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.
Warner Archive once again proves the timelessness of Golden Age films with the May 1, 2018 DVD of the 1932 dramedy "The Famous Ferguson Case." The only difference regarding the yellow journalism and the scum who practice it between then and now is that modern "news" gets reported much more quickly and has a correspondingly rapid impact.
The written crawl that opens "Ferguson" gives folks who pay attention a good sense of the conclusion of this feature-film quality B-movie. The gist of this text is the opening statement of an introductory lecture in a Journalism 101 class.
The message starts out by defining "news" and goes onto describe what disreputable members of the fourth estate label as that commodity. The amazing thing is that this statement is even more true in this era in which CNN, Fox News. and other 24-hour news channel must fill the air with programming that must have a large audience even when nothing news-worthy that is of interest to average Americans is occurring.
Orson Welles provides a variation of this sentiment in arguably the second most famous line in "Citizen Kane." The titular William Randolph Hearst character tells an underling "you supply the pictures, I'll supply the war."
A more amusing perspective on "Ferguson" is that it plays out like the darkest ever episode of "The Andy Griffith Show." The sophisticated city folks come to the hick town believing that the locals are morons only to have the local sheriff reveal the urbanites to be the actual fools.
The primary action in "Ferguson" begins on a typical morning in the small upstate New York community of Cornwall. Bruce Foster (Tom Brown) of the Cornwall Courier newspaper is coincidentally on hand when part-time resident New York banker George Ferguson unexpectedly arrives in town. This also coincides with wife Marcia Ferguson being at the station with friend with presumed benefits local banker Judd Brooks. Meanwhile, Mrs. Brooks is at home pregnant with her little dividend.
Everything seemingly being jake leads to Brown returning to the office to flirt with colleague/girlfriend Antoinette "Toni" Martin. Toni particularly dreams of the couple moving on up to live in a deluxe apartment in in the sky in Manhattan.
Everything changes when hot lead cuts both the life and the vacation of George short, This occurs in his bedroom, and Marcia is found bound and gagged nearby. Her story (and she is sticking to it) is that armed intruders are the culprits. However, the clear response of folks who would know is that the lady of the house is lying.
This shooting propels Tom into action; he uses the wire service of the day to send his story to the big guys. This leads to Manhattan-based newsmen (and one woman) arriving en masse. The most notable of the group are smoothing-talking admitted alcoholic Bob Parks, honorable news veteran Martin Collins, and loose Lois Lane Maizie Dickson. Star Joan Blondell gives an award-worthy performance as this woman who has experienced a lifetime of sins in a few years of adulthood.
The new kids on the block waste no time making themselves at home and shamelessly manipulating developments to further their objectives; this extends to blatantly pulling the strings regarding the development of the criminal case.
Additional fun comes regarding Bob seducing Toni on both a professional and personal level. The stars that he puts in her eyes include both making a name for herself among Manhattan reporters and becoming at least his common-law wife. The aforementioned strong performance of Blondell includes her reactions to witnessing what she has seen (and personally experienced) before and futilely tries to convince Toni to not make the same mistakes. One particularly strong scene reveals the extent to which her life has affected Maizie.
For his part, newshound Tom increasingly becomes aware that Toni is just not that into him anymore and no longer is a girl whom he can bring home to mother. He later learns the extent to which you can keep 'em down on the farm after they have given the city slicker the milk for free. The astounding thing is that these used goods seemingly still interest him.
A surprising game changer occurs roughly 15 minutes before the end of "Ferguson." The "pros" awesomely are caught with their pants down and are repeatedly forced to confront the consequences of their actions. All of this ends on a cynical note that shows that everyone is both disposable and replaceable. We further wonder if Tom will ever have the same good instincts regarding women that he has regarding the news game.
The Time Life May 8, 2018 DVD release of the 1970-71 S4 of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in" coming roughly one month after the reviewed S3 set (which comes roughly two weeks after the reviewed S2 set) demonstrates a commitment to very timely release these seasons. At this rate, the sixth and final season will be out no later than August.
The Time Life commitment to "Laugh In" also includes continuing to add special features to these DVD sets. The S4 bonuses include a continuation of the S3 set interview with star Lily Tomlin and a very interesting separate interview with Tomlin co-star Arte Johnson.
The cold open in the S4 season premiere nicely captures the spirit of this hilarious and brave borderline burlesque rapid-paced sketch comedy show that uses risque humor to make politically incorrect jokes that would not fly today and to expertly skewer politicians on both of the aisle. The opening scene has Art "Ed Norton" Carney in character yelling down to an unseen Ralph Kramden to come up and watch "Laugh-in."
A physical characteristic of the regular cast member who plays Kramden prompts a joke that would get "Laugh-in" boycotted in this era in which society has gone from f**k 'em if they can't take a joke to f**ked if you tell 'em a joke. This witticism involves Carney referring to primary Kramden portrayor Jackie Gleason hosting his variety show in Florida by commenting that Kramden has been spending too much time in the Miami sun.
