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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Medical > Vietnam > Nurses > TV > Situtation Comedy > Family > Father-Son Relationship > Shakespea > China Beach: Season One (1988/Time Life/StarVista DVDs)/The Courtship Of Eddie's Father: Season One (1969 1970) + Season Two (1970 1971/MGM/Warner Archive DVD Sets)/The Hollow Crown: The Complete

China Beach: Season One (1988/Time Life/StarVista DVDs)/The Courtship Of Eddie's Father: Season One (1969 – 1970) + Season Two (1970 – 1971/MGM/Warner Archive DVD Sets)/The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series (2013/Universal DVD Set)/Leverage: The Final Season (aka Season Five/2012/Fox DVDs)/The Mentalist: The Complete Fifth Season (2012 – 2013/Warner DVDs)/Nichols: The Complete Series (1971 – 1972/Warner Archive DVD Set)/2 Broke Girls: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013/Warner DVD Set)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Courtship Of Eddie's Father and Nichols DVD sets are only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the links below

The TV shows on DVD just keep on coming and here is yet another group you should know about...

China Beach: Season One (1988) is being issued separately after StarVista and Time Life issued an elaborate DVD box set of the entire series that we reviewed at this link:


Not as much of a fan, I understood its appeal, the first show about women dealing with combat, a show that covered the Vietnam fiasco in a different way, an attempt to do a more serious variant of M*A*S*H and offer a feminist text of sorts. However, the reason the show never caught on big is because it was too restrained in dealing with what happened to the point that it was self-censoring and at its worst, implying we could have “won the war” when our reasons there were a much larger mess than this show admits.

I give it points for a fine cast, looking and feeling like the period and being intelligent, but it tends to lean right-of-center more than it should and to some, that will be more obvious now than when it first arrived. Still, it is more effective and ambitious than most broadcast network dramas we get today and that is reason enough to revisit it, especially in its debut season complete with TV movie pilot.

Extras from that box set include an illustrated booklet on the series film with an introduction by star Dana Delaney, episode guide and essay by Co-Creator/Writer William Broyles, Jr., while the DVDs add a feature length audio commentary track for the pilot recorded in 2003, separate on camera interviews with Delaney and Chloe Webb and two featurettes: China Beach: How It All Began and Highlights From The 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion, December 12, 2012.

The Courtship Of Eddie's Father: Season One (1969 – 1970) + Season Two (1970 – 1971) was a big hit for MGM Television and Bill Bixby's second huge TV hit after My Favorite Martian (reviewed elsewhere on this site) sporting a theme song by the late, great Harry Nilsson and great chemistry between Bixby and a young Brandon Cruz is totally convincing in a show that was part of a cycle of new comedies with drama that spoke to a new, liberated America with Civil Rights and a diverse cast.

Producer James Womack (later producer of Welcome Back, Kotter) was also a co-star with Miyoshi Umeki as Mrs. Livingston, Kristina Holland (Wait Til Your Father Gets Home, both Warner-released shows reviewed elsewhere on this site) as Tina Rickles (both helping out our widower Tom (Bixby) and each show starts out with the son and father talking about life before the theme song kicks in. Interestingly, the credits changed more often than on most shows. The big ongoing joke is that Eddie is always trying to get his father remarried.

The show was always charming and smart, but the pleasant surprise is how well the show has held up, how good everyone in it is, how solid the teleplays are and how much better this is than just about any show about father-son relationships on TV this is since TV became regressive in the 1980s. Some jokes may have dated, but many others have not and the central truth about relationships remains as relevant as ever. If you have not seen the show in a while, it is worth revisiting and makes for great family entertainment, but if you have never seen the show, consider it a must-see. It has hardly any equivalents on TV today and that is very unfortunate. Look for Jodie Foster as a semi-regular and Suzanne Pleshette among the guest stars.

There are unfortunately no extras, though the order website has podcasts with Cruz that really should be on one of these sets, but they have one left, so we'll see.

