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HTF DVD REVIEW: Simon & Simon Season 4


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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted April 04 2010 - 09:09 AM

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SIMON & SIMON Season Four


Studio: Shout! Factory

Year: 1984-1985

Rated: Unrated

Film Length: 17 hours, 30 minutes

Aspect Ratio: (1.33:1)

Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: None

Release Date: April 6, 2010

The Series

Simon & Simon are Rick Simon (Gerald McRaney) and A.J. Simon (Jameson Parker), two brothers who work together as private investigators in San Diego. The series premiered on the CBS network on November 24, 1981, and ran for 8 seasons until January 21, 1989, leaving a couple of episodes unaired until appearing eventually in syndication. Like many other private eyes, Simon & Simon have their own ally in the police department in the form of detective Downtown Brown (Tim Reid).

If the Odd Couple were brothers who work together as private eyes, then you have an idea of the concept created by Philip DeGuere. Although Rick and A.J. are brothers, they are as unlike each other personality-wise as is possible for two brothers in the same profession. The series was originally entitled Pirate’s Key and the setting was the Florida Keys rather than San Diego. The pilot for Pirate’s Key was produced originally in 1978. This unaired pilot episode was later incorporated into a flashback sequence in the second season episode appropriately entitled Pirate’s Key. The series was actually filmed in the Los Angeles area at Universal Studios and at locations around Venice Beach, with stock footage and clever set design providing the illusion of San Diego.

Has it really been 25 years since these episodes aired originally on television? Simon & Simon has aged more gracefully than many other series from the 1980s. This series retains the same sense of fun that it projected in its original day, even if fashion and automobile design have changed. Simon & Simon would not be out of place on the CBS network of the 2010s, even if detective procedural dramas seem to take themselves a little more seriously these days. Most mysteries are solved within one episode, with the exception of the occasional 2-parter. This 6-disc set includes all 21 episodes from the 1984-1985 season, including the original double length season premiere (C'est Simon) in its original version as aired on September 27, 1984.

Video

The series is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is as good as expected for a series filmed in the mid-1980s. I believe the episodes in season four were still produced on film and then edited into videotape masters. The result is that minor dirt and debris on the master tapes that was invisible on original broadcast are now visible on a large screen. There are minor compression artifacts present in the form of mosquito noise, macroblocking, and occasional interlacing issues, but it is minimal and not intrusive. With the exception of 2 episodes, these episodes appear to have been transferred directly from the studio masters, complete with the "Tonight on Simon & Simon" bumpers before the opening credits.

Network masters could not be located for 2 of the episodes so the DVD producers were forced to rely on syndication masters. Kudos to Shout! Factory for bringing this to the viewer’s attention rather than concealing it. The menu features identify these 2 episodes with an explanation that syndication masters were used. The episodes in question run 3 minutes shorter than their network counterparts. The episodes from syndication begin with the opening credits and omit the 30-second preview bumper, which leaves approximately 2 ½ minutes of footage missing from those 2 episodes. A lot of film footage was lost from the fire at Universal Studios a couple of years ago, which may account for the missing footage.

Audio


The English Dolby 2.0 tracks preserve the sound value of the original broadcasts. Dialogue is always appropriately audible in the sound mix with music and special effects. There is no perceptible degradation of sound such as hissing or popping.

Special Features

This is a barebones release with no special features. Disc 1 has trailers for The Paper Chase and Designing Women DVD releases from Shout! Factory. It would be nice to at least see some network promos on future season sets if these are available to the producers.

The menu features include audio of the instrumental version of "Best of Friends" by the Thrasher Brothers, the theme song from the first season of Simon & Simon, if you select the episodes sub-menu. Even though the theme song changed with the second season, the original theme song as background music on the menu is a welcome addition for a longtime fan of this show. It is worth noting that the body of all of the episodes appear to retain the appropriate credit sequences and theme music.

Conclusion

If you like The Rockford Files or Magnum, P.I., then you will probably enjoy Simon & Simon. This series distills many of the elements of those other series into a new creation that is one of the better examples of the private eye TV series of the 1980s. The video and audio presentation are as good as anyone could hope for, and the entertainment value of this series places it on par with many new shows being produced today. If you are looking for compelling drama that deals with serious social issues, you can look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you enjoy private eye TV shows that are entertaining and do not take themselves too seriously, then Simon & Simon season 4 comes recommended.




#2 of 12 OFFLINE   WaveCrest

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Posted April 04 2010 - 10:27 AM

Which two episodes in the season four set are syndicated masters?

