Shout! Factory Set To Release Barney Miller’s Complete Seventh Season Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Barney Miller and the crew of the 12th Precinct are coming back.

On Tuesday, April 7th, Shout! Factory will release the seventh season of the hit classic series Barney Miller on DVD. Noted for taking a more comical and realistic look at police life, unlike so many other cop shows out there, the series ran for eight seasons on ABC. The series’ seventh season sees Detective Harris learning the ups and downs of being an author while the force in whole deals with bulletproof vests and being re-classified as a homicide-only squad. These are just some of the stories that make up Season Seven’s twenty-two total episodes. Audiences will find plenty more laughs throughout the upcoming three-disc set when they purchase or pre-order it for themselves. Speaking of which, it will retail for MSRP of $24.97. It can be pre-ordered now online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/barney-miller-season-seven for a reduced price of $19.97. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

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Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series’ Domestic Debut Is One Of Shout! Factory’s Most Welcome Releases To Date

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

A little more than twenty years ago, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers made its debut on Fox’s Fox Kids afternoon programming block. At the time of its premiere, very little if any of the programming in that afternoon block was live action. The majority of the programming in the Fox Kids block was animated. So it goes without saying that the programming heads at Fox were taking a risk by bringing in Saban’s American adaptation of the Japanese series Super Sentai Zyuranger. Little did anyone know at the time that the risk in question would be one of the best risks that the network’s head would ever take. More than two decades later Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers has gone on to become the cornerstone of what is one of the longest-running and most successful children’s shows on television to date. Even after Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ original seven season run ended, it would not be the end of the success for Saban’s Power Rangers. Eleven more seasons would run between Fox and ABC before the Power Rangers would make the jump to Nickelodeon in 2012. Of those seasons that followed, Shout! Factory has already released ten with the eleventh–Power Rangers Lost Galaxy–set to see the light of day in a complete set next month. Shout! Factory’s releases of almost all of the Power Rangers’ first seventeen seasons have proven to largely be everything that Power Rangers fans have hoped for. And now that Shout! Factory is preparing to wind down its releases of those original seasons, it has made yet another dream come true for fans. It has made those fans’ dreams come true by finally bringing to America audiences the series that started it all in Super Sentai Zyuranger. Shout! Factory will release Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series on DVD next Tuesday, February 17th. It marks the first time that the series has ever received a full, proper domestic release. And just as with Shout! Factory’s Power Rangers box sets, this box set lives up just as much to fans’ expectations. It does so first and foremost thanks to the fact that it is presented exactly as it was in its original broadcast on Japanese television from 1992 – 1993. Every episode is there. And even better for American audiences is the fact that it includes English subtitles as a standard in every episode. In connection, audiences will also take note of the series’ writing. The adventures presented in Super Sentai Zyuranger are rather different from those in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. And while the camp of the two series is noticeable different it can be said that that aspect of the two series’ writing is at least similar. The inclusion of a bonus panel discussion with the original cast of Super Sentai: Zyuranger rounds out the collection. The cast discusses everything from that series to working as stunt actors for the Power Rangers series, working on Kamen Rider, Godzilla and so much more throughout the nearly half-hour long discussion. Some rather interesting tidbits are revealed through the discussion that some audiences might not have known up until learning them here. Together with its original presentation and its writing, Super Sentai: Zyuranger’s first-ever American DVD release proves to be a must have for fans of either series or both. They also prove collectively once more why Shout! Factory remains today America’s leading name in home entertainment.

When Shout! Factory releases Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series next Tuesday, it will make a long-held dream come true for thousands of fans. Its release will mark the first time ever that it will have received a full, proper domestic release. And in examining the set in whole, it’s safe to say that fans of both this series and of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise will be thoroughly impressed with this brand new release. The main reason that audiences will be so impressed by Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series is that it is presented to audiences exactly as it was presented in its original Japanese broadcasts. It takes viewers right up to the introduction of what would eventually become the Green Ranger and evil villainess Scorpina in Saban’s Power Rangers franchise. Audiences will notice quite the difference between the two franchises, too. Those differences will be discussed momentarily. For now though, the focus will remain on the prior of the pair. Audiences will appreciate that every one of the episodes included in the original series is included in this set. Shout! Factory has also included standard English subtitles with each episode. Though audiences are given the option to turn off those subtitles if audiences so choose. In watching the series with its English subtitles, it should be noted that there is some language peppered throughout the series that some parents might find objectionable. So suffice it to say that because of that language and other content, this box set is aimed more at adults more so than children. That fact cannot be ignored.

