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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Magazine > Mystery > Murder > Detective > Australia > Gangster > Drama > Comedy > Tele > Men At Work: The Complete First Season (2012/Sony DVDs)/Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series One (2011/Acorn Blu-ray Set)/The Mob Doctor: The Complete Series (2012/Sony DVDs)/Nurse Jackie: Season Fo

Men At Work: The Complete First Season (2012/Sony DVDs)/Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series One (2011/Acorn Blu-ray Set)/The Mob Doctor: The Complete Series (2012/Sony DVDs)/Nurse Jackie: Season Four (2012/Lionsgate Blu-ray Set)/The Return Of The Beverly Hillbillies (1981/MPI DVD)/VEEP: The Complete First Season (2012/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD Set)


Picture: C/B-/C+/B-/C+/C+ & C     Sound: C+/B-/C+/B/C+/B- & C+     Extras: C-/C/D/C+/B-/C+     Main Programs: C/B-/C/C+/C+/C+



Now for our latest look at TV on home video you may or may not have heard about arriving at about the same time…



Men At Work: The Complete First Season (2012) is not about the famous 1980s Australian Pop Band, though that would have been nice, but it is a new comedy series about four men (versus 2.5?) who work at a men’s magazine in New York City and their exploits.  Created by Brecklin Meyer, who you would recognize as the live action owner of Garfield, Meyer has worked on the underrated Franklin & Bash (also from Sony and reviewed elsewhere on this site) and the men are Neal (Adam Busch), Tyler (Michael Cassidy), Milo (Danny Masterson) and Gibbs (James Leisure).


They are well cast, have chemistry and work well together throughout the ten episodes on the two DVDs here, but the problem with the show is the writing.  Maybe they are trying to imitate the dumb scripts of other shows, but these teleplays leave a good bit to be desired.  I was very disappointed as a result, especially because they are so close to a show that works.  Maybe things will change for the better in the sophomore season, but these Men just do not work enough to recommend the show.


Extras include Outtakes and Deleted Scenes.



Out of Australia and set in the 1920s, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series One (2011) is a surprisingly smart, fun, clever, classy and even witty show based on the Kerry Greenwood books with Essie Davis perfectly suited for the role of Phryne Fisher, a woman way ahead of her time enjoying the new post-WWI developments around her and with her wealthy lifestyle, has decided to take on the role of private detective.  Miriam Margolyes shows up in a few of the 13 hour-long shows as her stuffy Aunt who also is somewhat disapproving.


Far better than the police procedurals that are beyond played out, this makes for a great companion to the Diana Rigg Mrs. Bradley Mysteries (set about a decade later and reviewed elsewhere on this site) and is the best female-centered detective show since the recent run of the revived Marple series.  Though the mysteries themselves are not always the most complex, they are well thought out enough and the rest of the supporting cast is a plus.


I like the show enough that I will look forward to see where the go with the next episodes and David could be on her way to becoming a big star.  If you like mystery series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is worth going out of you r way for and the bets offering on this list.


Extras include 8 minutes of Cast Interviews, a 19 minutes Look Of featurette on the show, 5 minutes Meet The Creators clip and 14 minutes Set Tour clip.



The Mob Doctor: The Complete Series (2012) is Sony TV’s attempt to combine Nurse Jackie and The Sopranos by making the female lead (the title character of Dr. Grace Devlin played by Jordana Spiro) work for a head gangster healing and helping out people secretly for him and getting paid for it, but also doing dirty work inside the hospital to get rid of patients he wants dead.  The idea is an obvious one and has its potential, but this show only ran 13 episodes because they could not figure out a way to make it work.


William Forsythe, Zeljko Ivanek and Michael Rapaport are among the more familiar faces, but despite a Chicago setting, it never feels like the gangster genre and with so much hospital time, figuratively and literally becomes to clinical for its own good.  This will not doubt be a curio and genre fans might find more to like in it, but it never adds up as much as it might have and will be on a list of shows that did not work out like the many inspired in the last cycle of gangster shows around the time of the 1990 influx of gangster feature films like GoodFellas.


There are no extras.



In speaking of Nurse Jackie, we are now at Season Four (2012) and even this show is starting to show signs of strain as all the illegal use of prescription medicine has sent our title character/heroine (Edie Falco) to a rehab center.  The problem with this inevitability is that it ends the “how long can she get away with it” factor for the show and like Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd sleeping together on Moonlighting by the time the show’s scripts had run out of ideas, it seems as if this show too has peaked despite some good acting and even writing.


