Once considered a second-tier market, TV-to-DVD has blossomed into a major player, with complete seasons of popular and classic series often appearing at the top of rental and sales charts. TV-to-DVD has become so popular that studios are embracing their television libraries like newborns. While bulky videocassettes made it impossible to effectively release and market complete seasons of popular shows, DVD discs are compact.
Two separate events currently make TV-to-DVD attractive: the Winter Olympics and reruns. Instead of suffering through ice dancing or haphazard programming, TV-to-DVD gives you the power to control your reruns. The advantage of TV-to-DVD is being able to watch a complete season in order, without commercials breaks or those annoying animated graphics cluttering the screen. TV-to-DVD titles include original broadcast footage excised over time to accommodate additional advertisement.
Here are some new TV-to-DVD releases, something for everyone.
Now playing …
Comedy Central’s animated spoof of reality shows, Drawn Together: Season One (Paramuont Home Entertan-iment) arrives on DVD uncensored, making this tale of cartoon characters forced to live under one roof politically incorrect and raunchy. Over-the-top characterizations, nasty situations, stinging stereotypes, and no-holds-barred humor make this a gut-buster. DVD draws up commentaries, new segments, sing-along and game.
The first season of the addictive Grey’s Anatomy (Buena Vista Home Entertain-ment) is the perfect antidote for fans old and new looking for more. The witty, human drama starring Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh checks in on DVD with a doctor’s prescription of extras, including unaired scenes, pilot dissection, commentaries and more.
Gone but not forgotten …
You can only catch the complete first season of Stephen Bochco’s groundbreaking, critically acclaimed police drama Hill Street Blues (20th Century Fox Home Entertain-ment) on DVD. This perfect introduction to the show that laid the groundwork for NYPD Blue and The Shield features the pilot and several two-part episodes. Audio commentaries and featurette are also included on roll call.
Those looking for a little Pepper in their crime drama will want to sprinkle on the arresting Police Woman: The Complete First Season (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). Starring Angie Dickinson as Sergeant Pepper Anderson, undercover LAPD cop and member of the Criminal Conspiracy Unit, the DVD includes the pilot, original “Police Story” episode and commentaries.
Looking for just a taste of your favorite comedy shows? Warner Home Entertainment offers three new editions of their Television Favorites collection: Making its debut on DVD, Welcome Back Kotter features six popular episodes, including Vinnie Barbarino’s (John Travolta) attempt to enter the priesthood; Night Court, features a docket of six episodes, including the pilot; and The Drew Carey Show rocks with six episodes, including pilot.
In the 1960s Irwin Allen (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno) became known as the master of science-fiction television (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants). The Time Tunnel: Volume One (FOX) stars James Darren and Robert Colbert as scientists forced to enter their time travel machine or lose funding. Series followed the scientists as they bounced from one historical hot spot to the next (Alamo, Pearl Harbor) while their scientist friends tried to bring them home. Extended episodes, home movies, camera tests, more. Tripping The Rift: The Complete First Season (Anchor Bay Enter-tainment) brings the computer-animated cable series to DVD with all its lowbrow humor and action. Follow the crew of the Jupiter 42 as they trip the rift looking for booty of all sorts.
Way too irreverent and raunchy for network television, Action: The Complete Series (SPHE) would have been at home on HBO, where it’s ribald sense of humor and adult situations wouldn’t have been a threat to network censors. DVD drops the pretenses and gets in your face with strong language, a pervasive sexual appetite and a bawdy look at movies and the people who make them. Jay Mohr, Buddy Hackett and Illeana Douglas pull out all the stops. Includes commentaries and featurette. Michael T. Weiss continues his charade in The Pretender: The Complete Third Season (FOX), as an exceptional genius raised in a lab who helps innocent victims while searching for his past. Third season includes double-length season finale, commentaries and featurette.
Saturday morning confusion
There are over 700 minutes of animated excitement packed into the DVD release of Beast Machines-Transformers: The Complete Series (Rhino), featuring 26 episodes, interviews and commentaries. Cops: The Animated Series (Shout!) doesn’t feature shirtless hillbillies, but it does include an arresting collection of episodes from the 1988-1989 season. The futuristic crime fighters use humor and skill to stop The Big Boss from taking over Empire City. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (Shout!) gives the lovable plumbers their own series, bringing the Nintendo-inspired world to life. Twenty-four episodes featuring live action and animation are packed onto four-discs. There’s real value in The Best Of The Electric Company (Shout!), only available on DVD. The groundbreaking educational show includes live-action and animated segments starring current and up-and-coming talent (Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno). DVD revives 20 episodes, with interviews, intros, outtakes and more.
Comedian Margaret Cho’s stand-up routine is the basis for All-American Girl: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory), a situation comedy about a modern young woman growing up in a traditional Korean household in San Francisco. Typical fish-out-of-water set-ups and pay-offs give new life by the spunky Cho. DVD includes commentaries, interviews.
Scott Baio parlayed Happy Days success into the starring role of Charles In Charge: The Complete First Season (Universal Studios Home Entertainment), a junior edition of Who’s The Boss, with Baio playing the male housekeeper to three diverse children.
Will Smith brings more Philly flavor to Bel Air in the complete second season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Warner Home Entertain-ment), the popular comedy which catapulted Smith to stardom. There’s lots of laughs as Smith tries to teach his upper-crust relatives to chill. Bloopers and “best of” bits add to the frivolity.
Nell Carter brought heart and soul to Gimme A Break!: Season One (Universal Studios Home Entertainment), making its DVD debut. As Nellie Harper, Carter played surrogate mother to the three daughters of widowed police chief Carl Kanisky. Bonus episodes of Kate & Allie, Charles in Charge, and The Great ’80’s Flashback feature.
The Finnerty family of Staten Island are Grounded For Life: Season One (Anchor Bay Entertainment). Donal Logue and Megyn Price are hilarious as Sean and Claudia, who give new meaning to dysfunctional families. In their 30s, Sean and Claudia can barely take care of themselves, much less their three opinionated children. Twenty hilarious episodes, plus interviews, bloopers and commentaries.
Scheming kids are at the heart of Growing Pains: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Entertainment), starring Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns as successful parents dodging land mines laid by their son, Mike (Kirk Cameron), daughter, Carol (Tracey Gold) and youngster, Ben (Jeremy Miller). Harmless hijinks ensue. DVD includes original pilot with optional cast, reunion and retrospective, and gag reel.
Debbe Dunning makes her debut as Tool Girl Heidi in Home Improvement: The Complete Third Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), replacing Baywatch-bound Pam Anderson. Third season includes pivotal Halloween, Christmas and Hot Rod episodes, plus a look inside Tim’s Tool Corral.
A plethora of guest stars parade through That ’70’s Show: Season Three, including rockers Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. I love this show, and Season Three continues to explore the growth of the characters. DVD features featurettes, commentaries and introductions (FOX).