Shout! Factory’s Latest MST3K Box Set Even More Fun For Movie Buffs

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory has done it again. The company that has brought audiences of all ages so many great classic TV series and movies has released yet another hit in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXIX. The cult favorite TV series continues to show in its latest four-disc box set, why it remains such a beloved series even today. It shows this first through the skits that accompany the movies chosen to fill out this set. The movies in question are another reason that audiences will appreciate this latest collection of episodes. And the bonus material included in the set rounds out the set, making it complete. There is much more that could be discussed as to what makes this box set so great. The jokes and pop culture references made throughout each movie evidence this. Those jokes and references combine with the bonus features, selected movies, and skits to make Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXIX one of the potentially best box sets of the year.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXIX is potentially one of the best new box sets of 2014. One of the reasons for this label is the skits included in each of the set’s four episodes. Audiences get to see Mike and his robot pals deal with Pearl as she unsuccessfully tries to host her own ball as part of The Pumaman. And both Pearl and Mike have to deal with a trio of “superbeings” that think Pearl and Mike to be “as amoebas” to them in the skit accompanying The Thing That Wouldn’t Die. Joel has to deal with his boss at the Gizmonic Institute in Untamed Youth and Hercules and the Captive Women. The skits themselves are so cheesy. Much the same can be said of the acting on the part of all involved. And that it’s meant to be so cheesy makes it all so much more entertaining. Long-time fans of this cult favorite series will find themselves laughing hysterically at each skit as if it was the first time that they had seen them. Those that might be seeing the skits in each episode will find themselves laughing just as hard after scratching their heads in totally confused yet entertained disbelief.

The skits used to introduce each film in this set are worth more than their share of riotous laughter. One can’t help but wonder where the writers—who also served as the show’s cast—came up with the ideas for them. One can’t help but compare the skits to really bad drug trips. Regardless, they are hilarious. Just as hilarious as the skits, are the movies chosen for each episode. This box set includes Hercules and the Captive Women, Untamed Youth, The Thing That Wouldn’t Die, and The Pumaman. The Pumaman is easily the most entertaining the movies included in this set. It presents a professor named Tony Farms, played by Walter G. Alton, Jr., who starts out just an ordinary scientist and becomes The Pumaman after being located by the descendant of an ancient alien race named Vadinho. Vadinho gives Professor Farms a belt that turns him into the superhero Pumaman. Given, the movie was crafted and released in 1980. But even for the day, the movie’s production values and writing were horrendous. Thus it earned the distinction of being added to MST3K’s schedule. Alton notes in the movie’s bonus interview that he was genuinely not happy with the biting commentary on the movie on the part of Mike and his robot pals. But there’s no denying that as serious as the cast and crew took themselves in making the movie, the end result was anything but a movie that could have been taken seriously.

The movies included in MST3K Volume XXIX are just as important as those included in the series’ previously released box sets not just for their entertainment value, but for their historical value, too.   Those audiences that are more interested in the history of the movie industry will appreciate seeing one more example in this set, of how far the movie industry has come since its earliest days. It’s astonishing to see just how much things have changed since the days of these movies. It’s just as interesting to note how little has changed in that time, too. For that reason, this latest volume of MST3K is made even more enjoyable for audiences.

The skits and the movies featured in MST3K Volume XXIX together make this latest volume just as entertaining as the series’ previous box sets. The bonus material included in each episode puts the finishing touch on the set. Audiences that watch The Thing That Wouldn’t Die get an extra bit of Hollywood history when they watch the bonus feature, “The Movie That Couldn’t Die.” Audiences learn through this feature that the censors still had quite a bit of pull even back then. It’s noted that a particular flashback scene involving the antagonist being beheaded originally involved a priest damning the figure. Apparently, the censors didn’t like the thought of a priest condemning the antagonist. So his character was changed to that of a random man. And as noted previously, actor Walton G. Alton, Jr. expressed his displeasure with the zingers tossed at The Pumanman because he and his cast mates had taken the creation of that movie so seriously. It’s one more item that makes the viewing experience of the movie all the more enjoyable and richer. The same can be said of the interview with actress Mamie Van Doren in Untamed Youth. These bonus features are the final pieces of MST3K Volume XXIX that make the box set whole. Together with the skits and the movies themselves, they make this set one that fans new and old will love to watch over and over again. It is just as great an introduction to the series for new fans as it is a continuation for the show’s more seasoned fans.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXIX is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/mystery-science-theater-3000-volume-xxix. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutactoryofficial. 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.

