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.

The Crystal Method To Appear On Last Call With Carson Daly Tonight

Courtesy: Tiny E Records

Courtesy: Tiny E Records

The Crystal Method will appear live overnight tonight on Last Call with Carson Daly

The hugely popular electronic duo—Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland— recently performed ‘Difference’ featuring Franky Perez and ‘Over It’ featuring Dia Frampton as part of a sold out show at L.A.’s El Ray Theatre.  The duo’s performance of those songs will be used for tonight/tomorrow morning’s broadcast of Last Call with Carson Daly.  Both songs come from The Crystal Method’s new self-titled album, which has reached the top spot on iTunes’ Electronic Albums Chart.  Those that won’t be able to catch tonight/tomorrow morning’s performance can still see the group’s performance of ‘Over It’ now online at https://soundcloud.com/#the-crystal-method/over-it-ft-dia-frampton-live.  The official video for ‘Over It’ featuring Dia Frampton can be viewed online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9MpeKm-imE

Jordan and Kirkland were joined on their new album by some well-known names including: Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails) on bass, Brain (Primus, Guns N’ Roses) on drums and Richad Fortus (Guns N’ Roses, Gravity Kills, The Psychadelic Furs).  The Crystal Method is available now in store and online.  It can be ordered direct from The Crystal Method’s official website, http://thecrystalmethod.com.  And while the duo currently has no tour dates announced, fans can get the latest tour updates, news, and more on the group’s official website, Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/thecrystalmethod.  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

Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For The Shadow Re-Issue

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

The Shadow is one of the most famed crime fighters of all time.  He is the original caped crusader.  His adventures amazed radio audiences long before Batman came along.  Sadly, after Batman and his fellow comic book superhero friends came along, The Shadow seemed to be pushed aside.  But in 1994, the world was re-introduced to The Shadow thanks to Universal Pictures.  Two decades after The Shadow was introduced to a new generation of audiences, he is bring introduced to yet another new generation of fans thanks to a partnership between Universal Pictures and Shout! Factory.

The Shadow (Collector’s Edition) will be released on Blu-ray Tuesday, February 25th.  The movie, starring Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October, 30 Rock) in the starring role, tells the story of how The Shadow came to be.  It co-stars Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist, Awakenings, Kindergarten Cop), Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, The Santa Clause, Everybody Loves Raymond), Sir Ian McKellan (X-Men, X-2 X-Men United, X3 The Last Stand), and many others.

More information on this and other upcoming 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 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.

ESPN Announces Details For Annual Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has officially announced that it will broadcast the 2014 edition of the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

The annual celebrity basketball game is scheduled to be broadcast February 14th at 7pm ET.  It will be broadcast live from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.  This year’s broadcast marks the tenth anniversary of ESPN’s broadcast of the game. Fans can also catch the game online via WatchESPN. Veteran play-by-play man Mark Jones will have the call.  He will be joined by analyst Jon Barry and reporters Stuart Scott and Chris Broussard.

This year’s broadcast marks the first time that ESPN NBA Countdown analysts Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons will serve as coaches for the celebrity game.  Mike & Mike hosts Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg will play in the celebrity matchup for the first time ever, too.  And before the game, Mike and Mike will host their show live on-site from the Hyatt Regency hotel in New Orleans.  Fellow ESPN personalities including SportsCenter anchor Stan Verrett and three-time NBA Champion and ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen will also be part of the game.

This year’s Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game is part of the NBA All-Star Jam Session.  It will feature stars from across the sports and entertainment world.  Two-time MVP Kevin Hart and America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon will take part in this year’s game.  They will be joined by a number of other celebrities including: Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Columbus Short (Scandal), Michael B. Jordan (That Awkward Moment), Erin Heatherton (Victoria’s Secret model, philanthropist, actress), U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, E! News anchor Terrence Jenkins, Kristin Ledlow (Co-host of NBA TV’s NBA Inside Stuff), and WNBA stars Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock) and Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky).  More information on this year’s Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game is available online at http://www.nba.com/news/as.celebrity.game/2014-celebrity-game-event-page/index.html.  More information on all of ESPN’s NBA coverage is available online at http://www.facebook.com/NBAonESPN and http://espn.com/nba.  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.

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.

