The CBS Home Entertainment September 8, 2020 DVD CS set of the 2019-20 fourth season of the CBS legal procedural "Bull" provides an awesome smorgasbord for thought at a time that COVID-19 leaves most of us starving for intellectual sustenance. The oft-intriguing legal issue in the case-of-the-week warrants adding this set to your home-video library; revealing the reality of the American court system elevates "Bull" to must-see status.
These tales of the collaboration between the titular jury whisperer (Michael Weatherly of "NCIS") and trial attorney/ex-brother-in-law Benny Colon (Freddy Rodriguez of "Six Feet Under") are based on the real-life experiences of TV shrink/"Bull" executive producer Dr. Phil. The awesome cynicism as to this concept is that maximizing the number of jurors that are proven to be favorably disposed toward you and then presenting our legal arguments in a manner that keeps them in your camp and recruits other "peers" to your side is an effective means to achieve a positive outcome regardless of the applicable law.
A simpler way of thinking about jury selection and persuasion being a large part of your legal strategy is that doing so makes a trial more of a marketing campaign than a legal proceeding, A related note is that virtually every client of Bull getting him because he or she can afford the high cost of his services illustrates the extent to which the cavernous wealth gap in America affects the judicial system.
The courtroom drama in S4E1 revolves around the criminal prosecution of a young woman whom the prosecutor is seeking to hold liable for shooting deaths that occurred in the wake of the woman serving more alcohol to the shooter at the bar where the woman worked. This one awesomely demonstrates the "it depends" principle that law students learn when asking a professor about the outcome as to a series of facts.
The "meanwhile back at the ranch" drama in the season opener revolves around Bull trying to get Colon back on the team after S1 family drama. The impact that that resolution has on the ex-in-law relationship drives additional S4 action.
Separate drama includes a "Papa don't preach" story arc that has team member Chunk Palmer trying to be there for the college-age daughter with whom he has an "its complicated" relationship.
S4 E2 presents the intriguing legal issue as to intent. The case this time revolves around a woman actively seeking backers for an in-development water-filtration system. The fraud claim against her relates to her (most likely unrealistic) sales pitch that the system will greatly advance within 90 days. The relevant factors include whether this woman with a history or majorly misrepresenting her past genuinely believes that the system will reach the promised stage within the stated timeframe.
The icing on the cake is the financial motive of the man who blows the whistle on the woman.
A subsequent episode that involves Team Bull in the case of a man whose younger son shoots his older sibling also involves a basic criminal-law tenet. The discussion this time relates to the balance between the punishment and the rehabilitation purposes of an unfortunate incarceration.
Team McGraw saves some of the best for last. A late-season case that involves Anthrax attacks is era-notable in that members of Team Bull comment in the aftermath of those acts that it is odd not seeing people on the streets wearing protective masks.
The season-finale, which finds a member of Team Bull in the hot seat, nicely builds on the trope of diplomatic immunity to further comment on the aforementioned chasm between haves and have nots. The noble mission this time is to not allow the daughter of a one-percenter to get away with manslaughter. The blast-from-the-past is in the form of the O.J. element of looking to the civil courts when the criminal justice system does not provide for the desired outcome.
The special feature "Four Bagger" has Weatherly and the show-runners provide an anatomy of this Fantastic Four season.
The CBS Home Entertainment S2 CS DVD set of the CBS reboot of the CBS '80s phenom "Magnum P.I." awesomely hits all the right notes as to the original, modern CBS procedurals, and reboots. The bright and bold shot-on-location Hawaiian scenery when many of use are entering our (seemingly eternal) sixth month of virtual home arrest helps slow our descent into almost-certainty madness.
Limited memories of "Magnum" OS hinders comparing it to the neo-modern version of the adventures of the titular security consultant/investigator Kato Kaelin, who lives rent-free on the estate of best-selling author Robin Masters, One blatant difference is that major domo/Magnum frienemy has gone from an uptight middle-aged British man to a younger and friendlier former MI-6 agent (Perdita Weeks). Additionally, S2 episodes lack OS speculation as to Higgins being an alter-ego of Masters.
The new Magnum/Higgins relationship takes a page from the Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson partnership in the (reviewed) CBS procedural "Elementary." The S1 cliffhangers include whether Higgins will formally join Team Magnum in a partnership capacity. A subsequent immigration issue leads to the possibility of a green card marriage of our leads. The efforts to keep Higgins around are central to the S2 cliffhanger that S3 will address when the pandemic facilitates resuming the action-packed fun.
The most obvious parallel is between "Magnum" TNG and the CBS "Hawaii 5-0" reboot. The similarities extend beyond the common setting to both series having Eric Guggenheim and Peter M. Lenkov as show runners. This leads to the inevitable cross-over episode. The common thread this time is the threat that a list of undercover CIA operatives will be divulged. (The "Magnum" DVD set does include the cross-over "5-0" episode as a special feature.)
"Magnum" having a similar vibe as the CBS reboot of "MacGyver" is attributable to Lenkov helping to run both series. Both reboots are more of ensemble programs than the originals; this includes episodes of both often ending with the gang hanging around drinking beers and rehashing their most recent adventure. This is not to mention both Higgins and Magnum separately "Macgyvering" themselves out of tough spots by cleverly repurposing common items.
"The Man in the Secret Room" arguably is the best S2 outing if only due to having Larry Manetti of OS join former hunks Lee Majors and Corbin Bernsen as guest stars. This one involves a planned easy temporary gig for Magnum as a resort security director becoming not-so-easy starting with the violent death of a hotel guest. The fun begins with discovering the concept of off-the-books accommodations for very special guests. The "MacGyver" element shows that it is easy to check out if the seemingly pristine comforter in your hotel room actually is covered with stains from bodily fluids.
"Room" additionally follows the "Magnum" pattern of virtually every discovery leading our hero and his volunteer squad down a totally unexpected path. We further come to wonder how any real or fictional detective ever solved a case in the era before cell phones and the Internet.
The copious special features extend well beyond the "5-0" episode. We get deleted scenes galore, a gag reel, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes. These include "Better Together," which gives even those who have a bit part (little more than a cameo) in the life of Magnum his or her time center stage.
The bottom line this time is that there is nothing to not like about a beautifully shot series about a charming bright guy and his equally appealing friends who strongly care about seeing that truth, justice, and the American way prevail.
The CBS Home Entertainment CS DVD set of the fast-paced and furiously funny S17 of the CBS procedural "NCIS" proves that that genre still has plenty of life left in the right hands. In this case, those appendages belong to'80s action-adventure series god Donald P. Bellasario ("Quantum Leap," "Magnun, PI"). Having still sexy '80s hunk Mark Harmon helming the series as Scott Bakula ("NCIS: New Orleans") style stoic team leader/father figure Leroy Jethro Gibbs does not hurt.
The underlying premise that DC-based Team Gibbs investigates crimes with a connection to the (primarily) Navy opens the door to a wide variety of felonies. It may be as tangential as a coincidental body dump on military property, the death of an active-duty or retired service member, or a lesser crime against one of the few and the proud who serve our country.
The two-part S17 premiere that resolves the S16 cliffhanger as to the sudden reappearance of presumed-dead former team member Ziva David is the first indication that S17 might have been the last one. The season ending with an episode (more below) that would have served equally well as a season or a series finale reinforces the idea that taps may have blown on this program, which will live to fight many more days in the 2020-21 television season.
Speculation as to the S17 finale is that COVID-19 MAY have cut the season a little short, and Team Bellasrio MAY have planned a cliffhanger.
Another sign that Team Bellasario may have been contemplated that S17 might have been its swan song is the personal growth reveals of members of Team Gibbs. A prime example of this is headshrinker "Jack" Sloane revealing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding her college-era unplanned pregnancy and giving up her baby for adoption.
S17 soon picks up right where S16 ends with a "Back to the Future" / "Terminator" moment in which David breaks in on Gibbs in his basement and essentially tells him to come with her if he wants to live. The aforementioned fast-pace begins with the bad guys almost immediately storming the castle. The outcome as to that proves that Gibbs has MacGyver-style ingenuity and does not hesitate to use proportional force in response to an attack on his home. This fully sets the most deadly game afoot.
The trope elements in this excellent outing are worth mentioning because these tried-and-true narrative techniques regularly appear throughout S17 without impairing the quality of the episodes. The first been-there-done-that moment comes very early when David and a bloodied-and-battered Gibbs jack the ride of a low-level thief. Anyone who has witnessed a similar scene in a comparable context will not be surprised to see a rapid shift in action and "Eighteen hours earlier" appear in an intertitle.
The tropes continue with Team Gibbs soon piecing together much of the puzzle (including the resurrection of David), lying (with hilarious consequences in a subsequent episode) to the powers-that-be, and putting loyalty to the boss over following the rules. The reactions of those who worked with David and of those who only know her by reputation are part of what make this episode so special. This is not to mention David bringing baggage to her reunion.
A scene between David and quirky grandfather figure retired medical examiner "Ducky" (David McCallum of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.") is a season highlight. David and new bad ass Torres (Wilmer "Fez" Valderama) on the block initially playing at going at it mano-a-mano before it gets personal is a perfect example of "NCIS" humor; Torres goes full Fez of the Foxcom "That 70s Show" as to the perception that a girl kicked his ass.
The twists in this one make it one of the best of the season; David unambiguously playing her former peers and ambiguously doing the wrong thing for the right reason supports the principle of not trusting anyone.
Business as usual resumes with the aptly titled "Going Mobile" episode that pays homage to fellow CBS procedural franchise "CSI." This one involves a body being jammed under the trailer of a truck that is making a delivery to a military installation.
The penultimate S17 episode has one of the most ultimate tropes ever. Anyone who has watched any genre of television can IMMEDIATELY guess what will transpire when medical examiner Jim Palmer, who presumably never appears on screen in just his briefs, and forensics scientist Kasie Hines are having breakfast at the team hangout at the same time that a trio of criminals are there just ahead of their robbery of the jewelry store across the street, This coinciding with St. Patrick's Day turns the highly predictable hostage situation in to an Irish Setter Day Afternoon. Hines gets another trope moment in the sun in an S17 episode that has her trying to prove the innocence of a close friend.
The series finale features a memorable guest spot by Christopher Lloyd ("Back to the Future," "Taxi") as a 95 year-old man whose claim of being on the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack seemingly has more holes than that ship. The wonderfully gonzo performance by Lloyd proves that he still has it.
The truly special DVD features include "The Return of Ziva David," which provides perspective as to that notable occurrence. "Inside Season 17" has cast and crew share how they keep things going so well after almost two decades.
Robert and Michelle King put the same thought-provoking warped perspective that makes "The Good Wife" and the "Wife" (reviewed) spinoff "The Good Fight" such wonderfully dark fun to good use as to S1 of the CBS psychological drama "Evil." The CBS Home Entertainment DVD of this first outing of this latest King-sized offering hits real and virtual store shelves on June 30, 2020.
IMDb does reviewers everywhere a solid during these Hell hound days of The Summer of 2020 by providing a perfect synopsis of the "Supernatural"/"X-Files" mash-up that is "Evil." "A skeptical female clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue-collar contractor as they investigate supposed miracles, demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there's a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural is at work." The frequent ambiguity as to this is one of many things that make "Evil" such a treat.
The series aptly examines the nature of evil; this includes whether it is the work of Satan and why some people turn to the dark side. We also get ample discussion of the extent to which someone invites that harmful element into his or her life.
The aforementioned shrink is Karen Bouchard, Ph.D. She goes down the rabbit hole in the pilot when her consulting for the NYC DA office has her evaluating a "baby" who has done a bad bad thing. This puts her on the radar of future man in black David and handyman Ben (the magnificent). Their common interest relates to whether the devil made the defendant do it.
The "excitable boy" playing a major role (with a little help from the not-so-good-son) in the final S1 episodes is one of many reasons that the 13 "Evil" S1 episodes are worthy of a marathon, but not binge, watching session. By George, you will want to keep the lights on for some of these episodes.