EOne’s New Bella Sara DVD A Good Fit For Any Young Female Viewer

Courtesy:  Entertainment One/Foxfield Entertainment/The Bella Sara Company

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Foxfield Entertainment/The Bella Sara Company

Entertainment One released the latest adventure of Bella Sara last week. Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings is one more enjoyable watch for the young female audiences at whom it is aimed. That is the case first and foremost because unlike previous Bella Sara DVDs, this presentation is actually a full feature length presentation. Another reason that its intended audiences will appreciate this latest release in the Bella Sara series is its general writing. And lastly, the general content puts the final touch on this release. All these factors together make Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings a presentation that any young female viewer will enjoy.

The first aspect of Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings that its intended audiences will appreciate this presentation is a full-length piece. Previous releases in the Bella Sara series were presented in shorter form. So this presentation is the first in the ongoing series of releases that could consider itself a full length feature. While it is an independent release, it could easily compete with the likes of the full length straight to DVD Barbie features that are currently out there. That being the case, that factor alone would make it a good fit for any young female viewer’s slumber party, birthday party or other social event.

That Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings is presented as a full length feature is a good thing for this release in comparison to previous releases in the series. Just as important to the overall enjoyment for the feature’s viewers is its combined general writing and content. The story is simple enough for any viewer to follow. Presented here is what is essentially a coming-of-age story of sorts. Young teen Emma finds herself and literally her voice after discovering a secret that had been long-held by her mother through most of Emma’s youth. It is made obvious that Emma’s mother had died at the start of the story. It isn’t noted how she died. And that is in all honesty beside the point. Her mother being out of the picture actually helps to serve as a catalyst to the story’s progression. So in the long run, it is actually a good thing that the cause of her mother’s death wasn’t explained. Along her journey into the world that is North of North, Emma has to take on the evil Ivenna and her henchman who want to take over the land by taking away all of the “horse magic.” It’s through her own personal journey of self-discovery and realization that Emma is able to defeat Ivenna and save North of North. The general progression of the story is just as simple as the story itself. So that should help to keep young viewers fully engaged in the feature from start to finish.

The simple storyline contained in this new release from Entertainment One will definitely keep the feature’s intended audiences engaged throughout the course of tis roughly hour and fifteen-minute run time. In the same vein, one would be remiss to not mention the feature’s general content. The story is obviously fantasy based. And it centers on horses. This is a double whammy for all involved. The Bella Sara Company, Foxfield Entertainment and Entertainment One have collectively taken two items about which so many younger female viewers crazy and combined them into one. Add in the short musical numbers to the mix (and the overall writing) and viewers get a near complete package. All of this material packaged into what is a relatively full length presentation makes everything complete. It all combines to make Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings a feature that any young female viewer will enjoy whether by herself, with friends or even with her mother.

Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HNTOYF8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1V0JEAXF18XKCR96GP00&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. 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.

PBS Marks 50th Anniversary Of Freedom Summer With New Episode Of American Experience

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS announced this week, the upcoming home release of another episode of its series American Experience.

PBS will release American Experience: Freedom Summer June 24th on DVD. The documentary takes viewers back to the Summer of 1964, recalling the events that would change America forever over a mere ten weeks. It was over those ten weeks that the civil rights movement took a big turn. Over seven hundred student volunteers joined forces with organizers and local members of the African American community in Mississippi to establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and Freedom Schools throughout the state. The goal of the movement was to challenge the state’s already established Democratic Party at the DNC in Atlantic City that year.

The efforts of Freedom Summer organizers and student volunteers were met with a lot of resistance. Three civil rights workers were killed that year. There were also numerous beatings. And some thirty-five churches were burned. A total of seventy homes and community centers were bombed in the process, too. Acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, the Murder of Emmitt Till) directed this documentary. Till takes viewers through the dramatic events of the Freedom Summer, from the violence to the efforts to get African Americans registered to vote and everything in between. It shows the sheer complexity of the movement to end segregation in America.

