Time Life aptly honors the best of the best in releasing the extras-laden 50th anniversary DVD set "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show" roughly 50 years and one month after the September 11, 1967 debut of this variety series. The October 3, 2017 release of these 16 episodes (including the very first one and the series finale) consist of 12 new-to-retail episodes and 4 all-time classics. Walmart is getting into the act by selling special editions of this set.
It is worth mentioning that this "Burnett" release and the many others of this show from Time Life make a great companion to the awesome Time Life complete series set of the six-season "Burnett" sitcom spinoff "Mama's Family" based on "Burnett" sketches about a wacky lower middle-class Southern family. The pedigree of "Family" includes future "Golden Girls" Betty White and Rue McClanahan (not to mention Burnett) being S1 cast members.
Giving "Burnett" itself and the recurring characters in the sketches proper due is well beyond the capability of an online review of a compilation of episodes. The primary points to make are that "Burnett" is part of the legendary Saturday-night lineup during the "Tiffany Network" era of CBS.
The 1974-75 lineup that starts with "All in the Family," goes onto "The Jeffersons" (which replaces "M*A*S*H" in that time slot), has "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show" next, and finishes with Burnett is representative of a CBS '70s Saturday night. The facts that the age-range of the "Burnett" studio audience essentially is from 8-to-80 and that each of these lucky folks love every minute also speaks volumes about the show. Burnett, her cast (including Harvey Korman and Tim Conway), and the behind-the-scenes folks have incredible comic instincts.
The September 11, 1967 episode immediately starts things strong. Burnett begins with her standard (and oft hilarious) Q&A session with the audience. A wonderful exchange about the age of Burnett ends with her showing her tremendous ab lib skills in stating that her bust size is 26. A reference to this exchange and other moments in a subsequent sketch in which Korman plays a reporter interviewing former child star Shirley Dimples (Burnett) further shows the improvisation and exceptional chemistry among the ensemble members that make "Burnett" (and its fellow Saturday night CBS series) so special.
The close real-life friendship between Burnett and Jim "Gomer" Nabors make him an ideal guest star for this inaugural outing. Both of them put their singing and comedic skills to good use but particularly shine in performing duets and bits in a tribute to Broadway musicals. This performance leaves no doubt that they both do their best when taken off their leashes to freely romp with each other. The many subsequent appearance of Nabors on "Burnett" validate that.
Nabors further is an ideal example of the observation by Burnett in a new interview for this release that her best guests were triple threat ones who could sing, dance, and do comedy. Burnett particularly praises also frequent guest Steve Lawrence (who also conducts an interview for "Best") for this; an anecdote regarding "Burnett" fans approaching Lawrence is hilarious.
The premiere episode also introduces the "Carol and Sis" sketches that are based on the real life of Burnett. Burnett plays newlywed Carol, whose teen sister Kris ("Burnett" star Vicki Lawrence) lives with Carol and constantly annoys new husband Roger. One of the best "Sis" sketches in the current DVD set has Carol and Kris team up to thwart the efforts of Roger to sell their house. The comedy is especially strong, and the twist near the end provides clever poetic justice.
Burnett aptly lauds the evolution of the talent of Lawrence in noting that that actress goes from playing the sister of Burnett in sketches to playing her mother.
Burnett is even better known for the aforementioned Southern "Eunice" sketches and for playing dopey comically inept secretary Mrs. Wiggins to business man Mr. Tudball ("Burnett" "newcomer" Tim Conway). The aforementioned two-hour series finale, which aptly is titled "A Special Evening with Carol Burnett," finds Eunice in therapy and Wiggins and Tudball reminiscing about how she comes to work for him. Both end on perfect notes for these characters.
"Best" additionally includes copious amounts of film and television parodies for which "Burnett" is especially well known. These include the classic "Lovely Story," which has Burnett and Korman play the absurdly devoted homely working-class coed and ultra-wealthy and handsome preppie couple from "Love Story." Another especially memorable sketch has Burnett as a typical housewife whose items come to life to recite the slogans associated with them.
