The Midnight Special’s Re-Issues Will Have Audiences Singing, Dancing Well Past Midnight

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment have made quite the name for themselves over the course of recent years.  Releases of classic series such as The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, The Dean Martin Show, China Beach, and most recently The Wonder Years have taken a company that for years was the butt of many people’s jokes to a place in the upper echelons of home entertainment companies.  For years, Time Life was known mainly for the not-so-well-known products that it pushed through extended advertisements on television.  Now it has carved out even more of a comfortable place in that upper echelon with the release of The Midnight Special on DVD.  The classic late night live concert series was released in a number of formats last month, resurrecting one more important piece of television and music history.  The show’s six-disc collector’s edition is one of the best of the sets that any fan of classic television and music can add to their own home library.  That is because it is one of the best examples of what made this series so great during its nine-year run on NBC.  It presents ninety-six total performances from bands, artists and groups across the music industry’s spectrum.  The acts that make appearances throughout the set’s six discs are the center of this box set’s enjoyment and success.  Just as important to note is the quality of the footage.  More than four decades have passed since the Midnight Special first debuted in 1972.  In that time, the footage presented in these performances has stood the test of time quite well.  And last but not least worth noting in the set’s success is its companion booklet.  The booklet serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That is the central point of its importance.  It also features personal insight from the series’ creator Burt Sugarman. Sugarman’s retrospection on the series and its importance adds one more layer of appreciation for this series.  Together with the acts that appear on each set and the quality of the footage, all three factors together make The Midnight Train another wonderful release from Time  Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment.

The Midnight Special was one of the most famed and beloved series on television during its day.  Unlike so many other series of the time, acts that came on the series in its heydey actually sang instead of lip synching.  What’s more, unlike American Bandstand, The Midnight Special focused on more than just the big pop acts of its day.  The acts that came to perform on NBC’s live overnight concert series spanned the music world’s ranks.  That is the most important aspect of this recently released classic series.  The acts that performed on The Midnight Special included the likes of John Denver performing alongside Linda Rondstadt and Aerosmith performing alongside Barry White, The Stylistics, and ELO.  It also featured acts the likes of: B.B. King, Frankie Vallie, Sammy Hagar, The O’Jays, BeeGees, and so many other greats that are still remembered today.  Even the show’s host himself, radio host Wolfman Jack was a celebrity in his own right.  Even today, he and those acts noted here are just as beloved as they were decades ago.  In an era when so many musical acts are little more than flash-in-the-pan pop acts and rarely radio worthy rock bands, musicaians and audiences alike need to be reminded of what once made music great and could again–originality and real talent.  That in mind, it makes sense that the list of performers that came on The Midnight Special is the central point of this series’ success whether in its six-disc box set or its other formats.

The list of artists, bands, and groups that graced The Midnight Special’s stage during its nine-year run on NBC is the most important aspect of this series’ recent re-issue.  More than four decades have passed since it first debuted on NBC in 1972.  That makes for plenty of reason to be concerned about the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer from tape to disc.  Luckily for audiences of all ages, painstaking efforts were taken to present the performances as they appeared in their original broadcasts. Those efforts paid off in spades as both the audio and video of each performance have been well-balanced.  Any impurities in the quality of the footage whether in the audio or video are so minute that they are unnoticable.  The end result is a product that for the show’s original audiences will generate a much-welcomed sense of nostalgia.  Both for those same audiences and the show’s much younger audiences, it also serves to show just how far music has come (both in a good and bad way) and how far recording technology has come, too.  So in the end, the quality of the footage in these performances makes Time Life and StarVista’s new re-issue of The Midnight Special even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