American Experience: Freedom Summer retails for $24.99. It can be pre-ordered via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34894696&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+experience+freedom+summer&origkw=American+Experience+Freedom+Summer&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online at http://www.facebook.com/AmericanExperience, http://www.pbs.org/americanexperience, and http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS. 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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anchor Bay’s In Fear Is One Of 2014′s Top Indie Flicks

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Independent movie studio Anchor Bay has crafted some of the industry’s most surprising and underrated movies since the start of the twenty-first century. Most recently, Anchor Bay was behind the moving human drama that is Unfinished Song and the more lighthearted romantic comedy Shanghai Calling. It was also behind the release of the equally under appreciated 6 Souls and Dark Skies. Now in 2014, Anchor Bay has released yet another impressive yet under appreciated movie to its ever growing stable in the form of In Fear. While it is an indie flick, In Fear proves to be yet another piece from Anchor Bay that holds its own against any of the major horror flicks and thriller features out there today. The primary reason for that is the movie’s writing. This includes its plot. Another reason for its success is the acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey). And last but not least, In Fear works because of its cinematography and associated editing. All three of these factors together prove In Fear a work that will leave any open minded horror and thriller fan in happiness.

In Fear is not a major, big budget horror or thriller flick, obviously. What it is though, is a movie that any open-minded fan of both genres will enjoy. The main reason for this is the movie’s writing. The general plot starts out as one that has been done so many times before. Here, audiences see a young couple off on what is supposed to be a romantic weekend at a secluded hotel. But obviously, things eventually start to turn to the negative side of the needle for lack of better wording. This is where writer/director Jeremy Lovering takes the *ahem* high road (bad pun fully intended). It would have been so easy for Lovering to simply allow In Fear to descend to the dumbed down, overly violent level of so many major horror and thriller flicks from here. Instead, he kept the overt violence to a minimum by comparison. Where far too many major horror and thriller flicks fill their run times with unnecessary violence, blood and gore, Lovering has virtually eliminated those elements, using only what was absolutely necessary to help maintain the story’s grip on viewers. And the standard exploitative sexual content thrown in to those major motion pictures is totally nonexistent here. For that reason alone, Lovering deserves a lot of credit.

The minimized use of blood, gore and general violence and the complete lack of exploitive sexual content is just one part of what makes this movie’s writing work so well. Lovering keeps viewers wondering even after Tom and Lucy let Max into their car. Audiences have to admit that had they been in Tom and Lucy’s position, they too would be uncertain as to whether or not Max was good or bad. So any viewer that might like to claim the movie was predictable is proven wrong through this avenue alone. That unpredictability is heightened through the use of certain elements that also lead to some “a-ha” moments by the story’s end, too. Those “a-ha” moments illustrate even more the depth of Lovering’s writing in his script and in turn its enjoyment.

Jeremy Lovering’s script for In Fear is the cornerstone of the movie’s success. The acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, and Allen Leech serves to strengthen the movie even more. The trio is entirely believable in its acting. Caestecker and Englert expertly exhibit the growing tension and fear felt by any normal person lost in unknown territory. Given, the odds of being lost and hunted by an unseen predator of sorts are slim to nil in reality. But the fear caused simply by being lost in unknown territory is very real as is the general fear of the unknown. And Caestecker and Englert have made that fear all the more real through their acting. Any viewer will be able to relate to them as they watch the pair try to reach the Kilairney Hotel thanks to the seriousness with which the pair took its roles. Together with the script, this aspect of In Fear makes the movie all the more gripping and enjoyable for viewers.

The acting and writing behind In Fear both are pivotal to the success of the movie. There is still one more aspect of the movie that adds to its enjoyment. That factor is the movie’s collective cinematography and editing. Some of the best shots of the entire movie come as Lucy is looking out of the car, waiting for she and Tom to reach the hotel. Audiences see trees hanging ominously overhead as the sky slowly darkens. These are such subtle shots. But they are so powerful because they are so powerful. It adds to the feeling of tension and being trapped in an enclosed environment for extended periods of time. The way that editor Jonathan Amos (A.C.E.) transitioned the two shots adds so much by doing so little. Those behind the cameras are just as worthy of applause for the solid yet short shots of the figure that seems to be hunting Tom and Lucy. Audiences get just enough of a glimpse to know that there is something outside that car that doesn’t want the pair around. And the shots are just plentiful enough to add to the movie’s fear factor, too. Again, it shows the expert work of Amos and his co-workers behind the cameras. There are far more examples of how the cinematography and editing make In Fear a horror/thriller worth seeing. Audiences will find even more examples when they purchase or rent the movie for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray.