For all the Shakespeare we have covered over the last decade, it is shocking what we have missed. The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series (2013) is a highly underseen series with Ben Wishlaw in Henry II (also starring Rory Kinnear, David Suchet, David Morrissey, James Purefoy, Lindsay Duncan and Patrick Stewart (!), Jeremy Irons in Henry IV (also starring Simon Russell Beale, Tom Hiddleston (Loki in Thor and Marvel Avengers), Geoffrey Palmer and Julie Walters) in two parts and Tom Hiddleston in Henry V (also starring Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Freeman, Anton Lesser, Julie Walters and the late Richard Griffiths in one of his last roles.

That is a powerhouse collection and the fact that it was not widely seen or promoted is nearly criminal because the audience for these excellent adaptations is much larger than I think even Universal realized, so I it great that the whole set is on DVD for everyone to see. Shakespeare on TV was much more common not that long ago and a revival is long overdue. Even scholars of The Bard will be impressed!

Extras include Making Of featurettes for all three plays and a fourth featurette: The Making Of A King.

Now we revisit two action show we have not seen in a while, including one that is quitting while it is ahead.

Leverage: The Final Season (aka Season Five/2012) has Timothy Hutton (after the success of his Nero Wolfe revival) coming to an end. The slick con job show has had a good run of it, but old nemesis and new ones as well as inner conflict bring things to a head. If you are unfamiliar with the show, here are the links to the initial seasons we reviewed a while ago:





Though I know I was missing out on some things having skipped two season, I can say that the show actually (finally!?!) got better and can ta least say it is peaking in its final set of shows (15 episodes over 4 DVDs). Too bad it was not this good to begin with, but the cast is tighter, teleplays more consistent and guest stars like Treat Williams, Cary Elwes and Mark Sheppard and even Matthew Lillard are good here. If I were you, I would start at the beginning if you are going to watch the show, but you'll have to have some patience if you get through all fiver seasons because those early episodes still dragged for me. Cheers to Hutton for having another hit TV show and at least they went out on top.

Extras include a Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes and audio commentary tracks on all episodes.

The Mentalist: The Complete Fifth Season (2012 – 2013) is not going out on top and is not finished yet, but despite the appeal of star Simon Baker, his psychic powers have taken a back seat by this time to some evil criminal mastermind in what seems a desperate attempt by the show to find new life. However, I was not a fan of the early seasons, as these links to my coverage of those early season will confirm:





Baker has become the character more so as the show reaches 100 episodes already (we get 22 episodes over 5 DVDs) but he seems a bit worn and the writing for him has shaved off some of his character's edge and potential edge, so the storyline surrenders sadly to what we get in the too-many police procedurals out there today. Guess the show was not strong enough as I felt to sustain itself on its initial premise, but it has enough fans and we'll see how much longer they can go on with this one. Robin Tunney continues to be the de facto female lead and guest stars include Malcolm McDowell, taking a break from Franklin & Bash.

Extras include a foldout episode guide inside the DVD case, while the discs add two Behind The Scenes featurettes: The Artistry Of Action: From Script To Screen and Arresting Excitement: Keeping It Real with The CBI.

Nichols: The Complete Series (1971 – 1972) was Warner TV's attempt to put James Garner in another hit Western that was not a Maverick revival. He plays a man who goes back to the town his family was named after to be the law against his will after too much time in at war. It is now 1914 and he gets to settle in with the townfolk (including up and coming Margot Kidder as a barmaid) and while it is a well made and well written show, audiences simply did not want to see him play in a Western show other than his previously noted hit and the genre was in decline as other shows of the time (Pistols & Petticoats, The Barbary Coast) proved by also failing to find an audience.

Created by Frank A. Pierson (1976's A Star Is Born, King Of The Gypsies (directed both), Dog Day Afternoon, Cool Hand Luke (wrote both); all reviewed elsewhere on this site) did try to make a show with a difference and it has its moments, plus the cast (also including Neva Patterson and Stuart Margolin) was trying to take the genre into more naturalistic territory, but the decline had already begun and it was too late. They still made a season's worth of shows and 24 episodes (here on 6 DVDs) did get made including a final show with some fun and interesting twists for the time. Those who are fans of the genre and/or its stars should check out this set.