The efforts taken to transfter The Midnight Special’s master tapes to disc have definitely not been for nothing.  The show looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original run all those years ago in its rencet re-issue.  The acts that appeared on the show (and that are featured on the new six-disc compilation) are just as important to the overall presentation.  Both aspects together more than make the series worth a watch or two in any of its three re-issue formats.  The last aspect of the series’ re-issue (at least in its six-disc compilation format) that makes it a success and so enjoyable is the set’s companion booklet.  The booklet serves primarily as an episode guide, pointing out disc-by-disc and episode-by-episode each artist, band, and group that appears.  That listing even includes the songs performed by said acts.  By itself, the episode listing more than helps the enjoyment of the series’ re-issue.  The added insight from series creator Burt Sugarman adds one more layer of enjoyment to the series’ various presentations.  In terms of the six-disc box set, Sugarman recalls how so few people had faith in the show and how great it felt to prove those naysayers wrong.  That insight along with other comments from Sugarman make for even more interest and enjoyment in watching the performances culled for the show’s different re-issues.  While being the last of the noteworthy factors that make The MIdnight Special so…well…special, it is hardly the least important of the factors that make the series’ sets such a joy.  This aspect, along with the quality production values and the performances culled for the releases, makes The Midnight Special a truly special experience for viewers of all ages.

The Midnight Special is available online now.  Its eleven-disc and sixteen disc sets can be ordered online direct from Time Life’s online store at http://timelife.com/products/the-midnight-special-collector-s-edition.  The six-disc collector’s edition can be ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Special-6DVD-Amaray/dp/B00L9OPJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1414009549&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Midnight+Special.  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.timelife.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Resurrecting Sgt. Bilko And The Phil Silvers Show

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The classic comedy series Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show will finally see the light of day on DVD this fall.

Shout! Factory will release the series in a full twenty-disc collection DVD box set on Tuesday, November 4th. The series, which was created by Nat Hiken, features a hilarious cast including: Harvey Lembeck, Allan Melvin, Joe E. Ross, and Paul Ford. It also featured some of the biggest names in television and movies as guest stars. That stars include the likes of: Dick Van Dyke, Alan Alda, Dean Martin and Lucille Ball.

The comedy served up by Silvers, his cast mates and guest stars is just the tip of the iceberg in the enjoyment of this upcoming release from Shout! Factory. The box also boasts a bevy of bonus material including the show’s original opening from its broadcast days, various audio commentaries, and even a bonus episode of The Lucy Show among much more. The complete list of bonus materials included on Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show is noted below.

Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show – The Complete Series Bonus Features:

  • Lost Audition Show
  • Original Network Opening
  • Original Cast Commercials
  • Photo Gallery
  • Audio commentaries with Allan Melvin, George Kennedy, Mickey Freeman, Larry Storch and Dick Van Dyke
  • “Lucy and the Efficiency Expert” (from The Lucy Show season 5)
  • Allan Melvin (Cpl. Henshaw) Episode Introductions
  • Promo for The New Phil Silvers Show
  • “Harry, the Good Neighbor” from The New Phil Silvers Show
  • Interviews with Phil Silvers (includes rare interview from The Paul Ryan Show)
  • Phil Silvers and Jack Benny on The Dick Cavett Show
  • Footage from the 1959 TV Special Keep In Step
  • The Cast of Phil Silvers On Broadway
  • New interviews with daughters Cathy, Tracey and Nancey Silvers

 

Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show will be available in stores and online Tuesday, November 4th. It can be pre-ordered now via the Shout! Factory online store at https://sneakpeek.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/sgt-bilko-the-phil-silvers-show-the-complete-series. Audiences that pre-order the box set now will get free shipping and will have their copy shipped out on October 7th, a full four weeks before the box set hits store shelves. More information on this and other titles available from Shout! Factory is available online now at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts DVD Another Example Of Comedy Done Right

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

The world is in a tough place, right now.  Political and economic strife dominate the news every day.  And television and movies are more dominated by sex and violence than ever before.  Thankfully, StarVista has stepped up once again to offer audiences what is a great escape from all the death, destruction, sex and violence dominating television and movies.  StarVista Entertainment has stepped up and offered an escape from it all in the form of the latest Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts box set.  This collection, the second in a set of three boxes, is just as worthy of applause as the first Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts box set.  That is the case first and foremost because of the laughs that fill each episode in this set.  Audiences will also appreciate that the episodes contained in this set are presented just as they originally aired.  And last but definitely not least, the packaging itself is well worth mentioning, too.  StarVista Entertainment has once again quite wisely packaged each of the six discs that comprise this box set.  The company has also included as part of the packaging, a bonus booklet that serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That inclusion as part of the set’s packaging, along with the equally impressive quality of the show’s footage and the nonstop laughs, makes The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted one of this year’s best new box sets for adults.

