Warner Archive aptly co-ordinates the September 3, 2019 Blu-ray release of the "Big Bang Theory" prequel sitcom "Young Sheldon" with going back-to-school ahead of the Sep. 26, 2019 S3 season premiere. This tale of titular 10 year-old boy-genius Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage) facing the daunting challenges of being the smallest (and smartest) member of his high-school sophomore class in his '80s era not-so-enlightened East Texas community is relatable to many of us who excel more at academics than other aspect of school life.
Archive earning its good name by releasing what broadly can be considered the prequels of corporate sibling Warner Bros. Home Entertainment makes Entertainment the apt one to release the epic "Theory" BD CS limited-edition collector's set on November 12, 2019 in time for the holidays.
The other historical note as to "Sheldon" is that it aptly is reminiscent of cult-classic '80scom "Sledge Hammer" about the titular cop who is a blend of Dirty Harry and Rambo.
Like the best brains behind "Sheldon," real-life boy genius Alan Spencer of "Hammer" does not include a laugh track. Spencer aptly concludes that viewers do not need to be told when something is funny. The comparison extends to Sheldon being justified if he ever adopts the "Hammer" catchphrase "trust me; I know what I'm doing."
The following CBS promo for "Sheldon" S2 features a few S2 highlights sans inarguably the funnest scene in the entire season; this has loving grandmother Connie "Meemaw" Tucker (Annie Potts) frantically waving the flag and otherwise enthusiastically showing her patriotism in her front yard in the wake of Sheldon innocently advocating communism in the heartland of the Bible Belt.
This follow up season to the (reviewed) S1 of "Sheldon" commences with a story line that is relatable to both the highly attuned and those who must endure a boy with something extra. Our lead is convinced that the refrigerator is broken because it sounds differently than usual. His family of "muggles" is equally certain that there is nothing wrong with that appliance.
Presumably equally motivated to fix the problem and to prove that he is right, Sheldon takes the refrigerator apart. A "sit" that adds to the "com" related to this is that Sheldon experiences the Humpty Dumpty Syndrome (which would have made an awesome "Theory" episode title). This requires his high-school football coach father George (Lance Barber) to "shell" (pun intended, i.e. Bazinga) $200 in 1988 dollars for someone who is smarter than all the king's horses and all the king's men to put "Humpty" back together again.
The aforementioned episode in which Meemaw "flags" down the neighbors revolves around a similar theme as the season premiere. Sheldon notices that the bread that mother Mary (Zoe Perry) uses to make his school lunch has a different taste than before. Of course, no one initially believes Sheldon. It is equally predictable that he is proven correct. It is not expected that this leads to a logical but naive comment by Sheldon getting his family branded Cold War era "reds" deep in the heart of Texas.
One of numerous personal we are "Sheldon" aspects of these episodes begins with a three-year battle with a particular Starbucks. The chain was responsive to consistent reports that the frappuccinos at that branch did not taste right; they also made repeated efforts to address the issue, including having regional managers taste the drinks, only to insist that there was nothing wrong. They further repeatedly stated that no one else was complaining about the drinks.
The store ultimately disassembled the pump used to make frappuccinos. They discovered a thin crack that reduced the amount of syrup that made it into the drink. It is recalled that someone fairly high up in the Starbucks food chain (pun intended) called to apologize.
A generally amusing element of S2 is Sheldon making a comment in class only to have a teen classmate named Derek tease him; this leads to Sheldon responding in a manner to make Derek look foolish,
The personal anecdote this time is getting up in a high-school US history class to make a peer-graded presentation. A friend called out that he was going to give me an F; I immediately responded "f you, Peter." The entire class laughed, and the teacher quickly made us move on.
Another notable episode is similar to an S1 outing in which Sheldon tries living with the head of a school for gifted children. The S2 variation has recruiting by colleges prompting Sheldon trying the experiment of staying overnight with his absent-minded professor/mentor/friend/potential new grandfather Dr. John Sturgis (Wallace Shawn).
Hilarity fully ensues in the evening that young and elderly Sheldon spend together; the best line in the episode has John suggesting that girlfriend MeeMaw move into his apartment so that she can take care of both him and Sheldon.
The lesson here is that someone has to be an adult; although not totally relevant, this is the same observation that a friend makes after I match a seven year-old girl move-for-move when she starts sticking out her tongue at me during a Christmas concert.
An episode in watch Sheldon is hospitalized a few weeks after a real-life "incarceration" hit especially close to home. Concern about germs and HATING having a roommate were ripped from-the-headlines.
Wanting to go home to rest in my king-sized bed, be with my cat, and getting to watch some of 1,000s of DVD and Blu-rays was a variation of the whining of Sheldon. Ordering a few meal items in (failed) efforts to combine some of their elements into one edible entree outsheldoned Sheldon. The observation here was that my jeans somehow expanded at least two inches during this period.
The "Sheldon" season finale that airs on the same night as the "Theory" series finale nicely ties the two shows together and helps bridge the generation gap. The "Theory" two-parter revolves around adult Sheldon winning (and accepting) the Nobel Prize for physics; "Sheldon" has the younger version of that character planning a 5:00 a.m. party to listen to the Nobel winners 31 years earlier. A "Theory" babies bonus is a special treat for fans of both programs.
The big (no pun intended) picture relatability of this is several years during the early 2000s in which I would go to the home of friends virtually every Friday night to eat take-out and watch "Stagate" series and other shows in the Sci-Fi Channel line up. This was a nice era that ended when neither side arguably was an adult.
The first conclusion to draw from all this is that "Sheldon" is one of the most cute and amusing sitcoms that currently grace the airways until CBS All Access makes it a streaming exclusive. The second takeaway is to trust someone who is smarter than the average bear; the odds are forever in his favor that he knows what he is doing.
CBS Home Entertainment continues to prove itself to be a leading citizen of TV Land by releasing the epic 31-disc "Brady Bunch: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection" on June 4, 2019. This coincides with CBS separately releasing V1 and V2 of S3 of the classic '60scom "My Three Sons." The CBS section of this site includes posts on other beloved sitcoms, such as "The Love Boat" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," in the catalog of that company.
The almost universal familiarity with "Brady" OS, which presumably is universal among folks with enough interest in the titular blended clan to read this article, is behind a decision to skip much of the typical exposition as to these posts and addresses many of the elephants in the room regarding this release,
As a starting point, this set includes every "unreal" "Brady" series with the exception of the 1976-77 ABC Friday night series "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour" that shows the titutlar family both hosting that titular program (complete with synchronized swimmers) and living their daily lives. Of course, the Nelson video library includes the now-discontinued 2000 DVD with a few episodes of that series.
The OS discs in "Collection" seems to be the same as the ones in prior DVD releases of that series. Personal history here is both buying the groovy shag-carpet CS set of "Bunch" and purchasing a replacement set when a basement flood ruins the first one. A word to the wise as to folks looking for the discontinued shag set is that third-party sellers tend to be not be very trustworthy as to delivering undamaged goods.
This brings us to the wonderfully odd 1972-73 Saturday morning cartoon "The Brady Kids" from an era in which virtually every kidcom has an animated series. This one has the titular youths (sans the 'rents and Alice) having adventures that often relate to the magic of myna bird Merlin (voiced by Larry Storch of "F Troop") going awry. These episodes also feature trippy animated music videos by The Brady Six,
Yes, your not-so-humble reviewer has the (seemingly discontinued) CS DVD set of "Kids." The same is true as to the two big-screen '90s "Brady" movies and the made-for-TV movie "The Brady Bunch in the White House." "Collection" includes all these productions.
"Collection" also has the gleefully "behind-the-scenes" 2000 made-for-TV movie "Growing Up Brady" based on the memoir of the same name by Barry "Greg" Williams. A special surprise guest at the very end is one of many highlights this time. The DVD of this one slipped through the cracks as to buying it before it was discontinued,
"Collection" breaks new ground by including the made-for-TV movie "The Brady Girls Get Married," which is the pilot for the 1981 sitcom spin-off "The Brady Brides." That series centers around newlyweds laid-back Marsha and her goofy husband Wally sharing a house that often is too close for comfort with equally newly wed uptight Jan and her blue-blood spouse Phillip.
The first note regarding this movie and series is that there are false online reports regarding them. "Married" is presented in its original format as a film, rather than as a series of "Brides" episodes have some have asserted.
These same haters have claimed that the picture quality of "Brides" is abysmal; it looks perfectly fine and is at least as good as standard-def DVD releases of shows from the same era.
The shag-carpet set includes the 1988 made-for-TV dramedy "A Very Brady Christmas," which finds all six kids, the grandkids, and assorted in-laws and common-law-in-laws returning to the iconic abode for the holidays. A common theme is that each kid (and Dad) has a secret shame that (of course) is resolved by the end of the film.
Only "Collection" includes the 1990 CBS Friday night dramedy "The Bradys" for which "Christmas" is a pilot. The brief discussion of this one channels the corny insights of family patriarch Mike Brady. Highly relevant real-life wisdom from a member of the greatest generation is "little people, little problems; big people, big problems."
An aspect of all this is understandable ill-will regarding facing either repurchasing previously released "Brady" fare or forgoing adding the new-to-DVD stuff to your home-video collection until and unless CBS releases or re-releases missing links. The rest of this story is that the $85 IPO price is very fair for all the content but arguably a little steep for Bradyphiles who already own many of the series and films..
Fortunately, having a little patience pays off. I jam very glad that I umped on a deal to buy "Collection" for $45 roughly a month after the release. The current standard price seems to be roughly $50, which is a reasonable price to pay for completing a"Brady" video library,
The epilogue to all this is that every "Brady" incarnation is amusingly dated; however, the guilty pleasure goofy antics and consistent message of peace, love, and understanding is timeless.
Warner Archive makes one giant leap forward for fanboykind in releasing the 1962-63 ready-for-primetime first season of "The Jetsons" on Blu-ray on Sept. 10, 2019. The futuristic aspects regarding this extend beyond this enhanced format that brings the animation of the series up a couple of notches; "Jetsons" is the first series that ABC broadcasts in color.
This release is part of an awesome (and seemingly endless) animation domination by Archive. One Summer of Love addition to this homage to classic cartoons includes a (reviewed) Blu-ray release of fellow primetime series "Jonny Quest,"
Other highlights include putting right what once went wrong as to undue delays in releases of Golden Age of Hanna-Barbera series that include (reviewed) "Wally Gator" and (reviewed) "Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har" DVD sets. Hope remains high as to a "Touche Turtle" release before Columbus Day,
As an aside, your not-so-humble reviewer is among the first to have pre-ordered the epic collectible 50th anniversary CS BD set of (thankfully Scrappy-free) "Scooby-Doo Where Are You" from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. That back-to-school treat comes out on September 10.
"Jetsons," which uses the formula of wholesome family sitcoms as the template for an animated sitcom set in 2062, is one of many examples of the brilliance of Hanna and Barbera. They build on a winning format to create new fare for our fun and their profit.
In this case, fellow primetime series "The Flintstones" begats our titular space-age family of the future. A lesser known example is the (reviewed) '70s Saturday morning series "The Roman Holidays," which is set in the days of chariot races.
Of course, HB takes this business model to an even greater extreme as to the numerous "Scooby" series and variations on that theme of four teens and lovable mascot solving mysteries. Mystery, Inc. teaming up with Josie and the Pussycats to solve the mystery of the haunted showboat in an episode of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" that also is fairly new to DVD is even more of a dream come true than the (also on DVD) made-for-TV movie "The Jetsons Meet The Flinststones."
The "Jetsons" Blu-ray proves that that series remains timeless at roughly the half-way mark between the original broadcast run and the era in which the family of the future resides.
The regular theme of that family being unduly lazy is now funny because it is true. This is coming from a guy who avoids even the minimal effort of Googling the spelling of words by asking his Amazon Echo Dot for that information; this is not to mention the nightly routine of spending more time repeatedly shouting to the Google nest in the other room to turn a light on and off than it would to get up and walk across the room to flip the switch.
This aspect of "Jetsons" is apparent from the first episode. The burden of highly advanced technology that includes a food preparation system comparable to replicators in "Trek" lore and Roomba vacuums in our own lives is fully stressing out typical housewife Jane Jetson (Penny Singleton of "Blondie" fame). Jane continues following this classic sitcom model by calling her mother for advice.
Our stereotypical TV Land mother-in-law suggests that Jane get a robot maid. The rest ironically is history in that this how Rosie (a.k.a. Rosey) the robot (Jean "Wilma" Vander Pyl) becomes a member of the family. The fun of that character extends to HB basing Rosie on uber-popular live-action sitcom domestic servant Hazel; these similarities extend to Rosie calling head-of-household George Jetson (George O'Hanlon) Mr. J.
HB doubles down regarding sitcom staples in this one by having the arrival of Rosie coinciding with boss Mr. Spacely (Mel Blanc) coming over for dinner. ANYONE who has seen ANY sitcom knows both that that evening does not go smoothly and that all works out in the end,
Another still-relevant aspect of modern life that "Jetsons" introduces in the first episode and continues throughout the series is George feeling beleaguered as to having to do his job of pushing the same button over and over for the grueling schedule of three hours a day three days of week. Of course, this evokes memories of the scene in the pilot of "Downton Abbey" that mines humor from the then-new concept of a weekend.