I'm surprised that the show wasn't filmed mostly on location in San Diego.



#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted April 05 2010 - 02:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaveCrest View Post

Which two episodes in the season four set are syndicated masters?

I'm surprised that the show wasn't filmed mostly on location in San Diego.

 

"A Little Wine With Murder?" (10/4/84) and "Our Fair City" (11/29/84) are both the syndicated versions on DVD.

I was also surprised that more of the show was not filmed in San Diego.  I observed a street sign for Santa Monica Boulevard in one episode on this set, which probably was not noticeable on broadcast 25 years ago but which is much more obvious now on a big screen TV.

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted April 05 2010 - 04:37 AM


Quote:
I'm surprised that the show wasn't filmed mostly on location in San Diego.
 

Me too.  I have "discovered" this show in syndication and really enjoy it.  Thanks for the review Tim!

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Dan*T

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Posted April 05 2010 - 02:15 PM

Great review!
I'll be picking this up tomorrow. I really hope the rest of the series gets released.
Dan T.

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   WaveCrest

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Posted April 07 2010 - 08:46 AM

Thanks for the review Tim. /img/vbsmilies/htf/cool.gif

I'm guessing the answer is 'no', but were scenes in the feature length season premiere "C'est Simon" filmed on location in Paris, France? I ask, because Remington Steele filmed an episode on location in Acapulco, Mexico.


#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted April 07 2010 - 05:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaveCrest ">

Thanks for the review Tim. <br /></span>
<br />
I'm guessing the answer is 'no', but were scenes in the feature length season premiere "C'est Simon" filmed on location in Paris, France? I ask, because Remington Steele filmed an episode on location in Acapulco, Mexico.<br />
 </div></div>
The closing credits for "C'est Simon" include credits for the "French Crew" and disclose that the episode was filmed on location in Paris, Wissou, and Nandy, France.<br />
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#8 of 12 OFFLINE   WaveCrest

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Posted April 08 2010 - 12:36 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy E 


The closing credits for "C'est Simon" include credits for the "French Crew" and disclose that the episode was filmed on location in Paris, Wissou, and Nandy, France.

Great stuff! Thanks. /img/vbsmilies/htf/cool.gif


#9 of 12 OFFLINE   WaveCrest

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Posted July 04 2010 - 08:31 AM

Timothy, will you be reviewing Shout! Factory's website exclusive Region 1 release of the fifth season of Simon & Simon, released two weeks this coming Tuesday?



#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted July 04 2010 - 04:12 PM

I hope to review Season 5.  We are still working on obtaining a review copy and we will probably know more this week.  I am pleased to see that Season 5 will also include the reunion movie from 1995.



#11 of 12 OFFLINE   WaveCrest

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Posted July 05 2010 - 10:18 AM

If you are able to obtain a review copy of the fifth season DVD set, can you mention in your review the following:


1.) Whether any of the fifth season episodes were sourced from syndication masters.


2.) If the Alcatraz episode ("Reunion at Alcatraz") had any scenes shot on location in San Francisco and at Alcatraz, have they mentioned this in the episode's end credits?


3.) Picture quality of the teasers and episodes, and the reunion TV movie.


4.) Whether the reunion TV movie has a teaser or not.


5.) Whether the boxset itself is indeed one DVD case (like the 3D front cover and side spine artwork shows in the TVShowsOnDVD news article), or whether it is a cardboard outer box with slipcases inside.


6.) Whether the fifth season set is comprised of six or seven discs (as Shout! Factory to date have not crammed too many episodes onto any one disc in the second to fourth season DVD boxsets). If they do it right the fifth season set should comprise of seven discs, as if you count the reunion TV movie as two episodes, combined with the fifth season there are 26 episodes in total.


7.) If the fifth season DVD set is one DVD case with the six or seven discs inside, are there synopsis' for the 24 episodes and reunion TV movie, along with their original CBS airdate, on the reverse of the DVD sleeve?



#12 of 12 OFFLINE   WaveCrest

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Posted July 13 2010 - 05:05 AM

To add to my last post....


8.) Any comments on the title sequence, as it was given a revamp in the fifth season.


9.) The season five finale "The Apple Dosen't Fall Far from the Tree" was partly set in Boston. Is there anything in the end credits which says whether they shot on location in Boston?


10.) On the season five finale's TV.com page, it says in the Notes section that the music played over the end credits was the full version of the theme tune, instead of the usual shorter version played over the end credits. Also, they played short clips from the episode during the end credits, instead of the usual still shots.