Whether for the cinematography, the editing, the acting or for the general writing, any open-minded fan of the thriller and horror genres will find plenty of reasons to check out this latest underrated and under appreciated release from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The movie is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?projectID=2545b3bd-9d4b-e311-bba7-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at http://www.anchorbayent.com, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. 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.

Disney’s Frozen Is A Warm, Entertaining Story

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Officials with Walt Disney Studios told audiences in 2010 that when it released its most recent fairy tale based movie Tangled that that movie would be the last of the studio’s “princess movies” for a while. Apparently, that didn’t last very long, as Disney introduced a new princess last year in its hugely touted movie Frozen. Walt Disney himself had wanted to do a movie based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Snow Queen during his life, according to one of the bonus features included in the movie’s new home release. Taking that into consideration, it would have been interesting to see how his adaptation would have looked had it ever come to fruition. In the absence of that potential imagining, audiences have been given Frozen. This take on Andersen’s fairy tale is not the worst of Disney’ s movies. On the other hand, it is also not one of the studio’s best, either. There are just as many positives about this movie as there are negatives. The combination of the good and bad make Frozen a movie at least worth a single watch with the family, but not much more.

Frozen is neither Disney’s best nor its best. There are just as many positives about this movie as there are negatives. So we’ll start with one of the positives. The main positive that Frozen boasts is its writing. Writer/Co-Director Jennifer Lee and her staff of writers—Chris Buck, Shane Morris, and Dean Wellins–crafted in her script a story that is a surprisingly refreshing breath of fresh air in comparison to Disney’s past fairy tale adaptations. So much can be noted of the writing behind this story. Audiences that enjoyed Disney’s last princess movie, Tangled, will enjoy this movie much for the same reasons as that story. It boasts a strong, self-confident female lead and nonstop laughs from the buddy comedy between Kristoff and his loyal moose Sven. More than anything though, audiences will appreciate the message of sisterhood and the surprise twist included in the story’s dual underlying romance subplot. Lee and company lead viewers to think they know what will happen with the romance subplot only to throw the proverbial monkey wrench in the works near the end. All of these elements collectively would have made Mr. Disney proud. It proves that Lee and he writers really thought about what they put into the story. They didn’t want to just make another princess movie. They wanted to make something that stood out. And it definitely does thanks to that attention to detail.

The attention to detail on the part of Frozen’s writing staff and lead Writer/Co-Director Jennifer Lee make this a movie worth at least one watch with the family. It makes the movie stand out in a good way. While their work makes the movie stand out in a good way, it also stands out in a not so good way. It stands out in a not so good way because of its musical numbers. It’s not so much the musical numbers that are at issue here. Rather, it is the number of musical numbers and the pace at which they come that is at issue. It seems like there is a musical number every few minutes or so. By comparison to Disney’s past musical adaptations, the amount of musical numbers in this movie and the pace at which they come is astounding. It’s very Broadway style. The obvious argument here is that some of Disney’s best movies have been turned into Broadway musicals. This is true. But those same musicals that were translated to the stage also didn’t have near as many musical numbers as this movie. So again, it becomes the story’s one central issue. Luckily, it is the only real noticeable negative to the overall presentation.

The musical numbers incorporated into Frozen and the pace at which they come are collectively the only truly noticeable negative to the movie’s overall presentation. That is a good thing for this movie. That means that the positives outweigh the negatives, and make the movie more worth the watch if only once. Now that it has been released on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack, there is one more positive worth noting about this movie. That positive is the bonus featurette outlining the history behind this movie and how Walt Disney had actually wanted to craft a movie based on The Snow Queen even some seventy years ago. The comparisons of the original concept art for that proposed movie to what was crafted for this movie are quite eye-opening. There are even discussions on the ride that would be spawned as a result of the originally proposed movie. There is much more in-depth material that comes from this central bonus feature. And audiences will get to find out just how much more when they purchase the movie for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack. That central bonus feature along with the movie’s central story, are enough to make up for the movie’s one glaring negative. And because of that, they make Frozen worth at least one watch, if no more.