Most of the usual characters and their on-screen creations show up during this season premiere. This includes relatively new girl Lily Tomlin as telephone operator Ernestine talking to an off-screen Aristotle Onassis about his spendthrift wife ordering an absurdly expensive telephone. Tomlin further shines as "Tasteful Lady" who comments on the crude humor of the series.
The political humor includes ongoing jokes about Spiro Agnew being president. Even better humor comes in a "The Mitchells at Home" sketch that has Nixon Attorney-General John Mitchell chastising infamously outspoken "Mouth of the South" wife Martha for offending a foreign dignitary.
The second episode has "Mr. Warmth" Don Rickles knowingly blatantly promoting his recent film "Kelly's Heroes." Although he is a very good sport and fully gets into the spirit of the series, Rickles surprisingly does not engage in his trademark insult humor. A nod to this legacy is his singing in a tribute to show business that his audience thrills at him calling them dummy.
This bit on show business also provides stand-out Ruth Buzzi a chance to shine as an auditioning actress quickly adapting to the demands of a casting director. This one further has Buzzi portray her classic frumpy Gladys Ormphy having persistent dirty old man Tyrone F. Horneigh move his attempted seduction from their typical park bench to the friendly skies. A surprising omission is that his "courtship" does not refer to the Mile High Club.
The third S4 episode can be considered a "very special" one in that the primary guest star is former cast member Goldie Hawn freshish off her Oscar win for "Cactus Flower." Watching Hawn comically play the diva and series hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin do a hilarious Abbott and Costello style bit on her absence is hilarious. A chorus line of dancing Goldies is another highlight. No one does the dumb blonde bit better than Hawn.
Other big and small-screen luminaries who guest star on during S4 include Orson Welles, Zero Mostel, Ken Berry, Tim Conway, Carol Channing, and semi-regular Johnny Carson, who literally comes across the hall to join the fun.
The continuing appeal of all this is that "Laugh-In" perfectly combines every element that warrants calling a television show great. The starting point that Tomlin notes in her interview is that an entire family can enjoy it together without anyone either not liking it or getting bored.
"Laugh-in" further benefits from having has a talented ensemble in which everyone excellently plays off each other and seem to genuinely get along, humor that is funny either because it is spot-on commentary of the era of the show or is timeless, and booking every guest star one for which one could hope.
The sad part of all this is that our current society is so divided that "Laugh-in" would not work today. As the beginning of this article states, people no longer can take a jok. On top of this, any current series that hypothetically has Julie Andrews guest star likely does not attract the same viewers who tune in to see hypothetical guest Chris Evans get it socked to him. We simply live in society in which there are numerous fissures that expand into chasms.
Time Life once again awesomely socks it to us with the March 20, 2018 DVD release of the 1969-70 S3 of the unique "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." The S2 review provides a good introduction to this phenom of a Swinging '60s borderline burlesque sketch-comedy show that features both Hollywood royalty and young lions.
One surprise is that second-season newcomer Dave "Reuben Kincaid" Madden does not return for the third season despite "The Partridge Family" not premiering until 1970. High-profile new kids on the block for S3 include '60s sex kitten Pamela Rogers and Britcom star Jeremy Lloyd of "'Allo 'Allo" and "Are You Being Served." Having fellow Brits Peter Sellers and Michael Caine as guests early in S3 further demonstrates that legendary producer/creator George Schlatter recognizes the incredible comedic talent of our former oppressors.
Further, the Ready for Primetime Players that also include Ruth Buzzi, Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Henry Gibson demonstrate that talented "kids" offering hip and subversive comedy goes back before the mid '70s.
The mod lightning-paced format intersperses song-and-dance numbers with one-liners by the cast, the special guest-stars, and the Burbank and Hollywood royalty who stop by to deliver either one line or to make a similar very brief appearance. An example of the later is Bob Hope literally popping as a brother-in-arms of the "very inteeeresting" German soldier character of Arte Johnson.
A perfect instance of all the above is Sellers appearing as the twin of Johnson's dirty old man Tyronne F. Horneigh to join that character in sandwiching Buzzi's frumpy spinster Gladys Ormphby on the park bench that Horneigh and Ormphby frequently frequent.
Rowan and Marin personally awarding the "Fickle Finger of Fate" to a well-deserving individual or entity is the most blatant example of political humor that often risks making the Smothers Brothers state that "Laugh In" goes to far. The first presentation goes to a judge who does not reduce the sentences of two black men who cause minor damage in retaliation for a KKK attack; the "rest of the story" is that the judge admits that the punishment is unduly harsh.
S3 is particularly notable for adding Lily Tomlin to the cast mid-season. She states in an interview that is an S3 bonus feature that that comes about as a result of Schlatter watching her audition for another series. Tomlin shares during the tribute to Schlatter for his MASSIVE donation to Pepperdine University that is the other bonus feature that Schlatter would ask Worley to perform the light-blue material regarding which Tomlin did not feel comfortable.