Many of the other episodes, including an exorcism apparently gone wrong, similarly involve story arcs. An awesome example of this is an evaluation of a purported prophet leading to an investigation of potent symbolism. This mission from the agents of God leads to a family reunion at a commune that practices what it preaches as to peace, free love, and understanding. Cosbying the sangria is a little more questionable.
The Halloween and Christmas specials are particularly awesome in that they are especially dark and have heavy elements of the highly entertaining impact of Karen often bringing her work home with her to the extent that she repeatedly must battle her personal demon. Halloween finds the annoying shrill and hyper four girls of Karen playing host to the weird neighbor kid, who is an especially bad influence. Christmas, which involves especially dark mass hypnosis by a Katy Perry clone, is a little more fun in that it is the one "Evil" episode that features the same type of animated music video that Team King does so well.
Michael Emerson puts his "Lost" training as a psycho-in-geek's clothing to excellent use as the yin to the yang of Karen; psychologist Leland Townsend really enjoys manipulating the weak-willed to do his bidding; revealing the boss of the Townsend agency is one of the best surprises of this series that is full of twists.
The S1 cliffhanger arguably is the most surprising moment in the series. At the very least, it sets the stage for Karen to present the arguably most interesting workers' compensation claim in real or reel history.
CBSHE first supplements this with deleted and extended scenes that indicate that Beelzebub was whispering in the ear of the editor who decide to exclude these moments. We also get the self-explanatory special features ""Evil: Season One: Genesis" and "Does Evil Exist?' The latter especially provides good material for water-cooler chatter if we ever return to our offices.
The CBS Home Entertainment May 5, 2020 S7 DVD of the Showtine drama "Ray Donovan" provides a good chance both for a special lockdown marathon viewing of a compelling series and to complete your home-video collection of the adventures of the titular "fixer" (Liev Schreiber) and his family.
The following S7 trailer is awash with teasing glimpses of the trauma and drama that largely revolves around the sins of the past that extend beyond the transgressions of the father,
The first central development as to many of the S7 events is the discovery of evidence of an especially gruesome S6 act by Team Donovan. This ensemble consists of Ray, his ex-con father Mickey (Jon Voight), not-so-bright younger brother Brendan "Bunchy" Donovan, up-and-coming younger (half) brother Daryll, and punch-drunk Parkinson's patient older brother Terry. This is not to mention Ray daughter Bridget and her cute-but-dumb husband Smitty. Watching befuddled puppy Smitty exchange clothes in a "The Prince and the Pauper" scene is an S7 highlight.
The gruesome discovery puts homicide investigator Detective Perry on the trail of the clan as hard as if they had stolen a loaf of bread; this takes the humorous turn of involving cute-but-dumb teen idol pop star Jonathan Walker Hanson in the plot to avoid a potentially life-long family vacation as guests of the state. One of many other pieces of this puzzle is the Bridget follows a pattern of behavior of interns for at least the past several decades. The price that she pays for that transgression shows that the punishment far exceeds the crime.
A concurrent storyline with equally good black humor revolves around Ray staging an already compromising situation for public figure Kevin Sullivan to look even worse for him. The numerous complications this time revolve around the father of Kevin having a long intertwined relationship with the Donovans that goes back to the childhood of Ray. This leading to a revenge plot and to Ray sleeping with the enemy is only the tip of the iceberg.
The copious flashbacks that show how Ray comes to be the man whom he is today also explain why many of the wounds are so fresh decades later.
All of this leads to an anticipated season-finale climax that has twists galore. Although many loose ends are tied up, there remains enough unresolved in anticipation of an eighth season that one can only hope for seven-seasons-and-a-movie. A failure to provide that fully screams for fixing.
The appeal of all this is portraying the stereotype of an working-class Irish family that the members either are at each other's throats or in each other's pockets in a manner that is far from a caricature and that does not insult the intelligence of the audience. This is due to the skill both behind and in front of the camera.
The DVD bonuses consist of a feature on Brendan portrayor Dash Mihok directing an episode and a self-explanatory feature titled "Deconstructing Ray" that provides insight as to how the Irish sausage is made.
Doing justice to the CBS Home Entertainment May 5, 2020 epic CS DVD release of the complete-series 65th Anniversary Edition of the 20-season "Gunsmoke" is impossible as to the limitations of these posts. As such, these musing are based on the first handful of the 1955 episodes and the Final Four from 1975. An awesome aspect of this is that last are just as sublime as the first.
Hope for a better tomorrow that is slightly easing Covid-related angst include thoughts of watching every "Gunsmoke" episode in a post-pandemic world that is more conducive for properly savoring gems from The Golden Age of Television.
CBSHE shows its usual overall integrity and its love for "TV Land" shows by simultaneously releasing "Gunsmoke" S20 on DVD on May 5, 2020. A major peeve of your not-so-humble reviewer is home-video companies releasing all but one or two seasons of a series and subsequently releasing that program in a CS set that REQUIRES either buying several duplicate seasons or forgoing the whole enchilada.
Sincere advice as to "Gunsmoke" is to treat yo self to the sturdy and stylish CS gift set and pass along individual season sets either to current fans or to "non-believers" who suffer from the past prejudice of your not-so-humble reviewer as to Westerns. "Gunsmoke" is a prime example of oaters being about so much more than cattle rustlers, saloon fights, and high noon showdowns.
The numerous timeless themes, such as prejudice and the conflict between the law and justice, in "Gunsmoke" evoke thoughts of a fellow TV Land classic. Comedy deity Carol Burnett has said in a recent interview that her eponymous variety show aces the test of time because funny always is funny.
"Gunsmoke" also reflects the wisdom of another couch potato god. The wisdom of Garry Marshall as to "Happy Days" is that a sitcom that is made in the '70s and the '80s that is set in the '50s never will look dated. The expertly digitally remastered "Gunsmoke" episodes that make even the S1 offerings look and sound crisp and clean validates the Marshall Plan.
S1E1, which is in awesomely sharp black-and-white and is 30-minutes. starts with an A-List endorsement that the syndicated version likely omits. The opening scene is of western movies legend John Wayne praising the work of James Arness, who plays U.S. Marshall Matt Dillon in all 20 seasons of "Gunsmoke," in this new series.
Another twist is that S1E1 next opens in a manner that seems to disappear within a few episodes. We hear voice-over narration of Dillon pontificating as he walks through the cemetery on the hill above his home turf of Dodge City, Kansas.
S1E1 then sets a tone to which the series remains true for two decades. This one revolves (pun intended) quick-draw Dan Grat facing justice for gunning down a man whom Grat did not know was unarmed when he acted with extreme prejudice. Grat going on to plug Dillon early in their first contact is one of likely hundreds of times that Dillon takes one for the team during the run of the season.
A young but still cranky Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), who is with "Gunsmoke" to the far-from-bitter end, is on hand to patch up Dillon and to fail to persuade him to let his wounds properly heal before returning to work. Long-time saloon owner Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), who gets out of Dodge in S19, also is on the scene. Watching her pursue a largely unresponsive Dillon is odd from the perspective of their subsequent close relationship with probable benefits.
Although deputy Chester (Dennis Weaver) is on the payroll, it is surprising to see him be not-so-dedicated and to have a contentious relationship with the boss. Comic relief deputy Festus (Ken Curtis), who is the Barney Fife of "Gunsmoke," is not yet in Dodge.
The next few S1 episodes further test the value of Dillon and his inner circle. These include convincing "upstanding" citizens that a neer-do-well will receive justice of a variety other than the frontier kind to which he is most deserving.
The beginning of the end, which is brilliant living color and is a full hour, has Festus front-and-center when a prisoner transfer leads to his contributing sweat equity to the building of a church that an older pastor wants to build for members of a tribe that only recently has made peace with the settlers that oppose that project.
"Manolo" continues the long history, including an S19 episode about Jewish settlers sticking to their own values, of cultural sensitivity that is a common "Gunsmoke" theme. This time the story centers around a group of Basque shepherds maintaining a coming-of-age tradition that conditions a son becoming a man on administering his father a major beatdown. As we learn, this practice does not make any allowance for pacifists.
Team Dillon wraps up their saga-length run with the aptly titled "The Sharecroppers." This one also features Festus, who is conned into working the land despite being the injured party as to a duped innocent being tricked into buying the beloved mule of Festus. This truly leaves the audience wanting more and provides a strong sense that life in Dodge continues the same after the production team rides off into the sunset.
Much of the fun of "Gunsmoke" is akin to watching "The Love Boat" in that virtually every past, current, and future television star (as well as a few film stars) who is a SAG member during the run of the series guest stars. Bette Davis arguably is the most notable one; we also get Ron Howard, David Wayne, Joan Van Ark, Bruce Boxleitner, etc.
The plethora of special features include the CBSHE staple of episodes promos. We also get a tribute to Arness and a very special feature that is a discussion with "Gunsmoke" experts Ben Costello and Beckey Burgoyne.
The bottom line this time is that the truly do not make 'em like this anymore.
Being stuck at home virtually 24/7 for a month and knowing that this is going to last at least another three weeks is turning thoughts to good options for marathon (rather than binge) viewings of television series. There may be more of these postings as more sets come to mind.
The general criteria date back to the early days of building a home-video collection that now exceeds 10,000 sets; the overall standard is that the release is of a high-quality, not-widely syndicated series.
The links in the below discussions of each set are to the Unreal TV 2.0 reviews of each release.
The fact that many of these sets are from Mill Creek Entertainment reflects the oft-stated "you've come a long way, Baby" praise for that company in this site. The MCE roots as a producer of bare-bones sets of public domain series and films is a distant memory.
The top choice for Black Plague Friday is the award-winning desert-island worthy MCE complete series Blu-ray set of the gritty FX drama "The Shield." The extraordinary quality of the packaging itself makes this one an epic Father's Day gift.
"Shield," which is a perfect companion to (reviewed) overlapping FX hit "Rescue Me," tells the tales of the men and women who wok out of "The Barn" in the inner-city Farmington (a.k.a. Farm) District of Los Angeles. As indicated above, Vic Mackey and his team are more concerned with taking gaping and bleeding bites out of crime than following either police procedures or Constitutional requirements.
On a lighter note, the MCE complete series Blu-ray set of the "Must-See" sitcom "Community" provides a chance for Human Beings who already are fans to relive the glory of this clever and not afraid to go there series by Dan Harmon of "Rick and Morty" fame. "Virgins" are in for an even bigger treat,
"Community" creator/star Chevy Chase nemesis Harmon truly hits comedy gold with the concept and the execution of "Community." 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.
The trifecta of MCE releases concludes with a sitcom that can be almost be considered "'Friends' After Dark" "Happy Endings."
"Endings" begins on a high note for the audience that is a low point for one of the friends around whom the series centers. Future food truckeuter Dave Rose (Zachary Knighton of "Flashforwrd") is standing at the altar with childhood friend/fiancee/failing boutique owner Alex Kerkovich (past literal cougar bait Elisha Cuthbert). The first of an almost "Community" level amount of pop culture references begin with nods to "Xanadu" and "The Graduate," A 20-something guy with an open shirt rollerblades down the aisle and turns Alex into a runaway bride.
The action aptly fastforwards a month to Dave living in the bedroom in the apartment in which gay "chubby" and slovenly college buddy Max Bloom (Adam Pally of (reviewed) "The Mindy Project") is couch surfing in his own shabby loft that has rats in the main living area and a belatedly discovered human squatter in a previously unknown attic space.
Penny Hartz (Casey Wilson of "SNL") is a childhood friend of Dave and Alex. Her dating Max in college seeming to be the highlight of her romantic history states quite a bit about this current fag hag. She and Max being the Karen and the Jack of "Endings" makes having Megan Mullally play her mother apt.
The fifth member of the sextet is Eliza Coupe of "Scrubs" 2.0 playing Alex sibling/ruthless ice queen/successful executive with an initially undisclosed profession Jane Kerkovich-Williams; the obvious joke comes late in the run of the series.
Damon Wayans, Jr. proves the truth of like father like son in his portrayal of the object of the jungle fever of Jane. His Brad Williams is almost as successful as his wife but is much more silly. His many shining moments include his role in a "Get Out" plot years that has the third Kerkovich sister engaged to a black man years before "Out" is released.