Similarly, many current college students likely are unaware that Saturday classes were common up through the '60s. Your not-so-humble reviewer is dismayed that his alma mater now does not hold any Friday classes or even open the cafeteria on that day.
This TV Land fun continues right to the 24th and final episode until the series is revived in the '80s. Innocent six yer-old everykid Elroy (Daws "Yogi" Butler) hooks up with some bad influences after a domestic crisis. This follows episodes in which George and Mr. Spcacely make strong efforts to sneak off to a football game, Jane comically tries to learn how to drive, George thinks that he is about to die, etc.
The truly special Blu-ray bonus features begin with cartoon-voice legend Janet "Judy" Waldo providing audio commentary on two episodes. A related backstory is replacing Waldo with then teen superstar/mall singer Tiffany in "The Jetsons Movie" and no treating Waldo very well regarding that entire matter.
We also get the aptly animated short doumentaries "The Jetsons: The Family of the Future" and "Space Age Gadgets." The latter compares the 1962 vision of the future with the reality of the early 21st century.
Warner Archive's recent DVD release of the 1972-73 Saturday morning cartoon series "The Roman Holidays" should remove any doubt regarding Hanna-Barbera (H-B) earning the title of "All-time King of Saturday Mornings." Like the similar recently released DVD set of "Help!...It's The Hair Bear Bunch," "Holidays" is even better than remembered.
Greater "Holiday" cheer is likely attributed to its primary target audience of Gen Xers having a much better understanding of the humor of this "Flintstonesesque" series set in 63 A.D. Rome than they did 40 years ago.
Many of these children of the '70s did not understand the joke "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" back in the day. The same is true as to the humor regarding a Centurion traffic cop asking "Where's the fire, Nero" when pulling over a speeder.
The great humor and lack of a laugh track in "Holidays" evokes memories of Alan Spencer of the hilarious '80s cop show spoof sitcom "Sledge Hammer!," successfully lobbying for removing the laugh track from the episodes in the DVD release of "Sledge." Spencer plainly stated that the audience did not need to be told when something was funny. Trust him; he knows what he's doing.
"Holidays" followed the highly successful "historical context" formula that H-B utilizes in "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons."
In the case of "Holidays," the middle-class nuclear Holiday family live an early '70s American style life in ancient Rome. Dad Gus mows the lawn and watches football, mom Laurie keeps house and guides Gus and the couples' two children through life. Teen son Happius (a.k.a. Happy) plays in a band and has a steady girl; tween daughter Precocia is the golden child who begs Laurie to allow her to wear a mini-toga.
Rather than a lovable dinosaur ala "The Flintsones" or a wonderfully dopey dog ala "The Jetsons," the Holiday family pet is a tame accident-prone lion named Brutus who loves Gus as much as Dino and Astro adore their "daddies."
"Holidays" also supports the theory that Hanna and/or Barbera have a thing for Gingers that may rival Alfred Hitchcock's preference for blondes. Laurie Holiday, Wilma Flintstone, Jane Jetson, Josie of "Josie and the Pussycats," Tina of "Goober and the Ghost Chasers," and Daphne of "Scooby-Doo" are all red-heads. This percentage of women in the H-B universe with that hair color far exceeds the norm in the general real-world population.
Just as the Flintsone family put a stone age spin on their vernacular and household possessions and the Jetson clan transforms everything into a space motif, the Holidays gear everything to the society of their days. This often takes the form of adding "ius" to celebrity names. Stefano McQueenius is a popular star, and Naderius is a consumer advocate.
Examples of tricking out everyday items Roman style include sundial and hour-glass watches, televisions that display numbers in Roman numerals, and newspapers coming in scroll form.
Similar to Fred Flintsone and George Jetson, construction worker Gus Holiday toils for a hot-tempered boss who regularly threatens to fire him and withdraws awarded raises and promotions. Gus has the additional woe of appropriately named Mr. Evictus, who is as tempermental as Gus' boss and often threatens the family with eviction from their home in the amusingly named Venus De Milo Arms apartment building.
Evictus' threats prompt one of the series' most amusing moments. Precocia asks during a ride in the family's chariot if they can take a detour through the park so that she can see where they will be living.
Like "Bear," "Holidays" also benefits from an awesome group voice cast.
Stanley Livingston, who provides the voice of Happy right after finishing a phenomenonal 12-year run as middle-son Chip Douglas on the sitcom "My Three Sons," is tied with veteran comedian Dom DeLuise for most recognizable name to Gen Xers. DeLuise does the same awesome job portraying Mr. Evictus as he does with his better-known roles.
H-B voice god Daws Butler, who brings Brutus to life, is almost as well known as Livingston and DeLuise. Butler makes this scene-stealing character a cross between "The Wizard of Oz's" cowardly lion and Butler's portrayal of classic H-B character pink mountain lion Snagglepuss.
Character actor Dave Willock provides Gus' voice; his other high-profile H-B gig is as the narrator of the hilarious late-60s series "Wacky Races." "Races" is notably for leading to the equally good spinoffs "Dastardley and Muttley in their Flying Machines" , which has the very catchy theme song with the lyrics "Stop that pigeon; stop that pigeon; stop that pigeon now, and "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop."
CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment mark the 108th anniversary of the birth of Lucille Ball by giving her fans (i.e., everyone) a present in the form of the August 13, 2019 2-disc DVD release "I Love Lucy: Colorized Collection." Attendees of the August 6, 2019 (actual birth anniversary) Fathom event ain't seen everything yet. The DVD set adds 11 episodes to the 5 in the theatrical presentation.
Both formats include the MUST-SEE 25-minute feature "Redhead Tales" on the advanced techniques and source materials used to colorize "Lucy;" the DVD goes on provide other bonuses that include a colorized skit in which all four stars sing "Jingle Bells" and a related animated commercial for series sponsor Philip Morris cigarettes. An amusing aspect of the latter is one of the colorized episodes has a scene in which Ricky has a pack of cigarettes tucked in BOTH of his rolled-up sleeeves. Yes, Arnaz does die of lung cancer.
The first aside in this tribute to this true collectible set is that CBS Home Entertainment is continuing its love of Lucy by releasing the complete series of her '80scom "Life With Lucy" (co-starring Gale Gordon) on October 9. 2019. An episode in which John Ritter fully embraces his charming accident-prone persona in playing himself is a series highlight and repays Ball for hosting a "Three's Company" retrospective.
"Life," which of course will be reviewed on this site, differs from the other three Lucy series in two significant ways. The most obvious one is that the earlier shows aired on CBS, and "Life" was an ABC program.
The less apparent difference is that the portrayor of Lucy Ricardo, Lucy Carmichael., and Lucy Carter considered "car" to be a good luck charm. Her wacky grandma character Lucy Barker in "Life" deviating from the pattern may have been a factor regarding that series not running as long as the others.
Returning to our primary topic, the controversy regarding colorization is easy to resolve. This technique, which has come a long way since its 16-color analog origin in the '80s, allows folks who are ok with it to see old favorites in a literally (and arguably enhanced) new light. No one is coercing purists to buy these new versions; it just comes down to a "paper or plastic" choice.
The most important thing to consider regarding "Lucy" specifically is that fully pleasing anyone is impossible as to a show that it so near and dear to the hearts and minds of generations of Americans.
There always will be people who will be unhappy with the quality of this SPECTACULAR digital colorization or with choosing one color or tone over another option. A subjectively valid point regarding this is that the trademark red hair of Lucy does seem unduly bright and orange. Other than that, the colors seem awesome, and the images are incredibly clear. A few seconds of patience is required while your player adjusts the image at the start of each episode,
The other inevitable bone of contention is the selection of the episodes, many of which appear in less enhanced versions as modern CBS network special presentations. All of the acknowledged classics are here and are supplemented with some that merely are hilarious,
Subjective criticism here is fractionally stronger than regarding the colorization. The inclusion of "Pioneer Women," "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," "Job Switching," "Harpo Marx," and "Lucy's Italian Movie" all are mandatory. The two-part "Lucy Visits Grauman's" and "Lucy and John Wayne" are among the subjectively valid inclusions.
It seems that "Bonus Bucks" in which the Ricardos and the Mertzes quarrel over ownership of a prize is merely a typical episode; as much as this seems to be heresy, "Lucy Goes to Scotland" is a bit too silly and somewhat boring to warrant "Top 16" status.
Further, having 7 of the 16 episodes set in Hollywood seems to be heavily weighted regarding those episodes (especially considering that no Florida or Connecticut episodes are represented) as opposed to the others. All of this leads to expressing disappointment that a personal favorite is not included.
A Connecticut episode in which Lucy must bring a flock of baby chicks inside her house and then act like a literal mother hen to herd them is exceptionally cute and funny. The regular series finale in which Lucy breaks a statue and puts herself on a well-deserved pedestal to replace it is a viable contender for colorization.
The most apt way to wrap up these thoughts on this release is to share two comments from "Redhead." CBS Home Entertainment "suit" Ken Ross discusses the history of colorizing "Lucy." His comment regarding the goals of these episodes including introducing a new generation of fans to the series perfectly mirrors the oft-mentioned mission statement of this site (nee Unreal TV) that it exists so that Lucy Ricardo and Ralph Kramden remain in the public consciousness.
A 38 year-old man who worked on colorizing the episodes shared the perspective that he first became aware of Lucy through copious media reports of her death in 1989. He added that he became a fan through his work on the episodes.
Another way of looking at this is that it is not true that everyone loves Raymond or hates Chris, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone does not love Lucy,
Warner Archive goes old summer school regarding the July 16, 2019 DVD release of the 1976-77 Danny Thomas NBC sitcom "The Practice." This textbook '70scom, complete with an urban setting, largely divides its focus between cantankerous older Dr. Jules Bedford (Thomas) of the West Side struggling to help patients and battling with 30-something son Dr. David Bedford (David Spielberg) of Park Avenue over their different approaches to life and to providing medical care. It is unknown if any glass tables are harmed in the filming of "Practice,"
The legacy of "Practice" arguably includes the Henry "Fonzie" Winkler 2005-06 sitcom "Out of Practice." Winkler plays the head of a family of doctors who live in the same building. Further, Thomas plays a very similar role to that of Jules in a 1984 episode of the ABC sitcom "Benson." The "Benson" connection continues with Didi Conn playing a ditzy naive assistant in both series. Further, Danny son Tony Thomas works on both series.
The "dram" and the "edy" start out strong in the pilot. Arthur Jarvis (J. Pat O'Malley of "Maude") is the first in a continuum of long-time patients/close friends of Jules experiencing serious medical problems. In this case, both Arthur and David are much more accepting the seemingly imminent death of the former than Jules.
Next up is Barbara Simms (Marge Redmond of "The Flying Nun"), who is equally distressed about her goiter and her husband recently leaving her for a younger woman. "Daddy" saying no regarding an operation prompts Barbara to ask "Son," who arranges for the procedure. We first see that Father knows best and that Barbara makes room for Daddy in the actual sense of that phrase.
Much of the "com" relates to Jules having to let Barbara down easily after purposefully giving her the wrong impression to ensure her recovery from her operation.
Things get a little edgy when a terminally ill local drug lord (Vic Tayback of "Alice") demanbds treatment. The solution regarding whether letting this guy who does not know the meaning of "do no harm" die or honoring the Hippocratic Oath is creative and believable; one can argue that Jules should have taken things even further.
One of the more amusing S1 episodes has David force Jules to go on a vacation only to have that dedicated physician treat hotel workers and guests in his room. Meanwhile, David gets comically overwhelmed as to taking over the practice of his father.
Although a time constraint is behind not watching many more episodes for this review, the back-cover liner notes remind us of the star power during the rest of the "Practice" run. This begins with Mike Evans of "The Jeffersons" becoming a regular in the role of "Lenny ... a young, wisecracking medical intern."
"Special" guest stars that surely contribute a great deal to their episodes include Lucille Ball and Edie Adams; Thomas daughter Marlo returns the favor as to her father appearing on an episode of "That Girl."
All of the above illustrates the appeal of "Practice;" it is a relatable amusing mostly edge-free traditional sitcom that is akin to the scores of its peers that keep basic-cable networks, such as LAFF and Antenna TV in business.
Warner Archive's recent DVD release of the 23-episode third and final season of the 1969 - 1972 sitcom "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" allows completing a collection of this sweet and gentle show. Prior reviews offer a recap of the first season and musings on the second season.
One warning regarding this set is that regular references to "Mr. Eddie's Father" do not amuse casual fans nearly as much as it entertains true devotees.
This show about "nothing" predates "Seinfeld" by roughly 20 years and merely tells the tales of youngish widowed dad Tom Corbett, played by Bill Bixby, and his elementary-school aged son Eddie, played by Brandon Cruz. Although the first season places a great deal of emphasis on the titular courtship, the focus shifts almost entirely to the "father" aspect by the third season.
Another change is that the "musical interlude" gimmick of earlier seasons is abandoned. A hypothetical example of this is a scene in which Tom asks Eddie to take dirty dinner dishes into the kitchen might prompt audio of the singer of the memorable theme song singing "have to clear the table."
