Shout! Factory To Resurrect Another Hidden Classic This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

This fall, Shout! Factory will resurrect another piece of hidden television history that was long thought forgotten when it releases the short-lived ABC action-comedy Automan.

Shout! Factory, in partnership with Fabulous Films, will release Automan: The Complete Series on Tuesday, November 10th. The 13-episode series originally ran on ABC from December 15th, 1983 to April 2nd, 1984. It starred Desi Arnaz, Jr. (The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy) in the series’ lead role of Walter Nebicher. Nebicher was an IT professional with dreams of being more than just a tech man for his local police department. Though, his superiors have other ideas. So he creates the artificial intelligence program Automan (Chuck Wagner—General Hospital, All My Children) to help fight crime in his city. Automan is accompanied by a small, floating droid named Cursor much as Clu did in Disney’s surprise hit 1982 movie Tron. Speaking of the similarities between Automan and Tron they are not coincidental. Automan was co-produced by Donald Kushner (Tron, Tron: Legacy).

Automan: The Complete Series will be accompanied by a handful of extras for even more enjoyment including a forty-two-minute documentary titled: “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature,” which includes interviews with series stars Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz, Jr., and heather McNair. There will also be a feature focusing on “The Story of Automan,” a trailer for Manimal: The Complete Series, which will be released alongside Automan: The Complete Series by Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films, a number of picture galleries and more. The complete list of bonus features included in Automan: The Complete Series is noted below.

Special Features:

  • “Calling Automan” – The Auto Feature – 42 minutes

An all-new documentary featuring interviews with Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Heather McNair

  • The Story of Automan
  • Feature Story
  • Original Cast and Crew Biographies
  • Collectables Gallery
  • Stills Gallery
  • Manimal Trailer

Automan: The Complete Series will be available on DVD in stores and online on Tuesday, November 10th. It will retail for MSRP of $26.99 but can be pre-ordered for a discounted price of $21.99 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-sci-fi/automan-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Out Of The Vault: Halloween Is A Frightfully Fun Treat For Every Nicktoons Nostalgic

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

August is almost over and September is about to begin. That can only mean one thing: Halloween is right around the corner. With the unofficial start of the annual holiday season nearing once again audiences are going to start seeing any number of seasonally-themed DVDs and Blu-rays hitting store shelves if they haven’t already. While many of the DVDs and Blu-rays are the same ones that are seen every year, there are some new additions each year. One of the most notable of this year’s crop of new holiday-themed DVDs is Nickelodeon’s new Out Of The Vault: Halloween collection. This new collection of Halloween-themed classic Nicktoons episodes is one that audiences of all ages. The main reason for this is the collection’s episodes. The collection features sixteen classic Nicktoons episodes pulled from five classic Nicktoons series. Their presentation is relatively well-balanced over the course of the disc’s roughly three and a half hour run time. The writing behind each of the featured episodes is just as important to the collection’s enjoyment as the episodes and their distribution. The writing incorporated into each of the episodes equal amounts and frights and fun. Rounding out the reasons that this brand new compilation is so much fun is the various animation styles of each series. It is a subtle factor. But it really shows in the bigger picture one of the most important parts of what once made cartoons great. That will be discussed at more length later. But it is just as important as any of the other reasons noted here. All things considered, Out Of The Vault: Halloween shows in the end to be one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and one more collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection.

Nickelodeon’s new holiday DVD Out Of The Vault: Halloween is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Holidays aside, it is also another collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection. The main reason that it is such an enjoyable watch is its featured episodes. The episodes are not limited to just a small handful from one classic Nicktoon. Rather they are pulled from a healthy spread of the network’s classic animated series. Those series include: Hey Arnold!, Angry Beavers, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and CatDog. Each series is well-represented, too with four of the series being represented by three episode each and the fifth—Rocko’s Modern Life—being represented by four episodes. That brings the episode total to sixteen episodes and roughly three and a half hours of programming. In an even larger sense, what such a balanced representation does is give those that might otherwise not have any of the series’ previously released box sets the chance to finally own at least a part of the featured series and kick-start their collections. Keeping this in mind, the episodes presented in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection show that on their own, they collectively make a solid reason for this collection to be part of any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s home library.