Moving on to another aspect of the set’s presentation, those that are familiar with Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers will see where Saban clipped footage from this series for MMPR. That is just as important to the whole if only for its historical value. That is because by comparison, that same footage placed back into Super Sentai Zyuranger, it presents a wholly different story. That wholly different story puts both series into an entirely different context in retrospect. It’s another way that the presentation of Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series proves to be an especially important addition to any fan of the Power Rangers and/or Super Sentai franchise. The overall presentation of Super Sentai Zyuranger is important in its own right to the success of this upcoming release. As important as it is, the writing behind each of the series’ episodes is just as key to its success.

The writing behind Super Sentai Zyuranger’s is just as important to its success among fans as the set’s presentation. And fans will be just as impressed by the writing as by the overall presentation of the episodes. As previously noted, audiences that are familiar with both MMPR and SSZR will note in these episodes where exactly Saban incorporated SSZR’s into MMPR’s presentation. In seeing SSZR in its entirety, the footage presents a story that is entirely different from that presented in MMPR. It is interesting to see the gradual change in Miss Bandora (Rita Repulsa in MMPR) as the series progresses. She goes from being an evil space witch who hates everyone including children to eventually doing a near total 180. And even throughout the course of the story’s progression audiences see a story completely unlike that presented in MMPR even from the series’ premiere. Having the original guardians being woken up from their deep slumber versus the Rangers being picked actually makes perfect sense. And the intentional camp incorporated into the story makes for even more enjoyment. Given it’s a camp different from that in MMPR. But it still adds its own element of enjoyment to the presentation in whole. Whether for that camp, the original story, or even for other unmentioned reasons, the work that went into SSZR’s writing proves the writing in question to be yet another reason that fans of this modern classic will want to add Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series to their own home libraries.

The writing and overall presentation of Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series collectively make a solid argument as to why ay fan of this series or of Saban’s MMPR will want to add the brand new box set to their home library when it is released next Tuesday, February 17th. Anyone still not convinced by these aspects of the series’ first-ever full domestic release is sure to be won over by the companion “Power Morphicon Panel” included as a bonus feature with the set. The original cast of SSZR is featured in this panel. Despite what one might believe, the cast discusses more than this series with fans in attendance. The fans actually bring up a number of topics including the cast’s work on MMPR and Godzilla among other series and movies. There are little tidbits shared along the way such as the issues raised by the language barrier when the cast worked on MMPR. There are also more personal stories that audiences might have never known about the cast and how it met among so much more. The discussion in whole lasts almost half an hour. And again subtitles are included both for the English and non-English speaking cast. The subtitles coupled with the depth of information shared throughout the panel’s extensive discussion rounds out the reasons that fans of Super Sentai Zyuranger will want to add this long-awaited box set to their home libraries. Together with the writing and the set’s overall presentation, all three elements prove Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series to be one of this year’s most welcome surprises from Shout! Factory. And it proves without a doubt once more why Shout! Factory is the leading name in home entertainment.

Shout! Factory has slowly but surely made its way to the top of the heap in the world of home entertainment over the years. It has done so with the release of some of America’s most beloved TV series and movies. The upcoming release of Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series is one more notch the Shout! Factory’s proverbial belt. It is everything that fans of this series have hoped for ever since it finished its original run overseas over two decades ago. Audiences will agree with that sentiment when they finally get to purchase the box set for themselves next Tuesday. It will be available next Tuesday, February 17th in stores and online and can be pre-ordered now direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-action-adventure/super-sentai-zyuranger-the-complete-series. Fans that pre-order the set now via Shout! Factory’s online store can get it at a discounted price of $49.97 versus the SRP of $54.99. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: https://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

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StarVista Shines Bright Again Thanks To The Wonder Years Season Two

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

ABC’s The Wonder Years was one of the most successful and popular programs on television in its original run on ABC from 1988 – 1993.  Even after more than two decades since it finally came to an end, it still remains one of the most beloved series in television’s modern history.  As beloved as the series continued to prove to be since it ended its original run, it wouldn’t be until last year that devotees of The Wonder Years would finally be rewarded for their loyalty to the series.  The complete first season of The Wonder Years finally got its first ever full, proper DVD release last fall courtesy of StarVista Entertainment.  And this week, StarVista Entertainment has followed up that release with the series’ complete second season.  Season Two picks up where the series’ first season left off in every sense of the phrase, presenting wonderful, timeless episodes that are just as relatable today as they were in their original airings.  The acting on the part of the cast remains just as impressive as in Season One.  And the mass of bonus material including the companion booklet and the on-disc bonuses impresses yet again in its own way.  Each of the noted elements—the writing, acting, and bonus material—that went into the second season of The Wonder Years plays its own pivotal role in making this long-awaited box set so impressive.  All three together make the second season of The Wonder Years another must have for any of the series’ original audiences.

