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.

StarVista, Time Life Announce Release Date, Details For Mama’s Family Season Three

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Thelma Harper returns this winter!  StarVista Entertainment and Time Life have announced that they will release the third season of the hit sitcom Mama’s Family on February 25th, 2014.  There are changes for the Harper family in the series’ third season.  The most noticeable of those changes is the departure of Vint’s kids, Buzz and Sonja.  The pair was replaced in Season Three by a new character named Bubba Higgins.  Bubba was the child of Ed and Thelma’s daughter Eunice.  He was played by Allan Kayser.  His sudden appearance is explained by his having been previously incarcerated in juvenile hall.  It is explained that he decided to move in at Thelma’s because Ed and Eunice had moved to Florida.  It’s not the only change that viewers see this season.  Ellen (Betty White—Golden Girls) goes under the knife, and Thelma’s sister Fran (Rue McClanahan—Golden Girls) dies.  Of course, Thelma doesn’t let it remain a somber occasion.  She harps on Ellen for how she did her hair for the funeral.  There are plenty more laughs from this, the penultimate season of Mama’s Family in its original run.  The upcoming box set’s release’s bonus features and guest appearances will impress, too.

Mama’s Family Season Three comes packed with its own share of bonus features.  Fans of The Carol Burnett Show that weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on any of the stand-alone box sets or the complete series set get yet another classic “The Family” skit taken from said show as a bonus in this set.  Also included is a profile of Bubba Higgins, an interview with Allan Kayser, and a Mama’s Family cast reunion.  If the bonus features aren’t enough for viewers, maybe the guest star lineup will.  Golden Girls star Betty White returns again.  Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Dr. Joyce Brothers, Jack Dodson (The Andy Griffith Show), and Lewis Arquette (Best in Show) all make appearances, too.

All twenty-five episodes of Season Three are included across four discs.  The set is listed at an MSRP of $29.95.  More information on Mama’s Family Season Three and other releases from StarVista Entertainment and Time Life is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS and http://www.timelife.com.  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.

Time Life, StarVista Deserve Applause For Mama’s Family Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Television today is a pale shadow of what it once was.  It used to have so much heart and substance.  But somewhere along the way, something changed.  Both the heart and substance were thrown out the window in favor of programming overly laden with sex and violence.  Thankfully StarVista, Time Life and Warner Home Video have officially released another nugget of television’s past in the form of Mama’s Family Season 1 that reminds audiences of what once made television great.  The first season of this spinoff from The Carol Burnett Show is front loaded with so many laughs that even audiences not familiar with the iconic comedy will agree it’s a welcome re-issue.  It also boasts some wonderful acting on the part of star Vicky Lawrence and her co-stars.  On a more extrinsic level, audiences will appreciate Season One’s packaging.  The packaging for the discs is right along the lines of most other companies.  All things considered, Mama’s Family Season One proves in its new re-issue to be just as fun as it has ever been.  It is a highly recommended piece for anyone looking for a change of pace from what TV studios offer today.

The debut season of Mama’s Family is the funniest of the show’s six total seasons.  It offered some of the greatest writing of any sitcom of the twentieth century.  It was completely unlike anything else on the air at the time.  It took the classic nuclear family setup from older family based sitcoms and completely turned it on its ear.  Even more interesting, it did so without being too racy or edgy.  By comparison to today’s programming, that speaks volumes for this sitcom.  Mama’s Family walked a very fine line even during the 80s.  But it never crossed that line.  It’s just part of the writing that made (and still makes) it such a cult hit.  Season One also offered its share of pure laughs.  A prime example of that lies in an episode that sees Thelma and company make an appearance on the hit game show, Family Feud.  Then host Richard Dawson was even on hand for the laugh riot episode.  This was such a funny episode in that it took that dysfunctional family element and took it outside the walls of Thelma’s house into a wholly new environment.  The result is one of the funniest episodes of Season One and of the entire series.

The writing behind Mama’s Family made this sitcom unlike anything else on television at the time.  It continues to do so today.  But what is good writing without a cast to bring the scripts to life?  Luckily, the cast that made “The Family” a hit on The Carol Burnett Show were also the cast here in Season One of Mama’s Family.  It would have been so easy to replace any of the core cast with new actors for the series.  Luckily that didn’t happen.  In turn, the chemistry developed among the original cast members was allowed to develop here.  It was obvious just how much chemistry the cast had, too.  This is especially the case between Burnett and Lawrence.  Audiences will be laughing nonstop as they watch the pair argue so convincingly as if they really were mother and daughter.  The episode, “Cellmates” is proof of that.  When the pair end up in jail together, it leads to one of the funniest moments between the pair in Season One.  The occasional appearances of Betty White and Rue McClanahan as Fran and Ellen added their own extra comic element, too.  Ironically enough, the pair would go on to star together in The Golden Girls only a couple years later.  That aside, the acting of both women and the rest of the show’s cast in Season One proves to be one more reason that any true fan of comedy should watch at least this season.

