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, September 18

The Goldbergs - "Breakin'" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Adam unintentionally lets it slip that Barry never completed his community service requirement, the brothers join together to throw the greatest breakdancing battle in the history of William Penn. Geoff’s stress levels are at an all-time high, so Erica makes an adult decision and plans for them to follow the Grateful Dead all summer. Finally, it’s the end of an era when the JTP graduates from high school.

Schooled - "Dr. Barry" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After initially trying to sabotage him, CB works with Barry and the JTP to help him win back Lainey’s heart. Meanwhile, Glascott faces removal as principal after a prank damages William Penn Academy.

Modern Family - "A Year of Birthdays" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
As the birth of Haley and Dylan’s twins approaches, we take a look back at how each family member celebrated their birthdays this past year.

Single Parents - "Ketchup" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After learning that Angie’s ex Derek (played by Adam Brody) lives near Space Camp, Will convinces Angie to confront him about leaving her when she was pregnant, which results in a rowdy and awkward encounter between the three of them. Meanwhile, Poppy internally struggles with who she truly has romantic feelings.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 16)

Wednesday, September 18

  • Zach Galifianakis (Baskets) - Watch Zach on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Lake Bell (Bless This Mess/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/How to Make It in America) - Lake drops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Billy Crystal (The Comedians/Soap) - Billy visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Sara Gilbert (The Conners/Roseanne/Bad Teacher/Twins) - Sara is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also talks about The Conners on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9m, on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan (check your listings), on the BUILD Series at 11:15am and on ABC's Strahan, Sara & Keke at 1pm.
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee stops by A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC. She will also be on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) and Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever) - Jim and Fred are panelists on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Billy Gardell (Bob Hearts Abishola/Mike & Molly) and Folake Olowofoyeku (Bob Hearts Abishola) - Billy and Folake are guests on People Now at 12pm.
  • Sophia Bush (Partners) - Sophia talks about the and especially you podcast on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker (Divorce/Sex and the City/Square Pegs) - Sarah will be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee and the cast of Knives Out are guests on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (July/August/September)

Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season The Good Place - The Complete Third Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season

07/08 - Man with a Plan - Season Two
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/09 - Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season
07/09 - Speechless - The Complete Third Season
07/16 - Eight Is Enough - The Complete First Season
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
07/23 - Brockmire - The Complete First Season
07/23 - What I Like About You - The Complete First Season
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
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
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

09/17 - ABC Sets Reunions of Cheers, The Drew Carey Show, Girlfriends, Charmed, Castle and More; NBC Renews Titan Games for Season 2
09/16 - Nick Slates Are You Afraid of the Dark? Premiere; Spectrum Originals Drama Goes Back Into Production for Season 2 in 2020
09/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 16, 2019)
09/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Party of Five Reboot Coming in January; Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey to Reunite for Office Ladies Podcast
09/13 - Fri-Yay: We're Up Schitt's Creek; Comedy Central Renews South Park for 3 More Seasons
09/12 - Antenna TV Acquires That Girl for January and Perhaps More; Disney Just Rolls With It Once Again
09/11 - HBO Gets 2nd Season of McBride and Goodman Comedy; HGTV and Bradys Go Digital
09/10 - Katey Sagal Joins The Conners; CBS All Access Comedy No Activity Gets Guests for Season 3
09/09 - Kevin James Gets Sitcom for Netflix; Grace and Frankie Gets Final Season
09/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 9, 2019)
09/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Detour and Grace and Frankie Coming to an End; Decades Celebrates Bob Newhart's 90th Birthday
09/06 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: Fox; Mad About You Gets November 20 Premiere Date
09/05 - MeTV Celebrates The Brady Bunch's 50th Anniversary; TBS Honors Friends 25th Anniversary
09/04 - Freeform to Premiere First Thanksgiving Movie; E! News Sets NY Fashion Week Lineup
09/03 - Remembering TV Legend Valerie Harper, TV Tributes Scheduled; ABC Shifts Reef Break Finale to Friday, Sept. 13
09/02 - TV Marathons on Labor Day 2019
09/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 2, 2019)
08/31 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Valerie Harper Dies at Age 80; Special Discount on Disney+ Streaming Service for Early Subscribers
08/30 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: NBC; Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween 2019 Schedule
08/29 - Comedy Central Goes Back to the South Side; HBO Orders More Black Lady Sketch Show
08/28 - Pop TV's Hot Date Returns for Season 2; Liza on Demand Premieres Second Season in September
08/27 - CBS Fall 2019 Preview Special Airs Sept. 9; Walmart's Vudu to Launch First Series - Mr. Mom
08/26 - Lifetime Announces Full Holiday Slate; The Paley Center Salutes The Good Place on NBC
08/25 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 26, 2019)
08/24 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Developing Serendipity Series; Designing Women Making Streaming Media Debut
08/23 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: ABC; Antenna TV Acquires The Facts of Life, Diff'rent Strokes, Who's the Boss? and More
08/22 - Dancing with the Stars Cast for Season 28; Lilly Singh Gets NBC Primetime Special
08/21 - Decades Celebrates Bob Newhart's 90th Birthday with Big Marathon; Wanda Sykes & Mike Epps Get Netflix Sitcom
08/20 - James Corden Gets Extended by CBS; Freeform's Halloween House Returns for 31 Nights of Halloween
08/19 - Silicon Valley Returns for Final Season; Netflix Gears Up for Elvis Animated Comedy
08/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 19, 2019)
08/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Paley Center to Honor TV Legends; NBC Developing St. Elmo's Fire TV Series