Tomlin beginning this run with her portrayal of Ernestine the operator gets things off to to a strong start that never wanes. Her sharing in her DVD interview that Schlatter sneaks a subliminal message in those skits is hilarious.
Early S3 episodes also stand out for bringing popular music stars of the day to the show. Diana Ross, Sonny and Cher, and The Monkees show up on subsequent weeks and prove the philosophy of Carol Burnett that the best guests on a variety show are the ones who can both sing and do comedy. Ross outshines the group in both regards by fully embracing the "Laugh-in" spirit. Ringo Starr does not show up until late in the season.
As cliched as it sounds, they simply cannot make 'em like "Laugh-In" these days. At the outset, the hostile political divide in 2018 ensures that any form of gutsy political humor prompts calls for boycotts by half of the audience. Second, the public appetite for good corny humor sadly is greatly diminished. The people mostly demand insults and/or genuinely blue material.
Finally, we are more of a culture of personalty than genuine talent these days. On top of this, most celebrities have a more narrow following than the generation of matinee idols before them. They also typically lack their sense of humor.
A prime example of this contrast is Greer Garson being an incredible sport each time that she appears on "Laugh-In." One cannot imagine Meryl Streep even agreeing to appear on such a show or being a total goof if she makes the trip to beautiful downtown Burbank. Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls Ricki.
The Warner Archive January 16, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 first season of the NBC comedy "Trial & Error" provides current fans a chance to catch up before the S2 premiere in a few months and gives folks who who have never seen it another bite at the apple. Bringing John Lithgow back to an NBC comedy and successfully combining two clever television concepts compete for being the most notable aspect of the series.
"Trial" additionally seems tailor-made for DVD in that the season-long story-arc complete with cliffhangers calls for the seamless marathon viewings that this format facilitates. Getting caught up in the plot and suddenly realizing that you have watched eight episodes is very easy. One can assert that this is the "OJ Syndrome."
The following YouTube clip of a "Trial" promo. tells you everything that you want to know about the series that you are not afraid to ask.
The element of "Trial" chronicling the efforts of the defense team in the high-profile murder case in which small-town poetry professor Larry Henderson is prosecuted for the death of second wife Margaret from crashing through a plate-glass window is an homage to the 2004 dramatic series "The Staircase" that documents a similar real-life case.
The mockumentary style of having the characters record video interviews throughout the series evokes strong thoughts of the NBC comedy "The Office," which introduces that concept to American audiences. However, setting "Trial" in the quirky small town of East Peck, South Carolina makes it more like "Office" follow-up series "Parks and Recreation" than the Steve Carell workplace comedy.
Considering "Northeastern" attorneys to be the chosen people prompts Larry brother-in-law/local tobacco tycoon Jeremiah Jefferson Davis to hire a New York law firm to represent Larry. That white shoes corporation sends young untested Josh Segal (who is "Northeastern" on the side of his father) to provide that counsel. Nicholas D'Agosto plays this legal professional fresh off playing District Attorney Harvey Dent on the Fox drama "Gotham."
A "Green Acres" element (complete with a New York attorney finding himself living among small-town rubes) is evident when Segal quickly discovers that his dream team consists of dim-witted investigator Dwayne Reed and essentially office manager Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd of an eponymous sitcom and several other series), whose many afflictions include a complete inability to recognize anyone no matter how often they meet or how many times that their paths cross.
This group finds themselves squaring off with ambitious prosecutor Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays of "Glee"), whose primary goal is to execute someone in order to advance her career. Her secondary goal is to examine the briefs of Segal.
Much of the best humor comes relates to Segal and his team planning the defense. Like Oliver Douglas of "Acres," Segal largely accepts the lunacy in order to avoid going crazy himself. Memorable segments include childlike excitement each time that the murder board is updated and the support staff suggesting absurd theories.
Lithgow is surprisingly sedate; he mostly seems more like a befuddled senior than a quirky intellectual or a pompous ass. He still plays his role well, but more always is better regarding Lithgow-style zaniness.
Veteran showrunners Jeff Astrof and Matthew Miller additional obtain comic silver from the absurdity of changing the persons-of-interest in the primary case and associated crimes that follow just as frequently as a cannonball is shot off in the East Peck town square. These "unusual suspects" include virtually everyone other than the main cast and even a couple of members of that ensemble. Including a one-armed man in that rogue's galley is particularly awesome.
The inevitable "30 Rock" mini-reunion is a "Trial" highlight. Astrof and Miller choose wisely regarding whom they bring back. Seeing Lithgow interact with this guest shows that they still have it and should get co-star in another series. Learning if Team Henderson discovers a Tommy gun requires watching.
"S1" ends on a cliffhanger that also can serve as a series finale that is typical for a show that is on the bubble; Segal still gives a hoot about Lithgow after his trial concludes, and this legal eagle takes on another ripped-from-the-headlines case that likely seems open-and-shut and almost certainly involves a great deal of baggage.