When it was finally released last year, StarVista Entertainment’s release of The Wonder Years: Season One proved in so many ways to be well worth the two-decade plus wait.  One of the main reasons that it proved so well worth the wait was the writing behind its episodes.  Much the same can be said of the writing in Season Two’s episodes.  The series’ writers continued in Season Two to present a series that was a serial without actually being a serial.  It followed the Arnold family’s growth.  But unlike today’s series, it didn’t require audiences to dedicate the amount of time that said series require of audiences.  It’s a model that sadly hasn’t been seen since the days of Home Improvement, Wings, The Cosby Show, and 3rd Rock From The Sun just to name a handful of series.  It’s just part of what continues to make the writing so impressive in the series’ second season.  The ability of audiences to so easily relate to the series concepts in these episodes makes the writing just as strong.  Every viewer will relate to the fallout from Kevin and Winnie’s breakup at the end of Season One because every viewer has navigated those same troubled waters in their own lives whether as children or teens.  In the same vein, the growing complexities of Kevin and Paul’s friendship throughout Season Two are just as real.  The strain put on the pair’s friendship when Paul starts dating in “Steady As She Goes” is a situation to which any viewer can relate.  It’s a situation to which both men and women can relate as both boys and girls go (have gone) through at some point in life.  And the emotional strain caused by a divorce as in “How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation” is just as much an issue to which so many audiences can relate.  It’s just one more example of how the writing behind Season Two makes its episodes just as enjoyable as those that made up the series’ first season.  There are plenty of other examples of why the series’ writing this season remains so solid.  From the special message in “Christmas” to the tensions which every married couple has had at some point even today in “Pottery Will Get You Nowhere,” to the already noted episodes, audiences will see from episode to episode just why the writing behind Season Two’s episodes is central to the set’s success and enjoyment.

The writing behind the second season of The Wonder Years is the center point of its success and enjoyment.  Even now in the twenty-first century, the situations presented throughout each episode are situations to which any family can relate.  That is because every viewer has found himself or herself in at least one of the given situations if not most.  That having been noted, the work of the show’s cast in terms of interpreting Season Two’s scripts adds to the episodes’ enjoyment.  At no one point does it ever feel like the cast is going over the top.  Maybe the reason for that is that the situations presented in Season Two were just as timeless then as they are today.  They were (and are) so real that it made interpreting their scripts that easy.  It is so easy to believe Kevin’s heartbreak when he learns that Winnie hasn’t fallen back in love with him and when he is struggling to keep his parents from fighting after Jack gives Norma no support as she takes a pottery course.  The frustration of the Arnolds in trying to keep up with the times in “Christmas” is just as real and believable.  Even today, it’s so easy for any family to see itself in the position of the Arnolds as they feel left behind by technology and those with the latest technology.  That reality made the acting just as easy for the cast just as the reality of divorce made the acting in the season finale so easy.  And because the acting in these (and all of Season Two’s episodes) is so believable, it makes the episodes in whole more believable and that much more enjoyable for audiences.  The believability of the cast’s acting coupled with the work of the script writers makes collectively for a big reason that The Wonder Years: Season Two is a must see for any fan of this classic series.