On a larger level, Burnett shows an awesomely progressive attitude right from the first episode in which Nabors repeatedly mines humor from playing the part of a love-struck woman; a later episode in the set has Burnett laud a drag queen and has that up-and-comer perform her Streisand impersonation. This is on top of numerous good-natured gay jokes throughout the series.
Burnett shows her typical grace in the S1 season finale, which she dedicates to her cast to the extent of having them answer questions in the cold open. A similar theme pervades the series finale, which highlights the contributions of all. One of several special finale moments for Lawrence is a 1973 clip of her singing her gold record song "The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia" on the show; Lawrence joking regarding the clip that Burnett was kind to let Lawrence (rather than Burnett) sing the song on the show illustrates the aforementioned chemistry among the cast.
Additional nostalgia in the final episode comes in the form of Burnett showing the many looks of her and Nabors during the 11-year run of the series.
The best way to wrap up these thoughts is to paraphrase the comments of Burnett, which reflect those of the fans. She admits that not every sketch succeeds but states that the ones that do are timeless; she further notes that she shows that good humor does not require using foul language or raunchy themes. It is almost certain that most episodes will prompt laughing out loud at least once.
The aforementioned extras include an (of course laugh-a-second) blooper reel.
'Flatliners' ('90) BD: Designated Survivor Kiefer Sutherland Leads Rogue Med Students on Live-Die-Repeat Adventure
The Mill Creek Entertainment September 26, 2017 Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD release of the 1990 Joel Schumacher version of the horror film "Flatliners" looks and sounds amazing and proves that this film aces the test of time. It also makes a great Halloween season companion to the (Unreal TV reviewed) October 3, 2017 Mill Creek 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release of "The Night of the Living Dead."
Many factors contribute to the appeal of this film that has Kiefer Sutherland play a med student who leads his classmates in experiments to determine what happens when you die. On a general level, folks who just check out "Flatliners" to see Sutherland and co-stars Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon probably will enjoy it more based on the film exceeding their expectations.
"Flatliners" additionally hits the "Baby Bear" sweet spot regarding the balance between art and commerce for which Hollywood studio films should strive. Hiring Schumacher of "The Lost Boys" and "St. Elmo's Fire" and the hot young actors (as well as Billy Baldwin and Oliver Platt) demonstrates a reasonable profit motive. Schumacher and his team doing well with a story that has depth provides a good dose of art.
"Flatliners" opens with ominous (perfect-for-Blu-ray) "Omen" style music as Sutherland's Nelson races across campus and peeks in the muraled abandoned room (spectacular in Blu-ray) where he is going to conduct his experiments.
These opening scenes also establish Roberts' Rachel as a compassionate practitioner obsessed with near-death experiences, Bacon's David as a rogue rebel who rappels from his apartment window down the side of his building and drives an Army surplus truck merely to show that he is a stud, Baldwin's Joe as a Lothario who secretly videotapes his do-'em-and-dump-'em conquests, and Platt's Randy as arguably the most egotistical medical student ever.
These introductions lead to Nelson approaching each of them to confirm their participation in the initial experiment that evening; the simple concept is that that team will perform a carefully orchestrated procedure that will very briefly kill Nelson and revive him. The objective is that he will recall what he experiences during his short dirt nap.
The essential dream sequence (which also makes perfect use of Blu-ray) during the death of Nelson opens with a gorgeous scene of young boys and a dog running through a field of yellow flowers. This soon turns to dark and scary woods (once more looking great in Blu-ray) in which the now-feral boys are pelting a terrified treed lad with rocks.
Nelson returns to the land of the living with total recall regarding the experience described above. The real terror begins when it seems that hitchhikers from the other side are haunting him on this side. The worst part of this is that the bullied boy is pummeling Nelson hard enough to inflict serious damage.
The experiences of the others similarly evoke thoughts from deep in their psyches and bring their own personal Hells literally and figuratively to life; these post-death terrors take the predictable tolls on the minds and the bodies of our heroes.