Much of the appeal of "Father" relates to the incredible chemistry between Bixby and Cruz; they truly seem like a loving father and son. Additionally, Eddie comes across as a typical kid, rather than a sickly sweet or overly sarcastic sitcom brat.
Further many of us whose parents consider their jobs done if they keep us fed, clothed, and educated enjoy seeing the extent to which Tom cares for Eddie.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of two Special K cereal commercials that Bixby and Cruz filmed in character provides an excellent sense of the above-described vibe of their show.
The opening and closing credits include new sincere heart-to-heart talks that also often occur during the episodes themselves; Tom strikes a good balance between spending time with Eddie without being a helicopter parent and gives Eddie's needs and feelings far more consideration when making major (and minor) life decisions than most parents.
The season premiere is a prime example of the tone and "nothingness" of "Father." It involves Tom's recent enrollment in an art class inspiring Eddie to take up that hobby.
The "com" related to that "sit" comes in the form of Tom explaining to Eddie about the propriety of drawing a naked model leading to Eddie innocently paying a female classmate a quarter to pose nude for him; the jokes regarding that level of compensation for that service are hilarious.
Another episode from early in the season is a real treat in that it provides a look at the "mod" apartment of Tom's best friend/co-worker "Uncle" Norman Tinker. A cool aspect of this character is that "Father" producer James Komack of "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Chico and the Man" plays Norman.
Tom and Eddie having an inexplicable sleepover at that abode has Tom and Norman discussing the sense of the laid-back and free-spirited Norman of a need to act more mature. The ultimate reason for these thoughts provides a nice ending for this tale.
This early '70s-era self-examination is also a theme in which Tom hires a long-time friend, played by Pat Harrington, Jr. of "One Day at a Time," to write an article for the Sunday newspaper magazine of which Tom is the managing editor. Said friend's tales of adventures traveling the world inspire Tom and Eddie to consider that life.
Another of many episodes with a special guest star has the uber-cool Sammy Davis, Jr. playing a most heinously uncool actuary who is a weekend guest at the Corbett home. Seeing one of that character's comically neurotic precautions contribute to a genuine peril is hilarious.
The series finale goes a step further by having the married-couple comedy team of Jerry Stiller of "Seinfeld" and Anne Meara respectively play an owner and employee of a full-service telephone answering machine service. It is not believed that this apparent pilot for a spin-off ever leads to anything.
A cute scene in that episode has Tom caution Eddie about approaching an unfamiliar dog; this evokes thoughts about regularly petting domesticated wolves whom people leave tied up outside Starbucks.
Another episode requires mention in that it is both surprisingly inconsistent with the typical tone of "Father" but is consistent with the current trend of parents acting assertively on behalf of their children regardless of the impact on others.
This "controversial" offering has Eddie's horribly off-key saxophone practices greatly annoying the Corbetts' admittedly pompous upstairs neighbor. Said fellow apartment-building dweller initially comes downstairs to complain during said practice and ultimately purposefully raises a ruckus at 2:00 a.m.
It is very surprising that the usually reasonable and congenial Tom continues to have Eddie practice in the evening, rather than merely finding him an alternative rehearsal space. The better news is that this sour note is the only one in the 73 episodes in this series.
The finale to this series of reviews on "Father" is that it is an amusing show that nicely portrays an ideal (but very achievable) father-son relationship. The conservative use of a laugh track is another nice touch.
As promised in the review of the Warner Archive DVD release of the truly delightful 1963 feature film "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," I am sharing my thoughts on the 1969-70 first season of the television series of the same name.
A truly awesome part of "Father" S1 is that it meets the criteria that I established when beginning collecting DVDs of television shows in 2006. "Father" is a good but lightly syndicated show from my childhood, and the DVD set is fairly priced.
Watching the first six of the 26 episodes in the set made me wish that I had chosen reruns of that series on WLVI Channel 56 in Boston over competing fare on WSBK Channel 38 more frequently in the dark days before even VCRs.
The simple premise behind the film and television series is that widower Tom Corbett is doing an awesome job raising his young son Eddie, and the two are engaged in a ongoing search to find Tom a new wife.
The series pilot is a nice transition from the film in that both incarnations of the Corbetts' story have Eddie macing on an aspiring actress named Dollye Daly as a "wife" candidate. Eddie does so on a father-son outing to an arcade in the movie and on a father-son movie studio tour in the pilot.
It seems that series producer and co-star James Komack of "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Chico and the Man" fame chose that episode as the pilot to help attract fans of the movie. A later episode regarding Eddie's really rough first few days in the first grade seems to be a more natural pilot, especially considering that Tom dates Eddie's teacher in an early offering.
The conflict in the episodes regarding a search for the mother revolve around the effect of the romantic relationship on Eddie. For example, Tom dating the teacher gets Eddie branded "Teacher's pet."
The third episode is particularly memorable both for having Diana Muldaur play an absolutely fabulous model who is light years away from Muldaur's Dr. Pulaski character from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in terms of looks and personality. Seeing the childless "It Girl" try to care for a sick Eddie is hilarious.
"Father" is also a perfect show for its era in which networks were transitioning from supernatural, sci-fi, and rural shows to more realistic fare. There are undertones of understated sexual content, including Eddie not understanding why his father cannot pollinate childless housekeeper Mrs. Livingston in the same manner as bees pollinate flowers, and Bixby is a perfect mix of a Tim O'Haraesque of "My Favorite Marian" overwhelmed straight man and a father who truly knows best.
The show is further notable for having some of the more creative aspects of broadcast network sitcoms; the theme song's singer provides a one-man off-screen Greek chorus in terms of commenting on the action in the episode. Examples include the chanteur singing "bless you" one time that Tom sneezes and "remember your son is in the other room" when Tom begins to escort a woman into Tom's bedroom merely to have a private conversation.
Further, episodes begin and end with Tom and Eddie having heart-to-heart talks while having a great time doing things such as horsing around on the beach, enjoying fun-park rides, or pedaling a two-person bicycle. The sad part for many of us is that those conversations and activities are just as fantastical as harboring a martian who is stranded on earth.
Reviewing the second season of the early '70s sitcom, which is based on the film of the same name, "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" for a post on the opening day of "Man of Steel" and the Friday before Father's Day is a no-brainer that even Bizarro would think of.
The parenting skills of "Father's" Tom Corbett, played by the truly awesome Bill Bixby, both earn him the title of Television Father of the 20th Century and demonstrate that son Eddie considering him a superhero is justified.
I cannot imagine any son not wanting a dad who is so devoted to him that he gets restless on the rare Saturday that they are not together and so patient that he does not prod or get angry when he knows that his offspring is up to some form of mischief. The well-known dialogues in which Tom truly listens to Eddie and guides him with complete honesty and absolutely no condescension is amazing.
Those of us who had averaged-sized rooms and shared a bathroom down the hall with at least one sibling growing up also envy Eddie's huge bedroom with a terrace and a private ensuite bathroom.
In the interest of brevity and avoiding repetition, readers who are interested in learning more about the "Father" film and the first season of the "Father" sitcom are asked to please read this site's reviews of that early Ronnie Howard movie and those episodes. The spoiler alert is that both of those productions are just as good as the second season that is being reviewed here.
The first few episodes of the second season of this series about a widowed magazine executive raising his young son with the help of his full-time, but "sleep-out," housekeeper Mrs. Livingston and his wonderfully sweet but slightly ditzy secretary Tina indicate that the focus has shifted from the titular courtship to the antics of the titular Eddie. This reflects that Eddie portrayor Brandon Cruz is a little older and can assume a slightly larger role in the series.
The season premiere revolves around Eddie teaming up with "Uncle Norman," who is a quasi-parental figure but is essentially Roger Healey to "I Dream of Jeannie's" Tony Nelson, to make a home movie as an "unbirthday" present for Tom. Eddie's logic is that people expect presents on their birthday and that surprising them with a gift on a random date shows that you really love them.
The subdued hilarity that ensues involves the subterfuge related to Eddie and Norman shooting the film without Tom finding out; a scene in which Tina frantically looks to see where Norman and Eddie are hiding when Tom unexpectedly arrives on the scene is hilarious.
The second episode of the season is truer to the show's concept in that it involves Eddie's nemesis turned buddy Joey, played by series semi-regular Jodie Foster, preparing to run away because her widowed father is planning to remarry. Joey feels that that marriage would upset her deceased mother.
Bill Bixby does his usual outstanding job reacting to the indications that Eddie is up to something and in being a model dad in counseling Joey. This situation also requires that Tom and Eddie actively think about feelings associated with the possibility that Tom will remarry at some point. His "Super Dad" ethics will ensure that said second wife will be a good mother for Eddie.
Only one of the first eight episodes in "Father's" second season involve the titular courtship. Eddie's friendship with caring but self-absorbed socialite neighbor Valerie Bessinger, played by "The Bob Newhart Show's" Suzanne Pleshette, leads to Valerie and Tom seriously dating.
A surprising line in which Tom states in reference to Valerie's gardening that she is good at making certain things grow is out of character for Tom and is one of the series' rare double entendres. One theory regarding this is that it is designed to show that this romance is so serious that it prompts Tom to act like a true adult.
The episode is special as well because the contrast between Tom's respectable and "old-fashioned" lifestyle and Valerie's more free-spirited and modern outlook call attention to Tom's commitment to "traditional family values" without the narrow-mindedness that often accompanies that way of living. Tom really does stand for "truth, justice, and the American way."
These early episodes further reinforce Tom's superhero qualities by having him face some tough foes. Any Superman fan knows that the tales of this Kryptonian would not be exciting if he could easily defeat every obstacle.
Early season two challenges include Tom having to decide whether to take an important business trip or see Eddie in his first ever school play, achieving the proper balance between firmness and leniency regarding Eddie shamelessly procrastinating on a school project, and making a foster son feel welcome without making Eddie jealous.
As trivial as these plots may seem, it is important to understand that making Eddie unhappy is almost as powerful as a chunk o' kryptonite to the heart for devoted dad Tom.
The bottom line is that "Father" shows what a father-son relationship can be if a former properly expresses the love that he feels toward the latter.
The current analytical thinking that leads to detours from reviews into Blogland shows that the underlying premise of Unreal TV is flawed. Unreal TV 1.0, which has evolved into Matt Nelson Reviews, is based on the idea that we need "unreal" sitcoms and other non-fiction fare to escape our cold cruel world. The actual truth is that we need '70scoms as our model for life.
Anyone with even advanced-beginner knowledge of television history knows that '50scoms typically revolve around suburban nuclear families in which every member presents a mostly idealized version of his or her real-life counterpart. This leads to the mid '60s in which a combination of greater awareness of our society, the Vietnam War, and the increasing popularity of the counter-culture give rise to "freakcoms." The outsider may be a hillbilly living in a mansion, a New York lawyer living among hicks, a clan (or two) of monsters in suburbia, a struggling rock band living in a beach house, or a genie or a witch co-habitating with her fella.
The ''70s give rise to arguably the most realistic era of sitcoms. Our main man or woman is out in the workplace that typically is part of the story. Significant others who survive the TV Land purge of spouses are almost as likely to bring home some bacon.
The '80s represent the Cheese Age of television in which '70scoms jump the shark and become cartoonish versions of their former glory. The highly significant other of your not-so-humble reviewer notes that this is the period in which the Norman Lear groundbreaker "The Jeffersons" largely has Louise Jefferson and neighbor/best friend Helen Willis play cheap copies of Lucy and Ethel.
The new kids on the block mostly are silly fun with little or no substance. Of course, Fox entering the picture in this era contributes to this.
The '90s become the era of urban "friends" living in apartments that their real-life counterparts can only dream of affording. The better news is that the subgenre of gaycoms paves the way for marriage equality and other 21st century advances.
The 2000s are the "Two-and-a-Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother era of crass and crude sitcoms that rely on shock value for laughs. The 2010s seem to be a free-for-all.
The reason for this recap is to show that '70scoms are the only ones that (as intended) most realistically reflect the American life of the era. The bad news is that things have greatly changed for the worst; the good news is that that we can change back.
The two '70scoms that first come to mind when thinking of the fare of the era are "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show." It is interesting that the former Tyler Moore series "The Dick Van Dyke Show" is one of the first that literally and figuratively gives the workplace and the home equal time.
Starting close to home, it is nice to see folks who reasonably resemble the people in our lives. Further, reel-life friends and neighbors are not always so nice but at least are never toxic. The sad truth is that many people in 2019 start from a neutral stance but are quick to resentment and related anger. This is assuming that you even interact with the boy or girl next door.
A public encounter from the era of the 2000 presidential election that can be considered the beginning of the end of civility in America perfectly illustrates how far we have fallen since the ''70s.
I have worn red polo shirts all my life without incident until randomly wearing one to the Michael Moore anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 911." Despite paying money to see a movie that is critical of Dubya and not having uttered a syllable in the theater, I soon became the object of active scorn based on my attire.
The first absurd aspect of this is the assumption that the shirt is a declaration of being a Republican; the added insult is that this perfect stranger is a monster who deserves such an attack. The truth is that I am am independent who vocally advocates putting a moderate in the Oval Office. BILL GATES IN 2020!