Frozen can be purchased now in stores and online via the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/frozen-blu-ray-collectors-edition/mp/1349621/1000316/. More information on this and other releases from Walt Disney Studios is available online at http://www.facebook.com/WaltDisneyStudios and http://twitter.com/disneypictures. 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’s New Carol Burnett Show Box Set Will Have Viewers Cracking Up

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

StarVista Entertainment has done it yet again. On Tuesday, April 15th, StarVista Entertainment will release the latest collection of episodes from The Carol Burnett Show in the form of The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups. This six-disc box set is one of the few box sets this year that has earned itself a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best overall new box sets. From the episodes collected for this set, to the equally hilarious bonus material, to the video’s once again high quality footage and the packaging, so much was done right concerning this set. So much was done right in fact that there is simply not enough time or space to discuss every single positive aspect of the set. All of these factors and more make The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups a box set well worth purchasing for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show and more than worthy of a place on this critic’s list of the year’s best overall new box sets.

The primary reason for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show to pick up this latest compilation of episodes from Burnett’s landmark show is the episodes themselves. Each of the set’s seventeen total episodes is jam packed with hilarious jokes and gags, and enjoyable musical numbers. Make the deal even sweeter, StarVista Entertainment has once again given audiences the ability to choose not only given shows, but the separate segments within each show. While the jokes and gags have a certain edge about them, they are quite tame in comparison to the majority of what’s out there today. Their edge proves that comedy can still be funny even in the 21st century without being overtly blue. One of the prime examples of this comes in the bonus skit, “The Oldest Man: Firefighter.” This skit sees Tim Conway playing his familiar “Old Man” character once again. This time the old man is a firefighter dispatched to stop a fire at the home of Korman’s unnamed character. The physical comedy and the jokes shared throughout the skit will leave any viewer laughing so hard that they cry. It certainly did that with this critic. Bonus skit or not, it shows just why The Carol Burnett Show is still such a beloved show even decades after it ended its original eleven-season run on CBS.

The largely family friendly humor shared throughout each episode in this latest box set is just part of what makes the episodes the cornerstone of the set’s success. Audiences will enjoy just as much, the musical numbers included in each episode. The Carol Burnett Show was not the first, nor the last to incorporate musical numbers into its overall structure. The Smothers Brothers—Tom and Dick—incorporated musical numbers into their show in the late 1960s as did Sonny and Cher in their variety programs—The Sonny & Cher Show and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. This then raises the question what would make the musical numbers in The Carol Burnett Show so enjoyable. The answer to that is the same answer to what made the musical numbers in the other variety shows so enjoyable. Unlike a show such as Saturday Night Live, The Carol Burnett Show and its fellow variety shows didn’t stick just to pushing the most current radio hits of the day. The radio hits were there. But they weren’t all that got the focus. So simply put, the musical numbers were so fun because they weren’t part of the massive marketing machine that today’s talk shows are. The musical numbers included in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups sees the likes of And y Griffith (The Andy Griffith Show, No Time For Sergeants, Matlock) Gloria Swanson, Ruth Buzzi and more singing songs that are just as enjoyable today as they were decades ago. Those songs include: ‘Just Squeeze Me/Oh, You Beautiful Doll’, ‘Turn Your Radio On’ and ‘I’ve Been Around/A New-Fangled Tango.’ Those songs and all of the others included in each show serve to add even more enjoyment for viewers of all ages as they make their way through all six of the set’s discs.

The comedy and the musical numbers included in each of the seventeen total episodes on this set make for so much enjoyment. Making things even better for viewers is the fact that StarVista Entertainment has once again given viewers the option to choose not just from the episodes on each disc, but also to choose from specific skits and musical numbers within each episode. This option means that viewers will once again not have to sit through the entire episodes in order to their favorite segment in each episode. That in itself could be argued a bonus feature separate from the bonus features which will be discussed later. It is the finishing touch that makes the episodes included in this set such a joy to watch.

The episodes included in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crackups are the foundation of the success of the set in question. The bonus features included in the set make that foundation even more solid for audiences. This time out, StarVista has included as bonus material, special separate looks at the impact of both Tim Conway and Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Shows. Those examinations include footage of other classic Carol Burnett Show skits that really exhibit their talents both by themselves and together. Among the most memorable of those skits are “The Dentist” and Conway’s now famed “Elephant Skit” from The Family. It’s too bad that neither of those skits was included in this set in their entirety. That’s because of their level of hilarity. It was so funny to learn that in “The Dentist”, Tim Conway made Harvey Korman laugh so hard that he wet himself. And the bonus discussion on “The Peeping Tom” is definitely not for children, ironically enough. Carol and company discuss the comedy in guest star Dick Van Dyke and Tim Conway switching places in the skit and how Carol used a body suit with fake breasts to flash the peeper. Yes, that is what she did. And she shows the body suit, too. Again, it is not for children. It’s one of the rare moments that is not kid friendly. The other bonus material included in this box set is relatively safe for all viewers. And it is sure to have anyone watching laughing just as hard as ever.