Moving onto fellow stellar home-video producer CBS Home Entertainment, the focus shifts to two sets that massively exceed expectations as to "old school" series.
The first season of the tremendous successful Jordan Peele reboot of the classic sci-fi series "The Twilight Zone" properly honors the original and far outpaces prior attempts to emulate Rod Serling.
The press materials for "Zone" expertly convey the style and the substance of this series from producer/narrator Peele, whose Oscar and Emmy bring him halfway to being an EGOT. "Originally airing from 1959 to 1964, 'The Twilight Zone' became a worldwide phenomenon as it used socially conscious storytelling to explore the human condition and culture of the times. The godfather of sci-fi series, the show explored humanity's hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in meatphoric ways that conventional dramas could not."
Not-so-fond memories of less-than-successful colorization attempts make the phenomenal CBSHE collection of colorized "I Love Lucy" episode a true wonder to behold. The classic outings in this one include ones from the Hollywood and Europe story arcs.
The CBSHE complete series DVD set of the '80s Lucy series "Life With Lucy" deserves an honorable mention because it nicely restores this rare show and allows Lucy fans to complete their home-video collection of her programs.
The only way to conclude this post is to remind fellow sofa spuds of the importance of keeping calm and carrying on.
The CBS Home Entertainment separate February 18, 2020 DVD and BD releases of S1 of the CBS All-Access original series "The Twilight Zone" proves once again that CBHE, All-Access, and this site are of the same mind; we all want to keep the Silver (and Golden) Age of Television alive in the public consciousness.
This joint effort includes recent (ongoing) (reviewed) CBSHE releases of the classic 20-season western "Gunsmoke" and (reviewed) releases of the All-Access original series "Star Trek: Discovery." One need not be a rocket scientist to predict that CBSHE will release DVD and BD sets of "Picard" S1 from All-Access this summer.
"Zone" premiering on All-Access on April 1, 2019 further proves that that streaming service pays the classics the respect to which they are entitled.
The press materials for our topic du jour expertly convey the style and the substance of this "Zone" from producer/narrator Jordan Peele, whose Oscar and Emmy bring him halfway to being an EGOT. "Originally airing from 1959 to 1964, "The Twilight Zone" became a worldwide phenomenon as it used socially conscious storytelling to explore the human condition and culture of the times. The godfather of sci-fi series, the show explored humanity's hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in meatphoric ways that conventional dramas could not."
"Point of Origin" perfectly conveys the above and shows how Team Peele keeps things fresh. Ginnifer Goodwin of "Once Upon A Time" delivers an Emmy-worthy performance as a one-percenter "Real Houswife" who stands by as her South-of-the-Border maid/nanny gets dragged off by immigration. The subsequent insult to that injury relates to the Goodwin character bragging to her fellow Stepford Wives that she tried to fend off the feds.
A portion of the rest of the story is that Goodwin finds herself caught up in the same system as her mother's little helper; in true "Zone" fashion, twists galore ensue.
We get an even stronger "Zone" vibe in "Replay." This variation of "Groundhog Day" has the black mother of an incoming college freshman use a "Warehouse 13" caliber enchanted camcorder to repeatedly turn back time to find a way to avoid a fatal encounter with a racist Virginia state trooper, The final showdown is an awesome melange of the '60s-era Civil Rights Movement and the 21st-century power of social media. The sad overall commentary is that not every segment of American society has come a long way, Baby.
The following "Zone" trailer reinforces that this is your granddady's series but that Millennials will like it as well.
S1 E1 is a variation on the Billy Mumy OS classic "It's a Good Lfe" that revolves around the Mumy character banishing anyone who offends him into "the cornfield." The update has a struggling comedian develop the power to "Wonderful Life" anyone whom he desires out of existence; of course, he goes a little power mad. The standard (but always extraordinary) episode-ending twist is straight out of the OS.
The inarguably most entertaining S1 episode also has a strong "Village of the Damned" vibe with equally heavy overtones of "The Omen" and the AWESOME 1968 cult classic "Wild in the Streets" about a post-adolescent rock star running for president with ultimately SPECTACULARLY trippy "Zone" style results. The variation in "The Wunderkind" is that John "Harold" Cho plays a George Stephanopolous clone who ends up running the presidential campaign of 11 year-old Oliver Foley (Jacob Tremblay of "Room").
The first note as to "Wunderkind" is that it reinforces that Tremblay, who shines in "Room," has a long successful career ahead of him. The second note is that the "Wild" style music-video that CBSHE includes in the copious special features is a set highlight. On a more general note, this episode is a "Zone" style fable that reminds viewers of the evils as to electing a ego-maniacal celebrity president.
Arguably, no "Zone" rebooot would be complete with a version of the William Shatner classic "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet." This time, the gremlin is inside the plane; the lesson in this one with heavy shades of "Lost" and lesser ones of "The Lord of the Flies" is that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
The season-finale is a perfect example of going out of an apt note. In the event that this is the end of the story, it concludes the series with a wonderful bang. In the event of a second season, which is the case, it leaves us wanting more.
It initially is business as usual, including Peele (per usual) stepping into the narrator shoes of Serling. Things take a meta left turn as it is revealed that Team Peele is filming a "Zone" episode. The focus then shifts to a current writer/childhood OS fan finding herself sucked into the series' titular dimension. The ONLY disappointment is that the identity of the titular Blurryman is so predictable that "Scooby" fans could deduce who is the "villain."
The aforementioned plethora of extras include behind-the-scenes features on each episode and the series itself. We also get "Remembering Rod Serling," which puts the OS in wonderful perspective.
The morale to all this is that they CAN and SHOULD make 'em like they used to.
The CBS Home Entertainment separate February 11, 2020 DVD sets of the (reviewed) S118 and S19 of "Gunsmoke" brings viewers close to the end of the trail as to this 20-season Western that is about so much more than high-noon shootouts and cattle rustlers battling sheep farmers. It is predicted that CBS will release an S20 DVD set no later than June 2020.
S19 E1 moderately departs from the standard formula of US Marshal Matt Dillon facing daunting physical (and sometimes philosophical/existential) challenges in trying to keep or restore peace in Reconstruction Era Dodge City with a little help from his friends. This entourage includes excitable quirky and illiterate deputy Festus (Ken Curtis), grizzled and caring Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), and tough but compassionate honest businesswoman saloon keeper Miss Kirty (Amanda Blake).
The first sign that we are not in Kansas anymore is the rare voice-over narration that sets the stage (no pun intended) for this "very-special" two-part episode. The exposition explains why renegade Indians, such as Union Army tunic-wearing Blue Jacket (Gregory Sierra) go off the reservation.
This ties into why these neer-do-wells drag off women either to keep for themselves or to sell to 19th-century white slavers. Dillon is on the trail of these partners-in-crime to rescue a Dodge City woman. This ultimately leads to Dillon trying to make an "honest woman" out of a cynical "saloon girl." A little girl who is along for the ride adds a "Cousin Oliver" element to the episode.
The next outing arguably jumps the shark by having Dillon, who is suffering from amnesia, falling in love with a widow (Michael Learned) when he is far from Dodge on the hunt for an outlaw (Victor French). Of course, this involves whether Dillon will hang up his gun and get hitched when his memory returns. This theme is repeated in the S19 season-finale in which Dillon does not quickly bounce back from a gunshot injury and in an S18 episode in which the former mentor (John Anderson) of Dillon now is a poverty-stricken traveling town drunk.
A Dexter Riley-era Kurt Russell guest stars in a S19 episode as a wholesome young guy whose plans for wedded bliss are detoured when his father is killed. One of many well-presented themes this time is that the adage that the man who is seeking revenge should dig two graves is especially true when a boy tries to do the job of a man.
The penultimate S19 episode is straight out of Tennessee Williams. The trouble begins when a widow (Louise Latham) with delusions of grandeur alienates her son by trying to coerce him into having more ambition as to his job as a bank clerk and regarding the "fallen woman" who is the love of his life.
Things take an actual tragic turn as to this yenta actively blocking a romance between her daughter and a nice young man in an effort to get the girl to marry the son (Parker Stevenson) of a wealthy landowner. Suffice it to say that all are wiser, but none are happier when it comes time to ride off into the sunset.
All of this demonstrates that relations largely are the same whether one lives in 19th-century Dodge City or 21st-century New York City. Family members remain relative problems; and the heart still wants what the heart wants.
The Lionsgate January 14, 2019 DVD release of "MacGyver" (2016) S3 provides a good chance to catch up on the rebooted exploits of titular highly resourceful spy Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till) ahead of the February 7, 2020 S4 premiere on CBS. As shown below, a primary S3 theme is out with the old and in with the new (sort of).
The season premiere finds MacGyver living in a small Nigerian village with a beard in the wake of resigning from The Phoenix Foundation, where his ability to rapidly think on his feet as to using available items to save both the day and his hide makes him a star. This lifestyle change is attributable to a rough S2 reunion with his estranged father. Ala the central relationship in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," Jim MacGyver (aka "Oversight") has been rough (and secretive) with his boy for what he thought was best for his offspring.
The game-changer is Dad showing up in Africa to get MacGyver to come home to rescue best buddy/co-worker/protector/father figure Jack Dalton (George Eads) from a highly precarious situation involving gun-running with a one-who-got-away nemesis in Eastern Europe. This is ahead of a well-publicized mid-season exit of Eads from the series for "personal reasons."
One of the more notable father-son adventures has them team up to hunt the hitman (Michael Des Barres, who plays Murdoc in the '80s "MacGyver") who is cleverly snuffing key witnesses in an upcoming trial. As our heroes do a couple of times in S3, our boys take a page from "Silence of the Lambs" by visiting super-villain Murdoc at the deep black-ops facility where he is being held, The value of the this consultant is his knowledge that is very helpful as to capturing the predator of the week.
Things really get interesting when Team MacGyver learns the extent to which they expertly have been played. One lesson here is to never trust any psychopath.
MacGyver fully gets to do what he loves best in a couple of episodes that have him save innocents despite facing obstacles that involve extreme prejudice. One outing requires especially intense improvising when a mission to deliver crucially needed oxygen to critically ill hospitalized children.goes horribly awry.
The similarities between the above episode and another in which a car accident diverts MacGyver from his original mission extends beyond an imminent life-or-death situation. He once again for the countless time learns that a seeming innocent may not be so innocent and that people often do the wrong thing for the right reason.
A favorite moment for past and former student at all educational levels occurs in a "Back to School" episode that has the "kids" (sans "Dad") go undercover at a university to bust a terrorist who is radicalizing the best brains there. This highlight has Angus schooling a professor who tries to both shame him and make him look foolish.
The rest of the 22 episodes are just as typically another workweek for a group that is tasked with putting right what once went horribly wrong.
The appeal of this reboot extends beyond Till having the looks and the personality of a farmboy despite always being the smartest guy in the room. There never is a dull moment, and seeing how what is at hand always is enough to "git 'er done" is entertaining.
'City on a Hill' DVD: Damon/Affleck Drama Starring Kevin Bacon Shows Something Rotten in Commonwealth of Mass.
The CBS Home Entertainment December 3, 2019 DVD release of S1 of the 2019 Showtime Boston-based drama series "City on a Hill" follows many grand traditions. The first relates to "Hill" fitting right in with other gritty Showtimes series such as (reviewed) "Ray Donovan" and the (also reviewed) reality-based Ben Stiller prison break joint "Escape at Dannemora."
"Hill," which is the brainchild of working-class Charlestown, MA native Chuck MacLean and Beantown notables Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is a perfect example of the large number of series and films based on the numerous true-crime scandals in this city that once was known as The Athens (aka The City on the Hill) of America.
An article pointed out years ago that a series of Lifetime movies that premiered within months of each other depicted the Boston-area stories of The Craigslist Killers, the pregnancy pact at a Gloucester, Mass. high school, and the story of stockbroker Neil Entwistle who ran for the border after killing his wife and his young daughter.
The tale of Charles Stuart, a white man who stirred up simmering racial unrest by first claiming in 1989 that a black man killed his pregnant wife and later admitted that he committed the crime is the subject of the 1990 Lifetime movie "Goodnight, Sweetheart: A Murder in Boston." The Stuart case also provides much of the context for the early '90s set "Hill."