Writing and acting are obviously the most important part of any television program’s success.  Both elements have made Mama’s Family a huge success even roughly three decades after it first premiered.  There is one more piece of the puzzle to examine in what makes  the newly re-issued first season of Mama’s Family a success.  That piece to the puzzle is its packaging.  Season One’s packaging follows the standard used so commonly today for multi-disc box sets.  Two of the set’s three discs are placed on either side of a plastic “insert” while the third is placed in its own spot on the back side of the case.  This standard packaging format helps to protect the integrity of the discs.  It also is more ergonomic.  Packaging usually doesn’t get much credit for DVD and blu-ray sets.  But it really is an important part of any release’s full presentation.  And in this case, it’s the icing on the cake of a much welcomed and needed blast from the past that is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered along with the larger complete set online at http://timelife.com/products/mama-s-family-the-complete-series.

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The New Pound Puppies Is Fun For The Whole Family

Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios/Hub

Dog is man’s best friend, it’s often said.  Well dogs are also every child’s friends.  And after seeing the new compilation DVD from Hasbro Studios and Shout Factory, the dogs of the new Pound Puppies will be a favorite of every child, and maybe even some adults out there, too.  In this new single disc compilation, audiences get five episodes from the new series that will leave both parents and kids alike smiling and watching over and over again.  In the first of the set’s five episodes, pound manager Leonard and his flunky Olaf have to track down his mother’s dog.  Megastar Betty White guests in this episode.  The compilation’s second episode is a heartwarming episode both for adults and kids alike as Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent.  Lauren Tom, Maurice LaMarche, and Cree Summer all add their guest vocal talents to this episode.  And in one more episode, a new pup named Patches joins the gang.  He looks up to the Pound Puppies so much that he, Cupcake, and Rebound form their own group called The Super Secret Pup Club.  Of course, lots of laughs and mayhem ensue.This five-episode collection opens with the episode, “Bone Voyage.”  Betty White (Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) guest stars as the voice of Agatha, the mother of the pound’s manager, Leonard.  Agatha has brought her puppy, Rebound, to the pound so that Leonard will look after Rebound while she goes on vacation.  While Lucky and the others try to get Rebound to understand that Agatha will be back, Rebound sees Agatha leave and freaks out.  She takes off after Agatha, causing not only the Pound Puppies to take chase, but so do Leonard and Olaf.  They all end up on board the cruise liner on which Agatha has taken her vacation.  Of course, lots of mayhem and laughs ensure.  Viewers will have to see for themselves how things unravel.  It does, of course, have a happy ending.

In one of the set’s deeper, more emotional episodes, Cookie learns a valuable lesson about being a parent when a young new pup named Cupcake is brought to the pound.  This is one that parents will appreciate in their own way.  Cookie becomes emotionally attached to Cupcake.  So much so that she doesn’t want Cupcake getting adopted.  In its own way, this is somewhat representative of parents letting their own children go as they get older.  That likely wasn’t the primary intent.  But parents will be able to relate to Cookie’s emotional ordeal.  They may even be left a little bit teary eyed by the episode’s end.  Lauren Tom (Futurama), Maurice Lamarche (Futurama, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, etc.) and Cree Summer (Rugrats, Codename:  Kids Next Door, etc.) all add their guest vocals to this episode.

Once parents get over the emotional moments of “Mutternal Instincts”, they’ll find themselves laughing in “The Super Secret Pup Club.”  Cree Summer returns again as Cupcake.  Rebound is back again.  The two team up with another new puppy named Patches.  Patches is a young Dalmatian.  He really looks up to the Pound Puppies.  He tells them of the stories he’s heard of the Pound Puppies, and how he wants to be as great as them.  So the trio forms its club and tries to emulate the Pound Puppies.  But as is the course with any new puppy, the run off, forcing the others to hunt them down.  This causes all sorts of trouble for the Pound Puppies.  It also causes lots of laughs for audiences.  Audiences will have to see for themselves what happens.  Pound Puppies:  Super Secret Pup Club will be available in stores and online Tuesday.  It can be ordered online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

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