The Shout! Factory DVD release of "Ernie Kovacs: The Centennial Collection" continues the long Shout! tradition of paying homage to The Golden Age of Television; this proud history includes complete-series releases of "The Goldbergs" who precede Lucy and of the hilarious "Dobie Gillis." That early sitcom about an all-American teen boy launches the careers of Warren Beatty, Tuesday Weld, and Bob Denver.
Kovacs is a true pioneer television pioneer, who can be considered an early version of a late-20th-century public-access star or an early-21st-century YouTube notable who achieves mainstream success. Shout! awesomely goes incredibly above-and-beyond to make rare material from every stage in the career of Kovacs available.
As the back-cover of this nine-disc set states, "Centennial" gathers the previously released Shout! collections of Kovacs material. This synopsis describing this material as "groundbreaking, rule-breaking, surreal and charmingly silly comedy" hits the nail squarely on the head.
The following YouTube video of a Shout! promo. for "Centennial" consists of hilarious clips that demonstrate the humor of Kovacs.
The incredible bonanza of year-end home-video releases is a primary culprit regarding only watching the "The Early Years" disc in "Centennial." The better news is that this leaves the remaining eight discs to savor on a later date.
The best news is that the wonderful bonus features on this disc including Carl Reiner posthumously inducting Kovacs into The Television Academy Hall of Fame provides a cheat-sheet in the form of a solid summary of the roughly 10-year career of a man who is truly is ahead of his time.
The Reiner tribute notes that Kovacs begins his television career at NBC Philadelphia affiliate WPTZ. Learning that writing and appearing in several television programs each day requires a 15-hour daily schedule arguably makes Kovacs the hardest working man in show biz during that era. These programs include "It's Time for Ernie" and "Kovacs on the Corner."
One difference between this work of Kovacs and the mother of all '50s comedy "I Love Lucy" is that reel Kovacs enthusiastically has real-life spouse Edie Adams appear in the act.
"Time" particularly highlights the way-out bizarre humor for which Kovacs is well known. A skit that an episode in "Centennial" includes has this man of numerous faces contort his features during a lesson on adjust the settings on a television. Another episode in either "Time" or a very similar program features Kovacs dragging a facsimile of a dead body down a city street.
"Corner" is more polished than "Time" and is of more a variety format that includes special musical guests. We also get everyday folks in what seems to be a regular segment. This consists of two persons exchanging junk with the hope that they end up ahead of the game.
The included "Corner" episode perfectly illustrates this early-age of television for reasons that extend beyond the general format. We get an epic moment in which Kovacs perfectly ad libs when a piece of scenery collapses during his broadcast.
The treats on the rest of the chronologically organized discs include an episode of the ready-for-prime-time "Kovacs on Music," episodes of his odd game-show "Take a Good Look," and five ABC specials. We further get the unaired pilot of the comedy-western "Medicine Man" in which Kovacs and Buster Keaton co-star.
As alluded to above, Kovacs is special because he is one of the first to take general humor and improv. to the next level. We arguably can thank him for folks such as Jonathan Winters and Winters devotee Robin Williams. Less thanks is due regarding the "Jackasses" who take advantage of the low-cost of public-access cable and later no-cost YouTube to inflict the same buffonery on their communities and the world that previously was limited to their buddies.
All this boils down to "Centennial" allowing modern audiences to revel in the guy who was the first (and the best) regarding not being afraid to go there,
Mill Creek Entertainment once again does the '90s proud regarding the January 15, 2019 Blu-ray release of "Last Action Hero" (1993) in retro VHS packaging. This release, which coincides with a MCE retro BD release of the John Candy comedy "Who's Harry Crumb," is among many examples of MCE facilitating a very worthwhile additional bite of the apple regarding these films. This is especially true as to the recent release of the (reviewed) 1998 teencom "Can't Hardly Wait."
The largest context for "Hero" is that it is from the waning days of the Silver Age of Hollywood in which art still (barely) often wins out over commerce. It also falls within the period between 1985 -95 in which proverbially emerging computer technology allows filmmaking to be especially cool.
One example of Hollywood embracing new tech. is "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," which takes blending live-action and animation beyond Disney fare, "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," and other productions that have live actors interact with 'toons. A related innovation is the expert merging of black-and-white and color in the Tobey Maguire comedy "Pleasantville."
A more widespread example of this is morphing, which allows having a character radically change his or her appearance in front of the audience. This is heavily used in "Terminator 2," which is a showcase for "Hero" star/former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Another innovation is even more relevant to "Hero." This relates to computers allowing characters in programs and films within the movie to enter each of those realities. The 1985 Woody Allen comedy "The Purple Rose of Cairo" arguably is the best-known example.
"Hero" plays homage to "Rose" by having tween fanboy Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) enter the world of titular Dirty Harry style rogue cop Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger). This adventure is courtesy of magic that a film projectionist/grandfather figure provides in a nod to Willy Wonka.
"Hero" additionally is from an era in which Schwarzenegger begins including more humor in his action-adventure films and does flat-out comedy. Comparing "True Lies" with "Kindergarten Cop" and "Jingle ALlthe Way" demonstrates which development is more successful.
Part of the perspective related to watching "Hero" 25 years after its theatrical release is the relatability of Danny watching the Slater films in a once-grand movie palace that is now a run-down dump that is slated (no pun intended) to be converted into a multiplex. We also get a scene in which Schwarzenegger plays himself giving a red-carpet interview while future ex-wife Maria Shriver (a.k.a. Melania) stands in the background rolling her eyes.
The final general note before discussing the merits of "Hero" itself is that the film looks great in Blu-ray. This extends beyond the scenes in sunny southern California looking bright and beautiful; this enhanced format highlights the differences between the grainy and often rainy scenes and/or darkness in the real world of New York and the aforementioned beauty of the reel world Los Angeles in the film.
The action aptly starts right away ala a "Simpsons" episode that begins with Bart watching a "McBain" movie. The first images are from "Jack Slater 3" and revolve around Schwarzenegger arriving on the scene in character to deal with a maniac holding elementary school children hostages as part of a grudge against Slater. This provides additional context from a 2018 perspective. The epidemic of 21st-century school shootings likely would preclude such a scene in a modern film.
We then see Danny emerge from the theater into his hard-knock life in which he and his single mom Irene (Mercedes Ruehl) live in a slum; Dad is nowhere in the picture, and Irene must work hard at her menial dead-end job just to provide her and Danny minimal comforts. All of this establishes why Danny so highly values escaping into the world of Slater.
The action fully gets underway when especially unnerving trauma and drama compel Danny to attend a verboten screening of "Jack Slater IV." It is all fun and games until the aforementioned magic drops Danny into the backseat of the vintage convertible of Slater during a chase scene.
The real hilarity ensures after the chase concludes and Danny frantically tries to get Slater to believe him that they are inside a movie and that Slater is a Schwarzenegger character. This leads to great multiverse humor that includes satirizing buddy-cop films and includes alternative casting of a classic film role.
The aforementioned buddy-cop element leads to the stereotypical short-tempered police lieutenant (Frank McRae) assigning Slater to partner with Danny to investigate the drug kingpin (Anthony Quinn) who is making things personal for Slater.
Things largely proceed as normal after that; our team closing in on their prey provides Schwarzenegger plenty of opportunity to deliver "knife to meet you" style puns as he battles bad guys.
Things soon turn very real when the action moves to the real world of "Hero." Slater learns about what it means to be human, and Danny is taught is even more tough truths about celluloid heroes. A bizarre Death (Ian McKellan) takes a holiday aspect of this likely is a reason for the unduly harsh panning of "Hero." Folks who still scoff should put this film in the context of recent ones such as "Tag," "Sausage Party," and even the big-budget train wreck "Batman v. Superman."
Another nice thing about "Hero" is that it largely puts right what once went wrong but is not unduly absurd regarding it. Slater does not have any life-altering experience beyond his relatively literal reality check, and Danny does not inherit the chocolate factory.
The current angry openly cursing villagers and the literal Mexican standoff regarding the government shutodwn make the Breaking Glass Pictures December 4, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 satirical comedy "Obamaland" particularly timely. Portraying both the right and the left as thoroughly ridiculous reflects the wisdom of Don Rickles, who escapes criticism by making nasty jokes about everyone.
The overall hipster/indie tone evokes thoughts of "Portlandia." This comparison extends to writer/director Greg Bergman playing community college Obamanomics professor Xander. One can easily imagine his students chanting "hey hey ho ho these racist teachers have got to go" with no valid provocation ala the real-life "students" at Evergreen Community Coillege.
A more personal note is that your MODERATE not-so-humble reviewer HATES Trump and is no friend of Barry. He has used the term Obamanation since 2008; a side note is disgust that afternoon talk-show host Oprah essentially is responsible for the outcome of the 2008 election by endorsing Obama at a time that his campaign is failing. The final stop on this detour to Blogland is a long-standing hope that Bill Gates will run for the office of chief EXECUTIVE of the EXECUTIVE branch,
The following YouTube clip of the Breaking trailer for "Obamaland" highlights the humor at the expense of both sides of the aisle.
The underlying concept of "Obamaland" is that assertions associated with a vast right-wing conspiracy are true, The delusional FICTIONALIZED titular president is a Kenya native and a Muslim. He also is obsessed with equality to the extent of rearranging the heavens but apparently lacks any intent regarding Uranus.
