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.