Danny Phantom Complete Series Set Is Loads Of Ghostly Fun For All

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Nickelodeon’s programming today is comprised largely of live action sitcoms aimed at teen viewers.  However, from the early 1990s up until the mid-2000s, the network was known more for its vast array of cartoons.  It’s “Nicktoons” were its heart and soul.  While Nickelodeon does have some cartoons today, the network’s sole remaining real Nicktoon is Butch Hartman’s hugely successful series Fairly OddparentsFairly Oddparents is a standout series, too.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t his first series to have the honor of being added to Nickelodeon’s list of beloved Nicktoons.  His first notable “Nicktoon” was the short-lived supernatural series Danny Phantom.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans of Danny Phantom will be able to own the complete series in one box later this month.  Danny Phantom only ran for three seasons.  In its defense, it could be argued that this was because it was ahead of its time.  That aside, series creator Butch Hartman and his writers crafted a number of enjoyable episodes throughout the show’s short run.  Just as worth noting about this new upcoming box set is that is alleviates some minor problems raised in the box sets containing the series’ second season.  Lastly, those that know their Nicktoons history will appreciate the voice talent that made up the series’ cast.  That who’s who of voice actors combined with the enjoyable stories, and the fact that they are all available together for the first time collectively make this upcoming set well worth picking up for any Danny Phantom fan.

Fans of Danny Phantom: The Complete Series  will appreciate this new complete series set first and foremost because it presents the series’ entire three-season run in one complete box set.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released three complete series sets from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Angry Beavers.  Those sets proved to actually take up far less space on DVD racks than the stand-alone season sets that had originally been released.  This set is no different.  All nine discs that make up all three seasons are included in this box.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have sweetened the deal even more for fans in that they have maintained the established wise packaging that was used in the aforementioned complete series sets.  The discs are placed inside the box on either side of their own “insert” with the ninth and final disc being placed in its own spot inside the back of the case.  As with the previously noted box sets, this protects the discs and allows the episodes contained within each one to be enjoyed much longer.  It is the starting point of what audiences will appreciate about Danny Phantom: The Complete Series.

The packaging for Danny Phantom: The Complete Series is a good starting point in discussing everything that makes this box set well worth its price.  The episodes contained across the set’s nine total discs make the presentation as a whole even more enjoyable.  It would be easy to say that because its main characters were high school students, Danny Phantom was just another program aimed at audiences of the same age. To a point, it could be seen how teen audiences would take an interest in the series.  Case in point, one of the series’ story arcs involved a potential inter-racial romance between Danny and black classmate named Valerie Gray (voiced by Cree Summer—The Cosby Show, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, etc.).  It really is a sign of the times that the show’s writers would include this without making a big fuss over it, either.  It is a subtle, but nice addition to the series.  There are also the constant struggles to balance trying to be a regular teen with being a superhero. But the jokes that are tossed in each episode aren’t above some younger viewers, either.  So while teens might have been the primary audience, younger viewers would have obviously enjoyed the show, too.  The same applies to today’s teens and pre-teens, too.

The packaging and writing that make up Danny Phantom’s episodes are collectively a big part of what makes the series so enjoyable even for today’s younger audiences.  There is at least one more aspect of the series’ new set that audiences will appreciate in examining the presentation as a whole.  That aspect is the series’ voice cast.  The series’ primary cast reads like a who’s who of voice acting.  It has already been noted that veteran voice actress Cree Summer is part of the primary cast (even though she doesn’t come into play until the second season).  Along with Ms. Summer, Grey DeLisle (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Clifford: The Puppy Years, Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, etc.) Kath Soucie (Futurama, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Beauty and the Beast, etc.), Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, etc.) and a whole slate of others each play roles in the series.  Fans will also recognize the voices of Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim, Hellboy & Hellboy II), Martin Mull (Roseanne), and the man who is perhaps the busiest male voice actor in the business, one Frank Welker (Curious George, The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo Where Are You, etc.)  Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Taylor Lautner (the Twilight saga), and the late David Carradine even make appearances throughout the series among so many other big names.  If the massive list of A-listers that play roles in Danny Phantom isn’t reason enough to check out the new Danny Phantom: The Complete Series box set, then one need only set that alongside the enjoyable writing and the equally wise packaging to see just how worthwhile this set is for kids and kids at heart.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, January 28th.  It can be pre-ordered online now from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/danny-phantom-complete-series.  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.