The episodes featured in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection by themselves why this collection is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Of course the episodes themselves are just one part of the reason that the collection proves to be so impressive. The writing that went into the episodes is another reason that this collection proves to be such a solid new release. “Arnold’s Halloween” is just one example of how the writing behind the collection’s episodes makes the collection in whole so much fun. This episode playfully pays homage to both to Orson Welles’ classic radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. It just adds a little bit of a spin that will have audiences of all ages laughing throughout the episode and will ultimately leave them wanting to watch it again not just during Halloween but during any time of the year. The Angry Beavers episode “The Day The World Got Really Screwed Up” shows doubly just how important the writing behind the collections episode is to the presentation in whole. The first way in which it does so with this episode is the very title of the episode. The title is a playful poke at the classic 1951 sci-fi flick The Day The Earth Stood Still. the episode itself pays tribute to all of the classic sci-fi/horror flicks that were churned out throughout the 1950s. Having Dag and Norbert actually become part of one of those classic films puts its own spin on those classics that will have older audiences and younger viewers alike laughing together at the inanity of it all. “This Is Your Brain on Ickis” is yet another example of how the episodes’ writing makes this collection so enjoyable. As with the noted Angry Beavers episode, the title of this episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters in itself an example of how its writing makes it so fun. The title is a playful homage to the 80s anti-drug campaign that told viewers “This is your brain on drugs” as it showed an egg frying in a pan. The episode itself shows the strength of its writing as Ickis shrinks down and takes over monster hunter Simon’s brain. The end result will have viewers laughing tears of joy. It is just one more example of how the writing behind the episodes featured in this collection makes the presentation in whole so enjoyable. There are plenty of other episodes featured throughout this collection that could be used as examples of the strength of the episodes’ writing. Those episodes and the ones noted here together show in whole why the writing behind each episode together with the episodes themselves makes Out of the Vault: Halloween a must have this Halloween for any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

The episodes featured as part of Out of the Vault: Halloween and the writing behind each episode both make for plenty of reason for any Nicktoons Nostalgic to add this DVD to their personal home DVD library. While both of the noted elements are clear reasons that this collection shines so brightly, the animation presented in each series proves to be just as important to the set in whole. Most people probably won’t pay that much attention to the animation style of each series presented in this DVD. But the reality is that the animation style of each series is just as important to the enjoyment of this collection as anything else. That is because it serves as a reminder of the artistic originality that once made cartoons so great. By comparison there is a troubling lack of that artistic creativity and originality in today’s cartoons. The series on television today by and large don’t even deserve to be called animated series being that they are cookie cutter creations made by computers rather than the human hand. Looking at the animation style of each presented series, it reminds audiences of the importance of putting one’s heart and soul into a cartoon rather than just moving a mouse and using a bunch of desktop tools. From the somewhat grainy look of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters to the softer design style of Hey Arnold! and CatDog to the rigidity of the animation in The Angry Beavers and even the almost free-flowing style of Rocko’s Modern Life the different animation styles within each series serves to give each series just as much of its own identity as the writing behind each series’ episodes. Both of those elements come together with the episodes themselves and their balance from one series to the next to make fully clear why Out of the Vault: Halloween is a must have for any Nicktoons Nostalgic and one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays.