Just as is the case in a legal proceeding, judging the quality of "Trial" requires considering every relevant circumstance. The underlying satirical elements of the series are solid; each cast member does a respectable job with his or her role; America always love a trial that involves numerous scandals, and this show is much better than most sitcoms on broadcast and cable channels.
Time Life releasing the 1968-69 second season of the classic comedy series "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" on January 9, 2018 is the latest in the long (and rapidly growing) additions to the Time Life catalog that remind us of the awesomeness of comedy-oriented variety series of the era. Time Life releasing "Laugh In" S3 on March 6, 2018 provides even more reason for a sexy mod party.
The uniqueness of "Laugh In" extends beyond presenting its material as rapid-fire jokes that straddle the line between vaudeville and the more racy content of burlesque. A prime example of this is having the worth their weight in solid gold dancers Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne gyrate in bikinis with apt slogans related to the theme of the week body painted all over them.
A more blatant example of the "naughty" aspects of "Laugh In" is having future "The Partridge Family" star Dave Madden explain during his inaugural appearance in the S2 season premiere that he will toss confetti in the air anytime that he has an impure thought in any appearance. Suffice it to say that the real-life cleaning crew for the show does a great deal of sweeping.
Other raciness comes in the form of much of the clever PG banter between hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin; a typical exchange has straight man Rowan make an innocent comment such as commenting that he admires Martin for being progressive by hiring a woman plumber and Martin replying that she does a good job cleaning his pipes.
The notable aspects of the S2 season premiere extend beyond Madden joining the cast. Then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon makes his well-known appearance in that episode. This demonstration of a sense of humor both is credited with helping Nixon win that election and is notable for coming roughly 25 years before what pundits consider the historic event of then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton playing his saxophone on "The Arsenio Hall Show" to enhance his populist image.
This episode additionally introduces the weekly "Fickle Finger of Fate" honor that Rowan and Martin award for absurd stupidity and/or waste. Designing a trophy that passes muster with the network censors does not diminish the impact of honoring the recipient with this distinction.
Politics also enters the picture via early versions of a news crawl that literally send a message; the first S2 one informing presidential candidate George Wallace that his sheets are ready for pick up shows that "Laugh In" barely holds its punches in this regard.
A more kind-and-gentle ongoing bit has cast members doing the classic schtick of joking about the names that celebrities would have if they married; a hypothetical example is Doris Day becoming Doris Day Jobs if she marries Steve Jobs.
Speaking of celebrities, "Laugh In" apparently attracts more stars than there are in the heavens. "Get Smart" star Barbara Feldon is an obvious guest for the first S2 outing. Co-guest Jack Lemmon is a less obvious participant but is equally awesome. Film royalty Greer Garson and Otto Preminger showing up and fully embracing the spirit of the series a couple of weeks later is more surprising.
We also get Eve Arden indirectly insulting her sitcom of that era "The Mothers-In-Law" and the sons of John Wayne separately showing up regarding a bit centered around trying to get their father to appear again after being an S1 guest.
The numerous other A-listers (including several national treasures and "it" stars) reflects the same sense of the coolness of guesting on "Laugh In" that is associated with being on "Saturday Night Live" or "The Simpsons" in the early seasons of those series.
In addition to outdoing SNL in caliber and quantity of celebrities, "Laugh In" outshines the "Weekend Edition" feature of that son of that classic. The "Laugh In" news of the past, the present, and the future segment is largely self-explanatory. The aforementioned predictions focus on the far-off year of 1988.
The spectacularness of "Laugh In" continues with the catch-phrases and characters that have never fully left the public consciousness and have found new life in these DVD releases. The aforementioned "sock it to me" is an eternal classic; watching the DVDs has triggered memories of the equally hilarious "look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls," and the "very interesting" catchphrase of the German solider character of Arte Johnson. The awesome thing is that these references barely scratch the surface regarding the number of memorable characters.
It is equally nice that we only need to wait two months to get the S3 episodes in which then-new cast member Lily Tomlin introduces the world to Ernestine the "ringy dingy" operator and adorable little girl Edith Ann.
The bigger picture is an element of "Laugh In" that shows how it vastly outdoes all modern shows; in addition to lacking any filler, this series literally has the cast and guests pop in to keep the hilarity going until the final second of the closing credits.
Time Life doing this series proud extends beyond the high-quality rermastering of the episodes and including a bookket with detailed episode synopses. The special features are three 20-minute interviews with Dick Martin, series announcer Gary Owens, and cast member Ruth Buzzi.
Highlights of the Martin interview include his sharing how he and Rowan team up and how that partnership leads to small-screen gold; Owens similarly discusses how his fooling around leads to "Laugh In" having an announcer and the homage that that personality offers. Buzzi focuses on how her pre "Laugh In" career influences her work on that show and how she befriends a real-life inspiration for a character on the series.
'The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Lost Christmas' DVD:: Jonathon Winters, Barbara Eden, and Garry Moore Oh My!
