The CBS Home Entertainment September 8, 2020 DVD CS set of the 2019-20 fourth season of the CBS legal procedural "Bull" provides an awesome smorgasbord for thought at a time that COVID-19 leaves most of us starving for intellectual sustenance. The oft-intriguing legal issue in the case-of-the-week warrants adding this set to your home-video library; revealing the reality of the American court system elevates "Bull" to must-see status.
These tales of the collaboration between the titular jury whisperer (Michael Weatherly of "NCIS") and trial attorney/ex-brother-in-law Benny Colon (Freddy Rodriguez of "Six Feet Under") are based on the real-life experiences of TV shrink/"Bull" executive producer Dr. Phil. The awesome cynicism as to this concept is that maximizing the number of jurors that are proven to be favorably disposed toward you and then presenting our legal arguments in a manner that keeps them in your camp and recruits other "peers" to your side is an effective means to achieve a positive outcome regardless of the applicable law.
A simpler way of thinking about jury selection and persuasion being a large part of your legal strategy is that doing so makes a trial more of a marketing campaign than a legal proceeding, A related note is that virtually every client of Bull getting him because he or she can afford the high cost of his services illustrates the extent to which the cavernous wealth gap in America affects the judicial system.
The courtroom drama in S4E1 revolves around the criminal prosecution of a young woman whom the prosecutor is seeking to hold liable for shooting deaths that occurred in the wake of the woman serving more alcohol to the shooter at the bar where the woman worked. This one awesomely demonstrates the "it depends" principle that law students learn when asking a professor about the outcome as to a series of facts.
The "meanwhile back at the ranch" drama in the season opener revolves around Bull trying to get Colon back on the team after S1 family drama. The impact that that resolution has on the ex-in-law relationship drives additional S4 action.
Separate drama includes a "Papa don't preach" story arc that has team member Chunk Palmer trying to be there for the college-age daughter with whom he has an "its complicated" relationship.
S4 E2 presents the intriguing legal issue as to intent. The case this time revolves around a woman actively seeking backers for an in-development water-filtration system. The fraud claim against her relates to her (most likely unrealistic) sales pitch that the system will greatly advance within 90 days. The relevant factors include whether this woman with a history or majorly misrepresenting her past genuinely believes that the system will reach the promised stage within the stated timeframe.
The icing on the cake is the financial motive of the man who blows the whistle on the woman.
A subsequent episode that involves Team Bull in the case of a man whose younger son shoots his older sibling also involves a basic criminal-law tenet. The discussion this time relates to the balance between the punishment and the rehabilitation purposes of an unfortunate incarceration.
Team McGraw saves some of the best for last. A late-season case that involves Anthrax attacks is era-notable in that members of Team Bull comment in the aftermath of those acts that it is odd not seeing people on the streets wearing protective masks.
The season-finale, which finds a member of Team Bull in the hot seat, nicely builds on the trope of diplomatic immunity to further comment on the aforementioned chasm between haves and have nots. The noble mission this time is to not allow the daughter of a one-percenter to get away with manslaughter. The blast-from-the-past is in the form of the O.J. element of looking to the civil courts when the criminal justice system does not provide for the desired outcome.
The special feature "Four Bagger" has Weatherly and the show-runners provide an anatomy of this Fantastic Four season.
The CBS Home Entertainment S2 CS DVD set of the CBS reboot of the CBS '80s phenom "Magnum P.I." awesomely hits all the right notes as to the original, modern CBS procedurals, and reboots. The bright and bold shot-on-location Hawaiian scenery when many of use are entering our (seemingly eternal) sixth month of virtual home arrest helps slow our descent into almost-certainty madness.
Limited memories of "Magnum" OS hinders comparing it to the neo-modern version of the adventures of the titular security consultant/investigator Kato Kaelin, who lives rent-free on the estate of best-selling author Robin Masters, One blatant difference is that major domo/Magnum frienemy has gone from an uptight middle-aged British man to a younger and friendlier former MI-6 agent (Perdita Weeks). Additionally, S2 episodes lack OS speculation as to Higgins being an alter-ego of Masters.
The new Magnum/Higgins relationship takes a page from the Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson partnership in the (reviewed) CBS procedural "Elementary." The S1 cliffhangers include whether Higgins will formally join Team Magnum in a partnership capacity. A subsequent immigration issue leads to the possibility of a green card marriage of our leads. The efforts to keep Higgins around are central to the S2 cliffhanger that S3 will address when the pandemic facilitates resuming the action-packed fun.
The most obvious parallel is between "Magnum" TNG and the CBS "Hawaii 5-0" reboot. The similarities extend beyond the common setting to both series having Eric Guggenheim and Peter M. Lenkov as show runners. This leads to the inevitable cross-over episode. The common thread this time is the threat that a list of undercover CIA operatives will be divulged. (The "Magnum" DVD set does include the cross-over "5-0" episode as a special feature.)
"Magnum" having a similar vibe as the CBS reboot of "MacGyver" is attributable to Lenkov helping to run both series. Both reboots are more of ensemble programs than the originals; this includes episodes of both often ending with the gang hanging around drinking beers and rehashing their most recent adventure. This is not to mention both Higgins and Magnum separately "Macgyvering" themselves out of tough spots by cleverly repurposing common items.
"The Man in the Secret Room" arguably is the best S2 outing if only due to having Larry Manetti of OS join former hunks Lee Majors and Corbin Bernsen as guest stars. This one involves a planned easy temporary gig for Magnum as a resort security director becoming not-so-easy starting with the violent death of a hotel guest. The fun begins with discovering the concept of off-the-books accommodations for very special guests. The "MacGyver" element shows that it is easy to check out if the seemingly pristine comforter in your hotel room actually is covered with stains from bodily fluids.
"Room" additionally follows the "Magnum" pattern of virtually every discovery leading our hero and his volunteer squad down a totally unexpected path. We further come to wonder how any real or fictional detective ever solved a case in the era before cell phones and the Internet.
The copious special features extend well beyond the "5-0" episode. We get deleted scenes galore, a gag reel, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes. These include "Better Together," which gives even those who have a bit part (little more than a cameo) in the life of Magnum his or her time center stage.
The bottom line this time is that there is nothing to not like about a beautifully shot series about a charming bright guy and his equally appealing friends who strongly care about seeing that truth, justice, and the American way prevail.
The CBS Home Entertainment CS DVD set of the fast-paced and furiously funny S17 of the CBS procedural "NCIS" proves that that genre still has plenty of life left in the right hands. In this case, those appendages belong to'80s action-adventure series god Donald P. Bellasario ("Quantum Leap," "Magnun, PI"). Having still sexy '80s hunk Mark Harmon helming the series as Scott Bakula ("NCIS: New Orleans") style stoic team leader/father figure Leroy Jethro Gibbs does not hurt.
The underlying premise that DC-based Team Gibbs investigates crimes with a connection to the (primarily) Navy opens the door to a wide variety of felonies. It may be as tangential as a coincidental body dump on military property, the death of an active-duty or retired service member, or a lesser crime against one of the few and the proud who serve our country.
The two-part S17 premiere that resolves the S16 cliffhanger as to the sudden reappearance of presumed-dead former team member Ziva David is the first indication that S17 might have been the last one. The season ending with an episode (more below) that would have served equally well as a season or a series finale reinforces the idea that taps may have blown on this program, which will live to fight many more days in the 2020-21 television season.
Speculation as to the S17 finale is that COVID-19 MAY have cut the season a little short, and Team Bellasrio MAY have planned a cliffhanger.
Another sign that Team Bellasario may have been contemplated that S17 might have been its swan song is the personal growth reveals of members of Team Gibbs. A prime example of this is headshrinker "Jack" Sloane revealing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding her college-era unplanned pregnancy and giving up her baby for adoption.
S17 soon picks up right where S16 ends with a "Back to the Future" / "Terminator" moment in which David breaks in on Gibbs in his basement and essentially tells him to come with her if he wants to live. The aforementioned fast-pace begins with the bad guys almost immediately storming the castle. The outcome as to that proves that Gibbs has MacGyver-style ingenuity and does not hesitate to use proportional force in response to an attack on his home. This fully sets the most deadly game afoot.
The trope elements in this excellent outing are worth mentioning because these tried-and-true narrative techniques regularly appear throughout S17 without impairing the quality of the episodes. The first been-there-done-that moment comes very early when David and a bloodied-and-battered Gibbs jack the ride of a low-level thief. Anyone who has witnessed a similar scene in a comparable context will not be surprised to see a rapid shift in action and "Eighteen hours earlier" appear in an intertitle.
The tropes continue with Team Gibbs soon piecing together much of the puzzle (including the resurrection of David), lying (with hilarious consequences in a subsequent episode) to the powers-that-be, and putting loyalty to the boss over following the rules. The reactions of those who worked with David and of those who only know her by reputation are part of what make this episode so special. This is not to mention David bringing baggage to her reunion.
A scene between David and quirky grandfather figure retired medical examiner "Ducky" (David McCallum of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.") is a season highlight. David and new bad ass Torres (Wilmer "Fez" Valderama) on the block initially playing at going at it mano-a-mano before it gets personal is a perfect example of "NCIS" humor; Torres goes full Fez of the Foxcom "That 70s Show" as to the perception that a girl kicked his ass.
The twists in this one make it one of the best of the season; David unambiguously playing her former peers and ambiguously doing the wrong thing for the right reason supports the principle of not trusting anyone.
Business as usual resumes with the aptly titled "Going Mobile" episode that pays homage to fellow CBS procedural franchise "CSI." This one involves a body being jammed under the trailer of a truck that is making a delivery to a military installation.
The penultimate S17 episode has one of the most ultimate tropes ever. Anyone who has watched any genre of television can IMMEDIATELY guess what will transpire when medical examiner Jim Palmer, who presumably never appears on screen in just his briefs, and forensics scientist Kasie Hines are having breakfast at the team hangout at the same time that a trio of criminals are there just ahead of their robbery of the jewelry store across the street, This coinciding with St. Patrick's Day turns the highly predictable hostage situation in to an Irish Setter Day Afternoon. Hines gets another trope moment in the sun in an S17 episode that has her trying to prove the innocence of a close friend.
The series finale features a memorable guest spot by Christopher Lloyd ("Back to the Future," "Taxi") as a 95 year-old man whose claim of being on the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack seemingly has more holes than that ship. The wonderfully gonzo performance by Lloyd proves that he still has it.
The truly special DVD features include "The Return of Ziva David," which provides perspective as to that notable occurrence. "Inside Season 17" has cast and crew share how they keep things going so well after almost two decades.
Robert and Michelle King put the same thought-provoking warped perspective that makes "The Good Wife" and the "Wife" (reviewed) spinoff "The Good Fight" such wonderfully dark fun to good use as to S1 of the CBS psychological drama "Evil." The CBS Home Entertainment DVD of this first outing of this latest King-sized offering hits real and virtual store shelves on June 30, 2020.
IMDb does reviewers everywhere a solid during these Hell hound days of The Summer of 2020 by providing a perfect synopsis of the "Supernatural"/"X-Files" mash-up that is "Evil." "A skeptical female clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue-collar contractor as they investigate supposed miracles, demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there's a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural is at work." The frequent ambiguity as to this is one of many things that make "Evil" such a treat.
The series aptly examines the nature of evil; this includes whether it is the work of Satan and why some people turn to the dark side. We also get ample discussion of the extent to which someone invites that harmful element into his or her life.