Dancing: A Man’s Game Will Have Gene Kelly Fans Dancing With Joy

Courtesy:  Entertainment One/Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc./Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc./Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation

The art of dance is something that has been traditionally associated more with women than with men.  Any man that has ever openly admitted to being a dancer or even a fan of the dance arts has been stigmatized.  Terms such as “sissy” and worse have been commonly used for said men.  It’s a sad reality even now into the 21st Century. Thanks to Entertainment One’s brand new re-issue of Omnibus: Gene KellyDance: A Man’s Game though, one can hope that the fight to make dancing socially acceptable among men. This is the biggest and most important of the positives in this new re-issue from E1.  Just as important to the documentary is its historical aspect.  This is just one episode from one of television’s most revered series. It’s also an example of what once made NBC a powerhouse among television’s very limited options during its day.  In watching the near hour-long presentation, one must also take into account the actual presentation of the episode.  Considering the age of this episode’s footage and its quality, one can’t help but be impressed.  That along with the bonus booklet brings everything full circle and makes Omnibus: Gene KellyDance: A Man’s Game a piece of entertainment history that any viewer will appreciate for one reason or another.

Omnibus: Gene Kelly—Dance: A Man’s Game is an important piece of entertainment history.  It’s important first and foremost because it touches on a topic that still is very pertinent to society even today.  Simply put, it transcends generations.  It also crosses the lines in terms of its key viewer base. It manages to reach not just one but many different audience groups by having a famous actor discuss said topic. So whether audiences are fans of Gene Kelly the actor, Gene Kelly the dancer, dancers themselves, fans of the dance arts, or even athletes, this episode of one of television’s groundbreaking series reaches so many audiences without even trying.  Kelly makes an argument in support of dance that has been used countless times since this episode.  It had even been used at the time of this episode, obviously, and before.  The argument in question ties together the movements of athletes into the world of dance. The argument in question is used in hopes to dispel the long-held stereotypes centered around men that dance.  Unlike all of the other times that this argument has been used, Kelly enlists some rather famous friends to help illustrate how the two separate worlds are in fact more closely related than one might otherwise think.  The value of this episode of Omnibus is crystal clear from this factor alone.  But there is even more to appreciate in this near hour-long episode of NBC’s landmark series.  The historical value of this episode is just as important as the episode’s content.

The content of this episode of Omnibus reveals that it is timeless to say the very least.  It covers a topic that is still very relevant even now in the 21st Century.  That is just the beginning of this re-issue’s value to viewers.  Looking at this episode from a larger historical side, its value is increased even more. Viewers today are offered so many channels thanks to cable and satellite.  Yet despite the massive number of channels, viewing options are actually quite limited.  Television today is limited largely to crime and medical dramas, reality (voyeur) TV, countless awful rip-offs of Star Search, and just as many news magazine shows that are front loaded with real life crime stories.  PBS is television’s only network today that offers any programming even remotely near the level of Omnibus.  That’s because even the once powerhouse Discovery Communications networks (Discovery Channel, TLC) and History Channel have fallen victim to the reality show virus.  To that extent, it goes without saying that any television history buff will appreciate this episode of Omnibus if only for the fact that it serves as a reminder of what once made television great.

Any television history buff will appreciate this episode of Omnibus first and foremost because it serves as a reminder of what once made television great.  On a deeper level, television history buffs will appreciate this episode because of the quality of the footage.  Gene Kelly’s episode of Omnibus was originally broadcast on December 21st, 1958.  That is a span of nearly fifty-five years.  Audiences see in this episode the original footage from that broadcast.  There are some audio jumps throughout the course of the episode’s near sixty-minute run time.  And the footage itself is quite grainy.  But all of this is a good thing.  It’s a good thing because it means viewers today are seeing this episode almost exactly as it was in its original broadcast.  For some, that will certainly generate a warm and happy feeling of nostalgia.  For others, it will be appreciated as that audio and video mix shows just how far television has come since its infancy.  Regardless of the effect of the footage on viewers, the general positive emotional and historical appreciation felt by viewers pushes this episode of Omnibus even higher.

