DVD Reviews: Facts of Life (Season Eight) & The Saint (Seasons 3 & 4)

Often there’s a feeling that stars are born in the entertainment business. That one afternoon they arrive in Hollywood, hope off the bus and a casting agent spots them at Bob’s Big Boy and offers them the hottest project in town. That’s rarely the case. Many iconic stars took roles that helped pay the bills. But quite a few stretched their talent in ways that allowed them to slip comfortably inside the character that finally established them as international superstar. Such is the case with George Clooney on The Facts of Life: Season Eight and Roger Moore on The Saint: Seasons 3 & 4

The Facts of Life: Season Eight was a major change. After a few seasons of cutting back her screen time, Edna Garrett (Car 54‘s Charlotte Rae) was ready to leave the show. But she wasn’t going to completely abandon Blair (Lisa Whelchel), Jo (Nancy McKeon), Tootie (Kim Fields) and Natalie (Mindy Cohn). Even though the graduates of Eastland were approaching middle age, they still needed adult supervision. Thankfully they were placed under the guidance of Edna’s sister Beverly Ann (Oscar winner Cloris Leachman). “Out of Peakskill” features the wham bam romance of Mrs. Garrett. There’s no coming back for her since she’s leaving the country to be with her new man. “The Wedding Day” features what could be Jo’s own wedding except she’s doing it to let a guy stay in the country. “Seven Little Indians” has the cast being killed off one by one. Shockingly this is not the end of the series. While George Clooney returned in the role of handyman George, he had gone from regular appearances in episodes to sporadic arrivals. He’s gone with a third of the season left. He had done a fine job in his role of calming down people in panic situations. This grace would do him well when he’d land a meaty role on E.R.. Strange to think that some executive at NBC would think that Clooney wasn’t worthy of a supporting role of a sitcom and few years later, he’d be a massive star for the network. At time, Clooney had no idea that he’d be an Oscar winner like Cloris. The loss of the role drove Clooney to accept a part in Return of the Killer Tomatoes. “Facts of Life Down Under” isn’t part of the penultimate set, but is part of The Complete Series boxset.

The Saint: Seasons 3 & 4 are the last two years before the series went color. Roger Moore at this point was already being courted as the next James Bond when Sean Connery was hinting he was getting burned out as 007. The good part is that The Saint allowed Moore to perfect his screen persona for when he could finally accept the high profile gig. The difference between his time as Simon Templer and Bond is Simon answered to nobody. He was his own man as he roamed the world to stumble across adventures. The episode “Sibao” has quite a few characteristics seen in Live and Let Die including a voodoo dance number. The big difference in the two is that The Saint didn’t take him to a Caribbean island. The fact that Templer is a fluid mystery solving jet setter allows the show to go all over the globe as long as the producers can locate enough travel footage. “The Happy Suicide” has a comedy writer dead. Simon does not think the cheeky scribe was at the end of his rope and his comedian brother is the suspect. “The Checkered Flag” has Simon approached to back an innovative system for race cars. But what the inventor needs is a detective when things go extremely wrong in his garage. “The Crooked Ring” dares to propose that boxing can be a dirty sport. The fact that the show mixed up Simon’s adventures keeps the show from becoming routine. He wasn’t always having to save the world. He’d end up doing enough of that as Bond. While these are called “Seasons 3 & 4,” all 32 episodes were shot in the same batch and split later like the final season of Mad Men.

The video is 1:33:1 full frame for both shows. The Facts of Life was recorded on standard definition video and has a bit of fuzz. The Saint was shot on film and has a solid black and white image. The audio for both shows is Dolby Digital mono.

No bonus features on The Facts of Life.

Behind the Scenes with Sir Roger Moore as Director on The Saint

Audio Commentaries on “The Happy Suicide” with Jane Merrow (Guest Star) and “The Saint Bids Diamonds” By Roger Moore, Robert S. Baker (Executive Producer), and Eunice Gayson (Guest Star).

Shout! Factory presents The Facts of Life: Season Eight. Starring: Lisa Whelchel, Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields and Mindy Cohn. Boxset Contents: 24 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: January 26, 2015.

Timeless Media presents The Saint: Seasons 3 & 4. Starring: Roger Moore. Boxset Contents: 32 Episodes on 9 DVDs. Released: January 19, 2015.

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