Guest stars include M. Emmet Walsh in several shows, William Christopher in almost as many, Alice Ghostley, Charles McGraw, Richard Stahl, Val Avery, Ricardo Montalban, Michael Tolan, John Rubenstein, Joyce Van Patten, Ray Danton, Henry Beckman, Alan Oppenheimer, Din Pedro Colley, Steve Forrest, Tom Skerritt, Gerald O'Loughlin, Scatman Crothers, Eric Laneuville, Barry Cahill, Mark Lawrence, Strother Martin, Regis Cordic, Noam Pitlik, Bo Hopkins, Jack Elman, Vincent Van Patten, Ed Flanders, Ray Young, Olan Soule and Ramon Bieri.

There are unfortunately no extras.

Finally we have the hit sitcom 2 Broke Girls: The Complete Second Season (2012 – 2013) with Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs as a pair of waitresses and best friends trying to make it with something to make their lives better while keeping their jobs at a Brooklyn diner. The scripts are not that good and have not improved since the show launched, but the leads are very attractive, play this up, have characters that are dysfunctional & only so bright and so when they say dumb funny things, we should laugh?

Though the show is far from anti-feminist, it is too formulaic for its own good, but has found a way to make that appealing enough that it is yet another Warner hit at CBS (what would CBS do without Warner Television right now?) and at best, it is leave-your-brain-at-the-door entertainment that has found an audience but could be better if it wanted to be. We'll see if the weekly TV grind make the writers expand the show's true possibilities.

Extras include Unaired Scenes, a Gag Reel, 2 Broke Girls at PaleyFest 2013 and two Behind The Scenes featurettes: Max's Homemade Cupcakes and 2 Broke Girrllss! with Sophie Kachinsky.

The 1.33 X 1 image on Beach is on the soft side and a disclaimer warns us of the quality, as the show was shot on 35mm film, but finished on analog NTSC videotape. Sings of this include the ghost of a “place commercial here” tag between the end of the opening credits and first scene of an episode and videotape-produced reminder that the show was available in stereo, a rare & new thing at that time for TV. New HD masters would be nice down the line for this one. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 images on Crown and Mentalist are so stylized and soft that it ties the show for the poorest performer on the list, but in Crown's case, it at least makes sense to be aged in the way the look and design of the show is, so it would definitely benefit from an HD presentation.

The best playback on the list can be found on the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 images on Leverage because they switched from a plain old RED ONE camera to a RED EPIC for their final season and the improvements are so good that it is the visual champ and a big surprise and Mentalist simply looks narrowly better than it did. That does not mean it gets a higher letter grade. Girls is presented in the same anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image frame and even has good color, but it also is soft more than I would have liked.

That leaves the 1.33 X 1 color, filmed image on episodes of Courtship (in MetroColor) and Nichols (in DeLuxe Color) both well produced on 35mm film and having good print material, though Nichols is more consistent for its single season, where Courtship can have more wildly different color and show more age in some prints and even scenes than others. However, I will not fault it too much as it is not a moire serious issue.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on Crown, Leverage, Mentalist and Girls would usually tie as the sonic champs, but Leverage is the sonic champ, has the best sound mix and it made me want to hear a lossless version of the soundtracks. Crown is dialogue-based and quiet, but that holds it back more than expected, though I bet ambiance and some fine detail is lost in the compression here, so a lossless version would reveal more and Mentalist is too much towards the front channels for its own good, so it is poor.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Beach ties Crown and Mentalist for poorest sound performance, but its issue is that it is a noticeable generation down more than anything on this list. The lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on Father and Nichols actually sound better and surprisingly so for their age, so someone took care of those soundtracks and transferred them correctly.

To order The Courtship Of Eddie's Father and Nichols DVD sets, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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