Out of the Vault: Halloween is not the first Nicktoons compilation to be released this year by Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory. It is however, just as enjoyable as the companies’ previous compilation disc. The episodes featured in this collection and their balance from one series to the next are collectively one reason that it is so enjoyable. The largely laugh-inciting writing behind each series’ episodes is another reason that the collection proves so enjoyable. And the original, hand-drawn animation at the base of each episode rounds out the presentation. Each series’ animation reminds audiences of what once made cartoons so great. All three reasons considered together, they make Out of the Vault: Halloween one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and a frightfully fun treat for every Nicktoons Nostalgic. It will be available next Tuesday, September 1st in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” It. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Transformers Rescue Bots’ New DVD Is “Roaring” Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios

Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios will release the latest collection of episodes from Discovery Family’s hit Transformers series Rescue Bots next week. The collection, Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Bots will be released next Tuesday, August 25th. The ninth collection of episodes from the hit series, it is also one of the best to be released so far. The main reason for that is that its episode list doesn’t just lift randomly from the series’ so far three seasons. Rather it keeps its five episodes limited to just one season. What’s more the episodes in question are presented in mostly chronological order than a random order. As important as both of the noted elements are to this disc, they are just small parts of what makes it so enjoyable for viewers. The writing behind each of these episodes is just as important as the episodes and their ordering. The series’ writers are to be commended for their efforts to make each of the stories as believable as possible and as enjoyable as possible, too. It can be said that they succeeded quite well in both arenas, leading this collection to be one more that Transformers fans of any age will want to add to their own home library.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Bots is one of the best collections to be released from Discovery Family’s hit animated series to date. There are multiple reasons for this, the least of which being its episode list. The episode list featured in this collection stands out among those of Shout! Factory’s previous Transformers Rescue Bots collections by and large because it actually lifts from just one of the series’ current three season run. The series’ previous collections each lift randomly from each of the series’ seasons at the time in order to match their collective titles. So in the case of this collection, its title Dino Bots actually is far more fitting than any of the series’ previous compilations. That is not to say that the series’ previous sets are any less enjoyable for that reason. Rather it just means that for the first time audiences actually get a full complement of episodes thoughtfully assembled from one source rather than a group of random episodes tossed together for the sake of making a compilation. It’s just the starting point in the examination of what makes this compilation so much fun for the whole family. The sequencing of the featured episodes also plays an important part in its overall success and enjoyment.

The fact that the episodes featured in Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Bots are all pulled from just one of the series’ three current seasons is in itself a major positive to the disc. On a related note, the sequencing of the episodes is just as important to the compilation’s presentation. Audiences will note in this compilation that all five episodes are presented in the same chronological order as they appeared in their original airings on Discovery Family. As far as this critic can tell, this set marks the first time since Shout! Factory started releasing the series’ sets three years ago. It shows even more the dedication on the pat of all involved to finally bring audiences a true, proper compilation. Some might ask why this is so important. The answer is that pulling randomly placing episodes into a set produces the potential of having bits and pieces of story arcs being picked and chosen thus leaving open ends. Even in a series based in standalone episodes such as this one, there are some small story arcs incorporated into the series such as the two-part story arc presented in this set in which the Rescue Bots have to face off against Colonel Quarry. And having them piecemealed such as in the series’ previous sets tends to throw things off. So having five episodes presented here in largely the same order as they appeared on television helps to maintain a certain level of enjoyment. It is an element that far too few people consider in compilations, period. But it is something that deserves notation as clearly exhibited here. For all of the importance of the episodes’ sequencing in this set and of the episodes themselves, they are not the compilation’s only important elements. The writing behind each of the episodes is yet another important element in the collection’s success and enjoyment.