The work of the cast and the writers in The Wonder Years’ second season make up a big part of the reason that any fan of the show should check out this new box set from StarVista Entertainment.  While both elements are of equal importance to the set’s success, there is still one more element to note of the set that will impress audiences just as much.  That final element is the set’s collective bonus material.  The bonus material includes not just the bonus interviews and featurettes on the set’s fourth disc but the set’s companion booklet, too. The material included on the set’s fourth disc includes more interviews with Fred Savage’s TV parents Dan Lauria and Alley Mills as well as an interview with narrator Daniel Stern (Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Bushwacked). There is also a look back at the turbulent era in which The Wonder Years’ second season took place. The era in question was the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a time of great social change for America, and as audiences will see in “The Times They Are A-Changin’: The Era” those changes were reflected directly in the episodes. They were part of the previously noted writing that made Season Two so enjoyable. Along with all of that, there is also a roundtable discussion with Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, and Josh Saviano in which the trio looks back on the events of Season Two and what those events meant to each one of them. The companion booklet that is included with Season Two maintains the standard set by the booklet included in Season One’s box. Simply put, it is more than just an episode guide. It outlines the episodes and gives some background on the episodes as well as some history behind the show and other little important tidbits such as current events and music history in relation to the episodes’ settings. The fact that the people at StarVista entertainment would strive to maintain that high standard even with the set’s companion booklet shows that they wanted to continue honoring the series and those that made it so great, and the show’s fans. Such an in-depth booklet coupled with equally in-depth bonuses included on-disc show together why the bonus material included in The Wonder Years: Season Two is just as important to its presentation as the episodes and the work of the cast. By themselves, the bonuses included in this set make for plenty of reason for the show’s original fans to add this set to their home library. Together with the work of the cast and the writers, audiences are presented with a set that is in every way a definite must have.

The Wonder Years: Season Two is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Years-Season-2-4DVD/dp/B00OGD8PX6/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1423063498&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Wonder+years+Season+2. More information on this and other titles from StarVista Entertainment is available online at:

 

Website: http://timelife.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

 

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Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show: The Complete Series Is A Must Have For Any Lover Of Classic Television

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Television has come a long way since its golden age. That is not necessarily a good thing, either. What once provided hope and reason for family togetherness in some of America’s most difficult times has become a divisive medium filled with oversexed and overly violent comedies, dramas, and reality television series. Audiences today are provided hundreds of channels thanks to cable, satellite, and streaming media. Among all of the options out there today, the only outlets that offer anything of real value in terms of programming are: PBS, PBS Kids, Turner Classic Movies, Me-TV and Antenna TV. Few if any other networks out there today truly have anything of substance or value. Enter home entertainment company Shout! Factory. Shout! Factory and its “sister” company Timeless Media have offered audiences an escape from that mind-numbing programming in recent years with some of the greatest television series of the 20th Century. Thanks to the release of classics such as Dennis The Menace, Mr. Ed, The Jeffersons, and many of Nickelodeon’s classic, beloved Nicktoons over the years, Shout! Factory has more than proven itself one of the leaders in the world of home entertainment. It could even be argued that those and so many of the other classic series released by Shout! Factory have made the company the leading company in that realm. The upcoming release of Maude: The Complete Series and others make that argument even more solid. Audiences have to wait until March to get their hands on Maude: The Complete Series. While they wait for its release, they have yet another great classic television series from Shout! Factory to enjoy in the form of Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show: The Complete Series. Released late last year, there is plenty to like about Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show: The Complete Series beginning with its writing. Regardless of their familiarity with this classic series, audiences will see firsthand a noticeable difference in the writing behind this series and that of the shows on television today. Even with the writing in Sgt. Bilko The Phil Silvers Show being aimed at older audiences, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not suitable for younger viewers. It just means that those viewers wouldn’t get some of the comedy infused into the show. Added to the show’s hilarious writing is a bevy of bonuses. There are commentaries with select episodes, interviews, and other footage including an episode of The New Phil Silvers Show and Phil Silvers on The Dick Cavett Show among much more. Rounding out the most notable of the box’s positives is the show’s footage. The footage looks just as clean as in its original broadcasts on CBS. And it is presented in its original 4:3 format, too adding to the nostalgia. The high quality of the show’s footage completes the set and shows once and for all why this complete series box set is another win both for fans of classic television and for Shout! Factory.

Shout! Factory’s recent release of Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show is a win for any lover of classic television and for Shout! Factory alike. It is especially so in an age when television has become but a pale shadow of its former self. It shows this first and foremost through the writing across all four of its seasons. From its debut season in 1955 to its series-ender in 1959, the show’s writers consistently found fresh, new get-rich-quick schemes for Bilko. To this day, those schemes still provide plenty of laughs, too as audiences will find for themselves when they purchase this set. Right from the series start, audiences will find themselves laughing as Sgt. Bilko tries to con some new recruits out of their money just to get into a poker game. Speaking of poker, Bilko joins the MPs in the Season Three episode “Bilko’s School Days” just so that he and the other officers can get away with playing poker. The original plan to use graham crackers baked with raisins as poker cards is well worth its own share of laughs. As if that isn’t enough for audiences, Season Two sees Bilko having to help a young private get his money back from some other soldiers in “Bilko’s Black Magic.” This episode is one of the series’ best. Bilko makes the soldiers in question believe that the private is practicing black magic and voodoo in this episode. It’s one of those episodes whose writing will reach audiences of almost any age. There’s even a scheme involving a made up pet spa in “Bilko’s Prize Poodle” from Season Three. That episode is another of the series’ best. Of course other viewers will find their own favorites throughout the series’ four seasons. That any of the series’ one hundred plus episodes could be chosen as favorites shows why the writing is at the core of the show’s enjoyment. And it makes clear why the writing earned the series three straight Emmys© for “Best Comedy” in its original run. In the case of this box set, the writing is just part of what makes it a win for both audiences and for Shout! Factory alike. The bonus material that comes with the box plays into its success, too.