On a more humorous note, Rhode Island native Seth MacFarlane provides relevant commentary by having his titular "Family Guy" ponder how Boston has devolved from a city of intellectuals to a community teeming with dirt bags, NOTHING conveys this new normal better than the following episode of the HILARIOUS YouTube series "The Real Housewives of South Boston."
The following clip of a "Hill" trailer highlights the strong performance of Bacon, who plays very footloose with the rules that should apply to him as an FBI agent and a father, includes refraining from exaggerating the Bahstan accent ala his peers who include Dorchastah native Mark Wahlberg. The only other note as to casting is that it seems that gruff Boston-native Denis Leary seems born to play fed Jackie Rohr.
The bonus as to the trailer is introducing the racial and gritty elements of the shot-on-location series.
As mentioned above, "Hill" occurs in the aftermath of the Stuart case. New assistant district attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) is a member of the committee that is addressing the issues related to that crime. He meets Rohr in connection with prosecuting an informant of Rohr on a charge of shooting a cop during a badly botched police raid.
Ward and Rohr each have their own (not entirely honorable) reasons for becoming strange bedfellows to crack the case of an armored car heist in which the guards go missing and are presumed dead. Ward further finds himself between two worlds when a gun fight outside a funeral that he is attending moves into the church; this results in the prey being gunned down in the aisle between the pews. The pastor being a textbook "MeToo" offender further complicate things.
For his part, Rohr finds himself having to deal with two pathetic and unrepentant informants. The teenage dirtbag who arguably already has caused Rohr much more trouble than he is worth faces street justice when he crosses the well-understood line as to robbers dealing with cops.
The personal life of Rohr clearly shows how work and home impact each other. Rohr, his long-suffering wife, and their teenage daughter live in the home of his gleefully evil and toxic mother-in-law. A storyline in which Grandma hilariously sabotages Rohr is a series highlight alongside his getting even more amusing revenge that involves a suggested late-in-life career change that involves the oldest profession in the world.
Team MacLean continues showing Boston Strong instincts by showing that the guys, who have a long history with Rohr, on the other side of the law are not much different that the G-man who is looking to bring them to justice. Adult siblings Frankie and Jimmy Ryan are like the James brothers in that they follow the philosophy that the family that robs together stays together.
Both the standard of living and overall level of marital bliss (or lack thereof ) is comparable at Chezs Ryan and Rohr.
The Ryans are two-thirds of the crew that pulls off the first robbery, follows that up with an even more successful criminal endeavour. and begin planning their third job roughly halfway through the season; anyone familiar with this type of story can predict how that goes.
The aforementioned heist sets the stage for the S1 season-ending climax as Rohr closes in and the Ryans decide that desperate times call for equivalent measures. Both sides learn the truth of the theory that every effort follows the pattern of making a plan, everything going wrong, and improvising in an effort to put right what once went wrong.
The final episode is an S1 epilogue in that all concerned deal with the fallout from their deeds an misdeeds throughout the season; a big part of this is Ward learning both that he should have trusted his instincts as to Rohr and that you cannot fight Boston CIty Hall.
The best part of the season finale (not to mention the entire S1) is that it leaves viewers hungry for more, which likely will hit Showtime in June 2020.
CBS supplements these episodes with a plethora of extras. We get behind-the-scenes looks at the first three episodes, a feature on Kyra Sedgwick (aka Mrs. Bacon) directing, and a documentary in which cast-and-crew discuss filming in Boston.
Mill Creek Entertainment adds to its awesome TV Land catalog, which already includes CS DVD sets of series such as "Coach" and "Mad About You," with a pair of November 19, 2019 releases. MCE couples the (reviewed) CS DVD set of the CBS Monday-night sitcom "The King of Queens" with a single CS Blu-ray set of both "Charlie's Angels" (1976-81) AND the 2011 TNG series from Drew Barrymore. This roughly coincides with the November 15, 2019 release of the latest big-screen adventures of that trio of gorgeous female detectives with mad skills.
The miracle as to this set is how MCE can keep the cost reasonable while remastering in top-quality Blu-ray and having each disc cradled in its own slot on its own "page."
This mother of all sexploitation series more than a decade before "Baywatch" aptly is from '70s lowest-common-denominator producer Aaron Spelling. As the opening narration explains, the titular owner of the Townsend Agency "rescues" the original police academy graduates from demeaning sexist duties. Their salvation has them go undercover as every fantasy known to man.
A bonus element of this pure escapist fun that is tailor-made for our winters of discontent is that these employees never meet their boss, who only communicates via the high-tech. means of a '70s-era telephone with an auxiliary speaker. The free-wheeling sexual innuendo as to the exploits of the boss are a highlight of those scenes and the similar epilogues after the women get their man.
Related fun comes via the numerous times that the angels come very close to seeing their employer.
The broadest (no pun intended) cultural impact of "Angels" is that it arguably is the first fully liberated series on network television, The plots constantly call for Team Charlie to dress in skimpy and tight clothing, such as bathing suits and tennis outfits. A prime early example of this is a case that has them go (barely) undercover at the Playboy Club like Feline Club.
Prominent enduring pop culture contributions begin with the poster of Farrah Fawcett, who leaves early on in search of greater fame and fortune, in a red bathing suit. We also get the classic pose with guns that is a silhouette that serves as a bumper. This is not to mention MASSIVE product placement in the form of Ford Mustangs that extends to promotional material at car showrooms.
The TV-movie that starts it all is a classic Lifetime plot that has Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith) portraying the long-lost daughter of a missing vineyard owner. The mission, which the agency has chosen to accept, is to uncover the truth in time to prevent a gold-digging trophy wife and her partners-in-crime from inheriting the wine before their time.
Smith is notable for being the only original angel to stick it out for all five seasons of a series with regular cast changes. The "new girls" include Cheryl Ladd (who plays the sister of Fawcett's Jill Munroe) and one-season wonders Shelley Hack and Bond girl Tanya Roberts. Fawcett returning in S3 for three episodes is one of many series highlights.
The classic S1 episode "Angels in Chains" is a highlight of that season, Investigating the fate of a young woman who uncharacteristically is convicted of a crime and sentenced to a small-town jail leads to our heroines following her path. A tough and cruel matron in the mold of Hope Emerson of the classic babes-behind-bars movie "Caged" greets the fresh fish with an order to strip before hosing them down. This adventure going from the big house to the cat house is part of what makes it stand out.
Spelling stays very true both to the style of '70s television and to his desire to amass great wealth by creating a cross-over episode between "Angels" and the Spelling classic "The Love Boat." That one has our gumshoes in stilettos board the titular cruise ship to catch a thief. This S4 premiere is the first adventure for Hack.
This wonderful campy fun gets an edgy 21st-century update in the 2011 "Angels" series that MCE includes as an awesome bonus. The action moves from Los Angeles to Miami, and the highly stylized look of every aspect of this incarnation further give the still beautiful OS a world-class makeover.
The behind-the-scenes pedigree of this series includes Drew Barrymore of the "Angels" film franchise as a producer. Her colleagues include OS producer Leonard Goldberg, OS creator Ivan Goff, This is not to mention Alfred Gough and Miles Millar of "Smallville" fame.
Charlie remains unseen, but middle-aged middle-manager uptight handler John Bosley now is a 30-something stud who sees as much action as his girls. An early episode provides the first reveal as to the personal history between this former embezzler/hacker and his current boss.
The theme of redemption extends to the heiress-turned-expert-cat-burglar-turned-angel, the former dirty cop who turns out to be less filthy than generally believed, "and the rest" whom Charlie gives a second chance. The episodes that allow each character to put his or her past to rest shows that the motivations for their career changes include a desire to put right what once went wrong. (Yes, the MCE catalog includes a very strong (reviewed) CS BD set of the Scott Bakula sci-fi series "Quantum Leap.")
Aside from keeping Charlie as a voice on the telephone, the new kids on the block most honor the original by making their own "Angels in Chains" episode. This version has the adventure begin with the angels having cocaine (sadly, not angel dust) planted in their suitcase on arriving at a Havana estate.
We also get a high-seas adventure in the form of a cruise to the Bahamas that becomes more of an "Island of Dr. Moreau" exploit.
The movies and the new series support the theory that the appeal of the OS is timeless; expertly helping keep this important part of television history in the public consciousness shows that MCE understands (and values) these classics.
Awesomely independent The Film Detective continues to live up to its name and strong reputation by (almost literally) unearthing and expertly restoring the "lost and forgotten" 1959-61 syndicated anthology series "Deadline." This cousin of hit series from that era "Dragnet," which depicts "true crime" stories, uses real news stories and the men (no women at least in the first 9 episodes) as the basis for compelling tales of murder and corruption.
An overall theme is the dedication of the real-life reporters in this period in which these heroes support truth, justice, and the American way. This dedication to "art over commerce" is refreshing in the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality of the 21st-century and in which most cities have one reputable newspaper and a tabloid-style rag.
The "Dragnet" (and later "The F.B.I.") similarity extends to an epilogue in which the viewer learns "the rest of the story" as to the fates of the principal players and the newshound who always gets his man or woman.
Wonderful context comes via an included booklet that shares series trivia, episode synopses and the fascinating and intriguing real backstory of each episode, and the Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics.
Veteran character actor Paul Stewart, whose 114 credits include a guest-role on the newspaper-centric drama "Lou Grant," hosts and occasionally plays a role in these 39 episodes. A melange of his narrator and a depiction of the incidents that lead up the front-page events set the stage for the investigative journalism that follows. One spoiler is that each story has a Code-era Hollywood ending in which the "innocent" obtains the best possible outcome and the malfeasor literally or figuratively ends up in the ground or as a guest of the state.
Copious pre-viewing jokes (complete with mob slang) about gangsters are prophetic as to the pilot episode "The Victor Riesel Story." Riesel is a good union man who loses his livelihood due to standing up to a corrupt takeover of his organization. Riesel continuing to speak out earns him a beatdown and threats of worse directed at both him and his nuclear family. Inadvertent humor relates to the reporter covering the story being emboldened as to a code that protects a journalist against physical harm in doing his or her job.
The aptly titled "State Scandal" further proves that the "Deadline" stories remain highly relevant in 2019. This one involves a whistleblower claim that an attractive and charming Illinois state auditor is embezzling funds via padding the state payroll. The highlights of this one include the discovered facts and the conflicted loyalties of the investigative reporter who wants to provide inquiring minds the truth.
Two other still-timely early episodes, "Mass Murder" and "Charm Boy," have awesome shade of both "Dragnet" and fellow anthology series of the era "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." The common theme here is of an outwardly upstanding citizen committing a heinous crime for a motive as old as time.
"Murder" centers around a family man whose mother is on a flight on which the explosion of a planted bomb kills everyone. The rest of this story is that this man seemingly has a loving relationship with his mother, whose generosity includes providing seed money and sweat equity as to his drive-in restaurant. Like his "Deadline" colleagues, the reporter follows the Sherlock Holmes principle of going where the evidence leads him.
"Charm Boy" is as engaging as the titular newlywed around whom this story is centered. The undisputed facts are that this man, who lives with his mother-law and runs the butcher shop of his deceased father-in-law, and his wife are followed from a movie theater to their home. It also is known that the transient (a.k.a. bum) who follows the wife onto the front porch while the husband tends to the trash cans is armed (but not necessarily dangerous).
Increasing doubt remains to the subsequent events that lead to both the bum and the pretty young spouse ending up dead. Meanwhile, the new widower is the subject of copious sympathy and admiration.
The broadest appeal of this series relates to the human-nature aspects of the stories and the concept that truth often is stranger than fiction. This set also reflects the Unreal TV principle that the best series to own are those that are not heavily syndicated.
Detective supplements all this with a 25-minute DVD special-feature in which broadcast journalism professor Joe Alicastro discusses how the news business has changed in the decades between the airing of "Deadline" and 2019. We also get a series trailer.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Warner Archive aptly team up to respectively release the first season of the Hulu 2019 "Veronica Mars" reboot of the 2004-07 CW series of the same name on DVD and Blu-ray. WBHE is the home of the latest and greatest Warner Bros programs, and the Archive catalog has the proverbial vast array of home-video releases of the best recent and not-so-recent series from the Warner studios.