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted is one of the year’s best new box sets for adults.  The primary reason for that is the fact that these roasts are just as funny today as they were in their original broadcasts so many decades ago.  Given, some of the jokes are a little bit off color.  Case in point, actress Lawanda Page’s (Sanford & Son) jokes aimed at her fellow roasters in the roast of Betty White (Password, Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland).  But there are just as many jokes that are pure laugh riots throughout each of the set’s sixteen total episodes.  One great example of this is in the celebrity roast of George Washington.  Yes, George Washington.  Famed historical impersonator Jan Leighton played the role of the nation’s first president.  And Audrey Meadows filled the role of George’s wife, Martha.  This roast is one that every viewer will love.  Whether it be the roast of George Washington, Betty White, or any of the others included in this box set, every one of the included roasts will most certainly leave viewers in stitches.  They will find themselves laughing so hard that they cry.  And that’s just the starting point of what makes this box set so fun.  The quality of each show’s footage makes the set even more enjoyable.

The jokes churned out throughout each of this set’s sixteen total episodes are certain to leave viewers laughing tears of joy.  If not for the work of those charged with restoring and transferring each episode, the set (and its predecessor) would not be worth the purchase.  Thanks to their work, the decades old footage still looks just as good as it did in its original broadcast.  StarVista made certain to include a disclaimer on each disc informing viewers that there may be some issues with the footage quality.  But this critic will attest to the fact that any issues with the quality of the episodes’ footage are minute at best and barely noticeable.  To that extent, the quality of each episode’s footage will create a welcome sense of nostalgia for older viewers that order this box set.  That sense of nostalgia in turn adds even more overall charm to the set, making it even more of a must have for any classic TV lover.

The impressively restored footage and the nonstop laugh riot roasts together are the collective cornerstone to The Dean Martin Roasts: Fully Roasted.  They aren’t all that make this new release such a joy.  There is still one more factor to consider in the success of this set.  That factor is the overall packaging of the set.  StarVista Entertainment  established a tradition of smart, quality packaging with previous box sets including the previous Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts set and all of its current Carol Burnett Show sets.  That tradition has been carried on in this set.  Each of the set’s six discs receives its own spot on either side of a handful of “inserts” inside the set’s box.  This protects the discs from scratching one another and it helps to save a certain amount of space on any viewer’s DVD rack.  Add in a bonus booklet that serves as an episode guide and gives background information on each episode, and viewers have what is another complete and completely impressive package from StarVista Entertainment and Time Life.  They flesh out a package that is in the eyes of at least this critic, one of the year’s best new box sets for adults.

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted is available now on DVD and can be ordered online direct from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HHVFW6M/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=11FD228VXVZ0KKRE2FY4&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846.  More information on this and other releases from StarVista Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS and http://timelife.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dean Martin Celebrity Roast Collection Is A Laugh Riot

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista/NBC Universal

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista/NBC Universal

Groundbreaking and hilarious.  Those are the best two words that one can possibly come up with when one thinks of singer/actor Dean Martin’s celebrity roasts.  There was nothing else like this series on television when it was spun off from his equally entertaining Dean Martin’s Comedy Hour.  And even today, when one watches Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts, one can’t deny the influence of Martin’s show on today’s celebrity roasts.  Martin’s celebrity roasts were just as irreverent as anything broadcast on Comedy Central today.  Anyone that has any knowledge of classic movies and television will attest to that.  And that’s just one reason that audiences will appreciate the recent release of Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition.  Decades have passed since these shows aired.  Despite that, the jokes are still as biting today as they were back then.  While the celebrities and jokes featured in each of this set’s shows are the most important aspect to the set, they’re only part of what audiences will appreciate about this new laugh riot collection from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista.  Viewers will also appreciate the bonus features included in each of the set’s six discs.  And last but definitely not least, Time Life and Star Vista are more than deserving of praise for the packaging of this set.  The manner in which each of the set’s discs was placed protects each disc, and is ergonomic for any DVD rack.  When one takes into consideration everything noted here, one will see just how important it is to the history of television and movies that Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment have released this set.  It’s a set that any fan of true, pure comedy must see at least once.