It is clear throughout every episode of Sgt. Bilko’s four seasons why the series’ writing is at the center of its success. Every episode reminds audiences of just what used to make sitcoms and television in general great thanks to the laugh-till-you cry jokes and gags. As enjoyable as the writing makes each episode andthe series in whole, it isn’t all that makes this box set so enjoyable. The bonus material included with the box adds even more enjoyment. The bonus material in question includes a number of extras. What is arguably the best of those extras is an interview with Phil Silver’s daughters Nancy and Tracey. The sisters share a number of fond memories of their dad inclyding a funny story about having to meet with famed directour Louis B. Mayer. They talk about how their dad had to sing for Mr. Mayer in relation to a movie he was working on. This is also a little discussion on Silvers’ friendship with fellow acting legend Jack Benny. They note that Benny was their dad’s best friend. And that shows through in another bonus interview featuring both Phil Silvers and Jack Benny on the Dick Cavett Show. Cavett, in the course of the interview, keeps noting both men’s names. He keeps noting Benny’s name before Silvers’. Benny reacts to that by jokingly telling Cavett that he [Cavett] could call off their names in the other order. Silvers’ reaction to that was Silvers stating that he had no problem being second banana to the best. Benny was clearly moved in his reaction. It drives home that the pair really must have been very close friends. It’s one of plenty of moments in that bonus interview that will have audiences laughing. Getting back to the interview with Silvers’ daughters, audiences will be very interested to learn the very history of the Silvers name, their dad’s influence on audiences, Phil Silvers on screen versus Phil Silvers offscreen, and so much more. The interview runs nearly half an hour. And while it obviously isn’t the only worthwhile bonus included with this box set, it is definitely the best of the bonuses. As an addded bonus, Shout! Factory also added in an episode of The New Phil Silvers Show and even what has come to be considered the pilot for Sgt. Bilko in The Lucy Show episode “Lucy and the Efficiency Expert.” There are even commentaries included on select episodes across the set. Whether it be those commentaries, the bonus “pilot” episode of Sgt. Bilko, or the bonus interviews, each one of these bonuses play into the whole that is Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show to show yet again why this box set is well worth the purchase by any lover of classic television.

The mass of bonus material included in Sgt. Blko/The Phil Silvers Show goes a long way toward making this recetly released box set worth adding to any classic television lover’s library. Set alongside the series’ solid writing, the two aspects together make this box set even more of a bright spot in a television world that has become inccreasingly bleak in the twenty-first century. While both factors are of their own importance to Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show: The Complete Series, the quality of the footage is just as important to the presentation. Being that Shout! Factory has more than proven itself the leading company in home entertainment, it goes without saying that the quality of the series’ footage is the best possible. Painstaking efforts were obviously taken with each of the series’ previously released standalone sets. Those that weren’t lucky enough to pick up those sets will be pleasantly surprised to see the end result of those efforts in this set. The footage looks as clean now as it did in its original run some six decades ago. One could even argue that it looks even cleaner. And that it is presented in its original 4:3 format without losing its original quality makes it even better. It is the final piece of the whole that is Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show: The Complete Series that makes this box set such a welcome addition to the home library of any lover of classic television. Together with the bonus material and the show’s writing, it proves to be not just a welcome addition to any classic television lover’s library but a desperately needed addition, too.