Time Life awesomely does it again regarding the October 24, 2017 DVD release "The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Lost Christmas." This collection of three episodes of that long-running '70s variety series comes on the heels of the four-disc Time Life (Unreal TV reviewed) "Best of " Burnett 50th Anniversary edition release. "Christmas" includes three holiday-themed episodes that have not been seen in more than 40 years.
The "Christmas" set opens with an S1 episode that reminds current fans of the greatness of "Burnett" and introduces newbies to most elements that warrant that praise. The specialness of this one begins with the guests being comedian Jonathan Winters and actress/singer Barbara Eden. Winters represents the A-List caliber of Burnett guests and the equally elite Eden illustrates Burnett especially loving stars who both can do comedy and perform musical numbers.
Eden shining in a scene in which she channels "Jeannie" to entrance "Burnett" announcer Lyle Waggoner shows her comedic side; a later song-and-dance number demonstrates the desire of Eden (and her mother) to be a musical-comedy star that she discusses in a (sadly lost) vintage interview with your not-so-humble reviewer.
Improv. master Winters steals the show as a boozing Santa in a faux interview in a segment in a "V.I.P." sketch that features Harvey Korman as an interviewer. The humor from a clearly missed cue is pure Burnett. Winters performing a political monologue about dolls is pure hilarity.
Winters and Korman later team up again in a mockumentary about prisons. Winters as an unconventional warden is a laugh-a-minute; a surprise guest later in the sketch is a special bonus.
Speaking of special guests, a big-name appearing in character surprising Burnett and the audience is a prime example of such versions of Easter eggs in the series; a similar cameo in the third episode in the set is another stocking stuffer.
The guests in the aforementioned third episode and the second one in the set include comedian Garry Moore, who is the former boss of Burnett on his own variety show. The pair fully relive old times in the sketch "The Trial of Mrs. Peter Piper" that is a Neil Simon piece that premiered on the "Moore" show.
Burnett both having the Bob Mitchell Singing Boys perform and interacting with two of the lads (who show that boys will be boys) demonstrates both her interest in highlighting lesser-known talent and giving the audience a chance to know them.
All of this amounts to more than two hours of a show that was "appointment TV" for most of the '70s and that aces the test of time.
Time Life aptly honors the best of the best in releasing the extras-laden 50th anniversary DVD set "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show" roughly 50 years and one month after the September 11, 1967 debut of this variety series. The October 3, 2017 release of these 16 episodes (including the very first one and the series finale) consist of 12 new-to-retail episodes and 4 all-time classics. Walmart is getting into the act by selling special editions of this set.
It is worth mentioning that this "Burnett" release and the many others of this show from Time Life make a great companion to the awesome Time Life complete series set of the six-season "Burnett" sitcom spinoff "Mama's Family" based on "Burnett" sketches about a wacky lower middle-class Southern family. The pedigree of "Family" includes future "Golden Girls" Betty White and Rue McClanahan (not to mention Burnett) being S1 cast members.
Giving "Burnett" itself and the recurring characters in the sketches proper due is well beyond the capability of an online review of a compilation of episodes. The primary points to make are that "Burnett" is part of the legendary Saturday-night lineup during the "Tiffany Network" era of CBS.
The 1974-75 lineup that starts with "All in the Family," goes onto "The Jeffersons" (which replaces "M*A*S*H" in that time slot), has "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show" next, and finishes with Burnett is representative of a CBS '70s Saturday night. The facts that the age-range of the "Burnett" studio audience essentially is from 8-to-80 and that each of these lucky folks love every minute also speaks volumes about the show. Burnett, her cast (including Harvey Korman and Tim Conway), and the behind-the-scenes folks have incredible comic instincts.
The September 11, 1967 episode immediately starts things strong. Burnett begins with her standard (and oft hilarious) Q&A session with the audience. A wonderful exchange about the age of Burnett ends with her showing her tremendous ab lib skills in stating that her bust size is 26. A reference to this exchange and other moments in a subsequent sketch in which Korman plays a reporter interviewing former child star Shirley Dimples (Burnett) further shows the improvisation and exceptional chemistry among the ensemble members that make "Burnett" (and its fellow Saturday night CBS series) so special.
The close real-life friendship between Burnett and Jim "Gomer" Nabors make him an ideal guest star for this inaugural outing. Both of them put their singing and comedic skills to good use but particularly shine in performing duets and bits in a tribute to Broadway musicals. This performance leaves no doubt that they both do their best when taken off their leashes to freely romp with each other. The many subsequent appearance of Nabors on "Burnett" validate that.
Nabors further is an ideal example of the observation by Burnett in a new interview for this release that her best guests were triple threat ones who could sing, dance, and do comedy. Burnett particularly praises also frequent guest Steve Lawrence (who also conducts an interview for "Best") for this; an anecdote regarding "Burnett" fans approaching Lawrence is hilarious.
The premiere episode also introduces the "Carol and Sis" sketches that are based on the real life of Burnett. Burnett plays newlywed Carol, whose teen sister Kris ("Burnett" star Vicki Lawrence) lives with Carol and constantly annoys new husband Roger. One of the best "Sis" sketches in the current DVD set has Carol and Kris team up to thwart the efforts of Roger to sell their house. The comedy is especially strong, and the twist near the end provides clever poetic justice.