Moving onto the workplace, it is nice to see a fantasy world in which most people get along and even foes co-exist in relative peace. An amusing real-life aspect is often joking to someone involved in long-term conflict with a co-worker is that the solution is to lock them together in the supply room overnight, The very apt reply is that the resulting ceasing of hostility only lasts a week.
The first part of the final act lesson regarding all this is that everyone should remember the importance of working and playing well with others that the aforementioned shows reflect. Part of this that these series also reflect is that you do not have to love thy neighbor or co-worker but must show that person common courtesy at least until he or she figuratively throws the first punch; even then, turning the other cheek is tougher but still is the best option.
The second part of the lesson is even more important; one big reason that we are in our current hostile state is that our candidates for federal offices increasingly run negative campaigns that greatly contribute to the divisive nature of our society. Hating someone based on a snap judgment that he is a Republican now justifies attacks based on a perception of being a "Have" even when not much actually is had.
A sadly amusing aspect of this is regularly overhearing employees at Target and virtually every other retail business complain about the "rich people" with whom they interact. The reality is that it is highly unlikely that anyone with incomes in the highest tax bracket even shop at these stores.
The relative (and mostly achievable) Utopia of '70scoms is a world in which your core group is your support system and rarely the cause of stress. Further, you are judged based on on your inherent qualities and usually are literally and figuratively invited to the party so long as you are a decent and caring person. Sounds good (and attainable) to me.
The Warner Archive March 12, 2019 DVD release of the ninth and final season of the 1976-85 sitcom "Alice" is the latest example of Archive both adopting TV Land shows that Warner Prime abandons after DVD releases of the first few seasons and seeing these series to the (usually not bitter) end. Of course Archive similarly is in the homestretch regarding sets of the (reviewed) 1986-93 sitcom "Perfect Strangers," don't be ridiculous.
"Alice" is loosely based on the much more serious film "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore." Our kids-of-all-ages friendly version centers around New Jersey native/widow/aspiring singer Alice Hyatt and her son Tommy taking a seemingly permanent detour in Phoenix when their station wagon breaks down there on the way to Los Angeles in her an attempt to become the next American Idol.
Our titular chanteuse takes a job at greasy-spoon Mel's Diner to put snickerdoodles on the table. A "Three's Company" style revolving door regarding the third waitress working for gruff and cheap but inherently good-natured Mel finds southern-friend former trucker/tomboy Joleme hanging around to sling hash with mother-figure Alice and ditzy cinephile Vera.
The ninth season includes many staples of "Alice." A series of comically unfortunate circumstances results in the diner sustaining severe damage in one episode only to look in the next episode as if nothing had happened. We also get the annual self-imposed crisis of college-boy Tommy. In this case, our golden-haired boy succumbs to the temptations associated with attending top-ranked party-school ASU. This leads to the standard "Tommy, I'm very worried about you" hand-wringing by Alice.
We additionally get a threefer in a "very special" episode. This one begins with Mel once again facing crippling competition from another low-cost restaurant. A related development has the waitresses having to decide which of them gets a treat that cannot accommodate all three of them. Those two factors converge to Mel being resigned to losing the diner only to have a last-minute miracle save the day.
Another episode indulges the apparent fetish of series-star Linda Lavin to portray an alternative character. In this case she makes her final appearance as Debbie Walden, who is the stereotypical Jewish-mother former landlord of Vera. The "sit" that provides the "com" this time is that Debbie becomes the tenant of highly reluctant landlady Vera.
Finally, we get a storyline that gives Alice a reasonable basis for believing that she is getting her big singing break. In this case, a series of highly improbable circumstances leads to this show-tune lover appearing with essentially a country-bear jamboree.
The first conspicuous absence this season its the lack of an episode in which a present or former A-lister almost always appears as him or herself. This Hall of Fame includes George Burns, Art Carney, Robert Goulet, Dinah Shore, Joel Gray, Art Carney, Jerry Reed, Desi Arnaz, and Florence Henderson.
A parade of past and future B (and C) listers partially fills in the guest-star gap. Fred "Rerun" Berry plays a member of a break-dancing group that is scheduled to perform at the diner. We also get Jonathan Prince of the 1986-88 syndicated sitcom "Throb" (which also stars Jane Leeves and Paul Walker) as a new diner regular.
We additionally see Rue McClanahan of "Maude" and "Golden Girls" fame playing the sweet and wholesome owner of a daycare center next to the diner. "Girls" fans know that Blanche would have wonderful fun with the Bo Peep outfit and shepherd's crook of Mother Goose,
"Alice" S9 has has two treats for Trekkers. Robert Picardo of "Voyager" has a recurring role as cop who often stops by; Armin Shimerman of "DS9" makes a one-shot appearance as an unnamed man attending an auction at the diner.
Another obvious absence is that lack of an appearance by Hollywood royalty Martha Raye in her oft-recurring role as Mel's mother Carrie Sharples.
The series finale wraps things up in the traditional '70s to present-day sitcom model of having every major character simultaneously undergo a game-changing life experience. This prompts an essentially Paley Center style panel as Mel, the girls, and Tommy form a semi-circle facing the camera as they reminisce about many of the "sits" that provide the "com" of the series. We additionally get to see Tommy portrayor Philip McKeon go through puberty and move onto young adulthood in roughly 30 seconds.
"Alice" shows class in including clips of fan-favorite departed waitress Flo; many of these include her uttering her catchphrase "Kiss my grits." More love is shown in an earlier episode that makes a reference to the role of Flo portayor Polly Holliday in "Gremlins."
A slight occurs regarding the lack of any clips of interim waitress Belle, who can be considered the Cindy Snow of Alice. This likely is due to Diane Lad, who also portrays Flo in "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," not working or playing well with Lavin during the relatively brief tenure of Ladd on the sitcom
This reasonably comprehensive review of "Alice" demonstrates that it is a fairly traditional workplace sitcom in which everyone generally gets along and rarely if ever even jokes about dipping their pen in the company ink. It is nice if this time capsule inspires similar fare of equivalent quality.
The Mill Creek Entertainment February 5, 2019 4-disc DVD release "The Betty White Collection" nicely showcases the early television career of a woman whose television career spans roughly 60 years. Many of us have heard of "Life With Elizabeth, but not "Date With the Angels." "Collection" allows checking out 24 episodes of the latter and 16 of the former. We also get a 20-minute documentary on the career of White.
The 1952-1955 syndicated "Elizabeth" is an awesome time capsule for reasons that extend well beyond the mix of sweetness and charming evil streak that makes White a legend. The first innovation in this live-action sitcom is using the cartoon format of three unrelated roughly six-minute adventures.
The next rare aspect is having announcer Jack Narz help folks used to listening to radio programs transition to television; he opens each segment with a monologue that literally sets the scene for what is to come, He then is seen and not heard when speaking with Elizabeth (White) about this set-up. White puts her talent for expressiveness to good use by using only her facial features to express her reaction to the statements of Narz.
Of the nine watched adventures, one in which newly wed Elizabeth tries to convince husband Alvin (Del Moore) that she is a horrible driver has wonderful shades of both Sue Ann Nivens of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and Rose Nyland of "The Golden Girls." The logic of Elizabeth is that straight-man Alvin will not buy a car if he thinks that his wife can properly operate it.
Two of the best episodes revolve around the sitcom cliche of the boss coming to dinner. Although the food does not rise to the level of The Happy Homemaker, it is much more appetizing then the odd fare of St. Olaf.
The "sit" that provides the "com" is that aforementioned employer Mr. Fuddy being self-conscious about his new toupee prompts Alvin to alert Elizabeth to not call attention to that rug. Of course, a nervous Elizabeth does just the opposite in ways that include clever references. The resolution is not cookie-cutter and has more edge than typical '50s fare.
"Life" shows additional cleverness in an adventure that has our leads visiting Fuddy to watch home movies. The "sit" this time is trouble properly lining up the camera with the viewing surface; the "com" includes Alvin becoming increasingly annoyed regarding the failed efforts to show the movies.
An adventure surrounding Elizabeth and Alvin jointly trying to resolve a problem with a fuse is pure Television Golden Age gold. It also involves a case of art imitating life in that your not-so-humble reviewer notices the light outside the house across the street going on when he flips a switch a few hours after watching this episode of "Life."
The 1957-58 sitcom "Date" is entertainingly bizarre compared both to "Life" and other sitcom fare; additionally, White is more subdued in this one than in "Life" and her better-known roles.
Both the title and the opening credits indicate that "Date" revolves around supernatural beings in a fantasycom; the reality is that average suburban newly weds Vickie (White) and Gus (Bill Williams) have the titular surname.
The three episodes watched indicate that "Date" has a low-key gruffness that is more akin to fellow '50scoms "The Honeymooners" and "The Life of Riley" than to "I Love Lucy."
The first episode in the set has the Angels at home soon before the boss is due to come for dinner. The boisterous arguing between neighbors the loud and crude Murphys and the bookish Roger Finley (Richard Deacon) and his elderly father is permeating the Angel home. The bedroom community Hatfields and McCoys soon directly embroil the Angels in the dispute. Of course, this spills over into the visit of the boss.
The Murphys also take center stage when their son comes home while on leave from the military; the primary "sit" this time is father-son conflict stemming from the younger Murphy having an interest in music and other arts that his father does not consider manly, The unexpected resolution that restores peace to that household nicely reflects the good quality of the television of the era.
The third but not least viewed adventure of the Angels has the visiting teen nephew of Vickie unintentionally wreaking havoc. Alvin pimping out the boy adds further "com."
The aforementioned documentary shares tidbits and photos from the pre-acting life of White; we also get a few short clips of "Life" that include a ping-pong game that demonstrates the aforementioned blend of Sue Ann and Rose in Elizabeth. The rest of this tribute summarizes the aforementioned long career of our woman of the hour.
The bigger picture this time is that the sitcom episodes reflect the related wisdom of Carol Burnett that avoiding topical subjects helps keep material from badly aging and that funny always is funny, We further get to see White in the roles that make her the woman whom America especially loves in the '70s and the '80s.
The nature of the 2018 first season of the Showtime dramedy "Kidding" makes this multi-level post on the CBS Home Entertainment January 29, 2019 S1 DVD release apt. On the surface, Jim Carrey stars as Jeff Piccirillo, who has spent 30 years playing beloved PBS children's show host Mr. Pickles. Also on the surface, Pickles of "Mr. Pickles Puppet Time" is a manic-depressive version of Mister Rogers.
Digging a little deeper, "Kidding" can be considered an unofficial sequel to the 1998 Carrey film "The Truman Show." That film centers around Carrey character Truman Burbank, who has an existential crisis on obtaining increasingly convincing evidence that he literally is living in a controlled environment. The smoking gun that proves that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is watching comes in the form of Truman unknowingly having spent virtually all of his life on a huge sound stage where his literal life story is filmed and used to entertain the viewing public.
A deeper level is Jeff and Truman both being modern versions of the Peter Sellers character Chauncey Gardener in the MUST-SEE 1979 comedy "Being There." Like the post-show Truman, Gardener (nee Chance the gardener) gets thrust in the real world. The rest of the story is that the cultured and educated members of society unwittingly embrace the wisdom of a fool.
One can easily imagine the naive and naturally cheerful and upbeat Jeff being the man whom Truman becomes on joining society. It is equally plausible that the tragedy around which "Kidding" S1 centers would affect Truman in the same manner that it impacts Jeff.
Another deeper layer relates to the issues of preserving a valuable image and the need for all concerned to realize that a celebrity has a public self and a separate private self. The analogy this time comes courtesy of a wonderfully cheesy television movie about the making of the '70scom "The Partridge Family." The suits get upset when a cover of Rolling Stone magazine shows a little skin below the waist of series star David Cassidy. The execs comment that Keith Partridge does not have pubic hair, and the actor playing Cassidy responds that Cassidy does.
The following YouTube clip of a "Kidding" trailer reinforces the above impressions. It also highlights the wonderful trademark quirkiness of this latest addition to premium channel dramedies.
The Showtime/quirky cred. of "Kidding" begins with it being from the mind of Dave Holstein of "Weeds" and "Raising Hope." The indie cred. includes executive-producer Michael Gondry once again teaming with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" star Carrey. In front of the camera, Judy Greer plays separated spouse Jill and Catherine Keener plays beard/ Jeff sister/puppet creator Deidre. Justin Kirk of "Weeds" plays Jill love interest Peter.
Although the narrative begins with Jeff and beloved puppet Uke Larry appearing on "Conan" to discuss "Puppet Time," our story commences with events that occur exactly one year earlier. A distracted Jill is driving squabbling 11 year-old twins Will and Phil when a truck broadsides their mini-van. Phil dies in this accident.
Jeff separating from Jill is the primary outward collateral damage from the death. The plot thickens in the present as the increasing angst of Jeff prompts him to proportionately advocate for a "Puppet Time" episode on death. Father/producer Seb Piccirillo (Frank Langella) strongly opposes that idea. His motives extend beyond freaking out kids to having concern about the ongoing financial viability of the series.