The aforementioned shrink is Karen Bouchard, Ph.D. She goes down the rabbit hole in the pilot when her consulting for the NYC DA office has her evaluating a "baby" who has done a bad bad thing. This puts her on the radar of future man in black David and handyman Ben (the magnificent). Their common interest relates to whether the devil made the defendant do it.
The "excitable boy" playing a major role (with a little help from the not-so-good-son) in the final S1 episodes is one of many reasons that the 13 "Evil" S1 episodes are worthy of a marathon, but not binge, watching session. By George, you will want to keep the lights on for some of these episodes.
Many of the other episodes, including an exorcism apparently gone wrong, similarly involve story arcs. An awesome example of this is an evaluation of a purported prophet leading to an investigation of potent symbolism. This mission from the agents of God leads to a family reunion at a commune that practices what it preaches as to peace, free love, and understanding. Cosbying the sangria is a little more questionable.
The Halloween and Christmas specials are particularly awesome in that they are especially dark and have heavy elements of the highly entertaining impact of Karen often bringing her work home with her to the extent that she repeatedly must battle her personal demon. Halloween finds the annoying shrill and hyper four girls of Karen playing host to the weird neighbor kid, who is an especially bad influence. Christmas, which involves especially dark mass hypnosis by a Katy Perry clone, is a little more fun in that it is the one "Evil" episode that features the same type of animated music video that Team King does so well.
Michael Emerson puts his "Lost" training as a psycho-in-geek's clothing to excellent use as the yin to the yang of Karen; psychologist Leland Townsend really enjoys manipulating the weak-willed to do his bidding; revealing the boss of the Townsend agency is one of the best surprises of this series that is full of twists.
The S1 cliffhanger arguably is the most surprising moment in the series. At the very least, it sets the stage for Karen to present the arguably most interesting workers' compensation claim in real or reel history.
CBSHE first supplements this with deleted and extended scenes that indicate that Beelzebub was whispering in the ear of the editor who decide to exclude these moments. We also get the self-explanatory special features ""Evil: Season One: Genesis" and "Does Evil Exist?' The latter especially provides good material for water-cooler chatter if we ever return to our offices.
The CBS Home Entertainment June 2, 2020 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Star Trek Short Treks" lets non-subscribers of CBS All Access enjoy these these charming streamisodes of "Star Trek: Discovery." Each of the 9 shorts allows characters great and small a chance to shine. A glaring omission is Lt. Commander Paul Stamets, whom everyone's favorite rent-boy Anthony Rapp seems born to play.
The icing on the cake is the truly special features, which include "making-of" bonuses, with which CBS pairs each short.
All Access awesomely does some of the heavy lifting for this post; it perfectly describes this series as follows. "'Star Trek: Short Treks' are approximately 10-15 minute stand-alone short stories that allow fans to dive deeper into the key themes and characters that fit into Star Trek: Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe."
The following 2019 ComicCon trailer for "Treks" expertly conveys the strong production values and great underlying humor of these films.
The earlier shorts, which begin with quirky Ensign Tilly in an equally odd story, have strong merits that fully reflect the "Trek" spirit. However, the later ones that jump ship and move to the Enterprise are personal faves.
A favorite among this group is the fantabulous "The Trouble With Edward." Former Enterprise science officer Lynne Lucero is the new captain of a science ship when mad scientist in the truest sense of that term Edward Larkim (H. Jon Benjamin of "Bob's Burgers" and "Archer" fame) commences the trouble with tribbles. The morals this time are that you should not mess with Mother Nature and that over population can be a deadly problem.
Larkin easily has the best of countless memorable moments when he cops an epic "not my problem" 'tude despite being the architect of the threat.
"Q&A" awesomely has Ethan Peck (Spock) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) pair up as the latter greets the former on his arrival on the Enterprise to commence his service on that vessel. The best is soon to come when the "Treks" writers resort to the old "stuck together in an elevator" trope. Suffice it it to say that emotions do run high.
"Ask Not" is another very strong outing; this one features Captain Pike mercilessly testing an enterprising wannabe. It fully shows how it is determined if someone has the right stuff to serve on that crew.
The bigger picture this time is that "Treks" allows Trekkers, Trekkies, and the unenlightened alike a solid two-hours (plus extras) of stories that each are worthy of full-length episodes.
The CBS Home Entertainment May 5, 2020 S7 DVD of the Showtine drama "Ray Donovan" provides a good chance both for a special lockdown marathon viewing of a compelling series and to complete your home-video collection of the adventures of the titular "fixer" (Liev Schreiber) and his family.
The following S7 trailer is awash with teasing glimpses of the trauma and drama that largely revolves around the sins of the past that extend beyond the transgressions of the father,
The first central development as to many of the S7 events is the discovery of evidence of an especially gruesome S6 act by Team Donovan. This ensemble consists of Ray, his ex-con father Mickey (Jon Voight), not-so-bright younger brother Brendan "Bunchy" Donovan, up-and-coming younger (half) brother Daryll, and punch-drunk Parkinson's patient older brother Terry. This is not to mention Ray daughter Bridget and her cute-but-dumb husband Smitty. Watching befuddled puppy Smitty exchange clothes in a "The Prince and the Pauper" scene is an S7 highlight.
The gruesome discovery puts homicide investigator Detective Perry on the trail of the clan as hard as if they had stolen a loaf of bread; this takes the humorous turn of involving cute-but-dumb teen idol pop star Jonathan Walker Hanson in the plot to avoid a potentially life-long family vacation as guests of the state. One of many other pieces of this puzzle is the Bridget follows a pattern of behavior of interns for at least the past several decades. The price that she pays for that transgression shows that the punishment far exceeds the crime.
A concurrent storyline with equally good black humor revolves around Ray staging an already compromising situation for public figure Kevin Sullivan to look even worse for him. The numerous complications this time revolve around the father of Kevin having a long intertwined relationship with the Donovans that goes back to the childhood of Ray. This leading to a revenge plot and to Ray sleeping with the enemy is only the tip of the iceberg.
The copious flashbacks that show how Ray comes to be the man whom he is today also explain why many of the wounds are so fresh decades later.
All of this leads to an anticipated season-finale climax that has twists galore. Although many loose ends are tied up, there remains enough unresolved in anticipation of an eighth season that one can only hope for seven-seasons-and-a-movie. A failure to provide that fully screams for fixing.
The appeal of all this is portraying the stereotype of an working-class Irish family that the members either are at each other's throats or in each other's pockets in a manner that is far from a caricature and that does not insult the intelligence of the audience. This is due to the skill both behind and in front of the camera.
The DVD bonuses consist of a feature on Brendan portrayor Dash Mihok directing an episode and a self-explanatory feature titled "Deconstructing Ray" that provides insight as to how the Irish sausage is made.
Doing justice to the CBS Home Entertainment May 5, 2020 epic CS DVD release of the complete-series 65th Anniversary Edition of the 20-season "Gunsmoke" is impossible as to the limitations of these posts. As such, these musing are based on the first handful of the 1955 episodes and the Final Four from 1975. An awesome aspect of this is that last are just as sublime as the first.
Hope for a better tomorrow that is slightly easing Covid-related angst include thoughts of watching every "Gunsmoke" episode in a post-pandemic world that is more conducive for properly savoring gems from The Golden Age of Television.
CBSHE shows its usual overall integrity and its love for "TV Land" shows by simultaneously releasing "Gunsmoke" S20 on DVD on May 5, 2020. A major peeve of your not-so-humble reviewer is home-video companies releasing all but one or two seasons of a series and subsequently releasing that program in a CS set that REQUIRES either buying several duplicate seasons or forgoing the whole enchilada.
Sincere advice as to "Gunsmoke" is to treat yo self to the sturdy and stylish CS gift set and pass along individual season sets either to current fans or to "non-believers" who suffer from the past prejudice of your not-so-humble reviewer as to Westerns. "Gunsmoke" is a prime example of oaters being about so much more than cattle rustlers, saloon fights, and high noon showdowns.
The numerous timeless themes, such as prejudice and the conflict between the law and justice, in "Gunsmoke" evoke thoughts of a fellow TV Land classic. Comedy deity Carol Burnett has said in a recent interview that her eponymous variety show aces the test of time because funny always is funny.
"Gunsmoke" also reflects the wisdom of another couch potato god. The wisdom of Garry Marshall as to "Happy Days" is that a sitcom that is made in the '70s and the '80s that is set in the '50s never will look dated. The expertly digitally remastered "Gunsmoke" episodes that make even the S1 offerings look and sound crisp and clean validates the Marshall Plan.
S1E1, which is in awesomely sharp black-and-white and is 30-minutes. starts with an A-List endorsement that the syndicated version likely omits. The opening scene is of western movies legend John Wayne praising the work of James Arness, who plays U.S. Marshall Matt Dillon in all 20 seasons of "Gunsmoke," in this new series.
Another twist is that S1E1 next opens in a manner that seems to disappear within a few episodes. We hear voice-over narration of Dillon pontificating as he walks through the cemetery on the hill above his home turf of Dodge City, Kansas.
S1E1 then sets a tone to which the series remains true for two decades. This one revolves (pun intended) quick-draw Dan Grat facing justice for gunning down a man whom Grat did not know was unarmed when he acted with extreme prejudice. Grat going on to plug Dillon early in their first contact is one of likely hundreds of times that Dillon takes one for the team during the run of the season.
A young but still cranky Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), who is with "Gunsmoke" to the far-from-bitter end, is on hand to patch up Dillon and to fail to persuade him to let his wounds properly heal before returning to work. Long-time saloon owner Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), who gets out of Dodge in S19, also is on the scene. Watching her pursue a largely unresponsive Dillon is odd from the perspective of their subsequent close relationship with probable benefits.
Although deputy Chester (Dennis Weaver) is on the payroll, it is surprising to see him be not-so-dedicated and to have a contentious relationship with the boss. Comic relief deputy Festus (Ken Curtis), who is the Barney Fife of "Gunsmoke," is not yet in Dodge.
The next few S1 episodes further test the value of Dillon and his inner circle. These include convincing "upstanding" citizens that a neer-do-well will receive justice of a variety other than the frontier kind to which he is most deserving.
The beginning of the end, which is brilliant living color and is a full hour, has Festus front-and-center when a prisoner transfer leads to his contributing sweat equity to the building of a church that an older pastor wants to build for members of a tribe that only recently has made peace with the settlers that oppose that project.
"Manolo" continues the long history, including an S19 episode about Jewish settlers sticking to their own values, of cultural sensitivity that is a common "Gunsmoke" theme. This time the story centers around a group of Basque shepherds maintaining a coming-of-age tradition that conditions a son becoming a man on administering his father a major beatdown. As we learn, this practice does not make any allowance for pacifists.
Team Dillon wraps up their saga-length run with the aptly titled "The Sharecroppers." This one also features Festus, who is conned into working the land despite being the injured party as to a duped innocent being tricked into buying the beloved mule of Festus. This truly leaves the audience wanting more and provides a strong sense that life in Dodge continues the same after the production team rides off into the sunset.
Much of the fun of "Gunsmoke" is akin to watching "The Love Boat" in that virtually every past, current, and future television star (as well as a few film stars) who is a SAG member during the run of the series guest stars. Bette Davis arguably is the most notable one; we also get Ron Howard, David Wayne, Joan Van Ark, Bruce Boxleitner, etc.
The plethora of special features include the CBSHE staple of episodes promos. We also get a tribute to Arness and a very special feature that is a discussion with "Gunsmoke" experts Ben Costello and Beckey Burgoyne.
The bottom line this time is that the truly do not make 'em like this anymore.