The writing that went into each of this collection’s episodes is just as important to the collection’s overall success and enjoyment as the episodes themselves and their sequencing. That is because it shows the writers’ attempts to make each episode just as believable and entertaining as possible for viewers. One way in which those efforts are exhibited is in the Rescue Bots’ acquisition of their new forms. The writers don’t just let the Rescue Bots get them and have them. Audiences will note that the Rescue Bots in fact have a little bit of trouble getting accustomed to their new forms almost being taken over by the primal behaviors of the dinosaurs that they scanned. At more than one point Optimus is overcome by those behaviors after having used his new form in order to help save the Rescue Bots. Even Boulder begins to fall victim to them at another point. On a more specific note, the set’s opening episode sees both Cade and Dr. Green using life vests while making their way on-bard Heatwave to the island to investigate it. These are just a few ways in which the writing proves so important to these episodes. They aren’t the only examples of what makes it so impressive, either. There are great references to Jurassic Park and Godzilla peppered into the episodes for good measure. And having the Rescue Bots, who are themselves still learning human culture having to teach an unfrozen caveman about modern life is itself well worth its share of laughs. It is one more way in which the writing behind these episodes proves to be so important in the overall success and entertainment value of Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Bots. The writing, together with the collection’s episodes and their sequencing, make the collection whole. All together, they make this collection one more impressive collection of Transformers Rescue Bots episodes if not the series’ best collection of episodes yet.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Bots is one of the best collections of episodes to be released from the hit Discovery Family series to date. It could even be argued to be the best of the series’ collections to date. That is thanks in large part to its episodes and their sequencing. The writing behind each of the set’s episodes is just as pivotal to their success and enjoyment. All things considered this latest collection shows in the end to be one more that Transformers fans of all ages will want to add to their home DVD libraries. It will be available next Tuesday, August 25th in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/transformers-rescue-bots-dinobots. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Shout! Factory Kids is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For Hill Street Blues’ Sixth Season

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/NBC

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/NBC

Shout! Factory will release the penultimate season of the classic crime drama Hill Street Blues next month.

Officials with Shout! Factory announced recently that the series’ sixth season will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, September 8th. Season six opens with a powerful episode centering on a hostage situation in which Henry Goldblume is taken hostage by members of a militant group called S.O.I.L. There is an associated story line in which Renko finally meets his favorite musician, Bobby Angel, but is faced the the issue of having to have him arrested on drug charges. These are just a couple of the story lines that interweave throughout this episode. Later in Season Six, Goldblume faces another ethical crisis when he is assigned to protect a parade by neo-facists. And in one of the season’s most interesting moments, things get tense in the precinct when a smoking ban is imposed on the building. One of Bobby’s old friends returns in this episode, and much more in this episode. Fans of this original series will find much more in these and the season’s other episodes for themselves when Season Six hits store shelves and online retail outlets. Season Six’s complete episode listing is noted below.

Episodes

EPISODE EPISODE TITLE
1 Hill Street Blues: Blues In The Night
2 Hill Street Blues: Hacked To Pieces
3 Hill Street Blues: Seoul On Ice
4 Hill Street Blues: In The Belly Of The Bus
5 Hill Street Blues: Somewhere Over The Rambo
6 Hill Street Blues: Oh, You Kid
7 Hill Street Blues: An Oy For An Oy
8 Hill Street Blues: Fathers And Huns
9 Hill Street Blues: What Are Friends For?
10 Hill Street Blues: The Virgin And The Turkey
11 Hill Street Blues: Two Easy Pieces
12 Hill Street Blues: Say It As It Plays
13 Hill Street Blues: Das Blues
14 Hill Street Blues: Scales Of Justice
15 Hill Street Blues: I Want My Hill Street Blues
16 Hill Street Blues: Remembrance Of Hits Past
17 Hill Street Blues: Larry Of Arabia
18 Hill Street Blues: Iced Coffey
19 Hill Street Blues: Jagga The Hunk
20 Hill Street Blues: Look Homeward, Ninja
21 Hill Street Blues: Slum Enchanted Evening
22 Hill Street Blues: Come And Get It

Hill Street Blues: Season Six will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, September 8th. It will retail for MSRP of $34.99. It can be pre-ordered online now for a discounted price of $29.99 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/crime/hill-street-blues-season-six. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory, Nickelodeon Teaming Up To Release New Nicktoons Halloween DVD

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

Next month, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory will release another new installment of classic Nicktoons episodes when it releases Out of the Vault: Halloween Collection.