Everything that went into resurrecting Gene Kelly’s episode of Omnibus makes it a wonderful watch.  But one would be remiss to note, too the bonus booklet included with the DVD. The booklet included with this DVD is a bonus in every sense of the word.  It offers an in-depth look at Kelly’s own career, as well as everything that went into bringing this episode to life.  There is even a copy of the episode’s script included as a visual aid for viewers among so much more.  That much more includes photos taken from the set of this episode, publicity photos, newspaper reviews of the original broadcast, and even Kelly’s own words in which he explains his view of society’s stereotype of men and dancing.  That mass of information brings everything full circle in this brand new release from Entertainment One and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation.  It will be available on DVD Tuesday, December 17th, just in time for Christmas.  Audiences can get even more information on this release and all things Gene Kelly on the official Gene Kelly website, http://www.GeneKelly.com and the official Gene Kelly Legacy Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/GeneKellyTheLegacy.  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.

Green’s New Live BD Shows He Still Has His Own “Voice”

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

CeeLo Green has become one of the most famous figures in the entertainment industry ever since joining the judges’ panel on NBC’s hit singing competition show, The Voice. As entertaining as he is on that show, many might not know or recall that before joining the ranks of The Voice, Green was a music star first. Now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, audiences that might have forgotten this will be reminded of his own singing talent and stage presence with the new live Blu-ray, Loberace: Live in Vegas. Green is a vocal powerhouse throughout the hour-plus performance. It’s just one aspect of the show that audiences will appreciate in taking the time to watch the whole thing. There are also some surprises throughout the show including Green’s own attempts at comedy and even a surprise guest appearance or two. Audiences also get a bonus with this new recording in a first person “interview” with Green.

CeeLo Green spends most of his time these days mentoring young hopeful singers how to better themselves in hopes of earning a lucrative record deal.  But as he shows in his new live recording, he has his own talent and stage presence.  Whether he’s belting out ‘Crazy’ or ‘Fool For You’, or getting the crowd worked up with his take on ‘Don’t Cha’ Green shows the extent of his talents relatively well throughout the show.  Green covers songs from across his career throughout the performance, even going all the way back to his days with Goodie Mob.  He shows in going so far back that he isn’t the least bit rusty.  He owns the stage when he breaks into his medley of Goodie Mob hits and even more recent songs.  At one point, he even rises above the stage on a hydraulic platform made up to look like a pulpit, lightning flashing on the big screen behind him as he sings.  Despite his stature, this one moment alone makes him appear larger than life.  It’s one of the show’s most memorable moments.  His performance alone is quite the eye opener.  But it’s not all that will keep audiences engaged throughout the show.  CeeLo brought along some special guests for his show that will have some audiences cheering.

Green’s own performance recorded in this presentation is of course the main point of interest for viewers.  But his isn’t the only performance of which audiences will take note.  Also included in the performance are surprise appearances by Boy George and some other rather familiar faces, too.  ON a side note, Green jokes in the recording’s bonus “interview” segment that he believes it was George and not an imitator on stage.  He’s obviously joking around here, knowing full well that it was in fact the real Boy George.  But this light hearted moment is one of plenty more that audiences will find make the bonus “interview” a nice bonus to the overall presentation.  Getting back on topic,   George makes his appearance early in the concert to perform a handful of his hits, including: ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me’, ‘It’s a Miracle’, and ‘Karma Chameleon.’  Many of CeeLo’s fans might be just as surprised to discover that Green openly praises George, stating that George was a big influence on him as a musician.  Later in the show, Green is joined by a rather well known artist for a performance of ‘Le Freak (Freak Out).  The surprise guest appearance here and in the Goodie Mob Medley will have any viewer on their feet and dancing.

The surprise guest appearances and Green’s own performance together make Green’s Vegas show quite the interesting experience to say the least.  It should be noted here that the performance overall is not appropriate for younger viewers.  So parents of younger children would do well to not have it on around them.  Getting back on track, there’s one last aspect of the overall presentation to examine here.  That aspect is the bonus “interview” segment.  Green shares his thoughts on the show, and having Boy George and others do special guest appearances among other topics.  He goes into a little bit of depth about how he came to decide on the setup for his show.  He notes how his decision on the set was the result of this generation being the ADD generation, and how he had to find a way to keep audiences’ attention.  He definitely does just that.  He shares his thoughts on much more.  But audiences will have to find out for themselves what he covers in his “interview” when they pick up this new Blu-ray recording for themselves.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  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.