CBS Home Entertainment truly provides a cure for what ails us by releasing the complete series Blu-ray of the 1982 sitcom "Police Squad!" on April 14, 2020. Watching it during the COVID-induced lockdown is almost as exciting as being able to buy toilet paper. One can only hope that the plans of CBSHE include new editions of the "Naked" Gun" film series that "Squad!" spawns.
Owning the older DVD version of "Squad!" allows stating that CBSHE does what becomes a comedy legend most as to its restoration of this cult classic.
"Squad" is the brilliant result of the Zucker Brothers of "Airplane!" fame doing for the ultra-serious Quinn-Martin procedurals, such as "The FBI," of the '60s and '70s what Mel Brooks does for the Bond films and other spy movies in the '60scom "Get Smart." Both series validate the theory of comedy god Carol Burnett that "funny always is funny." "Squad!" also stays fresh by largely avoiding topical references that would seem stale almost 30 years later.
"Airplane" star Leslie "Don't Call Me Shirley" Nielsen plays "Squad!" main man Frank Drebin, who is a detective with a generic police department in the State of Statesville. Statesville may include Townsville where pre-adolescent superheros The Powerpuff Girls reside.
A highly entertaining and informative interview with Nielsen that is one of several BD bonus features perfectly explains the blessing and the curse of "Squad!". Nielsen states that the series fails in his namesake ratings because copious sight gags and the sometimes subtle jokes require paying attention to the program. He goes on to observe that a large portion of the American viewing public uses television as ambient noise.
A real-life Twitter exchange with CBSHE as to this release PERFECTLY illustrates the Zuckertastic juvenile humor of "Squad!" The CBSHE team tweet refers to Drebin battling criminal elements; the response of your not-so-humble reviewer comments that Beryllium is nothin' but trouble.
The nature of "Squad!" makes an abbreviated anatomy of an episode an apt theme for conveying its strong humor.
Each week finds Drebin and partner-in-crime-solving Ed Hocken (Alan North) taking on a new case. Ala "Smart," these episodes included a combination of a variation on a frequent comedic concept and brand-new humor. The former begins with the opening credits that conclude with an announcement of the "Special Guest Star," who quickly meets his or her end, of the week. Les Freres Zucker save the best for next to last by having Florence Henderson getting to display her Wessonality for only a few seconds.
The audience then is treated to more good humor regarding the intertitle that announces the name of the episode. Suffice it to say that the carpets never match the drapes.
Each outing sets the stage for "sit" that provides the "com" by putting the nefarious scheme of the week in play. This leads to a scene of Drebin delivering an interior monologue complete with predictable (but still amusing to hilarious) sight gag as he drives to the scene of the crime.
The early stages of the ensuing investigation always involve a visit to CSI lab rat Mr. Olson. His contribution to the humor of the episode begins with giving young children increasingly dark scientific experiments, include showing how cats cannot breathe underwater, and going on to give these innocents perverse homework assignments.
This leads to the end of Act One, which leads to an amusing to hilarious intertitle for Act Two. This soon leads to Drebin engaging in a shoot out with the perp. The fun wraps up with an squad-room episode in which Drebin and Hocken recap their adventure while being the only ones in the room to freeze in place.
Each episode also has Drebin visit an informant who operates a shoe shine stand. This leads to (mostly) celebrities, who soon follow Drebin to ask the stool (pun intended) pigeon absurd questions. A highlight is '70s and '80s pop psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers inquiring about "The Cinderella Complex."
Although every episode is strong, the pilot (i.e., the person who flies an airplane but that is irrelevant) is the creme de la creme. "A Substantial Gift" revolves around a bank employee who falsely pins her robbery on a not-so-innocent person. Highlights in this one include a hilarious ballistics test regarding the angle of a gunshot wound and a bit that puts the Abbott and Costello "Who's On First" routine to shame.
The aforementioned Blu-ray extras also include an amusing Gag Reel and screen tests.
Being stuck at home virtually 24/7 for a month and knowing that this is going to last at least another three weeks is turning thoughts to good options for marathon (rather than binge) viewings of television series. There may be more of these postings as more sets come to mind.
The general criteria date back to the early days of building a home-video collection that now exceeds 10,000 sets; the overall standard is that the release is of a high-quality, not-widely syndicated series.
The links in the below discussions of each set are to the Unreal TV 2.0 reviews of each release.
The fact that many of these sets are from Mill Creek Entertainment reflects the oft-stated "you've come a long way, Baby" praise for that company in this site. The MCE roots as a producer of bare-bones sets of public domain series and films is a distant memory.
The top choice for Black Plague Friday is the award-winning desert-island worthy MCE complete series Blu-ray set of the gritty FX drama "The Shield." The extraordinary quality of the packaging itself makes this one an epic Father's Day gift.
"Shield," which is a perfect companion to (reviewed) overlapping FX hit "Rescue Me," tells the tales of the men and women who wok out of "The Barn" in the inner-city Farmington (a.k.a. Farm) District of Los Angeles. As indicated above, Vic Mackey and his team are more concerned with taking gaping and bleeding bites out of crime than following either police procedures or Constitutional requirements.
On a lighter note, the MCE complete series Blu-ray set of the "Must-See" sitcom "Community" provides a chance for Human Beings who already are fans to relive the glory of this clever and not afraid to go there series by Dan Harmon of "Rick and Morty" fame. "Virgins" are in for an even bigger treat,
"Community" creator/star Chevy Chase nemesis Harmon truly hits comedy gold with the concept and the execution of "Community." The program centers around misanthropic and conceited disbarred attorney Jeff Winger (Joel McHale of "Talk Soup"). Being caught lying about his undergraduate education results in McHale experiencing what may be the only reel or real case of being sentenced to complete his education. His doing hard time at Greendale Community College sets the stage for interacting with his fellow misfit students and the comically inept faculty and staff and to contend with absurd bureaucracy.
The trifecta of MCE releases concludes with a sitcom that can be almost be considered "'Friends' After Dark" "Happy Endings."
"Endings" begins on a high note for the audience that is a low point for one of the friends around whom the series centers. Future food truckeuter Dave Rose (Zachary Knighton of "Flashforwrd") is standing at the altar with childhood friend/fiancee/failing boutique owner Alex Kerkovich (past literal cougar bait Elisha Cuthbert). The first of an almost "Community" level amount of pop culture references begin with nods to "Xanadu" and "The Graduate," A 20-something guy with an open shirt rollerblades down the aisle and turns Alex into a runaway bride.
The action aptly fastforwards a month to Dave living in the bedroom in the apartment in which gay "chubby" and slovenly college buddy Max Bloom (Adam Pally of (reviewed) "The Mindy Project") is couch surfing in his own shabby loft that has rats in the main living area and a belatedly discovered human squatter in a previously unknown attic space.
Penny Hartz (Casey Wilson of "SNL") is a childhood friend of Dave and Alex. Her dating Max in college seeming to be the highlight of her romantic history states quite a bit about this current fag hag. She and Max being the Karen and the Jack of "Endings" makes having Megan Mullally play her mother apt.
The fifth member of the sextet is Eliza Coupe of "Scrubs" 2.0 playing Alex sibling/ruthless ice queen/successful executive with an initially undisclosed profession Jane Kerkovich-Williams; the obvious joke comes late in the run of the series.
Damon Wayans, Jr. proves the truth of like father like son in his portrayal of the object of the jungle fever of Jane. His Brad Williams is almost as successful as his wife but is much more silly. His many shining moments include his role in a "Get Out" plot years that has the third Kerkovich sister engaged to a black man years before "Out" is released.
Moving onto fellow stellar home-video producer CBS Home Entertainment, the focus shifts to two sets that massively exceed expectations as to "old school" series.
The first season of the tremendous successful Jordan Peele reboot of the classic sci-fi series "The Twilight Zone" properly honors the original and far outpaces prior attempts to emulate Rod Serling.
The press materials for "Zone" expertly convey the style and the substance of this series from producer/narrator Peele, whose Oscar and Emmy bring him halfway to being an EGOT. "Originally airing from 1959 to 1964, 'The Twilight Zone' became a worldwide phenomenon as it used socially conscious storytelling to explore the human condition and culture of the times. The godfather of sci-fi series, the show explored humanity's hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in meatphoric ways that conventional dramas could not."
Not-so-fond memories of less-than-successful colorization attempts make the phenomenal CBSHE collection of colorized "I Love Lucy" episode a true wonder to behold. The classic outings in this one include ones from the Hollywood and Europe story arcs.
The CBSHE complete series DVD set of the '80s Lucy series "Life With Lucy" deserves an honorable mention because it nicely restores this rare show and allows Lucy fans to complete their home-video collection of her programs.
The only way to conclude this post is to remind fellow sofa spuds of the importance of keeping calm and carrying on.
The CBS Home Entertainment separate February 18, 2020 DVD and BD releases of S1 of the CBS All-Access original series "The Twilight Zone" proves once again that CBHE, All-Access, and this site are of the same mind; we all want to keep the Silver (and Golden) Age of Television alive in the public consciousness.
This joint effort includes recent (ongoing) (reviewed) CBSHE releases of the classic 20-season western "Gunsmoke" and (reviewed) releases of the All-Access original series "Star Trek: Discovery." One need not be a rocket scientist to predict that CBSHE will release DVD and BD sets of "Picard" S1 from All-Access this summer.
"Zone" premiering on All-Access on April 1, 2019 further proves that that streaming service pays the classics the respect to which they are entitled.
The press materials for our topic du jour expertly convey the style and the substance of this "Zone" from producer/narrator Jordan Peele, whose Oscar and Emmy bring him halfway to being an EGOT. "Originally airing from 1959 to 1964, "The Twilight Zone" became a worldwide phenomenon as it used socially conscious storytelling to explore the human condition and culture of the times. The godfather of sci-fi series, the show explored humanity's hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in meatphoric ways that conventional dramas could not."
"Point of Origin" perfectly conveys the above and shows how Team Peele keeps things fresh. Ginnifer Goodwin of "Once Upon A Time" delivers an Emmy-worthy performance as a one-percenter "Real Houswife" who stands by as her South-of-the-Border maid/nanny gets dragged off by immigration. The subsequent insult to that injury relates to the Goodwin character bragging to her fellow Stepford Wives that she tried to fend off the feds.
A portion of the rest of the story is that Goodwin finds herself caught up in the same system as her mother's little helper; in true "Zone" fashion, twists galore ensue.
We get an even stronger "Zone" vibe in "Replay." This variation of "Groundhog Day" has the black mother of an incoming college freshman use a "Warehouse 13" caliber enchanted camcorder to repeatedly turn back time to find a way to avoid a fatal encounter with a racist Virginia state trooper, The final showdown is an awesome melange of the '60s-era Civil Rights Movement and the 21st-century power of social media. The sad overall commentary is that not every segment of American society has come a long way, Baby.
The following "Zone" trailer reinforces that this is your granddady's series but that Millennials will like it as well.
S1 E1 is a variation on the Billy Mumy OS classic "It's a Good Lfe" that revolves around the Mumy character banishing anyone who offends him into "the cornfield." The update has a struggling comedian develop the power to "Wonderful Life" anyone whom he desires out of existence; of course, he goes a little power mad. The standard (but always extraordinary) episode-ending twist is straight out of the OS.