The film is set in 2040, and most of the former United States is now Obamaland. The area formerly known as Texas is part of the Borderlands. A series of incidents that either are fortunate or unfortunate depending on your perspective are behind Obama being President for Life of the country that bears his name.
Xander already has reason to be disillusioned with the Otopia that Obama has created when this community educator is assigned to cover a concert in the Borderlands. This dream-come-true becomes a nightmare when he faces a rear attack that involves taking it like a man.
Deliverance comes at the hand of a Trumpublikan, who is displeased with the state of our union. The start of this beautiful friendship continues with that conservative taking Xander to the abandoned AppleCheeez restaurant that serves as a resistance headquarters.
Xander then gets caught up in the plot to make America great again; the most amusing moment in the film comes when he remarks that every negotiation related to the plot to bring down Obama involves him having sex. A hilarious test that is designed to prevent the unworthy from entering the inner sanctum is a close second for most memorable scene.
All of this culminates in a free-for-all game changer. The lesson here is that things have gone to far for all of us to get along.
The Warner Archive December 4, 2018 DVD release of the 1996-97 S6 of the ABC TGIF sitcom "Perfect Strangers" brings us close to the finish line for this 8-season classic and allows Millennials another chance to see a sitcom done right.
This set, which comes relatively close on the heels of the (reviewed) Archive release of "Strangers" S5, chronicles (pun intended) the further misadventures of uptight Chicago Chronicle reporter Larry Appleton (Mark Linn Baker) and his freshish off the boat cousin Balki Bartokomous. Don't be ridiculous, of course they follow in the grand tradition of Oscar and Felix and Laverne and Shirley.
The sitcom veterans, whose numerous prior credits include "Mork and Mindy" and the "Strangers" esque "Bosom Buddies" with Tom Hanks, behind "Strangers" take a nice "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to the series. These pros begin with standard sitcom plots and amp things up to comic degrees that provide entertaining freshness.
We also get related "Easter egg" references throughout "Strangers." Earlier seasons include mentions of Cunningham Hardware of "Happy Days" fame. The S6 "very-special" two-part episode involving especially serious danger includes a "Laverne and Shirley" mention and a quick shot of the exterior of the Burbank apartment complex where those girls live in latter seasons. The boys go to La La Land on a newspaper assignment, and the encounters include meeting an ice-cream truck driver who claims to be a movie producer.
The validation of the ability of Linn Baker and Pinchot to deliver the goods include Lucille Ball being a fan. The Ball dynamic includes Larry and Balki often including their respective significant others Jennifer and Mary Anne in the fun. An S6 example is the girls working as waitresses when Balki greatly overextends himself regarding catering jobs.
The fun this season begins with Larry behaving in character (pun intended) on overreacting to a relatively minor burglary. He gets a bank-quality security system installed in the mid-sized apartment that he shares with Balki. Yes, that leads to the boys getting trapped and facing punishment with extreme prejudice regarding being considered intruders,
The show runners straddle the line between jumping the shark and having events follow their natural course by having Larry and Jennifer get engaged in response to a serious threat to their relationship. Largely keeping the engagement in the background throughout the season keeps things on the side of natural progression. Limiting the appearance of a rambunctious moppet to one episode shows the same restraint.
Additional restraint is shown regarding the seemingly obligatory episode in which a lead become a star. Creating rapper "Fresh Young Balki B" does not lead to fame going to the head of Balki; instead, we learn once again that you can take the boy out of Mypos but not the Mypos out of the boy.
S6 wraps up with arguably the most predictable episode of the season; Balki administers a compatibility test to nervous Larry and Jennifer. Although the test results and the responses of the loving couple are predictable, the journey to that point is a true joy ride. The bigger picture is equally pure sitcom in that a nottie without any fame or wealth almost never lands a hottie. The perseverance that almost always pays off in TV Land almost always end with a restraining order in the real world.
As oft stated in these posts but never meant more than in this instance, they don't make 'em like "Strangers" anymore. Modern sitcoms either have edge, cruelty, or simply no humor. Conversely, old-school series find decent to good "com" in a slightly exaggerated "sit" to the delight of most.
The Warner Archive November 27, 2018 DVD double-feature release "Janie" (1944)/"Janie Gets Married" (1946) provides a much-needed tonic for our troubled times. The back-cover liner notes for this release share that these tales of the titular WWII-era All-American girl are based on a popular Broadway play of the same name.
The opening scenes of "Janie" establish that Hortonville (a.k.a. Anytown U.S.A.) is a peaceful community where Charles Conway (Edward Albert), who is the father of Janie and "problem child" Elspbeth (a.k.a. Elspbitch), is the prosperous conservative publisher of the local newspaper. An indication of the aforementioned wealth is full-time servant April (Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel of "Gone With the Wind).
The chaos at the opening of "Janie" is of the relatively wholesome teenage variety. Our "Gidget" is playing her Top 40 record too loud, tying up the only telephone line in the house with calls to friends, and is plotting to sneak out to a blanket party. Although that party has potential to be a swinging bash, it merely involves young lovers smooching on the grass.
Seeing Richard Erdman of "Community" play high school sweetheart/world-class doofus Scooper Nolan is great fun. This is particularly so when former Yale man/current Army private Dick Lawrence literally and figuratively enters this picture. His subsequent courting of Janie creates an awesome "screw you, Leonard" relationship with Erdman. For his part, Scooper valiantly tries to be a Dick blocker.
The bigger picture is that Dick and his widowed helicopter mother are in town because of a new Army base; this provides hilarity in the form of Charles being up in arms regarding the threat of horny soldiers corrupting Janie and her peers.
All of this culminates in a development that is relatable to modern teens. Janie and Richard planning a quiet evening while her parents are out soon becomes a wild bash with high-school girls, their soldier-boy beaus, and seemingly every dogface on the base. Although no crystal eggs are casualties, there is ample property damage. A sad part is that we are denied hearing April say that she don't know nothin' 'bout throwin' no party.
Of course, everything works out well in the end with Charles having the proper perspective and even achieving a film-long goal courtesy of a bureaucrat whom Alan Hale, Sr. plays to a tee.
"Married" picks up two years later. Nineteen year-old Janie is all-grown up and is a newly-wed with husband Dick. Their twin beds being pressed closed together at the beginning of the film suggests that the honeymoon period is not over.
Dick has a clearly token job at the newspaper of his father-in-law. Taking care of their one-bedroom cottage seems to be too-much for stay-at-home Janie; "wicked witch" housekeeper Mrs. Angles (Margaret Hamilton of "The Wizard of Oz") seemingly comes every day to over-starch the shirts of Dick and to disregard each request of Janie.
Voluptuous Army buddy Spud Lee (Dorothy Malone) coming for a surprise visit prompts most of the ensuing hilarity. That friendship beginning with Dick jumping in the foxhole of Spud does not help matters. Spud sofa surfing at Chez Lawrence really does not help.
In true sitcom fashion, a jealous Janie dupes a clueless Scooper into helping her with her plan to get back at Dick. Of course, this goes comically awry.
The culmination this time is Janie hosting an intimate dinner party for her family and for the straight-laced man to whom Charles wants to sell the newspaper. A put-out Dick, drunken Army buddies, a temporarily homeless soldier, and a wacky misunderstanding creates chaos that the typical last-minute miracle resolves.
The joy of all this is silly light-hearted fun that shows that good humor does not require shock and awe. We also see that teenagers and romantic problems have not changed much in 70 years,
'High Voltage' DVD + Blu-Ray + Digital: Horror-Comedy About Rock Band Paying Shockingly High Price for Year at the Top
Sony Pictures delivers a nightmare before Christmas regarding the November 20, 2018 Blu-ray + DVD + Digital release of the horror-comedy film "High Voltage." This homage to cynically dark-humored films of the '80s provides the bonus of commentary on the current state of the career of star David Arquette (a.k.a. former Mr. Courtney Cox).
Arquette displays great self-effacing humor as has-been former rock god Jimmy. His opening narration provides the best line in the film in which he states that he is celebrating his 50th birthday for the third time, This leading to an unwelcome reminder of his former glory is another highlight.
That "Groundhog Day" style celebration sets the stage for the remainder of "Voltage." Thirty-four year-old musician/family guy Scott and 23 year-old singer Rachel crash the party. This pair showing Jimmy what they have leads to forming a band.
Arquette shows more shameless humor regarding his effort to launch his new effort. He must pay for his past sins by kowtowing to Rick (Luke Wilson), who is the son of the former promoter of the old band of Jimmy. Jimmy must play nice and make up for his prior sin of not treating Rick well back in the day.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Voltage" nicely conveys the style and the spirit of the film.
The first gig of the band is the night that changes everything. Then-insecure Rachel having a not-so-great debut prompts an impromptu band meeting regarding where to go from there. The car in which Rachel is riding sans boys being struck by lightening as she is leaving gives her both an entirely new perspective and "Static Shock" style power to harness electrical power.
This leads to Rachel not demonstrating such great responsibility regarding her great new power. The good aspect of this is using her new-found ability to get the band on the road to success; the evil aspect of this is that this electricity comes at the cost of frying not-so-innocent men. The oft-presented and almost never heeded moral of this is that the hot chick who shows interest in you most likely lacks pure intentions. The rest of the story is that you pay dearly for what at most is an hour-or-so of pleasure.