Out of the Vault: Halloween Collection will be released Tuesday, September 1st alongside Shout! Factory Kids’ new Littlest Pet Shop Halloween DVD Halloween Festival. Out of the Vault: Halloween Collection features ten episodes from Nickelodeon’s classic Nicktoons series. Among the disc’s highlights are Hey Arnold!’s “Haunted Train,” “Sugar Frosted Frights,” from Rocko’s Modern Life and “The Switching Hour” from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. “Haunted Train” follows Arnold and his friends as they take a trip on a train that Arnold’s grandpa (Dan Castellaneta—The Simpsons, Futurama, The Batman) told them was a train to that place way down south. Of course the reveal is far less scary than Arnold and company were led to believe. “Sugar Frosted Frights” has Rocko’s pal Filburt having to fight his fear of Halloween. And in “The Switching Hour,” the series premiere of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Crumb and company disobey The Gromble (Gregg Berger—Garfield & Friends, The Garfield Show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and go out on Halloween. This leads to a bit of a mix-up thanks to a child scared by Ickiss dressing up just like him for Halloween. Of course this leads to its own share of Halloween fun for the whole family. It’s one more of the disc’s episodes that audiences will love to watch this Halloween and the days leading up to the big night. The full episode listing for the DVD is noted below.

Episodes Included:
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
The Switching Hour / Monsters, Get Real
Monsters Are Real / This Is Your Brain On Ickis

Angry Beavers
The Day The World Got Really Screwed Up
Damnesia / The Posei-Dam Adventure

CatDog
Full Moon Fever / War Of The CatDog
CatDogula

Hey Arnold!
The List / Haunted Train
Arnold’s Halloween

Rocko’s Modern Life
Power Trip / To Heck And Back
Sugar Frosted Frights / Ed Is Dead

Out of the Vault: Halloween Collection will be available in stores Tuesday, September 1st on DVD. It will retail for MSRP of $9.99. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Kids Scares Up Lots Of Family Fun Next Month With Its New Littlest Pet Shop DVD

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Discovery Family

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Discovery Family

Halloween is right around the corner. As many know, it is the unofficial start of the holiday season. That means it won’t be long before the annual crop of holiday programs hit the airwaves, and DVDs and Blu-rays hit store shelves. The thing is that Halloween seems to produce the least amount of holiday programming in comparison to that of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shout! Factory however is looking to help change that as it will release a new Halloween-themed DVD from Discovery Family’s hit animated series Littlest Pet Shop next month for the whole family.

Shout! Factory has announced that on Tuesday, September 1st it will release Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest. Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest offers audiences five more episodes pulled from all three current seasons of the beloved animated Discovery Family series. It opens with Season One’s “Door Jammed.” This episode Blythe’s pet pals think that some of their own have been turned into werewolves when they start howling sounds coming from inside the pet store. The episode’s secondary storyline sees Blythe join Mrs. Twombley in the search for a coveted doorknob at a mansion that offers its own frightful fun. “Eight Arms To Hold You,” from Season Two, has Russell seeing things—more specifically a giant octopus-like creature trying to eat him—after Sunil and Vinnie accidentally cause a city-wide power outage. Another of the episode’s story lines has Russell believing that a ghost is stealing Mrs. Twombley’s supplies. And in Season Three’s “War of the Weirds,” Blythe’s animal friends believe that the truth is out there. Blythe however is suspect and tries to help them figure out what they have actually seen in the sky. These are just a few of the episodes that make up the body of the frightfully fun new Littlest Pet Shop DVD Halloween Fest. The complete episode listing for the DVD is noted below.

Episodes

Episode              Episode Title
1 Littlest Pet Shop: Door-Jammed
2 Littlest Pet Shop: Eight Arms To Hold You
3 Littlest Pet Shop: Pawlm Reading
4 Littlest Pet Shop: War Of The Weirds
5 Littlest Pet Shop: The Very Littlest Pet Shop

 

Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest will be available Tuesday, September 1st in stores and online. It will retail for MSRP of $9.99 and can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/littlest-pet-shop-halloween-fest. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Shout! Factory Kids is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Hill Street Blues Reaches One Of Its Highest Points In Its Fifth Season