The original concept of "Mars" is that the titular middle-class teen helps her private-investigator father with cases that frequently involve the one-percenter residents of their oceanfront resort community of Neptune, California. Much of the OS relates to a crime that transforms our live-action Daria/Buffy hybrid from a member of the in-crowd to an outcast.
The following trailer for the new "Mars" season highlights the wonderfully quirky tone and clever humor of this cult classic; it also reinforces that cast and crew have brought these characters back for enjoyment of the fans, rather than as a "willfully" ego project for the stars.
Our story begins with Veronica (Kristen Bell of "Frozen," "House of Lies," and "The Good Place") proving that you sort of can go home again. Veronica is working a typical case for a divorced real housewife of Neptune, who is being gaslighted by her ex-husband. The hilarious ways that our now 30-something Nancy Drew gets revenge on both her client and the man who dun her wrong reminds old-school fans of the justifiable general contempt that Veronica has for both men and for the rich and often famous.,
Meanwhile, not-so-gracefully aging Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni of "Just Shoot Me") is helping a struggling independent grocer foil a particularly insidious plot to drive away his customers.
The chemistry between Keith and Veronica and the still sharp writing of show creator/runner Rob Thomas alone make another trip to "Mars" well worthwhile.
One of the best scenes in any of the eight episodes establishes in the first offering that Veronica is shacking up with former classmate Logan Echolls, who is much more mature and even buffer than in his younger days. Logan is freshly back (and barely decent) from his latest stint playing Captain America at a global hot spot when Veronica "entices" him in front of drooling girls (and likely some boys) to help her more a large appliance.
The central event of a fatal bombing at a motel during Spring Break both drives most of the action and provides a context for numerous familiar faces to reappear. This group literally and figuratively runs the spectrum from the good, to the bad, to the ugly.
The nature of the crime creates almost endless possibilities regarding both whodunit and whydunit. Conclusions regarding which victim is the intended target, rather than collateral damage, change just as frequently as the certainty regarding the discovery of the smoking gun.
The central casting types include the beleagured motel owner and his daughter, the "hound" fratboy who is not above Cosbying the current object of his something that rhymes with affection, the genius nerd, the rich boy from the nationally prominent family and his "not our type" financee, and the nephew of a Mexican drug lord,
Subsequent attacks further complicate matters.
A strong "snobs v. slobs" element is pure "Mars." The small business owners and their employees heavily rely on Spring Break to pay their bills the rest of the years are actively fighting an organized group headed by one of he aforementioned "old friends" and his new "business acquaintance" that he met during an unfortunate incarceration. The "haves" are trying to rid the city of every undesirable element.
One spoiler is that good old-fashioned detective work drives the pursuit of justice; another spoiler is that great-great-grandfather of all consulting detectives Sherlock Holmes is vindicated in that the solution reflects the principle that once the impossible is fully eliminated the answer must be the (sometime improbable) remaining alternative. All of this ties to the broader reality that there is you story, my story, and the truth.
Investigative team Mystery, Inc. is represented in the form of one or more clues that seem insignificant ultimately lead to the culprit realizing that he would have gotten away with it but for one of our favorite meddling kids.
WBHE and Archive supplement this with a feature on the "Mars" 2019 Comic Con panel that is a sort of a homecoming. Seeing cast and crew express the mutual love that comes across is awesome; attempted humor by interrupting this presentation with reaction clips from the new season is less of a treat.
The CBS Home Entertainment September 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018-19 S5 of the CBS drama series "Madam Secretary" lets current and new fans alike catch up on this ripped-from-the-headlines series ahead of the October, 6, 2019 premiere of the sixth and final season. That one is set in the not-too-distant future of two years from where S5 ends. A big change is that titular Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni of the tabloid-based sitcom "The Naked Truth") has left her corner office for one that lacks any right angles.
Watching these episodes of this femalecentric series just ahead of diving into the CBSHE DVDs of "Gunsmoke" S15 for a post next week is a good reminder of the cost of judging a series by its cover. Only getting into Westerns in the past five years has prompted regret as to missing out on the compelling storylines that classics like "Gunsmoke" provide for so long. "Secretary" and the (reviewed) "Good Fight" show that soccer moms and cat ladies have good taste in television dramas.
Both "Fight" and "Secretary" present entertaining cerebral tales on topics that should greatly concern all of us. In the case of "Fight," we witness the grimy underbelly of out legal system in the context of "this filthy world" in which dirty politics rule the day. in "Secretary," we see fictional Hillary Clinton (who makes a cameo with two of her real-life predecessors) Elizabeth McCord try to avoid strong-arm diplomacy at the same time that she often must do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason.
The support system of Elizabeth includes spouse/former Marine/former CIA operative/former religious scholar/current presidential advisor Henry McCord (Tim Daly of "Wings"). She also has a diverse quirky staff of wonks who all bring things of value to the table in their own neurotic or otherwise odd ways.
The constant ripped-from-the-headlines vibe begins with a twofer in the season premiere. Elizabeth is trying to get India and Pakistan to enter a treaty at the same time that domestic terrorists that want to make America great again pull off a major attack that creates significant physical and national psyche damage. The international element of this both is not surprising and pops up in other ways throughout the season.
We also see Elizabeth doing her best to be diplomatic regarding overseas sweatshop labor, a magnificent gift that will require hardship-inducing upkeep, a regime change that seems sure to erupt into war, etc. The issue of legalization of marijuana both provides some of the best humor of the season and shows how it can aid good international relations.
A two-episode story that hits almost as close to home as the aforementioned attack is the issue of indefinitely detaining the children of illegal immigrants separate from their parents. This one sees Elizabeth taking an especially strong stand. The bonus is an interesting debate on the issue of states' rights.
"Secretary" creator/writer Barbara Hall skillfully pulls this off by keeping an even keel. No one really gets worked up in even the most tense moments, and we are spared piercing looks and overly dramatic moments.
We merely see people in a world that is otherwise closed off to most of us doing the job for which their natural intelligence, formal education, and extensive on-the-job learning has prepared them. The sad part is that their current real-life counterparts do not follow their example.
The bonus features consist of several deleted scenes.
[Editor's Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment October 1, 2019 separate Blu-ray and DVD releases of S1 of DC Universe streaming service series "Doom Patrol" nicely reminds us that the range (and legacy) of the DCU extends beyond the broadcast network friendly exploits of the Arrowverse shows, Common executive producer Greg Berlanti clearly lets his inner excitable inner boy out to play in "Patrol."
As an aside, the Warner Brothers section of this site has posts on the recently released WBHE BD sets of the 2018-19 seasons of every Arrowverse series except for "Legends of Tomorrow."
The following DCU trailer for "Patrol" offers a good primer on the lore of the series and nicely conveys its awesomely quirky vibe. It additionally reinforces that spending a few extra dollars to opt for Blu-ray over DVD is well worth it.
The mandatory starting point is that "Patrol" is tailor-made for a streaming platform, which presumably can push the FCC decency standards even further than premium networks such as Showtime and HBO. One of numerous examples is that the f-bomb seems to be weapon of choice of the misfits of science that comprise the titular team.
The central premise is a wonderful mash-up between the Sci-Fi Channel series "Sanctuary," which stars Amanda Tapping of the "Stargate" universe as a woman who looks very good for her age and uses her enormous mansion to shelter and aid all sorts of disfigured and/or meta entities, and "X-Men." The wheelchair-bound men-of-letters scientist/protector is Niles Coulder/Chief (Dalton, Timothy Dalton).
The central motley crew that struggles with their meta and their human elements evokes thoughts of the castaways on "Gilligan's Island" to the extent that both have a movie star in their midst. The members of both Team Gilligan and Team Coulder all have significant flaws but remain highly loyal to their "family" with whom a series of unfortunate circumstances have thrown them.
Former NASCAR star Cliff Steele/Robotman (Brendan Fraser) can be considered the brains of the organization in that this man whose War of the Roses with his equally toxic wife ultimately leads to his vital organ being implanted into a metallic body. His related angst includes not having been a good father to his young daughter and his effort to re-establish a relationship with her.
Next up is dashing closeted gay test pilot Larry Trainor/Negative Man (Matt Boomer). His "something extra" is a space being who inhabits him but goes solo when his services are needed. Larry still struggles with his love for a male member of his flight crew (insert your own cockpit joke here) and more generally with being restrained from being true to himself.
The aforementioned B-movie actress is Rita Farr/Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby); varying percentages of her body become a disgusting blob.
Last but not least is woman of 64 meta-personalities Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero). Jane often lacks any control when a resident of the "underground" portion of her mind exerts herself. Each of these temporarily dominant personalities comes with a special power that she does not necessarily use for good, rather than for evil.
The new kid on the block who fills the role of DCU star "slumming" with the B team is Vic Stone/Cyborg (Joivan Wade). Cyborg and his Dad/mechanic have a history with Coulder that leds to Cyborg playing the role of nerd who tries to assume leadership of the class when the teacher leaves for an extended period.
As arch-villain Mr. Nobody/Eric Morden (Alan Tudyk) states in his frequent (and witty) narration, he plays the necessary role of bad guy. The exceptional talent of Mr., Nobody to simultaneously gleefully play mind games and wage psychological warfare makes him a formidable foe and a source of intense entertainment for those of us who do regularly relive our worst moments.
This extended discussion of the intriguing lore of "Patrol" leads little time to share the wonderfully surreal S1 events .
The band being assembled leads to an ill-advised field trip to the nearby town; Mr., Nobody subsequently captures old foe Coulder and imprisons him in a form of phantom zone. The search of the gang for their leader includes a (non-sexual) disgusting encounter with a donkey, a visit to an incredibly accepting (but shifting) talking street, the evil research facility known as The Ant Farm. and a visit to what can be considered the Justice League predecessors The Justice Society of America,
Our folks who simply want to avoid their own demises also come up against a wonderfully warped cult that is going to use a (presumably) virgin sacrifice (who presumably reeks of Axe body spray) to bring about end times. They further must go "Magic School Bus" to enter the mind of Jane to return her to a relative state of normalcy.
This is not to mention The Brotherhood of Evil and the Bureau of Normalcy (nee the Bureau of Oddities) creating trauma and drama.
Things really get weird in the final S1 episodes. Our thoughts of suicide squad learn that Chief is the source of much of their discontent and has an "Alice in Wonderland" style ulterior motive for his outward peace, love, and understanding. This leads to a showdown with a true survivor and a sidekick with a "Princess Bride" style vendetta.
Much of the group being in "Wonderland" state at the end of S1 sets the stage for a spectacular S2.
WBHE supplements all this with unaired scenes, a gag reel,m and an entertaining "Come Visit Georgia" PSA that shows how the versatility of the Atlanta area makes it a good place for location filming.
The CBS Home Entertainment Sept. 24, 2019 2-disc Blu-ray release of the epic 1978 NBC mini-series "Holocaust" reminds us of the worst of times at the best of times for that message. Related principles of those who are dedicated to any society not descending so low as Nazi Germany are to preserve materials that document that era and to educate the general population to "never forget" so that we do not have to endure the lesson that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
The numerous accolades of the saga of two families for which the persecution of the Jews is a form of a civil war include the Emmy for Best Limited Series and the one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. Michael Moriarty earns the latter for portraying Nazi officer Erik Dorf, who joins the party without fully having the fortitude for his role.
Our story begins at the mildly strained 1935 mixed-marriage wedding of commercial artist Jewish man Karl Weiss (James Woods) to Christian woman Inga Helms (Meryl Streep). Father Dr. Josef Weiss (Fritz Weaver) is a general practitioner, whose patient roster includes the wife of then-unemployed attorney Dorf.
Younger brother Rudi Weiss (Joseph Bottoms) is a typical apolitical young guy; 16 year-old sister Anna (Blanche Baker) is a sweet girl who enjoys playing the piano,
Increasingly restrictive laws reflect heightening tensions between the Hitler government and Jewish Germans during the next several years. The lesson for the Weiss family during this period is that they should have gotten out while the getting was good. For his part, Dorf learns that party membership is critical to gainful employment and that any advancement depends on being a good soldier.