The inarguably most entertaining S1 episode also has a strong "Village of the Damned" vibe with equally heavy overtones of "The Omen" and the AWESOME 1968 cult classic "Wild in the Streets" about a post-adolescent rock star running for president with ultimately SPECTACULARLY trippy "Zone" style results. The variation in "The Wunderkind" is that John "Harold" Cho plays a George Stephanopolous clone who ends up running the presidential campaign of 11 year-old Oliver Foley (Jacob Tremblay of "Room").
The first note as to "Wunderkind" is that it reinforces that Tremblay, who shines in "Room," has a long successful career ahead of him. The second note is that the "Wild" style music-video that CBSHE includes in the copious special features is a set highlight. On a more general note, this episode is a "Zone" style fable that reminds viewers of the evils as to electing a ego-maniacal celebrity president.
Arguably, no "Zone" rebooot would be complete with a version of the William Shatner classic "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet." This time, the gremlin is inside the plane; the lesson in this one with heavy shades of "Lost" and lesser ones of "The Lord of the Flies" is that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
The season-finale is a perfect example of going out of an apt note. In the event that this is the end of the story, it concludes the series with a wonderful bang. In the event of a second season, which is the case, it leaves us wanting more.
It initially is business as usual, including Peele (per usual) stepping into the narrator shoes of Serling. Things take a meta left turn as it is revealed that Team Peele is filming a "Zone" episode. The focus then shifts to a current writer/childhood OS fan finding herself sucked into the series' titular dimension. The ONLY disappointment is that the identity of the titular Blurryman is so predictable that "Scooby" fans could deduce who is the "villain."
The aforementioned plethora of extras include behind-the-scenes features on each episode and the series itself. We also get "Remembering Rod Serling," which puts the OS in wonderful perspective.
The morale to all this is that they CAN and SHOULD make 'em like they used to.
The CBS Home Entertainment separate February 11, 2020 DVD sets of the (reviewed) S118 and S19 of "Gunsmoke" brings viewers close to the end of the trail as to this 20-season Western that is about so much more than high-noon shootouts and cattle rustlers battling sheep farmers. It is predicted that CBS will release an S20 DVD set no later than June 2020.
S19 E1 moderately departs from the standard formula of US Marshal Matt Dillon facing daunting physical (and sometimes philosophical/existential) challenges in trying to keep or restore peace in Reconstruction Era Dodge City with a little help from his friends. This entourage includes excitable quirky and illiterate deputy Festus (Ken Curtis), grizzled and caring Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), and tough but compassionate honest businesswoman saloon keeper Miss Kirty (Amanda Blake).
The first sign that we are not in Kansas anymore is the rare voice-over narration that sets the stage (no pun intended) for this "very-special" two-part episode. The exposition explains why renegade Indians, such as Union Army tunic-wearing Blue Jacket (Gregory Sierra) go off the reservation.
This ties into why these neer-do-wells drag off women either to keep for themselves or to sell to 19th-century white slavers. Dillon is on the trail of these partners-in-crime to rescue a Dodge City woman. This ultimately leads to Dillon trying to make an "honest woman" out of a cynical "saloon girl." A little girl who is along for the ride adds a "Cousin Oliver" element to the episode.
The next outing arguably jumps the shark by having Dillon, who is suffering from amnesia, falling in love with a widow (Michael Learned) when he is far from Dodge on the hunt for an outlaw (Victor French). Of course, this involves whether Dillon will hang up his gun and get hitched when his memory returns. This theme is repeated in the S19 season-finale in which Dillon does not quickly bounce back from a gunshot injury and in an S18 episode in which the former mentor (John Anderson) of Dillon now is a poverty-stricken traveling town drunk.
A Dexter Riley-era Kurt Russell guest stars in a S19 episode as a wholesome young guy whose plans for wedded bliss are detoured when his father is killed. One of many well-presented themes this time is that the adage that the man who is seeking revenge should dig two graves is especially true when a boy tries to do the job of a man.
The penultimate S19 episode is straight out of Tennessee Williams. The trouble begins when a widow (Louise Latham) with delusions of grandeur alienates her son by trying to coerce him into having more ambition as to his job as a bank clerk and regarding the "fallen woman" who is the love of his life.
Things take an actual tragic turn as to this yenta actively blocking a romance between her daughter and a nice young man in an effort to get the girl to marry the son (Parker Stevenson) of a wealthy landowner. Suffice it to say that all are wiser, but none are happier when it comes time to ride off into the sunset.
All of this demonstrates that relations largely are the same whether one lives in 19th-century Dodge City or 21st-century New York City. Family members remain relative problems; and the heart still wants what the heart wants.
'City on a Hill' DVD: Damon/Affleck Drama Starring Kevin Bacon Shows Something Rotten in Commonwealth of Mass.
The CBS Home Entertainment December 3, 2019 DVD release of S1 of the 2019 Showtime Boston-based drama series "City on a Hill" follows many grand traditions. The first relates to "Hill" fitting right in with other gritty Showtimes series such as (reviewed) "Ray Donovan" and the (also reviewed) reality-based Ben Stiller prison break joint "Escape at Dannemora."
"Hill," which is the brainchild of working-class Charlestown, MA native Chuck MacLean and Beantown notables Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is a perfect example of the large number of series and films based on the numerous true-crime scandals in this city that once was known as The Athens (aka The City on the Hill) of America.
An article pointed out years ago that a series of Lifetime movies that premiered within months of each other depicted the Boston-area stories of The Craigslist Killers, the pregnancy pact at a Gloucester, Mass. high school, and the story of stockbroker Neil Entwistle who ran for the border after killing his wife and his young daughter.
The tale of Charles Stuart, a white man who stirred up simmering racial unrest by first claiming in 1989 that a black man killed his pregnant wife and later admitted that he committed the crime is the subject of the 1990 Lifetime movie "Goodnight, Sweetheart: A Murder in Boston." The Stuart case also provides much of the context for the early '90s set "Hill."
On a more humorous note, Rhode Island native Seth MacFarlane provides relevant commentary by having his titular "Family Guy" ponder how Boston has devolved from a city of intellectuals to a community teeming with dirt bags, NOTHING conveys this new normal better than the following episode of the HILARIOUS YouTube series "The Real Housewives of South Boston."
The following clip of a "Hill" trailer highlights the strong performance of Bacon, who plays very footloose with the rules that should apply to him as an FBI agent and a father, includes refraining from exaggerating the Bahstan accent ala his peers who include Dorchastah native Mark Wahlberg. The only other note as to casting is that it seems that gruff Boston-native Denis Leary seems born to play fed Jackie Rohr.
The bonus as to the trailer is introducing the racial and gritty elements of the shot-on-location series.
As mentioned above, "Hill" occurs in the aftermath of the Stuart case. New assistant district attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) is a member of the committee that is addressing the issues related to that crime. He meets Rohr in connection with prosecuting an informant of Rohr on a charge of shooting a cop during a badly botched police raid.
Ward and Rohr each have their own (not entirely honorable) reasons for becoming strange bedfellows to crack the case of an armored car heist in which the guards go missing and are presumed dead. Ward further finds himself between two worlds when a gun fight outside a funeral that he is attending moves into the church; this results in the prey being gunned down in the aisle between the pews. The pastor being a textbook "MeToo" offender further complicate things.
For his part, Rohr finds himself having to deal with two pathetic and unrepentant informants. The teenage dirtbag who arguably already has caused Rohr much more trouble than he is worth faces street justice when he crosses the well-understood line as to robbers dealing with cops.
The personal life of Rohr clearly shows how work and home impact each other. Rohr, his long-suffering wife, and their teenage daughter live in the home of his gleefully evil and toxic mother-in-law. A storyline in which Grandma hilariously sabotages Rohr is a series highlight alongside his getting even more amusing revenge that involves a suggested late-in-life career change that involves the oldest profession in the world.
Team MacLean continues showing Boston Strong instincts by showing that the guys, who have a long history with Rohr, on the other side of the law are not much different that the G-man who is looking to bring them to justice. Adult siblings Frankie and Jimmy Ryan are like the James brothers in that they follow the philosophy that the family that robs together stays together.
Both the standard of living and overall level of marital bliss (or lack thereof ) is comparable at Chezs Ryan and Rohr.
The Ryans are two-thirds of the crew that pulls off the first robbery, follows that up with an even more successful criminal endeavour. and begin planning their third job roughly halfway through the season; anyone familiar with this type of story can predict how that goes.
The aforementioned heist sets the stage for the S1 season-ending climax as Rohr closes in and the Ryans decide that desperate times call for equivalent measures. Both sides learn the truth of the theory that every effort follows the pattern of making a plan, everything going wrong, and improvising in an effort to put right what once went wrong.
The final episode is an S1 epilogue in that all concerned deal with the fallout from their deeds an misdeeds throughout the season; a big part of this is Ward learning both that he should have trusted his instincts as to Rohr and that you cannot fight Boston CIty Hall.
The best part of the season finale (not to mention the entire S1) is that it leaves viewers hungry for more, which likely will hit Showtime in June 2020.
CBS supplements these episodes with a plethora of extras. We get behind-the-scenes looks at the first three episodes, a feature on Kyra Sedgwick (aka Mrs. Bacon) directing, and a documentary in which cast-and-crew discuss filming in Boston.
CBS Home Entertainment gives folks who do not subscribe to CBS All Access a chance to watch the subject of the massive recent buzz from the Trekverse by releasing "Star Trek: Discovery" on DVD, Blu-ray, AND Blu-ray steelbook on November 12, 2019.
The excitement relates to the Discovery crew encountering the Enterprise and Captain Christopher Pike assuming command of the former. This plays a role in a search for Spock (who may have acted out of concluding that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few).
One spoiler is that "Trek" deity Bryan Fuller exceeds all high expectations as to all the above and so much more; seeing the tech. of this show set 10 years before the OS period being so much more advanced, brighter, and bolder than that as to the exploits of Team Kirk remains mind bobbling.
The following trailer for "Discovery" S2 highlights the feature-film production values, the aforementioned OS elements, and the underlying mission that drives much of the action. This is not to mention a taste of the charm and broad appeal of everyone's favorite "Rent" boy Anthony Rapp as Lt. Commander Paul Stamets.
S2 begins with things being relatively back to normal after the S1 parallel universe adventures, conflict with the Klingons, and copious ship-board drama. Things change on receiving a distress signal from the Starfleet flagship Enterprise. Although the ensuing rendez-vous alters the execution of Pike taking charge, this ties into prior unfortunate circumstances leading to Pike being the new boss. Subsequent unfortunate circumstances lead to Pike staying in charge longer than initially anticipated.
These events set the stage for Discovery to take the lead in investigating the phenomenon of seven signals briefly appearing and heralding (pun intended) the arrival of a mysterious entity dubbed The Red Angel. Early indications, including separately finding a crashed Starfleet ship in dire need of aid and a group of humans being rescued and relocated far, far, far from home in the distant past of 2053, are that the angels provides what is needed ala the sapceship Destiny in the "Stargate: SGU" television series.
This presumed guardian also leads the crew to the especially alien homeworld of Commander Saru, who is fresh off a identity-changing incident. This trek involves both a family reunion and unvcovering a hidden historical truth.
Team Fuller expertly builds on this solid foundation by expanding on the themes of the series and the larger "Trek" lore. Much of this revolves around the relationship between Spock (who actively affirms that he likes science) and his adopted sister Discovery First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). S2 provides Burnham massive closure and related inconvenient truths. The lifting of childhood guilt that has haunted her to her present provides little solace.
Arguably the best treat revolves around the Pike lore; a sort of a homecoming awesomely ties into OS even more spectacularly than the "Trials and Tribble-ations" episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." The "previously on" episode-opening segment on this "Discovery" outing is must-see.