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/NBC

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/NBC

Crime dramas today are a dime a dozen.  It seems like every broadcast and cable network across the spectrum today has its own crime drama original or otherwise.  The problem with this overabundance of crime dramas is that given their massive numbers it is difficult if not impossible to truly point out one as being more original than others.  For all of the cookie cutter crime dramas that are splashed across the networks every week, there are those that have and still do stand out even today.  One of the most notable of those dramas is NBC’s classic series Hill Street Blues.  Last year, Shout! Factory released the series in its entirety for its fans.  It proceeded to follow up that release with the release of the series’ third and fourth seasons in their own standalone box sets.  The reason that the company didn’t start those standalone season sets with Season One is likely linked to distribution rights.  Seasons One and Two were released in their own box sets nine years ago by 20th Century Fox.  With any luck Shout! Factory will obtain the rights in the not too distant future for those two seasons so that Shout! Factory will be able to release the series in full even in its own standalone boxes.  Getting back on track, Shout! Factory continued its series of Hill Street Blues standalone sets this past May when it released Season Five in its own box.  Five seasons into its run Hill Street Blues proved why this classic series was then and is now one of the best of its kind.  The central way in which it shows this is throughout its writing.  The writing behind this season’s run continues to expertly balance both the stories of the officers on duty and in their own personal lives without re-hashing story lines that had already been used in the series’ previous seasons.  By direct connection, the level of explicit content displayed throughout these episodes is completely unlike that of the crime dramas that fill out the networks today.  Having noted both elements, there is one more element to note of Season Five that makes it stand out.  It is the set’s packaging; more specifically, the inclusion of a full episode guide yet again with the box.  This is nothing new for Shout! Factory or for its Hill Street Blues releases.  And it is yet another welcome addition.  That element alongside the writing behind each of the season’s episodes and the episodes’ overall content rounds out the set and proves in the end why it is yet another release that fans will want to add to their own home collections.

Hill Street Blues is one of the most original crime dramas to grace any television network broadcast or other since the advent of the genre.  It proved this for seven seasons from 1981 to 1987.  Even in comparison to the various crime dramas across the TV spectrum today, it stands proudly against those overly (and unnecessarily) violent, gritty programs.  That is just as evident in the series’ fifth season as any of its first four runs and the final pair that would come after.  It is so evident primarily thanks to the work of the series’ writers.  Instead of being a show centered purely on crime investigations, it also focused on the personal lives of the officers even five seasons into its run.  Sure, other crime dramas that have come since have tried to echo that writing style.  But few if any have truly succeeded in emulating it.  One example of how the writing continued to stand out in its fifth season comes in the form of Episode 87 “Fuched Again.”  This episode tackles the classic story lines centered on corruption within the police force and even city government.  While the story lines are nothing new to the realm of crime dramas, the way in which the show’s writers handled them here sets them apart from every other instance in which they have been presented in other shows.  One way in which it is set apart from those other instances is that there is a sort of Jack Ruby feel added in to the story as a former high-ranking officer is implicated in the killing of a would-be assassin who tried to kill the city’s mayor.  On a similar note, it just so happens that the corruption that is discovered within the force is linked directly (and fittingly enough) to a member of the squad’s narcotics department.  There is much more that goes on in this episode, proving why this episode stands out as an example of the strength of the season’s writing.  Audiences will just have to find out the other ways in which the writing stands out for themselves when they pick up this set for themselves.

The writing exhibited in “Fuched Again” is just one example of how the writing incorporated into Season Five’s episodes makes Hill Street Blues stand out yet again.  “G.Q.” is another example of how the series’ writing keeps the series so enthralling even five seasons in.  At the heart of this episode is a conflict between Hill and Renko that finally boils over.  The conflict between the pair rose from events that happened previously in the season.  The very fact that the show’s writers could carry what is essentially one story arc within the season without letting it become the center of the entire season is in itself a clear example of the writers’ talents.  In an age today when serials seem to control every aspect of mainstream television, this series shows that it is possible to have a show with its own self-contained story arcs within each season.  On another note, there is another, smaller story of police corruption being uncovered as Davenport has to take a stand against housing authority officers who framed a young African-American boy for a broken window at the O’Neil Projects.  The ability of the writers to balance this story with the episode’s two other story arcs and said stories’ originality shows again expert talent from the writers.  That talent shows in larger part again why the writing incorporated into the fifth season of Hill Street Blues is so pivotal to its success.

