Grounded For Life Season 1 DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 22, 2007
Misleading Packaging, Episodes Altered, Carsey-Warner Does Not Want To Cooperate In The Matter

I'm a big fan of Grounded For Life and have every episode on tape from the original Fox and WB broadcasts since day one (January 10, 2001). I was thrilled with the prospect of buying all of the episodes on DVD (save for season 5 which hasn't been released yet) so that I could have better quality copies, taking up less shelf space, and could then erase all of the tapes I recorded.

Although I have not had the chance to watch any of the episodes on the Season 1-4 DVD sets, I did check out all of the discs (to ensure playability) and actually stumbled upon something that I did not like: The season 1 episode "I Wanna Be Suspended" (disc 1, episode 3) has been ALTERED! The Ramones song "I Wanna Be Sedated" played during the concert scene in the original tv broadcast was replaced with generic music on the DVD (at 4:37), a brief concert flashback a few minutes later (at 7:28) replaced some instrumental song with a different instrumental song. There may be more alterations to this episode, or other episodes in any of the sets, as I didn't check any further than this.

I know why music is routinely replaced on TV-on-DVD releases, so I don't have a problem with the replacing of the music. However, I am displeased by the misleading packaging which states that these are "uncut" episodes. Although there is a difference between "uncut" and "unaltered", the "uncut" remark on the box implies that the episodes are exactly the same as what was originally shown on TV, which obviously isn't true. The "uncut" statement should have had an asterisk directing to text at the bottom to tell that music has been altered in some episodes.

I sent an e-mail to Anchor Bay (TVonDVD@anchorbayent.com), the company that released the DVD sets, to get a complete list of all alterations (music or otherwise) for every Grounded For Life set. Surely a list of alterations for every set must exist, as the person at Carsey-Warner whose job it is to replace the music when the episodes are prepped for DVD has to have a list to work off of. Since I have the entire series on tape in their original network broadcast versions, I need to know which of my recorded episodes I need to keep because they're different from what I just bought on DVD, as I plan on erasing the taped episodes that are 100% exactly the same as on the DVD.

I received a reply from Rose Zivkovich. She e-mailed Janet Bonifer, Executive Director of Marketing & Creative Services at Carsey-Warner (her address is either jbonifer@carseywerner.com or jbonifer@cwm.com), who told Rose that "Our legal department advises against providing this type of information to consumers."

These is no legal reason why Janet, or anyone else at Carsey-Warner, could not furnish the list to me (whether through Rose, or to me directly). Anyone who has every episode on tape from the original Fox and WB broadcasts (like me) and has the time (not like me) could check every one of the 78 episodes (91 episodes, including Season 5) one-by-one to compile the same list. Getting the list from Carsey-Warner would save time, energy, and insure completeness in the list.

I tried e-mailing Carsey-Warner directly via the most appropriate contact I could find (Janet's boss): Barron Postmus, bpostmus@cwm.com, Vice President of Marketing & Creative Services. To no surprise, he has not replied to any of the e-mails that I've sent to him.

I made one final attempt to obtain the list of alterations by writing a letter to the series creators Mike Schiff & Bill Martin via their agent (c/o Nancy Jones, Creative Artists Agency, 2000 Avenue Of The Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067). It's now two months since I sent the letter and I have not heard back from them, by either postal mail or e-mail.

It's rather disheartening to know that Carsey-Warner does not want to cooperate in the matter. It's sad that they treat their fans this way. The company makes money off of us fans, and would go out of business if none of us watched their shows and bought the related products.

WWF The Rock: The Peoples' Champion VHS Review

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This review was originally written on July 7, 2010
A 30 Minute Sampler, No Complete Matches Or Promos

The Rock: The Peoples' Champion VHS (not to be confused with The Rock: The People's Champ VHS) is a short, 30 minute sampler of promo and match highlights from The Rock's feud with The Corporation, featuring Triple H and The Undertaker. Nothing is shown in its entirety, and all cuss words are bleeped. Here's the rundown of clips:

01. Raw Is War - April 26, 1999 (promo & match)
02. Raw Is War - May 3, 1999 (promo)
03. Sunday Night Heat - May 16, 1999 (promo)
04. Raw Is War - May 17, 1999 (match)
05. Sunday Night Heat - May 23, 1999 (promo) [the night Owen Hart died]
06. Raw Is War - June 7, 1999 (match)
07. King Of The Ring Match History Package
08. King Of The Ring - June 28, 1999 (promo & match)
09. Raw Is War - July 5, 1999 (match)
10. Sunday Night Heat - July 11, 1999 (promo)

Besides being short and incomplete, this tape was duplicated in the inferior EP/SLP speed. So you may have to adjust the tracking on your VCR to get an optimal picture.

