'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.
CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution terrifically team up to bite the hand that feeds them regarding the February 12, 2019 DVD release of S1 of the Netflix series "American Vandal." This certified-fresh series satirizes fellow Netflix fare "The Staircase" and other true-crime series. A personal endorsement is staying up way past a personally imposed bedtime to find out "whodunit" in this amusingly compelling series.
Unintentional satire in "Vandal" is following the tradition of casting clearly post-adolescents as high-school students. Jimmy Tatro ("22 Jump Street") does well as literal prime-suspect Dylan Maxwell, but the series does not address why this 25 year-old is a a high-school senior. This is not to mention 26 year-old Calum Worthy ("Austin and Ally") in his hilarious role as disliked honor-student Alex Trimboli. For that matter, Worthy checks the box for the former Disney Channel star showing that he is all grown-up. Dez would never lie about Ally providing a "helping hand."
The following YouTube clip of a Netflix trailer for "Vandal" is almost guaranteed to make you laugh; an absolute guarantee is that the clips include more drawings of penises than any other promo. for any film or television series.
"Vandal" Creator Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda demonstrate perfect instincts regarding setting a documentary series investigating a headline-grabbing crime at a high school.
The fun begins with the central offense being the hilarious prank of spray painting penises (a.k.a. dicks) on every car in the faculty parking lot on a day that there is no school because the teachers are at an all-day meeting, The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings illustrate that the type of antics that relate to the vandalism OFTEN are entertaining and ALWAYS provide fodder for gossip girls and boys.
One spoiler is that the season-ending "Breakfast Club" epilogue comments on high-school culture. All students are subject to quick and permanent labels. This reinforces the larger concept that something traumatic that happens to someone else is devastating to them and hilarious to us.
A strong element of this is the epic high-school party that is discussed for the rest of the year. The relevant issues this time include how the claim of breaking a school drinking record affects the credibility of eye-witness Trimboli. We also see analysis of cell-phone footage that show conspirators plotting the evil deed.
The hilarious concept for presenting all this is AV nerd Peter Maldonado producing the eponymous documentary series; his dual objectives are to clear the name of Maxwell and to discover the actual culprit. Much of this consists with interviews with textbook (pun intended) stoner meathead Maxwell, whom Tatro perfectly plays. The DVD bonuses included must-see extended interviews with Maxwell and other equally funny talking heads.
Some of the best humor relates to Maxwell having tormented Spanish teacher Ms. Shapiro for years; this including the lad daily drawing a penis on the classroom whiteboard does not help his case. On a brighter note, this circumstantial (and circumcised) evidence also indicates that possibility of someone framing Dylan.
A related issue is Peter noting that the style of the penises on the whiteboards and on the cars have several differences. We further get a reconstruction that addresses the time required to spray paint a penis.
"Vandal" does an excellent job both with the pacing of the series and in keeping things plausible.To paraphrase P.T. Banum, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American teenager.
The extra-credit aspect of "Vandal" is that is shows that hope remains regarding the quality of "single-cam" "modern" mockumentary television series.
The nature of the 2018 first season of the Showtime dramedy "Kidding" makes this multi-level post on the CBS Home Entertainment January 29, 2019 S1 DVD release apt. On the surface, Jim Carrey stars as Jeff Piccirillo, who has spent 30 years playing beloved PBS children's show host Mr. Pickles. Also on the surface, Pickles of "Mr. Pickles Puppet Time" is a manic-depressive version of Mister Rogers.
Digging a little deeper, "Kidding" can be considered an unofficial sequel to the 1998 Carrey film "The Truman Show." That film centers around Carrey character Truman Burbank, who has an existential crisis on obtaining increasingly convincing evidence that he literally is living in a controlled environment. The smoking gun that proves that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is watching comes in the form of Truman unknowingly having spent virtually all of his life on a huge sound stage where his literal life story is filmed and used to entertain the viewing public.
A deeper level is Jeff and Truman both being modern versions of the Peter Sellers character Chauncey Gardener in the MUST-SEE 1979 comedy "Being There." Like the post-show Truman, Gardener (nee Chance the gardener) gets thrust in the real world. The rest of the story is that the cultured and educated members of society unwittingly embrace the wisdom of a fool.
One can easily imagine the naive and naturally cheerful and upbeat Jeff being the man whom Truman becomes on joining society. It is equally plausible that the tragedy around which "Kidding" S1 centers would affect Truman in the same manner that it impacts Jeff.
Another deeper layer relates to the issues of preserving a valuable image and the need for all concerned to realize that a celebrity has a public self and a separate private self. The analogy this time comes courtesy of a wonderfully cheesy television movie about the making of the '70scom "The Partridge Family." The suits get upset when a cover of Rolling Stone magazine shows a little skin below the waist of series star David Cassidy. The execs comment that Keith Partridge does not have pubic hair, and the actor playing Cassidy responds that Cassidy does.
The following YouTube clip of a "Kidding" trailer reinforces the above impressions. It also highlights the wonderful trademark quirkiness of this latest addition to premium channel dramedies.
