Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Comedy > Nighttime Soap Opera > Situation Comedy > Drama > Mini-Series > Melodrama > Banking > P > Bret Maverick: The Complete Series (1981 - 1982/Warner Archive DVD)/Dynasty: The Eighth Season, Volume One + Volume Two (1987 - 1988/CBS DVDs)/Laverne & Shirley: The Final/Eighth Season (1982 - 1983/C

Bret Maverick: The Complete Series (1981 - 1982/Warner Archive DVD)/Dynasty: The Eighth Season, Volume One + Volume Two (1987 - 1988/CBS DVDs)/Laverne & Shirley: The Final/Eighth Season (1982 - 1983/CBS DVDs)/Little House On The Prairie: Season Two (1975 - 1976/NBC/Lionsgate Blu-rays)/The Moneychangers (1976/TV Mini-Series/CBS DVDs)/Rookie Blue: The Complete Fourth Season (2013/E1 DVDs)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Bret Maverick DVD set is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a big group of TV releases, most of which are classics or classics revisited...

Bret Maverick: The Complete Series (1981 - 1982) has James Garner back for a third round of playing the famed gambling cowboy, though this was not the first time since he left the original early via a contract dispute. A 1978 TV movie The New Maverick (reviewed elsewhere on this site, also from Warner Archive) was an earlier attempt, but no TV revival series resulted. This time out, Warner TV managed 17 episodes (if you count the Lazy Ace pilot) and despite shows hitting with a similar attitude (Warner's Dukes Of Hazard), it did not take and I can see why.

The show has some amusing moments, but the idea of Bret being a slick con artist was not as fresh or anywhere near a surprise as it was on the original show and none of these shows are really that well written despite attempts to be smart. The cast is decent, but not memorable and Garner is able to easily step back into the role, but he has little to do. This is for fans only and needed to be issued for them, but the rest of us should just stick with the early seasons of the original show.

There are no extras.

Dynasty: The Eighth Season, Volume One + Volume Two (1987 - 1988) had the show long past its prime with everyone looking bored, lame plot lines, what seems like less money on the screen, the loss of Diann Carroll and like Dallas long before it, nothing m,ore it really needed to do. ABC was owned by a desperate Capital Cities whose cost-cutting put the network in the bottom of the ratings, so they held onto anything resembling a hit as long as they could. The result are episodes that go nowhere and a better network would have axed it out of its misery at this point.

There are no extras.

Laverne & Shirley: The Final/Eighth Season (1982 - 1983) was an even worse case of this over at ABC, a show that was supposed to end after Season Seven, but ABC (still in better shape then versus five years later) ordered a new season at the last minute, but the show would have an even worse loss as Cindy Williams left after the first two episodes and what followed was a sad mess for which no guest stars could save the show from.

For taking place in 1967, it looked more like 1961 and the shows here are never really funny, strained and just awful. Behind the scenes, it was reportedly a mess and that comes through in the joyless set of episodes over 3 DVDs. Penny Marshall obviously had the talent to carry a TV show on her own, but just not this one. Hugh Hefner, Adam West and Vicki Lawrence are among those who guested, but to no avail. For the most diehard fans only, these were even worse than I remembered.

Extras include promos for each episode made for later syndication and a Gag Reel that has more of Cindy Williams than expected.

I was never a fan of Little House On The Prairie: Season Two (1975 - 1976), a hit for struggling NBC that somehow ran for nine grueling seasons, but here is Michael Landon's biggest hit (though I bet Bonanza had better overall ratings) about the Ingalls family, loosely based on the biographical book. Cutesy, boring, dull with illicit appeals to family that likely helped make the phony side of the Reagan Era possible, I liked it even less than The Waltons (which never seemed as condescending if as melodramatic) and now on Blu-ray, it is as bad as I remembered it.

The acting is not bad, but almost every show is the same thing, including the 22 hour long shows in this 5 Blu-ray disc set. You can now see if it plays better being clearer or not, but there are so many great U.S. TV shows that should have been on Blu-ray before this one and that will likely be the case for a few more years. See this at your own risk and don't operate heavy machinery.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices and the second part of a Making Of featurette that apparently began on the debut season set.

Boris Sagal's The Moneychangers (1976) is a potboiler of a TV mini-series based on the Arthur Hailey (Hotel, Airport) book about a banking empire and the fight taking place within it. Kirk Douglas and Christopher Plummer are the two men who might take over the empire in New York City when their current boss announces he has a serious health issue. But there are also many side storylines and the soapy melodrama squeezes everything it can out of all of them.

Joan Collins shows up as Plummer's love interest, Timothy Bottoms tries a financial scheme while in a relationship with a young hispanic woman (Amy Trivell) that lands up getting him physically assaulted and worse throughout the four episodes and all are backed by an impressive cast that also includes Anne Baxter, Robert Loggia, Ralph Bellamy, Susan Flannery, Jean Peters, Percy Rodriguez, Lorne Green, Patrick O'Neal, James Shigeta, Helen Hayes, Woodrow Parfrey, Virginia Grey and Marla Gibbs. Not great, but interesting enough to revisit and deserving of a DVD release, you might want to see it just for all the amusing moments, politically incorrect, dated and otherwise.

There are no extras.

Finally we have Rookie Blue: The Complete Fourth Season (2013), enough of a moderate police procedural hit that it has gone this far, but not a great show and by this point, one that has succumbed to the TV grind, especially in a subgenre that is so played out to the tipping point. Especially here, the 13 episodes we get have only so much to offer and are more than a bit codependent on the previous seasons, so starting at the beginning is highly recommended in this case.

Extras include webisodes tied to the show and 5 Making Of featurettes.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Little can show the age of the materials used, but I am surprised they are so detail limited and a bit waxy, not that they have been cleaned, but are not as clear as other TV shows from the time that have hit Blu-ray (The Prisoner, The Persuaders, The Jackson 5 Animated Series, the Retro-Action! import compilation, Space: 1999) though it was shot on 35mm film. Must be the stocks, since the color is just fine and prints in decent shape throughout. That is still enough to keep it ahead of the 1.33 X 1 image on classic TV shows here and unusually soft anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Blue, which ties Moneychangers (with its sometimes debris-prone prints that can look like 16mm when it was allegedly shot in 35mm) as the poorest performers on the list. Dynasty, Maverick and Laverne look as good as they are going to in this format.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Little is inconsistent and not always warm, but still manages to just edge out the rest of the entries here as the best sonic performer, something the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Blue could have done if its soundfield was more active and somewhat fuller. Instead, that DVD set is tied by the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the rest of the DVDs, save the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Laverne, which is simply too low and a little compressed for its own good. Earlier seasons sounded better on DVD, so why this one falls short and lands up sonically last place here is odd, but that's how it worked out.

You can order the Bret Maverick Warner Archive DVD set along with all seasons of the original series by going to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com