Having discussed the role of the episodes themselves and the bonus features in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups, there is one last part of the set to examine in the set’s success. That last factor is its packaging. StarVista Entertainment has once again wisely packaged its set, placing each of the six discs on either side of three separate “plates” inside the box. Bizarrely enough, there is actually a fourth plate, which has been left empty. Perhaps this is only the case with review copies. But it was very much the case with previous Carol Burnett Show box sets, too. So it is definitely a head scratcher of sorts. That aside, the fact that StarVista has maintained that high standard of packaging, protecting the discs is one more reason the company is quite deserving of its share of applause. It is the last touch on a set that is more than worth the purchase for any viewer whether new to The Carol Burnett Show or not.

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups will be available Tuesday, April 15th. It can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Burnett-Show-Carols-Crack-Up/dp/B00HXWV2JQ/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1396874564&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=The+Carol+Burnett+Show+Carol%27s+Crack+Ups. More information on this and other Carol Burnett Show DVD sets 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.

Timeless Media Group Announces Release Date, Details For I Spy Box Set

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group

Timeless Media Group will bring audiences yet another long lost piece of television history this Summer.

Timeless Media Group will release the classic series I Spy on Tuesday, June 24th. The classic dramedy series, starring Bill Cosby (The Cosby Show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids) and character actor Robert Culp. It could be argued that the show’s witty writing and equally strong acting on the part of Cosby and Culp were the influence behind hit dramedies such as Monk and Psych. The series ran on NBC from 1965 to 1968 and produced a total of eighty-two episodes in that span. It won countless awards over the course of its three-year run including: the Golden Globe® for Best Dramatic Series in 1967, three consecutive Prime Time Emmys® for Outstanding Lead Actor for Bill Cosby, and the Prime Time Emmy ® for Outstanding Musical Composition for Earle Hagen. Cosby’s co-star received his own accolades for his work on the show. He was nominated for a number of Prime Time Emmy® Awards including: three Outstanding Lead Actor nominations and one for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama.

Along with its groundbreaking acting and writing, I Spy also featured a number of guest stars that would go on to be some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Those names include the likes of: Gene Hackman (Hoosiers, Enemy of the State, Unforgiven), Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, Gilligan’s Island), Ron Howard (The Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days), Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Raven), Martin Landau (Ed Wood, North by Northwest, Mission: Impossible), George Takei (Star Trek), Don Rickles (Toy Story 1 3), and Eartha Kitt (Batman).

The upcoming release will have all eighty-two episodes of I Spy contained on eighteen discs. More information on this and other releases, including pricing and how to order the box set, is available online at http://www.timelessvideo.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.

American Jesus Gives A Whole New Face To Christianity In America

Courtesy:  Shelter Island/glass eye pix/TDC Entertainment

Courtesy: Shelter Island/glass eye pix/TDC Entertainment

American Jesus, the new documentary from Shelter Island and Glass Eye Pix, is an interesting look at Christianity in America.  On the surface, it offers viewers an unbiased look at the varied ways in which Americans today express their beliefs and worship.  On another level, it’s interesting in that it shows that Christians in America have increasingly embraced the understanding that a church is just a building, not necessarily its congregation.  This is perhaps the central discussion point of this documentary.  The documentary’s open-ended question of “what if” is the perfect closure for the documentary.  It is not so much an atheistic question so much as it is a question of faith in general.  Much as with the rest of the topics covered throughout this DVD, it is certain to be a point of both discussion and contention for viewers.  And that’s a good thing, provided viewers are open minded enough to politely discuss said topic.  Said open-minded audiences will find in their discussions of this and every topic in American Jesus, that this is definitely a documentary that is well worth the watch.