Wings Soars Again Thanks To Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment/CBS DVD

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/CBS DVD

NBC used to be the leader among television’s “Big Four.” This statement was made in no uncertain terms this past Monday by NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. Greenblatt made the statement at a conference hosted by Israel’s Keshet Media Group. Greenblatt cited a small handful of shows aired by the network during the 1980s and 1990s as examples of what made NBC the leader of the “Big 4” during those two decades. One of the shows not mentioned by Greenblatt—completely unintentionally—was a little sitcom called Wings. Wings was one of a trio of sitcoms that helped maintain the network’s place at the top of the broadcast networks throughout those twenty years. The other two series in that trio were The Golden Girls and Wings’ “twin” series, Cheers. Wings succeeded primarily for the same reason that the aforementioned sitcoms succeeded. That primary reason was its simplicity. It was simple in its writing, its sets, and its characters. The simplicity of the show’s writing was just one of the reasons for its success over the course of eight seasons. The writing behind Wings was not only simplistic, but it was also largely tame in terms of its content. And to a lesser extent, something else that makes the show so interesting is its theme song. That sounds odd. But the use of classical music for the show’s theme song makes it stand out even more. And now thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment, audiences of all ages will get to see all of this form themselves. That’s because Mill Creek Entertainment has re-issued the first two seasons of the classic sitcom in a three-disc set that is available now.

This new three-disc, two-season set is a blast from the past both for those that are seeing it for the first time and for the first time again. That is first and foremost because of its simplicity. Much like NBC’s other hit sitcoms of the time—Golden Girls and Cheers, which actually overlapped with Wings in terms of their broadcast years—Wings worked because of its simplicity. It was simple in its writing, its sets, and even its characters. The scripts center on the relationships between a small group of friends/co-workers at a small Nantucket airport. Because of their relationships, the stories always intertwine, but never overpower one another. Again, they are simplistic. What’s more, each episode stood solidly on its own two feet so to speak. This is something that is extremely rare with today’s TV shows. Whether it be dramas or even sitcoms, serials seem to be the way of things in this era of television. That the episodes in both of Wings’ first two seasons stand so well by themselves and that they are so simplistic is a double whammy for the show. It means that viewers don’t have to be completely wrapped up in the show to appreciate it.
The writing behind each episode of Wings’ first two seasons is the primary reason for the show’s success. It doesn’t require audiences to be completely involved in the show. Believe it or not, the sets are another part of the show’s success. Because the writing was so solid throughout each episode, it didn’t necessitate the need for lots of different sets for the scripts. The airport set consisted of maybe four different “rooms” at best. There were other sets used sparsely throughout the show’s run. But the majority of the show’s episodes took place inside the airport’s terminal. Again, that goes back to the show’s writing. It was so simple that there was no need for multiple sets, or even large scale sets. Those simple sets alongside the simple writing made the show easier to keep up with and thus enjoy. It’s one more positive that audiences will see here in the series’ first two seasons.
The writing and sets worked in tandem in every episode of Wings to make the show a success, even early on in its run. Just as simple were the characters. While Joe, his brother Brian, and Helen, Joe’s love interest may not have been entirely relatable, what was relatable was the sibling rivalry between Joe and Brian. Their rivalry was one to which both male and female viewers could and still can relate. It’s because of that, that viewers will enjoy watching what they would get into every episode. And along with the equally simple writing and sets, this is just one more simple aspect of the show that makes it so fun even today.
The use of the show’s characters, its writing, and its sets together makes Wings another welcome blast from the past. This is especially the case considering television’s current climate. The world needs classic shows such as this brought back. It doesn’t need them rebooted. It just needs them resurrected. There is one more aspect of Wings that proves this argument that most people likely would not consider. That aspect is the show’s opening theme music. How many television shows past or present have ever used actual classical music for their opening and closing credits? The answer to that question is very few if any. To that extent, this is quite the bonus. It is an original move by the show’s heads. And it’s honestly nice to hear versus some of the cheesy theme songs that have been crafted for shows through the years. Keeping this in mind, along with everything else noted here, viewers will see that Wings has so much to offer, even in its first two seasons. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Mill Creek Entertainment at http://www.millcreekdirect.com/wings-seasons-1-2.html. More information on this and other releases from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at http://www.millcreekent.com and http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt. 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.

