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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Entertainment Industry > Biography > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > The Captains Close Up with William Shatner (2013/E1 DVD)/Doctor Who: The Green Death (1973/BBC DVDs)/Girls: The Complete Second Season (2013/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD)/Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Ninth Seaso

The Captains Close Up with William Shatner (2013/E1 DVD)/Doctor Who: The Green Death (1973/BBC DVDs)/Girls: The Complete Second Season (2013/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD)/Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Ninth Season (2012 – 2013/ABC DVDs)/Once Upon A Time: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013/ABC Blu-ray Set)/Perry Mason: The Final Season/Season Nine, Volume Two (1966/CBS DVDs)/Revenge: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013/ABC DVDs)



Picture: C/C/B & C/C/B-/C+/C     Sound: C+/C+/B & C+/C+/B/C+/C+     Extras: C-/B/C/C+/C/C-/C     Episodes: B/B-/C/C+/C/C+/C



Here’s a mix of the latest TV (or is that HDTV?) offerings on home video…



The Captains Close Up with William Shatner (2013) is a follow-up to the very well made The Captains that we reviewed a little while ago at this link:




The idea of getting Shatner to interview all the actors who played Star Trek starship captains had some unexpected fun and chemistry to it, so here they are back again doing five episodes of a limited series where he interviews Chris Pike, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula respectively.  It may seem like more of the same at first, but Mulgrew in particular asks Shatner some very serious,, bold questions and everyone gets more time to really speak on issues, ideas and the show.


The only bonus is even more interview footage, so fans should be very happy.



Doctor Who:  The Green Death (1973) is one of the key story arcs as it is the last appearance of Katy Manning as Jo Grant, who left the show after this adventure.  Miners are dying mysteriously and the only clue is a glowing green substance all over their skin.  As The Doctor (Jon Pertwee), Jo and U.N.I.T. investigate, things become stranger and stranger.  The key to what is going on may lie in the hands of the head of a local chemical factory (the legendary Jerome Wills) who may hold the key to the unspeakable evil going on.


Though some of the visual effects have dated, the acting is fine, the script well written & paced and at this point, the new cast of leads that debuted in the Spearhead From Space episodes (including Pertwee, now on Blu-ray and reviewed elsewhere on this site) became a great team that helped save the show.  Sarah Jane would debut in the next story arc and the show would continue to be on the cutting edge of Science Fiction TV.  The Green Death is worth your time, even if you are not a fan of the show.


Extras include two episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures entitled Death Of A Doctor with Matt Smith as Who, audio commentary with Katy Manning, Producer Barry Letts & Writer/Script Editor Terrence Dicks on the episodes, bonus commentary on episodes 3 & 5 with Richard Franklin, Mitzi McKenzie & Visual Effects Designer Colin Mapson, Making Of featurette One With The Maggots, spoof of the show entitled Global Conspiracy? with a great cameo, 12-minutes on-camera Mapson interview, 7 minutes each of Robert Sloman and Stewart Bevan interviewed, Wales Today clip, Doctor Forever! – The Unquiet Dead featurette on how the show was finally revived, Photo Gallery, What Katy Did Next clip, DVD-ROM accessible clips and text notes in the subtitles section for you to read as you rewatch the episodes.



I was fan enough of the debut season of Girls that I had high hopes it could be the next groundbreaking show about women, as the likes of Daria had recently.  However, Girls: The Complete Second Season (2013) did not continue all the story arcs from the launch as I expected and described in my review at this link:




Instead, despite some funny moments and not losing any of the original cast, the show becomes too episodic, uneven, sillier than it needs to be, confuses what is embarrassing from what is plain bad and adds too many new characters which also means the character development that worked so well in the first shows is barely here in these ten half-hours.  That is a shame because I like the cast, think the writing is still ambitious and can see so much potential in the situations established, but this is a let down that surprised me as if the show was going broad to appeal to a larger audience, but loses its uniqueness in the process too much.


Lean Dunham also has too much of each episode centered on her character and not enough on the others, which is a big mistake, whether she realizes it or not.  I still want to see where the show goes, but it has pushed itself so much into a space that any show can occupy, I wonder if it can recover after too many mistakes this time around.  See the first season before considering viewing this one.


Extras in its solid slipcase packaging include Ultraviolet Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-capable devices, the DVD versions of the shows, audio commentary on episodes, Guys On Girls featurette, Deleted & Extended Scenes, Episode 5 Table Read, Inside The Episode clips, a general Making Of featurette, extended Judy Collins performances, 2008 Austin City Limits clip with Daniel Johnson, Gag Reel, Emily Nussbaum interviewing Dunham at The New Yorker Festival 2012.



Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Ninth Season (2012 – 2013) is just one too many seasons of the medical drama which had plenty of behind the scenes drama in later seasons, but most of the cast is here in tact.  Since Season Five, the show has just dragged on only because it had a big audience to justify its renewal, but the series lost its energy and excitement by then, so the upcoming wrap-up is long overdue.