Dorf proves that he is an apt pupil by playing a leading role in Kristallnacht, which is one of a few dates that will live in infamy. This semi-organized rioting against Jewish people, their homes, and their businesses is the wake-up call for members of that group who are not already woke.
This is the period in which Josef is sent to live in the Warsaw ghetto, Carl is arrested and sent to a concentration camp for having married a Jewish woman, and Dorf becomes a fair-haired boy in the eyes of his "superiors." Meanwhile, Rudi is making a run for the border and a horrific experience for Anna leads to an even worse fate that is sadly common in that country during that period,
The importance of having to go along to get along incredibly escalates during the war years. Weiss father and son (not to mention daughter-in-law) pay higher and higher prices for sticking to (and acting on) their beliefs. Meanwhile, Jewish people and others who actively collaborate are rewarded.
The immediate period after the war finds the surviving Weisses (and Dorf) where they should be, The most unrealistic aspect of this is that they are able to move on after enduring what arguably can be considered the closest that we can get to literally Hell on earth.
Of course, this topic requires closing thoughts. The need to recognize that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda relates to it being critical to fully think about the bill of good that political leaders on both sides are selling you. Further, PLEASE remember that enough voters writing in "None of the Above" if you do not like either candidate makes more of a statement that not voting at all or writing in a joke candidate.
The first brief example of this is the ample and common sense evidence that "the wall" will not be effective as to stopping Mexican people from illegally entering the US. It is equally obvious that American consumers ultimately will bear the burden of Chinese tariffs.
On the other side of the aisle, a Great Society in which all get free healthcare and have incomes that allow living at least a little large sounds very good. The harsh reality is that the "have-nots" that this facially will benefit the most ultimately will foot the bill; higher taxes inevitably lead to lower employment and/or higher prices.
The quantum of solace as to the CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of the seventh and final season of The Tiffany Network procedural "Elementary" is that it seems that incarnations of dynamic duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are even more immortal than the fictional Victorian Era pioneering consulting detective and his colleague, It is logical to deduce that another film or television series featuring the exploits of those 19th-century gumshoes will be released in the not-to-distant future.
The highly entertaining and clever "Elementary" can be considered an even more neo-modern version of the Arthur Conan Doyle creations than the excellent BBC series "Sherlock."
The "Elementary" updates include transforming Dr. John Watson into Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). In addition, this sidekick who traditionally is a roomie turned partner-in-crime solving is now a sober companion turned apprentice turned full-fledged crime-solving partner to recovering addict Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller). For his part, Holmes is outwardly more dark and damaged than his previous versions. Moving the action from London to New York City is another major change in the Holmesian style,
"Elementary" creator Robert Doherty takes similar awesome liberties with other elements of Holmesian lore while staying true to the spirit of the source material.
In typical procedural style, S7 picks up in the wake of the S6 cliffhanger. A "send him back" sentiment results in Watson now being the stranger in a strange land when she and Holmes become neighbors at 221A and 221B Baker Street in London. They also get a sense of new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss on offering Scotland Yard the same consulting detective services that they had been providing the NYPD.
The shooting of NYPD Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) sets the underlying S7 action in motion. This begins with Holmes sneaking back in to the US to solve that crime. Stating that the agreement that Holmes subsequently enters to regain his legal status here is a deal with the devil is not far from the truth.
Discovering whodunit is only the beginning of the story; learning why he dunit ties into the aforementioned larger picture. Holmesphiles easily recognize the significance of Mark Zuckerberg fictional counterpart Odin Reichenbach (James Franin) the arch-nemesis of the final season. Yes, Reichenbach does cause Holmes to take a fall.
This unifying element is that literally evil genius Reichenbach is using his access to the online activity of virtually the entire population of the "civilized" world to (ala the Tom Cruise film "Minority Report") target what Reichenbach considers highly probable imminent killers of innocents. This includes a young guy who is planning to McVeigh a ferry.
The rest of this prologue to our story is that Reichenbach keeps his hands relatively clean by radicalizing traumatized "innocents" to do his dirty work. An example is a teacher who has survived a school shooting.
Holmes soon figuring out the scheme does him limited good; like all foes who have presented our hero with a real challenge for roughly 150 years, Reichenbach is just as much of a chess master as his foe.
This plays a hand in several cases, such as an early one in which the stabbing of a runner leads to uncovering a well-planned plot to take out someone on the blacklist of Reichenbach.
The inevitable showdown (with the predictable outcome) between Reichenbach and Holmes comes in the penultimate episode of the series; those who know the lore best are not ready to declare game over.
The series finale nicely delivers on several levels. We see Little Joan happy at last with a state-of-the-art existence that includes both professional and personal contentment. A blast-from-the-past in the form of Watson getting a gift for Holmes from foe Jamie Moriarity followed by the messenger essentially getting shot sets the stage for the final intrigue and the last chance for those who are left standing whom we have come to know and love over seven years to live happily ever after.
This discussion of the finale sets the stage for one more logical deduction in the form of the showrunners knowing that Hell has no fury like a fan scorned as to an unsatisfactory series conclusion.
The voice of experience requires advising folks who are skeptical about the CBS All Access streaming service "The Good Fight" to check your prejudices regarding "parent" series "The Good Wife" at the door. The wit and wisdom of "Fight" further suggests that those of us guilty of labeling "Wife" as a "scoccer mom series" without ever watching it may pay for judging Amy by her cover.
The draw for many of us doubting Clarence Thomases is '90s CBS sitcom "Cybill" star Christine Baranski (Maryann Thorpe) starring in "Fight." It is almost guaranteed that fans of that absolutely fabulous hard-drinking scorned first wife still revel in chances to spit out "Doctor Dick" more than 20 years after the broadcast of the unresolved "Cybill" series-ending cliffhanger.
The rest of this story is liking, really liking a series that leaves expectations in the dust makes that program even more enjoyable than one that is approached with a more positive 'tude.
The CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of "Fight" S3 provides a good chance for the aforementioned enlightenment. The equally good news is that a recap at the start of the season premiere and exposition throughout the series allows legal eaglets to follow the action.
The following Access trailer for "Fight" S3 reinforces that this unique series has a special voice and stylized look. You also will see a few familiar faces in addition to Baranski; those usual suspects are only the tip of the iceberg as to the lives of the "Titanic" passengers whose lives and loves provide ample fodder.
An online description that seems to come from CBS.com provides a good primer on "Fight." That synopsis states the following.
"The CBS All Access series picks up one year after the events in the final episode of 'The Good Wife.' After a financial scam destroys the reputation of young lawyer Maia Rindell and wipes out her mentor and godmother Diane Lockhart's [Baranski] savings, the two are forced out of Lockhart & Lee and join forces with Lucca Quinn at one of Chicago's pre-eminent law firms. At Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, Diane finds familiar faces, including Colin Morrello, who is a rising star in the state's attorney's office, and Marissa Gold. Though starting at the bottom, Diane and Maia are determined to rebuild their careers and lives at the new firm."
Show runners Robert and Michelle King avoid a single dull moment in any of the 10 S3 episodes. The animated "Schoolhouse Rocks" segments aptly titled "The Good Fight Shorts" enhance the entertainment value. The first one titled "NDA" is a song (but not dance) number about legally binding contracts known as "non-disclosure agreements" that prevent someone from divulging cover information about the person who is paying the hush money.
The firm partners trying to get a secretary with a dirty little secret to not ruin the posthumous reputation of her boss/civil rights icon prompts the short, Meanwhile back at the ranch, an NDA drives a wedge between highly liberal Diane and her conservative husband Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole). A Dick Cheney element of this makes it highly entertaining.
A second element that drives much of the S3 action enters in the second episode in the form of rude, crude, and not-at-all socially acceptable sole practitioner Roland Blum (Michael Sheen), who makes Al Pacino seem like Shirley Temple. This legal lizard gets his foot in the door by representing the co-defendant of a man who is being jointly tried with a man whom Maia is defending against a murder charge.
This emboldens Blum to make himself an odd (and highly unwelcome) bedfellow of the partners in a multi-million-dollar class-action lawsuit. This leads to an offer that is too good to refuse that requires bringing Blum a temporary full-time fixture at the firm.
Maia making the mistake of f**king with Blum, who has attended several rodeos, sets off a chain of events that derails her career. This, in turn, teaches the "suits" that Hell hath no fury like an attorney scorned.
Meanwhile, a promotion and a leaked salary list ignite smoldering fires as to perceptions of racial and gender inequities at the firm. Hilarity is the best thing that ensues from resulting efforts at sensitivity training and other "reforms."
We also an extreme effort to convince new head of the matrimonial department/new single mother Lucca Quinn (Cush Gumbo) that Melania Trump is consulting her as a prelude to getting a divorce, The truth awesomely reflects a desperate measure in a desperate time even before the recent initiation of a proceeding to divorce the country from the president.
When not having a hand to a varying extent in all this (as well as other firm-related) trauma and drama, Diane divides her time between throwing axes in a bar and plotting with a secret group of fellow female executives who are fighting covertly planted fake news with more of the same. This is not to mention an effort to hack a voting machine to offset election interference.
Aside from this "hobby" often overlapping in not good ways with the work of Diane, the S3 cliffhanger suggests that she and Kurt are going to be on the receiving end of poetic justice.
CBS supplements this with deleted scenes and a gag reel.
This opening argument for adding "Fight" to you DVD library warrants a summary judgment without allowing the "cons" their day in court.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S4 brings us 3/4 of the way toward completing these releases of the 2018-19 seasons of the CW Arrowverse series ahead of their (mostly) October 2019 season premieres. "Supergirl" S4 follows the (reviewed) sets of "The Flash" S5 and (reviewed) "Arrow" S7. The September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" S4 completes this run.
The reasons for springing for the BD sets extend (except as to "Legends") beyond those versions including the epic three-part "Elseworlds" episode that introduces Batwoman to the Arrowverse ahead of her 2019-20 series. Past lack of buyer's remorse validates that spending a few extra bucks to get the deeper and richer color and sound of BD is well worth it; this is not to mention BD being less prone to the ravages of time and repeated viewings than DVD.
"Supergirl" always has been more closely aligned in lore and tone with "Flash." On-screen, this relates to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) of the latter introducing Superman cousin/reporter/covert government operative Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) to the Arrowverse. Further, both series skew younger in cast and target demographic than "Arrow." Off-screen, Gustin and Benoist (who have sung separately and together in their current series) are former Gleeks,
Further, "Flash" and "Supergirl" both revolve around boys and girls with something extra on both sides of the law. These problems and solutions mostly are aliens on "Supergirl," and mostly Spider-man style meta-humans who accidentally acquire special abilities on "Flash."
Conversely, most of Team Arrow and their foes are more like Batman in that they use advanced tech. in their efforts to put their well-honed skills to good (or bad) use.
The underlying debate on whether aliens, most of whom can easily send us muggles crying home to our mommies, in "Supergirl" S4 parallels the underlying theme in "Flash" S5 regarding how to handle a "cure" that makes a meta like other boys, The options there are to completely suppress the cure, make it mandatory, or give metas the freedom of choice.
As a side note, both "Supergirl" and "Flash" also have an annoyingly cartoonish "Scrappy-Doo" style/outcast character who fails in his mission to provide comic relief, "Flash" compounds the error as to acrebic scientist Harrsion Wells by making the current incarnation of him stereotypically French,
"Supergirl" has a kinder and gentler version of Brainiac, whose voice and misunderstanding of life on that alternate earth are inconsistent with his supposed intelligence, The writers mercifully limit a quirk as to referring to classic films to a few episodes To expand on a reference to the game of three in the "Flash" post, neither Wells nor "Brainy" would fare well regarding that diversion.
A real-world analogy in these series by openly homosexual executive-producer Greg Berlanti is gay rights. One aspect of this real-world non-issue is the "threat" that LGBTQ folks pose to "normal" people. An element of this in the entire Arrowverse and our reality is that most of the "villains" can "pass" for "normal."
