What did you watch this week in classic TV on DVD(or Blu)?

BobO'Link

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I'm up to S8 of Columbo and am finding at least 1 episode per season (and very short seasons with 3-6 episodes) that's poorly written and/or researched.

In one I watched this morning (about a magician) they repeated a bit from an earlier season with a hand guillotine - except it was a finger one this time (and a full head one as that was the method of the murder - decapitation!). No biggie - except that Columbo acts like he's never seen the bit *or* been in a magic shop before. He'd both seen it done *and* been in a magic shop in that much earlier episode.

Another involved a TV exec/producer where they kept mixing up projection and TV techniques and had a overly long sequence where Columbo sat down at a production video switcher (and he was left alone in the control room! Something that rarely occurs), pressed random buttons, and various music and visual effects automatically appeared on the monitors - all of them - including camera ones (which are typically dedicated and *not* controlled by the switcher). I worked in TV production for over 20 years and this one was particularly bad in its depiction of TV production, processes, and equipment.

So... outside these one offs the series is typically quite good and entertaining. Most of the solutions to the crimes are logical (although they do stretch and cheat often). I noticed this morning that Columbo drives the same car he did in the 70s - and these are late 80s episodes.

I'm so far in that I'll likely complete the series rather than shift to something else. After all, I have ~5 "seasons" left so that's likely 20 or fewer episodes.
 

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I just finished up the last episode (“Mutiny at Fort Mercy”) of disc 1 from the western series The Dakotas.
Guest actor George Macready acts as in his Outer Limits episode:
“Production and Decay of Strange Particles”.
What a good series!​
 

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More humorous season 7 Alfred Hitchcock intros...I hope this gives you guys some laughs during these stressful times...my screen caps from the UK R2 DVD sets...

Alfred Hitchcock Presents S7E11, The Right Kind of Medicine (Dec. 19, 1961)...
Hitchcock: "Good Evening fellow villagers. I've been promised a chestnut tree, but it hasn't been delivered yet. This job came as a result of my answering an ad. I've got it here somewhere. (looking at the newspaper ad) Let's see, here we are. 'Wanted: man with large and sinewy hands, The muscles of his brawny arms, strong as ironbands, Hair must be crisp, black and long. His face must be quite tanned, No salary guaranteed, he earns what he can'... I found this job very interesting and not difficult at all...This case for example, he doesn't need new shoes. He needs arch supports! From this bucolic scene, we move to an urban setting for tonight's drama. Lest the contrast be too jarring for your sensibilities, we present the following, (Hitchcock grimaces) pleasantly, incongruous transition".
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The swayback horse in the background was a California celebrity..."Tiburon Blackie", born in Kansas and brought to California as a Rodeo cutting horse. He was then sold to the U.S. Army, serving as a Cavalry horse at the Presidio in San Francisco bay. He was retired at age 12 in 1938, and was adopted by a retired veteran and taken to Tiburon in Marin county...apparently not suffering from his swayback condition, Blackie was loved for his placid and friendly nature...he loved to stand in the same spot, day after day, in a pasture's corner at Tiburon Boulevard and Trestle Glen Road. Known far and wide by locals and tourists who considered him a living landmark and often came to the fence to feed and pet him...for 28 years! Sadly, he passed away on February 27, 1966 at age 40! He was buried in that same corner, and a cross and memorial plaque marked his legendary life. Because the much loved horse continued to be fondly remembered by so many people, a full sized statue of Blackie was erected on the same spot in 1995, and road signs mark it as "Blackie's Corner"...man, the things you learn when you research classic TV shows!
 
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Flashgear

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents S7E16, The Case of M.J.H. (Jan. 23, 1962)...my screen caps from the Fabulous Films R2 DVD sets...

Hitchcock holds a sit-down party with the boys. A friendly chat over smokes and coffee, with everyone wired for sound...
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The party's over...but the boys are still hanging around...ha, ha!
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Jeff Flugel

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Loving these Hitchcock intros, Randall! I always get a big laugh at his gallows' humor and the way he badmouths the show's sponsors. Fascinating info about ol' swayback Tiburon Blackie, too.

The transfers on those Region 2 Fabulous Film releases look nice and crisp. Might have to invest in some of those sets...
 

Jeff Flugel

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I'm up to S8 of Columbo and am finding at least 1 episode per season (and very short seasons with 3-6 episodes) that's poorly written and/or researched...

