DVD Reviews: Hart to Hart, Barney Miller & The Facts of Life



Another batch of fine vintage TV on DVD arrives with two shows getting their final seasons while major change arrives for good friends. Hart to Hart: The Final Season wrapped up the adventures of a wealthy couple that spent more time solving crimes than shopping for new politicians. Barney Miller: The Final Season retired the most famous detectives in New York City. While The Facts of Life: Season Six is still three seasons away of the finale, the girls say goodbye to something that seemed
like it would never go away.

Hart to Hart: The Final Season is the fifth season of the rich Jonathan (Robert Wagner) and Jennifer Hart (Stephanie Powers) that didn’t try to “entertain” us like Donald Trump or the Kardashians. They didn’t want us to admire their fat bank accounts. They wanted us to be jealous of their amazing crime solving skills. That’s something haters aren’t jealous about. “Two Harts Are Better Than One” starts the season with a tale of how the couple met. They came together over a body in London. “Straight Through the Hart” mixes polo with diamond smuggling. “Harts and Hounds” brings the couple back to England. Their desire to fox hunt gets interrupted by another dead body. “Love Game” includes a match with Martina Navratilova. “Silent Dance” brings an ice skating twirl from Tai Babilonia. “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch” has the couple needing to rescue their beloved helper Max (Lionel Stander) from kidnappers. A decade after the show went off the air, the couple reunited for 8 TV movies. These were released on burned MOD discs. Could there be one one more set to be released? That’s a mystery for the Harts. They just don’t make rich people like the Harts.

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Barney Miller: The Final Season ends the shifts at the 12th precinct. The series went out on its own accord so the show didn’t get desperate with rating stunts to go beyond its eighth season. They didn’t cast a teenage boy detective to get the girls glued to the set. This was all about Barney Miller (Hal Linden) and his faithful crew of police detectives. “Paternity” puts Wojo (Max Gail) on trial for knocking up a woman. He can’t remember the woman. “The Car” has a man confess to a crime 25 years later. “Homeless” is a Christmas special with the small room getting plenty of unexpected guests. “Chinatown: has Sgt. Ron Nathan Harris (Ron Glass) and Det. Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) dong their best to get a witness to talk about a gang killing. “Bones” and the three part “Landmark” give an unusual fate to the 12th precinct. Can the city really sell the building for a major profit? This is a fitting tribute to the cash strapped city. What matters is that Barney Miller ends better than the final episode of Cheers. The bonus features include the original pilot episode, a feature on the writers and the history of the show. This boxset is a fine finale for a great cop comedy.

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The Facts of Life: Season Six brings the girls back to school and to work. Miss Garrett (Charlotte Rae) is focused on making Edna’s Edibles a success. Naturally the girls have to pitch in while still dealing with school. “A Slice of Life” has Jo (Nancy McKeon) getting into the pizza biz. She learns that nothing is as easy as running Edna’s joint. “Cruisin'” proves to be as shocking as the Al Pacino movie that shares the name. Tootie (Kim Fields) does the unbelievable act of finally having her braces removed. How will her teeth survive? The new found teeth freedom goes bad when the girls “borrow” Blair’s dad’s wheels and hit the town. This episode was written by Oscar winner Paul Haggis. Seriously, the man behind Crash took away Tootie’s metal mouth. “It’s Lonely at the Top” puts Blair (Lisa Whelchel) in charge of the shop. She’s going to run it her way. Naturally this ticks off the other gals. “The Interview Show” has the gals talking about what Eastland means to them for a biographer of the school. No matter what happened this season, Tootie losing her braces is traumatic. It’s worse that the Darren switch on Bewitched.

The video is 1.33:1 for all three shows. Hart to Hart looks the sharpest since it was shot on film. The audio is Dolby Digital mono for all three shows. They all have good levels for volume. All have Closed Captions on their episodes.

Shout! Factory presents Hart to Hart: The Final Season. Starring: Robert Wagner & Stefanie Powers. Boxset contents: 22 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: June 9, 2015.

Shout! Factory presents Barney Miller: The Final Season. Starring: Hal Linden, Max Gail, Ron Glass, Steve Landesberg, Ron Carey, and James Gregory. Boxset contents: 22 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: July 7, 2015.

Shout! Factory presents The Facts of Life: Season Six. Starring: Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, Nancy McKeon. Boxset contents: 26 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: June 9, 2015.

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