The Showtime/quirky cred. of "Kidding" begins with it being from the mind of Dave Holstein of "Weeds" and "Raising Hope." The indie cred. includes executive-producer Michael Gondry once again teaming with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" star Carrey. In front of the camera, Judy Greer plays separated spouse Jill and Catherine Keener plays beard/ Jeff sister/puppet creator Deidre. Justin Kirk of "Weeds" plays Jill love interest Peter.
Although the narrative begins with Jeff and beloved puppet Uke Larry appearing on "Conan" to discuss "Puppet Time," our story commences with events that occur exactly one year earlier. A distracted Jill is driving squabbling 11 year-old twins Will and Phil when a truck broadsides their mini-van. Phil dies in this accident.
Jeff separating from Jill is the primary outward collateral damage from the death. The plot thickens in the present as the increasing angst of Jeff prompts him to proportionately advocate for a "Puppet Time" episode on death. Father/producer Seb Piccirillo (Frank Langella) strongly opposes that idea. His motives extend beyond freaking out kids to having concern about the ongoing financial viability of the series.
The rest of the story is that Seb is recruiting Deidre to work with him on plans both to further profit from the current incarnation of "Pickle Time" and to phase Jeff out from the production. A hilarious sub-plot has skater Tara Lipinski playing Mr. Pickles in an ice show. Suffice it to say that someone goes for her jugular regarding that venture.
We also get Will becoming part of a bad crowd and Diedre daughter Maddy regressing, The latter largely is due to the deterioration of the marriage of Diedre after she learns that her husband has been tickling the ivories with the male neighborhood piano teacher. A clarinet v. piano conversation regarding this story line is a hilarious version of the oysters and snails exchange in "Spartacus."
All of this comes to a head when Jeff uses a live-TV opportunity to state just about everything that has been restrained since the accident. The manner in which the tension is immediately broken arguably is the best moment in any of the 10 S1 episodes.
Suffice it to say that everyone is wiser and understands the people in his or her life better at the end of S1. The problems are that no one seems much happier and at least one character bounces before the S2 premiere later this year.
The DVD bonuses begin with separate segments on Jeff and his family. CBS saves the best for last in presenting the hysterical "How "Kidding" Came to Be" in the stop-motion animation style of the opening credits and a few scenes.
CBS Home Entertainment scores a touchdown regarding releasing the complete-series DVD-set of "The Game" on January 29, which is the same week as the Super Bowl. This multi Image Awards winning series that features aging San Diego Sabers team captain Jason Pitts is very apt at a time that real-life New England Patriots QB Tom Brady may be putting his soft balls in his locker for the last time.
The disclaimers regarding the following thoughts on this release begin with not having previously watched this series or "Girlfriends," of which it is a spin-off. Further ignorance relates to only having time to watch roughly 40 or the 147 episodes in this set and also having virtually no knowledge of football. The better news is that none of this is a handicap regarding enjoying the hilarity and associated trauma and drama of "Game."
A related perspective is this New Hampshire boy initially hearing the term "homes" as "Holmes" and believing that the term refers to an intelligent person. He is not very fly even for a white guy.
Knowledge does include executive-producer Kelsey Grammer having extensive familiarity with one popular series leading to another success.
This American version of the British series "Footballers Wives" centers around three women and their men. The "Girlfriends" tie-in relates to Melanie "Med School" Barnett (Tia D. Mowry) of that series sacrificing studying at Johns Hopkins to attend a San Diego university. Her motive is standing by her man Derwin Davis, who is a Sabers rookie.
The S1 and S2 drama of this couple largely centers on the challenge of taking one for the team. Derwin initially struggles to find his place on the Sabers in every sense of that term; he then must deal with all the temptations associated with fame and fortune as well as regularly preserving his male pride.
Much unintended humor relates to first-year med. student Melanie almost always looking well groomed and rarely looking tired. This is not to mention that numerous times that she ditches studying to party with Derwin or even fly to an away game. The impact of the demand to keep up with the other wives and girlfriends is a regular source of conflict.
Bi-racial player Jason (Coby Bell) is married to white former cheerleader/current heavy social drinker Kelly Pitts. The charm and humor of Bell makes Jason the most appealing character of the primary sextet.
Conflict in this marriage that is due for a seven-year itch includes multi-multi-millionaire Jason being comically frugal. We also see the strain that this and other demands place of Kelly, who becomes a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
A "Meet the Parents" episode that explains the income insecurity of Jason nicely makes that character more human. Less sympathy relates to his concern regarding his days on the gridiron being numbered. It seems that retired star players easily transition into a combination of coaching jobs, acting careers, sportscaster gigs, and/or lucrative endorsement deals,
The least likable couple is star QB Malik Wright and his mother/manager Tasha Mack (Wendy Raquel Robinson). Malik is a stereotypical fool who considers himself a playah, but whose game is limited to the one on the actual field. This portrayal evokes thoughts of the performance of Jimmie "J.J." Walker on the '70s sitcom "Good Times" causing fellow cast member John Amos to quit that hit series.