Cracking the code to putting the aforementioned demons to bed prompts Nelson to go to extreme measures to avoid all the impact of a beat-down by a super-powered nine-year-old boy; this prompts his team to take their own drastic actions. Suffice it to say, none of them come out unscathed.
The aforementioned depth extends beyond this vision of what happens when we die; ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which the experiences of the group are actual or simply reflect the greatest source of their guilt or other tremendous angst. That it turn raises the issue of whether our worst misdeeds/most severe traumas truly consume our thoughts in our last seconds of life. All of this would justify the tag line "Be A Freud, Be Very A Freud."
A telephone conversation with Kathy Coleman, who is best known for portraying spunky teen tomboy Holly Marshall in the classic '70s live-action Krofft Saturday morning Jurassic Camp series "Land of the Lost," fulfilled a decades old fantasy.
Loving (and reviewing) recent Coleman autobiography "Run, Holly, Run" (title courtesy of co-star/'70s teen idol/surrogate big brother Wesley Eure) prompted reaching out to her. She awesomely immediately responded, and we gabbed the next day.
As readers of both "Run" and the sadly unavailable first Coleman (who prefers going by Kathleen) autobiography "Lost Girl" know, this natural talent is a survivor of a psychotically abusive ex-husband and decades of other horrific traumas. This on top of the celebrity curse of constant approaches by fans who feel entitled to invade her personal and emotional space reasonably make her a little guarded. However, her love of people and desire to delight them counters this by both making her very open about her life and a charming conversationalist.
The aforementioned candidness included Coleman stating regarding "Run" that she wanted that book to "open the curtains to the windows of my soul."
The "righteous dudette" moment that most Unreal TV celebrity interviews contain came after Colemen once more discussed how her life literally was an open book. This prompted showing a little reciprocity in sharing that a "Lost" episode with a wholesome element of sexuality regarding both Coleman and Eure was a favorite for that reason. Eure was shirtless and wearing cutoffs, and Coleman was wearing a Daisy Duke outfit complete with her own cutoffs.
Coleman awesomely replied with a story of common occurrences at fan events. She shared that she and Eure sit side-by-side and that a man walked up and said "I had a crush on you." Coleman then started talking to the man only to have him reply that he was speaking to Eure.
The next part of the story was a variation in that Eure would bat his eyes in response to other fans confessing to a crush only to have them state that they were talking to Coleman. Both stars having such a nice attitude regarding every aspect of that reinforces that what you see on screen reflects real life.
Portrait of the Artist as a Child Star
The accounts in "Run" on the early career of Coleman prompted asking about those years specifically and the life of a child star in general.
Coleman politely asserted that her mom was a stereotypical stage mother but that she "never forced me into the business; never took advantage of me."
The provided perspective was a variation of "Goldilocks" in the form of three siblings sitting in front of a television. One sibling was eating and not paying much attention to the program; the other one was watching the program, and the third one was dancing. "I [Coleman] was the kid who was dancing when I was watching TV."
Coleman added that she wanted to entertain people and that friends of her mother who saw both her zeal to perform and her talent encouraged a variation of "The Beverly Hillbillies" in urging the family to move from Massachusetts to Hollywood to allow Coleman to let her star fully shine. Folks who are familiar with "Lost" know part of the story of how that worked out.
This portion of the discussion included Coleman repeating a few times that her circumstances would have been roughly the same if she had worked delivering papers. This youngest in a family of 10 kids noted that whichever of those offspring worked contributed to the family to the extent feasible considering the employment.
Discussing whether Coleman ever engaged in obnoxious behavior based on her celebrity status earned the reply that her mother saw to that her daughter never got star treatment.
Hilarity ensued when Coleman shared that watching other kids in the business trying to cope a 'tude prompted her to try doing the same. She then laughed and stated that she was not as good at it. She noted that "to be a bitch is not natural for me" and added that she enjoyed making people happy.