Burnett aptly lauds the evolution of the talent of Lawrence in noting that that actress goes from playing the sister of Burnett in sketches to playing her mother.
Burnett is even better known for the aforementioned Southern "Eunice" sketches and for playing dopey comically inept secretary Mrs. Wiggins to business man Mr. Tudball ("Burnett" "newcomer" Tim Conway). The aforementioned two-hour series finale, which aptly is titled "A Special Evening with Carol Burnett," finds Eunice in therapy and Wiggins and Tudball reminiscing about how she comes to work for him. Both end on perfect notes for these characters.
"Best" additionally includes copious amounts of film and television parodies for which "Burnett" is especially well known. These include the classic "Lovely Story," which has Burnett and Korman play the absurdly devoted homely working-class coed and ultra-wealthy and handsome preppie couple from "Love Story." Another especially memorable sketch has Burnett as a typical housewife whose items come to life to recite the slogans associated with them.
On a larger level, Burnett shows an awesomely progressive attitude right from the first episode in which Nabors repeatedly mines humor from playing the part of a love-struck woman; a later episode in the set has Burnett laud a drag queen and has that up-and-comer perform her Streisand impersonation. This is on top of numerous good-natured gay jokes throughout the series.
Burnett shows her typical grace in the S1 season finale, which she dedicates to her cast to the extent of having them answer questions in the cold open. A similar theme pervades the series finale, which highlights the contributions of all. One of several special finale moments for Lawrence is a 1973 clip of her singing her gold record song "The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia" on the show; Lawrence joking regarding the clip that Burnett was kind to let Lawrence (rather than Burnett) sing the song on the show illustrates the aforementioned chemistry among the cast.
Additional nostalgia in the final episode comes in the form of Burnett showing the many looks of her and Nabors during the 11-year run of the series.
The best way to wrap up these thoughts is to paraphrase the comments of Burnett, which reflect those of the fans. She admits that not every sketch succeeds but states that the ones that do are timeless; she further notes that she shows that good humor does not require using foul language or raunchy themes. It is almost certain that most episodes will prompt laughing out loud at least once.
The aforementioned extras include an (of course laugh-a-second) blooper reel.
'Stay Hungry' Blu-ray: TFB Jeff Bridges & Body Builder Schwarzenegger Unlikely Friendship in '70s Era Gym
The Olive Films October 31, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1976 dramedy "Stay Hungry" by Bob Rafelson of the counter-culture classics "Five Easy Pieces" and "Head" hits the trifecta of being a perfect example of the urban gritty comedies of the era, bringing this Golden Globe winning acting debut of Arnold Schwarzenegger back to life, and showing that some things never change in reel or real life. Having numerous future well-known members of the B List in supporting roles is a terrific bonus.
Jeff Bridges stars as 20-something trust fund baby Craig Blake, who experiences a severe existentialist crisis in the wake of the sudden death of his parents. He is fairly literally rattling around alone in the family mansion on the "hill" outside Birmingham, Alabama.
The effort of Blake to define himself and to meet the directive of his uncle that he perform a useful function in life prompts working for unscrupulous Birmingham real-estate developer Jabo (Joe Spinell of the "Godfather" trilogy). The assignment that Blake has no choice regarding accepting is to be a strawman in a transaction in which he buys a run-down gym and then sells it to the company of Jabo to facilitate a construction project.
Blake subsequently integrates himself in the life of the gym to the extent of befriending very odd aspiring Mr. Universe Joe Spano (Schwarzenegger) and pursuing a romance with gym receptionist/former Spano squeeze Mary Tate Farnsworth (Sally Field). These relations with working-class folks get Blake thinking about his own lifestyle and prompt second thoughts about facilitating the scheme to oust his new friends from their home away from home.
The adventures of Blake include getting in a bar fight and escorting Farnsworth to a country club event where a club friend (Ed Begley, Jr.) pursues her.
This mixing of classes in a manner that centers around blue blood dating blue collar is not the only similarity with the better-known (and more comedic) 1981 Dudley Moore/Liza Minnelli film "Arthur." Character actor Scatman Crothers plays long-time family servant William who reaches his considerable limits when Blake essentially makes Farnsworth the lady of the manor. Watching William literally take what he considers his due is hilarious.
Rafelson does a terrific job building up to the madcap climax; quirky middle-aged gym owner Thor gets very excited when Jabo brings him "masseuses" as an incentive to sell the gym, Farnsworth finds herself in related peril, and Blake becomes under attack as well. This leads to a hilarious version of the running of the bulls with just as much beefcake.
As mentioned above, the timeless themes of Wall Street driving out Main Street for fun and profits and the challenges related to the mixing of the classes make films such as "Hungry" timeless. The visual images are a little dated, but the messages remain just as powerful 40 years later.