The lack of bar code on the box, and "sampler" nature of the video, leads me to believe this was given out as a freebie with a Pay Per View purchase back in 1999. I have a Best of Wrestlemania tape I got around 1999/2000 as a PPV mail-in freebie, so I think this tape was originally obtained in that manner as well. (I picked it up from a church's tag sale for less than a buck.)

There's a WWF DVD entitled The Rock: The People's Champ that was released in 2000. I would think that that DVD would contain the complete promos and matches that are sampled on this tape, but after reading KlownArt's review - which states that "this DVD starts around WWE King Of The Ring 1999 and ends at The Rock's Royal Rumble win at WWE Royal Rumble 2000" - I'm thinking that this material won't be found on that DVD.

There are a bunch of other Rock DVDs out there - Know Your Role, Just Bring It, and the more-recent The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment - but I highly doubt that any of them would contain ALL of the complete promos and matches that are sampled on this tape. (At best you'd probably get a complete promo or match here or there.) So, short of finding a good tape trader, this tape, as sparse and edited as it might be, might be the only way to obtain some of these promos and matches.

The Hitchhiker Canadian First Season DVD Review

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This review was originally written on December 17, 2004
Sets A World Record For Amount Of Compression Artifacts

I have a lot to tell you in this review. Let's start briefly with why I bought this set, which was only released in Canada. I own one of the Hitchhiker VHS tapes, but two of the three episodes are missing the beginning credits. I wanted the complete episodes, especially on DVD. I live in the United States, but the DVD released here (titled "The Hitchhiker Vol. 1") only contains 10 episodes, only one of which was on the videotape. This Canada-only "Season 1" set contains the first 26 episodes of the series, although in a different order from how they were released in the United States (it's the first three seasons here).

I have no problem with the episodes being in a different order, what I *DO* have a problem with is the ungodly amount of compression artifacts found in the set. Practically EVERY episode has at least one noticable artifact (though admittedly a few of these you'd have to have an "eye" for in order to see them).

Here is a list of the episodes in this set, in the order presented on the DVDs, with the time markings of the compression artifacts listed in brackets after the episode title.

DISC 1
01. When Morning Comes [5:24/8:11/11:26/12:08]
02. Shattered Vows [18:39/19:09]
03. Split Decision [21:58]
04. Remembering Melody [NONE]
05. Face To Face [NONE]
06. And If We Dream [26:26(slight)/26:28(slight)/29:30(slight)]
07. Petty Thieves [NONE]
08. Hired Help [1:09(slight)/21:05(slight)]
09. Man At The Window [NONE]

DISC 2
10. Murderous Feelings [NONE]
11. Videodate [27:42(slight)]
12. A Time For Rifles [NONE]
13. Lovesounds [11:10]
14. Last Scene [16:35]
15. One Last Prayer [1:14(slight)/1:17(slight)/8:45]
16. Ghostwriter [4:27]
17. Dead Man's Curve [2:34/22:19/23:17/23:33]
18. True Believer [25:16]

DISC 3
19. Man Of Her Dreams [NONE]
20. O.D. Feelin' [17:33]
21. Man's Best Friend [NONE]
22. The Curse [NONE]
23. Nightshift [NONE]
24. W.G.O.D. [NONE]
25. Killer [15:59/23:29/23:43]
26. Out Of The Night [1:51/2:05-2:08/5:28/20:33]

Now I'll list everything else that's wrong with this set.

* It comes in a cheap top/bottom load slipsleeve (the cases easily fall out when you take it off the shelf). I wish it was a side loader like mosts dvd-set sleeves.

* The seems like the version of "Split Decision" included is from an edited syndicated print as there are fade ins and fade outs (for commercial placement) that aren't seen in any other episodes. It's also clearly edited at 18:52 and at 18:54 - if you frame advance during the fade out you can briefly see another shot.

* In "Last Scene" there's an original tape defect at 28:35.

* In "True Believer" the picture jumps very slightly from 3:03 to 3:34.