We also get heavy shades of "Terminator" as to Team Pike undertaking numerous "Trek" style life-threatening missions so that the universe can avoid a dark fate. These heroics involving copious amounts of time-travel and physics for dummies further elates the hearts of trekkies and trekkers alike.
The plethora of special features include two separate "Short Treks" that separately feature Saru annoyingly cheerful and flaky Ensign Sylvia "Neelix" Tilly. We also get "Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season Two," "Enter the Enterprise," and "The Red Angel."
The insufferable Tilly warrants special notice in that she reflects an element of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." That series has the almost as loathsome teen genius/Class-A dork Wesley Crusher, who provides real-life adolescent misfits of science a role model. Tilly serves the important role of inspiring awkward science geek girls to pursue their dreams despite the social cost of doing so. Like Crusher, Tilly is a valued (and surprisingly liked) member of the Discovery crew.
CBS Home Entertainment fully honors a primary purpose of physical media in releasing the complete '80scom "Life With Lucy" on October 8, 2019. DVDs are an ideal way to enjoy rarely syndicated shows; getting to discover that a program that you watched back in the day is better than remembered and deserves to be weighted due to its role in television is a bonus.. All this can be equally said about the CBSHE DVD release of the "Happy Days" spinoff "Joanie Loves Chachi." "Joanie" is on the list of posts due to be copied from Unreal TV 1.0 to this current site.
The "Life" (as well as is recalled as to "Joanie") includes unaired episodes. In this case, it is five.
The "Life" release also is notable for coming on the heels of the (reviewed) must-see CBSHE August 2019 DVD release of 16 colorized episodes of "I Love Lucy." The labor-of-love extras in both "Lucy" sets are just as much see as the main event.
IMDb perfectly provides much of the premise of "Life" by describing it as "Lucy Barker is a grandmother living with her daughter's family while constantly getting into comedic predicaments." CBSHE brings us most of the way home by stating that widowed Ma Barker "has inherited half of her husband's hardware store with his business partner Curtis McGibbon (Gale Gordon). Things take a turn for the hilarious as Barker insists on helping out in the store despite knowing nothing about the business."
The rest of the story is that Curtis is the father of the husband of daughter of Lucy. Curtis and Lucy both move in with that nuclear family (complete with two central-casting sitcom kids) in the pilot. One spoiler is that Uncle Jesse keeps his bachelor pad.
The first of copious armchair quarterbacking while writing this post on a Monday morning is that acclaimed TV veterans Gary "Mr. Ball" Morton and Aaron Spelling apparently do not follow their usually good instincts by airing the pilot before the second episode instead of running an edited version of E1 later in the season.
Seeing Ball burst onto the set a decade after wrapping up "Here's Lucy" is a treat for sofa spuds everywhere. Further, we see her and Curtis separately move into their new full house. Further, Lucy reorganizing everything in the hardware store alphabetically is classic "Lucy." This is not to mention anyone who has seen a single episode of a "Lucy" series knowing what is coming as to a comically large fire extinguisher (and a leaf blower on a counter in a later episode).
The issue is that the second episode is even stronger than the first and more fully honors the spirit of the three prior series of Ball. It is almost certain that airing that one first would have helped "Life" last more than 13 episodes.
This second outing has John Ritter follow in the steps of comedians before him who do Ball a solid by appearing on her series. In this case (as often is as to the pioneers of television), Ritter also is paying back it back as to Ball having hosted a retrospective of "Three's Company" during the run of that series.
Staying true to form, Ritter plays himself coming to the hardware store looking for a hard-to-find item. His trademark physical humor and the decades-long track record of Ball as to injuring and humiliating her special guests stars makes Ritter a goner from the start. A mention of his then young son (now TV star) Jason Ritter is a sweet moment. Another aside is that Jason is the little boy who appears with Joyce DeWitt in "Company" opening credits at the San Diego Zoo.
Lucy double downs by bringing Ritter home with her after temporarily disabling him; this leads to her accompanying him to a play rehearsal. Another series of comedic unfortunate circumstances leads to Lucy being a last-minute replacement for the actress appearing with Ritter in the live-stage production. Of course, that pair plays this to the max.
An even more special treat comes midway in the season. Audrey "Alice Kramden" Meadows of the '50s classic sitcom "The Honeymooners" guests as the sister of Lucy. Her character is much more like her critical mother-in-law on the Ted Knight "Three's Comp[any" clone "Too Close for Comfort" than she is like Alice. That is not to say that there are not many times that Lucy does not want to send Audrey to the moon during their "Life" episode.
The "sit" that drives much of the "com" in the Meadows episodes relates to the arrival of Audrey stirring up sibling rivalry. These hurt feelings relate to Audrey showing that anything that Lucy can do, she can do better as to her niece planning a renewal of her wedding vows. Of course, a frosting fight/heart-to-heart between Lucy and Audrey makes everything better; "Life" doubles down this time by doing the same by trapping Lucy and Curtis in a tree house.
Along the way, we get a couple of occasions on which accidentally overhearing a conversation leading to hurt feelings. This is not too mention a variation on a chestnut by having a guard goose corner Lucy and Curtis in the store. "Life" deserves credits for solid unexpected twists in that one.
Probably as known by many even before reading his post, "Life" is not the strongest "Lucy:" series. Seventy-five year-old Ball already had had health issues that were apparent to varying degrees in the show. Further, as one critic noted, Ball was too old and had accomplished too much to be put through what this series demanded. This relates to personal disdain in watching the "TV Land" awards opening ceremony that had stars such as Jerry Mathers, Bob Denver, and Bernie Koppell fly around Peter Pan style despite all of them at least being around 70 years old.
The final commentary is that the premise of "Life" is not absurd for Ball. However, a more apt concept would have been the one of the early '90s Britcom "Waiting for God."
"God" has a strong-willed independent woman and her more laid-back male neighbor at an assisted-living facility strive to prove that they were more vital while scheming against their Colonel Klink in the form of "that idiot Baines" who administers the facility with a penny-pinching attitude that showsa complete lack of regard for the residents.
Morton and Spelling could have gotten there first and doubled down on this by having Ball and Gordon play the leads at a facility for aging actors. Meadows and other contemporaries could have played fictionalized versions of themselves.
The aforementioned extras are a three-part "Hour Magazine" profile and "Entertainment Tonight" segments that showed that Ball was the real McGillicuddy as to television comedians.
CBS Home Entertainment aptly shows that it has absolutely no intention to get out of Dodge by separately releasing "Gunsmoke" S15 V1 and V2 on October 1, 2019. This leaves only five more seasons to go as to being able to own this series that spans the period from the '50s to the '70s.
Comparable to the love that CBSHE shows a plethora of other "TV Land" shows, such as the (reviewed) "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the (reviewed) "The Love Boat" DVD sets, this studio expertly remasters ORIGINAL BROADCAST versions of "Gunsmoke" and includes episode promos.
Of course, the (reviewed) recent CBS massive epic "Brady Bunch" 50th anniversary set deserves a very special mention. This one includes EVERY "Brady" series and films sans the variety show and the reality series.
"Gunsmoke" is a prime example of the exceptional shows on which many of us miss out due to an unwarranted prejudice against westerns, The ignorant aspect of ignoramous fully applies to folks, which includes your previously unenlightened reviewer, who write off these dramas as not much more than excuses for saloon fights and high noon showdowns.
Much of the entertainment relates to comic relief part-time deputy Festus Haggen, who clearly is the Bany Fife to Marshal Matt Dillion. Dillion amusingly getting out of Dodge for several episodes allows his right-hand man to take the lead as to maintaining law and order.
The "Andy Griffith Show" vibe extends to a coming-of-age S15 episode in which Ron "Opie" Howard plays a teen boy coming to grips with his relationship with the indian woman who is the second wife of his father. The catalyst for this drama truly is a case of my boyfriend's back, and there's gonna be trouble.
Howard also is connected to "Gunsmoke" in that setting the series in the Old West reflects the wisdom of "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall recognizes that setting a '70scom in the '50s and the '60s prevents it from ever looking dated.
Of the 14 episodes watched for this post, there was only one showdown. That one was an element of an old west mashup of the Hatfields and the McCoys. This time, the offspring of two feuding families in Dodge City planning to get hitched coincides with the arrival of a man who has gun, will travel.
The rest of this story is that an assumption as to who is going to be the newest resident of Boot Hill leads to twist that takes the episode in a new direction. All of us can relate to someone faster and overall better threatening our way of life.
We also get a still relevant life lesson in an episode in which three prisoners come to Dodge to work as as an alternative to remaining a guest of the territorial governor. Two end on the farm of a couple that seem to be Quakers. and the third gets his last-minute second-chance at the Long Branch saloon run by Miss. Kitty. The ensuing rehabilitation efforts show that some men can be saved and that others are irreparably born bad.
We further get social commentary in an episode in which an indian scout in both senses of that word makes a valiant effort at a mother and child reunion while on a mission from Grant. This surprisingly
candid adventure relates to the brutality that the woman experienced while being held captive by the tribe of her offspring.
One of the more intriguing episodes is a "what if" outing, Dillon is summoned to intervene in a kangaroo court murder trial occurring in a town that is a bizarro version of Dodge. The buildings and many of the townfoks are virtually the same. The primary difference is that the absence of a dedicated lawman such as Dillon allows a rich widow to run the community with an iron fist. Her comeuppance awesomely is a mix of frontier and poetic justice,
A more universal theme is that an actual or assumed stranger comes to Dodge City with a chip (but not a Chippewa) on his shoulder. This new kid in town may be gunning for Dillion based on their personal history, seeking vengeance against a former partner-in-crime who shows that there is no honor among thieves, or merely is there to deal with a family issue, One of the latter involves a scheme to compensate for a lack of alimony before heading for the border.
The only fitting way to conclude this tribute that easily could be of epic length to this timeless classic is to state "I told you so." The value of "Gunsmoke" clearly extends well beyond the stereotypes of its genre.
The CBS Home Entertainment September 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018-19 S5 of the CBS drama series "Madam Secretary" lets current and new fans alike catch up on this ripped-from-the-headlines series ahead of the October, 6, 2019 premiere of the sixth and final season. That one is set in the not-too-distant future of two years from where S5 ends. A big change is that titular Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni of the tabloid-based sitcom "The Naked Truth") has left her corner office for one that lacks any right angles.
Watching these episodes of this femalecentric series just ahead of diving into the CBSHE DVDs of "Gunsmoke" S15 for a post next week is a good reminder of the cost of judging a series by its cover. Only getting into Westerns in the past five years has prompted regret as to missing out on the compelling storylines that classics like "Gunsmoke" provide for so long. "Secretary" and the (reviewed) "Good Fight" show that soccer moms and cat ladies have good taste in television dramas.
Both "Fight" and "Secretary" present entertaining cerebral tales on topics that should greatly concern all of us. In the case of "Fight," we witness the grimy underbelly of out legal system in the context of "this filthy world" in which dirty politics rule the day. in "Secretary," we see fictional Hillary Clinton (who makes a cameo with two of her real-life predecessors) Elizabeth McCord try to avoid strong-arm diplomacy at the same time that she often must do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason.
The support system of Elizabeth includes spouse/former Marine/former CIA operative/former religious scholar/current presidential advisor Henry McCord (Tim Daly of "Wings"). She also has a diverse quirky staff of wonks who all bring things of value to the table in their own neurotic or otherwise odd ways.
