DVD Review HTF REVIEW: MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN (VOL. 1)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Richard Gallagher, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. sr75

    sr75 Auditioning

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    All I know is that the news of edited episodes for this particular show came as a major disappointment to me yesterday - particularly because this show is so unique and so important in TV history, and people deserve to be able to see it as it was intended to be seen.

    Missing content is sometimes understandable, but I see absolutely no justification whatsoever for a set in which two episodes contain the exact same content. How any quality control unit (assuming the studio has one) could ignore or miss such an obvious, egregious error is beyond my comprehension. It's probably the sloppiest error I've ever seen yet on a DVD release.

    It's also ironic that such an error would be made on this particular show, because Norman Lear was quoted as having said that one of the things he hates the most about seeing Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman in syndication is the fact that inevitably, either (1) content is edited or otherwise compromised and (2) the shows are often shown out of order. If Sony, with their buckets of money to spare, had taken the least bit of concern and consulted ANY of the show's stars or creators (Lear, Joan Darling, Jim Drake, Ann Marcus, Louise Lasser, or a host of other people), they might have prevented such an error from occurring. But then, that would have required that the studio actually demonstrate some level of care regarding the buyer.

    Regarding the edited content - it can be seen and/or downloaded by following these steps (I would post a link, but I don't have ten posts yet):

    1. Do a Google Search for the "Mary Kay Place Place."

    2. Go to the site, then click on "Links"

    3. Scroll Down and click on the "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Video Clip Site"

    From there, you can download the short clips for episodes 22 and 24 and see the portions when Charlie and Loretta meet the hillbillies and their later conversation in the car before the accident (I have no idea if these scenes are complete; each of these clips appear to be only about 5 or so minutes).

    I also know that between edited releases (Mama's Family, Roseanne, The Cosby Show, Everybody Loves Raymond season 7, now this one), defective discs (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I Love Lucy, Dallas), and shows that get pulled mid-run (Mary Tyler Moore, King of the Hill), I've pretty much had as much as I can take from the studios and their jerking the public around. This release basically confirmed to me that the studios care not one whit what they give us so long as they get our money. It's going to take some kind of major class-action lawsuit for there to be any change, and the sad fact is that I don't think there's anybody out there who cares so much about these releases that they could take the time and effort to launch such a thing. I'm about ready to keep my money from now on and just use NetFlix. I think the only companies that can be trusted these days is Criterion/Image, for those that can afford their prices.

    It's things like this that make me laugh whenever I hear studios complain about "piracy." There's a great way to stop it: try striving for superior quality.
     
  2. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Unfortunately Sony has never even addressed prior problems with TV show DVDs or even acknowledge that there WERE problems. And let's not get started with their movies.
     
  3. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Norman Lear is still alive and can always pick up the phone to call Sony and say "What the hell have you done to my shows?"
     
  4. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Just about every show I own is screwed up in some way...Wonder Woman Season 1 was great, then they screw up the openings and include a cut episode in Season 3...geez, this is getting old!
     
  5. Brian Himes

    Brian Himes Screenwriter

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    Aw man! This is a total bummer. Sony should have made 100% sure that everything was intact. I just can't believe this. I hope that Sony does something about this.
     
  6. Richard Michael Clark

    Richard Michael Clark Second Unit

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    Okay I've never seen this show and had never heard of it until recently (I'm in the UK and I don't know if we ever got it here) and I was all set to order this set but now I don't know! I wouldn't mind if I didn't know there were issues but now I do... I'll always have that nagging feeling that it's incomplete! [​IMG]
     
  7. John Carr

    John Carr Stunt Coordinator

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    Yikes -- you skeptics are too busy sifting flyshit out pepper, to know a good thing when it slaps you in the face!

    I saw Mary Hartman when it originally aired, and it didn't look half as good as this release. For videotape the colors are vibrant and the story as arresting -- in its weird Lynchian fashion -- as I remembered. If there's anything missing, it's not critical.

    This is it folks, if you don't buy this one we'll never see the other 300 or so shows! For $20 how can you go wrong?

    John
     
  8. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    This is not a few seconds here and there. This is a whole plot point! The absence leaves a huge, huge gap in the story. It is important.
     