* In "Man's Best Friend" there is no audio from 12:42-12:46. The original Lorimar video I have has the audio. The DVD cuts out music and the dog panting and the first part of Michael O'Keefe's dialogue ("I mean...").

* There are several errors on the packaging text:

-- Most of the episode descriptions on the back of the cases give away the surprise endings.

-- The back of the sleeve mentions the following actors who are not in any of the episodes on the discs: Robbie Benson (was in "Tourist Trap" 1990), Louise Fletcher (was in "Offspring" 1991), Elliott Gould (was in "A Whole New You" 1991), Lisa Hartman (was in "Her Finest Hour" 1989), C. Thomas Howell (was in "White Slaves" 1990), Lauren Hutton (was in "Riding The Nightmare" 1990), Nick Mancuso (was in "Fading Away" 1990), Michael Ontkean (was in "Square Deal" 1989), and Alan Thicke (was in "Tough Guys Don't Whine" 1990).

-- The back of the sleeve mentions director Gerard Ciccoritti (aka Jerry Ciccoritti), but he did not direct any of the episodes on the discs (he directed "Power Play" 1989).

-- For episode 3 (Split Decision) it says "retail" when it should be "real."

-- For episode 9 (Man At The Window) it says the female lover's name is Catherine when it's really Carla (as listed in the end credits of the episode itself).

-- For episode 11 (Videodate) in the first sentence is says Gregg Henry's character is named Jack Rhodes, but in the last sentence it says his name is Jeff.

Now let me list the neutral and good points of this set.

* This DVD set includes the original Nicholas Campbell (as The Hitchhiker) version of "Split Decision" (ep 3), but the Page Fletcher versions of "When Morning Comes" (ep 1) and "Shattered Vows" (ep 2).

* For those purists in the USA, I should let you know that the Alliance Atlantis logo was tacked on to the end of all episodes. However, it appears AFTER the "Markowitz/Chesler Producing" logo and "This Has Been An HBO Presentation" screens, so all of the original content is present.

* Each episode has a 2.0 (stereo) and 5.1 audio track. I really see no need for the 5.1 track and would have preferred that they left it off (maybe there wouldn't be so many damn compression artifacts if they had that extra space on the discs to work with).

* There are no bonus features like in the U.S. "Volume 1" release (audio commentaries on selected eps).

* This set gives you more episodes for less money than the U.S. "Volume 1" set. For the record, there are only five episodes (from Seasons 4 & 5) on the U.S. set that aren't on here: Why Are You Here?, Homebodies, The Legendary Billy B., In the Name of Love, and The Miracle of Alice Ames.

The Hitchhiker Vol. 1-4 VHS Review

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This review was originally written on August 15, 2004
Episode Titles, Descriptions, Casts, and Notes

The Hitchhiker was a Twilight Zone-esque show that aired on HBO in the early 1980s. It was somewhat of a precursor to HBO's later Tales from the Crypt series. Four volumes of episodes were released on VHS back in the 1980s by Lorimar Home Video. Each tape contains three episodes, the first of which is complete, while the other two are missing the beginning title sequence. All episodes end after the "Markowitz/Chesler Producing" logo (the "This Has Been An HBO Presentation" screen is omitted). Each tape was duplicated in the SP speed. An interesting bit of trivia: the tapes in this series originally sold for a suggested retail price of $39.95 (according to the commercial on the Vol. 4 tape).

I will be taking a quick look at all of them, starting with The Hitchhiker Vol. 1 VHS, which includes the following three episodes:

• "The Curse" - Jerry Maclachlan is the owner of a rundown apartment building who promises Serita, a tenant, that he will make repairs to the building. After he becomes involved with a strange woman Tanya, he discovers a snake tattoo on his body. Both Serita and Tanya tell him how to get rid of the snake. Stars: Harry Hamlin, Peter Yunker, Daryl Hayes, Janet Hodgkinson, Arnold Johnson, Deborah Lacey, Laurie O'Byrne, and Beah Richards.

• "W.G.O.D" - Reverend Nolan Powers is a money hungry radio evangelist preaching on the air waves about the bible. 0ff the air, he's a self-righteous greedy man. A tabloid news reporter, Sato, digs up the story about how the Reverend killed his brother, Gerald. Gerald's ghost comes back to haunt the Reverend, ruin his career and pay him back for causing his death. Stars: Gary Busey, Robert Ito, Geraldine Page, Brioni Farrell, and Ian Forsyth.