This leads to Jimmy and Scott having to decide the extent to which they can condone the behavior that is granting them fame and fortune. Being an older former teen idol prompts Jimmy to repeatedly remind Scott that he should be careful about abandoning his one-shot at stardom.
Of course, all this climaxes after Rachel gets fully high on her own supply; any harm to the boys is collateral damage.
An unintentionally amusing aspect of "Voltage" is that it is similar to the 1977 six-episode failedcom "A Year at the Top." The concept of this one is that aspiring rockers Greg (Greg Evigan) and Paul (Paul Shaffer) sell their souls for the titular 12 months of stardom.
The bigger picture is that "Voltage" reflects the nature of fame. The reel and real lives of Arquette show how popularity can ebb and flow; the nature of the current (no pun intended) high shows that any short cuts come with prices that can range from a lack of integrity to a more costly compensation.
The Mill Creek Entertainment October 23, 2018 Blu-ray release of 2009-15 sitcom "Community" is the crown jewel in the recent series of releases of this type from this company that helps keep cult classics alive. The Creek section of Unreal TV 2.0 includes posts on BD CS releases such as "Happy Endings," "The Masters of Sex," "Rescue Me," and "The Awesomes."
As a practical aspect, the "Community" set (which looks and sounds spectacular in Blu-ray) provides an affordable means either to buy a first-ever set of this top-ever sitcom or to upgrade from the single-season DVD sets that take up more shelf space,
"Community" creator/star Chevy Chase nemesis Dan Harmon truly hits comedy gold with the concept and the execution of the series. The program centers around misanthropic and conceited disbarred attorney Jeff Winger (Joel McHale of "Talk Soup). Being caught lying about his undergraduate education results in McHale experiencing what may be the only reel or real case of being sentenced to complete his education. His doing hard time at Greendale Community College sets the stage for interacting with his fellow misfit students and the comically inept faculty and staff and to contend with absurd bureaucracy.
Additional context comes via the fairly recent explosion of claims of racism at Evergreen State College in Washington. The nature of that scandal and the manner in which the students respond provide strong proof that Harmon bases Greendale on that school.
Winger and his gang form a "family" in S1 by creating a study group for the Spanish class of woefully unqualified Senor Chang (Ken Jeong of the "Hangover" franchise). This evolves to taking on other classes and ultimately becoming a trouble-shooting committee that seeks to put right what once went horrible wrong.
The most notable member is naive pop-culture addict Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi). His tying real life into movies and television series and his tendencies to escape into fantasy worlds when faced with stress drives much of the action. A prime example of this is the S2 Christmas episode in which our friends are transformed into stop-action holiday characters. We also have Abed be the center of an awesome alternate reality and other variations on the lives of him and his friends.
Former high school football hero/stud Troy Barnes (Donald Glover a.k.a. Foolish Gambino) has the dual characteristics of practically being joined at the hip with Abed and of being highly relatable as a person who peaks early in life. Harmon does him well by fulfilling his greatest fantasy.
Troy high-school classmate/obsessive perfectionist good girl Annie Edison (Alison Brie) nicely reflects the dark side of someone who tries too hard. She is best remembered as the den mother of Abed and Troy.
Unfiltered Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) is the pretty girl/object of the affection of Jeff who takes up the cause of the week. Her inability to get her life together and her horrible romantic choices provide great entertainment. A relationship with shirtless hacky sack playing slacker Vaughn (Eric Christian Olsen) is a series highlight.
The adults consist of middle-aged mother hen/devout Christian Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) and racist/misogynistic/classist senior Pierce Hawthorne (Chaser). Shirley is mostly there to express disapproval of the antics of the "kids," and Pierce largely plays the role of the grumpy old man who insults his friends and provides "oh Grandpa" moments. Constant references to metrosexual Jeff being gay is a theme.
Harmon does a great job skewering both the arrested development of Millennials and the frustratingly increase in public outrage that only is worse in the years since "Community" has fallen one season and one film short of its goal of seven seasons and a movie. Examples of the immaturity of the students include the loved paintball episodes and other outings in which the entire campus engages in fun-and-games that almost literally destroy the place. Another classic episode has a pillow fort overtake the campus.
We further get a wonderfully true-crime style documentary surrounding the ass-crack bandit who uses an unconventional coin slot, an awesome send-off for Pierce that has his nastiness massively backfire on him, and much more good dark humor. This is not to mention the numerous times, such as a scheme to deal in a stash of textbooks, in which group members hilariously turn on each other.
This clear willingness to go there via comically absurd lengths warrants comparing "Community" to the better seasons of "The Simpsons" and "South Park" absent the profanity of the latter. It also reminds us of the Golden Age of Chase by evoking thoughts of the early days of "SNL." Sadly, we get "fat" Chevy.
The numerous extras include some of the best-ever outtakes, puns, and gag reels that highlight the strong comic chops of the cast. We additionally get deleted and extended scenes that criminally are excluded from the broadcast episodes. This is not to mention behind-the-scenes features that demonstrate that the love for the series is mutual between those who make it happen and those of us who benefit from them "going there,"
As mentioned above, the special quality of the previously released and new material relates to the social commentary that is put in proper perspective; this is true of most of the aforementioned other shows that Mill Creek has released.
The level of public outrage regarding every fictional portrayal over what includes acts that are deplorable in real life but still valid fodder for comedy simply requires too high of a price these days. No reasonable person can assert that any modern "atrocity" is comparable to the behavior of the Nazis, but the principle of Mel Brooks that laughing at Hitler robs him of his power has great applicability.
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.
The Warner Archive November 27, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1974 musical-comedy "Mame" allows fans to judge this one for themselves. This film is based on the stage-version of the 1958 Rosalind Russell comedy "Auntie Mame," which based on a story by and about Patrick Dennis.
One sadly undisputed aspect of this film is that having Lucille Ball having a very raspy and deep voice at this point in her career should have precluded having her playing any role that requires singing. The same is true regarding Bea Arthur, who reprises her role as best frienemy stage actress Vera Charles from the 1966 Broadway production. (Yes, I know that God will get me for that.)
"Mame" begins at the end of the Jazz Age; the titular society girl is living it up and thinks that the party will never end until she receives an almost-literal wake-up call during The Crash of '29. This sets the stage (pun intended) for Vera to delver one of the best lines in the play by stating that she is glad that she never set aside any money.
The rest of the story is that The Crash also comes soon after prim-and-proper orphaned nephew Patrick and his frumpy nanny Agnes Gooch (Jane Connell) come to live with his auntie. The foresight of his late father allows Patrick to attend a respectable boarding school and largely avoid the bad influence of his only living relative.
Meanwhile, Lucy puts her brand of comedy to good use as Mame is required to cut back and to attempt several jobs to keep the roof of her luxurious townhouse over her head. This quest for full employment brings her in contact with future husband/savior Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, "Music Man" Robert Preston, who is best-known to modern audiences for his role in "Victor/Victoria," excels in every aspect of his performance as Beauregard. He gets the bonus of performing "Loving You," which is written for the film.
Lucy again shines on her trip to the Burnside plantation to meet the mother (Lucille Benson) of Beauregard. Hilarity ensues when a woman scorned and general southern hostility toward damn Yankees combine to set up Mame for a fall. However, that New Yorker wins over the crowd by showing that she is more than a one-trick pony. This leads to the chorus singing the title song that lauds the titular free spirit.
A notable segment that follows is a montage that shows Patrick first growing from a cute and studious lad to a dreamy horndog high school boy and then a skirt-chasing college man. A very cute Bruce Davison of 258 IMDb credits plays that version of Patrick.
This maturity sets the stage for the final conflict. Patrick is engaged to textbook WASP woman Gloria Upson from Connecticut. This Junior League stereotype and her family are ultra-conservative to the extent of only barely concealing their prejudices. Of course, this does not sit well with bon vivant Mame,
Stereotype Lucy once again appears in a scheme near the end of the film. She hilariously exposes the nature of the Upsons both for personal satisfaction and to provide Patrick a wake-up call.
Of course, Mame and Patrick get a Broadway/Hollywood ending.
The special features include the theatrical trailer and an eight-minute promo. that celebrates Lucy starring in the film.
The epilogue is that a mediocre film starring Lucy and featuring Bea Arthur is better than the best film that is a showcase for virtually any current Hollywood royalty.
'Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1' 1st Release of 14 Technicolor Adventures of Spinach-Loving Strongman
The Warner Archive December 11, 2018 Blu-ray release of "Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s Volume i' is the latest example of Archive coming to the rescue. This first-ever release of the first two-seasons (1943-44 and 1944-45) of Technicolor "Popeye" cartoons comes several years after Warner Prime only takes this series of those theatrical shorts up to 1943 in three volumes. This is one of numerous examples of Archive "adopting" abandoned film and television series.
The titular squid is an everyman who temporarily develops super-strength and speed on ingesting spinach. The prelude to this typically involves Popeye stumbling into a bad situation and getting along without his 'roid until he finds himself badly defeated. This setback often comes at the hands of nemesis/antagonist Bluto (sometimes Brutus). The source of their conflict regularly is their concurrent courtship of lanky Olive Oyl.
