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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Martial Arts > Crime > Gangster > Revenge > Philipines > Mystery > Police Procedural > Detective > Television's Lost Classics, Volume Two: Lost Pilots of Life Of Riley, Nero Wolfe, Racket Squad (1948 - 1959/MVD Visual/VCI Blu-ray)

BuyBust (2018/Well Go Blu-ray w/DVD)/MidSomer Murders: Series 20 (2017/Acorn Blu-ray)/9-1-1: The Complete Season One (2018/Fox DVD Set)/The Seven-Ups (1973/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Television's Lost Classics, Volume Two (1948 - 1959/MVD Visual/VCI Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Seven-Ups Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below.

Here's a set of old and new dramas, even offering some action, you should know about...

Nina (Anne Curtis) is a good cop, but after losing her last team, she has joined the anti-narcotics squad and they sent to find and capture the drug lord 'Biggie Chen' (Arjo Atayde). They are sent into the slum city of Manila but instead then find themselves trapped and surrounded Biggie Chen's men with angry mob who are out for their blood. They were sent in to make an arrest, now they fight their way out ....or die trying in Erik Matti's BuyBust (2018).

Nina is also a tough cop, yet a maverick, after being the sole survivor of her previous squad she does not trust anyone ...including her current team and superiors. She and anti-drug operatives set up a 'buy' to lure out the biggest drug lord Biggie Chen, but it turns out Biggie Chen has lured them out and trapped them in the slums and turned the slums into a kill box. They find out too late that the entire slum has been bought out by Biggie Chen and is under his control. Every man, woman and even child has orders to kill the police. They must now fight their way out of a labyrinth, as they die one by one, Nina realized there is corruption within their own ranks, and the police chiefs had sold them out and are using the drug cartel to line their own pocket.

This was an action movie filled with violence, guns, mixed martial arts and showed corrupt of the Philippine cops and government. It creates a world in which police use police brutality or whatever is necessary to get the job done and people hate and distrust the cops because of their corruption and brutality (also because the drug lords were the ones paying for their daily livelihoods).

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is an extremely shaky HD shoot, but whether that annoys you or not, it is faithfully reproduced and consistent in looking as it does. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is as surreal as its image, so the odd fakeness of both match well, sounding better in its original Filipino soundtrack than the English version. A poor DVD with an anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that are passable at best.

Extras include making of the film, 2018 Comic Con Panel and trailers.

Next up is the show about murder that just won't die, MidSomer Murders: Series 20 (2017) takes us back to that small county in England with the highest murder count. But have no fear, DCI Barnaby and DCI Winter are more than a match for those with murderous intent. This season they are joined with a new pathologist, Dr. Fleur as they solve Britain's most hardest cases.

MidSomer is a quiet and beautiful county in England that seems to be the home of murderers and killers where the murders are macabre and bodies are dropping faster than flies. DCI Barnaby doesn't use a gun or kick down doors but with his quick wit, intelligence and powers of observations to uncover clues, suspects and deduce who is his murderer. DCI Winter is more like Barnaby's plucky sidekick/partner and at times help with more physical tasks (such as chasing down the suspects). Their newest team member is Dr. Fluer with a no nonsense attitude old biddy and contempt for males if they think being a detective is only boys job. But regardless of team relationships, they all work together to uncover the truth behind the murders.

MidSomer is a popular English murder mystery series, it is set in a small but beautiful county in England (in which no one seems alarmed they are living in a county withe the highest murder rate). As the series progresses, each new episode has multiple suspects and the murderer turns out to be the last person you expect.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is a digital shoot and looks better than earlier digital seasons, but is still missing the darker character of the early seasons, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix us easily the show has ever sounded and was surprising in its consistent sonics.

Extras include behind the scenes for each episode.

Episodes this time include...

The Ghost of Causton Abby - A murder happens at an ancient brewery where a legend of a curse was pasted down from centuries ...could the curse be true and the murderer supernatural?

Death of the Small Coppers - A murder happens in a high IQ society. How is Barnaby and Winter to find the murderer when all their suspects are smarter than them (and seem to know more than them too)?

Drawing the Dead - A murder happens during a comic book convention where everyone is in a costume and anyone could be the murderer. DCI Barnaby and Winter only lead is a comic book.

The Lions of Causton - A rugby team owner is found murdered. Barnaby relives his glory days of sports and discovers he is a bit out of shape.

Till Death Do Us Part - A bride is found murdered. Barnaby and Winter must find a murderer who seems to favor young brides-to-be as his targets.

Send in the Clowns - A sting of murders happen while the circus is in town. DCI Barnaby must face his greatest fear ...clowns.

Fox's new procedural drama, 9-1-1: The Complete Season One (2018), sheds some light on what its like to be a first responder. Each episode outlines the various cases and things that these brave men and women take on. Everything from a snake unwilling to tighten its grasp around a young woman's neck, to attempted suicide, to small disasters... the show balances drama and humor well and makes for an interesting watch.

The show stars Connie Britton, Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, Oliver Stake, Aisha Hinds, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear.

Presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 English Dolby Digital track, the show looks and sounds fine for the DVD format.

Season One is comprised of ten episodes including Pilot, Let Go, Next of Kin, Worst Day Ever, Point of Origin, Heartbreaker, Full Moon (Creepy AF), Karma's a Bitch, Trapped, and A Whole New You.