  9. moogaboo

    moogaboo Agent

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    How is it that Sony put out the Maude set completely unedited, yet MHMH contains the rebroadcast edits? I don't get it.[​IMG]
     
  10. chas speed

    chas speed Second Unit

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    It's such a shame that such a great show has been treated like garbage in syndicated reruns and now dvd. Still if you compare it to the WKRP release it isn't that bad and is worth buying. The problem is if they had just taken a few seconds to look at this before they released it this never would have happened. I guess Sony will not comment on this latest fiasco.
     
  11. sr75

    sr75 Auditioning

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    My sentiments exactly, but try telling that to most fans of the series. I posted a review on Amazon.com angrily criticizing Sony for its negligence, and I was met with quite a bit of vitriol. I was actually called names for alerting people to the fact that this DVD was flawed. Yes, you read correctly: allegedly rational, thinking people blasted me for something Sony did (and I purchased the show).
    One day's worth of quality control would have avoided this. You can't tell me that this company is so strapped for cash that they couldn't hire one person to oversee the transfer of this show. I've been called down with "I doubt Sony has a Mary Hartman expert on their staff!" That may be true, but I doubt that any person with the IQ of a sea sponge would have neglected to notice something odd about two back-to-back episodes with duplicate content. This kind of thing leads me to believe that all the studios are doing is pulling the masters and duplicating them to DVD without even glancing at the content or looking twice to ensure that the masters are indeed the originals. In effect, their care of the product is equal to or less than that which you would get from a bootlegger. And I imagine that unedited masters must be out there because the Museum of Television and Radio hosted a tribute marathon of all the episodes in the early 2000's, and I would be shocked indeed to find that the Museum utilized the later syndication copies.
    What's gotten me so angry lately is that the studios basically have buyers in a no-win situation when it comes to sloppy releases. Sony won't do anything if buyers complain; as has been documented, they've put together several edited releases and never even hinted at recalls for any of them. Rather, if buyers complain and the show doesn't sell well in the sets, they'll just lock it away in their vaults, where it will remain hostage until the distributor loses or sells the rights. So, if your favorite show ends up in the possession of a devil-may-care, short sighted, numbers-only motivated distributor such as Sony, Anchor Bay, or Fox, Heaven help you.
    After all this, I suppose it's a moot point that the series also could have been enhanced with at least an interview from Norman Lear, Ann Marcus, Joan Darling, Louise Lasser, Mary Kay Place, or any of a dozen others. I'd love to know more about how the show came to be; I've always had suspicions but never had them confirmed or denied. But even Dody Goodman is still alive. To pass up an opportunity like that also seems tragic, considering the fact that this is one of the most original cult series aired on TV. Before this show, comedies without laugh tracks were virtually nonexistant; nowadays, they're everywhere.
     
  12. sr75

    sr75 Auditioning

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    This kind of response seems to be popular with people who haven't gotten to episodes 22-24 yet. Or with those viewers who are unaware of just how controversial and critical this subplot was and why its editing is so disappointing. The DVD Talk review comes close to nailing it, but this sequence was one of the riskiest and most unsettling storylines in the series run. And as I've said previously, Lear has stated in an interview (downloadable at Google video) that he hates it when MH2 is mishandled and has said that he'd rather not even see it in reruns (or whatever) than see it bungled. Seeing as how the show made its name through controversy, I can't say I oppose his reluctance to see controversial content deleted.
    From my perspective, after these past two years' worth of TV-to-DVD disappointments, I believe Criterion and Image are completely justified in their outrageous pricing for their shows and films. They may break your bank account, but dash it all, they get it right. My Dick Van Dyke and Twilight Zone sets are choice, with extras that are out of this world. They look and play a heck of a lot better than all the others. The only sets that I have that even compare to those are the Fox Simpsons DVDs - and considering how much of a cash cow they are for Fox, Fox would be absolutely crazy to bungle those.
     