Shout! Factory has become, over the years, the leading company in the world of home entertainment. It has even knocked the likes of Warner Home Video and other major names from their spots in the upper echelons of home entertainment. It has done so through the releases of The Jeffersons: The Complete Series, Mr. Ed: The Complete Series, Dennis The Menace in its standalone season sets, and so much more. Now it has done it yet again thanks to the release of Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show. Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with this award-winning classic, audiences of all ages will love the show’s pure, comic writing. They will also love the bonus features included in the set, and the high quality of the show’s footage from series premiere to finale. All three aspects will prove so impressive that any viewer will agree that Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show is a must have for any lover of classic television. More information on this and other titles available from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

NYPD Blue Hasn’t Lost A Step In Its Eighth Season

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/ABC/20th Century Fox

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/ABC/20th Century Fox

Shout! Factory will release the eighth season of ABC’s hit crime drama NYPD Blue next Tuesday, January 13th. Even eight seasons in, this modern classic series continues proving itself to be just as gripping and entertaining as it was in its groundbreaking first season. The main reason for this is the show’s continued impressive writing. The stories that make up the show’s eighth season are no less entertaining than those in its previous seven seasons. The same can be said of the cast’s acting this season. The cast continues to pull in audiences and make suspension of disbelief effortless. It’s even more reason that audiences will enjoy these episodes whether watching them for the first time or for the first time again. Last but not least of all worth noting to Season Eight’s credit is its list of guest stars. Denise Crosby (Star Trek the Next Generation, The Walking Dead, Ray Donovan), Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Eric Balfour (24), and Greg Grunberg (Heroes) all make appearances throughout Season Eight. Because they were not the major household names then that they are today, their appearances makes for a certain amount of appreciation for their history and the history of NYPD Blue in whole. Each of the factors noted here play their own important role in the success of NYPD Blue: Season 8. Collectively, they show why in comparison to every other crime drama on television then and now, NYPD Blue remains one of the greatest crime dramas in modern television history, even eight seasons in.

Eight seasons is a long run for a television show by today’s standards. There are not many series today that can say they survived eight seasons or more. Most of the shows that surpassed that mark have largely gone by the wayside, making room for the much shorter-lived serials and reality series that now dominate the broadcast and cable realms of television. The main reason that those bygone series worked as long as they did is the same reason that NYPD Blue worked eight seasons and beyond. The reason in question is their writing. The series’ writers were always aware of the danger of writing themselves into those proverbial corners. And because of that awareness, they always managed to keep that from happening. the eighth season of NYPD Blue is proof of that awareness. From the season premiere to its finale, the series’ writers continued to expertly balance the cast’s own stories with crime tales that are both gripping and entertaining. One prime example of that balance comes late in Season Eight in the episode “Everyone Into The Poole.” The writers tackle the very relevant issue of race relations when Jones and Medavoy investigate the murder of a Chinese restuarant’s owner. A young black brother and sister are linked to the murder, which leads their parents to express quite the frustration at Jones, alleging that he should be showing solidarity with the black community, not trying to put their kids in jail. It shows that the issue of race relations reaches not just black and white Americans but even minorities with one another. Their indirect indictment of Medavoy–who is white–makes its own statement about racial tensions still being alive even then regardless of skin color. It’s one of those episodes that will definitely have audiences talking long after it ends, proving the continued strength of the show’s writing.

“Everyone Into The Poole” is a prime example of the writers’ talents when it comes to crafting stories that so clearly hit home with audiences even now in the twenty-first century. On another level, “Flight of Fancy” sees Lt. Fancy preparing to leave the squad after being promoted to Captain. The introduction of a power hungry Lt. played by Denise Crosby (Star Trek The Next Generation, The Walking Dead, Ray Donovan) is just as capable of relating to audiences. That’s because for all of the squad’s differences, a certain respect among the detectives is shown when she cracks the whip and instantly alienates herself from everyone.  Even in the real life workplace, this kind of solidarity exists even when people don’t want to admit that it exists. It’s a solid example of the continued abilities of the show’s writers to craft believable and equally gripping person stories for the cast. Even more impressive is that it showed the writers’ continued ability to maintain a clear balance between the show’s primary and secondary stories and still make them equally without losing anything about them.

Season Eight’s premiere episode “Daveless in New York” is one more example of the writers’ continued ability to keep audiences gripped. The writers tackled the subjectof child abuse albeit indirectly in this episode afer an addict gives up his own chidl as collateral for an overdue loan. Such a story line even tackles the dangers associated with drug abuse. While someone giving up their child may be a little over the top, the lengths to which some drug users will go to get their fix are rather shocking to say the least. Because it comes close to showing those shocking lengths, this episode proves to be one more way in which the writing behind NYPD Blue shows itself the most important aspect of the season’s success. There are plenty of other episodes contained across Season Eight’s four discs that audiences will find just as hard-hitting. And that isperfectly fine. The fact that they will find such episodes only shows that much more why the show’s writing is so important to its success eight seasons in.