• "Hired Help" - Kay Mason, abusive owner of a dressmaking sweatshop, is cursed by an angry worker who exclaims that she will be paid back by the devil for her actions. When she hires a mysterious stranger to do some odd jobs around the house, she doesn't realize he's the devil in disguise. Stars: Karen Black, Fernando Allende, and Donnelly Rhodes.

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The Hitchhiker Vol. 2 VHS includes the following three episodes:

• "Dead Man's Curve" - Claudia now a famous novelist, returns home for her high school reunion and opens old wounds in Lee, the sheriff. Claudia finds out that Lance, her town-appointed escort, is really the son of a former high school boyfriend who blames her for his father's death. Fighting over her, Lance and Lee replay the fateful event that killed Lance's father. Stars: Susan Anspach, Michael Ironside, and Michael Schoeffling.

• "Nightshift" - Jane Reynolds is a nurse at a retirement home where she steals the resident's valuables, which her boyfriend Johnny hocks. The couple get an unpleasant surprise when her newest victim is an old man who is much more than he seems. Stars: Darren McGavin, Margot Kidder, and Stephen McHattie.

• "Last Scene" - Alex, a former actor, tries to prove his abilities as a first-time director. In his first film he must deal with a first-time actress, Leda Bidell. Off the set Leda is being terrorized by the fictional killer from the movie, and when she finds out who it is, she enacts the last scene with him in reality and instills in him a fear that haunts him for the rest of his life. Stars: Peter Coyote, LaGena Hart, Tom Heaton, and Garwin Sanford. Directed by Paul Verhoeven.

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The Hitchhiker Vol. 3 VHS includes the following three episodes.

• "Ghostwriter" - Jeffrey Hunt will resort to anything to create a lucrative career as a novelist, even if it means faking his own death. His wife Debby believes he is dead and continues her affair with Tony, Jeffrey's editor. By the end, everyone must pay for their own deceptions. Stars: Barry Bostwick, Willem Dafoe, M. Emmet Walsh, Dayle Haddon, Anthony Holland, and Madeleine Sherwood.

• "True Believer" - A non-believer in the supernatural, Detective Frank Sheen must investigate a priest's suspicious suicide. Upon questioning Father Dowling he learns that the convent is demonically possessed and closed down years before when Sister Theresa committed suicide. After one night in the place, he soon begins having his own suicidal feelings. Stars: Tom Skerritt, Ornella Muti, and Walter Learning.

• "And If We Dream" - Roseanne Lucas develops a mad and obsessive crush on her married high school photography teacher Todd Fields. Todd finds more than he bargained for when he steps over the line and sleeps with her. Stars: Stephen Collins, Roberta Weiss, Brian Dooley, Nicholas Kilbertus, Bronwen Mantel, and Mitch Martin.

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The Hitchhiker Vol. 4 VHS includes the following three episodes.

• "Videodate" - Jack Rhodes is a salesman that attempts to wear many disguises to get what he wants - women. One day, he gets a video letter from a mysterious woman who challenges him to meet her. She plays him like a fiddle and takes advantage of him. Now the tables are turned and Jeff can't escape, not even with his life. Stars: Shannon Tweed, Gregg Henry, Pauline Little, Michael Rudder, and Linda Smith.

• "Face To Face" - Dr. Christopher Hamilton, an ambitious and pompous plastic surgeon, meets his challenge in Nina Russell, a patient in the process of a gender change. He completely botches up the procedure when he shows up to the surgery unprepared. Stars: Robert Vaughn, Sonja Smits, Sybil Danning, Michele Scarabelli, Robin Greer, and Arthur Corber.

• "Man's Best Friend" - Richard Shepard is kicked out of his house by his wife Eleanor. He takes in a stray dog that begins killing off his enemies. When the dog goes for Eleanor, Richard tries to keep the dog from killing the woman he loves. Stars: Jennifer Cooke, Michael O'Keefe, Boyd Norman, Margot Pinvidic, and Joel Polis.

G.L.O.W. - Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling DVD & VHS Reviews

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Comparing The DVD To The Previous VHS Release

Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, also known as G.L.O.W., was a women's professional wrestling promotion that aired in syndication from 1986–1990, with the majority of the action taking place at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. The show was ultra-cheesy, feature colorful (and highly stereotyped) characters and over-the-top comedy sketches. G.L.O.W. has gotten a bit of a revival over the past decade, culminating in a documentary and a scripted Netflix series this Summer starring Alison Brie.