Tasha is a stereotypical sassy woman who works her way up from the streets after becoming an unwed mother at 16.
An S2 episode in which Malik continues digging his hole deeper after making an offensive joke about inner-city teens selling drugs is a good example of his personality; for her part, Tasha is ready for a fight at the drop of a feather.
Armchair quarterbacking begins with stating that the concept of "Game" is solid. It gives the general public insight regarding a world that is foreign to many of us. Focusing on the wives and girlfriends allows us to meet the women behind the high-profile men. It is nice to think that the highly significant others of real-life players support each other as much as the Sunbeams help the Sabers women.
Further, the first few S1 episodes particularly avoid standard sitcom plots; no one needs to keep a dinner for the boss from becoming a catastrophe or must work through a wacky misunderstanding. An amusing aspect of this is that this observation comes just before watching an episode in which Jason and Kelly fight regarding whether to throw their young daughter a lavish birthday party.
"Game" does put a nice spin on the absurdly expensive kids' party plot; the drama that often enters each episode includes Kelly feeling both that she always must play the mean parent and that Jason uses this celebrity status in his campaign to be considered the nice parent.
The numerous bonus features include the "The Game" episode of "Girlfriends that is a pilot for our series. We also get two interviews with "Game" creator Mara Brockk Akil and several deleted scenes. This is not to mention a feature on the series transitioning from the CW to BET after the third season.
CBS Home Entertainment continues serving Trekkers and Trekies alike very well regarding separate November 13, 2018 Blu-ray & DVD of "Star Trek: Discovery" S1. This release joins a complete set of CBS releases of every "Trek" series; it also allows those of us who either prefer physical media over streaming and/or do not subscribe to CBS All-Access to check out this neo-modern take on Trek complete with cursing, nudity, and an openly gay couple.
Seeing open hostility among crew members is equally awesomely honest and refreshing. Although "Discovery" definitely is not your daddy's Trek, he will enjoy it.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Discovery" highlights the darker and more atmospheric elements of the series that distinguish it from other Trek series. That is not to say that there are not shiny happy Starfleet personnel and tech.
One of the numerous nice things about "Discovery," which occurs a decade before the original series ("OS") and a century before "The Next Generation" ("TNG,"), is that the confusing and arguably flawed first two episodes lead to a series that a greater percentage of Trek fans can enjoy and embrace.
The pilot is rather difficult to follow. It opens with literally and figuratively dark scenes featuring aliens that do not look familiar to Trek fans. We quickly determine that this species is Klingon. It is not explained why they do not look anything like the Klingons from the "OS" era or those of the "TNG" period.
The action alternates between the activities of the Klingons and the crew of a ship that creates more confusion by not being named "Discovery." This is not to mention the opening credits including the names of everyone's favorite "Rent" boy Anthony Rapp and others even those they do not appear until the third episode.
A HUGE frustration regarding the first episode is that those of use who are not fluent in Klingon must have the subtitles on to understand what members of that species are saying; the problem is that subtitles remain on when the Starfleet personnel speak English; this requires turning the subtitles on-and-off. This flaw is corrected by the second episode,
Then-second-officer Michael Burnham is at the center of the action and remains there throughout S1. She is serving on the U.S.S. Shenzhou, which investigates damage to a Federation satellite on the edge of Federation space. This soon leads to Burnham taking action that escalates The Klingon War that has a prominent role in Trek lore.
The response of the Klingons incorporates an aspect of their culture that also is well-known to Trekkers and Trekkies. This leads to a battle that leads to a real game-changer for Burnham.
Burnham becoming the Tom Paris of "Discovery" on boarding the titular vessel is only the tip of the iceberg regarding her. Aspects of the life of Burnham that make her unique warrant a strong comparison to Spock and a lesser similarity to Worf and Seven of Nine. This relates to the role of Burnham regarding an aspect of Vulcan culture that also pops up in Trek series; this is not to mention an amusing "Dad always liked you best" element in her history.
"Discovery" definitely looking more advanced than the Enterprise that Kirk commands 10 years later alone is puzzling. This ship having tech. that is beyond that of the Enterprise of Picard 100 years later truly is surprising.
On the subject of comparisons, Trek vet and current guiding force Bryan Fuller provides plenty of Easter eggs and other nods to the franchise lore. This includes one well-known character being a regular, a list of prominent captains having familiar names and a lesser-known one, and an OS villain plaguing Discovery captain Gabriel Lorca.
On the subject of Lorca, Fuller further strays from traditional Trek lore by making this space cowboy less heroic and likable than his past-and-future- peers. He is almost perpetually grumpy and even less respectful of Starfleet rules and principles than the other guys on their best days. In fairness to this fearless leader, he is not himself these days.
Lorca gets his Picard moment in the form of extreme torture at the hands of an enemy. Both incidents even involve weaponizing light.
Fuller goes further in populating the crew with folks who are even more quirky than those of other Trek ships. This begins with literal space cadet Sylvia Tilly. Her overall unduly gleeful manner and extreme candid chattiness create an incorrect assumption regarding her referring to her "special needs" in her first scene.