The rest of the story is that Seb is recruiting Deidre to work with him on plans both to further profit from the current incarnation of "Pickle Time" and to phase Jeff out from the production. A hilarious sub-plot has skater Tara Lipinski playing Mr. Pickles in an ice show. Suffice it to say that someone goes for her jugular regarding that venture.
We also get Will becoming part of a bad crowd and Diedre daughter Maddy regressing, The latter largely is due to the deterioration of the marriage of Diedre after she learns that her husband has been tickling the ivories with the male neighborhood piano teacher. A clarinet v. piano conversation regarding this story line is a hilarious version of the oysters and snails exchange in "Spartacus."
All of this comes to a head when Jeff uses a live-TV opportunity to state just about everything that has been restrained since the accident. The manner in which the tension is immediately broken arguably is the best moment in any of the 10 S1 episodes.
Suffice it to say that everyone is wiser and understands the people in his or her life better at the end of S1. The problems are that no one seems much happier and at least one character bounces before the S2 premiere later this year.
The DVD bonuses begin with separate segments on Jeff and his family. CBS saves the best for last in presenting the hysterical "How "Kidding" Came to Be" in the stop-motion animation style of the opening credits and a few scenes.
CBS Home Entertainment scores a touchdown regarding releasing the complete-series DVD-set of "The Game" on January 29, which is the same week as the Super Bowl. This multi Image Awards winning series that features aging San Diego Sabers team captain Jason Pitts is very apt at a time that real-life New England Patriots QB Tom Brady may be putting his soft balls in his locker for the last time.
The disclaimers regarding the following thoughts on this release begin with not having previously watched this series or "Girlfriends," of which it is a spin-off. Further ignorance relates to only having time to watch roughly 40 or the 147 episodes in this set and also having virtually no knowledge of football. The better news is that none of this is a handicap regarding enjoying the hilarity and associated trauma and drama of "Game."
A related perspective is this New Hampshire boy initially hearing the term "homes" as "Holmes" and believing that the term refers to an intelligent person. He is not very fly even for a white guy.
Knowledge does include executive-producer Kelsey Grammer having extensive familiarity with one popular series leading to another success.
This American version of the British series "Footballers Wives" centers around three women and their men. The "Girlfriends" tie-in relates to Melanie "Med School" Barnett (Tia D. Mowry) of that series sacrificing studying at Johns Hopkins to attend a San Diego university. Her motive is standing by her man Derwin Davis, who is a Sabers rookie.
The S1 and S2 drama of this couple largely centers on the challenge of taking one for the team. Derwin initially struggles to find his place on the Sabers in every sense of that term; he then must deal with all the temptations associated with fame and fortune as well as regularly preserving his male pride.
Much unintended humor relates to first-year med. student Melanie almost always looking well groomed and rarely looking tired. This is not to mention that numerous times that she ditches studying to party with Derwin or even fly to an away game. The impact of the demand to keep up with the other wives and girlfriends is a regular source of conflict.
Bi-racial player Jason (Coby Bell) is married to white former cheerleader/current heavy social drinker Kelly Pitts. The charm and humor of Bell makes Jason the most appealing character of the primary sextet.
Conflict in this marriage that is due for a seven-year itch includes multi-multi-millionaire Jason being comically frugal. We also see the strain that this and other demands place of Kelly, who becomes a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
A "Meet the Parents" episode that explains the income insecurity of Jason nicely makes that character more human. Less sympathy relates to his concern regarding his days on the gridiron being numbered. It seems that retired star players easily transition into a combination of coaching jobs, acting careers, sportscaster gigs, and/or lucrative endorsement deals,
The least likable couple is star QB Malik Wright and his mother/manager Tasha Mack (Wendy Raquel Robinson). Malik is a stereotypical fool who considers himself a playah, but whose game is limited to the one on the actual field. This portrayal evokes thoughts of the performance of Jimmie "J.J." Walker on the '70s sitcom "Good Times" causing fellow cast member John Amos to quit that hit series.
Tasha is a stereotypical sassy woman who works her way up from the streets after becoming an unwed mother at 16.
An S2 episode in which Malik continues digging his hole deeper after making an offensive joke about inner-city teens selling drugs is a good example of his personality; for her part, Tasha is ready for a fight at the drop of a feather.
Armchair quarterbacking begins with stating that the concept of "Game" is solid. It gives the general public insight regarding a world that is foreign to many of us. Focusing on the wives and girlfriends allows us to meet the women behind the high-profile men. It is nice to think that the highly significant others of real-life players support each other as much as the Sunbeams help the Sabers women.
Further, the first few S1 episodes particularly avoid standard sitcom plots; no one needs to keep a dinner for the boss from becoming a catastrophe or must work through a wacky misunderstanding. An amusing aspect of this is that this observation comes just before watching an episode in which Jason and Kelly fight regarding whether to throw their young daughter a lavish birthday party.
"Game" does put a nice spin on the absurdly expensive kids' party plot; the drama that often enters each episode includes Kelly feeling both that she always must play the mean parent and that Jason uses this celebrity status in his campaign to be considered the nice parent.
The numerous bonus features include the "The Game" episode of "Girlfriends that is a pilot for our series. We also get two interviews with "Game" creator Mara Brockk Akil and several deleted scenes. This is not to mention a feature on the series transitioning from the CW to BET after the third season.
Shout! Factory releasing "Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection" on October 2, 2018 is the latest example of Shout! awesomely furthering the Unreal TV mission of saving classic and cult-classic sitcoms from obscurity. The scope of this set including EVERYTHING from "Bliss" to "Vegas" allows once-and-future fans and newbies to the halls of Bayside High to fully embrace the Zack Attack spirit of the series, Shout! releasing comparable complete series sets of virtually every program that this post mentions provides a sense that that distributor is the perfect home for "Bell."
Shout! notes that the presentation order of the episodes has the seal of approval of producer Peter Engel. Further, it seems that the episodes are the original broadcast versions.
The main thing that earns "Bell" its place in pop culture history is the perfect blending of elements that begin with arguably a happy accident, The majority of the cast first appear in the 1988-89 Disney Channel series "Good Morning, Miss Bliss." The intended focus of that series is the titular eighth-grade teacher (Hayley Mills of "The Parent Trap") in Indianapolis. In true Disney-style, John F. Kennedy Junior High is clean and lacks any of the ills that plague most junior highs and high schools,
The intended formula is an "A Story" that centers around the personal and/or professional life of Carrie Bliss; the "B Story" revolves around a tween problem of a student, who almost invariably finds equal parts solace and solution in the figurative arms of Bliss.
The pilot illustrates both the aforementioned formula and the reverse lesson of most sitcoms that the adults provide most of the appeal in the series. Bliss starts a romance at the same time that cute and charming scamp Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) faces his summer-camp girlfriend being a JFK student. The "sit" that provides the "com" this time is that eighth-grader Zack told the girl that he was in the ninth grade.
The classmates of Zack include nerdy Samuel "Screech" Powers (Dustin Diamond) and BAP Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies). Richard Belding (Dennis Haskins) is their principal.
The talent of Disney for finding cute young male actors with the exuberance of puppies on caffeine pills pays off large both for Gosselaar and for tweens, teens, and tweens and teens at heart all over the world., This demographic adores Goselaar, who can be considered the older brother of Ross Lynch of the Disneycom "Austin and Ally." Early clips of Lynch show that he has the same charm and enthusiasm as "Bliss" era Gosselaar. The parallels continue with both actors subsequently literally showing in mind and body that they are all grown up.
Disney not renewing "Bliss" sets the mental gears of Engel in motion; he sees perfect symmetry between the "Bliss" kids and the dearth of Saturday-morning fare that targets the aforementioned 12-and-up demographic, This leads to transferring all of the aforementioned characters except Bliss to Bayside High in southern California.
The copious insight in the numerous special features include the intended homage to classic sitcoms in "Bell." Casual observance indicates that this show is a modern-day "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." The central everyteen embroils his oddball outcast best friend in schemes to make high school easier and/or best his rival for the hot girl. We learn that Engel actually has "The Phil Silvers Show" (a.k.a. "Sgt. Bilko) in mind with charming conman Zack lavishing praise on authority figure Belding while running circles around him.
The aforementioned appeal of Gosselaar results in Zack immediately establishing himself as the center of "Bell" and the BMOC at Bayside. Introducing jock/Army brat A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) brings in a Reggie to give "Archie" serious competition before those boys figuratively (if not literally) kiss and make up later in the series, The two other new kids on the block are girl next-door/object of the affection of both Zack and Slater Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) and literal girl next-door/feminist/scholar Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley).
Both the high school and "College Years" of the gang largely focus on comic variations of teen and post-adolescent angst. We have boys making fools out of themselves in elaborate efforts to get girls, boys seeking to take rivals out of the picture, trying to pass driver's ed., facing tough teachers, outlandish schemes to earn money to conceal "sins," rifts between friends, etc.
The broadest insight that Engel provides in special features in "Collection" is that "Bell" relatively accurately depicts the high school experience. A stated objective is to support viewers who either are in high school or are anxious about what they will face on achieving that milestone. The effectiveness of that effort including most of the cast portraying his or her actual age evokes thoughts of Gosselaar once dissing fellow teen series "Beverly Hills 90210" by commenting that he was not 30 when he was in high school.
The comments of Engel triggered the thought that kids often are included in a series to provide a relatable character for their real-life counterparts; this led to memories of being a prep. school boy whose academic career paralleled that of the older "Facts of Life" girls. That particularly enhanced the experience of watching the high-school years of Blar and Jo.
The parallel continues with "Life" undergoing significant S2 changes that set the tone for the rest of the nine-year run of that show.
Like "Life," the high-school years of "Bell" are the best. "Jessie's Song" that has the titular over-achiever develop a hilariously dramatic addiction to caffeine pills is cemented as a top-ever campy TV episode. We also get Zack using his powers (no pun intended) for good rather than evil when he learns that Kelly cannot afford to attend the prom. This arguably is when Kelack becomes destined for the "Wedding in Vegas" around which the 1994 TV movie that wraps up their story is centered, Zack having to become an American gigolo with Gilbert Gottfried playing his pimp is one of several ways that that film supports the policy that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
The comprehensiveness of "Collection" allows the enjoyment of "Bell" to extend beyond seeing Zack proportionately physically and emotionally mature; the detailed episode guide facilitates picking and choosing your favorite episodes and/or eras. The aforementioned bonus features, which include interviews with most cast members, provide additional perspective that evoke happy thoughts in current fans and will encourage new devotees to embrace the spirit of the series.
Warner Archive releasing the penultimate 1983-84 eighth season of the workplace sitcom "Alice" provides a nice Halloween treat; this DVD set almost guarantees that Archive will release the final season in time to give your favorite sofa spud the complete series on DVD for Christmas. The final holiday note is that Archive deserves thanks for keeping the packing style consistent for every release.
One spoiler regarding S9 is that it follows the modern sitcom trend of a grand finale. Every lead character has a big life change that makes him or her much happier than he or she was when the series began.
A review of the Archive S7 release provides a chance to read about prior adventures of the titular waitress/aspiring singer (Linda Lavin) and her wacky co-workers at Mel's Diner in Phoenix. It is hoped that the posts on the earlier seasons will be copied from Unreal TV 1.0 to this site by the end of 2018.
Archive beginning the S8 set with two S7 episodes that were intended to air in S8 demonstrates the typical Archive integrity. The third episode "Mel is Hogg-Tied" is the actual S8 season premiere; it also is an early cross-over episode. Additional fun comes in the form of this outing being a twofer regarding "Alice" themes.
The cross-over comes in the form of sleazy redneck good ole boy Boss Hogg of the fellow CBS series "The Dukes of Hazzard" visiting the diner. The first half of the twofer is that he is there for reasons that include visiting Southern-fried waitress Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston of "Modern Family). Hogg is one of the long string of relatives who create comic mayhem on coming to visit a relative who works at Mel's. Aptly the mother of all such guests is Carrie Sharples (Martha Raye), who is the mom of diner owner Mel. Carrie makes 12 such visits throughout the run of the series.
The second half of the twofer is in the form of the Mel foolishly losing ownership of the diner; the rest of the story every time is that the gang must join forces to comically put right what once went wrong. The solution this time fully cements that formula.
The two S8 Carrie episodes have surprisingly dark notes. The first one has her apply for a job as a nightclub singer only to blatantly be told that she is too old for the job; one warning is that this one includes a scene with Raye and Lavin in "Flashdance" style aerobics outfits that you never will be able to unsee.
The second Carrie episode begins with that frequent flyer having a near-death experience that profoundly affects her. Her subsequent devotion to telling the truth leads to a revelation that greatly upsets her son. One spoiler is that there are fewer laughs than usual in this one,
We further get Lavin enjoying her occasional indulgence in playing another character. This time it is Debbie Walden, who is the Jewish mother landlady of Vera. The "sit" that leads to "com" is Mel stringing along this lonely lady in order to taste her goodies.
Although we are deprived of an S8 episode in which a celebrity who plays himself or herself paying a heavy price for coming into the diner, we do get Florence Henderson as singer Sarah James. James comes into the diner seeking directions and finding a fiance. One spoiler is that this does not involve Carol Brady getting busy with Reuben Kincaid.
