China Beach’s First Season A Welcome Re-Introduction For Series’ Original Fans

Courtesy:  Star Vista/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: Star Vista/Time Life Entertainment

China Beach is not one of the most well-known dramas to ever hit the airwaves.  As a matter of fact, this “little brother” to M.A.S.H. only ran for four years as compared to M.A.S.H.’s eleven year run.  Despite that, it still developed a very loyal following among its viewer base.  Now thanks to Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment, fans of the series can once again enjoy the first season of this cult favorite once again some twenty-five years after it first made its debut.  The DVD release of China Beach Season One is a good start to the series’ re-issue.  That is the case first and foremost because of its writing.  It is so easy to compare China Beach to its “big brother” in its setting and the fact that it started up only five years after M.A.S.H. ended.  But in looking at the show’s writing, there is a big difference between the two shows.    Equally important in this first season is the show’s all-star cast.  At the time of the show’s broadcast, the show’s cast members weren’t the stars that they are today.  But that’s what makes this so important.  And last but not least, the bonus features included in this season finish it off.  Fans of the show will appreciate the inclusion of both a look back at the show by the cast and crew, the commentary included on specific episodes, and the cast’s twenty-fifth anniversary reunion.  These additional features bring everything full circle and make this season’s collection all the more enjoyable for its original audience.

When China Beach made its original debut on TV, that debut came only about five years after its “big brother”, M.A.S.H., had ended.  That was not exactly a lot of time when one really thinks about it.  So it would make sense that audiences might naturally make a comparison between the two series.  Comparisons aside, China Beach was quite different from M.A.S.H. as is evident in its writing.  Whereas M.A.S.H. was more a dramedy, China Beach was a more pure drama.  It showed to even more extent just how horrible war was.  Audiences will also appreciate in watching Season One’s new DVD set that it was more centered on a female cast.  As audiences will learn in the bonus material, this was no accident, either.  It’s so subtle in terms of the writing.  But in noting it, it is something extremely important to note in hindsight.  The bonus interviews with Dana Delaney and Chloe Webb help to illustrate that female-centric attitude of sorts behind the show’s writing.  Of course, one can’t ignore the general storylines, either.  While the show centers on female leads, the writing in general makes each episode quite balanced to the point that both male and female audiences will enjoy it especially if they are new to the series.  The human drama not so much just of war, but of the characters’ personal growth throughout the conflict is key to it all.  It’s something that M.A.S.H. didn’t focus on nearly as much.  That’s not to say that M.A.S.H. didn’t focus on this aspect of story.  It’s just that China Beach took that story element to a deeper level.  And that depth works with every other factor of the writing to show what made this series so special in its time.

The writers behind China Beach are obviously to be applauded for their efforts.  Audiences will see both in the episodes themselves and in Season One’s bonus material just how much thought went into the show’s writing.  It’s the most important starting point in examining the first series of the series.  Just as important to note in Season One is the show’s cast.  The cast members assembled for the series were not the big names at that time that they are today.  Robert Picardo went on to rise to fame on Star Trek: Voyager.  Dana Delaney and Chloe Webb each have had their own success since the show’s end.  And this is no surprise, considering their chemistry both on and off screen.  Again, audiences will see that chemistry both in the episodes themselves and in the bonus features included in Season One.  Having noted the bonus material included in Season One so much, it only makes sense to delve into them even more.

China Beach Season One is chock full of deep and moving episodes.  And the cast did an extraordinary job of interpreting the writers’ work.  Audiences will get an even deeper appreciation for the work done by the writers and the cast in Season One’s bonus features.  Season One’s bonus features are anchored by a look behind the series’ creation.  Viewers will learn that because the series was set during the sexual revolution, it only made sense to have the series centered on a set of very strong female leads.  That discussion is taken to a deeper level in the interviews with both Dana Delaney and Chloe Webb.  Delaney explains about the job opportunities (or lack thereof) for women at the time, which apparently was why many women ended up nurses overseas. It’s all quite enlightening to say the least.  This is just the tip of the iceberg for audiences.  The bonus features included in Season One offer far more for viewers.  And viewers will find out just what other interesting facts are revealed when they order China Beach Season One online at http://timelife.com/products/china-beach-season-1.  More information China Beach and other releases from Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment is available online at http://timelife.com, http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS, and http://twitter.com/TimeLIfeUS.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dean Martin Celebrity Roast Collection Is A Laugh Riot

