HTF REVIEW: The Golden Girls Season Three

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by DaViD Boulet, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]

    The Golden Girls

    Complete Third Season

    Studio:TOUCHSTONE Television (Buena Vista) Year:1987 RunTime:Full Season Aspect Ratio:4x3 encoded 1.33:1 (OAR) Audio:2.0 DD English SpecialFeatures:Character highlights ReleaseDate:November 22, 2005







    The The Show...


    Season Two continues the same great tradition of Golden Girls programming as season One and Two. If you’re not familiar with the show, or if you’re a fan and never had a chance to read our HTF review/discussion about the first two DVD releases, please check them out:

    Season One DVD review:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=217832

    Season Two DVD review:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=233778


    If you’re up on the Golden Girls DVD legacy, let me answer the two questions undoubtedly on your mind:
    1. Bonus features are still sadly lacking on this release.
    2. The audio is finally in STEREO. That’s right…bonifide 2.0 stereo! [​IMG]



    Picture...


    It looks like magnified VHS on my projector. But hey…was it ever supposed to look any better? [​IMG]

    What disappoints me is that the level detail and color saturation are both far less than what can be achieved even with video-capture programming (I always hold up the Muppet Show as the reference “video” program to reveal just how much detail and color vibrancy/range you can get for non-HD, non-film video capture). But the 80’s were a different time and I’ll bet that some form of Beta is how these shows have been archived. While viewers on wide-angle/large-screens will find the soft picture lacking (making it hard to see facial expressions), those with smaller screens and/or who view from a proportionally farther screen width:distance ratio will find the image satisfactory. It certainly looks better than your VHS recordings of the cable/broadcast…and it’s commercial free!!!


    Picture Quality: 3 / 5

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Rating Rationale...

    In the past I think I've been too ambiguous with my scoring or at least haven't applied it consistently from title to title, so I've endeavored to define my rating system more clearly to help make the scoring more meaningful (for all titles reviewed December 2004 and later):

    Rating Key:

    SCORE Description 1-2 An absolute abomination. Hurts to watch. Think "Outland" (scan-line aliasing, chroma noise, dotcrawl)-- truly horrid. 2-3 Has some serious problems, but one can at least watch it without getting a headache despite all the problems though you might try to talk your guests into picking a different movie to watch if you have a large projection screen. Think Cold Mountain. 3-4 Good or at least "acceptable" on a big-screen, but not winning any awards and definitely room for improvement if you view the image wide-angle (though smaller-screen viewers may be quite content). Think the first extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring...decent picture but still some HF filtering and some edge-halos. 4-5 A reference picture that really makes the most of the DVD medium and shows extraordinary transparency to the film-source elements. Non-videophile observers can't help but remark "WOW". Think The Empire Strikes Back or the Fifth Element Superbit (full “5” would be sans EE) or the new Toy Story 10th Anniversary Edition.



    Viewing Equipment:
    Currently running DVDs on my OPPO DVD player (Faroudja deinterlacing) which scales to 720P, feeding my BenQ 8700+ PJ via DVI, projecting onto a 106” 16x9 Dalite HiPower screen, viewed from approximately 1.6 screen-widths distance. Well mastered DVDs produce a stunningly film-like image in this scenario, and lesser-mastered material quickly shows its flaws.






    Sound...




    Well, it’s about time, huh?

    Check out the previous review threads for discussion of the hullabaloo surrounding the MONO audio presentation on the first two seasons sets. The powers that be have hear your cry and are finally presenting this show on DVD in true-stereo form.

    Stereo fidelity is nice, surprisingly full-range sounding on some of the musical portions (like the opening theme song) and of course the laugh-track is more dimensional as well.

    Here’s an interesting curiosity: The retrospective “flashback” episode on the last disc incorporates scenes from the earlier two seasons and the audio temporarily collapses to mono when we hit a flashback scene from an earlier series (still 2.0…but the sound collapses to the center channel if you’re using Dolby ProLogic decoding) and then opens back up when the scene switches to footage contemporary with Season Three. Interesting…? This makes me wonder if the source tapes that Disney has for the first two seasons really are mixed to mono…or maybe the stereo track on those tapes was damaged somehow and could not be played? If you’ve romped around inside that Disney vault and/or have some information to shed light on the mystery stereo-saga please post, email, or PM to share your insights with the rest of us. We’d love to know!



    Sound Quality: 3.5 / 5

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]




    Special Features...


    Let me rephrase: Special Feature.


    Don’t be fooled…if you see marketing text that sounds like there are 2 bonus features…one of them is just the “retrospective flashback” episode (part of the original season programming) which someone decided could get special-feature honors on the disc packaging.

    The actual bonus item is a “best of” montage where you pick your character from a menu and get to watch their funniest moments pulled from the first three seasons. It’s actually a nice feature…not quite the fan-coveted material like bloopers or test-footage or commentary by the cast…but at least it’s not downright offensive like that Rivers’ Rip on the outfits.