We also get First Officer Saru, who is alien with a prey mentality literally encoded into him. In addition to being physically one of the most odd characters in Trek lore, his version of a spidey sense makes him fascinatingly unique.
Rapp plays Lt. Paul Stamets, who seems to have a mood to match every occasion. His uniqueness extends beyond developing a way-cool ability early in the season to being the first openly gay Trek character. His cute and charming relationship with ship doctor Hugh Culber make them the best-ever Trek couple.
Fuller again sticks to the script by having the Discovery chief security officer meeting a violent end setting the stage for the predecessor of this individual. In this case, it is dashing tall, dark, and handsome Ash Tyler. Tyler just as aptly has something in common with Voyager security chief Torres.
The adventures of this gang are even more serialized than those of a couple of season of the "Enterprise" gang. They simultaneously are contending with open warfare with the Klingons and both trying to properly utilize the unique tech. of their ship and to contend with friendly and not-so-friendly attempts to obtain it.
Highlights include trekking to a parllel universe and contending with evil twins sans goatees. The season finale is just as special by paying homage to "Enterprise."
The numerous bonuses include several "making-of" features, a season recap, and promos.
The CBS Home Entertainment December 18, 2018 S1 DVD release of the Showtime animated-series "Our Cartoon President" proves the adage that you can laugh or you can cry. Unlike his subject, executive producer/Trump nemesis Stephen Colbert is not guilty of hyperbole in stating that this three-disc set of the 17 regular-season episodes and the November 14, 2018 musical "Election Special 2018" includes "world-class amenities."
Although the themes of "President" are similar to the 43-era live-action sitcom-parody series "That's My Bush" and the animated-program "Lil Bush Resident of the United States," the current series is more hard hitting and sticks c;loser to actual events. Being on a premium cable network provides the additional bonus of being able to say all of the seven words that George Carlin reminds us are unfit for broadcast networks.
The topics in "President" include the Mueller investigation, the threat of a federal government shutdown, the controversy regarding Confederate statues, funding for the wall, etc. We further get to see what fools these top administration officials and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle be. This includes the Chuck and Nancy Show sans a tinkling contest.
The following YouTube clip of the Showtime trailer for "President" is a sad reminder that it is funny because it is true.
The episode introduction by the creative team for the pilot provides a good sense of the evolution of the series; the insights include a last-minute makeover for one character, The aptly titled "State of the Union" centers around the angst of Trump regarding his obligation to deliver that speech.
The especially amusing "Media Strategy" has Melania struggling to suppress her "plaid-shirt guy) impulse to roll her eyes during Trump speeches. This relates to the overall "President" theme of the first couple having a loveless marriage; a meeting in which they seek the advice of the Clintons is hilarious.
"Wealth Gap" is pure Trump; this one has POTUS going to great lengths (and absurd expense) planning a second wedding ceremony for his third wife. Much of the humor relates to a desire to show off his assets motivating the event. Cartoonishly dim-witted Eric "Beavis" Trump taking the brunt of his father overextending himself is particularly hilarious.
The aforementioned special truly pulls out all the stops beyond having a few musical numbers. We get Team Trump desperately trying to keep their majorities in both house of Congress and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer proving their inability to relate to everyday folk. This is not to mention Trump trying to have his cake and eat it too, and Hillary literally going on rampages. In other words, business as usual in Washington.
Jared Kushner steals the show as the only attractive male in the inner circle and as the whipping boy of the group. Having this advisor-in-law dress up in humiliating costumes and enduring abuse from Eric and Donald, Jr. is only the tip of the wonderfully comedic iceberg.
The aforementioned amenities include a table read and a few episode introductions. We also get a clip of animated Trump appearing on "The Late Show."
The creative success of this political satire shows Colbert that revenge is a dish best served globally.
CBS Home Entertainment awesomely celebrates the best of the '80s with the recent DVD release of "The Love Boat: Season 4 Volume 2." This coincides with CBS releasing the (reviewed) S4 V1 set of "Boat." The broad appeal of this "TV Land" classic about the titular cruise ship (typically) making round-trip voyages between Los Angeles and Mexico include the A-to-Z list celebrities that guest-star each week. Watching the sun and fun while suffering through a polar winter is another strong benefit of the series.
A special two-hour outing that centers around a fashion show is the most notable episode among the truly strong offerings in this collection from the second half of the fourth season of "Boat." This begins with having virtually every top designer of the '80s (Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein apparently miss the boat) appear and have models show their creations. The A-List includes Halston, Geoffrey Beene, and Gloria Vanderbilt. We further get a cameo by celebrity pianist Bobby Short.
This episode additionally may be the only one that exceeds the three vignettes (four in the frequent 90-minute and two-hour episodes) format. We get a whopping five stories, which overlap to a greater extent than most plots in a "Boat" voyage.
These wonderfully silly stories are exceptionally true to the "Boat" spirit. They include McLean Stevenson (M*A*S*H) as the husband/co-owner of a modeling agency who is clashing with his wife/business partner (Anne Baxter) regarding an age-based decision to have firing a model walk the plank. The rest of the story is that the former "It" girl is romantically involved with Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLoed).