The season premiere, in which Jablonski is introduced to the squad, is yet another example of the writers’ continued talents this season.  New character introductions are commonplace in ongoing series such as this one.  The problem is that the manner in which they are introduced has become just as trite as other stories presented within the world of crime dramas.  Jablonski’s introduction stands out from other new character introductions as it is linked an allegedly not so pleasant incident with another officer at another station.  In other words, he was brought to Hill Street not because of a promotion but because of a re-assignment.  This isn’t typically the case when it comes to such introductions in other crime dramas.  The writers also take on the topic of capital punishment as Celestine Grey is scheduled to be executed.  Interestingly enough, not everyone is for the execution.  Both story arcs will have audiences completely engaged from beginning to end and are just as expertly balanced as those presented in the previously noted episodes.  It shows yet again the talent of the series’ writers even so deep into the show’s run and proves even more why the show’s writing is so key to its success at this point.  Whether for this episode, the other two noted here or for any of the season’s other episodes, every episode presented across Season Five’s standalone set shows in its own way the talent of the show’s writers.  All episodes considered together, they show clearly why the writing behind this season lies at the center of its success.

The writing incorporated into Season Five is the central point of its success.  That is clear in examining each one of the season’s episodes.  While it is central to Season Five’s success, it is just one element of the season’s success.  The overall content displayed in each episode is just as key to the season’s success.  Viewers will note that in comparison to the crime dramas on television today, the level of overt blood, violence and sexuality presented throughout Hill Street Blues’ seven-season run is far less than that of said programs.  That is just as obvious in Season Five as in any of the series’ previous seasons and the pair of runs that followed.  Considering how limited said content proves to be, it makes the show that much more worth the watch.  It proves yet again that a series doesn’t have to rely on such elements in order to succeed.  Being that it doesn’t have to rely on said elements, that lack of overt violence and otherwise graphic content  coupled with the writing incorporated into Season Five makes this collection that much more enjoyable for the show’s original fan base.

Both the writing incorporated into Season Five’s episodes and the overall lack of graphic content are important in their own right to the success and enjoyment of Hill Street Blues: Season Five.  While both elements are of equal value and importance they are not all that makes it another win for fans of the series and for Shout! Factory.  The packaging used for this season rounds out its positives.  More specifically speaking, the inclusion once again of a complete episode guide inside the set’s case rounds out the set.  As with Shout! Factory’s previous Hill Street Blues box sets (and so many other box sets from the leading name in home entertainment), audiences get a complete episode guide printed on the inside of the box’s cover art.  It is printed on the front and back of the box art, clearly outlining which episodes are on which disc.  There is also a short but concise summary of each episode included with each episode listed inside the box. Each summary gives just enough information to catch viewers’ attention and give a clear picture of the episodes’ stories at the same time. Thanks to that packaging element, audiences don’t have to waste their time going through each disc or looking up the episodes online to figure out whether or not they want to watch them. It is a great way to round out this latest full season set of Hill Street Blues. Together with the work of the show’s writers displayed across the noted episodes, and the relatively tame content (in comparison to today’s crime dramas), all three elements together show fully why Hill Street Blues: Season Five is another welcome addition to the collection of any of the series’ fans.

Hill Street Blues: Season Five offers fans of the classic crime drama plenty of reason to add this collection to their personal home DVD collections. The writing incorporated into each of its episodes presents stories that once again stand apart from anything offered to viewers by today’s crime dramas. They are more human for lack of better wording. The overall lack of explicit content once again presented here adds even more reason for fans of the classic series to add this standalone season set to their own home collections. The inclusion of a full episode listing complete with episode summaries rounds out the set’s positives. All three elements considered together, they show clearly why any fan of Hill Street Blues should have this latest collection of episodes to their own home DVD library. Hill Street Blues: Season Five is available now online and in stores and can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/crime/hill-street-blues-season-five. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

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