No extras.

Philip D'Antoni's The Seven-Ups (1973) concludes a sort of loose trilogy of realistic police dramas that started with Peter Yates' Bullitt (1968) and William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971, all produced by D'Antoni) that ushered in a new realism to police crime dramas, taking us behind the hard work the police have to do to get criminals, the special means they use and it included a new realism in situations, stories, sex, money and violence. But in all three cases here, it also included the promise of a car chase that you would never forget and all three films delivered that, remaining in the top car chase films of all time on any serious list.

Based on the real life work of Sonny Grosso, who advised and co-wrote in this film among others, Roy Scheider leads the title secret organization going after the bigger criminals in stakeouts and through tips and other resources that made police dramas to the mid-1960s seem dated. The ratings system and a new wave of filmmaking in the U.S. helped, but which led to all kinds of police film hits (Dirty Harry becomes a series that outlasts this cycle) and though it did well initially, the film did not have the legs of its predecessors at the box office, but it remains a key film in the genre and has aged very well. It is also some of the bets work all involved ever made.

Buddy (Scheider, not playing the same character he did in French Connection, but close in many ways) has a strange case where mobster bosses are being kidnapped for money and dumped by corrupt police, but that is just a trick to fool the local mobsters. Its a more complicated mess made possible by an old friend and key informant (SPOILER ALERT!!!) of Sonny (Tony Lo Bianco) who is playing both ends just for the money. However, the cozy, yet dangerous easy money arrangement soon goes beyond the plotter's control and Sonny gets angry enough to start breaking protocol to get to the truth.

Yes, there are a few conventions here that are dated, but the film is as relevant and palpable as ever and deserves rediscovery for a film that really was very popular in its time, kept alive by more hits by Scheider (like Jaws) so it is a shame it is not as remembered as it should be. Wish Tarantino talked about it more often. Ken Kercheval and Richard Lynch lead the fine supporting cast.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show a bit of the age of the materials used with some grain and darkness, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and look fine throughout, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is good for its age and will likely not sound much better than the remastered results we get here.

The extras are extensive and include two Isolated Music Tracks: one of the final Don Ellis Film Score, the other of the Unused Johnny Mandel Score, a Feature-Length Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Harland Smith, Introduction by Director-Producer Philip D'Antoni, featurettes The Seven-Ups Connection, A Tony Lo Bianco Type, Real to Reel, Cut to the Chase, and vintage Anatomy of a Chase: Behind the Scenes of the Filming of The Seven-Ups, Randy Jurgensen's Scrapbook, a Super 8mm film digest version of the film for U.S. markets & home use (with magnetic mono soundtrack), Lobby Cards, Stills and Media Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailers and yet another great illustrated booklet on the film including informative text with yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo.

Finally, we have the next installment of what might be developing into one of the most important series of classic TV releases on Blu-ray yet, Television's Lost Classics, Volume Two. While the first disc offered two rarely seen live TV programs from anthology series with actor John Cassavettes, this features four pilots for TV shows that mostly did not get picked up. There are four of them and they are interesting curios that are sometimes remarkable and ambitiously intending to sell series that could be hits or eventually were,

Case Of The Sure Thing (1951) is the original pilot for the hit TV series Racket Squad, a genre classic not based on a hit radio show like many early TV programs were. A little different from what finally appeared weekly, this is not bad and worth a look, holding up well even against today's often formulaic police procedurals.

Cool And Lamb (1958) are two more characters by Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner in this half-hour pilot (these dramas were not commonly an hour long until the early 1960s) directed by no less than Jacques Tourneur. A somewhat comical detective series with Bertha Cool (Benay Venuta) making sure the office stays on budget as they break cases and Donald Lamb (Billy Pearson) doing the legwork. It is not bad and we would see this kind of detective show succeed more down the line (all the way to Hart To Hart and Moonlighting) but maybe the lack of time hurt this one. Too bad they did not try again.

The Life Of Riley (1948) is a pilot where Riley is played by Lon Chaney, Jr. of all people and he is good here, substituting for the great actor William Bendix, who played him on the hit radio version. The next TV version would have Jackie Gleason in the role, but many thought that only worked so well. This is an interesting 'what if' piece to see what could have been if it had been picked up this way.

Nero Wolfe (1959) follows a few feature films of Rex Stout's detective on film and was thought to be really lost (apparently, a few episodes were filmed, so lets hope they are all found) with the underrated character actor Kurt Kasznar as the legendary detective. The real curio here is a young William Shatner as Archie Goodwin, as good as Lee Horsley or Tim Hutton were in the later Wolfe series that actually got produced, picked up and broadcast. Again, the half-hour time constraint did not help, but this is entertaining with a new tech plot for them to crack and it is a shame this was not a series.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers this time are mostly from film prints (16mm, 35mm) with patches of old analog videotape here and there, but they are looking good for their age and centered in a 1.78 X 1 frame, even offer some surprisingly good shots throughout. Al the original mono sound here has been cleaned up without compression tricks and are presented in PCM 2.0 Mono.

The only extra is a vintage CBS Gag Reel from the early 1960s worth your time.

To order The Seven-Ups limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Buy, MidSomer) and James Lockhart (9-1-1)



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