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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Fantasy > TV Situation Comedy > Drama > Mental Illness > Adventures Of Merlin – Complete Second Season (2009/BBC) + All In The Family – The Complete Eighth Season (1977 – 1978/Shout! Factory) + Andy Griffith Show – 50th Anniversary DVD set (CBS) + Hawaii 5-

Adventures Of Merlin – Complete Second Season (2009/BBC) + All In The Family – The Complete Eighth Season (1977 – 1978/Shout! Factory) + Andy Griffith Show – 50th Anniversary DVD set (CBS) + Hawaii 5-0 – Season Eight thru Ten (1975 – 1978/CBS) + United States Of Tara – The Second Season (2010/Showtime/CBS) + Vegas – Season Two, Volume One (CBS) + Webster – Season One (1983 – 1984/CBS/Shout! Factory/DVD Sets)


Picture: C+ (Webster: C)     Sound: C+     Extras: C+/C/C+/C-/C+/C-/C-     Episodes: C+/B/C+/B-/B-/C+/C-



Though DVD sales are in decline, we are seeing more and more TV on DVD and this includes some favorites that may even be running late.  Of the seven titles we look at next, three are classics (one of which is a moderate hit remade as another series), two are new shows, leaving two that are hits form the past that are not exactly classics but popular.


It turns out that The Adventures Of Merlin – Complete Second Season (2009/BBC) really is a continuation of the show simply called Merlin when BBC issued the First Season, as this link will show:





Though I was not as big a fan of this show as my fellow reviewer, it is still a quality show that has its moments and its formula.  Really made for a younger audience or Fantasy genre obsessees, The cats of mostly unknowns are not bad, but I can only take so much of this, but thought I should give it a good look at for the record as older such shows are on their way on DVD and even Blu-ray from TV’s early decades and wanted to be able to compare in advance.  Still, start with the first set if you must watch.  This set has 5 DVDs and 12 hour-long shows.  Extras include Cast/Crew Introduction to this season, Cast/Crew audio commentary tracks, a Behind The Scenes featurette, Photo Gallery and separate Making Of Merlin featurette.


Then there is All In The Family – The Complete Eighth Season (1977 – 1978), which fans know as the season that ended what we would call the classic period of the show, with Archie, Edith, Gloria and Mike still together, even if they were living next door at this point.  The show did everything it needed to do and this was as strong as season as they had made lately, though you can tell and even feel the end was near.


All 24 half-hours are here on three DVDs, including Archie buying Kelsey’s against economic odds over several episode of the show, a two-part KKK story, Edith’s hilarious detergent commercial episode (Jean Stapleton has done actual such ads before becoming a cast member), the remarkable two-parter where Edith is held hostage by a rapist and The Stivics leaving.  The show continued to be groundbreaking and innovate and that remained so at this point.  The only extra is a paper pullout with a brief episode guide.


We have reviewed many of the seasons of The Andy Griffith Show and the new 50th Anniversary DVD set (aka The Best From Mayberry, all official and from CBS) is really a compilation of early black and white favorites with really little color episodes to see.  Not a big fan of the show, that sort of short-changes the later seasons, but there are those big monochrome fans and I understand the appeal.  From the 1960 – 1965 period, 17 half-hours are included and is a nice set for those who do not already have the separate seasons, plus I expect since the show was shot on 35mm film, a series of Blu-rays are inevitable.  Extras include the Danny Meets Andy Griffith episode of Make Room For Daddy (aka The Danny Thomas Show), Opening Night 1963 clips, Original Sponsor material on select episodes (including with Thomas!) and the Return To Mayberry telefilm.  For more on the show itself, here are links to our past DVD coverage:


Season One



Season Three



Season Five



Season Six (the first color season)



Season Seven




Now a hit again in a recycled version with mixed results, I will not go into covering the new Hawaii 5-0 until we get the set on disc, but it has not impressed me as much as the early versions of the series.  By the period covered by the three DVD sets that make up Season Eight thru Ten (1975 – 1978), the original Jack Lord show peaked and was starting to loose its energy, excitement and pace, yet this still looks better than plays smarter than what I have seen of the new show. 


Season One



Season Two - Seven




Hawaii always looked good, but it seems the cast was starting to get a bit bored.  The only extras on the sets continue to be Episodic Promos, but they are nowhere to be found on the Tenth Season set, so that just adds to the feeling of decline here.


The new newcomer here is the very interesting United States Of Tara – The Second Season (2010/Showtime/CBS), which has as challenging a premise as any show here save All In The Family as Toni Collette plays a woman who suffers multiple personality disorder (called Dissociate Identity Disorder here) and Collette plays all the personalities and well, to her credit.


All 12 half-hours are here over two DVDs and it is a very interesting show, though I have not seen all of the first season and that may be impairing what I am seeing, but on its own the sophomore season is a good one and the supporting cast (including John Corbett, Rosemary DeWitt, Keir Gilchrist and Brie Larson) are a plus, along with some smart writing.  Cable may have an exclusive on this show, but a larger audience is out there for it and I hope it finds it.  Extras include separate chats, interviews with and text bios on the cast.


We have looked at the first full season of Vegas in the two sets CBS already issued and the show plays a little better now than it used to, getting better as it went along, but Season Two, Volume One still has Phyllis Davis, but Tony Curtis is gone and though these 11 hour-long shows are entertaining, the show was starting to become a bit formulaic and it does not stay with you much after you finish watching, though it is good while you are and better than most dramas on now.  It also has a good sense of humor most shows now lack.  Episodic promos are the only extras and both Audrey Landers and Bart Braverman also remained in the regular cast, along with that classic red Ford Thunderbird.


You can read more about the past sets at these links:


V. 1



V. 2




The old newcomer here is the overrated, remarkably long-running Webster, which became ABC’s Diff’rent Strokes when they went into decline and NBC became #1 for the first time in their history.  The Cosby Show succeeding was no doubt was responsible for added appeal, but Emmanuel Lewis was absolutely the top reason this was a hit.  It was not the scripts and the supporting cast (Alex Karras, Susan Clark (Colossus, Night Moves) and not-so-funny-either Henry Polic II, still the most talented actor here and they could not survive the material) as they were limited by what is really a regressive set up.  Season One (1983 – 1984) introduces the adoption nit, then it is supposed laughs all the way.  This does not hold up well either and even seems more condescending than when it first broadcast.


The only extras are trivia (for children, apparently), a paper pullout with a brief episode guide and you get all 22 half-hours episodes also showing their age.


All the classic shows are at 1.33 X 1, while Merlin and Tara are here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 presentations, but they all look about even (the never shows look HD recorded, while the older shows are 35mm film or NTSC videotape) but it is Webster with its digititis and softness throughout that is the most dated-looking of all, including video noise, video banding, tape scratching, cross color and tape damage.  This needs some restoration.  All have Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, with most of the shows monophonic, but Merlin is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Tara has Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo (with light Pro Logic surrounds) options, which should offer the best audio of all these sets, but the dialogue-based show has its sound too much in the center channel and towards the front speakers.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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