As compared to Mob Doctor, it is still more realistic and to be blunt, the original of the more original of the two shows.  If Mob Doctor had been better, it could have taken advantage of this opening and been a hit, but Nurse Jackie was never my favorite show despite some good episodes in each season.  To really appreciate what happens here, you really need to start with the first season and go from there chronologically.  Otherwise, you’ll be as out of it as she is.


Extras include Cast & Crew audio commentary tracks on episodes, Gag Reel and two featurettes: On The Floor Of All Saints and Cruz Control.



After becoming the most successful TV show in history to feature a family, a title it still holds, The Return Of The Beverly Hillbillies (1981) was able to reunite most of the surviving members of the show and was part of a little-discussed cycle of hit TV movie reunions that became unexpected moneymakers for all the networks at the time.  Never out of syndication, especially since the early black and white seasons went public domain, the show was very popular and as recent DVD sales show, still is.


Irene Ryan had passed away, so she was written out of the new script and creator Paul Henning put this telefilm together and though not great, has its moments and is worth a look.  Returning were Buddy Ebsen as “the little millionaire” Jed Clampett, but he moved back to the swamp and gave his fortune split between his daughter Elly May) Donna Douglas was back) and Jethro Bodine (Ray Young stepping in for Max Baer Jr., who passed on the telefilm).  Nancy Culp was also back as Jane Hathaway, but with a new rich and wacky boss played by Hogan’s Heroes star Werner Klemperer in a really good performance.


The other big gag casting was Imogene Coca as “Granny’s Maw”, meaning her character was at least 100 years old, but Coca made it work and we get some good jokes and good moments.  It does not always work, partly due to a writer’s strike stopping the fine-tuning, but it is the only reunion they did (an idea to have Jed kidnapped and the family hired Barnaby Jones (also to be played by Ebsen) did not happen) so it is a curio worth a good look.


Also showing up are Linda Henning (not repeating her Petticoat Junction role), King Donovan, Lurene Tuttle, Buddy Van Horn and a very young Heather Locklear in one of her first appearances anywhere.  And yes, it is as watchable as the theatrical film with Lili Tomlin.


Extras include a terrific hour-long documentary entitled Paul Henning & The Hillbillies that is impressive and I wish were longer, optional intro to the telefilm by Linda Kaye Henning, Rare Elly’s Critters Promotional Trailer and two compilations that all fans will enjoy: extensive Promo Spots for the Original Show and Vintage Cast TV Commercials, including more than a few clips each not issued on the CBS vintage episode collections.



Finally we have VEEP: The Complete First Season (2012) with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the first female Vice President, as we follow her new life, challenges, trials, tribulations and manipulations to stay on top.  Filled with bitter humor and shot with one shaky camera almost all the time, it could have been called The Political Office and has a tendency to become repetitious and neurotic.  While the acting is good and Dreyfus gives a performance different from her previous work, the show eventually kills suspension of disbelief because it becomes so dialogue-driven that you realize no group of people talks like this all the time in real life.


Of course, this is one of the ongoing jokes throughout the eight episodes here, but it did not always work for me and the writing also plays more like everyone trying to one-up each other in a way that is more the writers than the characters.  Of course, it is a hit for the network and a critical success, but how long they can sustain this is anyone’s guess.  As one who keeps track of politics, I found some of this to work on that level, but with real life politics being so played out and tired, this series can only do so much.  See it for yourself and see if it works for you.


Extras includes UltraViolet and standard Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-friendly devices, while the Blu-rays add audio commentary tracks on all episodes, a Behind The Scenes featurette on the show, full clips of four “political ads” done by the characters, Deleted Scenes & Outtakes.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on VEEP and Jackie should be the clear visual winners here, but both are styled down and VEEP specially is softer and has more motion blur, more so than the 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Fisher that is not bad despite being stylized a bit and not offering as much potential performance.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image VEEP DVDs and same playback for the image on Men are far softer than I could have expected.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Mob is soft too, but not nearly as bad.  The 1.33 X 1 image on Beverly holds its own as the oldest entry here, originally shot on 35mm color film and the fact that it is the equal of all the DVDs here is sad.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Jackie is the most sonically competent release here, yet the dialogue is more in the front channel than it ought to be.  Still, it is well recorded and one of the few TV Blu-rays with 7.1 to date.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on VEEP is towards the front speakers because this is dialogue-based and should be great, but it weak, with the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 versions on DVD even worse, so the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Fisher has Pro Logic-type surrounds and actually outperforms that show and ties Jackie as the best playback sound here.


The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Men and Mob are not equal as Men is particularly weak and way too much towards the front speakers, while Mob at least has some structure.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Hillbillies has some compression and might be down a generation, but is good for its age, though I bet this could sound a bit better like the better vintage episode on the CBS sets.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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