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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Drama > Working Class > Politics > Faith > Relgion > Mini-Series > Detective > Food > Alice – The Complete Second Season (1977 – 1978) + The Complete Second Season (1978 – 1979/Warner Archive DVD Sets)/The Bible: The Epic Mini-Series (2012/Fox Blu-ray)/Dirk Gently (2010 – 2012/Acorn DV

Alice – The Complete Second Season (1977 – 1978) + The Complete Second Season (1978 – 1979/Warner Archive DVD Sets)/The Bible: The Epic Mini-Series (2012/Fox Blu-ray)/Dirk Gently (2010 – 2012/Acorn DVDs)/Sugartown (2011/Acorn DVD)


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



PLEASE NOTE: The full season sets of Alice are only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Now for a interesting range of recent TV releases you should know about.



The massive Linda Lavin hit series Alice continues its rollout on DVD exclusively from the Warner Archive website with two very strong follow-up seasons in The Complete Second Season (1977 – 1978) and The Complete Second Season (1978 – 1979) sets on DVD and for starters, you can read more about the classic in its debut season at this link:




The show continued to be thoroughly hilarious, developed more into its own separate show like nothing else on television and continued to be both a critic’s favorite and ratings powerhouse.  Besides the great cast getting better and better in their roles and working together, the writing continued to be strong and legendary voice and character actor Marvin Kaplan became a great asset to the series as Henry the Bell Telephone repair man, all made even funnier now that the Bell monopoly is long gone and we have so much wireless.


Another plus was the writing team of Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis also co-producing the show and doing some of the best work of their careers as they penned several of the teleplays.  Best known for I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show, they left the latter and this was their first big show since the entertaining The Mothers-In-Law (all reviewed elsewhere on this site) and they must have saving up some howlers because this show is still a total riot 35+ years and going.  Lavin got to show off her music and stage skills, one-time tough guy Vic Tayback proved his comedy work on the debut season was no fluke and with the characters well-established with those first shows, the makers could now go all out to be even funnier and we get some real gems in each set.  Tom Whedon (related to the writing Whedon family), a story editor on the show, also write some great shows here along with some seriously excellent talent.


The Complete Second Season includes Alice moonlighting as a lounge singer with guest star Morey Amsterdam, the gang covering for a gangster turned informant, a decent Christmas episode, the George Burns episode where Vera thinks he is God (from seeing the Warner hit film Oh, God!), Flo refuses to get glasses, Tommy’s basketball-playing tutor falls for Alice, the gang stops talking to each other until Alice tries new psychological approaches, the Secret Service visits the diner when a man tries to call the U.S. President from the diner, an insane show where Flo is about to marry an ultra-wealthy Arab Oil Sheik that has aged in all kinds of ways, Desi Arnaz as an old friend of Alice’s visiting during relationship troubles, Mel getting hilariously roasted Dean Martin style, Nedra Voltz selling pies to the diner, an exceptionally strong episode with Jerry Reed that is some of his best work ever, Vera’s psychic premonitions becoming all too true and two episodes that did not air until the Fourth Season: an episode about a man on the run from the mob and one on unionizing.


The Complete Second Season adds great shows about Tommy living with Mel because he cannot stand Alice’s rules anymore, Mel selling his VW Beetle to the gals with wacky results, Mel refuse to be a witness in a bank robbery, Vera dating a new fellow movie fan named Brian (who should have stayed a regular), the decent vices episode, a young Jim Varney great as an old friend of Flo’s visiting when Alice is held at gunpoint at the diner for money, their Thanksgiving show, Alice moonlights as a singing telegram tap dancer, Vera’s dreams start becoming true, Alice starts dating Tommy’s school principle (Gary Collins in a funny turn), a New Year’s Eve show, Alice’s new businessman boyfriend Eric (Alan Haufrect as yet another character who should have stayed a regular) has tickets to a big charity ball including some extras though not enough for the gang including Mel wanting very badly to see & even meet O.J., Simpson (!), a visit from Mel’s younger brother, Tommy getting in trouble with a new girlfriend, Alice trying to get a big gig at the local Playboy Club, Hans Conreid in a two-parter where Mel sells the diner to him with bad results, Alice falls for a young stage director with uncomfortable results over a Cinderella production another two-parter that leads to Vera getting a TV commercial ad, a poignant show about Flo’s estranged father (played by the great Forrest Tucker of F-Troops and The Ghost Busters) in one of the more serious shows and Martha Raye debuts as Mel’s mother!