  13. Corey3rd

    Corey3rd Screenwriter

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    I've experienced the way Criterion works on 2 DVDs and I can assure you that they don't pay the big bucks for their bonus features. They pretty much set themselves up as a charity case when they request material. They won't even offer to send you freebie DVDs. The Criterion folks do allow filmmakers to submit bonus material for the package - which is better than most of the major studios.

    A big warning to anyone renting the DVDs from blockbuster - they're completely screwed up. They only list discs 1 & 2. But it's DVD 3 in the DVD 1 sleeve.
     
  14. Cheetah

    Cheetah Stunt Coordinator

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    With hesitation and then later hope, I eventually decided to buy this. Perhaps the missing content will be included in a possible volume 2 release.

    How much more costly would it have been to have a couple of people look after quality control to prevent such mistakes. You would think that the studios would get it by now, but their nearsighted obsession with cost reduction ruins it on everyone in the end. It's really pathetic.
     
  15. Claude North

    Claude North Second Unit

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    From the little bit of this set that I've watched, it seems that Sony went to the trouble to clear the music used in the episodes, both the original recordings and the versions sung by Loretta, so I'm thinking that the missing scenes are more likely mistakes on Sony's part than deliberate edits. From a business standpoint, it would make sense for them to correct this now because it's the first volume and action on their part would increase consumer confidence about future volumes.
     
  16. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    I have never known Sony to rectify mistakes.
     
  17. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    I'm not trying to defend Sony, but I don't believe that the problem is quite as obvious as you say. For example, Episode 16 opens with several minutes of footage which originally appears in Episode 15. They sometimes did this deliberately, ostensibly for the sake of viewers who might have missed a previous show, but they may have also done it as a time-filler. Having watched scenes repeated several times in earlier episodes, I don't find it all that unusual that a viewer would not have been shocked to see the kitchen scene from Episode 22 repeated in Episode 23.
    In retrospect it's obvious that the scene is supposed to be in Episode 23 and not in 22, but it's only obvious because of the fact that the hillbilly scene is missing from 22.
    For example, I've looked at a number of reviews of the DVD which make no mention of the missing scene. The reviewer for Entertainment Weekly didn't notice it. Also check out this review http://www.tvdvdreviews.com/maryhartman1.html and this review http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/maryhartmanvol1.php . Neither reviewer spotted the error. I didn't catch it, either.
     
  18. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Since Sony is notorious for not doing recalls, the sensible (and, I would assume, less expensive) thing for them to do would be to include the unaltered version of show 22 on the "volume 2" release as bonus material.
     
  19. Mark Tay

    Mark Tay Stunt Coordinator

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    I finally figured out the strange edits on three episodes of the DVD set from Sony. To understand what happened we have to start back at the very, very beginning… Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman premiered on January 5th 1976 (at least on stations which were early adopters of this syndicated soap opera spoof). It ran weekdays (i.e. five episodes per week) with continuous new episodes through Friday, July 2nd 1976. At which point, having been on the air for 26 weeks and tallying up 130 unique episodes, it reached the end of “season one.” It was now time for cast and crew to take a well deserved break. Producer Norman Lear announced that videotaping of season two would begin in early August 1976, with the season two premiere occurring on Monday October 4th 1976. Unfortunately for rabid fans of the show, this left a gap of 13 weeks from the end of season one until the premiere of season two. Obviously re-runs from season one would be broadcast during the gap, however with a slight twist. An editor took the best (or most important) sequences from the original 130 episodes and created a new digest version of season one, condensed down to only 65 episodes. This digest version of season one allowed new fans of the show, to catch up on all that had transpired previously, and created a very nice build up as well as smooth transition right into season two. In 2007 Sony released the first volume of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman on DVD. Their intent was to include the first 25 episodes of season one, complete and unedited. However, three episodes on the DVD set were mistakenly substituted with digest versions from 1976. This unfortunate mix up occurs on what should have been episodes 22, 24 and 25. Owners of the DVD set can rest assured that the remaining episodes are all complete as originally aired. One can easily distinguish original early episodes by their end credits which crawl up the screen. The end credits on the digest versions fade in and out. Regards, Mark
     
  20. Kasey

    Kasey Second Unit

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    Thanks Mark for clearing this up. It makes perfect sense.
     

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