We also get Robert Vaughan ("The Man From U.N.C.L.E.") as a cosmetics company owner who may or may not be looking to hire the current object of his affection. This is not to mention the corporate spy who falls in love with a fictional designer whose sketches he is trying to steal. The fun continues with the daughter and the assistant of another fictional designer striving to prevent Dad from discovering numerous secrets that include their marriage.
But for the epic quality (including a grand fashion show) of the very-special episode described above, another S4 V2 offering would earn top honors for this collection. This one reunites Jane Powell and Howard Keel ("Dallas") of the 1954 musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Powell plays the formerly ultra-wealthy aunt of assistant purser Burl "Gopher" Smith; Keel plays a self-made businessman. The ensuing hilarity relates to the Powell character trying to hide her current position as maid to a nasty old woman (Mary Wickes) from both her nephew and current beau. A cute scene in which Gopher and his aunt have a heart-to-heart is an episode highlight.
The second episode in S4 V2 is notable for including regular guest-star Charo, who (like Florence Henderson) boards "Boat" 10 times. Each time, Charo plays April Lopez, who embodies the professional persona of her portrayor. The broken-English speaking April makes her debut as a stowaway who becomes a professional lounge singer.
The S4 story "April the Ninny" has this Mexican jumping bean hanging up her guitar to become the governess of the two rambunctious children who are on the ship with their negligent father (Larry Linville of "M*A*S*H). "Return of the Ninny" a few weeks later revisits the root of the Lopez lore. April and the kids come aboard to say goodbye to Dad but end up getting stuck on the ship.
The S4 season-finale is notable for setting the stage for one of the biggest real and reel events in "Boat" history. A romance for a crew member is the beginning of the end for the actor who plays that individual; this relates to a very '80s-style scandal. All of this leads to the very-special S5 season premiere that has the crew sailing to Australia.
Folks who are old enough to remember the incredible impact of "Boat" on the cruise-ship industry and the personal glee of coming inside from the dark and the cold to watch beautiful people enjoy the good life under bright skies do not need to be sold on these sets; Millennials who spend most of their time inside should trust their elders and believe that this is an ultimate entertaining series and that the S4 V2 episodes are especially good.
CBS Home Entertainment chooses wisely regarding releasing the 2-disc DVD set of the 2018 Sacha Baron Cohen (a.k.a. Borat and Bruno) Showtime series "Who is America" on election day (a.k.a. November 6, 2018), This return of Cohen to a premium cable network series 15 years after HBO aired "Da Ali G Show" epically combines the best of in-your-face documentarian Michael Moore and character-driven comedian Tracey Ullman by having extreme alter-egos interview well-known politicians and activists and some relative and complete unknowns.
"America" is best known for prompting the resignation of Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer after his inadvertent appearance on the second episode of the series. Cohen transforms himself into unconventional Israeli anti-terrorism expert Erran Morad to trick Spencer into figuratively and literally transforming himself into an ass regarding both identifying and repelling terrorists. The highlight of this hilariously absurd segment is Spencer dropping trou. (and boxer briefs) in an exercise that is designed to show him how to send a terrorist running for the hills.
The initial outing of Morad is even better and arguably is the best bit in the entire series. His S1E1 debut has him interview a gun-rights advocate who supports training children as young as three to use guns. The ensuing hilarity includes a video that promotes guns encased in stuffed animals. These include the Gunny Rabbit and the Uzicorn.
Two other characters who represent the polar opposites of the political spectrum do "America" just as proud as Morad. Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr. is an scooter-bound ultra-conservative. Watching both Senator Bernie Sanders and legendary newsman Ted Koppel shoot him down is beyond awesome. These segments additionally demonstrate the astonishing cool of Sanders and Koppel.
Another memorable segment has NPR t-shirt wearing Dr. Nira Cain-N'Degocella, whom press materials for "America" describe as "a Democratic activist and far-left lecturer on gender studies," conduct a public hearing in Kingman, Arizona. The meeting announcement includes that the topic is economic development; this notice also instructs attendees to leave their guns at home. The reason for essentially requiring checking your gun at the door is that group soon learns that the proposed project is a record-setting mosque. Suffice it to say that the residents do not support the project.
Flamboyant aggressively heterosexual ultra-rich Italian fashion photographer Gio Monaldo earns mention for two segments. The girlfriend of Monaldo blatantly granting him sexual satisfaction while he discusses purchasing a huge state-of-the-art yacht is only the tip of the iceberg. (Pun intended.) The real shock and awe is in the form of the broker going along when Monaldo makes it increasingly clear that he intends to use the yacht for a horrendous criminal purpose.
A later episode has Monaldo meeting with O.J. Simpson; Monaldo is representing himself as the liaison of a wealthy third-party who wants to meet Simpson. Monaldo lightly discussing killing a significant other while Simpson laughs along is highly effective, This definitely qualifies as one of the most disturbing bonding moments in television history.