The ways in which Christians worship today is vastly different from the ways in which older Christians worship and worshipped.  It used to be that Christians worshipped primarily in church buildings.  They worshipped in a very set, formal setting and manner.  By comparison, Christianity today does not have to necessarily include worshipping in a traditional setting or manner.  Viewers see in American Jesus that Christians today worship in “cowboy Church”, as part of Christian Motorcycle gangs, and even at skate parks and other rather nontraditional settings among others.  They don’t do the traditional stand, sing, sit, pray format, either.  Yet they do study scripture and try to live their lives the best they can.  This expansion of how Christians worship is just one of so many discussion points (and points of contention) for viewers through the documentary.  That’s because there actually is something of a divide even among the Christian faith in regards to “new age” worship.  Another discussion point that makes this such an interesting piece to watch is the very concept of what a “church” actually is.

The traditional view of a church is that it is the physical building and the congregation that fills said building.  To others, a church is just a building.  And as viewers will see in American Jesus, the latter mentality is increasingly taking hold across the country.  The church has increasingly become more about the gathering of people to worship than the building itself.  This ties back directly to the traditional versus “new age” manner in which Christians worship.  There are those holdouts that believe unless one is worshipping in a physical church, then one is not actually attending real worship.  What’s more, there are those that believe that pastors of non-traditional churches aren’t even properly trained and ordained individuals.  Given, this may be true in many cases.  But in other cases, some might in fact hold degrees in divinity and be ordained.  It brings the discussion on what a church is full circle and in turn, makes the discussion all the richer.

Both the discussions on the definition of a church and the ways in which the church body worships today are important discussion points raised over the course of American Jesus’ hour-plus run time.  The documentary closes with a question that is more than certain to become a point of contention for viewers.  The documentary closes by pondering why exactly it is that Christians worship.  It doesn’t do so in any negative, antagonistic manner.  Rather, it merely ponders the question of “what if.” It ponders the question of “what if” everything Christians do today even in having branched out from traditional worship is for not.  That in itself is certain to open a whole new can of worms among viewers.  However, those that can keep a cool, level head and discuss this concept on a mature, adult level (It seems a contradiction in terms at times,yes) will find quite a bit of enlightenment.  Those same mature viewers will find that this topic and those already noted make American Jesus a documentary that is just as important a discussion tool in a church setting as it is in the classroom or elsewhere.  It is a documentary that everyone should see at least once, regardless of whether one’s religious background.  It will be available May 13th and can be pre-ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/American-Jesus-Aram-Garriga/dp/B002DY9K48/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1395667102&sr=1-1&keywords=American+Jesus.

More information on American Jesus and other releases from Shelter Island is available online at http://www.shelterisland.net, http://www.facebook.com/ShelterIslandFilm, and http://twitter.com/ShelterIsl.  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.

Starz Acquires Rights To Hawkins Brothers’ Directorial Debut

Courtesy:  Starz Media

Courtesy: Starz Media

Kevin Kasha, Head of Acquisitions for Starz, announced this week that the company has acquired the award-winning movie We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.  The movie, which was the directorial debut of the Hawkins Brothers, premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and won the Audience Award at AFI Fest.  The deal, signed this week, gives Starz Digital Media exclusive rights to the movie in both Canada and the United States.

Kasha was upbeat in discussing acquiring the film from the up-and-coming directing duo.  “I love when our team discovers films by talented new filmmakers,” he said.  “Set in a dead-end Texas town, Zeke and Simon Hawkins offer audiences a gritty thriller that presents a fresh, sometimes surreal take that will appeal to film fans everywhere. We’re excited they’ve partnered with Starz to share their debut film.”

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place is a gritty crime drama that centers on a trio of teens in Texas that gets pulled into the world of organized crime after the young men go partying with some stolen money.  The movie stars Jeremy Allen White (Shameless), Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire), Mark Pellegrino (Being Human), and William Devane (The Dark Knight).  The story was written by Dutch Southern and produced by Rough & Tumble Films.

More information on new releases from Starz and Starz Digital Media is available online at http://www.starz.com, http://www.facebook.com/Starz, and http://twitter.com/starz_channel.  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.