The constant ripped-from-the-headlines vibe begins with a twofer in the season premiere. Elizabeth is trying to get India and Pakistan to enter a treaty at the same time that domestic terrorists that want to make America great again pull off a major attack that creates significant physical and national psyche damage. The international element of this both is not surprising and pops up in other ways throughout the season.
We also see Elizabeth doing her best to be diplomatic regarding overseas sweatshop labor, a magnificent gift that will require hardship-inducing upkeep, a regime change that seems sure to erupt into war, etc. The issue of legalization of marijuana both provides some of the best humor of the season and shows how it can aid good international relations.
A two-episode story that hits almost as close to home as the aforementioned attack is the issue of indefinitely detaining the children of illegal immigrants separate from their parents. This one sees Elizabeth taking an especially strong stand. The bonus is an interesting debate on the issue of states' rights.
"Secretary" creator/writer Barbara Hall skillfully pulls this off by keeping an even keel. No one really gets worked up in even the most tense moments, and we are spared piercing looks and overly dramatic moments.
We merely see people in a world that is otherwise closed off to most of us doing the job for which their natural intelligence, formal education, and extensive on-the-job learning has prepared them. The sad part is that their current real-life counterparts do not follow their example.
The bonus features consist of several deleted scenes.
The CBS Home Entertainment Sept. 24, 2019 2-disc Blu-ray release of the epic 1978 NBC mini-series "Holocaust" reminds us of the worst of times at the best of times for that message. Related principles of those who are dedicated to any society not descending so low as Nazi Germany are to preserve materials that document that era and to educate the general population to "never forget" so that we do not have to endure the lesson that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
The numerous accolades of the saga of two families for which the persecution of the Jews is a form of a civil war include the Emmy for Best Limited Series and the one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. Michael Moriarty earns the latter for portraying Nazi officer Erik Dorf, who joins the party without fully having the fortitude for his role.
Our story begins at the mildly strained 1935 mixed-marriage wedding of commercial artist Jewish man Karl Weiss (James Woods) to Christian woman Inga Helms (Meryl Streep). Father Dr. Josef Weiss (Fritz Weaver) is a general practitioner, whose patient roster includes the wife of then-unemployed attorney Dorf.
Younger brother Rudi Weiss (Joseph Bottoms) is a typical apolitical young guy; 16 year-old sister Anna (Blanche Baker) is a sweet girl who enjoys playing the piano,
Increasingly restrictive laws reflect heightening tensions between the Hitler government and Jewish Germans during the next several years. The lesson for the Weiss family during this period is that they should have gotten out while the getting was good. For his part, Dorf learns that party membership is critical to gainful employment and that any advancement depends on being a good soldier.
Dorf proves that he is an apt pupil by playing a leading role in Kristallnacht, which is one of a few dates that will live in infamy. This semi-organized rioting against Jewish people, their homes, and their businesses is the wake-up call for members of that group who are not already woke.
This is the period in which Josef is sent to live in the Warsaw ghetto, Carl is arrested and sent to a concentration camp for having married a Jewish woman, and Dorf becomes a fair-haired boy in the eyes of his "superiors." Meanwhile, Rudi is making a run for the border and a horrific experience for Anna leads to an even worse fate that is sadly common in that country during that period,
The importance of having to go along to get along incredibly escalates during the war years. Weiss father and son (not to mention daughter-in-law) pay higher and higher prices for sticking to (and acting on) their beliefs. Meanwhile, Jewish people and others who actively collaborate are rewarded.
The immediate period after the war finds the surviving Weisses (and Dorf) where they should be, The most unrealistic aspect of this is that they are able to move on after enduring what arguably can be considered the closest that we can get to literally Hell on earth.
Of course, this topic requires closing thoughts. The need to recognize that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda relates to it being critical to fully think about the bill of good that political leaders on both sides are selling you. Further, PLEASE remember that enough voters writing in "None of the Above" if you do not like either candidate makes more of a statement that not voting at all or writing in a joke candidate.
The first brief example of this is the ample and common sense evidence that "the wall" will not be effective as to stopping Mexican people from illegally entering the US. It is equally obvious that American consumers ultimately will bear the burden of Chinese tariffs.
On the other side of the aisle, a Great Society in which all get free healthcare and have incomes that allow living at least a little large sounds very good. The harsh reality is that the "have-nots" that this facially will benefit the most ultimately will foot the bill; higher taxes inevitably lead to lower employment and/or higher prices.
The quantum of solace as to the CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of the seventh and final season of The Tiffany Network procedural "Elementary" is that it seems that incarnations of dynamic duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are even more immortal than the fictional Victorian Era pioneering consulting detective and his colleague, It is logical to deduce that another film or television series featuring the exploits of those 19th-century gumshoes will be released in the not-to-distant future.
The highly entertaining and clever "Elementary" can be considered an even more neo-modern version of the Arthur Conan Doyle creations than the excellent BBC series "Sherlock."
The "Elementary" updates include transforming Dr. John Watson into Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). In addition, this sidekick who traditionally is a roomie turned partner-in-crime solving is now a sober companion turned apprentice turned full-fledged crime-solving partner to recovering addict Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller). For his part, Holmes is outwardly more dark and damaged than his previous versions. Moving the action from London to New York City is another major change in the Holmesian style,
"Elementary" creator Robert Doherty takes similar awesome liberties with other elements of Holmesian lore while staying true to the spirit of the source material.
In typical procedural style, S7 picks up in the wake of the S6 cliffhanger. A "send him back" sentiment results in Watson now being the stranger in a strange land when she and Holmes become neighbors at 221A and 221B Baker Street in London. They also get a sense of new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss on offering Scotland Yard the same consulting detective services that they had been providing the NYPD.
The shooting of NYPD Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) sets the underlying S7 action in motion. This begins with Holmes sneaking back in to the US to solve that crime. Stating that the agreement that Holmes subsequently enters to regain his legal status here is a deal with the devil is not far from the truth.
Discovering whodunit is only the beginning of the story; learning why he dunit ties into the aforementioned larger picture. Holmesphiles easily recognize the significance of Mark Zuckerberg fictional counterpart Odin Reichenbach (James Franin) the arch-nemesis of the final season. Yes, Reichenbach does cause Holmes to take a fall.
This unifying element is that literally evil genius Reichenbach is using his access to the online activity of virtually the entire population of the "civilized" world to (ala the Tom Cruise film "Minority Report") target what Reichenbach considers highly probable imminent killers of innocents. This includes a young guy who is planning to McVeigh a ferry.
The rest of this prologue to our story is that Reichenbach keeps his hands relatively clean by radicalizing traumatized "innocents" to do his dirty work. An example is a teacher who has survived a school shooting.
Holmes soon figuring out the scheme does him limited good; like all foes who have presented our hero with a real challenge for roughly 150 years, Reichenbach is just as much of a chess master as his foe.
This plays a hand in several cases, such as an early one in which the stabbing of a runner leads to uncovering a well-planned plot to take out someone on the blacklist of Reichenbach.
The inevitable showdown (with the predictable outcome) between Reichenbach and Holmes comes in the penultimate episode of the series; those who know the lore best are not ready to declare game over.
The series finale nicely delivers on several levels. We see Little Joan happy at last with a state-of-the-art existence that includes both professional and personal contentment. A blast-from-the-past in the form of Watson getting a gift for Holmes from foe Jamie Moriarity followed by the messenger essentially getting shot sets the stage for the final intrigue and the last chance for those who are left standing whom we have come to know and love over seven years to live happily ever after.
This discussion of the finale sets the stage for one more logical deduction in the form of the showrunners knowing that Hell has no fury like a fan scorned as to an unsatisfactory series conclusion.
The voice of experience requires advising folks who are skeptical about the CBS All Access streaming service "The Good Fight" to check your prejudices regarding "parent" series "The Good Wife" at the door. The wit and wisdom of "Fight" further suggests that those of us guilty of labeling "Wife" as a "scoccer mom series" without ever watching it may pay for judging Amy by her cover.
The draw for many of us doubting Clarence Thomases is '90s CBS sitcom "Cybill" star Christine Baranski (Maryann Thorpe) starring in "Fight." It is almost guaranteed that fans of that absolutely fabulous hard-drinking scorned first wife still revel in chances to spit out "Doctor Dick" more than 20 years after the broadcast of the unresolved "Cybill" series-ending cliffhanger.
The rest of this story is liking, really liking a series that leaves expectations in the dust makes that program even more enjoyable than one that is approached with a more positive 'tude.
The CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of "Fight" S3 provides a good chance for the aforementioned enlightenment. The equally good news is that a recap at the start of the season premiere and exposition throughout the series allows legal eaglets to follow the action.
The following Access trailer for "Fight" S3 reinforces that this unique series has a special voice and stylized look. You also will see a few familiar faces in addition to Baranski; those usual suspects are only the tip of the iceberg as to the lives of the "Titanic" passengers whose lives and loves provide ample fodder.
An online description that seems to come from CBS.com provides a good primer on "Fight." That synopsis states the following.
"The CBS All Access series picks up one year after the events in the final episode of 'The Good Wife.' After a financial scam destroys the reputation of young lawyer Maia Rindell and wipes out her mentor and godmother Diane Lockhart's [Baranski] savings, the two are forced out of Lockhart & Lee and join forces with Lucca Quinn at one of Chicago's pre-eminent law firms. At Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, Diane finds familiar faces, including Colin Morrello, who is a rising star in the state's attorney's office, and Marissa Gold. Though starting at the bottom, Diane and Maia are determined to rebuild their careers and lives at the new firm."
Show runners Robert and Michelle King avoid a single dull moment in any of the 10 S3 episodes. The animated "Schoolhouse Rocks" segments aptly titled "The Good Fight Shorts" enhance the entertainment value. The first one titled "NDA" is a song (but not dance) number about legally binding contracts known as "non-disclosure agreements" that prevent someone from divulging cover information about the person who is paying the hush money.
The firm partners trying to get a secretary with a dirty little secret to not ruin the posthumous reputation of her boss/civil rights icon prompts the short, Meanwhile back at the ranch, an NDA drives a wedge between highly liberal Diane and her conservative husband Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole). A Dick Cheney element of this makes it highly entertaining.
A second element that drives much of the S3 action enters in the second episode in the form of rude, crude, and not-at-all socially acceptable sole practitioner Roland Blum (Michael Sheen), who makes Al Pacino seem like Shirley Temple. This legal lizard gets his foot in the door by representing the co-defendant of a man who is being jointly tried with a man whom Maia is defending against a murder charge.
This emboldens Blum to make himself an odd (and highly unwelcome) bedfellow of the partners in a multi-million-dollar class-action lawsuit. This leads to an offer that is too good to refuse that requires bringing Blum a temporary full-time fixture at the firm.
Maia making the mistake of f**king with Blum, who has attended several rodeos, sets off a chain of events that derails her career. This, in turn, teaches the "suits" that Hell hath no fury like an attorney scorned.
Meanwhile, a promotion and a leaked salary list ignite smoldering fires as to perceptions of racial and gender inequities at the firm. Hilarity is the best thing that ensues from resulting efforts at sensitivity training and other "reforms."
We also an extreme effort to convince new head of the matrimonial department/new single mother Lucca Quinn (Cush Gumbo) that Melania Trump is consulting her as a prelude to getting a divorce, The truth awesomely reflects a desperate measure in a desperate time even before the recent initiation of a proceeding to divorce the country from the president.
When not having a hand to a varying extent in all this (as well as other firm-related) trauma and drama, Diane divides her time between throwing axes in a bar and plotting with a secret group of fellow female executives who are fighting covertly planted fake news with more of the same. This is not to mention an effort to hack a voting machine to offset election interference.