And that is not even all the episodes.  The rest are also terrific and are built on their relationships with even more laughs, which is why this show continues to be an all-time classic.  Sadly, there are no extras, but most of the cast is still around, so maybe someone can do an interview featurette?



Also commercially successful but loud, cynical and highly problematic is The Bible: The Epic Mini-Series (2012) whose subtitle is so smug that it tells us what to think about it.  In reality, though some money is on the screen, this one goes on and on and on and on with people talking and sometimes yelling at each other throughout as if it were 300, Game Of Thrones, Rome or a bad action film.  Already being criticized in all kinds of ways, including some inaccuracies from scholars and followers of the good book who know it better than I ever will, The 4-Blu-ray set actually ends on the Jesus period, so guess the rest of the book is not as important?


It is just not as good as it thinks it is and its look is flat and dull, the acting is very mixed and worst of all, we have see all this before, so this is somewhat watered down for commercial effect, but it backfires badly and in a few years or so, it will not age well.  In addition, its big scenes pale in comparison to the best Biblical works (John Huston’s The Bible: In The Beginning… (1966) trounces the Old testament segments here badly, the digital parting of the Red Sea by Moses her is like a bad overdone videogame versus the 1956 De Mille/Heston version in two of the more blatant examples) so to say this is for the already converted is an understatement.


Only the surround will keep waking pup the rest of us and it is yet another example of how the creative, innovate years of the mini-series are dead.  See it at your own risk, but don’t pay attention to the hype.  Extras include six Making Of featurettes and (this is not joke, but you’ll decide if it is sacrilege) a Music Video!  Oh Geez!



Finally we have two comical TV entries from England courtesy of Acorn Media.  Dirk Gently consists of a 2010 pilot episode and three regular 2012 follow-up episodes with Stephen Magnan as the title character created by Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams and this has some of the same quirky uses of technology.  Funny and amusing at times, his character is an eccentric wreck running a half-witted detective agency (in his name) with partner Richard MacDuff (Darren Boyd), but this is too predictable and we have seen this kind of thing too many times before.


Still, the actors are good and there are some moments worth seeing if you have the patience, including a funny old car that barely runs (they picked a Austin Leyland Princess 2200 XL as their clunker) but they never make enough of that or anything else that could make the show better than it is.  Now you can see for yourself.  There are no extras.



Sugartown (2011) includes as its title song a fairly good remake of the Nancy Sinatra hit in this also-predictable semi-soap opera about a mom and pop candy and cake company that a younger vulture capitalist wants to put out of business so he can make more money with the property as a sleazy club or the like, but the owners and employees fight back, yet there are additional complications and interrelationships.  Again the cast is decent, but the show never seems to really take off like it should and when the final episode was over, it was hard to tell if it was the end of the story line or not.

That does not make it Fellini’s either, but a victim of playing it too safe.  Still, I liked the idea and it has some good moments.  There are no extras.



The 1.33 X 1 NTSC professionally analog taped episodes of Alice across the two sets here look pretty good for their age with some shows looking softer than other, but color is usually really good and ironically has some of the bets color range on the list here.  Halos are common in various episodes which is to be expected for its age, but the shows look as good as they ever did and it is great to see them looking this good.  They were originally captured on 2-inch reel-to-reel NTSC videotapes.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 33 MBPS digital High Definition image transfers on the various Bible episode are the visual champs here, but detail and depth issues, mixed CGI visual effects, motion blur and tempered-down color hold back the look and make it a bland-looking show throughout.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Dirk and Sugartown are almost as styled down, but not always as badly since we get some good color shots.  Still, we get motion blur and their own detail and depth limits.  I bet Blu-ray would benefit these shows, as they are both HD shoots.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix in the Bible episodes are a little more towards the front speakers during its many episodes, but it has the best sound on the list by default, but not by the margin I expected.  Sound can be loud, forward and even a tad shrill at times.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the Alice episodes hold up well for their age and are well recorded for a analog videotape show of the time, though there are a few moments where we get second blips of no sound, but they are rare and are not pops or clicks, so they will not harm your speakers or sound system.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Dirk and Sugartown are well recorded, but a little lite and lack Pro Logic surrounds, so they are passable but not exemplary.



To order all three seasons of Alice and counting, go to this link for those sets and many more great web-exclusive releases at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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