Raise The Titanic Is Unsinkable In Its New Re-Issue

Courtesy: itv Studios/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: itv Studios/Shout! Factory

The sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic is one of the most talked about tragedies in the history of transportation.  The ship, said to be unsinkable, went down on its maiden voyage in 1912.  Over a century after that doomed cruise, that tragic event remains at the forefront of so many people’s minds.  That is thanks in large part to the countless documentaries and movies that have been churned out by movie studios and television networks over the past half century, the least of which being 1997’s story of a doomed romance, Titanic.  Thankfully there have been more enjoyable stories such as the famous The Band Played On and the 1980 drama that was Raise The Titanic.  Now twenty-four years after that movie debuted, it has been resurrected for the masses by itv Studios and Shout! Factory.  The movie, based on author Clive Cussler’s novel by the same name, uses the Cold War as a backdrop for its plot.  It’s just part of the writing that makes this movie worth watching at least once.  The movie’s script is just part of what makes Raise The Titanic worth at least one watch.  The movie’s soundtrack is another important aspect of the overall presentation.  John Williams’ score captures and creates so much emotion throughout the story.  And the special effects used throughout the movie are minimalist at best.  It actually makes the movie that much better.  It’s discussed in the bonus “Making of” featurette that’s included in this re-issue.  Each of the noted factors plays a role in the success of Raise The Titanic especially now in its new life.  Together, they make this a movie that any classic movie buff will want to check out at least once.

The first aspect of Raise The Titanic that audiences will agree to be a positive is the movie’s script.  Theories about what led to the Titanic’s sinking and how to potentially raise the ship have run rampant for ages.  However author Clive Cussler’s book based on those theories was the first of its kind to gain major success.  The same can be said of the final product crafted by screenwriter Adam Kennedy and his writing partner Eric Hughes.  To that extent, it can be argued that both the book and the script that it spawned were both quite original in their own right.  In hindsight, it’s interesting to see how prophetic this story turned out to be, even if it did change some things from Cussler’s original book.  Not that many years ago, the Costa Concordia wrecked off the Italian coast.  It sat there until recently when means were undertaken to lift the half-sunken ship and get it away from its crash site.  In the same way that many of the theories on how to raise the Titanic were deemed impossible (among other words), the method ultimately used to raise the Costa Concordia seemed impossible until one of those theories worked.  Having seen the Costa Concordia raised from its wreck site, one can’t help but wonder if it could be the foundation of a way to raise other ships as impossible as it might seem.

Raise The Titanic’s script is an important piece of the whole that is the movie’s success.  Just as important to the movie’s overal enjoyment is its music.  Legendary composer and maestro John Williams created a score for the movie that captures and creates so much emotion.  Nowhere is this truer than the scene in which the Titanic finally breaks the surface of the North Atlantic waters.  The moments as it makes its way into New York’s harbor are just as emotional, musically speaking.  Williams more than exhibits his ability to interpret any scene with these moments alone.  They are but a pair of moments that show how important the movie’s score is to the whole presentation.  There are far more moments throughout the movie’s near two-hour run time that exhibit just as much of Williams’ talent and that of the musicians that bring the movie’s soundtrack to life.  Audiences will find their own favorite moments when they buy or order the movie’s new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue from Shout! Factory.

The script and the soundtrack of Raise The Titanic both play pivotal roles in the movie’s success.  There is one more aspect of this movie that could be argued to trump those previously noted aspects.  That aspect is the movie’s special effects.  Watching this movie, one can’t help but make a quick comparison to the likes of The Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, and to a lesser degree, The Abyss.  The latter of that trio is perhaps the closest comparison.  The difference is that where James Cameron went completely overboard with his special effects, Raise The Titanic used minimalist special effects for even its biggest scene.  A couple prime examples of this less-is-more approach are the subs used to find the Titanic and the ship itself.  It turns out that the subs used in the movie were actually r/c subs.  The mock-up of the Titanic, it turns out, was actually a fifty-five foot “model” that weighed roughly ten tons.  And the methods used to raise the ship were just as interesting.  That minimalist approach to its special effects actually made the movie even more enjoyable because it forced its writers to focus on story development.  The end result was a movie that is just as rich in its special effects as it is in its story.  It makes Raise The Titanic a movie worth at least one watch by anyone that has never seen it before.

The special effects used throughout Raise The Titanic played a big role in the movie’s success thanks to the less-is-more approach taken by those behind the special effects.   There is much more worth noting, including the in-depth commentary on the movie shared in its bonus “Making of” featurette.  The commentary includes a rather damning statement regarding the over use of special effects in today’s major motion pictures.  The statement in question is made by one of the individuals that helped bring the movie’s special effects to life.  Fans can check out this statement and more when they purchase or order the movie now from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218884.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  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.