The celebrities and jokes that fill each episode of Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition are the most important aspect of the episodes culled for the set.  Audiences that are more familiar with classic television and movies will appreciate seeing big names such as Rich Little, Don Rickles, former President Ronald Reagan, Sammy Davis, Jr., and so many others.  Little’s impersonations of some of Hollywood’s biggest names are among the many highlights.  Audiences will roar with laughter as he impersonates Johnny Carson.  Carson does everything that he can to not do the mannerisms that Little lists off one at a time.  The funny thing is that he can’t help but do those same mannerisms.  It shows just how closely Little studied his subjects.  It’s just one of so many moments that will have audiences laughing so hard that they cry.  There’s actor Kirk Douglas’ joke comparing fellow actor Don Rickles to a weasel, Rev. Billy Graham’s golf joke about Bob Hope, and even Foster Brooks’ ever entertaining drunk act from one show to another.  Somehow that act never loses its shine, no matter how many times he does it.  There is plenty more material from which audiences will be able to call their favorite moments.  Everything listed here is just a small sampling of that to which audiences can look forward with this collection of hilarious roasts.

The celebrity lineups and jokes that fill each of Martin’s celebrity roasts easily make Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition make it an easy contender for the top spot on this year’s list of the best new box sets.  One can’t make such a statement without examining the set’s bonus material.  Bonus is a word that is bandied about far too often with DVDs and Blu-rays today.  But the additional content included in this set couldn’t be more properly labeled than bonus material.  Audiences are offered interviews with those that shared the stage throughout Martin’s Celebrity Roasts and bonus shows, too.  The interviews with the likes of Carol Burnett, Rich Little, and others show just how honored the chosen celebrities were to have been chosen both for the celebrity panel, and as the subject of the roasts.  The celebrity interviews included across this set are definitely worthy of being called bonus material.  Audiences will also appreciate the bonus segments of The Dean Martin Show, as well as a comparison between Martin’s celebrity roasts and what is offered today on the likes of Comedy Central.  It’s very interesting to note Carol Burnett’s own words, stating how today’s comedy is “mean” versus Martin’s roasts being just good clean fun.  She makes a valid argument.  One can really tell that Martin’s celebrity roasts were really meant all in good fun.  There were some off color material.  But even back then, the comedians on the panels didn’t have to work blue unlike today’s comedians.  It’s a telling statement.  And when they order this set, audiences will see that and more for themselves.

The bonus material included in Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts: Collector’s Edition puts this set way over the top.  Unlike the extra material crammed into other sets by other companies, the extra material included in this set is more than deserving of the title of “Bonus.”  When set next to the celebrity lineups and their jokes, it makes this set one that any classic TV and movie fan absolutely must add to their own home library.  Those same fans will notice in adding this set to their home DVD library that the packaging is another plus.  The box itself takes up a small amount of room on one’s rack.  That’s because of how the discs inside the box were themselves packaged.  The discs are placed on either side of a group of “inserts” inside the box.  They are given their very own space on either side of each insert.  This not only saves space, but also protects the discs from scratching one another at the same time.  This means being able to share the laughs again and again for years to come.  They are laughs that will be welcome with every watch.  And they can be enjoyed when audiences order the set from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista online at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D2UMI9Q/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0JVYS83R0PH9M3VZQVZP&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1630083502&pf_rd_i=507846.  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista is available online at http://timelife.com and http://www.facebook.com/TimeLIfeUs.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Dean Martin Christmas Show A Standout Classic Holiday Special

Courtesy:  Time Life/NBC Universal

Courtesy: Time Life/NBC Universal

Time Life and NBC Universal have unearthed a nice piece of holiday television history with the release of The Dean Martin Christmas Show.  This holiday special is a relic of a bygone era.  It’s another prime example of everything that was once right with television.  Much like with the recently released Carol Burnett Show sets, this unearthing shows that there is still love and interest for classic television.  As great as all of the annual holiday specials are, this once forgotten special reminds audiences that there is still much more out there that is just as enjoyable as the aforementioned specials.

