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.
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which still is up.) Both sites are labors of love dedicated to preserving the golden and silver ages of television and film and celebrating new content that values art over commerce. The same principle applies regarding boutique hotels.