The 24 episodes here simply seem to start to tie up loose ends, though some things (and characters gone) remain ignored and that is what happens when a show runs on and on and on and on.  At least the end forces the writers and producers to make choices that are final, but if you are not familiar with the show, you will be lost, so don’t start watching the series at this end.  You’ll find the first five seasons reviewed elsewhere on this site.


Extras include Deleted Scenes, In Stitches: Outtakes clip, Happy Trails with Jim Pickens Jr. featurette and Jessica Capshaw talking about the show in The Long Road Home featurette.



We pick up on the moderate hit Once Upon A Time: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013) after not covering the debut season, though I had seen it independently and was only so impressed.  Instead of being a clever fantasy drama, it has turned into a silly soap opera with too many digital visual effects as (many public domain) fantasy characters cross paths in the silliest case of name-dropping I can think of on TV, then a compelling tale is supposed to result from all of this.


Well, someone is buying it, but not I.  The 22 episodes here have people endlessly talking at each other (does anyone even talk like this?) and featured Disney’s patented stage fantasy dialogue and stuffiness that extends to their stage productions and feature film releases like their recent Oz prequel.  That might be flavor of the month, year, company or the like, but that does not make for memorable or good storytelling.  As a result, it plays as broadly commercial as if it were a standing ad for the corporation itself.


I could not find any characters to identify with and that was the case with the debut season anyhow.  Not a fantasy genre fan to begin with, this is a professionally competent job throughout if nothing else, but it has zero magic, zero originality and zero memorability for me, so to say this is for fans only is an understatement.  Otherwise, it is very slight and enough is enough.


Extras include Bloopers, Audio Commentaries (including a Blu-ray exclusive on The Miller’s Daughter episode), Deleted Scenes and four Making Of featurettes: the Blu-ray exclusive A Fractured Family Tree, plus Good Morning Storybrooke, Sincerely, Hook and Girl Power.



Perry Mason: The Final Season/Season Nine, Volume Two (1966) concluded the highly successful hit Raymond Burr series with barely any Noir look or feel left, but still producing top rate scripts and mysteries.  These are the last 15 episodes of the series and the show could have gone on, but would have had to switch to color.  Instead, they folded and Burr moved on to the massive success of Ironside (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and it also closed the chapter on all black and white series of its kind and type.


The only extra is a Barbara Hale into for The Case Of The Twice-Told Twist episode, but you will find most of the half-seasons reviewed elsewhere on site.  Cheers to CBS for getting the whole show out on DVD in quality editions fans can really enjoy.  Wonder if Blu-ray is next?



Finally we have Revenge: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013), another show we did not cover the debut season of, but one I also caught on my own and was also disappointed with.  Instead of a gutsy, bitter, realistic show about people stabbing each other in the back, the show tries to have it both ways by having the characters feign classiness and show us how to be backstabbers, but in reserved ways that ring false and phony.


Jennifer Jason Leigh is one of the few recognizable names and faces (no plastic surgery jokes here, but the world of common such surgeries is the one this show takes place in) over the 22 episodes here on 5 DVDs.  However, I once again have to say this is for fans only and the only way to even have a chance of caring for any of these people (not too well written and forget serious character development) is to start with the debut season.  For myself, the best revenge with be to never tune in again.

Extras include Bloopers, Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes and three Making Of featurettes: Schooled In Revenge, The Sound Of Revenge (on music scoring the show) and Haute Hamptons: Dressing Miss Davenport.




Picture performance on most releases here is on the disappointing side with the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Captains, the Girls DVD, Anatomy and Revenge being way too soft for newer releases, equaled by the 1.33 X 1 mix of PAL analog video and 16mm film (mastered in old PAL analog video) on Who.  The never shows need Blu-rays versions to look better and Girls with its 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition Blu-ray image transfers not only has it, but is the best performer on the list with very nice, consistent, well shot images and playback throughout.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Time Blu-rays follows Girls with more digital work and styling choices that hold back its performance, but has plenty of good shots to make it look as good as it is going to.  That leaves the 1.33 X 1 black and white image on the Mason episodes looking better than most of the releases here (shocking for a show nearly 50 years old) shot on 35mm film going out on top with the fastest film stocks of the series.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Girls and Time tie for the best sonic performers here, both avoiding the issues most TV mixes have of their sound being too much towards the front speakers and offering surprisingly warm, consistent soundfields throughout.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on Captains, Girls, Anatomy and Revenge DVDs should tie for second place on their own, but they tend to be weaker than expected leaving the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Who and Mason much more able to compete than you would expect as the 5.1 mixes are simply more watered down and in the cases of Captains (excusable for being interview-based), Anatomy and Revenge being too much in the center and front channels.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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