So... outside these one offs the series is typically quite good and entertaining. Most of the solutions to the crimes are logical (although they do stretch and cheat often). I noticed this morning that Columbo drives the same car he did in the 70s - and these are late 80s episodes.
Glad to see that you've (mostly) enjoyed your journey through Columbo, Howie! I'm not a fan of the '80s and '90s episodes myself, with a few exceptions (the Faye Dunaway episode, and the two with Patrick McGoohan are fine). The '70s seasons are pretty much it for me. I just find the casting, particularly of the killers, pretty weak tea compared to the heavy hitters in the '70s seasons.

I'll probably pick up that Complete Series set at some point (missed out on the last under $30 Amazon price that you wisely took advantage of). I'd just as soon the set not include the later '80s/'90s movies, but as it's the cheapest way to get all seven seasons of the original show, I'll likely bite.
 

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Glad to see that you've (mostly) enjoyed your journey through Columbo, Howie! I'm not a fan of the '80s and '90s episodes myself, with a few exceptions (the Faye Dunaway episode, and the two with Patrick McGoohan are fine). The '70s seasons are pretty much it for me. I just find the casting, particularly of the killers, pretty weak tea compared to the heavy hitters in the '70s seasons.

I'll probably pick up that Complete Series set at some point (missed out on the last under $30 Amazon price that you wisely took advantage of). I'd just as soon the set not include the later '80s/'90s movies, but as it's the cheapest way to get all seven seasons of the original show, I'll likely bite.
Well, Jeff, I'm about halfway through S9 and agree about the 80s/90s episodes. They are distinctly lesser as well as longer with mostly padding filling that extra length. I foresee a tough slog getting through these last episodes. Once I've watched these I see myself rarely, if ever, watching the "movies" (what the set calls these years of episodes) again.
 

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My wife and I love Columbo, definitely in my top 5 all-time favorites. And we are happy to watch the 80's and 90's episodes because Peter Falk is such a delight. But the original NBC episodes are definitely better, with the villains being sharper foils for the rumpled lieutenant. Although that Faye Dunaway episode is one of the best of all time. And I could watch Patrick McGoohan go head to head with Columbo every day.
 

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Season 2 of Petrocelli: a mixed bag to say the least. He continues to get beat up, threatened, or run off the road in just about every episode. The distinctive DAs from season one are mostly replaced by bland DAs of the week. Some good episodes in the first half of the season. After doing a twins episode with Stefanie Powers in season one, they did another with Kay Lenz. Unfortunately, the teaser clips at the beginning pretty much give away the key twist in the plot. (At least it did to me; could be 40 years later we've seen this sort of thing enough times to recognize it more easily.) Mark Hamill makes a second appearance in the series. In one show wife Maggie gets to brag that she was born and raised in Marshall TX (as Susan Howard really was), and in another ep wears a 'Marshall High' shirt. Arnold Jeffers, a local actor with a distinctive voice (former radio guy), originally introduced as tough-as-nails Judge Maitland in season one, shows up repeatedly in season two, and just about every time his name is different, either in the dialogue or the placard in front of him.

Halfway thru the season someone got the bright idea to shake things up. I must have forgotten about this development because it all seemed new to me. Shows that are in trouble sometimes adopt mid-season course corrections in the hope of reviving the ratings. Among shows I liked Switch, Jaimie McPheeters, and Search all tried and only diluted the aspects that made them interesting. Ditto Petrocelli. All of a sudden no flashbacks, no courtroom trials, as Tony becomes more like Mickey Spillane than Perry Mason. The most tolerable episode of this batch (that I saw, I skipped a few) was a Maltese Falcon rip-off with Thayer David as Sydney Greenstreet. Another ep with fake identities and a search for a mysterious something or other was like Charade, but without the wit, suspense, pace, personality, or sophistication.

It was actually a relief to get to the three unaired episodes. These were traditional Petrocelli eps pulled from the schedule in desperation to air the new format. One was a padded out story about a traveling performer accused of murder. Maggie's uncle was a suspect in another tale. And then came one where the producers apparently thought bringing in a younger character might help get those demo numbers up. So when Tony is suspended on a bum rap of bribing a witness, up pops Tim Mathieson as rookie attorney Mike, causing Maggie to voice the predictable 'he reminds me of you' as Tony starts musing about hiring him. By the end of the ep Mike is telling a client to come see him at Tony's office! Despite the annoying Mathieson, this is the best episode of the three stragglers. It bends the premise of the show but doesn't discard it, and the ending actually makes sense. Plus Harold Gould returns as Haskell 'Foxy' Fox. This one they should have aired, as long as they could find a way to write Mike out ASAP.