"Her Honor, The Mare" is the first of the 14 beautifully remastered shorts in Volume One. This somewhat change-of-pace adventure has the Huey, Dewey, Louie, and my other brother Louie style nephews of Popeye first sneaking a horse into his house and then trying to coerce him into letting him keep their new pet. This arguably is the most cute one in the set and establishes that the first several cartoons are the "missing link" between the more crudely animated black-and-white offerings and the more polished color cartoons that many folks remember from after-school airings.
Up next is the "Marry Go Round." The notable aspects of this one include featuring Navy buddy Shorty and a "don't ask, don't tell moment" that is surprising for the '40s. The plot this time is Shorty helping his buddy wok up the nerve to propose to Olive.
This leads to the technicolor-popping "We're On Our Way to Rio." This first Bluto cartoon in "Volume One" has him and Popeye competing for nightclub performer Olive. This time, spinach helps Popeye by turning him into a dancing fool.
One of the strongest offerings comes fairly late in the set. "For Better or Nurse" is one of the first with the more polished look. This especially amusing tale has Popeye and Bluto simultaneously trying to get injured and prevent the other one from getting hurt. Their motive is to be admitted to the hospital where Olive is the titular health-care provider.
"Nurse" is notable for a few twists that all are too good to spoil.
The first side note is that these war-time productions surprisingly have virtually no propaganda; the second side note is that Pop-pie ala Mode sadly more accurately reflects the era. Insensitive depictions of stereotypes can be dismissed as reflecting less enlightened times; however, the presentation of dark-skinned cannibals who are duping Popeye with an eye toward feasting on him pushes the envelope even for the '40s.
The aforementioned vintage animation style and unique characteristics of the early 40s fully prove that they don't make 'em like that anymore. Sets like "Volume One" show we have reason to be glad that Archive brings 'em back.
The holiday engagement season openly including same-sex couples makes November 13, 2018 an apt release date for the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD of the 2018 comedy "My Big Gay Italian Wedding." The truth bombs and overall fun of this one make it a good gift for the boys in your life who either have tied the knot or who plan to go to the Chapel of Love where they're gonna get married,
This neo-modern rom-com begins with dreamy 20-something actor/Berliner Antonio narrating how he meets live-in boyfriend Paolo. This recap quickly leads to Antonio popping the question and an excited Paolo saying yes. The ritual of putting a ring on it is one of the first of many highly amusing moments.
The honeymoon period ends on Antonio discussing he and Bohemian landlady/roommate/fag hag Benedetta taking an Easter vacation to the small mountaintop Italian village where his parents live. This also is when Antonio learns that resistance is futile regarding not wanting Paolo to tag along. This relates to Antonio never actually telling that his parents that he is gay or that Paolo even exists.
Many gay men can relate to Antonia not being ashamed of his sexuality but not being particularly "proud" in that he does not have a rainbow flag outside his house or march in a pride parade. His comfort zone encompasses being out among gay and straight friends but not being ready to bring Mr. Right home to meet the parents.
Textbook comic relief enters the picture on middle-aged cross-dressing suicidal bus-driver Donato moving in with Benedetta and the boys. He soon becomes a pity addition to the trip.
Roberto the dad being the liberal mayor of the small community introduces an interesting twist. He is battling his council over his advocacy of 15 refugees who are living there. However, the tolerance of Roberto does not encompass his son being gay.
Momma Anna is much more supportive; her acceptance of Paolo and pushing him to invite his estranged mother to the ceremony reflects the brand of love of mothers-in-laws across the entire Kinsey Scale. This also makes those of us whose mothers have passed away happy about that in this particular context.
Anna asserts her motherly love to the extent of drawing a line in the sand regarding Roberto; suffice it it to say that he does not step up. Surprisingly stronger support by the local clergy is much nicer.
This leads to the typical hilarity that occurs in any film that centers around planning any wedding. We get the crazy ex booty call, a problem occurring with the venue, the whole party-planning going out of bounds, etc. Gay-themed obstacles include affirmative efforts to prevent the boys from walking down the aisle.
All of this (of course) climaxes with the big gay day. Genuine hilarity in these final few moments include a psychotic "I object" moment and Paolo attempting a "Three's Company" caliber ruse. All of this concludes with a scene that triggers PTSD memories of Katherine Heigl movies.
Breaking continues its solid track record by supplementing this comedy for our times with good extras. We see the actress who portrays Benedetta steal the show from her co-star who plays Antonio at a Q&A session following an opening-night screening at the 2018 Out Shine Film Festival in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.
We also get an "making-of" feature that shows the actual filming of scenes interspersed with comments by cast and crew.
Mill Creek Entertainment goes above-and-beyond regarding the October 30, 2018 "Can't Hardly Wait: 20-Year Reunion Edition." Merely releasing this 1998 John Hughes style summer teencom allows many of us who passed on this under-rated semi-precious gem in the theater, premium cable, and (most-likely) the DVD bargain bin at Wal-Mart to experience it. Second, Creek beautifully remasters the film and provides fun extras that include a 2008 10-year reunion in which writer-director team/work spouses Deborah Kaplan and Harrry Elfont, the casting director, and stars and supporting characters discuss the fun and love associated with making the film.
"Wait," which roughly runs in real-time, begins with the graduation ceremony at upskcale suburban Huntington Hills High. A panning camera eavesdrops on the typical gossip among the graduates. The main topics are the seemingly inevitable guy who is completely naked under his graduation robe and cheerleader/homecoming queen Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love-Hewitt) breaking up with long-term football-stud boyfriend Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli). The graduating seniors also discuss the upcoming evening gathering at the home of "Girl Whose Party It Is."
Love Hewitt and Facinelli provide a sense of the Hughes-caliber stable of current and future young stars. We also get Ethan Embry of personal '90s fave teencom "Empire Records" as moderate achiever/everyteen Preston Meyers; he attends the party that quickly goes out of bounds with best platonic friend/cynical bitch Denise Fleming (Lauren Ambrose).
Preston wants to kiss the girl in the form of declaring his unrequited love for Amanda and at least get to first base before leaving the next day. Of course, many obstacles stand in his way.
Ambrose "Six Feet Under" co-star Freddy Rodriguez plays Jock #3. Like most supporting characters, he gets his hilarious moment to shine. In this case, it is wonderful exuberance regarding upcoming sex with his girlfriend. We also get duped "Exchange Student" having an equally hilarious conversation with Preston.
Seth Green plays wigger Kenny "Special K" Fisher, who is a pale red-head acting as if he is straight outta Compton. Kenny adds a particularly strong "American Pie" vibe in the form of desperately trying to lose his cherry that night. Sadly, there is no cougar on site to help out in that regard.
Genius bullied nerd William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo) rounds out the group. He and his two "X-philes" buddies attend the party for the sole purpose of getting epic revenge on Mike for four years of intense physical and emotional bullying. William undergoing the rite of passage of having his first beer is his hilarious moment. A story in the reunion special about Korsmo being cast as Charlie is particularly interesting and shows how "Wait" may have been an entirely different movie.
William is one of the more interesting characters in that a mutual lack of interest often prevents even those of us with above-average academic records from getting to know the Sheldon Coopers in our class. William letting himself be a teen does wonders in that regard. A related lesson is that the excitement of graduation and the party that eventually ends re-introduces an element of the reality that bites.
The Hughes element begins with the teen stereotypes, which include "Reminiscing Guy" and "Yearbook Girl" (Melissa Joan Hart) , that are funny because they are true; it continues with a look at the impact of high-school graduation and the entertainment value of a completely bonkers teen party. We also get the aforementioned epilogues in the form of the day after those festivities.
Giving Hughes his due requires commenting that Kaplan and Elfont do not deliver the same level of depth; nothing approaches the essay and other insights of "The Breakfast Club," but we are reminded of our younger days in which we knowingly and unknowingly make fools out of ourselves and in which the nature of a relationship can dramatically change during a drunken evening only to have that magic quickly fade. The better news is that that bonding does have a residual effect.
The other special features include "Life of the Party," which has the cast discuss the appeal of teen movies. We additionally get deleted scenes and a "I Can't Get Enough of You Baby" music video that includes scenes from the film.
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.
The anticipated response of fans to the aptly titled Time Life 22-disc release "Robin Williams: Comic Genius" perfectly reflects the spirit of Williams and the set. Said reaction relates to a classic "Mork and Mindy" episode that is not among the equally memorable (including the two-part pilot) offerings in "Genius."
The omitted episode centers around naive alien Mork (Williams) becoming a home shopping addict. A hilarious scene has him frantic to purchase more junk from that service. Straight woman Mindy (Pam Dawber) asks her roomie from another planet if he really needs the item. Williams responds by transforming into his hilariously manic persona and states that he does not "need" it but really really wants it. That is a very valid reaction to "Genius." The larger picture is that the collectibles in the home page photo of this site reflect the lifelong influence of the episode (and Williams) on your not-so-humble reviewer.
A personal memories post a few days after the August 11, 2014 passing of Williams further reflects high regard for that performer. An aspect of this relates to another classic sitcom. A scene from "Chuckles Bites the Dust" in the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" has the minister who is eulogizing the titular clown state that that performer would have hated people to cry and would have wanted them to laugh.
Having a clear (but not delusional) image of Williams telling fans to not be sad about his passing and then going into an improved bit about having his way with 72 virgins in Heaven both provides solace and makes "Genius" very special.