The icing on the wedding cake is that S8 includes the biggest occasion in "Alice" lore since the S4 departure of fan fave. Flo. (A review of the Archive release of the spinoff "Flo" also is near the top of the list of posts to copy over from Unreal TV 1.0.) S8 E7 is a lucky one for ditzy waitress Vera (Beth Howlnd). She meets and soon marries cop/soulmate Elliot Novak. The "com" includes a wacky misunderstanding leading to Elliot being the second husband of Vera.
The two "issues" episodes provide another reason to watch; Mel learns a hard lesson about the importance of making his business handicapped accessible. The other outing is a twofer regarding cruelty to circus animals and the importance of not discriminating against people based on am unusual physical characteristic.
The appeal of all this is that "Alice" reminds us of a kinder and gentler sitcom era in which most characters were likable and the good heart of the "villain" earned that person a great deal of leeway. Further, the writers provided adequately amusing comedy to not have to rely on shock value. Not only can you watch "Alice" with your grandparents, all of you can equally enjoy it,
The October 2, 2018 DVD release of "The Beverly Hillbillies" S5 coinciding with the CBS DVD releases of the (reviewed) "The Love Boat" S4 V1 and the (soon-to-be-reviewed) "Boat S4 V2 sets starts October well for sofa spuds who are facing increasingly cold and stormy days at home. The facts that CBS recognizes the profitability of these sets and that "Boat" and "Hillbillies" remain in syndication decades after their original broadcast runs are the strongest endorsements of their staying power. One warning is that watching these episodes WILL result in subconsciously singing the themes to yourself.
For the benefit of the folks who both are unfamiliar with "Hillbillies" and do not want to spend roughly 30 seconds watching the opening credits, the concept is that titular "poor mountaineer" Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen of "Barnaby Jones") moves his daughter Elly May and two other relatives (i.e., dim-witted nephew Jethro and feisty elderly mother-in-law Granny) to the titular upscale community after he strikes oil.
TV Land history includes that the original title of the series is "The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills." That title appears in the opening credits of the pilot episode that the CBS S1 DVD set includes.
Much of the "com" results from "sits" that either involve the backwoods folks not understanding city ways, clashing with "civilized" neighbors, or taking a page from "The Andy Griffith Show" by having rural-style common-sense win out over urban knowledge. Their urban friends comically greedy bank president Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey) and his truly long-suffering Radcliffe-educated secretary "Miss" Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp) do their best to keep all concerned happy.
S5 gets off on an apt foot by having Drysdale return from vacation a few hours before Jethro and Granny get back from visiting the kinfolk back in the hills, The central "sit" that provides "com" in this one is the haul from the latter journey includes a crank telephone that Granny wants to connect to a party line in Beverly Hills. One spoiler is that it turns out that $60M cannot buy everything.
Things take a slightly dark turn in a "very special" two-part episode early in S5. This one revolves around a con that has a city girl masquerade as a girl from back home as part of a "badger game" that involves getting incriminating photos of Jed. Part of the fun relates to the grifters not realizing with whom they are dealing.
A series highlight comes roughly in the middle of S5. 1910s-'20s movie star Gloria Swanson plays herself in an episode that fully embraces the wacky misunderstanding aspect of "Hillbillies." A mistaken belief that Swanson is destitute prompts the clan to visit her with an offer of help. This leads to true hilarity in a "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Clampett" resolution.
Another S5 episode has John Wayne stop by as himself. The "sit" this time is that a peaceful dispute with an Indian tribe leads to involving The Duke to address what is believed to be a pending raid.
Two separate episodes with a common element have the Clampetts believe that little green men have landed almost literally in their backyard and that a hippopotamus is a giant hog. This is not to mention another story arc that has a man in a gorilla suit pay the price for monkeying around with these hard-working folks.
The aforementioned longevity of "Hillbillies" primarily relate to the timeless humor associated with an "alien" not understanding how we live. It is easy to imagine Orkan Mork of (the reviewed) "Mork and Mindy" joining the Clampetts in identifying a large concrete basin full of water as a "cement pond."
More guilty pleasure comes via those of us with toxic neighbors relating to the torment that those "dreadful hillbillies" cause next-door neighbor Mrs. Drysdale. Few (if any of us) must contend with farm animals destroying our yards or with fully noxious odors from cooking outside invading our space. However, nuisances such as frequently barking dogs and feral children that can be even more nerve-wracking than livestock make many of us want to rid the area of these undesirable clans.
'Perfect Strangers' S5 DVD: Odd Couple Cousins Find Themselves in More Sublimely Ridiculous Situations
The Warner Archive September 25, 2018 DVD release of the 1989-90 fifth season of the ABC sitcom "Perfect Strangers" brings us over the hump regarding home-video sets of this eight-season show. This release also provides hope regarding every season being available as snow begins melting roughly six months from now. People interested in learning more about "Strangers" things are encouraged to check out the Unreal TV 2.0 review of the third season and post on the fourth one.
The pedigree of "Strangers" producers Robert L. Boyett and Thomas L. Miller including the "Strangers" spinoff "Family Matters" shows that the team both knows what the public wants and has a talent for catch-phrases that delight fans and annoy less-enamored folks. Trust me; I know what I'm doing.
The S5 "Strangers" episodes provide the perfect context for discussing the talent of Boyett and Miller for producing a likable TV show that enhances tried-and-true elements with nice surprises. The tried-and-true begins with the odd couple roommates concept of high-strung 20-something Appleton, Wisconsin native Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) sharing a Chicago apartment with his laid-back and childlike fresh-off-the-boat naive cousin/co-worker Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot). The writers deserve great credit for keeping the "Beverly Hillbillies" style element of "Strangers" fresh after four seasons. An example of this is an S5 episode that has Balki seeing a dentist for the first time.
We also get a nice twist on the evil twin cliche. Even fresher off-the-boat cousin Bartok (Pinchot) visits from Los Angeles, He is a smooth talker who quickly and repeatedly takes advantage of Balki. This adds a "Its A Wonderful Life" element to the episode in that we see how Balki may have turned out on moving to America but for relatively (pun intended) patient and kind Cousin Larry mentoring and supporting him.
"Strangers" shines even better than it knows regarding a very special two-part episode that offers a treasure trove of sitcom gems. The bonanza begins with Larry hoping to make his visiting father (a.k.a. Uncle Walter) proud of his boy. Having James Noble, who is best known of playing the governor on the fellow ABC sitcom "Benson," checks the box for having a popular actor guest star.
The familiar elements continue with the underlying "sit" leading to the regular "com" in the form of Larry ignoring a warning of Balki leading to mayhem that includes two characters in conflict getting locked in a room. Having the "how many times have you ..." joke turn against Larry later in the episode is even more awesome.
The placing of beloved characters in mortal danger that delights viewers comes when the boys and Dad get trapped in a basement that is filling with water. The bonus is an enhanced ticking time bomb in the form of a electrical box that will fry our friends when the water level reaches it. Several decades of television shows and the fact that "Strangers" gets an additional 3.5 seasons makes the fact that the boys escape not much of a spoiler.
The episode title provides the presumably unintended bonus. The words "Father Knows Best?" obviously refers to the '50s nuclear-family sitcom of that name that lacks punctuation in its title. The tidbits from a vintage interview with "Best" star Billy Gray includes that "Dad" Robert Young wanted the title to include the question mark to indicate that his family guy character was not necessarily the smartest guy in the room.
The bonus fun in the interview relates to Gray, who is well-known for a marijuana bust, once laughing and saying "you don't smoke, do you?" The only admissions regarding that are once finding the pot holder in the kitchen of a high school friend hilarious and going to great lengths to avoid my mother on some Friday nights while living with her for a few months after college.
"Strangers" fans further get the "Larry plans a vacation from Hell" episode. The well-intentioned amateur travel agent books the boys and their girls a stay at the worst-ever Caribbean resort. Of course, this includes a strong risk of not making it back alive,
Another outing sets the stage for the sitcom staple of a Rashomon episode in which characters tell different accounts of the events that lead to the interaction in the opening scene. In this case, the drama relates to a bad dude crashing a corporate retreat.
The bigger picture is that the shrewd instincts that keep "Strangers" on the air so long (and warrant a tie-in to the HBO drama series "The Leftovers") include a respect for tradition that largely avoids the series looking dated. The absurd native garb of Balki is amusing in any era and the business casual attire of Larry is adequately timeless. Further, most plots avoid '80s (and '90s) centric references. As the few episodes described above show, the "sits" could mostly occur during any era. One exception is that Trip Advisor protects against staying at dumps,
The final word is time is don't be ridiculous, buy the DVD.
The CBS Home Entertainment October 2, 2018 DVD set of "The Love Boat" S4 V1 is an apt Unreal TV 2.0 inaugural post on a CBS release in the wake (no pun intended) of many such reviews on Unreal TV 1.0. An amusing aspect of this is that a world-class publicist named Tiffany is a former representative of this division of the Tiffany network.
An aside is that this simply mahvelous set (which includes an option of watching the always fun "next week on 'The Love Boat'" promo. that kept viewers excited all week) presents the episodes much better than the butchered and commercial-laden versions on MeTV. This huge fan of that series gave up on those reruns after two weeks but revels in the S4 V1 versions.
Please stay tuned both for a review of "Boat" S4 V2 and for the Unreal TV 1.0 articles on CBS releases to make their way onto Unreal TV 2.0. The icing on the cake is an upcoming post on the CBS October 2, 2018 DVD release of "The Beverly Hillbillies" S5, which includes the series highlight episode with Gloria Swanson.
Sofa spuds whose knowledge of "Boat" is limited to this mid-70s to mid-80s anthology providing large and small screen stars of Christmases past, present, and future current a higher profile are missing half the story. "Boat" essentially is a reboot of the 1969-74 comedy anthology series "Love American Style (which also has CBS releases) that does not limit the setting of its tales all across the relationship spectrum to a cruise ship that typically travels from Los Angeles to Mexico and back again.
The general concept of "Boat" is that the aforementioned celebrities usually play passengers who typically board the titular Pacific Princess in one of three categories. Happily in love, in the period between love and goodbye, or single but not necessarily looking to mingle. These cruisers first bond with one of the crew members who are series regulars and then experience trauma and/or drama before ending the cruise at least wiser and often happier.
Watching the 11 hour (or more) long episodes in the S4 V1 shows that this 1980-81 season is a particularly strong one, The bigger picture is that a TV writers strike is behind delaying the season premiere; this also is the broadcast season in which America learns "Who Shoot JR." A spoiler regarding that one is that resolution in "Dallas" provides good fodder for a cross-network crossover with "Boat."
The S4 season-premiere of "Boat" perfectly illustrates the fun and the themes that make this series '80stastic. Tom Hanks gets his second acting credit by playing a college friend of assistant purser Burl "Gopher" Smith just as Hanks' sitcom "Bosom Buddies" is premiering. The rub is that the former campus Romeo and current playah degrading Gopher prompts the latter to pretend that gal pal/cruise director Julie McCoy is his main squeeze. This charade stirs up feelings that may lead to the co-workers literally and figuratively docking in San Pedro.
The tables are turned in a later episode that has a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader recruit Gopher to help w her fend off an aggressive suitor. This storyline turns particular dark until the squad uses girl power to save their savior.
Meanwhile in S1 E1, comedian Nipsey Russell plays a member of group of Korean War soldiers who are having a min-reunion with their rough-and-gruff sergeant whom Vic Tayback of '80scom "Alice" plays. This leader unduly reliving old days prompts the group to persuade a cabin cleaner (Doris Roberts then of the sitcom "Angie") to pretend to like him. Of course, the Roberts and the Tayback characters enter a real relationship that his learning of the initial deception jeopardizes.
The numerous highlights of the two-hour second S4 episode include it being one of several extended episodes in the set. It also is one of the two completely separate episodes that is filmed during a "very special" cruise that starts in St. Thomas before going through the Panama Canal and then back to the home port of Los Angeles. Both episodes will teach most viewers new things about the Canal.
The second episode also is one of two in this set with a unifying theme. This cruise has several engaged couples vying in a contest to win fabulous prizes. The other cruise has the ship transporting several two and four-legged passengers to a horse race in Acapulco. The disco group The Village People boarding to perform and to race their horse in that one that also has the aforementioned cheerleaders contribute to making that one especially memorable. Gopher racing the People singer who dresses as an Indian perfectly captures the spirit of "Boat."
The episode with the engaged couples has "Happy Days " (yes, CBS has released ""Days" sets) star Erin Moran play an engaged woman whose mother comes on board to discourage her from tying the knot, Moran "Days" co-star Donny Most plays the best friend/best man of a preemptive runaway groom who is engaged to a character whom "Dallas" star Charlene Tilton plays.