PS: The Mathieson episode had a unique angle I don't recall seeing before; part of the scene was shot thru the office window:

pic.jpg
 

BobO'Link

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Just started S11 of Columbo. Surprisingly, there were a few episodes of S8-10 that are on a par with the better ones in earlier seasons. One thing that stuck out is they changed the theme song. It's no longer the Henry Mancini tune but an 80s/90s generic TV rock theme in a style very common to the era.

I also thought it odd that S10E1 was the last episode on the 1st "Movies Collection." Up until that episode they've kept seasons together on the discs with a new disc starting a new season, even if a season has an odd number of episodes. Then I start the 2nd "Movies Collection" which leads off with S10E2 and found it's 19:9/WS. Up to now the episodes have all been 4:3. They did the split with the video aspect ratio change. Makes sense as I'm sure people would have complained had that single 4;3 episode been on the set with everything else 16:9 productions.

There are 11 episodes left. The one with Faye Dunaway a few of you have commented on is a handful of episodes away - S12E1. It's followed by one with William Shatner that I'm curious about as his earlier appearance on the show was pretty good. The last episode featuring Patrick McGoohan is S13E3.
 
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mark-edk

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The only Columbo I remember from the ABC revival is one that broke format: Columbo gets involved in a kidnapping. The story was by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) of 87th Precinct fame. EtA: And the one about Mrs Columbo's funeral. I remember that one too.
 
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Columbo-wise, I only own the first three seasons.
I consider season 1 as the single best season all the way!
From a music perspective, the identity of the series was supervised by composer Billy Goldenberg
and when he left (at the end of season 3), the series completely changed.
Find the list of Billy Goldenberg’s music scores:

  1. A Friend in Deed (1974)
  2. Publish or Perish (1974)
  3. A Stitch in Crime (1973)
  4. Lady in Waiting (1971)
  5. Suitable for Framing (1971)
  6. Murder by the Book (1971)
  7. Ransom for a Dead Man (1971)
 

bmasters9

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In one show wife Maggie gets to brag that she was born and raised in Marshall TX (as Susan Howard really was)
That was the second-and-final-season premiere "Death Ride" (OAD Wed. Sept. 10, 1975 on NBC); I dislike saying it, but that's one of only four from that second half of Petrocelli that really stood out for me (the others being "Five Yards of Trouble," "Chain of Command," and "Too Many Alibis," all from 1975).
 

BobO'Link

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The only Columbo I remember from the ABC revival is one that broke format: Columbo gets involved in a kidnapping. The story was by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) of 87th Precinct fame. EtA: And the one about Mrs Columbo's funeral. I remember that one too.
I just finished watching that episode. It's S11E2, "No Time to Die." Following a lavish wedding, the bride is kidnapped from the hotel room while her new husband showers. She's a top model and her husband is Columbo's nephew as well as a police officer.

It has a 6.3 at IMDB. IMHO that's far too low. It's more of a procedural episode which may be the cause of the lower rating. So it's not a "standard" Columbo episode but it's well written, acted, and produced. It's also quite taut with far less (almost none) of the padding in other episodes. The only negative I have is *if* you've watched a lot of cop/detective shows it can be predictable at times.
 

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LA Law: “As God is My Co-Defendant” (4/4/1991): Morale at the firm is at an all-time low without Kuzak. C.J. and Zoey give a lecture for East Bloc lawyers about American trial law, but their teaching styles are quite a bit different from each other and different from what the organizers expected. Tommy represents a Christian Science-practicing couple (Isabella Hoffman, Mark Metcalf) accused of letting their baby die of meningitis because their faith would not allow the medical intervention that could have saved his life. The battle for control of the firm gets real when Kuzak goes to the bank and gets Earl Williams off the hook for his debts; the firm’s bank loan was dependent on that as collateral for their line of credit, so the bank rescinded the credit, meaning they owe lots of money and they owe it now. Adding insult to that injury, Victor, Grace, Jonathan, and Abby all tender their resignations to go work for Kuzak. Jack Sollers represents McKenzie-Brackman in an evidentiary hearing where a figure from the firm’s past makes a surprise reappearance. Either way, this is the point of no return.