The writing behind the eighth season of NYPD Blue is the cornerstone of the season’s success. That should go without saying at this point. The work of the cast to interpret the season’s writing adds an extra layerof enjoyment to each episode. Having already worked together for seven seasons most of the show’s cast had already developed a visible chemistry that made its work entirely believable. Even those that didn’t come on board until a little later in the show’s run (by this point) had develped their own chemistry with the rest of the cast. Dennis Franz’s acting as Sippowitz realizes he needs to give marriage anotherchance is one of the brightest examples of how the cast’s acting pulls in audiences and makes Season Eight more enjoyable. There is a certain reluctance in Sippowitz’s realization. At the same time, he shows that he knows it’s the right thing for his son and for himself. On another level, the reaction by Jones as he faces the accusations about being a modern day Uncle Tom (for lack of better wording) is just as powerful. There is to this day a divide even within the black community in terms of support of its own. So something as simple as that reaction speaks volumes. The reactions on the part of the couple that played the parents is just as powerful. On a siimlar note, the reaction of the squad to Fancy’s first replacement speaks just as loudly. It really exhibits the underlying connection that the squad members have to one another even despite its differences on the surface. These are just a few examples of how the work of the cast’s acting made NYPD Blue’s eighth season enjoyable by itself. The season’s other episodes each show their own examples of how the cast’s acting enhanced the season. And audiences will find those other examples for themselves when they purchase this season for themselves. In doing so, audiences will agree that the cast’s acting is just as important to the season’s enjoyment as the work of the show’s writers.

The writing and acting that went into the eighth season of NYPD Blue are equally important to the season’s success and enjoyment. While they are both understandably important to the presentation in whole, the series’ list of guest stars this season is just as important. Denise Crosby (Star Trek the Next Generation, The Walking Dead, Ray Donovan), Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Eric Balfour (24), and Greg Grunberg (Heroes) all make appearances throughout Season Eight. While none of the guest stars at the time of their appearance were the household names that they have become today, it still goes to show the impact that appearing on the show potentially had on their futures. Perhaps the only one that could really be argued as a real star of sorts at the time would have been Denise Crosby. That is thanks to her time on Star Trek The Next Generation years before. Because of that show’s success and its longevity, she became well-known in her own right. Whether for her appearance or for those of the others noted this season, seeing so many of today’s biggest celebrities in their earlier days makes this season itself a piece of television history for all intents and purposes. And because it proves to be an important piece of television history, it makes this season even more enjoyable and a success. It’s the last part of the whole that makes NYPD Blue Season Eight a must have for any fan of this series or any lover of crime dramas. Together with the work of the cast and the series’ writers, it proves without a shadow of a doubt why NYPD Blue: Season Eight is an early candidate for 2015’s best new box sets for grown-ups.

NYPD Blue: Season Eight will be available next Tuesday, January 13th. It will retail for MSRP of $34.99. It can also be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/crime/nypd-blue-season-eight at a discounted price of $29.99. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

My Uncle Rafael Is Loaded With Laughs And Heart

Courtesy:  TNP Films

Courtesy: TNP Films

My Uncle Rafael is the best new independent movie of 2014.  And it is arguably one of the best new movies of the year, too.  Originally released in 2012, its release this week on DVD marks the first time that it has seen the light of day in home release format.  And while it obviously owes a certain amount of its success to Robin Williams’ 1993 hit movie Mrs. Doubtfire, it still manages to stand strong on its own merits as a movie that is at least somewhat original in its presentation.  That is the central point of the movie’s success.  It has all the heart and wit of Mrs. Doubtfire without Robin Williams’ cross-dressing and manic character portrayal.  And while it does maintain at least some similarity in its approach to the family-fixing plotline, it approaches the issue through a multi-cultural avenue rather than that of a desperate father. Sign of the times, it would seem.  Just as important to the movie’s enjoyment is the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  It would have been so simple for the cast, which is relatively well-known and experienced to treat the movie like the independent movie that it is.  But each member of the cast approached this work with the same seriousness used in its other performances.  The professional approach taken by the cast of My Uncle Rafael adds so much enjoyment to the movie.  It adds so much especially considering the quality of the movie’s production values.  While released via an independent studio—TNP Films—the movie’s production values are just as quality as anything released by any of Hollywood’s “Power 5” studios.  That actor, along with the work of the cast and of the movie’s writers, makes My Uncle Rafael a complete joy for audiences of almost any age.  Again, it isn’t the first time that the story presented here has been utilized for a movie.  But its execution makes it a move well worth the watch.

