The Complete Fourth Season
(1980 - 1981/MGM/Warner DVD Set)/Manh(a)ttan:
Season Two (2015 aka
Blu-ray)/Perry Mason Movie
Collection: Volume Five
(1993 - 1995/CBS DVD Set)/TURN:
Washington's Spies: The Complete Second Season
(2015/AMC/Anchor Bay DVD Set)
C+/B/C/C Sound: C+/B+/C+/C+ Extras: D/D/D/C Main
an interesting mix of old faves and two new shows that got better in
their sophomore seasons and are among the best new shows on TV...
we have CHiPs: The Complete
Fourth Season (1980 -
1981) on a roll with its original cast in its peak with the MGM TV
show (the last big hit the studio came up with before merging with
United Artists) that remained one of the few hits NBC had at the
time. Corny as ever, it is amazing the top name talent behind the
camera (writers, directors, et al) with a plethora of great character
actors the show was landing in this dumbed-down formula police show
that did not get the memo that Hill
Street Blues (another NBC
show, which ironically was never a hit until the end) had happened.
anything, it was the end of the cycle of 1970s cop shows that started
but ended with Starsky &
Hutch and Charlie's
Angels as a younger
demographic dragged and dragged down the reading level of the
audience. By today's low standards, CHiPs
seems a bit ambitious, if not by much. But the show found its
audience and they were not going anywhere yet.
much as Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox were the main stars, the
support of regulars Robert Pine, Randi Oakes and Michael Dorn at this
point created a serviceable enough 'family' for the show and viewers,
but I want to also give credit to the incredibly talented guest stars
who graced the show this season, who ultimately gave the show the
heart and soul above its meager writing to become a money machine.
This time out, they include Larry Storch, Sonny Bono, Alan Stock,
Sandy Alan, Erin Donovan, Kathleen Freeman, K.C. Martel, Robert
Ginty, Michael Ansara, Cassandra Gava, Cliff Emmich, Ken Berry, Tina
Louise, Milton Berle, Alex Rocco, Mickey Jones, Christine Belford,
Adam Roarke, Richard Roundtree, Barbi Benton, Cindy Morgan, Danny
Bonaduce, Dwight Schultz and Michael Cole among the many who appear
in the 21 hour-long shows included in this set.
feature film revival is on the way, but who knows how cheesy it'll
be. Though there are plenty of curios throughout this season, this
is still for fans only.
the other hand, Manh(a)ttan:
Season Two (2015) is the
kind of show that started out mixed but with potential when we saw
its debut a while ago, which you can read about at this link...
the show takes a few liberties with history, it is also very
watchable and much more so this time out, asking more questions about
the situation of building what turned out to be the first atomic
bombs via The Manhattan Project and strives to show what people might
have been thinking or even doing without the hindsight of knowing the
outcome of WWII. William Petersen is back in great form as the
military official who runs the 'city' that is involved in the
building of the bombs, while the rest of the cast (John Benjamin
Hickey, Rachel Brosnahan, Michael Chernus, Christopher Denham) are
even better this time out (and they were good in the first place).
Griffin Dunne also turns up and things start to tighten up
narratively and situationally speaking.
it looks like the show was axed a bit early, though it might still
get picked up for what looks very much like one more intended season.
Maybe the issues with the debut season got in the way, but they all
delivered as much as I had hoped after seeing the first shows and
hope we get to see more. See both seasons back to back!
Mason Movie Collection: Volume Five
(1993 - 1995) concludes the unexpected success of a series of TV
movies that brought Raymond Burr back to the role of the
lawyer/detective fighting crime by uncovering the truth and he's
never lost a case. They tried to replace Burr with a revival in
between the original show and these telefilms, but it did not work.
No revival has occurred in the 21+ years since his final appearance
as the character. The final six mysteries are
The Case Of The... Telltale Talkshow Host
(with guests Regis Philbin, Montel Williams & G. Gordon Liddy
(!?!)), Killer Kiss
(Linda Dano & Genie Francis),
(Maud Adams (!), Shelley Hack, Kim Alexis, Kathy Ireland &
Beverly Johnson (!!!), Lethal
(Dixie Carter, Diahann Carroll & Tristan Rogers), Grimacing
(Ryan Philippe, James Brolin & Tony Curtis) and Jealous
(Tony Roberts, Tina Youthers & Dyan Cannon).
not that these are awful or unintelligent. They all respect their
audience and at least take themselves seriously, but these six
puzzlers are somewhat flat, dull, not very memorable and really slow.
Thus, these are only for completists of the show and fans of Burr.
A last hurrah for fans, They were lucky to have an audience (mostly
skewing older) and turns by Barbara Hale,William
R. Moses, Hal Holbrook
and Paul Sorvino in reoccurring roles don't hurt. Some of the other
guest stars are odd choices, but others are real curios, so you get
that factor going for these final flings. Still, these are for fans
Washington's Spies: The Complete Second Season
(2015) was the other show that stuck with me not enough people were
watching and it also got better this time around. Here's what I had
to say about the original shows...
again, liberties are being taken a bit historically, the cast is
great, the writing witty and smart, plus it looks pretty good all
around. This is ambitious, intelligent television we are not seeing
enough, especially as HBO has a downturn and any golden period of TV
we've been in can only go on for so long. I will say this can be a
very violent and bloody show, so be prepared, but it never wallows in
that because is moves onto the next part of the story. Will these
spies get caught before the pressure on George Washington himself
becomes too much and the British go on another killing spree to keep
control of the colonies?
the fun and suspense is getting there and the show (10 episodes in
all here as well) has solid pacing that is even better than before.
This set has been issued as the third season is under way and again,
start at the beginning for best impact, but see it all and judge for
yourself. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Jamie Bell leads a
truly fine cast.
performance across these releases have a few surprises, though the
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Manh(a)ttan
is easily the visual playback winner, looking good, consistent and
solidly period. A few shots may have some blur and a few others
minor issues, but this is as good or better than most TV productions
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on CHiPs takes, in a
new trend for classic TV, the show was shot in a 1.33 X 1 frame on
35mm film for older low-def square TVs, so the image is centered in
the wider frame and bookended with black blocks like pre-1950s
feature films. The image may seem smaller in one way, but you get no
overscan and the prints used look as good ass the show ever has.
1.33 X 1 image on all the Mason telefilms were also shot on
35mm film, but these are older copies finished on analog videotape
and introduce flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine
flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and staircasing.
It is not as bad here as I have seen in so many such 1980s TV
productions, but its still dated looking,
the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on TURN should look
better, being a recent HD shoot and having looked so good on Blu-ray
in its debut season, but this reduced-definition DVD presentation is
just too soft throughout for its own good and makes me miss the
for sound, Manh(a)ttan
not only again offers DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 or 5.1 lossless
mixes as it did before, but the sound is actually deeper, clearer and
more detailed than the debut season and most TV on Blu-ray of late,
so that's a pleasant surprise indeed.
should be second place being the only DVD to offer lossy Dolby
Digital 5.1 mixes, but the soundfield is not as good as the debut
season's Blu-ray had. Thus, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on
and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Mason
can just match it.
sadly, none of these releases have extras save Digital HD Ultraviolet
Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices and a
little sheet of paper listing the 10 episodes on Manh(a)ttan
that we won't really count (especially since I wanted to hear from
the great cast), while TURN
adds an Inside
behind the scenes featurette, plus featurettes A
and Deleted & Extended Scenes.