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista/NBC Universal

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista/NBC Universal

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

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

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

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

Every Family Should Add Christmas With Carol To Their Holiday Viewing Tradition

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/Star Vista

Traditiooooooon.  Tradition!  Sorry, folks.  This critic had a brief Fiddler on the Roof moment there.  Why?  That’s because this critic was thinking about the traditions in which people take part each year during the holiday season.  One tradition in which so many people take part during the holiday season is the watching of the annual holiday specials on TV’s major networks.  Those specials are wonderful in their own right.  But they aren’t the only specials out there.  Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista have released a new compilation from The Carol Burnett Show that more than deserves to be a part of any family’s annual holiday viewing tradition in The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol.  Those that watched the sketches included here will enjoy them just as much as those that are new to the comedienne’s talents.    Audiences will appreciate first and foremost that the episodes culled for this compilation are presented exactly as they were presented in their original broadcasts.  They will also appreciate that in comparison to so much of today’s comedy, it is actually quite family friendly.  Just as important to this compilation is the inclusion once more of a thorough episode guide included inside the box.  All three of these aspects make this latest compilation more than deserving to be part of any family’s holiday viewing tradition.

The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol includes two classic holiday themed episodes from the show’s original run.  While there are only two episodes, those two episodes are presented exactly as they were done in their original broadcasts.  Nearly thirty years has passed since the first of the pair originally aired.  And almost thirty-six years have passed since the latter of the pair originally aired.  Needless to say that in watching both episodes included in this set, the classic footage has stood the test of time quite well.  Of course, those charged with preserving it and restoring it where necessary have done their jobs expertly.  So they too deserve a round of applause.  The same can be said of the set’s bonus holiday sketches.  That the footage still looks as wonderful as it did in its original broadcast will instill in some viewers a sense of nostalgia.  For others, it will hopefully help to garner respect for one of television’s greatest programs.

The quality of the footage alone in the included shows and sketches goes a long way toward making this new holiday collection a joy for the whole family.  The material in the shows helps it to go just as far.  That’s because unlike so much of what’s out there today, the sketches included in the set are largely family friendly.  Given, there is some material that is slightly edgy at best.  But it’s nowhere near the level of the material in some of today’s sketch comedy shows.  No names will be used here.  A prime example would be Burnett’s sketch with Alan Alda (M.A.S.H.) , “Morton of the Movies.”  Alda’s Morton is a department store Santa that falls in love with Burnett’s character.  The catch is that Morton uses a bunch of movie quotes and character styles to make her fall for him.  Her reaction to discovering this is everything that makes physical comedy so great.  The way that her eyes bug out and her mouth drops open as she watches the lines that Morton just used being recited on television is classic in every sense.  It’s the type of comedy that viewers of every age will appreciate and enjoy.  ON the other end of the spectrum is a slightly edgier sketch with Burnett playing the beloved secretary, Mrs. Wiggins.  Mrs. Wiggins is celebrating the holidays with her boss, Mt. Tudball.  And the ditzy secretary ends up causing Mr. Tudball more trouble than he bargained for as a result.  This is a moment that older audiences will appreciate more.  It’s nowhere near the level of today’s comedy.  But it at least has substance.  That’s more than can be said for so much of what currently classifies as comedy.  There is much more comedy included in the material collected for than what is listed here.  Audiences will find their own favorite moments when they order the DVD for themselves as it is available now.  Of course, the material included on this DVD isn’t the last commendable portion of the presentation.  Audiences will also appreciate that Time Life and Star Vista have once again included a relatively thorough episode guide with the collection that is itself a bonus.

