'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Concert' Blu-ray: Stories and Performances Honoring Actual American Idols
he spectacularly clear images and incredible audio of the Time-Life April 24, 2018 Blu-ray release "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert" requires watching it. The perfectly lit dark black background with the blue neon and the flawless enormous slides look fantastic, and the top-notch audio system could not sound better. This warrants inducting Time-Life in the Hall.
Stating that you feel as if you are in the front row is not hyperbole. The very user-friendly main menu easily allowing skipping ahead to a desired induction or specific song in a set (and then keeping the party going without forcing you back to the menu) is beyond awesome.
Two aspects of this set make it personally cool. The first is a link with the "friend from camp" sitcom plot. This storyline typically has a supporting character being unable to get a ticket for a rock concert only to have the lead share that a member of the band is a friend from camp.
The ensuing varying degrees of hilarity typically revolve around the lead being thwarted in efforts to get promised tickets and/or a backstage visit. The climax often involves the rock deity showing up to the intense delight of the starstruck character and equally excited studio audience or laugh track.
The relevancy of this is having shared a summer-camp cabin with former Hall "suit" Warren "Dave" Zanes, whose rock star cred. comes from being a member of the Del Fuegoes.
Current Z Rocker/former Del Fuego Dan "Ray" Zanes simultaneously worked in the camp kitchen and sang doo wop that summer. The Unreal TV archives include what may be the first recording of Dan singing.
Righteous dude Warren currently is literally opening the door to his Jersey home as part of online fundraising to get his latest album out. BTW, your not-so-humble reviewer can get all the tickets that you need when Warren plays Boston. :-)
The final aside regarding this experience is that learning about the copious sex, and drugs, and rock-and-roll among the camp staff required returning to work a decade later. Personal experience regarding that trifecta related to one of the three.
The wider relevance relates to a long-term hatred of "American Idol." The two major peeves regarding that program extend well beyond it being a reality show. One huge bone of contention is that the hard-luck stories are valid bases for sympathy but should be completely irrelevant in a singing contest.
The more relevant basis for loathing "Idol" is an equally long-held belief that winning a contest that lasts a few months does not warrant the title of "idol." Many friends have heard my manifesto about the singers and the bands that deserve that accolade spending years playing dive bars and traveling in broken-down vans before achieving comparable fame to the latest "Idols." The speeches in the Hall induction ceremonies verify this statement.
The "Hall" set contains the full induction ceremonies from 2014-2017. One can only hope that Time-Life does not make us wait four years to see the 2018 event. The inductees ranging from Cat Stevens to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to Cheap Trick (which sadly disappoints regarding their set), to Nirvana, to Ringo Starr provides some sense of the range of the inductees. Honorees Joan Jett & The Blackhearts arguably deserve the award for the best set.
The first induction speech in the set also is the best one of all speeches. Chris Martin of Cold Play does an awesome job using good humor and fan admiration honoring Peter Garbiel. Hearing English boy Martin share the story of being blown away buying his first Gabriel cassette in Paris and then wandering The City of Light listening to it is relatable to every fan. A somewhat similar story is being a boarding school sophomore getting the twin thrills of seniors inviting me to sneak off campus and this covert adventure involving buying ice cream. An indelible memory is the driver putting in a cassette and telling us that it is a new band called "The Police."
Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 gets the best line of any ceremony. He spends much of his 2016 speech discussing the hard-rocking elements of "Chicago" to the extent of expertly imitating that new inductee. This leads to him telling the audience members who label "Chicago" as their mother's band that he wants to (expletive deleted) party with their mother. An equally cool aspect of this is that 37,000,000 online votes is what get "Chicago" in the Hall. One can only hope that "Squeeze" fans demonstrate the same initiative.
Another highlight comes regarding Paul McCartney inducting Ringo Starr in 2015. His funny and heartfelt speech both supports the "Idol" theory and proves that time heals all wounds; whether it wounds all heels is another matter. Seeing McCartney perform with his former bandmate is the only way to end this ceremony; NOTHING could have followed that act.
The footnote to this discussion of the "Hall" set is that it includes music for virtually every taste, honors rockers who do not get money for nothing, and provides a chance to hear speeches that literally run from the sublime to the ridiculous. One challenge is to not hurl obscenities at Michael Stipe copiously bitching about playing in a band during his induction of "Nirvana."
'Perfect Strangers' S3 DVD: Sitcom Version of Pulitzer-Prize Winning 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay'
The Warner Archive April 17, 2018 DVD release of the third season of the '80s sitcom "Perfect Strangers" provides Gen Xers cause for the dance of joy. This release comes a decade after the DVD release of the first two seasons of this series about 20-something bosom buddies odd couple cousins Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) and Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) living and working together in Chicago. The other good news is that the S3 release creates reasonable hope for releases of future seasons over the next several months.
This release also provides an opportunity to address an 18 year-old issue. It is amusing that the 2000 Micheal Chabon Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is so highly praised as great literature despite essentially being a novelization of "Strangers." Kavalier tells the tale of the legendary comic book artists of the '30s through the '50s in the context of an 20-something New Yorker and his Czech cousin living, working, and (if memory correctly serves) dating together.
The core relationship is essentially the same in both the novel and the show. One difference is that Larry is a Midwesterner boy on his own until sweet and naive Balki knocks on his door almost literally fresh off the boat from the Mediterranean-adjacent island of Mypos. A broader perspective is that Larry and Balki can be considered the Lucy and the Ethel of the '80s. A narrower perspective is that "Strangers" has a significant role in the (reviewed) modern HBO series "The Leftovers," in which Linn-Baker plays himself.