Cloudy 2 Is A Rare Ray Of Light Among 2013′s Sea Of Sequels

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Everyone knows the old adage that a movie’s sequel is never as good as the original. Everyone also knows the old adage that one should never say never. That’s because there are exceptions to the rule. Sony Pictures’ Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is one of those exceptions to the rule. While it might not have been a necessary sequel, it is still a fun movie for the whole family. The movie picks up right where its forerunner left off, even going so far as to highlight the events of that movie in the outset of this story. The writing team of Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Erica Rivinoja are to be applauded for this. It’s not all for which they are worthy of applause, either. The trio has crafted in this story that while predictable, also has its own share of heart and humor.  The mediations on friendship and environmentalism make the story even more entertaining.  For all the work put in by the script’s writing team, viewers can’t ignore the work put into bringing the “Lost World” style environment to life.  This element makes the movie even richer.  It is especially the case for those with an interest in computer graphics. When they take all of this into consideration, audiences of all ages will find that Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is one of the surprisingly rare worthwhile sequels churned out by Hollywood’s major studios in 2013.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 seems on the surface to be an unnecessary and even unbelievable story. Much like its precursor, this movie has no link whatsoever to the book on which it was lifted. Rather, it is more akin to Jurassic Park than the book on which it is based. But once audiences allow themselves to get past this factor, they will find that it has real entertainment value.  The script picks up right where the previous movie left off. It even catches up audiences that have yet to have seen said movie.  This isn’t something that’s commonly seen among the masses of sequels that currently jam theaters.  To that extent, the story’s writers deserve a certain amount of credit.  They are also deserving of credit for the fact that despite their script being predictable, it also bears its own share of heart and humor.  The central message in this script is one of friendship and its importance.  Lord and company make the statement that friends are some of the most important people that anyone can have.  This couldn’t be truer.  Any parent will appreciate that this message was included in the script.

The message of friendship made for plenty of heart throughout the roughly ninety-five minute run time of Cloudy 2.  That heart is something that viewers of any age will appreciate.  It’s just part of the whole presentation, though.  There is just as much of a comic element to the movie as there is heart.  The comedy comes in the form of countless pop culture references and jokes.  Younger audiences won’t catch all of the jokes included in the script.  But parents definitely will.  And they will be surprised to find themselves laughing at those jokes.  One could go so far as to argue that the “Live” company and its founder are a spoof of Apple.  That argument could be made considering Apple’s reputation.  Set against the “Live” Company and its loyal legions, the similarities are too obvious to ignore.  Regardless of whether or not a given viewer is an Apple loyalist, any viewer that recognizes this similarity will appreciate the jab at the company.

The mix of heart and humor does so much to make Cloudy 2 fun for the entire family.  There is one more aspect of the movie that as subtle as it is, is just as important to note in its success.  That aspect is the movie’s Jurassic Park style world.  The world crafted by those behind the movie is absolutely stunning.  Yes, the movie as a whole is just another crafted via CG rather than by hand.  This critic will never dismiss that argument.  However, one can’t ignore the detail and depth given to Swallow Falls.  The world crafted for this movie is so lush and rich in color and style.  It actually stands out in its own way against so many other CG features.  This is exemplified by all of the jungle scenes and the inner workings of the Big Rock Candy Mountain.  Yes, Lord and his co-writers went there.  That’s just one of so many of the pop culture references that only parents will get and appreciate.  The colors and detail of the rock candy crystals and walls inside the mountain were so precise and bright.  The same can be said of the onion/brontosaurs type creatures.  It’s obvious in their case that their scenes were modeled precisely after the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.  They moved and acted just like the dinosaurs in question.  There is so much more that could be noted.  But it would be a disservice to audiences to ramble on about all of it here.  Audiences will appreciate what they find when they check out this rare worthwhile sequel for themselves.  It is in theaters now.  More information on Cloudy 2 and other Sony Pictures releases is available online at http://www.facebook.com/SonyPictures, http://www.facebook.com/SONYPicturesAnimation, http://www.sonypictures.com, http://www.sonypicturesanimation.com, http://twitter.com/#!/sonyanimation, and http://twitter.com/sonypictures.

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.