Everything regarding this in "Supergirl" S4 ties to the Children of Liberty, lead by Agent Liberty (a.k.a. former US history professor Ben Lockwood) which loosely can be described of as a human-rights organization. The analogy as to this group that aggressively supports a "send her back" policy is to the related issues of immigration and refugees. This encompasses "them" coming to "our" country where they take jobs from "real" Americans and cause extensive physical destruction. We further see how these negative experiences can radicalize folks who previously largely avoid the maddening crowd.
The Children's campaign to repeal the federal Alien Amnesty Act does mirror a theme in "Arrow" S7. The legislative effort there is to outlaw vigilante activities of Team Arrow that supplement formal law-enforcement work.
An early "Supergirl" S4 episode begins to eliminate confusion as to that season seemingly not addressing the S3 cliffhanger. The final scene in the season finale has our heroine landing in what seems to be eastern Europe. The additional S4 exposition is that this individual can be considered a version of a bizarro Supergirl.
More exposition regarding all this comes roughly 3/4 into S4 with the heavily anticipated first appearance of Jon Cryer as "Super" nemesis Lex Luthor, Fanboys will remember Cryer as gonzo Lex Luthor nephew Lenny in "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace."
Aside from this introduction of a major DCU character into the Arrowverse series, the coolest thing about having Lex Luthor join the party is seeing late in the game how he orchestrates so much from the sidelines throughout the season. His "great escape" is another highlight.
All of this leads to season finale that includes an extended thrill-a-minute climax. The cliffhanger hits a high note by (ala "Arrow") bringing back a central "Elseworlds" element and keeping fanboys on the edge of their futons until the October 6, 2019 S5 season premiere.
The bigger picture is that S4 arguably is the best "Supergirl" season. It has streamlined characters, made Kara far less awkward and geeky "Ugly Betty" like, and has stronger story arcs.
The biggest picture is that the latest batch of Arrowverse seasons supports what fanboys have known for decades; comic books are about much more than men (and women) flying around in Spandex.
The plethora of S4 extras include a presentation of highlights from 2018 Comic-Con panels of Arrowverse series, a (Blu-ray exclusive) feature on "Elseworlds," a look at DCU super villains, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. The deleted scenes run from the sublime to the ridiculous, and the gag reel shows which cast member is most prone to cursing.
Mill Creek Entertainment once more proves itself to be the champion of sofa spuds everywhere as to the August 13, 2019 DVD release of "Hart to Hart: Movies and Murder Collection." This four-disc set includes all 8 1993-96 made-for-TV reunion movies of the 1979-84 ABC light-hearted mystery series.
Having a handful of "B-listers" guest in each movie provides a wonderful hybrid vibe of "Murder, She Wrote," which gets its own set of made-for-TV reunions, and "The Love Boat." These celebrities include Joan Collins, George Hamilton, Alan Young, Mike Farrell, and Jason Bateman. The roster truly goes on and on and on from there.
MCE follows this up with a Halloween treat in the form of an October 2019 Blu-ray complete-series release of "Charlie's Angels."
The titular couple is an '80riffic "lifestyles of the rich and famous" version of one-percenter silver-screen amateur sleuths Nick and Nora Desmond of "The Thin Man" fame.
As the voice-over narration in the "Hart" series and movies reminds us, Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) is a self-made millionaire. This exposition includes that "it was murder" when Jonathan met "gorgeous" spouse/free-lance journalist Jennifer Hart (Stefanie Powers). The rest of this part of the story is that gruff but loving live-in servant Max (Lionel Stander) "takes care of them, which ain't easy."
A typical "Hart" episode finds a series of unfortunate circumstances embroiling the soulmates in a crime that often involves murder. It is just as likely that someone embezzling funds from a charity for which Jennifer is organizing a fashion show kills an assistant who discovers that crime as it is that Jonathan must clear his name as to Hart Industries being accused of nefarious business dealings.
The aptly titled first movie in the series is "Hart to Hart Returns." This one stays the closest to the spirit of the series while including a notable development that is too momentous to the lore to even remotely spoil. The central plot involves a pending business deal of Jonathan with an old friend prompting the corporate villains of the week to take desperate measures in response to the desperate times as to the aforementioned pursuit of profit.
The next one, "Home is Where the Hart is" arguably is the best one in that it virtually is a live-action "Scooby-Doo" mystery. The death of the mentor/first boss of then cub-reporter Jennifer brings our heroes to the small town where Mrs. H. begins her career.
The list of usual suspects and the spooky subterfuge that is concealing covert activity make one long to see family pet Freeway, Jr. speak English and Jonathan to pull a rubber mask off the villain. An "I would have gotten away with it except for you meddling millionaires" would have made this one purely sublime.
"Old Friends Never Die" is another memorable one due to both its campy fun and its homage to another genre; this time Agatha Christie books are taken to Hart. A publisher tells the couple that wanting to add Jennifer to his stable of writers is why he is inviting them to a weekend party at his lavish estate. The rest of the guests are eccentric scribes.
The plot thickens on Jennifer overhearing a detailed murder plot; the explanation that the conversation relates to a novel concept wears thin on life imitating alleged art. This culminates in the truth ultimately coming out, and the Harts finding themselves playing the most dangerous game.
More of the same occurs in the other films, which culminate in the aptly titled "Til Death Do Us Part." An early scene in this one indicates that Jonathan may be dyslexic in that Dog is his co-pilot.
The rest of this story is that the Harts travel to Germany so that Jennifer can donate bone marrow to a young cancer patient. The intrigue this time relates to our dynamic duo encountering a French woman who is a doppelganger of Jennifer. Of course, Powers plays this crazy pair.
"Death" ends on the same concept as the last several films in the series in that the epilogue involves the Harts in a fantastic or fantasy situation. These include this pair magically transforming into a couple performing a song-and-dance number on a stage or being transformed into lovers in a cuckoo clock.
Old and new fans should take all this to hart; the series and the movies are good cheesy fun that show that entertainment need not be edgy.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The WBHE September 10, 2019 separate DVD & BD releases of "Supernatural" S14 help keep the CW joy going strong ahead of the October 2019 season premieres of these fun-for-all-ages series. This run begins with the August 2019 releases of (reviewed) "Arrow" S7 and (reviewed) "Flash" S5.
The September 17, 2019 releases of "Supergirl" S4, and the September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" round out this run,
The blessing and the curse related to "Supernatural" S14 is that premature rumors of the death of this series result in episodes that awesomely cover all bases and leave fanboys wanting more but being content about where things stands in the season finale. The same is true as "Arrow" and "Flash." It is known that S15 will be the end for "Supernatural" and that Team Arrow has decided that eight is enough.
The following trailer for S14 shows that "Supernatural" has not lost any of its creepy edge in its adolescence. This promo being in perfectly clear standard def. reinforces that spending a few more bucks for the enhanced images and sound of Blu-ray is WELL worth that extra cost.
The last hurrah elements of S14 begins with grim brothers/expert monster hunters Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester back in our world after an S13 adventure in an alternate universe known as "Apocalypse World." One change is that their core group of the siblings and long-term literal angel Castiel (Misha Collins) now includes "Little Nicky"/"Cousin Oliver" Jack (Alexander Calvert). This new kid on the block is the two year-old son of Lucifer in the body of a late-teens boy.
"Mom" Mary Winchester and mentor/father figure Bobby Singer also are back with the band after extended death-related absences from the series.
Everything old is new again in that S14 commences with the "surviving" sibling dealing with the sacrifice of his brother at the end of the prior season. In this case, Sam has the aforementioned inner circle and his army of hunters desperately seeking Dean, who is the new meat suit for archangel Michael. This brings things back to the primary S5 story arc in which Michael and Lucifer want to respectively possess Dean and Sam in order to hold a death match.
S5 further rears its ugly head as to former Lucifer vessel Nick also being on Team Winchester. Subsequent events indicate that that former tenant has a lingering effect on his prior landlord.
The standard murder and mayhem result as to Michael having Dean do his bidding, Sam and Dean teaming up to evict that squatter, and the standard demons and numerous other creatures of the night preying on innocent and not-so-innocent humans. All of this occurs in the background of the latest plan of Michael to turn earth into his idea of paradise.
Meanwhile at the fortified bunker that the Winchesters call home, Jack faces his own personal crises. S13 events have robbed him of his grace that makes him different than other boys. He also faces a comparable crisis to one in which "cousin" Sam struggles in S6.
Staying alive requires that Jack sacrifice a portion of his soul; a few subsequent desperate times require that he resort to the desperate measure of giving up a little more of his soul to defeat a foe with extreme prejudice,
Team "Supernatural" does the series proud as to the milestone 300th episode "Lebanon" (a.k.a. "Winchester Family Reunion.") This one starts strong with our boys on a scavenger hunt that goes awry when a trio of slacker teens who at least suspect what goes on in the bunker temporarily (and hilariously) gets the better of their elders.
After dealing with the meddling kids, the Winchesters try black magic that does not work as intended. The compensation for not getting the desired wish fulfillment is the return of deceased family patriarch John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This resurrection allows the Winchester clan to once again be a relatively happy nuclear family. This also arguably is the happiest periods for the boys in the entire series.
The writers remain true to the entertainingly cynical nature of the series by not allowing the bros to be happy for long and by showing that magic has its price. Learning of the negative consequences of Dad coming back forces the boy to once again try to find a quick fix while contemplating a major sacrifice for the greater good.
"Leabanon" also is notable for providing INARGUABLY the best fodder for the gag reel that is a special feature. The Winchesters are having a very serious moment when a prop malfunction has Padalecki and Ackles literally rolling on the floor in laughter.
The aptly named "Mint Condition" Halloween episode is another season highlight; often angry and/or morose Dean is ecstatic as to a Shocker network marathon of classic slasher films and a real "job" that involves action figures and other memorabilia coming to life to attack a comic-book store employee. Usually more cheerful Sam is experiencing annual depression regarding this holiday.
This outing perfectly blends the well-produced horror and the dark humor that contributes to "Supernatural" being able to celebrate its Quincenera.
Humor fully takes center stage in a "Pleasantville" style outing in which a "job" brings Sam and Castiel to a real-life town that is straight out of a TV Land sitcom. All of us living through our current dystopian times can relate to the desire of the power-that-be behind this Utopia to want a more cheerful existence than our winter (and spring, summer, and fall) of discontent,
All of this culminates in a truly epic season-finale story-arc that involves the end of the world as we know it, Jack becoming an especially excitable boy leads to teen angst that leads to a "we need to talk about Jack" moment.
The inability of the Winchesters to properly parent their jinx of a ward leads to the "Dad" coming downstairs to put the kids in line. The climax to all this proves that the boss may not always be right but always is the boss. The other moral is that Hell literally has no fury like a powerful entity scorned; suffice to say that our existence is chucked.
Although the gag reel shows that boys just wanna have fun, the other special features demonstrate the love of the game that comes through in each episode. You will not believe in angels, demons, and the stuff of "Scooby-doo" episodes but will believe that the folks in front of and behind the camera do believe in spooks.
All involved share their perspectives and devotion in "Exploring Episode 300," the even more series-encompassing "The Choices We Make," and the 2018 Comic-Con panel that will make you mourn the 2019 panel likely being the end times for that event at that Con.
[EDITOR' NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment separate August 27, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of "The Flash" S5 keeps the fun coming after the August 20. 2019 (reviewed) parallel releases of S7 of fellow DCU Arrowverse series "The Arrow." CW reverses this order by having "Flash" S6 premiere on October 8, 2019 and "Arrow" S7 premiere exactly one week later.
The first aside is that the high production values and bright comic look of"Flash" is behind buying S1-3 on Blu-ray; buying S4 on DVD still provided hours of enjoyment but reinforced the belief that saving $5 was not worth losing the enhanced BD experience.
The second aside is that this 'verse helps keep comic-book characters fresh decades after their births. This contribution to pop culture is important in an era in which virtually no one 25 or younger knows about Lucy Ricardo and even fewer have heard of Ralph Kramden or Dobie Gillis.
The third aside is that adorkable Team Flash both provides good fodder for the marry, "mate," or kill game and earns their series the distinction of being the most highly rated one on CW. One note regarding the game is that each of the almost infinite variations of brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanauhgh) is most likely to suffer the most unpleasant fate.