The story that is presented in My Uncle Rafael is not the first of its kind.  It is the story of an outsider coming into a family’s home and fixing said family.  It has been used numerous times in the past.  In 1993, it was presented in the hit movie Mrs. Doubtfire. Two years prior, it was used in pro-wrestling legend Terry “Hulk” Hogan’s family comedy Suburban Commando.  And to a lesser extent it was also used in Vin Diesel’s 2005 flash-in-the-pan flick The Pacifier.  It could even be argued that a similar formula was used way back in the 1989 John Candy dramedy Uncle Buck.  Considering all of this, it leaves one wondering how many other ways in which the “family fix” formula could be used without it being stale and unoriginal.  Enter My Uncle Rafael.  My Uncle Rafael (not to be confused with Joe Pesci’s 1992 dramedy My Cousin Vinny—yes that bad pun was intended) takes the classic “family fix” formula and updates it by incorporating a multi-cultural theme into the story.  Most interesting here is the fact that the duo used an elderly Middle Eastern man as the movie’s central figure.  This was really interesting especially considering the tensions between Americans and those of Middle Eastern descent currently living in the United States.  It’s an angle that few if any writers would even begin to attempt.  For that alone, Pirhamzei and Yagemann are deserving of a certain amount of credit.  That the duo didn’t try to make a direct light of Rafael’s nationality as a soap box makes the script even more worthy of applause.  Omitting that from the script makes the rest of the story far more enjoyable and in turn more memorable.

The script behind My Uncle Rafael is not the first of its kind.  That goes without saying.  But there are aspects of the script that make it surprisingly enjoyable.  As enjoyable as the movie’s script proves to be in the long run, it would be nothing without the abilities of the movie’s cast.  John Michael Higgins (Yes Man, Happily Divorced, Bad Teacher) brings plenty of experience to the movie as do Missi Pyle (The Artist, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gone Girl), Anthony Clark (Yes, Dear, Boston Common, Soul Man), Joe Lo Truglio (Role Models, Wreck-It-Ralph, Pineapple Express), Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory, The Last Song, In A World…), and Rachel Blanchard (Clueless—TV Series, 7th Heaven, Are You Afraid of the Dark).  The competition between Higgins’ Damon and Clark’s Jack makes for plenty of laughs.  It is a competition much like that seen in Mrs. Doubtfire.  Missi Pyle is just as entertaining as she becomes caught up in the movie’s central love triangle all while trying to maintain her place as mother to her children.  But it is really Vahik Pirhamzei’s portrayal of the loveable Uncle Rafael that really shines.  Pirhamzei’s portrayal gives Uncle Rafael so much heart and warmth.  He makes Rafael loveable not only to his fellow characters but to audiences, too.  One can’t help but agree in watching Rafael that maybe the uncle really is at the center of everything.  Only audiences that watch the movie or have watched it will get that reference.  In hindsight, Rafael’s portrayal makes that line make perfect sense.  That isn’t to take away from Pirhamzei’s cast mates by any means.  Both the more well-known actors and the lesser known cast members add their own enjoyment to the story in whole, too.  But it is his portrayal that holds everything together and makes each of his cast mates’ portrayals all the more entertaining with the end result of the cast in general doing its own part to show once again why My Uncle Rafael  is this year’s best new independent movie and one of the year’s best movies overall.

The writing that went into My Uncle Rafael and the acting on the part of the movie’s cast both play their own important part in the overall success of this surprisingly entertaining story.  Rounding out the presentation is its production values.  Being that this movie is independent, one would think that it would not have the production values of its bigger name family friendly counterparts that have come before.  But the reality is that its production values are quite high.  That includes the movie’s cinematography, its backdrops, costumes, and all other elements that went into bringing the movie to life.  Having such quality production values, it makes sense that the largely veteran cast would want its portrayals to be just as high quality.  The combination of that high quality acting and equally high quality production values adds to the ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief and in turn allow themselves to be immersed into the story and thus offer it the chance that it quite well deserves.  In giving it the chance that it deserves, audiences will agree that this movie is just as enjoyable as its more well-known predecessors and that it is one of this year’s best new movies as well as the year’s best new independent movie.

My Uncle Rafael is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/My-Uncle-Rafael-Anthony-Clark/dp/B00O1D3AN6/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1418861938&sr=1-2&keywords=my+uncle+rafael.  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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.