The Golden Age representation includes Debbie Reynolds playing a character who forms a friendship with potential benefits with Captain Stubing (Gavin MacLoed) after leaving her husband. MacLoed "Mary Tyler Moore Show" co-star Ted Knight plays a man with sub-zero cold feet who has a comically frequent on-again-off-again engagements with a character whom Rue McClanahan plays in a break between "Maude" and "The Golden Girls." Fellow "Golden Girl" Betty White plays a character married to real-life White spouse Allen Ludden in the horse episode,
Another highlight of the contest episode has Ann Jillian and Dawn Wells play fellow judges of Gopher who want to score with him on every level. Oft-divorced resident doctor Adam Bricker trying to push his buddy out of the way is equally pure "Boat."
This brief discussion of a few episodes in this set should evoke fond memories by current fans and show "virgins" that the classic theme song accurately "promises something for everyone." Seeing the TV Land and silver screen celebrities in pure escapist stories is the perfect cure for an era in which literally every week brings a new event that risks the federal government imploding, "Boat" provided the perfect way to decompress on Saturday nights in the '80s and offers more intense therapy in in the 2010s.
The final endorsement is that your not-so-humble reviewer gets a great deal of review DVDs and Blu-rays but pre-ordered the S4 Vi set to have it on his release date. He also has bought every previous CBS set of "Boat."
Over analyzing the Warner Archive separate September 4, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the first season of the CBS sitcom "Young Sheldon" is consistent with the premise of this amusing program. The titular boy genius is the nine-year-old incarnation of pop culture god DR. Sheldon Cooper ("Young" producer Jim Parsons) of the companion CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." "Theory" is commencing its 12th and final season as "Young" enters what one hopes is not a sophomore slump that sophomoric humor characterizes.
Like his 40-year-old version, "baby" Sheldon (Iain Armitage) is a brilliant outcast who is much more project than people oriented. Unlike "Theory" in which adult Sheldon has the support of a group of like-minded (and somewhat similarly attuned) friends, "Young" focuses on the related themes of odd boy out Sheldon and his overall average family often struggling with achieving mutual peace, love, and understanding. His mother trying to get this younger son to work and play well with others provides additional fodder for "sits" that create "com." A second-season episode of "Theory" that reflects a common element of both series (and sets the stage for the S10 season-finale cliffhanger) has adult Sheldon compare the intellect of graduate students to that of labradoodles.
In this regard, the dynamic of "Theory" and "Young" is somewhat akin to the relationship between the companion CBS '60scoms "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres." The analogy continues with the evolution of the modern series,
Just as the redneck Clampetts slowly adjust to life in Beverly Hills and transplanted (pun intended) white-shoes attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas comes to better understand and accept his hick neighbors in "Acres," young Sheldon starts learning how to better interact with his older high school classmates and adult Sheldon increasingly understands the value of illogical social conventions that include giving a friend a birthday gift in exchange for receiving an item of equal value from that person.
The following YouTube clip of the CBS extended promo. for "Young" offers a good primer on the characters and the themes of the program. It also demonstrates that the range of series creator Chuck Lorre extends beyond the crude shock-value humor of "Two and a Half Men" and "Mom" that is kinder and gentler in "Theory."
The bigger picture begins with "Young" reflecting the wisdom of a real-life boy genius. Alan Spencer is a teen when he creates the HILARIOUS ABC '80s com "Sledgehammer," which is a parody of the "Dirty Harry" films about a violent rogue cop. "Sledeghammer" helps pave the way for "Young" to have neither a live (as opposed to dead) studio audience nor a laugh track. The reasoning of Spencer regarding not using canned laughter is that viewers are smarter than labradoodles in that humans have the necessary intellect to know when something is funny without the producers making it obvious.
The broader perspective is that "Young" more closely represents the nuclear (pun intended) families around which many traditional '50scom revolve than "The Simpsons," which satirizes that dynamic. This is nice in an era in which broadcast and cable networks largely reject "TV Land" style shows. Placing the Cooper clan in the not-so-enlightened region of East Texas in the Bible Belt contributes additional humor that traditional sitcoms literally or figurative set in the everytown of Springfield lack. On a related note, "Young" explains why adult (and boy) Sheldon lacks a Texas accent.
"Young" dad George Sr. (Lance Barber) is a brighter Homer but still no theoretical physicist. This high school football coach can relate to elder son "Georgie," who is a smarter and more athletic Bart but far from a Rhodes scholar.
Like many reel and real father, George loves the son regarding whom he struggles to relate. In this case, it is because Sheldon is much smarter and does not share any of the interests of his father. The broader perspective encompasses a father who is prejudiced against gay men struggling with his thoughts on learning that his boy likes other boys.
Sheldon twin sister Missy reflects the young girl side of Lisa while Sheldon represents the advanced intellect of that bright girl. The sassy nature of Missy contributes to the traditional sitcom vibe of "Young." She also is an element of an odd (and arguably creepy) aspect of the series, Although the pilot explicitly states that the testicles of Sheldon are undescended, it seems more apt to have Sheldon and Georgie share a room than have the former and his sister bunk together.
Mother Mary aptly is the Marge of "Young." The analogy extends beyond Mary being religious up to a point and getting married after George knocks her up in high school. Her labors of love include being the glue that tries to keep her actual kids and childish husband happy and compatible.
A cool casting note is that Mary portrayor Zoe Perry is the real-life daughter of "Roseanne" and "The Conners" actress Laurie Metcalf, who plays older (and seemingly more religious) Mary on "Theory." The history of this mother-daughter dynamic continues with Perry playing a younger version of the Metcalf character Jackie on flashbacks during the original broadcast run of "Roseanne."
Like this fan favorite from the '70s, Cooper family grandmother Meemaw (a.k.a. Connie Tucker) clearly is the Fonzie of the series. This analogy continues with the dating life of this senior citizen being age-adjusted equivalent to that of that mechanic/diner owner/high school teacher/fixer. This character being the zany oddball neighbor makes perfect use of the quirky talents of Annie Potts, who is best known for the original "Ghostbusters" film franchise and the CBS '80scom "Designing Women." The final note in this regard is that Meemaw being oft mentioned in "Theory" but only appearing once makes her a sitcom staple, ala Jenny Piccolo in early seasons of "Happy Days."
This aforementioned lengthy discussion of the concept of "Young" and how it reflects television history precludes discussing the dimwitted "Nelson" and the nerdy "Millhouse" who provide the stereotype of weird sidekick as proudly as Skippy Handleman of the classic '80scom "Family Ties," We also have very limited room to discuss the episodes themselves.
"Young" being a consistently amusing series that typically has at least one hilarious moment per episode puts it ahead of most modern broadcast and cable sitcoms. Further, the stories and the action seem credible.
This is not to mention Lorre et al. deserving credit for including elements of the 1989 time frame without either being satirical or unduly bashing the viewer over the head regarding this element. The bigger picture this time is that setting the series in the past reflects the wisdom of "Days" creator Garry Marshall that setting a '70scom in the '50s and the '60s precludes having that show ever look dated.
The arguably best "Young" episode has Meemaw gleefully tormenting George regarding not sharing her recipe for what apparently is the best ever brisket. Watching her mercilessly dangle this secret in front of him and making him literally and figuratively go to great lengths pursuing this knowledge provides numerous hilarious moments. This resulting in serious family conflict brings in a disturbingly dark note, but the clever comeuppance in the resolution is very true to the series and awesomely satisfying.
Meemaw further is featured in INARGUABLY the MOST hilarious S1 moment. Sheldon and Missy being left home alone aptly leads to setting up booby traps, Meemaw getting caught in one is priceless for reasons that include seeing the reaction of Potts. The extra analysis this time begins with the classic rule that watching someone get seriously hurt in a comical situation delights the viewer. The bonus observation is that this reflects the philosophy of comedy legend Carol Burnett.
Burnett repeatedly notes in discussions of her CBS variety series that the humor of the show holds up because it reflects concepts that are funny in any era As aspect of this in "Young" is not having episodes that revolve around plots such as Georgie emulating MC Hammer or Sheldon commenting that he is much more qualified than Dan Quayle to be vice-president.
The biggest picture of all is that "Young" is one of the few modern sitcoms that the entire family can watch and enjoy together. Kids may consider it cool that Mom and Dad (or Mom and Mom or Dad and Dad) remember "Theory" premiering. Additionally, the minimal adult content is as family friendly as the numerous references to the "dating" life of Fonzie, not to mention the expression "sit on it" having the EXACT same meaning as go fuck yourself.
The delightful bonus feature "Young Sheldon: An Origin Story" has Lorre and Parsons discuss how a real-life science fair inspires the series. We also hear from the cast regarding their relationship with the characters. This shows that that seemingly illogically named Texan Montana Jordan IS Georgie.
Speaking of Jordan, this teen largely sits and rolls his eyes in the "Sibling Revelry" bonus. It has Jordan, Armitage and Missy portrayor Raegan Revord discuss their roles and their relationships with each other. The biggest treat is seeing Armitage drop his rigid facade and act like a typical kid; Jordan making Armitage seem like a labradoodle is a highlight.
The Mill Creek Entertainment August 21, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray complete-series releases of the early 2010s series "Masters of Sex" and "Happy Endings" is wonderful news for current fans of those series and for folks who have yet to experience the good quality of both programs. In what seemingly is backwards on a couple of levels. "Endings' is a review topic before "Masters."
The enhanced video of Blu-ray is tailored made for the truly vibrant and detailed colors that extend well beyond the red feathers of Tyler the racist parrot, The crystal-clear rich sound is a bonus.
"Endings" producers Joe and Anthony Russo also are the best brains behind the even more subversive cultcom "Community, which Mill Creek is releasing in separate DVD and Blu-rays sets in September 2018. Fanboys know that the Russo brothers go on to bigger (but not necessarily better) things in the form of "Captain America" and "Avengers" films.
The Russos particularly show that they know their stuff in not adding laugh tracks to either "Community" or "Endings." This reflects the wisdom of Alan Spencer regarding his '80s cultcom "Sledgehammer," which is about a cop who makes Dirty Harry look like Sheriff Andy of Mayberry. Spencer notes that viewers do not need to be told when something is funny. A related note is that the somewhat subtle but hilarious "Endings" joke "Rivers Thicke Johnson" likely would not have triggered the laugh track.
"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 a nod to both "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 "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 Jack and Karen 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.
The "Endings" characters themselves and the overall series successfully combine the best elements of "Friends" and of "Seinfeld." The likability of our gang falls right between that of the group that sets the standard for this genre of television comedy, and Team Jerry, Especially in the first two seasons, the "sits" that provide the "com" in "Endings" are closer to the "nothing" end of of the plot scale than silly shenanigans that include scouring Manhattan for a carelessly lost baby or getting trapped in an ATM vestibule with a super model. This is not to mention the old chestnut of accidentally seeing a character of the opposite sex naked.
However, "Endings" specifically mentions "Friends" on a few occasions; the most direct connection is the group once discussing which of them is which "friend." This involving an existential crisis is pure "Endings."
We also get an outing in which Max and Amy rebel against being the "poor" members of the group, A broader connection is the habit of flashbacks that highlight poorly thought out fashion and hairstyle choices.
The "Seinfeld" connection is stronger. Like Jerry and Elaine, Dave and Alex are exes; one difference is that our current couple are on=again-off-again far more than their predecessors. We further get Max engaging in Krameresque escapades that include using his vintage limousine to conduct comically inept tours of Chicago.
"Endings" goes further back in an episode that has Alex, Dave, and Max playing "Three's Company." Dave wondering why his landlord is so obsessed with the sexual orientation of his tenant is a highlight of that one.
Notable episodes that fall in between "Seinfeld" and "Friends" include selfish reasons being behind the rest of the group comically trying to provoke Brad and Jane to fight. That couple playing along contributes to the hilarity. We also get the gang full entering TV Land to help save a struggling toddler play center.
One highly relatable episode has Brad using a pretense to avoid annual visits by a sorority sister of Jane. Once again, the awesome twists are "must-see" TV.
This new set seems to have the same plentiful bonus features as the (much-more expensive) DVD sets from a few years ago. They go beyond deleted scenes and outtakes to include a hilarious parody song and a fun joint interview with Pally and Wilson.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This review is of Australian DVD releases of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," which has not been released on DVD in the United States. These releases require using an international DVD player; they will not play on a standard Region One U.S. player.]
These thoughts on the April 2104 Australian DVD releases of the first and secondseasons of the 1968-1970 U.S. fantasycom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" are breaking news in the sense that a "fourth scene twist" a few nights ago prompted writing on this topic in favor of a (subsequently published) less positive three-part series titled "Back to Dystopia Days: How the Cunninghams of the '50s Would Fare in 2015."
The aforementioned development was the bedside Scooby-Doo telephone of your (sometimes humble) reviewer ringing at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time. On coming down to my home office the next morning with thoughts of dystopia in my noggin, I was thrilled to see that the call was from "Muir" child star Harlen Carraher. Carraher is the former tow-headed moppet who played the young son of the titular widow.
Carraher, whose last listed acting job aptly was a guest shot on "The Brady Bunch," kindly provided his private number weeks ago on learning of the great love of "Unreal TV" for "Muir." The call last night was the latest round in a game of telephone tag that a three-hour time difference and other factors have caused to last for months. An interview with Carraher will run after we connect.
As an aside, the incredibly gregarious Carraher asks that fans please not contact him at his current literal day job. Unreal TV is glad to pass along messages and ask questions that reach here before Carraher does.