Aside from this "hobby" often overlapping in not good ways with the work of Diane, the S3 cliffhanger suggests that she and Kurt are going to be on the receiving end of poetic justice.
CBS supplements this with deleted scenes and a gag reel.
This opening argument for adding "Fight" to you DVD library warrants a summary judgment without allowing the "cons" their day in court.
CBS Home Entertainment continues to prove itself to be a leading citizen of TV Land by releasing the epic 31-disc "Brady Bunch: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection" on June 4, 2019. This coincides with CBS separately releasing V1 and V2 of S3 of the classic '60scom "My Three Sons." The CBS section of this site includes posts on other beloved sitcoms, such as "The Love Boat" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," in the catalog of that company.
The almost universal familiarity with "Brady" OS, which presumably is universal among folks with enough interest in the titular blended clan to read this article, is behind a decision to skip much of the typical exposition as to these posts and addresses many of the elephants in the room regarding this release,
As a starting point, this set includes every "unreal" "Brady" series with the exception of the 1976-77 ABC Friday night series "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour" that shows the titutlar family both hosting that titular program (complete with synchronized swimmers) and living their daily lives. Of course, the Nelson video library includes the now-discontinued 2000 DVD with a few episodes of that series.
The OS discs in "Collection" seems to be the same as the ones in prior DVD releases of that series. Personal history here is both buying the groovy shag-carpet CS set of "Bunch" and purchasing a replacement set when a basement flood ruins the first one. A word to the wise as to folks looking for the discontinued shag set is that third-party sellers tend to be not be very trustworthy as to delivering undamaged goods.
This brings us to the wonderfully odd 1972-73 Saturday morning cartoon "The Brady Kids" from an era in which virtually every kidcom has an animated series. This one has the titular youths (sans the 'rents and Alice) having adventures that often relate to the magic of myna bird Merlin (voiced by Larry Storch of "F Troop") going awry. These episodes also feature trippy animated music videos by The Brady Six,
Yes, your not-so-humble reviewer has the (seemingly discontinued) CS DVD set of "Kids." The same is true as to the two big-screen '90s "Brady" movies and the made-for-TV movie "The Brady Bunch in the White House." "Collection" includes all these productions.
"Collection" also has the gleefully "behind-the-scenes" 2000 made-for-TV movie "Growing Up Brady" based on the memoir of the same name by Barry "Greg" Williams. A special surprise guest at the very end is one of many highlights this time. The DVD of this one slipped through the cracks as to buying it before it was discontinued,
"Collection" breaks new ground by including the made-for-TV movie "The Brady Girls Get Married," which is the pilot for the 1981 sitcom spin-off "The Brady Brides." That series centers around newlyweds laid-back Marsha and her goofy husband Wally sharing a house that often is too close for comfort with equally newly wed uptight Jan and her blue-blood spouse Phillip.
The first note regarding this movie and series is that there are false online reports regarding them. "Married" is presented in its original format as a film, rather than as a series of "Brides" episodes have some have asserted.
These same haters have claimed that the picture quality of "Brides" is abysmal; it looks perfectly fine and is at least as good as standard-def DVD releases of shows from the same era.
The shag-carpet set includes the 1988 made-for-TV dramedy "A Very Brady Christmas," which finds all six kids, the grandkids, and assorted in-laws and common-law-in-laws returning to the iconic abode for the holidays. A common theme is that each kid (and Dad) has a secret shame that (of course) is resolved by the end of the film.
Only "Collection" includes the 1990 CBS Friday night dramedy "The Bradys" for which "Christmas" is a pilot. The brief discussion of this one channels the corny insights of family patriarch Mike Brady. Highly relevant real-life wisdom from a member of the greatest generation is "little people, little problems; big people, big problems."
An aspect of all this is understandable ill-will regarding facing either repurchasing previously released "Brady" fare or forgoing adding the new-to-DVD stuff to your home-video collection until and unless CBS releases or re-releases missing links. The rest of this story is that the $85 IPO price is very fair for all the content but arguably a little steep for Bradyphiles who already own many of the series and films..
Fortunately, having a little patience pays off. I jam very glad that I umped on a deal to buy "Collection" for $45 roughly a month after the release. The current standard price seems to be roughly $50, which is a reasonable price to pay for completing a"Brady" video library,
The epilogue to all this is that every "Brady" incarnation is amusingly dated; however, the guilty pleasure goofy antics and consistent message of peace, love, and understanding is timeless.
The CBS Home Entertainment August 20, 2019 DVD releases of "NCIS: New Orleans" S5 shows that that entry in that 16-year franchise is going strong. This release coming one month after the (reviewed) CBSHE DVD release of S15 of the still equally strong series "Criminal Minds" provides procedurals fans plenty to watch before the season premieres of each series in a few weeks,
The press materials for "New Orleans" S15 describe the twist in this one as that the close-knit group of quirky law-enforcement experts operate a"field office that investigates criminal cases involving military personnel" in the titular city. That city, which is one of the most unique (and has experienced one of the worst natural disasters) in America literally and figuratively adds wonderful color to this shot-on-location series.
"Quantum Leap" and "Star Trek: Enterprise" veteran (and real-life righteous dude) Scott Bakula is perfectly cast as soft-spoken all-American boy team leader Dwayne Pride. The always off-beat CCH Pounder does equally well in her role as coroner/mother hen Dr. Loretta Wade. We also get real-life spinal-cord injury survivor Darryl "Chill" Mitchell adding good energy as wheelchair-bound Patton Plame, whom the press materials aptly describe as "an animated and talented hacker."
The casting of Mitchell provides a good opening to mention "Cosby Show" veteran Geoffrey Owens having a cameo as a Naval doctor. This casting follows a real-life attempt to shame Owens by posting a photo of him working at Trader Joe's on the Internet. Rather than making Owens a national laughing stock, it revitalizes his acting career.
A variation of the "Cousin Oliver" tactic comes in the form of drafting Pride, who finds copious justifications to remain active in the field, for a desk job, This promotion leads to bringing in Hannah Zoury (Necar Zadeghan). She adds diversity that extends beyond bringing what hilariously tough-and-gruff Tammy Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) describes as balancing the boy girl ratio on the team.
The action picks up in the immediate wake of what should have been a fatal shooting of Pride by a highly skilled (and equally determined) assassin. Our heroes split up to simultaneously try to capture that armed and dangerous foe and pull off the trick of keeping the boss out of her hands while still giving him desperately needed medical care. These outings in any series in which the prey is just as skilled and tough as the hunters are always fan favorites.
For his part, Pride is having an outer-body experience that is reminiscent of "Leap" and "Enterprise." A woman from his past is urging him to go toward the light, while he rages, rages against doing so. In the end, he decides that his time on earth is not over.
This turn-of-events leads to a Pride becoming the boy with something extra in that having premonitions and reliving memories helps him put right what once went wrong. This also ties into the voodoo aspect of New Orleans culture. The icing on the cake is Pride conversing with a colleague who essentially is a hologram.
As the charming DVD special feature "King Cake" states regarding the 100th episode, the new talent of Pride comes in particularly handy in that outing. We also share the frustration of Bakula as to his reminding us that "Leap" and "Enterprise" fall just short of the century mark.
This aptly titled adventure "In the Blood" goes even further than the usual ones that are personal, The tie-in of a meet gone fatally wrong is that the crime-scene evidence includes a Hardy Boys novel from the library of a young Pride ala a possession of "Johnny Archer" showing up in an "Enterprise" episode.
This quickly leads to a reunion with ex-con and largely estranged father Cassius Pride ("New Orleans" semi-regular Stacy Keach). This turn shifts the focus to a frigid cold case involving a casino robbery. Another twist introduces a new character who becomes a reoccurring addition to the series.
Hannah shines in the especially clever "Sheepdog" episode. She is pitted against an extreme student activist who is anything but radical. This one reunites Pride with an old friend who is a college professor whose message of peaceful protest does not sit well with the primary villain of the week. The old ticking time bomb aspect adds more drama and prompts an awesomely creative solution.
A lighter and more fun "The Spy Who May Have Loved Me" episode gives awkward genius Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich) a chance to shine. He bonds with a clever and deadly MI6 agent, who may simply see him as an adorkable means to an end. Their cat-and-mouse game that continues right to the end provides plenty of solid entertainment.
All of this culminates in an epic two-part season finale with shades of the S4 season finale. This centers around Team Pride that somehow forms a family taking their variation of a trip to Hawaii. They go far overseas to try to rescue a kidnapped FBI agent and of course find themselves in grave danger.
CBS builds on the fun of "King Cake" with a plethora of other special features. We get the cast and crew discussing S5 and a few similar treats. The icing on these pecan rolls are the pilots of "SEAL: Team" and even more aptly of "Star Trek: Discovery."
The debriefing regarding this release that does well by this strong addition to the "NCIS" franchise, which in turn does "father" "JAG" proud, is that cast and crew know what people who like quality procedurals with a "hook" want and deliver it. I garontee it.
CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment mark the 108th anniversary of the birth of Lucille Ball by giving her fans (i.e., everyone) a present in the form of the August 13, 2019 2-disc DVD release "I Love Lucy: Colorized Collection." Attendees of the August 6, 2019 (actual birth anniversary) Fathom event ain't seen everything yet. The DVD set adds 11 episodes to the 5 in the theatrical presentation.
Both formats include the MUST-SEE 25-minute feature "Redhead Tales" on the advanced techniques and source materials used to colorize "Lucy;" the DVD goes on provide other bonuses that include a colorized skit in which all four stars sing "Jingle Bells" and a related animated commercial for series sponsor Philip Morris cigarettes. An amusing aspect of the latter is one of the colorized episodes has a scene in which Ricky has a pack of cigarettes tucked in BOTH of his rolled-up sleeeves. Yes, Arnaz does die of lung cancer.
The first aside in this tribute to this true collectible set is that CBS Home Entertainment is continuing its love of Lucy by releasing the complete series of her '80scom "Life With Lucy" (co-starring Gale Gordon) on October 9. 2019. An episode in which John Ritter fully embraces his charming accident-prone persona in playing himself is a series highlight and repays Ball for hosting a "Three's Company" retrospective.
"Life," which of course will be reviewed on this site, differs from the other three Lucy series in two significant ways. The most obvious one is that the earlier shows aired on CBS, and "Life" was an ABC program.
The less apparent difference is that the portrayor of Lucy Ricardo, Lucy Carmichael., and Lucy Carter considered "car" to be a good luck charm. Her wacky grandma character Lucy Barker in "Life" deviating from the pattern may have been a factor regarding that series not running as long as the others.
Returning to our primary topic, the controversy regarding colorization is easy to resolve. This technique, which has come a long way since its 16-color analog origin in the '80s, allows folks who are ok with it to see old favorites in a literally (and arguably enhanced) new light. No one is coercing purists to buy these new versions; it just comes down to a "paper or plastic" choice.
The most important thing to consider regarding "Lucy" specifically is that fully pleasing anyone is impossible as to a show that it so near and dear to the hearts and minds of generations of Americans.