A section in "Run" in which Coleman diplomatically discusses outreach by an unnamed group provided a personally golden opportunity to get the perspective of a former child star regarding an organization with which this site has a brief history. Anyone with any familiarity with the non-profit child star advocacy and support group A Minor Consideration could have deduced that that was the entity to which Coleman referred in "Run."
Online research years ago created a personal sense that Consideration (founded and run by former child star Paul Petersen of the 'Donna Reed Show' sitcom) was a bit heavy-handed; a subsequent interview with Petersen enhanced that vibe but did not create any desire to grind any axes. The chance to ask a former child star who seemed to receive unsolicited attention from that organization was a golden opportunity to obtain insight into the workings of what Unreal TV considers (and that Petersen agrees) is "the anti-Scientology."
Coleman began by saying that "I [Coleman] had my own experience with him [Petersen]." She added that she was "all for" the group if a current or former child star needed it. Her personal perspective regarding the challenges that members of that group faced was "I don't want to sit around saying poor pitiful me, show business did this to me."
This led to Coleman making the apt comparison to Alcoholics Anonymous in stating that not everyone realized that every person with a drinking problem needed to attend meetings of that group. She added that addressing her personal challenges related to drinking did not require hearing the experiences of other people who were facing comparable challenges.
Eure the Best
Coleman stating that she and Eure are "more like a real brother and sister than people can even understand." My referring to a hilarious story in "Run" in which Coleman tells of a fully clothed Eure jumping into the sleeping bag of an equally dressed Coleman and saying "Dad's gone" during a filming of a "Lost" episode elicited the exciting news that "Wesley still loves to tease me."
An example of this love extending to co-star Phillip Paley, who played the ape-boy like Cha-ka on "Lost" was learning that this trio had no objections when they had to share a hotel room while appearing at a fan event. Coleman stated that they would have a great time that included epic slumber parties.
Fans v. Fanatics
An early exchange in the conversation with Coleman illustrated her aforementioned valid caution regarding people who approach her. I told her that I interviewed Eure years ago after he replied when I sent him my review of the then-recent complete-series DVD release (complete with lunch box!) of "Lost." I also asked that she please tell Eure that he and I had spoken merely thinking that Eure might say "Hey, I remember that guy."
Coleman very nicely replied without a touch of anger that fans wrongly assumed both that they knew celebrities based on watching their shows but that that experience did not provide that intimacy. She added "it is an obligation to give back" and that she enjoyed doing so.
I did not take any offense and assured Coleman that I fully understood her persepcctive and appreciated the time that both she and Eure gave me and then tried to assure her that I was not a stray kitten who took being given a one-time saucer of milk as an invitation to move in. I emphasized that I never would have knowingly put Eure on the spot.
This led to discussing fans (such as your not-so-humble reviewer) as opposed to fanatics. The response of Coleman to being asked about her weirdest fan was "in the years that I have been involved in this whole thing most people only have good wishes."
Coleman added that fans have shared some of the most wonderful stories; the best of these involved kids whom the show inspired to be archaeologists and scientists.
One amusing bad experience was the tale of a man who aggressively requested an interview and squandered the minute allocated for that exchange to ask Coleman if his shirt made him look fat and then showed her his ginormous stomach.
Here and Now
The final section of "Run" discussing the making of a modern documentary on getting the band back together prompted asking Coleman about the complications associated with that project. She provided little reason to hope that that film would be released. The better news was that Eure had simultaneously filmed the group on his smart phone and MAY release that footage.
Coleman perfectly brought things full circle in sharing that her reasons for writing her autobiographies were fans approaching her with misperceptions regarding a movie star having an easy life. Coleman shared that (as her books showed) her life was far from that of the public image of Hollywood royalty and specifically that "my life has not been any easier because of my career."
She added that she had not appeared in any movie until recently filming one. This project is the 2017 indie production "Fault" on the underground world of betting on professional tennis. Coleman stated that she did not know whether that film would premiere theatrically or on television.
Thanks for the Memories
As mentioned above, the chance to converse with Coleman was a treat in itself; learning both that she is as caring as her public persona and is not a "I only want to discuss my current projects" type made my eon.