Returning to our main topic, "Muir" is an all-time after-school reruns favorite that is a frequent subject of posts regarding series that are overdue for U.S. DVD releases. This love is behind spending roughly $70 total for the aforementioned Australian releases of both seasons. This follows spending an embarrassingly large amount on the Australian release of the third season of fellow '60s fantasycom "My Favorite Martian" years ago following interminable delays in then-Warner division Rhino releasing that season.
The premise of "Muir," which is based on the 1947 film of the same name, is that Carolyn Muir (wonderfully played by Hope Lange) moves Jonathan and his slightly older sister Candy to Gull Cottage in the small coastal Maine community of Schooner Bay. The Muir clan soon learns on moving into that rented abode that original owner Captain Daniel Gregg (well portrayed by "Knight Rider" star/character actor Edward Mulhare) haunts the house and does not welcome "Others" living there. One spoiler is that this stalwart sea captain is not allergic to sunlight.
The following clip, courtesy of "YouTube" and a fellow "Muir" fan, of several moments from the series shows the wonderful slapstick element of this terrific program.
The pilot achieves an excellent balance between exposition and getting down to business in that it opens with a moderately spooky scene in which current owner (and Gregg heir) Claymore Gregg (perfectly played by over-the-top campy actor Charles Nelson Reilly) arrives at the haunted mansion to inform his ancestor of the imminent arrival of the Muir family. One dystopian note is that this scene explains the need to rent the house to prevent a tax foreclosure. This scene ends with a series staple of the titular spirit rousting the Mr. Chicken of the show out of the house. However, this night-time scene contrasts with the later consistently daytime expulsions of Claymore.
Another dystopian element of the pilot has freelance writer Carolyn telling her unexpected housemate that she cannot afford to move. That hardship and a growing admiration/love for this widow leads to a workable detente following a hilarious scene in which the Captain and the widow wrestle for control of the family station wagon.
The on-screen chemistry between Lange and Mulhare is not perfect, but each plays his or her part well. It is also nice to see that they are largely equals and that the Captain must accept the nature of a modern liberated woman while Mrs. Muir must understand (and respect) the nineteenth century sense and sensibility of the Captain.
A particularly hilarious scene in an episode has Carolyn asserting her independence prompting the Captain undoing his good deed after magically fixing a flat tire. This outing also has Carolyn establishing the rule that she will take care of people and the Captain can take care of the ghosts only for the former to (predictably) soon learn that having a supernatural man around the house is helpful.
A somewhat related (and even more amusing) episode has Carolyn trying to cure herself of the "delusion" that she is sharing her home with an increasingly friendly ghost. Watching this frustrate said spirit is must-see TV.
A more ripped from the headlines episode has the medicine that the Captain prepares for an ailing Mrs. Muir transport her back to the Gull Cottage of the nineteenth century. This led to (unrealized tongue-in-cheek) hope (no pun intended) that lightning would strike twice when consuming massive amounts of maximum-strength NyQuil during a recent personal bout with severe pneumonia. Alas, a very relaxing near comatose state was the only result.
Other memorable segments from the roughly 50 "Muir" episodes include adorable family terrier Scruffy announcing the presence of an invisible Captain only to have the latter exact incredibly cute revenge, a temporarily powerless Captain struggling to telepathically move a teapot, and uber-successful dreamy singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson play a dreamy young performer who seeks refuge at Gull Cottage after the Captain attempts to drive him off the nearby beach.
Other notable guest stars include Bill Bixby of "Martian" as a determined paranormal investigator, "Oliver" star Mark Lester as a love interest for Candy, Richard Dreyfuss as a newspaper editor, and comic legend Dom Deluisle as a bumbling ghost who gets haunting lessons from the captain.
On a larger level, this incredibly fun and entertaining series has a few elements that continue to delight. Your (sometimes humble) reviewer derived a laugh from his significant other when recreating the overhead wave that a beach-walking Lange uses to gesture to Mulhare in the opening credits during a scene in current theatrical film "Still Alice" in which Julianne Moore walks on the beach. We also crack up whenever there is a reference to matronly live-in housekeeper Martha (played by Reta Shaw) using her "sweet cherry pie" to coerce the dessert-loving local handyman to do her bidding. Martha withholding that treat prompts particular hilarity.
On an even broader level, "Muir" and its ilk (such as "Martian") are simply awesome "unreal" shows that provide great entertainment without dumbing it down or relying on sexual innuendo. Other than Claymore and a few small-town stereo types, no one really plays the fool.
Further, the respect and love that our lead characters feel toward each other clearly drives the show. Seeing the Captain wanting to get into the heart (rather than the pants) of the object of his affection flames the desire for a return to nineteenth century values (absent the rampant racism and sexism and anti-homosexuality hysteria).
As a second alas, the DVD sets do not include any extras. The picture and sound quality are very good, and the episodes seem to be the broadcast versions
The summer blues cure that the Warner Archive July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 1982-83 third season of the CBS hitcom "Alice" provides is roughly 20-minute morsels of "unreal" entertainment until the fare that passes for 21st-century network sitcoms return in September. The integrity of Archive extends to including a few episodes produced for S7 that air in other seasons.
This workplace comedy set in greasy spoon Mel's Diner aptly serves up tasty "junk food" that still satisfies after so many visits to the same joint. The quality is consistent and enjoyable to the extent that you look forward to returning for another meal the next week.
The titular waitress is Jersey girl Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) on an extend detour from her move to La La Land to seek fame and fortune as a singer. Alice being an actual (rather than a grass) widow is one nod of this '80scom to the sitcoms from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
One big S7 change for Alice is that teen son Tommy (Philip McKeaon) is making her a quasi-empty nester by being a freshman at nearby Arizona State University. The proximity of that school to Phoenix facilitates Tommy keeping up his "Hi Mom," "Hi Mel," etc. routine as he strolls into the diner with his most recent adolescent problem.
The owner of thew eponymous eatery is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable cheapskate Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback). Things do not change much for him in S7. He still faces losing the diner for one reason or another, He additionally continues snatching defeat from the jaws of victory regarding opportunities for an improved lifestyle. These include an executive position with a catering company and a treasure hunt in the diner.
Fan favorite "dinghy" waitress Vera Louise Gorman ("Beth Howland") largely is in the background this season. Her big adventures include getting her own hope for a better life and having her "radical" past come back to haunt her. Of course, she gets through her difficulties with a little help from her friends.
Sassy hillbilly Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston) continues her efforts to fill the shoes of uberfan fave Texan Flo, who leaves earlier in the series for a spinoff. Jolene has her own variation of Flo catchphrase "when donkeys fly" and further channels Flo in directing unprovoked zingers at Mel.
The regular "A Listers" who appear as themselves and other household names who show up in character greatly distinguishes "Alice" from the competition. This begins with the S7 premiere in which Debbie Reynolds plays Golden Age film star Felicia Blake. The "sit" this time is that Mel believes that he is the man to whom Felicia refers in her recent memoir that includes the story of a highly memorable kiss. "Com" fully ensues when Felicia comes to the diner to reunite with the one who got away.
An oddly dazed-looking Joel Grey appears as himself in a special two-part episode about Alice appearing in a local music revue. The "com" this time relates to Mel outdoing "The Producers" in his sabotage of the production., Springtime for Sharples truly is winter for Hyatt and Grey.
We also get former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon to give Tommy a pep talk.
The "B Listers" include Richard Deacon of "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as the owner of aforementioned catering company and future "Star Trek: Voyager" doctor Robert Picardo in an increasingly regular role as a local cop. We further get a cameo by "Night Court" star Richard Moll.
The nicest thing about this set is that it shows that "Alice" has not jumped the shark. No cute young Cousin Oliver joins the cast to offset McKeaon aging, we do not get a stunts wedding, and any upward mobility becomes a reversal of fortune before the final credits commence,
The Warner Archive March 13, 2008 DVD relrelease of the 2006 first season of the Julia Louis Dreyfus sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine" provides those of use who missed out on the discontinued 2008 release of this season a second bite of the apple. History suggests that Archive will do the same regarding the other four seasons of this amusing show that soon learns the lesson that the adult characters have more long-term comedic potential then those who are not tall enough to ride every rollercoaster.
One of the more amusing aspects of "Christine" is watching Dreyfus play it relatively straight in this traditional sitcom between her stints as the gleefully manipulative Elaine on "Seinfeld" and the titular hilariously foul-mouthed and constantly angered loser who is "a heartbeat away" on her current series "Veep."
The titular mess is women's gym owner Christine Campbell, whose life changes in the pilot drive the series through its respectable five seasons. She is newly divorced from contractor Richard Sr. (Clark Gregg of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.") and is getting young son Richard Jr. (a.k.a. Richie) ready for his first day at the elite Westbridge (a.k.a. White Bread) School that a Google search awesomely reveals is an actual educational institution.
Adorably slacker/garage-dwelling late-in-life baby younger brother Matthew (Hamish Linklater) plays the Kramer role in that he is doofus loser of the group. The character of comedian Wanda Sykes fills the need for the cynical best friend.
The memorable first day at school involves meeting the WASPy moms who respectively are the queen of Westbridge and her lady-in-waiting. Lindsay rules the school and has dim-witted Marly to do her bidding. Christine suffers an additional hit on seeing her ex sucking face with current main squeeze "young" Christine. This provides further proof that many men desire romantic partners who are younger and prettier than him.
A standout episode revolves around the common sitcom and real-life issue of elaborate birthday parties for children. Old Christine tries to keep up with the Kasdashians but ends up throwing a more basic event. This predictably initially falls flat but turns around in an amusing unexpected manner.
Another one in which actual hilarity ensues relates to the hypocrisy of some liberal ideals. The set-up this time is that Christine is delighted to meet a woman at the school who shares her views regarding the elitist environment. The one-two punch is that learning the status of the new friend creates embarrassment and discovering the rest of the story is an example of something being mortifying when it happens to you and providing everyone else incredible amusement.
The appeal of the concept and the characters of "Christine" reflects the success of "Seinfeld." We see ourselves and the people in our lives in the characters and live vicariously through them in that they act how we would love to respond to the irritants in our lives.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Christine" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,
The expression "don't be ridiculous, of course it does" is the apt response to whether the Warner Archive June 19, 2018 DVD release of the 1988-89 fourth season of the 8-season sitcom "Perfect Strangers" shows that this program (which admittedly jumps the shark in S7) stands the test of time. The applicable principle is the observation of Carol Burnett that funny always remains funny.
An additional perspective is that the DVD set serves the purpose of that format by providing another bite of the apple regarding a hit in its day with a limited syndicated run. The modern aspect is that owning the DVD does not leave one at the mercy of the whims of streaming services.
As the review (which illustrates a close link with a top novel of the 21st century) of the Archive DVD release of S3 states, the successful variation of the odd couple formula this time is that uptight cynical 20-something ambitious cub newspaper reporter Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) shares his apartment and his work space with always cheerful 20-something recent immigrant from the Mediterranean island of Mypos Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot). This adorkable innocent having the wisdom of the fool shows that natives of industrialized countries often are not superior to our kin from more primitive cultures.
The charm of the constant elan and naivety of Balki is the primary draw of "Strangers." The next most appealing factor is the incredible skill of Linn-Baker and Pinchot at physical humor; they achieve perfect symmetry and often toss each other and themselves around with such flexibility that it seems that their bones are rubber.
The bigger picture is the skill of the writers at keeping the "com" fresh regarding the wacky "sits" in which our Chicago-dwelling dudes find themselves. A highlight of this is skillfully combining the classic storylines of a character accidentally getting hypnotized without the knowledge of the people in his or her life, an alter-ego taking over, and a character facing a tax audit.
We also get a variation of the main men (or women) being forced to fly and land a commercial jet; a Christmas episode that does not center around "A Christmas Carol," "It's a Wonderful life," or "The Gift of the Magi;" and a flashback episode that does not involve a character facing imminent peril. Many of the other episodes are more of the same.
The "Strangers" crew provide sofa spuds who reside in TV Land an extra-special treat by having S4 further setting the stage for the 9-season sitcom "Family Matters" featuring Steve Urkel, who proves that one man's Top-10 sitcom creation is another man's Jar Jar Binks. The roots of "Matters" dates back to the "Strangers" S3 season premiere in which Balki joins Cousin Larry in the basement of The Chicago Chronicle. New friend sassy and loving elevator operator Harriette Winslow comes to the rescue.
S4 introduces Harriette spouse Carl Winslow, the jolly doughnut-loving cop. The involvement of this (seemingly childless) couple with Balarry extends to moving into their apartment building. More fun comes via Harriette telling the boys that something that she wants to discuss with Carl is a family matter. Another episode has an even better reference to the best-known sitcom set in the midwest.
In the spirit of the heart-felt epilogue that ends every "Strangers" episode, the modern lesson regarding this series is that it well-represents the Silver Age of television comedy in which the depicted world is not perfect, unmarried people having sex is not always shameful, and the show does not rely on extreme personalities or innuendo to get laughs. A prime example of this is having the mother-of-all-80s and beyond sitcom mothers Doris Roberts do her thing in an S4 outing.