S3 finds Larry starting a new job that brings him one step closer to his ideal career. He is a cub reporter at The Chicago Chronicle newspaper. Balki stopping by the office in the season premiere leads to him becoming the new mail boy at the Chronicle. The co-workers of the boys include sassy elevator operator Harriette Winslow, whose home life becomes the center of fellow TGIF series "Family Matters."
Business soon gets down to usual with fairly typical "sits" lead to "com." As is the case in all good and great shows, the distinction is in the quality of the writing and the talent of the actors. "Strangers" awesomely has shining moments in both regards.
The second episode of S3 finds Larry dealing with the shock of many of us on discovering a minor weight gain in our late 20s. This ultimately leads to Larry agreeing to go on a diet from Mypos only to lead to the typical conflict of his trying to get Balki to abandon his integrity only to ultimately learn that the high road is the better route. The hilarious physical comedy that is "Strangers" trademark revolves around Larry frantically trying to prevent Balki from discovering a delivery of a pizza.
The next outing is a special treat on many levels. Having Holland Taylor play a newspaper editor who is the virtual twin of the advertising executive Ruth Dunbar that Taylor portrays on the earlier '80scom "Bosom Buddies" (which shares creators with "Strangers" and "Matters") nicely ties that show in with "Strangers." "Buddies" costars Peter Scolari of "Newhart" and the father of Colin Hanks as childhood friends from Ohio now dressing in drag to live in an inexpensive New York apartment while they pursue professional and personal goals.
The next nice surprise relates to the nature of the "Strangers" plot about the character of Taylor trying to coerce Balki into having sex. Knowledge of several lesser shows leads the audience to reasonably predict that the "sit" will involve Larry trying to convince his cousin to give one for the team to help the career of our aspiring Clark Kent. "Strangers" does not disappoint regarding either the actual conflict or its resolution.
This pattern continues regarding an episode in which our boys engage in a three-minute dash around a grocery store. The physical comedy during that frantic effort is exceptional. More importantly, an audience expectation that greed results in the cousins only walking away with a can of Spam or an item of equal comedic value is unmet. The epilogue provides yet another good surprise.
The hilarity continues with adventures such as Balki creating chaos by assuming that corporate America has integrity, Larry having his effort to present a false front to his successful brother face obstacles, and the boys breaking into their office to obtain an incriminating document.
Nitpickers may comment on the order of episodes in the Archive set not coinciding with the order on IMDb. The most probable explanation is that the Archive order reflects the intended running order. To paraphrase the trademark line of Balki, anyone whom this bothers is ridiculous.
Part of the joy of pure sitcoms such as "Strangers" is that not much occurs that requires watching episodes in any particular order. The journey is the joy regarding starting at the development of the "sit" and ending up at the heartfelt discussion of the learned lesson as the picture freezes, there is a flourish of the theme song, and the end credits begin appearing on the screen.
The challenge regarding reviewing the April 10, 2018 Disney DVD release of the Disney Junior series "Puppy Dog Pals" is conveying the extent to which this show about the titular young pugs is adorable and amusing. You really must see it to get a proper sense of this program that is almost is certain to create a legion of dedicated adult fans that rivals the obsession of the Bronies who go way overboard regarding "My Little Pony."
The following YouTube clip of the "Puppy" theme perfectly conveys the fun spirit of the series and will leave you wanting oh so much more.
Much of this praise relates to comedian/series creator Harland Williams, who also voices human father/inventor Bob, getting into the mind of a puppy. His stars talk and act exactly in the manner that globally endears baby dogs to people. Grey pug Bingo and his brother (perhaps from another mother) tan pug Rolly display perpetual elan.
The ridiculously cute scamps live with Bob and their older cat sister Hissy, who tolerates her younger siblings. Their family dynamic is fully established in the opening scenes of the first of the two adventures in the pilot.
The puppies are riding their skateboards and pretending to be surfing; they soon successfully beg Hissy to play along by pretending to be a shark. Candor requires confessing to regularly playing games such as "Space Cat" and "Abominable Snow Kitty" with a household pet.
The fun continues with so-cute puppies going nuts on saying good morning to Bob; their body language is clear, but Bob hears their words as adorable barks of extreme joy.
The typical charm continues with morning events prompting Bob to comment on the joy of walking on Hawaiian sand. He then leaves for work completely oblivious of the plans of the dogs to make their dad happy by traveling to our 50th state and be back before he returns home.
The boys then race to their mad tricked out dog house to the accompaniment of their "goin' on a mission" theme. Their prep. includes having a dome outfit them with utility collars that puts the belt of Batman (and Ace the Batdog) to shame. The enhanced cuteness continues with Rolly gleefully announcing that he is bringing an old sock because chewing on it makes him feel good. Bingo equally happily responds that everyone loves chewing on an old sock.
Similar outings include a day trip to Antarctica to remedy of dearth of ice at Chez Bob and an equally short trip to France to get bread for French toast. The Paris adventure is particularly true to the spirit of the recent film "The Secret Life of Pets," which depicts a particularly eventful day in the life of four-legged New Yorkers. The guest stars in this "Puppy" adventure include rats and pigeons.
An episode that hits closer to home in the Disneyverse is a variation of "Toy Story" starts with Bingo and Rolly damaging a favorite stuffed animal of Bob during "ruff" play. Their remedial efforts this time land them in a variation of Build-a-Bear.
Hissy fully gets into the action when her well-meaning bros take her along for a grand local day out. One spoiler is that a dog park is not as much fun for a cat as it is for man's best friend.
All of this amounts to a show that parental figures may beg their pre-schoolers to watch again and again and again. It is very relatable to pet lovers of all ages and lacks EVERY annoying aspect of most toddler fare. There are no shrill voices, encouraging children to shriek, or sickening morals. "Puppy" simply is pure entertainment that delights all from 3 to 100.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Puppy" is strongly encouraged to email me. You also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
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