The episode guide included with this new DVD is its own bonus.  So often, DVD compilations (both single and multi-disc sets) lack guides for viewers.  This should be considered a cardinal sin.  Time Life and Star Vista have thus done very good.  Not only are the episodes outlined in the bonus guide, but thorough summaries of the set’s main sketches are included along with a handful of photo stills from different portions of the included episodes.  The inclusion of the sketch summaries helps to set expectations before viewers even put the DVD into their DVD players.  And the inclusion of photo stills helps to heighten those expectations.  In turn, these two elements make the overall presentation of the DVD that much more enjoyable.  These elements work together with the previously noted elements to make The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol a wonderful addition to any family’s holiday viewing tradition this and every holiday season.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct from Time Life Entertainment online at http://timelife.com/products/christmas-with-carol.  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista is available online at http://timelife.com and http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

StarVista, Time Life Announce Release Date For Mama’s Family Sets

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/TimeLife

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/TimeLife

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a long time coming.  But comedian Vicki Lawrence’s sitcom spawned from The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, will finally see the light of day once more.  Earlier this year, Time Life and StarVista released Mama’s Family: The Complete Series.  And now for those that might not have managed to get their hands on the complete set, the two companies have announced that they will release the first two seasons of the hit sitcom this Summer.

Mamas Family Season One and Mamas Family Season Two will be released together on Tuesday, September 10th.  The first of the sets will be available for an MSRP of $22.95 and the second for $29.95.  The upcoming release of the show’s first two seasons marks the first time that they have ever been available to the public on DVD.  They feature the show exactly as it originally aired, as all material included in these sets was taken from the show’s original broadcast masters, otherwise known as the “Joe Hamilton” cuts.  Each episode is introduced by the late, great Harvey Korman as Alastair Quince (taking a playful stab at Alastair Cooke).  Audiences will be happy to see among the included bonus features, the DVD teleplay, “Eunice” and much more.

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time life

The complete details of the sets’ bonus features is listed below.

BONUS FEATURES 

  • THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON – Featurette: Mama’s Family Tree: The Branches (All About Eunice and Ellen); Family History: A Classic “Family” Sketch from ‘The Carol Burnett Show’, featuring Betty White (Show #1012, December 11, 1976)
  • THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON – Movie: “Eunice” (Original Air Date: March 15, 1982); Featurette: Mama’s Family Tree: The Roots (All About Mama and Fran); Interviews: Vicki Lawrence interviews Mama, Vicki Lawrence interviews Carol Burnett, Betty White
Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Along with the first two full seasons, StarVista and Time Life will also release two “best of” compilations featuring some of the show’s best moments.  These compilations will also be available on September 10th.  They can all be ordered online direct at http://www.mamasfamilydvds.com.  The complete series can be ordered for an MSRP of $199.95.  The “Best of” compilations will be available for $12.95 each.

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Audiences can find out more about these releases and more from StarVista and Time Life online at http://wwwStarVista.TimeLife.com, http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS, and http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS.

Courtesy:  Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

Courtesy: Joe Hamilton Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures/StarVista/Time Life

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.

Love For Levon Could Be The Year’s Best Live Recording

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

Drummer Levon Helm was no ordinary drummer.  He was a musician.  He was a musician among musicians and a musician of the people.  When he finally lost his battle with throat cancer in 2012, the world knew that it had lost not just a man but a legend.  It was Helm that made Midnight Rambles so famous.  And it was those concerts and Helms’ own music that made him the beloved figure that he is today even though he remains only in spirit.  Now thanks to Time Life and StarVista, fans of Helm and his music get to experience one of the greatest tributes to his legacy in the newly released concert, Love For Levon: A Benefit To Save The Barn.

Love For Levon: A Benefit To Save The Barn was released this past March.  It was released in five different formats: Double-Disc CD, Double-Disc CD/Double-Disc DVD, Double-Disc CD/Double-Disc Blu-ray, Double-Disc DVD, and Double Disc Blu-ray.  Regardless of whether audiences pick up the solo DVD or Blu-ray sets or the deluxe sets including both the CD and DVD or CD and Blu-ray, they will be getting in this concert what is among the year’s best live recordings.  It is more than deserving of that honor first and foremost because of the variety of options from which audiences can choose in experiencing this concert.  It is also more than deserving of the honor of being on the list of the year’s top live recordings thanks to its production values.  The all-star line-up and equally extensive set list adds even more reason to praise the performance.  The packaging for the deluxe sets is another interesting addition to the overall presentation that is worthy of note, too.  All assembled together, it makes this recording one that any fan of Americana and music lover in general will find entertaining each time they turn it on.