The success of "America" relates to Cohen simply giving people enough rope with which to hang themselves. He does get them on camera under false pretenses and presents outlandish premises. However, he does NOTHING to coerce their responses. The lesser foils definitely all play along because the set up supports their views. Further, they seem to revel being in the spotlight just as much as any reality-show star. It is equally awesome that Sanders and Koppel distinguish themselves by not playing along.
The copious extras include deleted scenes and extended interviews. The latter include additional footage of a discussion between Morad and Dick Cheney. Highlights of the Cheney interview include Cheney autographing a waterboard and them discussing then Vice-President Cheney shooting a friend in the face during a hunting trip.
The October 2, 2018 DVD release of "The Beverly Hillbillies" S5 coinciding with the CBS DVD releases of the (reviewed) "The Love Boat" S4 V1 and the (soon-to-be-reviewed) "Boat S4 V2 sets starts October well for sofa spuds who are facing increasingly cold and stormy days at home. The facts that CBS recognizes the profitability of these sets and that "Boat" and "Hillbillies" remain in syndication decades after their original broadcast runs are the strongest endorsements of their staying power. One warning is that watching these episodes WILL result in subconsciously singing the themes to yourself.
For the benefit of the folks who both are unfamiliar with "Hillbillies" and do not want to spend roughly 30 seconds watching the opening credits, the concept is that titular "poor mountaineer" Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen of "Barnaby Jones") moves his daughter Elly May and two other relatives (i.e., dim-witted nephew Jethro and feisty elderly mother-in-law Granny) to the titular upscale community after he strikes oil.
TV Land history includes that the original title of the series is "The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills." That title appears in the opening credits of the pilot episode that the CBS S1 DVD set includes.
Much of the "com" results from "sits" that either involve the backwoods folks not understanding city ways, clashing with "civilized" neighbors, or taking a page from "The Andy Griffith Show" by having rural-style common-sense win out over urban knowledge. Their urban friends comically greedy bank president Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey) and his truly long-suffering Radcliffe-educated secretary "Miss" Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp) do their best to keep all concerned happy.
S5 gets off on an apt foot by having Drysdale return from vacation a few hours before Jethro and Granny get back from visiting the kinfolk back in the hills, The central "sit" that provides "com" in this one is the haul from the latter journey includes a crank telephone that Granny wants to connect to a party line in Beverly Hills. One spoiler is that it turns out that $60M cannot buy everything.
Things take a slightly dark turn in a "very special" two-part episode early in S5. This one revolves around a con that has a city girl masquerade as a girl from back home as part of a "badger game" that involves getting incriminating photos of Jed. Part of the fun relates to the grifters not realizing with whom they are dealing.
A series highlight comes roughly in the middle of S5. 1910s-'20s movie star Gloria Swanson plays herself in an episode that fully embraces the wacky misunderstanding aspect of "Hillbillies." A mistaken belief that Swanson is destitute prompts the clan to visit her with an offer of help. This leads to true hilarity in a "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Clampett" resolution.
Another S5 episode has John Wayne stop by as himself. The "sit" this time is that a peaceful dispute with an Indian tribe leads to involving The Duke to address what is believed to be a pending raid.
Two separate episodes with a common element have the Clampetts believe that little green men have landed almost literally in their backyard and that a hippopotamus is a giant hog. This is not to mention another story arc that has a man in a gorilla suit pay the price for monkeying around with these hard-working folks.
The aforementioned longevity of "Hillbillies" primarily relate to the timeless humor associated with an "alien" not understanding how we live. It is easy to imagine Orkan Mork of (the reviewed) "Mork and Mindy" joining the Clampetts in identifying a large concrete basin full of water as a "cement pond."
More guilty pleasure comes via those of us with toxic neighbors relating to the torment that those "dreadful hillbillies" cause next-door neighbor Mrs. Drysdale. Few (if any of us) must contend with farm animals destroying our yards or with fully noxious odors from cooking outside invading our space. However, nuisances such as frequently barking dogs and feral children that can be even more nerve-wracking than livestock make many of us want to rid the area of these undesirable clans.
The CBS Home Entertainment October 2, 2018 DVD set of "The Love Boat" S4 V1 is an apt Unreal TV 2.0 inaugural post on a CBS release in the wake (no pun intended) of many such reviews on Unreal TV 1.0. An amusing aspect of this is that a world-class publicist named Tiffany is a former representative of this division of the Tiffany network.
An aside is that this simply mahvelous set (which includes an option of watching the always fun "next week on 'The Love Boat'" promo. that kept viewers excited all week) presents the episodes much better than the butchered and commercial-laden versions on MeTV. This huge fan of that series gave up on those reruns after two weeks but revels in the S4 V1 versions.
Please stay tuned both for a review of "Boat" S4 V2 and for the Unreal TV 1.0 articles on CBS releases to make their way onto Unreal TV 2.0. The icing on the cake is an upcoming post on the CBS October 2, 2018 DVD release of "The Beverly Hillbillies" S5, which includes the series highlight episode with Gloria Swanson.