    [​IMG]

    BTW, do any of you own this Golden Girls DVD??

    http://www.lasersedge.com/item_detai...65746&tMedia=1

    If so, please share your comments with the group…perhaps this purchase can help substitute for bonus feature content for the time being.





    All Together...


    Yet again, Golden girls comes to DVD with full-length episodes not-edited for syndication. Yet again bonus material is sadly slim…despite the information we’ve heard that there is plenty of content in the vault which would make great special-feature-fodder. Finally, the mastering team have brought us 2.0 STEREO audio, which really does make for a more enjoyable listening experience.

    There are two types of people…those who don’t watch the Golden Girls and those who do. If you belong to the latter group…you know that you’re going to buy this set, but let’s hope that the marketing team hold a meeting based on your feedback here and decide to allow a little more time to be spent next time around for Special Features.

    Note: Season Four will be released in February…I’ll be on the case!



    RECOMMENDED for Golden Girls fans who have to own this series on DVD or die (you know who you are!)
     
  2. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Well, it's good to know we have nothing to worry about on this set.
     
  3. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review, David! I pre-ordered it from Amazon.ca on the weekend, should be here in the next day or two. I pre-ordered because I also ordered the Lifetime Intimate Portrait's of the girls, which I can't seem to find here in Canada. Glad to hear that it's finally in stereo. Here's hoping for more substantial features next season.

    Andy
     
  4. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    Come on, Buena Vista, get some cast interviews together! They're not going to be around for much longer!
     
  5. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
    Reviewer

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    Thanks David, great review and of course I'll get this one. The first 2 seasons are in stereo (though not on the dvd). Lifetime TV regularly shows them and they are true stereo, so I am not sure what happened./ If you recall, there is an episode on disc 3 in the first season set that switches to stereo for about 15 seconds, so something went wrong with seasons 1 and 2, what's sad is that Disney will not repress them (probably). Disney told me the first 2 seasons were never stereo, and that the entire show was not (wrong). They told me that it was Lifetime TV that altered the sound (wrong again).

    But I have to say that much of the work some of did seems to pay off and it shows the power people have when they make a big deal out of things. I spent a week writing to all Golden Girls fan sites and fan clubs, and they posted for me, and I included how to reach Disney. Hopefully my efforts helped inthe quest for the "stereo" Golden Girls :)

    As for the lack of extras again, this last week Lifetime TV had a marathon of this series, and all day showed out-takes and edited cuts, plus bloopers and even jokes the production p-eople played on the girls. Interesting that Lifetime can dig this stuff up, and Disney refuses to give us anything but a real slap-in-the-face Joan Rivers costume documentary (yikes it was insulting to fans). But hey, I'll just settle for the stereo I guess, that is a nice "extra (hehe).
     
  6. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Disney? Not tell the truth? But I thought Eisner had left! [​IMG]
     
  7. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    I've been thinking about this, and while I have no knowledge of what really happened, I can speculate what probably happened. In 1985 stereo TV was brand new, the FCC had just approved stereo TV transmission a year earlier. The Golden Girls was one of the first stereo TV sitcoms. While the first 2 seasons were definitely in stereo, they were probably archived and vaulted with mono sound because the archiving equipment had not been upgraded and it was an honest oversight by the technicians who had probably been archiving video-taped tv shows for years. That would explain why the flashback sequences collapsed to mono, because where would they go to get clips to insert into the show? The archives in the vault of course. Now flash forward 20 years. Disney is preparing to put out Golden Girls on DVD. Naturally they go to the vault and use the archived materials and since those materials were mono that's what they believed the show to be. But we all know better.
     
  8. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
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    Mark, that makes alot of sense, and could very well be the case. There's one other thing that bothers me, though. I don't believe the source material used for the dvd's is master material, at least the first 2 sets (havn't seen the 3rd yet). These episodes from the first 2 seasons not only sound better on Lifetime, but also look much better as well. Comparing the same episode on Lifetime with the first season dvd set,it looks to me like Lifetime got episodes from the masters, but the ones on the dvds look like 2nd generation copies. The difference is huge.
     
  9. David Rain

    David Rain Screenwriter

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    My only real complaint with these sets, like everyone else's, is the lack of extras. I'm not sure exactly what's in the vaults but I do know there are a decent amount of bloopers to be found. Some of them aired on Lifetime's reunion special. Even if that's all there is they could put those outtakes on one of the sets. I suppose it's possible that there are so few surviving bloopers that they would all have to be grouped together on one set as a feature.

    As an obsessive GG freak, the bottom line for me is that these eps are uncut. Now, keep them coming.

    Thank you for being a friend, ladies.

    Sophia: I found my lucky handkerchief.
    Rose: Where was it?
    Sophia: It was in my bra.
    Rose: What was it doing in your bra?
    Sophia: I was blowing my breasts, Rose!
     

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