The very first thing to note about Love for Levon: A Benefit to Save The Barn is the variety of platforms on which it is available.  It is available in two deluxe packages that include both a double-disc CD portion and double-disc video portion.  Those that have HDTVs and Blu-ray players are offered the set with a double-Blu-ray video portion.  Those with DVD players are offered the deluxe package that includes the video recording on DVD along with the double-disc CD accompaniment.  There are also the stand alone DVD and Blu-ray sets as well as a stand-alone double-disc CD set from which audiences can choose.  This vast amount of options may not seem like much to some.  But the reality is that it plays a much bigger role in the overall presentation of this set than some might believe.  Depending on one’s budget or perhaps access to one format or another, Time Life Entertainment has given audiences as many possibilities as possible to be able to enjoy this performance.  Generally when it comes to live recordings, it seems the standard is to present the recording either on one format or another and leave it at that.  Time Life Entertainment has done the exact opposite.  It has offered this iconic performance in every format possible, save for digital.  Though, that will likely come.  For this alone, the people at Time Life Entertainment are to be highly commended.

The multi-format packaging for Love For Levon (as it will be simply known from here on out) is a major positive to the overall positive outlook on this concert.  Moving forward, one must also take into account its production values in determining its success or failure.  Obviously, the good people at Time Life Entertainment maintained the mantra that failure is not an option even with the recording’s production values.  The audio and video were expertly mixed.  Audiences will notice this both on the DVD and Blu-ray presentations as well as on the CD presentation.  This is a factor that is just as important as the number of formats from which audiences to have choose in experiencing the concert.  It is just as important because without proper mixing, there is no reason to buy the recording on any platform.  There are live recordings out there that leave audiences wondering what those behind the boards and cameras were thinking and were they awake at their posts.  Obviously, those behind the board s and cameras were well awake at this concert.  It looks and sounds excellent all the way around.  Even the lighting on stage itself was just right.  When blues great Mavis Staples takes the stage to sing ‘Move Along Train’ every note from Ms. Staples and the backing musicians is crystal clear. This expert mixing is handled throughout the near three-hour long concert.

Having taken into account the production values of Love for Levon, the next logical step is to take a slightly broader examination in looking at the show’s set list and its equally vast array of performers.  These too, are boons to this recording.  Mavis Staples is just one of the many superstars that made appearances for the benefit.  Also on hand were the likes of: Jakob Dylan, John Mayer, Roger Waters, Eric Church, My Morning Jacket, Dierks Bentley, Ray LaMontagne, and a whole who’s who of music past and present.  That so many artists from so many different corners of the music world came together for this performance shows the impact that Levon Helm had in his life and still has even though he remains only in spirit.  While the conglomeration of artists was in itself quite impressive, one must agree that the performance’s set list was just as incredible.  The bluesy feel of ‘Trouble in Mind’ and ‘Move Along Train’ is just a pair of the highlights from the performance.  ‘Little Birds’ and ‘Listening to Levon’ are just impressive in their more subdued, emotional tones.  These are just a handful of the songs that audiences will enjoy throughout the course of what is one of the year’s must have live recordings.  During the concert, the performers and their songs will send audiences on an emotional and musical journey that they will not forget.  It is a journey that after it’s over, audiences know they will want to take again.

So much work went into bringing Love for Levon to the masses.  The performances in this recording are outstanding, as are the performers and the songs.  The show’s production values are well above par.  And that Time Life Entertainment and StarVista have given audiences so many options from which to choose in deciding on how to best take in the concert sweetens the deal even more.  There is one final piece to the puzzle that makes this recording one of the year’s best live recordings, if not the best of the year.  That piece of the puzzle is the packaging.  This critic had the honor of receiving a screener of the deluxe double-disc CD/double-disc DVD set for review.  The packaging for this deluxe is impressive in its own right.  All four discs in the set are placed into their own mini-sleeve so to speak within the larger package that also includes a bonus booklet.  The bonus booklet includes very moving tributes written by Charles McCardell and Keith Wortman.  Wortman writes so eloquently of Helm in his addition to the included booklet, “In this age of artificially constructed music, Levon was the genuine article…in how he played, sang, and carried himself.”  He goes on to include a quote by Bruce Springsteen about Helm that is just as touching.  McCardell adds his own touch, expressing the joyous air that filled the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ, where the tribute concert was held.  His writing that, “From the energy generated in the building, it’s hard to tell who was more excited—the audience or the performers.”  Home audiences will see exactly what McCardell means when they watch this concert.  That single note echoes everything that has already been noted here.  And it can all be experienced now.  The concert is available now.  It can be ordered direct online via the Time Life Entertainment website at http://timelife.com/products/love-for-levon or via Amazon.