From the “House of Mouse” Department: Lawyers and Disney are like peas in a pod, and two guest stars are connected to The Wonderful World of Disney, which NBC had recently canceled after a recent reboot. Kenneth Tobey (Judge Kent Watson) was in the Davy Crockett mini-series with Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen all the way back in the 1950s, as well as the theatrical features The Great Locomotive Chase, Gus, and Honey I Blew Up the Kid. Meanwhile, Jerome Courtland’s (Professor Thomas Wadkins) work there has been as an actor, in The Saga of Andy Burnett anthology series episodes and 1958’s Tonka with Sal Mineo; a producer, most notably of Escape to Witch Mountain (whose female lead has gotten in trouble with the law), Pete’s Dragon (whose cast was represented by Charlie Callas’s appearance in season 4), and The Devil and Max Devlin (whose now-disgraced co-star still headlined the NBC Thursday night lineup that ended with this show); a director, mainly of a handful of anthology series from the 1970s; and a singer, of the theme song to Old Yeller. The more I think about this, the less strange Disney’s ownership of Fox, and therefore this show, sounds like in hindsight.

LA Law: “Speak, Lawyers, For Me” (4/25/1991): With the firm under the threat of receivership as Kuzak, Grace, and Victor all plan to leave, Douglas has to represent a model (Claudia Christian, Babylon 5) fired from a cosmetics firm over a sex change operation; the ironically, prosecuting attorney (Jodi Long, All-American Girl) is a woman. Douglas insists the model is not homosexual, but private conversation between the two of them reveals the motivation for the operation was an unrequited crush on a man. A former lover, who is a man, takes the stand. Tommy represents a family (Eriq LaSalle, ER; Gene Whittington) suing a university football team for enabling their dead son to take the steroids that they claim gave him mood swings that caused him to commit suicide at age 20. The firm’s constant acrimony gets to the point where it drives Benny to a breakdown requiring hospitalization. Kuzak bids a bittersweet farewell to the place he has worked at since 1977, off to start his own partnership.

LA Law: “There Goes the Judge” (5/2/1991): Zoey argues a drug case before an overdramatic judge (Eli Wallach), and she feels concerned when his tangents get even more off-topic than usual. She’s right to feel that way; eventually, the truth comes out, and it’s not good: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. With Kuzak gone, the firm is now McKenzie Brackman Chaney & Becker. Arnie talks to his therapist about his mother, talking about her in the past tense and thus assuming she died somewhere between now and the time she met Corrine last season. Jonathan takes the case of a black man accused of speeding when he insists he was trying to get away from the LAPD for fear of being the next Rodney King. The jury sees the infamous security footage, and he has personal experience that influences his views on the case. C.J. and Abby are spending more time together. Victor stops by to ask Arnie about Benny’s progress, and they end up fighting.

The first post-Kuzak episode can be summed up in one sentence: you never know what you miss until it’s gone.

Music: “1812 Overture” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, “Ma, She’s Making Eyes at Me” by Al Jolson

LA Law
: “On the Toad Again” (5/9/1991): Ann and Jack defend a woman (Michele Farr) who insists she didn’t kill her married lover despite evidence placing her at the scene of the crime and despite having threatened him before. The man’s wife (Elaine Kagan, The Trials of Rosie O’Neill) and son (Christopher Pettiet, The Young Riders) testify against her. Benny goes back to work. Leland mediates the case of a gospel singer (Ron Taylor) suing the Hawks for reneging on a contract to sing the National Anthem because he refused to lip sync it and because the venue considered his stylistic embellishments “un-American.” C.J. defends an elderly man (Dabbs Greer, Little House on the Prairie) accused of giving his pet cane toads out to fellow residents of his retirement home for “medicinal” purposes. Tragedy strikes when the murder of a client makes a court victory pyrrhic.

Music: “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “I’m a Blues Man”

From the “Dearly Beloved” Department: Before playing Little House’s Rev. Alden, Dabbs Greer played the minister who married Mike and Carol Brady on the first episode of The Brady Bunch.

From the “Gone Too Soon” Department: Christopher Pettiet was in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead and played the younger version of Dr. Harry Weston on Empty Nest. He died of a drug overdose in 2000 at the age of 24.