There always will be people who will be unhappy with the quality of this SPECTACULAR digital colorization or with choosing one color or tone over another option. A subjectively valid point regarding this is that the trademark red hair of Lucy does seem unduly bright and orange. Other than that, the colors seem awesome, and the images are incredibly clear. A few seconds of patience is required while your player adjusts the image at the start of each episode,
The other inevitable bone of contention is the selection of the episodes, many of which appear in less enhanced versions as modern CBS network special presentations. All of the acknowledged classics are here and are supplemented with some that merely are hilarious,
Subjective criticism here is fractionally stronger than regarding the colorization. The inclusion of "Pioneer Women," "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," "Job Switching," "Harpo Marx," and "Lucy's Italian Movie" all are mandatory. The two-part "Lucy Visits Grauman's" and "Lucy and John Wayne" are among the subjectively valid inclusions.
It seems that "Bonus Bucks" in which the Ricardos and the Mertzes quarrel over ownership of a prize is merely a typical episode; as much as this seems to be heresy, "Lucy Goes to Scotland" is a bit too silly and somewhat boring to warrant "Top 16" status.
Further, having 7 of the 16 episodes set in Hollywood seems to be heavily weighted regarding those episodes (especially considering that no Florida or Connecticut episodes are represented) as opposed to the others. All of this leads to expressing disappointment that a personal favorite is not included.
A Connecticut episode in which Lucy must bring a flock of baby chicks inside her house and then act like a literal mother hen to herd them is exceptionally cute and funny. The regular series finale in which Lucy breaks a statue and puts herself on a well-deserved pedestal to replace it is a viable contender for colorization.
The most apt way to wrap up these thoughts on this release is to share two comments from "Redhead." CBS Home Entertainment "suit" Ken Ross discusses the history of colorizing "Lucy." His comment regarding the goals of these episodes including introducing a new generation of fans to the series perfectly mirrors the oft-mentioned mission statement of this site (nee Unreal TV) that it exists so that Lucy Ricardo and Ralph Kramden remain in the public consciousness.
A 38 year-old man who worked on colorizing the episodes shared the perspective that he first became aware of Lucy through copious media reports of her death in 1989. He added that he became a fan through his work on the episodes.
Another way of looking at this is that it is not true that everyone loves Raymond or hates Chris, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone does not love Lucy,
The CBS Home Entertainment April 16, 2019 DVD release of the seven-episode Showtime limited-series "Escape at Dannemora" can be considered the real-life equivalent of the Fox drama "Prison Break." The release coming a week after the CBS (reviewed) release of the sixth season of the "Sopranos" like drama "Ray Donovan" indicates the talent of the Showtime suits for knowing a good dramatic story when they see it.
This joint by executive producer/director Ben Stiller chronicles every stage of convicted murderers Richard Matt (Benicio Del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano) going from stir crazy to busting loose from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in the titular upstate New York town.
An intriguing aspect of "Dannemora" is the prominent role of prison employee Joyce "Tilly" Mitchell in the 2015 break. Patricia Arquette goes from a medium to a large to play this simple-minded Canadian, who pays a heavy price "to get a nut." The superb job of Arquette scores her a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, and a Critics' Choice Award.
The following clip of "Dannemora" trailer highlights the talent of Arquette and the chops of her company. It also provides a taste of the extensive soundtrack that indicates that Stiller has good taste in music.
Our story fully gets underway in the aftermath of Matt and Sweat making a run for the northern border. NY Inspector General Catherine Scott (Bonnie Hunt) is grilling Mitchell, who now is a guest of the state, about her role in the event. Much of the entertainment relates to clearly seeing both that Mitchell is her own worst enemy and that she is not the mastermind of the plot.
We then flashback to Mitchell working as the supervisor of the prison tailor shop; Sweat is her shop foreman/not-so-secret lover. Clearly equally dim-witted second husband/fellow employee Lyle Mitchell stands by his woman despite multiple credible reports of her frequent working-hours coitus with Sweat in a side room of the shop.
Sweat losing his sweet job and experiencing the prison equivalent of downsizing regarding his housing sets things in motion. Matt COMPLETELY fills the void in the shop and puts the escape plan in motion. The manner in which he does both shows who';s the boss.
The plot thickens as Matt seduces Mitchell into initially inadvertently and subsequently knowingly aiding and abetting the great escape. This begins with tricking her into providing a necessary tool and escalates to recruiting her to he a full-fledged moll. Much of the entertainment of this is watching Del Toro expertly playing a master manipulator. His persuasion includes painting an image of a paradise in which Mitchell has both Matt and Sweat essentially as her love slaves.
The next portion of "Dannemora" involves Sweat aptly contributing sweat equity to the venture. Matt is doing his part by ensuring that Mitchell is remaining with the program by filling her head with images of her prisoners of love making her life a paradise on earth.
One of the final episodes is a flashback that shows how our members of the devil's love triangle come to be in their current states of literal or figurative incarceration. We witness the crimes for which Matt and Sweat are doing the time and see how history is repeating itself in the case of Mitchell.
This leads to the lukewarm pursuit of the boys as their not-so-Bonnie accomplice deals with being left behind and with facing contending with the possible consequences of her actions. Suffice it to say that being a band on the run takes individual and group tolls on our fugitives.
Stiller nicely wraps things up by depicting the results of the manhunt and providing the standard "where are they now" updates at the end of the final episode. Putting very human faces on these members of "America's Most Wanted" adds an interesting perspective and makes the audience both wanting to learn more and to to see an "after Dannemora" series.
CBS bats .500 regarding the desire for more. A DVD extra is a combination "making of" and real-story special feature. We get footage related to the source material and see interviews with some of the real life cops and cons whom Stiller hires to ensures that his story is authentic. A particularly amusing story by a former Clinton guard is finding himself filming scenes with ex-cons whom he guarded back in the day. A "bygones" attitude by everyone helps maintain the peace.
The other feature is more like a page out of the Fox "Break." This extend anatomy of a scene shows all of the work and the multiple locations associated with the epic scene of the extended escape route. One spoiler is that this does not rise to the level of foulness in the "Shawshank" escape.
The bottom line is there is something about the Focker that makes "Dannemora" that easily passes the "one more" test of this movie that shows the extent to which reality bites for our central trio.
OThe CBS Home Entertainment April 9, 2019 S6 DVD release of the Showtime drama series "Ray Donovan" provides a relatively seamless good chance to catch up on all action (not to mention the trauma and drama) before the S7 premiere this year.
The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN trailer for the sixth season of this premium-cable show about titular fixer/blue-collar Boston native (Liev Schreiber) illustrates how dramatically the themes and the tones of this series have changed. What begins as a fairly light-hearted drama set in Hollywood now is gritty noir in New York. The symbolism of the descent (with a touch of redemption) into Hell is on the surface.
The incident that drives much of the S6 action occurs very early in the season premiere. A highly despondent Ray takes what he considers a leap-of-faith and that the rest of the world deems a desperate act. This leads to the start of a beautiful friendship with NYPD cop Sean "Mac" McGrath.
This pair first bond over having the same reasons to despair and soon learn of the mutual benefits that each can provide the other. This relationship ultimately requires that Mac make hard choices regarding his divided loyalty between his brothers-in-blue and his brother from another mother.
Ray largely is out of the game when ruthless media mogul Sam Winslow (Susan Sarandon) pulls him back in. A promised large return on her investment is prompting Sam to put the power-of-her-press behind mayoral candidate Anita Novak.
Anita putting her trust in the wrong man prompts Sam to recruit Ray to avoid "Gigologate" derailing the campaign. This escalates into a situation that Ray has putting his "cleaning" skills to use. This development also allows for a "two birds, one stone" opportunity to help Mac out of a tight spot.
Meanwhile, Ray's 20 year-old daughter Bridget is a New York college student shacking up with handsome and charming Jake Smith. The drama here begins with Bridget striving to break free from continuing to feel the impact of the fallout from the take no prisoners approach of the business of her father. Her subsequently becoming a bargaining chip in a high-stakes standoff proves that her instincts are correct.
Meanwhile, initially naive younger child Connor now is all grown up. This rookie Marine spends a few days in New York before headed to the Germany assignment that makes him a real-live jarhead. This is despite a Donovan curse that affects the men of the family who enlist in the military.
Father Mickey Donovan (Jon Voight) initially is not an active concern for his son, who otherwise must watch his back in this regard. The "Donovan" pilot finds Mickey ending a 20-year unfortunate incarceration only to immediately commence a campaign of revenge. This pattern continues in S6 regarding another form of early release from a stay as a guest of the state.
We also see Ray once again disregarding the lesson that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Our anti-hero hires a contractor to take care of family business only to get another reminder that doing something right requires doing it yourself. He further is once more schooled regarding the concept that Hell hath no fury like a parent scorned.
The reason that all this (and even more) seems familiar is that it is very reminiscent of "The Sopranos" on fellow premium network HBO. Mobster Tony Soprano spends most of the series struggling to keep his work and home life separate. He, like Ray, additionally is trying to overcome a traumatic childhood and an incredibly toxic parent. This is not to mention both men becoming so tortured that they seek psychiatric counseling despite having spent their whole lives in a "boys don't cry" environment.
The similarities also extend to the S6 setting of "Donovan" essentially being the home turf of "Sopranos." The homage continues with the ambiguous "Donovan" season finale evoking strong thoughts of the "Sopranos" season finale.
The good folks at CBS Home Entertainment go even more old-school regarding one DVD special-feature. "Ray Donovan: Inside New York City" is variation of a pop-up video. We get looks at some of the on-screen locations with pop-ups that provide information about those New York locales.
The press materials for "Donovan" do a great job describing the other special feature. This synopsis of "Rise, Rebuild, Reclamation" states "sit down with showrunner David Hollander as he discusses rebuilding Ray's emotional and physical self in a new city with new relationships and new complications with his family." We also hear from the mouth of the equine and get several clips regarding this,
CBS Home Entertainment honors the spirit of "sweeps" with the February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 1985 mini-series "The Key to Rebecca." Another awesome aspect of this one is that CBS seamlessly edits it into a movie without deleting any story footage.
A fascinating aspect of "Key" is the attitude of some Egyptians toward their British occupiers in WWII. The sense of the enemy of my enemy is my friend extends to choosing Nazis over the British Empire.
"Key" is a well-produced adaptation of a novel by acclaimed mystery/thriller/historical author Ken Follett. It occurs in WWII-era Egypt and largely centers around widowed American-born British intelligence officer Vandam, William Vandam. Cliff Robertson plays Vandam in this era of "Falcon Cresr" fame for Robertson
David Soul of the original "Starsky and Hutch" stars as Nazi spy Alex Wolff. He comes on the radar of Vandam after killing a soldier as part of his effort to maintain the covert nature of his activities.
The titular novel enters the picture (pun intended) as the basis for the titular cipher that Wolff uses to send messages to Rommel (Robert Culp). The related missions of Vandam are to apprehend Wolff and to obtain the aforementioned code.
Part of the intrigue relate to the central foes enlisting their own Mata Haris to further their goals; Vandam uses the desperate times of kept woman temporarily without a keeper Elene Fontana to coerce her into the desperate measure of befriending Wolff for the purpose of locating his lair.
Wolff is more insidious regarding his female partner. He enlists dancer Sonja El Aram to seduce a British officer; this provides Wolff a source of the material that he feeds Rommel,
This well-plotted cat-and-mouse game leads to a proverbial thrilling conclusion. Vandam already is highly frustrated regarding Wolff having barely slipped the noose several times and causing collateral damage on each occasion. Wolff making it very personal when the stakes are especially high further fuels the fire.
The "Key" appeal extends beyond a well-combined mix of elements; they simply do not make 'em like this anymore. As a starting point, WWII seems like irrelevant ancient history to many people. Second, it seems that the good story would not be enough to offset the minimal blood, gore, and sex to modern audiences.