The Warner Archive August 22, 2017 Blu-ray release of "Lucifer" S2 provides a good chance to catch on this Fox supernatural procedural before the October 2, 2017 S3 broadcast premiere. The Unreal TV 2.0 review of the Archive BD release of S1 provides a good deal of the lore of the series.
The temptation (which there is no reason to resist) regarding the "Lucifer" home-video releases is to buy them in Blu-ray. The enhanced video quality of that format is perfect for the sun and the neon of Los Angeles in the series. The better sound increases the impact of the mood music and the actual soundtrack that is heavy on club music but includes a couple of '80s ballads.
The first bit of catching up involves spoiling the S1 cliffhanger. Biological brother/fellow celestial being Amenadiel tells the titular former ruler of Hell/ current L.A. night club owner /civilian police consultant at the end of the inaugural season that Hell escapee Mom is in the neighborhood and that Dad (a.k.a. God) wants Lucifer to bag her and send her home.
The S2 premiere finds Lucifer suspecting that his mother is the culprit in the murder with a demonic element of a stand-in for a television star, whose personal life is less pure than her career-necessary wholesome image. The dark humor and general perversion that is a trademark of this series is particularly strong in this outing.
Former "Battlestar Galactica" toaster fatale Tricia Helfer is perfectly cast as Mrs. God, who now walks the earth in the meat suit of adulterous ruthless attorney Charlotte Richards so that this literal mother of all mothers can be close to her boys. The manner in which Lucifer manages to keep Mom around without incurring the full wrath of God is very apt for the show and illustrates the pitfalls of making a deal with the devil.
As cast and crew explain at the roughly 30-minute 2016 Comic-Con panel that Archive includes as a BD extra, bringing in Charlotte facilitates further developing family issues and provides another player for the interchangeable teaming up of (mostly unlikely friendship) characters. This includes Charlotte seducing Det. Dan "Douche" Espinoza, who is the ex-husband/colleague of former sex comedy star/current homicide detective/Lucifer love interest Chloe Decker.
The most unlikely (and hilarious) pairing has Decker and her young daughter Trixie moving into a new apartment (that of course has a tie to a murder case) with gleefully sadistic demon/bounty hunter/Lucifer confidante Maze. Particularly memorable moments have an oblivious Trixie enjoying a sex toy of Maze and reaping the bounty of the aggressive approach of Maze toward trick-or-treating. Maze further does her best to get Chloe to loosen up emotionally and physically.
We further get Lucifer hijacking a once-again oblivious Trixie into assisting with a homicide investigation, Much of the humor in this one involves exposing the civilized facade regarding the behavior of parents, faculty, and staff alike at an exclusive private school.
Executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer honors his "CSI" roots in introducing quirky former car thief Ella as a forensic tech. The odd behavior of this lab rat does not extend to wearing Carmen Miranda hats or staging elaborate (and messy) re-enactments.
Lucifer fully revealing his true self to resident shrink Dr. Linda Martin further enhances the "Sopranos" vibe of this show that revolves around the dark side of family and has the clan head regularly spill his guts to a therapist. Dr. Linda moving into a deeper circle of Hell facilitates involving her in various schemes that are intended to serve the greater good and makes her the somewhat unlikely friend of Maze. The most interesting scheme returns Lucifer to his former kingdom for a noble purpose.
S2 additionally focuses more on story arcs than S1; these include a quest for a powerful weapon that theoretically can make at least some characters very happy, a particularly demented killer who uses a very special poison, and a series of events tied to the 16 year-old murder of the father of Chloe.
As is typical for "Lucifer" and other modern television dramas, the final few episodes lead to an episode that serves equally well as a season ender and a series finale in the event of the show being sent to cancellation hell. Charlotte is facing a serious threat to her continued existence on earth, her boys are fighting, and Chloe is close to learning that she literally is riding with the devil. This culminates in a a uber-dramatic image.
The BD extras extend beyond the Con panel to include a behind-the-scenes look at the season, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.
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