From the “You Sound Different Somehow” Department: Ron Taylor was the voice of Bleeding Gums Murphy on two Simpsons episodes in 1990 and 1995. A third one later in 1990 between those two used the character for an extremely long rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but with the voice of Daryl Coley.

LA Law: “Since I Fell For You” (5/16/1991): Victor offers to represent Mark Gilliam (Stanley Kamel), a lawyer dying of AIDS, in his case against an insurance company who refuses to pay for a potentially breakthrough but as-yet unproven treatment. As Rosalind’s will goes into probate and Leland stands to inherit a windfall, he tries to make Abby a partner to get her to stay. Ann’s mistake might get an innocent woman arrested despite her son’s confession, so she must testify as well, but with what she knows, telling the truth could cost her her career. Arnie and Roxanne have a breakthrough. Victor and Grace make their wedding vows official in front of Judge Conover.

LA Law 100th Episode Celebration Show: Former Today Show host Jane Pauley hosts this look back at the first five seasons. As she talks to cast members about the characters they play and real-life lawyers about its effect on how we view the law, not to mention law students, viewers can relive 45 minutes of some of the show’s most dramatic — and most outlandish — moments. The most notable points I got from it:
—Harry Hamlin based his portrayal of Michael Kuzak on Crusader Rabbit.
—Michael Tucker talks about doing the show while Jill Eikenberry was going through breast cancer treatments.
—Alan Dershowitz, who later became O.J. Simpson’s defense attorney in his murder trial, describes himself as a “skeptical fan.”

The Season 5 R2 DVD has this as a supplement, but it seems to cut off the end credits. All it has is director and writer credits, then it abruptly stops.
 

Flashgear

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents S7E23 The Last Remains (Mar, 27, 1962) Intro...my screen caps from the UK R2 DVDs...

"Good evening and welcome to tonight's pleasure cruise. Our social director is very resourceful and co-operative...our friend is getting a little nervous, however, he doesn't so much mind darts, but some of the passengers are interested in skeet shooting, using him as a skeet. Tonight our crowded schedule of fun and games includes a drama called The Last Remains. First, however, a word from our skipper..."
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I suppose the only thing worse than a cruise with Covid-19 would be a cruise with the mayhem-minded master of suspense himself...but with a tidier crime scene than most, what with all the burials at sea, ha, ha...
 
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Flashgear

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents S7E25 Bad Actor (Jan. 9, 1962)

"Good evening. Before we begin our play, I would like to demonstrate the training method we use here at the Hitchcock actor's studio. You see, we give the students certain symbols or images to assist them in portraying a character. Because of the type of character our miss Schmeltz was to portray, we suggested that she think of herself as a tree..."
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"...I think she projects it very well, thank you miss Schmeltz..."

"Our next student, Mr. Blackwood, was asked to portray a large, jowlly captain of industry, and to help him we suggested that he think of himself as an elephant. Excellent! In all honesty, I must admit that Mr. Blackwood has been with us longer than miss Schmeltz..."
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Mr. Blackwood, now a camera hog, begins edging into Hitchcock's frame..."Thank you Mr. Blackwood! (Hitchcock now irritated) That will be all Mr. Blackwood!"
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"Mr. Blackwood, this is most upsetting, especially to miss Schmeltz! (looking back into camera to explain) He had a date to take her to dinner after class...next week we will be back with another story. As for this incident, I have become philosophical about it. After all, we may have lost a student, but we have gained a mascot. Good night..."
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This week, I viewed the entire first series of six FAWLTY TOWERS episodes (Plus the John Cleese commentary tracks from each episode!) that originally aired in 1975. The Region 1 DVD set that I bought 10 years ago is the second DVD release of the complete series from 2009. I do agree with the general consensus that the visual quality is quite good, and I see no need to upgrade to the late 2019 issued Blu-ray edition!

CHEERS! :)
 

BobO'Link

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This week, I viewed the entire first series of six FAWLTY TOWERS episodes (Plus the John Cleese commentary tracks from each episode!) that originally aired in 1975. The Region 1 DVD set that I bought 10 years ago is the second DVD release of the complete series from 2009. I do agree with the general consensus that the visual quality is quite good, and I see no need to upgrade to the late 2019 issued Blu-ray edition!

CHEERS! :)
Especially so when the majority of reviews seem to say the BR quality is similar to that 2nd DVD release. I was hoping for something along the lines of what was done with Monty Python's Flying Circus - but, alas, it wasn't to be... :(
 

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