A still "too soon" aspect of the passing of Williams prevents watching the 2018 documentary "Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind" that "Genius" includes. The excellent hype regarding that film indicates that it is must-see for Williams fans who can handle hearing about his life.
A "Mork" episode in "Genius" relates to the above. While "Mork Meets Robin Williams" could have been fully played for laughs (and is a bit sappy), it reflects the psyche of Williams that is an early warning of things to come.
Much of the humor of "Meets" relates to Mork being mobbed because fans think that he is Williams. The meeting of the reel and real Williams has a more serious note in that the actor tells the alien that giving so much exhausts him but that he hates disappointing people. Hilarity soon awesomely ensues when Mork then immediately asks Williams to give. Williams agreeing to do so reflects his character (no pun intended).
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Genius" further reinforces the value of the set. The good folks at Time Life amazingly include clips that reflect most of the range of Williams. We see him go off script and off-the-rails during talk-show performances, do his HYSTERICAL cat marking territory monologue from his 2002 "Live on Broadway" special, gleefully add his own spin on the Bob Newhart telephone conversation bit, liven up award shows, etc.
We also get glimpses of the many celebrity interviews (including Dawber) who express their love for that wild and crazy guy.
The highlights of "Genius" begin with the 24-page "Robin Williams: Uncensored" book that almost is worth the price of the set. In includes publicity and candid photos interspersed with jokes and insights from Williams. We additionally get quotes from his fellow comedians and from Barack Obama.
The greatness of "Genius" continues with never-released material; examples are a 2007 stand-up performance at the MGM Grand Garden and a Montreal show on the final tour of Williams. We further get a meeting of comic titans in the form of Williams talking with David Steinberg.
The ONLY criticism regarding "Genius" relates to an omission; the seemingly countless clips of Williams making guest spots on television programs includes a special feature on a guest spot on "SCTV." This extra consists of a handful of skits in which Williams performs. We sadly do not get the hilarious "Bowery Boys in the Band" segment that is available on YouTube. The following clip fills that gap.
A clip of Jay Leno in the aforementioned trailer perfectly conveys the appeal of Williams; Leno essentially states that that genius has a charm that allows him to get away with being outrageous. A prime example of this is an interview for a German television program in which the host asks Williams why he thinks that Germany does not have any humor and he responds that it is because they killed all the funny people. This shows that Williams understood context in a manner that sadly is lacking in 2018.
This is not to mention the unparalleled improv. skill of Williams arguably making him the funniest man of the 20th century. Many others can skillfully deliver their own material or that of their writers; it is hard to think of anyone who both can think as quickly on his feet as Williams and is brave enough to say what comes to mind.
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.
This latest in an ongoing series of reviews on vintage Warner Archive titles further illustrates the unparalleled diversity of the seemingly bottomless Archive vault. The DVD release of the 1981 dramedy "...All the Marbles" is a prime example of the gritty films of that period that are more heavy on the "dram" then the "edy." "Marbles" further is notable as the final film by director Robert Aldrich, who is better known for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "The Dirty Dozen."
"Marbles" stars Peter Falk playing Peter Falk as rumpled and crude manager of female tag-team wrestling duo "The California Dolls" Harry Sears. We meet this group in Akron during a match for promoter Eddie Cisco (Burt Young). Sears playing hardball with Cisco both leaves the team and their manager wondering where their next meal is coming from and Harry spectacularly burning a bridge.
A subsequent bout with the "Really Rottens" in the form of "The Toledo Tigers" leaves the Dolls battered, bruised, and bitter. In comparison, having to resort to the lower form of female mud wrestling where they get their tops ripped off is not much of a downfall.
The match against the Tigers leads to the mother of all grudge matches in true sports film tradition, The victory of the Dolls in the rematch sets the stage for a championship fight at the MGM Grand in Reno. The stakes regarding this event gives the film its name.
The primary depth comes in the character studies of the trio, Sears is completely untrustworthy and seems to actually revel in living in cheap motels and driving a car that is beyond beater. Meanwhile, one of the dolls is addicted to drugs and the other has a clear willingness to take one (or more) for the team. The common element is that all of them are shameless.
Additional substance is in the form of "Marbles" playing the same role as other members of its genre; it shows "respectable people" the life of folks who live and work in the underbelly of society. Most of us give little if any thought to female wrestlers and pay even less attention to their lives.
Although this is not a "grace of God" situation, we still see the realistically sympathetic side of women (and their men) who understandably often are the subject of scorn when they even are thought about. Putting a human face on them and literally seeing their pain and deprivation make them more sympathetic,
The long history of Shout! Factory rescuing TV Land favorites from oblivion by releasing then on DVD after their primary studios abandon that effort makes Shout! a good home for the October 30, 2018 Collector's Edition Blu-ray of the 1987 comedy film "Dragnet." The love that Shout! Select shows pop culture gems (such as the recently reviewed "City Slickers" and "Get Shorty") provides further proof that this is a match made in Heaven,
Watching the DVD version of "Dragnet" a few weeks before getting the Shout! Blu-ray allows verifying that the L.A. scenery, epic settings, and audio all are tremendously enhanced in this remastered version; it truly is like watching an entirely different film.
The bigger picture this time is that "Dragnet" reflects Hollywood bringing versions of (primarily '60s) television series to the silver screen in the mid-80s to mid-90s and to a lesser extent today. The first "Addams Family" and "Brady Bunch" films are among the greatest commercial and artistic successes. "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the live-action "The Flintstones" are at the other end of the spectrum.
The strong pedigree of "Dragnet" helps earn a slot near the top. "SNL"/"Blues Brothers"/"Ghostbusters" veteran Dan Aykroyd stars as straight-laced Los Angeles police detective Joe Friday, who is the nephew of equally rigid Friday (Jack Webb) of the series, Rising star (including "Splash") Tom Hanks plays laid-back goofball partner Streebek. Harry Morgan ("M*A*S*H) returns to his "Dragnet" role of (now) Captain Gannon.
Director Tom Mankiewicz is the son of famed director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. "SNL" and "Its Garry Shandling's Show" veteran Alan Zweibel and Aykroyd team up to write the script.
In addition to changing the tone of "Dragnet" from stoic drama to broad farce, the film plot that revolves around radical activists who identify themselves as P.A.G.A.N. diverts from the series basing episodes about real cases. All of this males the movie more "Naked Gun" than "Dirty Harry."
Friday gets new partner Streebek to literally and figuratively clean up before they are assigned to investigate the theft of the entire run of an issue of the fictional equivalent of Playboy magazine. However, this does not prevent the impish charm and immature side of Streebek from peeking out on visiting a fictional Playboy mansion where fictional version of Hugh Hefner Jerry Caesar ('80s star Dabney Coleman) resides.
The intrigue continues with a heist at a zoo and other bizarre thefts regarding which P.A.G.A.N openly admits; this coinciding with the '80s stereotype of an outrageous televangelist Rev. Whirley (Christopher Plummer) showing up helps put the pieces together.
The hilarity that ensues throughout includes Friday and Streebek crashing a P.A.G.A.N. ritual that leads to them wrestling a giant snake in an effort to rescue sacrificial virgin Connie Swall (Alexandra Paul of "Baywatch"). We also get the boys in plainclothes dressing up as leather-clad punks and a raid that disproves the theory that there is no reason to cry over spilled milk. This is not to mention Hanks putting his comedic talent to good use in a twofer "Meet the Parents" sequence,
Surprises include Friday, rather than Streebek, being the one to go rogue (and of course being proven right) to the extent of having to turn in his badge and gun. The subsequent unexpected change in Streebek shows the extent to which he wants to vindicate his partner.
Aykroyd and Zweibel particularly shine in writing a climax that nicely ties in every element of the film; centering it around a large event is predictable. Creating somewhat elaborate events that show that there is a reason for every bit of madness goes above and beyond.
The equally inevitable final showdown that pits Friday against the bad guy who evades capture during the big raid likely is sublime to younger visitors and ridiculous from the perspective of everyone of voting age. The absurdity of this is true to the spirit of the television series regarding Friday doing everything necessary to capture criminals..
The special features that make Select releases worthy buying begins with an interview with Paul that is filmed for this release; she is particularly adorable when repeatedly mentioning watching "Dragnet" for the first time in 35 years to prepare for the discussion,
Children of the '70s and '80s can relate to the awe of 23 year-old Paul being cast to star with Hanks and Aykroyd. Learning that Paul first learns of one of the best scenes in "Dragnet" on watching the film at the premiere is another highlight of the interview.
"Just the Facts!" is pure Shout! in that it is a 1987 hour-long infomercial in which Hanks and Aykroyd first show how "Dragnet" comes to be a radio program, a 1950s TV show, and a reboot in 1967. Much of the this focus is on comparing and contrasting star Jack Webb with Friday.
The second-half of "Facts" is on the making-of the film; they save the best for last in showing the stars recording the rap that serves as the theme for the film.
The final fact regarding "Dragnet" is that it perfectly illustrates the value of both '80s film comedies and the reason to add collector's edition of these films to your video library. The movie was a huge hit back in the day and gets better with age. Releases that include insights from folks who were there enhances watching a movie that merely was a diversion (and perhaps a chance to sit in a cool space for a few hours) when it was released.
The Shout Select division of Shout! Factory already makes lovers of mob movies and dark comedy an offer that they cannot refuse regarding the October 23, 2018 Collector's Edition of the 1995 film (not-to-be confused with the current Epix series) "Get Shorty." Folks who order "Shorty" directly from Shout! have a chance of becoming a made man by snagging a free "while they last" poster with new artwork.
