goldie Hawn (Good Morning World) - Goldie and Kurt talk about Netflix's The Christmas Chronicles 2 on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - NBC's Today has Thanks + Giving with Marlo in the 9am hour.


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

Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

08/04 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Eighth Season
08/04 - The Neighborhood - Season One
08/11 - Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens - Season 1
08/11 - Final Space - The First and Second Seasons (Blu-ray)
09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
09/15 - South Side - Season 1
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
10/23 - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - The Complete Collection
10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
11/10 - Letterkenny - Seasons 5 & 6
11/10 - The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/10 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Collection

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