On a more positive note, the odds are forever in the favor of quirky emo tech. whiz Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) as to the game of three.
The numerous tie-ins between "Arrow" and "Flash" extend well beyond titular hero/CSI forensics expert Barry Allen in the latter first appearing in an episode of the former. They even surpass the (always-awesome) cross-over episode this time centering around a "Freaky Friday" body switch between our masked avengers (if you pardon the expression).
The fourth and final aside is that a full presentation of the cross-over is an exclusive feature of the BD sets of each series. Both the DVD and Blu-ray sets of those shows includes a bonus feature on that epic that is a backdoor pilot for the new Arrowverse "Batwoman" series. That one premieres on October 6, 2019 and is part of an upcoming 5-EPISODE cross-over.
The recently completed seasons of "Flash" and "Arrow" also include MUST-SEE milestone episodes. It is number 150 for "Arrow" and 100 for "Flash." The latter involves a grand mission that has our hero (adorkable Grant Gustin) and his fellow speedster/adult daughter Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) go on a time-travelling scavenger hunt that has them revisit some of the many critical battle royales of the past four seasons; that is not to mention going back to the big bang that starts everything.
Further, natural progression and the nature of both seasons suggest that they are produced with a thought that both may be the final ones in each series. The "seven-year-itch" often triggers the end of a sci-fi series; moreover, the nature of the Arowverse allows members of Team Arrow to pop up on the spin-offs that "Arrow" spawns.
"Flash" reaching 100 episodes gives it enough for syndication; going out on top and freeing up Team Berlanti resources for younger "siblings" (including newborn "Batwoman") arguably makes sense. Additionally, members of Team Flash can always visit Seattle.
The indications of end times in both series include copious appearances from old friends, foes, and folks who fall in the middle of that bell curve. We also get heavy doses of soul searching in these already heavily emo programs. It seems that real men get into at least two violent fights a week and CONSTANTLY share their feelings.
In typical "Flash" style, S5 revolves around the arch-nemesis du season who triggers related personal dramas. In this case, Nora travelling back more than 20 years to join Team Flash relates to super-villain Cicada executing (pun intended) his crusade to rid the world of both good and evil meta-humans; this encompasses virtually every member of Team Flash.
The personal side of this is that Nora wants to bond with her dad and has epic mommy issues as to Barry spouse/journalist/former speedster Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton). The challenge regarding Iris is that she is being treated like Mommie Dearest years before engaging in the reported behavior that prompts the 'tude in our present day. The desire for quality time with Daddy is even more complicated.
For her part, Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) is getting an icy blast from her past that extends well beyond her massive split personality issues.
All of this leads to a development straight out of MCU; the most recent desperate times lead to the desperate measure of creating a "cure" for meta-humans that reverts them back to "normal;" the challenge this time extends beyond a Jekyll-and-Hyde side effect.
The debate that is especially emotional for the boys and the girls with something extra on Team Flash is whether the existence of the "cure" is ethical and if metas should have a pro-choice option. Another perspective is the debatable merits of this conversion therapy that makes those living an alternative lifestyle "normal."
Meanwhile, the current incarnation of Wells being a mash-up between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Clousseau is designed to provide comic relief. The harsh reality is that this makes him even more of the Scrappy-Doo of Team Flash then ever before.
Of course, all worlds collide in the events that lead to the epic showdown with very high stakes. The ensuing new normal achieves the desired objective of working equally well as a season or a series finale.
One semi-spoiler is that the been-there-overcame-that nature of the cliffhanger leaves very little doubt other than that at least most of the kids will be alright. This relates to the primary S5 lesson that even casual "Flashphiles" know; the timeline is malleable,
WBHE provides fanboy even more joy by cramming both the DVD and BD sets with numerous extras in addition to the look at the cross-over. These include extended highlights of the 2018 ComicCon panels of the Arrowverse shows, the self-explanatory "Villains: Modes of Persuasion," deleted scenes, and a gleeful all-dancing, all-(bleeped) cursing gag reel.
The CBS Home Entertainment August 20, 2019 DVD releases of "NCIS: New Orleans" S5 shows that that entry in that 16-year franchise is going strong. This release coming one month after the (reviewed) CBSHE DVD release of S15 of the still equally strong series "Criminal Minds" provides procedurals fans plenty to watch before the season premieres of each series in a few weeks,
The press materials for "New Orleans" S15 describe the twist in this one as that the close-knit group of quirky law-enforcement experts operate a"field office that investigates criminal cases involving military personnel" in the titular city. That city, which is one of the most unique (and has experienced one of the worst natural disasters) in America literally and figuratively adds wonderful color to this shot-on-location series.
"Quantum Leap" and "Star Trek: Enterprise" veteran (and real-life righteous dude) Scott Bakula is perfectly cast as soft-spoken all-American boy team leader Dwayne Pride. The always off-beat CCH Pounder does equally well in her role as coroner/mother hen Dr. Loretta Wade. We also get real-life spinal-cord injury survivor Darryl "Chill" Mitchell adding good energy as wheelchair-bound Patton Plame, whom the press materials aptly describe as "an animated and talented hacker."
The casting of Mitchell provides a good opening to mention "Cosby Show" veteran Geoffrey Owens having a cameo as a Naval doctor. This casting follows a real-life attempt to shame Owens by posting a photo of him working at Trader Joe's on the Internet. Rather than making Owens a national laughing stock, it revitalizes his acting career.
A variation of the "Cousin Oliver" tactic comes in the form of drafting Pride, who finds copious justifications to remain active in the field, for a desk job, This promotion leads to bringing in Hannah Zoury (Necar Zadeghan). She adds diversity that extends beyond bringing what hilariously tough-and-gruff Tammy Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) describes as balancing the boy girl ratio on the team.
The action picks up in the immediate wake of what should have been a fatal shooting of Pride by a highly skilled (and equally determined) assassin. Our heroes split up to simultaneously try to capture that armed and dangerous foe and pull off the trick of keeping the boss out of her hands while still giving him desperately needed medical care. These outings in any series in which the prey is just as skilled and tough as the hunters are always fan favorites.
For his part, Pride is having an outer-body experience that is reminiscent of "Leap" and "Enterprise." A woman from his past is urging him to go toward the light, while he rages, rages against doing so. In the end, he decides that his time on earth is not over.
This turn-of-events leads to a Pride becoming the boy with something extra in that having premonitions and reliving memories helps him put right what once went wrong. This also ties into the voodoo aspect of New Orleans culture. The icing on the cake is Pride conversing with a colleague who essentially is a hologram.
As the charming DVD special feature "King Cake" states regarding the 100th episode, the new talent of Pride comes in particularly handy in that outing. We also share the frustration of Bakula as to his reminding us that "Leap" and "Enterprise" fall just short of the century mark.
This aptly titled adventure "In the Blood" goes even further than the usual ones that are personal, The tie-in of a meet gone fatally wrong is that the crime-scene evidence includes a Hardy Boys novel from the library of a young Pride ala a possession of "Johnny Archer" showing up in an "Enterprise" episode.
This quickly leads to a reunion with ex-con and largely estranged father Cassius Pride ("New Orleans" semi-regular Stacy Keach). This turn shifts the focus to a frigid cold case involving a casino robbery. Another twist introduces a new character who becomes a reoccurring addition to the series.
Hannah shines in the especially clever "Sheepdog" episode. She is pitted against an extreme student activist who is anything but radical. This one reunites Pride with an old friend who is a college professor whose message of peaceful protest does not sit well with the primary villain of the week. The old ticking time bomb aspect adds more drama and prompts an awesomely creative solution.
A lighter and more fun "The Spy Who May Have Loved Me" episode gives awkward genius Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich) a chance to shine. He bonds with a clever and deadly MI6 agent, who may simply see him as an adorkable means to an end. Their cat-and-mouse game that continues right to the end provides plenty of solid entertainment.
All of this culminates in an epic two-part season finale with shades of the S4 season finale. This centers around Team Pride that somehow forms a family taking their variation of a trip to Hawaii. They go far overseas to try to rescue a kidnapped FBI agent and of course find themselves in grave danger.
CBS builds on the fun of "King Cake" with a plethora of other special features. We get the cast and crew discussing S5 and a few similar treats. The icing on these pecan rolls are the pilots of "SEAL: Team" and even more aptly of "Star Trek: Discovery."
The debriefing regarding this release that does well by this strong addition to the "NCIS" franchise, which in turn does "father" "JAG" proud, is that cast and crew know what people who like quality procedurals with a "hook" want and deliver it. I garontee it.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Brothers Home Entertainment August 20, 2019 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 22-episode penultimate season of the daddy of all Arrowverse series "Arrow" provides plenty of time to either catch up on or review the series before the October 15, 2019 premiere of the 10-episode 8th season on your local CW channel.
It is clear early on that this action and lore-packed season is intended to be the last. We check all of the boxes as to the unmasking of the titular hero, an unjust imprisonment of that savior, old friends and foes showing up, and an epic finale that provides closure that leaves you wanting more. Team Berlanti provides more in the form of frequent flash-forwards 20 years in a storyline that very validly can be titled ""Arrow: The Next Generation."
The following 2018 ComicCon trailer for "Arrow" S7 provides teasers galore (including toned-down "Ozesque" scenes of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) in the prison shower) about the thrills and chills to come. On a related note, both the DVD and the Blu-ray have a feature containing the highlights of the DC TV panels at that Comic Con. This kicks off with Team Supergirl discussing their adventures.
As indicated above, the blessing and the curse of S7 is that the well-orchestrated developments are much to plentiful to properly present here. Two primary and heavily related themes are that the events are a continuum, and that virtually every character is trying to come to terms with his or her past.
Our story begins with an unmasked Oliver out of the closet and in the big house as part of a deal related to revenge-obsessed nemesis Ricardo Diaz, Wife/Overwatch Felicity is in hiding with Oliver's teen son William Clayton. The rest of disbanded Team Arrow is trying (not always so well) to work within the system to do good in ways that include capturing Diaz for reasons that include an essential prisoner exchange of Oliver for him.
Urgency regarding this extends beyond Oliver being a fellow guest of the state who would not have that distinction but for him. A disgraced psychiatrist is giving Oliver an insidious form of electo-shock with impending dire consequences.
Meanwhile, a new Arrow is taking over the role of illegal vigilante. Rene Ramirez (a.k.a. Wilddog of Team Arow) switch-hitting is only the tip of the iceberg. Oliver and company learning the reason for these most sincere form of flattery dredges up fairly ancient history and creates textbook conflicting emotions.
All of this begets super-villain Dante and his previously covert centuries-old society known as the Ninth Circle, This requires borrowing from another corner of the DCU by having Diaz and his version of the Legion of Doom (complete with an evil version of MCU hero Captain America) form a "Suicide Squad" clone known as The Ghost Initiative. The similarities extend to these desperate measures having bombs implanted in their heads.
The 150th episode "Emerald Archer" centers around a documentary about this character and his not so merry men and women. Of course, reality (and associated conflict) intrude on this project.
The aptly titled episode "Confessions" is more of a traditional procedural than a super-hero action-adventure show. Team Arrow (plus an old friend) are persons of intense interest as to the killing of two innocents during a violent mission that is par for the course as to this group, The message as to this one follows the sci-fi principle that death is not always permanent; we also get a heavy dose of the aforementioned element of atonement.
In true Arrowverse style, all this leads to a story arc that leads to a climatic showdown in which inner and outer demons both face battles.
The aforementioned essentially game-ender nicely ties in with the epic three-episode cross-over "Elseworlds" in which our reality is repeatedly altered for much more fun than profit but still involving global consequences.
This always fanboy delight, which only is fully presented on the Blu-ray sets of the relevant "Arrowverse" series, is particularly awesome this time. It BOTH introduces Bruce Wayne cousin/Batwoman Kate Kane (who gets her own series this year) and drives significant action later in "Arrow" S7.
The special features extend well beyond the Comic-Con panel and the full presentation of "Elseworlds." The DVD and Blu-ray sets have the special feature "Villains: Modes of Persuasion" on DC super-villains, a feature on "Elseworlds," and a gag reel,