The Dean Martin Christmas Show runs at less than an hour long.  The majority of the material in this special is musical numbers.  Although there are some skits tossed in for good measure, too.  OF the few skits included in this show, the best of them is the cop skit with acting legend Dom DeLuise.  DeLuise plays a street cop who tries to give Santa a ticket for parking his sled in a no parking zone.  While audiences never see Santa, the ability of DeLuise to interpret what would have been Santa standing there before him shows his talent.  And his reaction after Santa gives him a present, despite the attempt to give him a ticket, brings the whole skit together.  It makes for lots of laughs even years after its original airing.

Dom DeLuise isn’t the only star who gets his chance for laughs in this special.  Fellow veteran actor Bob Newhart also gets his time to shine.  Newhart stars alongside Martin as a customer trying to return a toupee.  Martin plays the part of a clerk in the complaint department in the store where Newhart’s character is returning the toupee.  The chemistry between the pair is obvious as Martin can’t even hold back his laughs throughout the course of the skit.  Yet by contrast, Newhart somehow manages to maintain his character’s deadpan persona, which is probably why Martin was unable to contain his laughs.  It’s just one more moment that viewers yearning for that nostalgia will enjoy and appreciate with every watch.

The skits included in this roughly forty-eight minute holiday special make for their own share of enjoyment.  The musical numbers add even more nostalgia and enjoyment, too.  Martin and company share their own renditions of a number of Christmas carols.  Home viewers won’t be able to resist signing along a little bit, too.  When it’s all said and done, audiences of all ages will realize that what they’ve experienced is something very special.  Add in the original quality of the broadcast and that feeling gets even stronger.  Audiences can experience that feeling for themselves now as The Dean Martin Christmas Show is available now on DVD courtesy of Time Life and NBC Universal.  It can be ordered online direct via Time Life’s store at http://timelife.com/products/the-dean-martin-christmas-show.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Greatest Matt Monro shows why Matt Monro is one of The Greatest

Courtesy: EMI

Matt Monro is one of the greatest singers in the history of both jazz and popular mainstream music.  It’s been just over two decades since the world lost this vocal giant.  But thanks to work from his daughter, Michele, and the people at EMI, Monro’s legions of fans worldwide get to experience many of his greatest songs thanks to the 2010 release of “The Greatest Matt Monro.”

“The Greatest Matt Monro” is a fitting title for this recent compilation.  There are many people out there who know of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and so many other vocal legends.  But there are just as many who don’t know about Matt Monro.  This compilation could change all of that.  It includes many of his own pieces, as well as covers of other greats such as ‘Fly Me to The Moon (In Other Words)’ and ‘Yesterday’ among others.  Most audiences know ‘Fly Me to The Moon (In Other Words)’ thanks to Frank Sinatra.  But Monro’s rendition of the hit gives it a whole different life.  It’s a much smoother take on the song.  And his take on ‘Yesterday’ is just as powerful as the original.

This compilation also has more than enough songs to make for plenty of memorable moments for couples and happy couples to be.  From ‘Let There Be Love’ to ‘When I Fall in Love’, to ‘The Nearness of You’, there is plenty of material for a romantic moment any time of the year.  And the control that Monro had over his voice shows through in every song.  He was able to capture every little nuance of every song.  That ability to voice so much emotion so beautifully makes this compilation an absolute must have for any true jazz fan.  It’s just as beautiful an introduction for those who are unfamiliar with the work of a man who is at least one of the Greatest–if not THE Greatest–vocalists of all time.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can also keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news at http://philspicks.wordpress.com