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

The Dean Martin Christmas Show A Standout Classic Holiday Special

Courtesy:  Time Life/NBC Universal

Courtesy: Time Life/NBC Universal

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

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

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

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

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

New Carol Burnett Show Re-Issue A Great Piece of TV Nostalgia

Courtesy: Time Life/Star Vista

Television today is largely anything but family friendly.  As Peter and Lois Griffin joke in the opening to Seth McFarlane’s hit cartoon, Family Guy, “all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.”  While that line is meant entirely in a tongue-in-cheek manner, there’s a certain modicum of truth to it in today’s television culture.  Thank goodness for companies such as Time Life.  Time Life officially released yesterday what is one of the greatest sketch comedy/variety programs of all time and one of the greatest family friendly programs in television history in The Carol Burnett Show.

Time Life released “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” yesterday.  The six-disc compilation contains seventeen episodes considered among the “best” of the show’s roughly eleven year run on CBS.  The episodes compiled for this new set leave no doubt that Burnett’s show was one of the influences behind NBC’s Saturday Night Live.  The sketches from this show clearly hint at the bits that would come from the latter.  The Carol Burnett Show even spawned a little show called “Mama’s Family” that would last a total of six seasons on television.  Saturday Night Live, on the other hand, has tried multiple times to spin off its sketches to both the big and small screen with little success.  That goes to show the importance and staying power of The Carol Burnett Show to this day.  It’s even been spoofed by a number of television shows that have come since.  And after all, it is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

“The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” is a wonderful collection for those who are unable to pick up the complete twenty-two disc collection.  That collection was released yesterday alongside this compilation.  It contains every episode from the show’s run.  Among some of the best episodes included in the six-disc “Carol’s Favorites” are the ones that include the hilarious skit, “The Family.”  That skit was the precursor to Vicki Lawrence’s hit TV sitcom, “Mama’s Family.”  Fans of “Mama’s Family” will be happy to know that on this set is the very first episode of “The Family.”  Guest star Roddy McDowall even gets his own role in the skit.  McDowall is just one of a bevy of guest stars to make appearances on the show.  Also appearing on the show in this compilation are the likes of:  Joan Rivers, Johnny Cash, The Jackson 5, Steve Martin, Betty White, Vincent Price and loads more.

From the original skits to the guest stars, The Carol Burnett Show offered so much great entertainment for the entire family.  That’s not all that makes this set such a great addition to the library of any classic television fan.  The set’s packaging is another bonus.  While the box may seem slightly bulky, the packaging for the discs themselves is very impressive.  Three inserts hold all six discs inside the box.  Each disc has its own spot on the inserts, thus protecting them and increasing their longevity.  This may come across as something minor.  But the longer the discs last, the more families will get to enjoy this TV classic.

The packaging goes a long way to making “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” a joy for families and fans alike.  But one would be remiss to ignore the most obvious factor of this set that makes it such a joy.  That factor would be the footage itself.  There are those who would speak badly of the footage quality.  But as with so many shows from that era, watching it from its original airing recordings is like listening to an original classic jazz song on vinyl.  The static on those old original vinyls creates a certain sense of nostalgia.  In the same vein, seeing this show as it originally aired will bring back that sense of nostalgia, too.  Trying to enhance it would only decrease that sense of nostalgia.  So kudos to Time life for keeping it how it was. 

There are shows that deserve to be resurrected on DVD and blu-ray.  And then there are those that are better left dead.  The Carol Burnett Show is one of those shows that belong in the prior category.  Despite what some critics may have to say, this newest reintroduction of this classic show is quite welcome.  Now a whole new generation can experience what is an example of television with real heart.  “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Time Life’s website, http://timelife.com.

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