Three volumes of episodes were released on VHS back in the 1980s by Today Home Entertainment, and were subsequently re-released on DVD by Allied Artists in the 2000s. All three DVDs contain the same slideshow and promo bonus features. I will be taking a quick look at all of them, starting with Vol. 1 - Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling - DVD, VHS - which runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. TAG TEAM: Royal Hawaiian & Spanish Red vs. California Doll & Americana
  2. TAG TEAM: Sara & Mabel vs. Salt & Pepper
  3. TAG TEAM: Hollywood & Vine vs. Tina Ferrari (WWF's Ivory) & Ashley
  4. BATTLE FOR THE G.L.O.W. CROWN: Matilda the Hun vs. Tammy Jones
There are two minor portions at the start and end of the program from the original VHS that were edited out of the DVD. (1) Seven seconds of music on a black screen before the first visual. It's the first seven seconds of the song that's already playing as the show on the DVD begins. (2) The INI logo at the very end.

Except for these two minor portions, nothing else was edited out. The F word was used twice and racial slurs were used once (all left intact from the original VHS release).

There are two minor defects that weren't in the VHS: At 21.59 is a slight defect that is not in the original videotape. Also, at 56.16 is a minor edit that is not in the original video tape. During the end credits Tina Ferrari interview, about 21 frames (less than a second) is cut. It sounds like it was done because the audio on the master they used to make the DVD was bad at that spot. Tina's complete line is: "I like a man... that you can have a little control over." The "..." represents a one second pause in her words.

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Vol. 2 - The Saga Continues - DVD, VHS - runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. SINGLES: Olympia vs. Jungle Woman (with Nature Boy at ringside)
  2. GRUDGE MATCH: Spanish Red vs. Americana
  3. TAG TEAM: Corporal Kelly & Attache vs. The Southern Belles Scarlett & Terror
  4. TAG TEAM: Heavy Metal Sisters Chain Saw & Spike vs. The Cheerleaders Debbie Debuante & Susie Spirit
  5. THE RUSSIAN: Ninotchka vs. Little Feather (with special appearance by Ebony)
  6. THE TERRORIST: Palestina (from Syria) vs. Sally, The Farmer's Daughter (from Nebraska)
  7. THE HANDICAP, TWO WRESTLERS AGAINST ONE: Hollywood & Vine vs. Mt. Fiji (350 lbs.)
  8. SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES: Jackie Stallone manager of the good girls & Matilda The Hun
The picture is a bit darker than the original videotape, the audio was turned up a bit too loud, and there are faint picture rolls throughout that were not in the tape. All minor video and audio defects were in the original VHS release.

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Vol. 3 - Fans Beware - DVD, VHS - runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. TRIPLE FEATURE: Spanish Red & Jungle Woman (with Nature Boy) vs. The Cheerleaders Suzy Spirit & Debbie Debutante (with special appearance by Tina Ferrari) (1 fall, 20 min time limit)
  2. TEXAS BAR ROOM BRAWL, ANYTHING GOES: Dallas (The Texan Cowgirl) vs. Ninotchka (The Russian Colonel) (no time limit, no rules, no pin-falls, fighting both in and out of ring)
  3. STREET FIGHT, LOSERS CLOTHES COME OFF: California Doll, Farmers Daughter, Tina & Ashley vs. Hollywood & Vine with The Soul Patrol (Envy & Adore from Chicago) (8 ladies in the ring at the same time, $16,000 and champagne to the winning team) (no time limit, no rules, no disqualifications, no pin-falls, weapons?) (see David McLane assaulted and disrobed)
  4. SINGLE FEATURE MATCH: Dementia (Mgr: Aunt Kittie) vs. Little Egypt "The Desert Flower"
The following vignettes are also included:
  1. G.L.O.W Rap - David McLane & The GLOW Girls
  2. The Spanish Kitchen
  3. California Dolls - "Points to Ponder"
  4. Drs. Fiel and Grope - Gynecology/Plastic Surgery/Psychiatry
  5. Asking Ashley
  6. Tips From Tina
  7. The Farmer's Daughter's Letters Home
  8. Easy as K.G.B. with Colonel Ninotchka
  9. Card Playing with Matilda the Hun
  10. Children of the Night
  11. Morning Coffee
  12. Mt. Fuji's Dream
  13. And Many, Many More
Nothing has been edited out. Everything from the original videotape release is include here.