Sofa spuds whose knowledge of "Boat" is limited to this mid-70s to mid-80s anthology providing large and small screen stars of Christmases past, present, and future current a higher profile are missing half the story. "Boat" essentially is a reboot of the 1969-74 comedy anthology series "Love American Style (which also has CBS releases) that does not limit the setting of its tales all across the relationship spectrum to a cruise ship that typically travels from Los Angeles to Mexico and back again.
The general concept of "Boat" is that the aforementioned celebrities usually play passengers who typically board the titular Pacific Princess in one of three categories. Happily in love, in the period between love and goodbye, or single but not necessarily looking to mingle. These cruisers first bond with one of the crew members who are series regulars and then experience trauma and/or drama before ending the cruise at least wiser and often happier.
Watching the 11 hour (or more) long episodes in the S4 V1 shows that this 1980-81 season is a particularly strong one, The bigger picture is that a TV writers strike is behind delaying the season premiere; this also is the broadcast season in which America learns "Who Shoot JR." A spoiler regarding that one is that resolution in "Dallas" provides good fodder for a cross-network crossover with "Boat."
The S4 season-premiere of "Boat" perfectly illustrates the fun and the themes that make this series '80stastic. Tom Hanks gets his second acting credit by playing a college friend of assistant purser Burl "Gopher" Smith just as Hanks' sitcom "Bosom Buddies" is premiering. The rub is that the former campus Romeo and current playah degrading Gopher prompts the latter to pretend that gal pal/cruise director Julie McCoy is his main squeeze. This charade stirs up feelings that may lead to the co-workers literally and figuratively docking in San Pedro.
The tables are turned in a later episode that has a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader recruit Gopher to help w her fend off an aggressive suitor. This storyline turns particular dark until the squad uses girl power to save their savior.
Meanwhile in S1 E1, comedian Nipsey Russell plays a member of group of Korean War soldiers who are having a min-reunion with their rough-and-gruff sergeant whom Vic Tayback of '80scom "Alice" plays. This leader unduly reliving old days prompts the group to persuade a cabin cleaner (Doris Roberts then of the sitcom "Angie") to pretend to like him. Of course, the Roberts and the Tayback characters enter a real relationship that his learning of the initial deception jeopardizes.
The numerous highlights of the two-hour second S4 episode include it being one of several extended episodes in the set. It also is one of the two completely separate episodes that is filmed during a "very special" cruise that starts in St. Thomas before going through the Panama Canal and then back to the home port of Los Angeles. Both episodes will teach most viewers new things about the Canal.
The second episode also is one of two in this set with a unifying theme. This cruise has several engaged couples vying in a contest to win fabulous prizes. The other cruise has the ship transporting several two and four-legged passengers to a horse race in Acapulco. The disco group The Village People boarding to perform and to race their horse in that one that also has the aforementioned cheerleaders contribute to making that one especially memorable. Gopher racing the People singer who dresses as an Indian perfectly captures the spirit of "Boat."
The episode with the engaged couples has "Happy Days " (yes, CBS has released ""Days" sets) star Erin Moran play an engaged woman whose mother comes on board to discourage her from tying the knot, Moran "Days" co-star Donny Most plays the best friend/best man of a preemptive runaway groom who is engaged to a character whom "Dallas" star Charlene Tilton plays.
The Golden Age representation includes Debbie Reynolds playing a character who forms a friendship with potential benefits with Captain Stubing (Gavin MacLoed) after leaving her husband. MacLoed "Mary Tyler Moore Show" co-star Ted Knight plays a man with sub-zero cold feet who has a comically frequent on-again-off-again engagements with a character whom Rue McClanahan plays in a break between "Maude" and "The Golden Girls." Fellow "Golden Girl" Betty White plays a character married to real-life White spouse Allen Ludden in the horse episode,
Another highlight of the contest episode has Ann Jillian and Dawn Wells play fellow judges of Gopher who want to score with him on every level. Oft-divorced resident doctor Adam Bricker trying to push his buddy out of the way is equally pure "Boat."
This brief discussion of a few episodes in this set should evoke fond memories by current fans and show "virgins" that the classic theme song accurately "promises something for everyone." Seeing the TV Land and silver screen celebrities in pure escapist stories is the perfect cure for an era in which literally every week brings a new event that risks the federal government imploding, "Boat" provided the perfect way to decompress on Saturday nights in the '80s and offers more intense therapy in in the 2010s.
The final endorsement is that your not-so-humble reviewer gets a great deal of review DVDs and Blu-rays but pre-ordered the S4 Vi set to have it on his release date. He also has bought every previous CBS set of "Boat."
The most exciting news about the long-overdue (but well worth the wait) December 9, 2014 DVD release of the 95-episode complete series of "Mork and Mindy" is that any fears that this release is intended to profit from the August 2014 suicide of "Mork" star Robin Williams are COMPLETELY unfounded.
The recent (and expedited) renewed surge of DVD releases of "Happy Days" (including the recently reviewed S5 of that '70s sitcom and soon-to-be-reviewed S6) and its spin-offs after long dormancy periods strongly suggests that CBS Home Entertainment planned both this "Mork" release and the concurrent release of S4 before the death of Williams. Additionally, the CS set lacks ANY mention of Williams passing.