Select further sweetens the deal by having this release coincide with Select making the (reviewed) fabulous Blu-ray of fellow '90s phenom comedy "City Slickers" available on real and virtual store shelves everywhere.
Like "Slickers," the scenery and the cinematography of "Shorty" look incredible on the 4K remaster of the Blu-ray. In this case, we start out with the bright hues of Miami and move on to all the many styles that are Los Angeles.
The aspects that make "Shorty" Select worthy include the dream team in front of and behind the camera. This starts with director Barry Sonnenfeld putting the same talent for dark humor that he displays in films that include the "Addams Family" and the "Men in Black" franchises to good use in this film about retired Miami loan shark turned aspiring film producer Chili Palmer (John Travolta). The good source material for Sonnenfeld this time is the comic crime-novel by the Stephen King caliber prolific author Elmore Leonard.
Travolta chooses wisely in making "Shorty" his follow-up to "Pulp Fiction" in this era in which he plays ticking time-bomb tough guys. His equally perfect cast mates include Gene Hackman as horror-film producer Harry Zimm, who has aspirations of making a film with substance, Rene Russo as B-movie actress with a history Karen Flores, and Danny DeVito essentially as Danny DeVito in the guise of actor Marin Weir. Actors who join the fun via cameos in which they play very true to type include Bette Mider, Alex Rocco, James Gandolfini, and Dennis Farina.
The following YouTube clip of the Shout trailer for "Shorty" provides another great endorsement for this must-see over-and-over film. Despite including roughly 15 vines of highlights, these images do not scratch the surface regarding the memorable moments.
The wonderful absurdity of "Shorty" commences with the opening Miami scenes in which antagonism between Palmer and fellow wise-guy Ray "Bones" Barboni (Farina) escalates on Bones hilariously making Palmer his bitch and our protagonist responding in kind. The subsequent events land Palmer in La La Land looking for Weir both to collect a debt and to pitch the story of the events that lead to his relocation.
Further complications arise in the form of the investors in a Weir film learning that their money is not being used in the agreed-to manner. Throwing in a psychotic drug-dealer with a world-class itchy trigger finger largely rounds out the fun.
The real fun (and hilarity) ensues when Palmer must keep several highly volatile spheres in the air while doing his best to avoid having any of them blow up in his face, Of course, the themes of this incredibly meta film include the similarities between how the mob conducts business and how supposedly legitimate Hollywood operates; this also proves the adage "its funny because its true."
The best truly is saved for last; we get both the mother of all cameos in the film and have a wonderful homage to the Mel Brooks comedy "Blazing Saddles," One spoiler is that there is no indication that the craft-services table at the movie-within-a-movie serves baked beans,
A highlight (and apparent Select standard) in the aforementioned bonus features is a roughly 30-minute documentary in which all the principals discuss their literal and figurative roles, DeVito steals the show regarding both his reminiscing about being recruited to play Palmer and the team getting "Fiction" auteur Quentin Tarantino to entice Travolta into playing Palmer. Another of the many features is a home-movie reel of filming scenes.
These bonuses emphasize the sad fact that Hollywood currently seems to lack folks with the talents that make a film like "Shorty" succeed. The simple-but-brilliant concept surpasses the theme of anything in the multiplex and the folks in front of the camera seem either to be stars rather than actors or are well past their prime.
The wrap regarding all this is that Shout! provides a chance to revisit the beginning of the end of art winning out over commerce regarding at least some studio fare.
A combination of laziness and of "I could not have said it better myself" is behind allowing the Shout Select division of good friend of classic and cult fanboys Shout! Factory to speak for itself regarding the October 16, 2018 Collector's Edition release of the Oscar-winning 1991 comedy "City Slickers."
The mission statement on the back-cover of the "Slickers" Blu-ray provides an excellent sense of the raison d'etre of these releases. "Designed with the film lover in mind, SHOUT SELECT shines a light on films that deserve a spot on your shelf. From acknowledged classics to cult favorites to unheralded gems, SHOUT SELECT celebrates the best in filmmaking, giving the love and attention they deserve. Past recipients of that adoration include "The Moderns" and the noir double-feature "Farewell My Lovely" and "The Big Sleep."
One more bit of necessary housekeeping before sharing thoughts on "Slickers" itself is that the film looks mahvelous, simply mahvelous in this 4K restoration. The bright lights far from the big city are indescribably vibrant. This is not mention contrasts such as red-toned rugged terrain and clothing such as a colorful bandana and a New York Yankees cap set against a literally sky-blue sky.
The numerous bonus features, which include audio commentary by stars Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern, are the icing on the cake. A 28-minute documentary "Back in the Saddle: 'City Slickers' Revisited" alone provides incredible background on the film. Crystal himself discusses his being reborn to make this movie.
Veteran comedy writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel show good instincts regarding the challenge of providing exposition and grabbing the attention of the audience. The first scenes are of radio ad salesman Mitch Robbins (Crystal) and his two best friends running with the bulls at Pamplona. It is clear that they are American tourists in over their heads and that sporting-goods salesman/womanizing cradle robber Ed Furillo (Bruno Kirby) is the instigator. The third stooge is henpecked Phil Berquist (Stern), who is a manager at a grocery store that his father-in-law owns.
A nice ode to comedies of the '60s and early '70s comes when this cold open leads to entertaining animated credits that further help keep eyes glued to the screen. The original "Pink Panther" films are the textbook examples of this technique.
An intertitle roughly 15 minutes into the film tells the audience that it is a year later. This day is notable as the 39th birthday of Mitch; a literal rude awakening is the first in a series of events that are devastating to Mitch and hilarious to the audience. It is apt that Mitch would have been better off staying in bed.
This onset of a mid-life crisis for Mitch coincides with his buddies buying him a two-week trip going on a Colorado cattle drive. His loving wife, whom the special features tell us is based on the real-life Mrs. Billy Crystal, convinces him to get back in the saddle after life has knocked him off the horse.
Ganz and Mandel continue showing why they get the big bucks when we meet the fellow titular urbanites who accompany the three friends on the adventure. Josh Mostel and David Paymer play a paper-thinly disguised Ben and Jerry of ice cream fame, we also get a father and son who practice dentistry together, and original film Supergirl Helen Slater as the odd-woman out.
Anyone with any familiarity with "Slickers" knows that Jack Palance steals the show in his Oscar-winning role as no-nonsense trail boss Curly. The aforementioned bonuses include Crystal entertainingly discuss what happens when Jack meets Billy.
Hilarity fully gets underfoot on the drive when Mitch inadvertently causes a stampede. After the dust literally and figuratively settles, Curly orders this nemesis to accompany him on a mission. This leads to the mutual understanding that countless sitcoms show us result when two foes are trapped together. This segment also introduces the other scene stealer Norman the calf.
Of course, things go from bad to worse until Mitch and his posse essentially must land the pilotless jet. It is equally inevitable that this experience makes men out of these Peter Pans and allows them to achieve inner peace. Suffice it to say that the laughs continue until the cows come home (and even longer).
The depth of "Slickers" is what adequately distinguishes it from hundreds of other summer comedies to warrant Select treatment. As mentioned above, reaching middle-age often triggers a sense that having a beautiful wife and house (not to mention children and job) is not enough. We further are victims of unpleasant body changes and the senioritis in the form of coasting at a job that no longer excites us. We see how throwing in the element of the romance of the Old West provides good fodder for a film.
The Icarus Films October 2, 2018 DVD release of the 2014 French dark comedy "Number One Fan" PERFECTLY combines the spirit of the current Icarus focus on releasing movies by "independent producers worldwide" with the earlier Icarus raison d'etre of bringing "innovative and provocative documentaries" to North American audiences.
The only misery associated with this tale of manipulative singer Vincent Lacroix getting unsuspecting admirer beautician Muriel Bayen to do his dirty work is that it does not seem that any Hollywood producer plans an American version that ONLY would require geographical adjustments. A related note is that this story is far more apt for the title "The Beautician and the Beast" than the unwatchable 1997 comedy of that name starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Fan" nicely introduces the two main characters and accurately conveys the tone of this MUST-SEE film.
Much of the magic of "Fan" relates to the skill of actress Sandrine Kiberlain bringing the pathetic (and not-so-bright) Bayen to life. This middle-aged woman is not a total loser but definitely has her quirks. As indicated above, she has a long-term obsession with Lacroix. She also is a compulsive liar prone to absurd tall tales. This first comes out in a fascinating scene in which she tells her teen children an increasingly bizarre story about a conversation with a man on the Metro. The unexpected turns makes on wonder if Kiberlain or Bayen have improv. training.
The events that lead to when Vincent met Muriel begin with the former telephoning bitter half psychotic live-in girlfriend Julie. He calls her while she is in the middle of what seem to be frequent hysterics. He then goes home to poker night only to have Julie first disrupt the festivities and then storm upstairs for the next stage of her rampage.
The game then breaks up early, and Lacroix goes upstairs in time to witness one of the most hilarious accidental cinematic deaths ever. This leads to a not-so-fatal flaw in "Fan." One does not understand why he simply does not call the police to report the incident. The "CSI" series alone indicate that the forensics support the truth.