Much of "Americathon" consists of openly subversive and edgy skits that are the latest rage of the late '70s thanks to television series such as "Saturday Night Live" and "SCTV" and films such as "Kentucky Fried Movie." These begin with the opening exposition that explains how a fictional energy crisis during the Carter years that is much worse than the actual one leads to current desperate times 20 years later. The White House being a California condo that is open to very inclusive tours is one of many examples of this.
Our narrator is anxious television producer Eric McMerkin (Peter Reigert currently of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), who is charged with pulling off the miracle of having a private corporation literally owning the federal government. The obstacles that McMerkin faces include White House aide Vincent Vanderhoff (Fred Willard) actively sabotaging the event on behalf of a group that is based on arguably the most unlikely friendship of all.
Then "Carol Burnett Show" and Mel Brooks satires star Harvery Korman steals the show as drug-manic former Hollywood royalty and current sitcom star Monty Rushmore, who is chosen to emcee the show.
Korman particularly takes center stage in a scene from his television series "Both Father and Mother" in which he plays a single parent who is a transvestite. Aside from being a perfect send-up of trite '70s comedies (such as "Three's Company" starring Ritter), having Korman prance around in full makeup and just about to don his wig is an awesome reminder of the days that people had a sense of humor about such things and took them in context; Milton Berle made a fortune realizing the humor related to a man in a dress.
This notable aspect of "Americathon" requires a slight diversion to mention an Unreal TV review of the recent documentary "That's Not Funny." That article noting that American comedy has gone from f**k 'em if they can't take a joke to f**ked if you tell 'em a joke provides an excellent sense of that film.
Other '70s celeb skits have singer/actor Meatloaf as a daredevil and New Wave icon Elvis Costello as a London street performer.
The mayhem builds to a spectacularly chaotic crescendo that awesomely validates the philosophy of "it it bleeds, it leads" of American television news. This leads to the always popular "where are they now" segments of many films.
Warner Archive showing that it is ahead of its time regarding the January 2011 DVD release of the 1978 satirical film "Americathon" is amusing considering that Archive largely exists to celebrate the glorious past of Hollywood (and Burbank).
The broad concept of this film is that celebrity New Age California dude president Chet Roosevelt (John Ritter) is in over his head when one-percenter Sam Birdwater gives the United States 30 days to avoid a foreclosure on the ginormous national debt that our energy (and hope) depleted country owes him. The new deal that Roosevelt and his advisors concoct is to hold the titular month-long telethon to raise the necessary funds.
The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Americathon" highlights the '70slicious comedy of the film and includes the hilarious and rockin' Beach Boys theme.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1977 Neil Simon comedy 'the goodbye girl' aptly proves both that sometimes they come back and that you can go home again. Archive digging this one out of the vault 40 years after your not-so-humble reviewer having the thrill of being out on a school night (and experiencing agony of missing "Welcome Back Kotter" to do so) to watch the film in a theater shows that this one easily passes the test of time.
Richard Dreyfuss earning the distinction of being the youngest man to win the Best Actor Oscar for "goodbye" is the tip of the iceberg regarding the accolades for this film. The Golden Globes and BAFTA also grant him best actor status for that role. Further, the film is the Golden Globes choice for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. That organization additionally awards Marsha Mason the Best Actress honor.
The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "goodbye" provides a nice sense of the basis for the aforementioned fuss.
"goodbye," which New Yorkcentric playwright Neil Simon writes, is a notable example of the Manhattan-based films of the late-80s. A close cousin is the 1977 Woody Allen classic "Annie Hall." The ending of "goodbye" stirs thoughts of earlier New York classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by having an uber-emotional climax on a rainy New York street followed by a poignant theme playing over the closing credits.
On a more general level, "goodbye" has elements of the late '70s sitcom "Mork and Mindy." The starting point of this comparison is a hyperactive and easily agitated Dreyfuss outshining the less emotive Mason in her straight woman role in the same manner that frantic Robin Williams literally and figuratively runs circles around mousy Pam Dawber. The similarities extend to Mason's Paula McFadden leading a challenging but largely even-keeled live until odd hairy "alien" from Chicago Elliot Garfield literally shows up at her doorstep and almost immediately begins sharing her living space.
The circumstances that lead to the loath at first sight for "odd couple" Paula and Elliott are that divorced Paula is living alone with her daughter in the apartment recently (and abruptly) vacated by actor ex-boyfriend/leaseholder Tony. The "crimes" of Tony including subletting the apartment to Elliott without the knowledge of Paula lead to her having a nudist, guitar-playing, health nut, meditation freak living in the next bedroom. Anyone familiar with these '70s films or with the work of Simon know that Paula and Elliott will be jointly chanting mantras within an hour of reel time.
The charmingly sadistic Simon mines great humor from repeatedly humiliating our leads in the period between despise and desire. Elliott gets the worst of it in having his director (perfectly played by Paul "Mr. Bentley" Benedict of "The Jeffersons") insist that Elliott play Richard III much more as a queen than a king. That leads to a desperate Elliott essentially becoming a pimp. For her part, 30-something Paula must return to a physically grueling career as a dancer, work as eye candy at a car show, and become so broke that she must scoop up uncooked spaghetti from the street.