The set further comes in a sturdy plastic clamshell case and has each of the 15 discs in separate non-overlapping spots. The outer packaging is a solid cardboard sleeve.
Although having an episode list for each disc is nice, even a one-sentence synopsis of these shows would have been terrific. (The S2 and S3 sets do have short episode descriptions; it is presumed that the S4 set does as well.)
A heartfelt August 2014 Unreal TV post on the value of Williams to the fans who followed his career from "Mork" onward communicates how awful exploiting his death would have been. Williams is the John Lennon, John Belushi, or Kurt Cobain of those of us who spent the late '70s in elementary or junior high school.
Rather than reality, the concept around which "Mork" is based is a character with origins in Williams' standup act. The titular oddly named being is a native of the planet Ork who is on earth to observe our culture and use telepathy to weekly report back to his superior Orson, whose deep voice and wide girth clearly make him a namesake of Orson Welles, on Ork.
The titular Mindy is a 21-year old all-American girl, played by Pam Dawber, who meets Mork almost immediately on his landing on the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado. In true sitcom style, the pair immediately begin platonically sharing the wholesome apartment in which Mindy resides.
The pilot also brings Mork, who first appears in an S5 episode of "Days" several months before the 1978-79 season in which "Mork" premieres, back to his roots. A desire to learn more about male-female relationships has Mork consulting with self-proclaimed love expert Fonzie.
Fonzie provides the requested assistance in the form of having Laverne DeFazio of the "Days" spinoff "Laverne and Shirley" date Mork. (The aforementioned 2014 "Days" DVD bonanza includes the reviewed S7 and also covered S8 of "Laverne.")
This historic episode is the one time that actors from "Days," "Mork," and "Laverne" appear together. One can only hope that the recently reviewed "Joanie Loves Chachi" also would have been represented had this "Mork" episode not predated the premiere of "Joanie."
The chemistry between Fonz portrayor Henry Winkler and Williams in this pilot, the previous "My Favorite Orkan" "Days" episode, and the Spring 1979 "Days" clip show in which Mork explains that he is doing a spin-on to out of appreciation for his spin-off prompts sadness that Winkler and Williams did not go out to co-star in a series or films.
The hilariously catastrophic date with Laverne, a search for a human-sounding voice back in 1978, and a scene in which Mork becomes intoxicated are early examples of opportunities that the "Mork" writers provide Williams to engage in his manic improvisation and frantic physical comedy that makes him so special and that sets "Mork" above sitcoms from any era.
The following classic clip, courtesy of YouTube, in which Mork literally allows his emotions to run wild PERFECTLY illustrates Williams' talent to ride a churning stream of consciousness.
Further, the first harsh lesson in the reality of American life that Mork experiences is very relevant today. His eccentric behavior results in being taken into custody and subjected to an administrative hearing to determine whether he should be confined in a psychiatric facility.
This relates to the long history of labeling folks who do not conform to societal norms as mentally ill. A friend describes this as making someone pay either for hurting the feelings of another or for having the audacity to share awful and/or inconvenient truths.
The need to not have this review rival a latter Harry Potter novel in length requires skipping over the experimental middle seasons that introduced squabbling deli-owning siblings and other secondary characters to touch on the fourth season.
A rapidly-paced story arc at the beginning of S4 has our titular characters tying the knot and Mork laying and hatching an egg that contains their newborn baby Mearth, who has the appearance of a 50-something man. Legendary comedian (and Williams' mentor) Jonathon Winters famously plays Mearth and awesomely provides Williams a playmate who can keep up with him.
The introduction of this character further freshened "Mork" by providing someone who could replace Mork as the naive newcomer to earth.
The introduction of Mearth additionally provides Williams and Winters a plethora of opportunities to assume characters and riff for extended periods that present the challenge of editing that material down to several minutes.
The fourth season is notable as well for having some of the best guest shots of the series. William Shatner appears in a very Kirk-like role and legendary actor John Houseman is hilarious as the voice of a computer gone wonky.
One sad aspect of "Mork" is that filming the season finale before learning that the series would not be getting a fifth season prevents any form of special sendoff. At the same time, it is nice to think that this modern family is still living their daily lives.
The extras include three gag reels, at least one of which provides a great candid look at Williams doing his thing, and the aforementioned "Days" episodes.
Wrapping all this up is very tough (and prompts leaking eyes) because it feels like once again losing Williams. Like many comic geniuses, you either got him or did not.
Further, folks who regularly spontaneously do things such as comically engaging in the style of bitter sniping that makes the Elizabeth Taylor Richard Burton film "Who's Afraid of VirginiaWoolf" so awesome to the confusion of those around them and who understand the world as deeply as Williams feel his pain.
Having to conclude these additionally makes one wish to be more Orkan regarding an enhanced ability to control emotions.
However the desire to keep classic DVD in the public consciousness that drives this site requires encouraging folks to plunk down the roughly $90 for which it is selling.