Fortunately for viewers,, Lacroix devises the not-so-devious plan around which "Fan" revolves. He fully reflects the nature of celebrity by paying Muriel a non-booty call and further thrilling her with a request for a no-questions-asked favor. His fatal flaw is not realizing that she is an emotionally unstable dimwit. A relatable aspect of this is most people in any personal or professional relationship not showing his or her crazy until after the "sane" one puts that person in position of trust.
Writer-director Jeanne Henry adds the final element of fun in the form of nymphomaniac police detective Coline and her reluctant male partner-in-crime-solving. Their equally quirky colleagues are additional sources of amusement.
in true Coen brothers style, the investigation commences fairly well with a not-so-distraught Lacroix coming in to report the disappearance of Julie, The subsequent discovery of the corpse alters the tone of the investigation and alerts Lacroiix to the fact both that things did not go according to plan and that he should not have sent a moron to do the job of his personal assistant/nephew.
Insightful and amusing flashbacks show how the plan goes south as Bayen travels east. Watching how this ties into her amending her story as the police identify her as a person of increasing interest further shows that Henry has exceptional talent.
Meanwhile, Lacroix resorts to relatively desperate measures to avoid becoming a soloist in the prison choir; this includes throwing Bayen under the bus after taking her for a ride,
Much of genius of this is keeping the audience intrigued and entertained while maintaining an awesome balance between comedy and drama. We barely see Lacroix sweat, and Bayen puts her fertile imagination to good use in her efforts to keep herself and the French idol out of the modern version of the Bastille.
The conclusion of "Fan" shows both the extent to which someone can get away with covering up an accidental death and the truth of the well-known Chinese proverb regarding being careful when wishing upon a star.
'The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special' DVD: Comedy Stars Come Out to Honor Mother of Television Sketch Comedy
One of the most awesome things about the Time Life September 25, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 CBS prime time special (from the original "Burnett" set) "The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Special" is that this Stephen Colbert hosted event fare exceeds fairly high expectations. Sofa spuds who are old enough to fully appreciate Burnett by watching the show during its 1967 - 78 run are old enough to recall the cheesy tribute and reunion specials of the era that are little more than clip shows and vanity appearances by has-beens. The Burnett special is notable for learning from history, rather than repeating it.
The following YouTube clip of the Colbert introduction on the special speaks for the aforementioned Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. It also helps Millennnials and Gen Yers a sense of the experience that this DVD and other "Burnett" sets convey.
The Unreal TV review of a Time Life 50th Anniversary compilation of "Burnett" episodes and a post on a Time Life release of lost "Burnett" Christmas episodes provides an additional sense of the literally timeless appeal of Burnettt and her co-stars. This gang consists of the uber-talented Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, and incredibly good sport Lyle Waggoner. (Lawrence and Waggoner participate in the special.)
A special note regarding Lawrence is that the segment in which she and Burnett discuss the girl power of the show with female comedians such as Amy Poehler and Tracee Ellis Ross includes discussing how a teen Lawrence comes to join the cast. This topic touches on Lawrence going from playing the younger sister of Burnett to portraying her mother. The reviewed Time Life CS DVD of the hilarious '80scom "Mama's Family" shows how that redneck matriarch endures in pop culture.
The lovefest that Carol has with the boys includes arguably the two most endearing moments in the special. Jim Carrey discussing being a 10 year-old applying to join the "Burnett" cast in 1972 virtually literally sets the stage for re-enacting his receipt of a response from Burnett. This leads to a couple of wonderful close encounters.
The interaction between Burnett and Martin Short in this segment arguably best showcases the current sharpness of the former. Short immediately launches into the celebrity insulting persona of his talk show host Jiminy Glick character. Although momentarily phased, Burnett plays along and lets Short run amok.
The poise and sharpness of Burnett evokes loving thoughts of a still gorgeous 80-something Barbara Feldon at a Paley Center panel for her '60scom "Get Smart" several years ago. The boys look their ages and have minor age-related cognitive issues, but Feldon is fully alert and makes a hilarious quip.
Another highlight has the woman of the hour and former "Burnett" show guest Steve Martin sitting in a set that looks like a darkened movie theater. The chemistry between them is so strong that one yearns for a film co-starring them. Additionally, Martin puts the wry version of his humor on full display.
We do get clips, but they do not dominate the special; they do demonstrate the graciousness of Burnett by focusing as much (if not more) on her cast as on her. The finale to the special is equally apt for the series.
The best way to wrap up this discussion of the special is to note Burnett channeling fellow '70s-era CBS star Polly Holliday of the sitcom "Alice." Holliday was know for responding to fan requests to state her catchphrase "kiss mah grits" by saying that the admirer has heard her utter that phrase many times and that Holliday wants to hear the other person do it. The Burnett twist is having her guests imitate her Tarzan yell.
The truly special features includes a booklet with a gracious note by Burnett and a printed selection of the adorations by modern-day comedians. The best filmed extra shows Burnett engaging the studio audience during commercial breaks in the special. We also get unaired video love letters from the aforementioned admirers.
'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In' S6 DVD: Final Season of 'SNL' Predecessor Literally Leaves Us Wanting More
EDITOR'S NOTE: Unreal TV is proud and privileged to announce that '70s child star/"Laugh-In" Cousin Oliver Moosie Drier has granted an interview regarding his experience joining that series in its final year. This interview is scheduled to run during the weekend of September 7, 2018.
The Time Life September 4, 2018 DVD release of the 1972-73 S6 of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" provides a chance to see a genuine TV time capsule. This set also allows completing your collection of this musical sketch-comedy show that straddles the line between vaudeville and burlesque in delicately balancing between edgy social commentary and incurring the full wrath of the powers-that-be.
The larger legacy of "Laugh-In" includes introducing a comparable quantity of catch-phrases and other pop-culture humor as that of the '60s spycom "Get Smart." Would you believe that these expressions include "sock it to me," "look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls," and "The Fickle Finger of Fate?"
We further get genuinely enduring characters. The better known ones are Ernestine the telephone operator and Edith Ann the precious five-and-a-half year-old girl. This is not to take anything away from frumpy Gladys Ormphby and her regular partner-in-comedy dirty old man Tyronne F. Horneigh. We further get the German soldier with the "veeery interesting" catchphrase.
But wait there is more. "Laugh-In" also launches the careers of many household names that include Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Ruth Buzzi.
The legacy of "Laugh-In" begins with starting life as a 1967 special that is such a phenom that is becomes the series that is still loved more than 50 years later. The review of the S2 season, post on S3, thoughts regarding S4, and recent S5 article chart the evolution of the series. These musings include summaries of the past, present, and future film and television stars who help make the series so special.
"Laugh-In" paving the way for "SNL" is comparable to "The Simpsons" making adults watching cartoon cool; this impact of that show about a nuclear (of course, pun intended) American family more specifically makes the once-great three-hour "Animation Domination" block on Fox Sunday night possible,
The comparison continues with "Laugh-In" leaving the air long before any stagnation period that infects any 30-year series. This exit while still strong further allows the copious musical-variety series of the era to fill the gap in the manner that "Bob's Burgers" almost certainly will move into "The Simpsons" time slot when that series completely outstays its welcome on the prime time schedule.
The numerous changes that are apparent from the opening moments of the S6 season premiere reflect methods to freshen up the series in manners that future shows emulate. This effort that reflects an adapt or perish attitude likely would have included adding Ted McGinley and Heather Locklear to the ensemble if those two actors had been performing in 1972 and were a little older.
Adding 10 year-old child star Moosie Drier to the cast a few years before Cousin Oliver moves in with the Bradys reflects dual campaigns to bring in fresh blood and to attract more younger viewers. The primary contribution of Drier and another boy is an adorable and hilarious "Dear Moosie" segment that involves reading kid-friendly letters seeking advice and Mossie providing answers that are pure vaudeville.
The season-opener also introduces the audience to the "Laugh-In" cheerleaders who are akin to the Vegas showgirl style Mermaids who join "The Love Boat" late in the run of that classic. This also is the era in which late-to-the-party McGinley joins the cast as Ace the ship's photographer.
A unexpected diminished amount of political humor and an equally surprising reduction in the edge of the jibes at elected officials in this Watergate era likely reflect a combination of the following considerations., "Laugh-In" may have decided that playing nicer would have helped ratings, they may have been effectively directed to not discuss Watergate, and that scandal may have prompted the American people to decide that the wrongdoings of our leaders have reached a toxic level that no longer is funny.
We further see "Laugh-In" emulate phenom "The Carol Burnett Show" in a "Laugh-In" version of an audience Q & A session. This version being less kind-and-gentle than the comparable "Burnett" segments highlights the differences between the series.
The aforementioned roster of A-Liisters begins with incredibly good sport John Wayne, whose history includes a faux refusal to appear in early seasons. The best brains at "Laugh-In" mine wonderful humor spoofing the conservative tough guy image of Wayne. The Duke playing along illustrates that the best guests on any comedy show are the ones who go with the flow.
We next get Dyan Cannon joking about her recent role in the racy comedy "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice." Her opening bit in which she jokes about playboy host Dick Martin grabbing at her in a dark dressing room perfectly illustrates the era of f**k 'em if they can't take a joke now being a period of f**ked if you tell 'em a joke. The lesson here is to understand the context of humor along the lines of knowing that Ralph Kramden threatening to send wife Alice to the moon is far different then either joking about putting her in the hospital or actually hitting her.