Simon the Sadistic does grant our couple happiness only to yank it away in a manner that reflects the worst insecurities of Paula based on her traumatic romantic past. This leads to one of he best lines in the film in which Elliott states that he hates the prior men in the life of Paula who prevent her from being happy with him.
This leads to the aforementioned rainy scene in which history is repeating itself in the form of Elliott heading out to literally seek fame and fortune, leaving Paula and her daughter behind with a sense that the man in their lives is falsely asserting that he is just going to the corner for a package of cigarettes.
Simon shows why he gets the big bucks in providing a variation of the Hollywood ending in the form of a drenched and distraught Audrey Hepburn seeking her soaked discarded cat. Resistance is futile regarding knowing that Simon is serving up schmaltz but falling for it anyway. That bastard then hits the audience with a closing theme that has even more impact than the "Tiffany" closing tune "Moon River."
The following YouTube clip of a groovy American Bandstand performance what can be considered "Paula's Theme" (ala "Arthur's Theme" from the same era) provides a sense of what Simon has in store for "goodbye" rookies.
The apt far-from-final goodbye regarding this post is that "goodbye" is a witty romantic comedy that shows what people who know what they are doing behind and in front of the camera can accomplish.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The particularly special nature of the topic of this post results in the following being more "bloggy" than usual. Regularly scheduled programming will resume with the next post.]
Purveyor of wonderfully quirky and/or thought-provoking domestic and foreign classics Olive Films provides a great reminder of the joy of good satire regarding the recent Blu-ray release of the 1980 Martin Mull comedy "Serial." These films having a special place in the memories of those of us ancient enough to remember their releases is a bonus. The personal memory of "Serial" is a Colby College (a.k.a. ColbyCo) film society screening of it providing the first sense that college is cool.
The following YouTube clip of a "Serial" promo. nicely illustrates the aforementioned coolness.
On a very general level, the awesome (but truly unoffensive) un-pc nature of "Serial" is a great example of the theme of the Unreal TV reviewed modern documentary "That's Not Funny," which analyzes the loss of a sense of humor in America. As an aside, Robin Williams responding "because you killed all the funny people" when a German television interviewer asked why there was no comedy in Germany remains a personal favorite Williams joke.
Bill Persky of the '80s CBS Monday night comedy "Kate and Allie" centers "Serial" around middle-level bank executive Harvey Holroyd (played by Mull) and his spirituality/self-awareness obsessed wife Kate (played by '60s sex kitten Tuesday Weld.) A relatively unknown fact about Weld is that her first major role is as gleefully admitted gold digging high school student Thalia Menninger (opposite Warren Beatty) in the early '60s sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis;" the oft-repeated rationale of Menninger is hilarious,
Sally Kellerman (who plays Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the film version of "M*A*SH") plays the oft-married Martha, who begins the film days away from a very non-traditional (and hysterical) commitment ceremony. Mull making jokes during the ceremony and the current life partner of Martha discovering an ex-husband while reviewing her marital history are some of the best scenes in "Serial."
Neither last nor least regarding either the quirky characters or the B-level stars who portray them is Bill Macy of the '70s Bea Arthur sitcom "Maude." The executive whom Macy portrays has a '70s California mid-life crisis that evokes thoughts of the leisure suits that still fill a closet of the (then recently divorced) father of your (occasionally) humble reviewer.
Another "funny because its true" element revolves around Harvey and his fellow commuters riding their bikes to the ferry. A '70s era story in a large metropolitan newspaper includes a photo of a rear view of the very portly uncle of your (at times) humble reviewer riding his bicycle to his law firm. The ginormous headphones-style radio (almost certainly tuned to NPR) with the long antennas makes the photo.
Secondary characters who steal scenes include a brutal gay biker gang that listens to Judy Garland songs while on the open road. A blink and you will miss it moment in which the group begins a raid from a YMCA is a great sight gag, gets the The Village People song of the same name stuck in your head, and makes you want to rewatch the "People" film "Can't Stop the Music."
The humor in "Serial" does not get nearly as edgy as that of Williams but includes a hilarious line in which a 10-year old boy tells his cocaine-snorting and pill factory operating psychiatrist (played by Peter Bonerz of "The Bob Newhart Show") that he does not spend time with the "Gay Bruce" doll that is designed to increase his cultural sensitivity because he killed him. The shocked shrink asking the boy the reason for the Kenocide prompts the response "because he's a fag" and an assurance that his motive is no deeper. Bruce coming in a box designed to look like a closet contributes to the humor regarding this topic.
The most awesome part of "Serial" is that those of us who remember the swinging '70s can relate to the humor and folks who still have all their hair will get a fun look at the goofiness of it all.
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which still is up.) Both sites are labors of love dedicated to preserving the golden and silver ages of television and film and celebrating new content that values art over commerce. The same principle applies regarding boutique hotels.