Star of film and television Ernest Borgnine helps wrap things up in the final episode; his role primarily consists of joking about his well-known roles in productions such as "Marty" and "McHale's Navy." A highlight of the episode is pointing The Fickle Finger of Fate in a surprising direction regarding the final bestowing of that award for reprehensible behavior. In many respects this reflects the validity of giving this award to any individual or entity that cannot laugh at itself,
The good news regarding the series finale is that it maintains the quality of the show and literally leaves the audience wanting more. The bad news is that it seems that Rowan, Martin, and company do not realize that this is the season finale, let alone their very last time together in the spotlight. There are no references to any endings, and a preview of the next (apparently lost) episode literally promises more to come.
Cursory online research does not provide any answers; the probable reason is that diminished ratings and/or NBC making a last-minute decision to put another series in the "Laugh-In" time slot denies this ground-breaking series the final exit that it deserves. Either way, this justifies NBC getting the final Fickle Finger of Fate award.
The Warner Archive DVD release of the early Mark Hamill film "Corvette Summer" makes a PERFECT '70s film available to 21st century audiences. At the outset, this movie that is billed as a comedy is amusing but has the gritty look and dramatic overtone of similarly billed fare of the era. A good example of this is the (soon-to-be-reviewed) Archive release of the Peter Falk "comedy" "...All the Marbles."
Seeing Hamill play moderately sullen L.A. white-trash recent high-school graduate Kenneth W. Dantley, Jr. is amusing regarding his phenomenal fame as Luke Skywalker. Seeing that he has 321 roles on his IMDb profile compared to Michael Caine having 169 parts listed is amazing.
The opening scenes of "Corvette" evoke strong memories of the Sid and Marty Krofft live-action Saturday morning series "Wonderbug" for children of the '70s. Newly minted high-school senior Ken and his fellow auto-shop students (including a boy whom a slimmed-down Danny Bonaduce of "Partridge Family" fame portrays) are at a car graveyard looking for a car to spend the year rebuilding. A variation of divine intervention calls the attention of Ken to the titular Stingray, which is minutes away from being flattened. Of course, Ken rescues this piece of junk in the nick of time.
The '80s vibe of these scenes and of the subsequent montage and other action over the next 12 months of reel-time is of "The Greatest American Hero." That one also starts with a father-figure teacher to a group of under-achieving losers taking his kids on a life-changing field trip.
"Smokey and the Bandit" and "Breaking Away" moments come later in "Corvette."
Ken experiences the absolute worst nightmare of any new car owner when his wheels are stolen the first time that Teach takes the kids on a field trip to take turns driving the 'Vette on the strip, Ken much later learning more about the circumstances of the theft provides the best twist in the film.
The diligent efforts of Ken to find his baby leads to a tip that put him on the road to Las Vegas; the subsequent multiple ways in which he loses his innocence illustrates the meaning of the term "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." One disappointing aspect of the film for fans with less-than-pure hearts is that this coning-of-age does not include a "Midnight Jedi" experience for Ken. The audience similarly learns that yelling at Ken to use the Jedi mind trick is futile.
The Sin City adventure begins in earnest when aspiring lady of the evening (and afternoon and morning) Vanessa (Annie Potts) picks up a hitchhiking Ken on the road to Vegas. The best moments regarding Vanessa involve separate occasions on which Ken effectively pays two-bits for services rendered and she literally takes a whore's bath.
The arrival in Vegas finds Ken on his own and looking for his car; the good news is that he has reason to hope for a a reunion; the bad news is that his rite-of-passage includes living rough. His subsequent reunion with Vanessa further makes his life a little better.
This leads to Ken being persuaded to go over to the dark side; his Yoda not being a righteous dude increases the odds that our boy will not see the light.
This being a '70s film (rather that a light '80s teencom) makes it likely (but uncertain) that the final scenes will be of Ken and Vanessa running out of a Vegas wedding chapel and driving away in the Stingray with a "Just Married" sign on the back of the car and tin cans tied to the rear bumper. The sad truth is that real-life D students with deprived childhoods almost never get Hollywood endings.
The summer movie season void that the Film Movement July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 drama "Hotel Salvation" fills is for a beautifully shot foreign film with relatabale substance, This film additionally is part of the always-awesome Movement Film of the Month Club.
The following YouTube clip of a "Salvation" trailer focuses on the equal heart and humor of the film in this synopsis of the film.
The primary theme in this film about middle-aged Indian businessman Rajiv (Adil Hussain of "Life of Pi") granting a dyingish wish of his elderly father Daya is of adult children and their parents belatedly coming to understand each other ala fare such as the 1989 Ted Danson and Jack Lemmon film "Dad." The bonus concept is senior citizens making the titular Asian lodging establishment their home ala "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
"Salvation" opens with Daya having a particularly surreal highly symbolic dream. His interpretation of that nocturnal event includes a message that it is his time to die. This prompts him to plan an exit strategy in the form of checking into Hotel Salvation in the holy city of Varansi. The applicable policy of this property near the Ganges river is that guests have 15 days in which to either fish or cut bait.
Daya asking Rajiv to accompany him coincides with the boss of the latter literally breathing down his neck regarding his productivity. Other stress relates to the wedding plans of the daughter of Rajiv.
A combination of guilt and familial obligations prompts Rajiv to agree to take Daya on the trip. The grumpy manager and the seedy accommodations provide the pair angst in equal measure to the audience being entertained.
Daily life at the hotel is more akin to conditions at a low-quality nursing home than a resort, The highlight of the day seems to be watching a television program titled "Flying Saucer" in the common room.
The 15-day deadline approaching creates additional stress, It seems unlikely that Daya is going to die anytime soon, and the increasing pressures on the homefront are making it very difficult for Rajiv to stay away.
Writer director Shubhashish Bhutiani stays true to the spirit of his subject by ending things with each character better understanding the generation before him or her and achieving the desired personal salvation.
The always well-paired Club bonus short film this time is the adorable Swiss movie "May the Night Be Sweet." This charmer tells the tale of eight-year old Alice and her younger brother Lucas sneaking out to provide their ailing grandfather comfort and joy.
As mentioned above, both films are notable for depicting themes that are highly relevant to families all over the world.
Time Life awesomely socks it to us one more time regarding the July 10, 2018 (POSSIBLY delayed a couple of weeks) DVD release of the 1971-72 S5 of genuine pop culture phenom "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." The legacy of this music-variety show includes recruiting the biggest stars of past, present, and future and launching the careers of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. This is not to mention topical humor that makes the Smother Brothers ask "did they just say that?"
The episodes remain very strong and look and sound perfect better on DVD than as originally aired on NBC. However, one glaring omission earns Time Life The Fickle Finger of Fate award that "Laugh-in" bestows for onerous acts. Time Life does so exceptionally well with extras that include new interviews with cast members on the S1 through S4 sets that the absence of any extras on the S5 set is moderately disappointing. At least give us a "Best of" S5 clips or a blooper reel Judy.
The myriad S5 changes begin with a cast member other than hilariously flamboyant Alan Sues showing up with a beard. We also see the sad departure of Arte Johnson and the fun arrival of Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis of the '60scom "Hogan's Heroes." We additionally get the debut of a new bit in which double-coyote-ugly spinster Gladys Ormphby (Ruth Buzzi) dreams that she is married to historical and fictional men. Tarzan is first up.
The very special guest star is '60s sex kitten Raquel Werlch, who fully embraces the spirit of the series as enthusiastically as other A-Listers who appear. A highlight is Welch teaching Gladys how to sexy only to have things take a rip-roaring twist.
The season premiere further is notable for having Martha "the Mouth" Mitchell make numerous outrageous comments of the variety that keep husband Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell awake at night. Vice-President Spiro Agnew is the her primary target.
This premiere also begins a "must-see" ongoing bit in which "Adam-12" stars Martin Milner and Kent McCord appear in character. These leads of that early "CHiPs" series showing their comedy chops is wonderful fun.
The highly sports-oriented second S5 episode features numerous top (and past) athletes. Football player Roman Gabriel is the headliner. ("Broadway" Joe Namath shows up later in the season.) The rooster includes jockey Willie Shoemaker and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
The epic 100th episode brings back former "Laugh-In" stars Judy Carne, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, and Jo Anne Worley. John Wayne and Tiny Tim also join in on the fun. A highlight includes precious five-year-old Edith Ann meeting her elders in a two senses of that word.
A snarktastic episode has Paul Lynde join fellow Friend of Dorothy Alan Sues; pairing Lynde with macho man John Wayne makes things even better. Sadly, Charles Nelson Reilly appearing in another episode prevent the one with Lynde achieving a trifecta.
Giving all the other guest stars his or her due is an almost impossible task. The best way to provide a sense of this is to share that dropping the names Liza Minnelli, Carl Reiner. Rita Hayworth, and Debbie Reynolds barely scratches the surface.
The bigger picture this time is that "Laugh-in" perfectly captures the spirit of Unreal TV. It achieves its objective of providing a break from the harsh realities of the late '60s and early '70s just as well as it does regarding out own challenging times. It further avoids the toxic lethalness of the 21st century by following the equally insult everyone philosophy of Don Rickles; the show seems to give Richard Nixon and LBJ equal time.
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which stillis 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.