Barney Miller’s Final Season Is A Fabulous Finale For One Of TV’s Great Sitcoms

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

For eight years, ABC’s classic cop comedy Barney Miller entertained thousands of audiences across the country every week. But as with anything else, all good things must come to an end. On May 20th, 1982, Barney Miller finally came to an end after eight successful seasons on the air. Even years after its end, it has remained a fan favorite among audiences of all ages. It is even currently airing daily on the classic TV network Antenna TV. While this is a great thing for many audiences, not everybody gets Antenna TV. Thankfully Shout! Factory, the leading name in home entertainment, has given fans the next best thing—or perhaps the best thing—with the release of the series in its entirety and its fourth through seventh seasons in their own standalone season sets. The first three seasons were originally released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. With any luck Shout! Factory will eventually release those three seasons somewhere down the line in their own standalone season sets being that it has been able to release the series in whole in its own complete set alongside the series’ current standalone sets. While fans wait to see if that happens, they will be happy to know that the series’ eighth and final season has officially been released in stores and online. It was released earlier this month in a three-disc standalone set. Barney Miller: The Complete Eighth Season is one last wonderfully entertaining collection of episodes for any classic TV buff and especially for any long-time fan of the classic series. It proves this primarily through its writing. Just as with the series’ previous seasons, Season Eight presents plenty of humor and heart throughout the course of its twenty-two total episodes. The writing in question is yet another example of everything that once made television great. It’s just part of what makes this collection so enjoyable. The bonus material that is included with Season Eight adds even more enjoyment to the set. Among the extras included in this set are: the series’ original pilot, a behind-the-scenes retrospective of the series and fittingly, a look inside “the writer’s room” where the series came to life on paper before going before the cameras. Last but not least worth noting is the set’s overall packaging. One again, the set’s discs have been wisely packaged. Along with that, there is a comprehensive episode guide printed inside the front and back of the box. The guide offers short, concise descriptions of each episode as well as a guide outlining which episodes are featured on each of the set’s discs. The clarity offered by the episode guide and the smart packaging of the discs works hand in hand with the set’s bonus features and its writing to make Barney Miller: The Complete Eighth Season a completely enjoyable experience whether one is a classic TV buff or more specifically a fan of Barney Miller. Regardless, it is a set that will be welcome in either fan’s home DVD library.

Regardless of whether one is a casual fan of Barney Miller or a true, dedicated fan of the classic cop comedy series, viewers on both sides of the aisle (bad political joke fully intended) will agree that the newly released eighth and final season is yet another welcome addition to either fan’s home DVD library. They will agree in watching its twenty-two total episodes that it is in fact yet another example of everything that once made television great; everything that television has lost since its golden era. That is proves primarily through its writing. The writing presented throughout this season’s episodes present just as much humor and heart as those in any of the series’ previous seasons. That is evident early on in episodes such as “Possession” and “The Tontine.” The prior of the pair presents a man who claims that he is possessed coming to the squad room and subsequently being placed in the jail cell there in the room. His actions are at times hilarious (it’s obvious at times in this episode how hard the cast fought to not break down laughing as a result) and at times pretty convincing. Obviously, neither Barney nor the rest of the squad believe the man is truly possessed. Their reactions in themselves will have audiences laughing boisterously as will the priest who is brought in to “exorcise” the man’s demon. The fact that the writers could take what is typically such a serious topic and give such a light-hearted twist just goes to show their continued talents. The same applies in “The Tontine.” “The Tontine” sees Barney and company having to keep a man from committing suicide. The man wants to die because of a deal made between himself and his cousin. Yet again here audiences get a serious topic that has incredibly been turned into fodder for so many laughs. Later as the season progresses, the writers tackle the issue of prison overcrowding in “The Clown” after a group of inmates is released from prison well before they should have been released. The sharp commentary goes after the issue of how quick certain parties were to just wash their hands of the situation and brush it under the rug in the meantime. The way that the writers handled this matter will both get audiences thinking and laughing all at once. It’s yet one more example of how the writing incorporated into the series kept it so fresh and entertaining even eight seasons in. They are hardly the only examples of how the show’s writing made it so entertaining for so long. There are nineteen other episodes from this season that proves it just as much. All twenty-two episodes together show clearly the impact of the writing this far into the show’s run. The writing alone is just part of what makes this box set so enjoyable for fans. The bonus material included with the set enhances its overall viewing experience even more.

The writing that went into Season Eight’s episodes shows clearly shows its importance in the overall enjoyment of the viewing experience here. Of course it is just one aspect of the set that makes it so enjoyable for audiences and fans of the show alike. The extras included in this set add even more enjoyment to it. And along with the writing both elements together make for quite a bit of enjoyment. Among the most standout of the set’s bonuses is the inclusion of the series’ original pilot episode “The Life and Times of Barney Miller.” This full-length episode paints an entirely different picture from the Barney Miller that fans and audiences have come to know. And thank goodness that it didn’t work out. The home life aspect of that episode just changed the show’s whole dynamic. The version that everybody knows shows it doesn’t need that extra element. It works just fine on its own. In regards to the other bonuses included in this set, collectively those bonuses give audiences a truly in-depth look at the history and significance of Barney Miller in whole. It also gives an equally in-depth look at the show’s cast from the mouths of the cast itself. Whether for the bonus history lessons on the series or the bonus full-length pilot episode, audiences will agree that the material included in Season Eight’s set is in fact collectively a true bonus for fans and audiences alike. Along with the work of the show’s writers both elements together strengthen the argument even more that this final collection of episodes is a welcome addition to the home DVD library of audiences and any of the show’s fans alike.

Both the writing behind each of the season’s episodes and the bonus material included in the set are key to audiences’ enjoyment in their overall viewing experience. Together they make for a wonderful viewing experience. However, they still are not all that should be noted here. The overall packaging used in this set is just as key in its viewing experience. Yet again, the packaging of the discs themselves has been given the utmost attention as all three discs have been placed on their own spindle inside the case. This separates the discs from one another and in turn protects them from scratching. That is just the norm for Shout! Factory. Even better in regards to the packaging is that audiences once again get a complete episode listing with short but concise outlines of each episode’s plot. The listing is printed inside the case on the front and back of the artwork covering the case. This means that audiences have a full guide as to which episodes are on which disc as well as the story behind each episode. It rounds out the whole experience in Season Eight’s box set. All three elements together show in full exactly why the eighth and final season of Barney Miller is yet another win for both audiences and fans of the series alike just as much as it is another win for Shout! Factory.

The eighth and final season of Barney Miller is yet another welcome addition to the home DVD library of any classic TV buff and of any fan of this classic cop comedy. That is thanks once again to the work of the series writers by and large. The inclusion of the set’s bonus material–especially the inclusion of the series’ original pilot episode–make the overall viewing experience here all the more enjoyable. The packaging, including both the packaging of the discs themselves and the included episode guide rounds out the whole thing. All things considered, Barney Miller: The Complete Eighth Season is another great addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library and that of any of the show’s fans. It is yet more proof of why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in home entertainment. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/barney-miller-the-final-season. More information on this and other titles available from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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Curry, Rousey Take Top Honors At ESPN’s 2015 ESPYS

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The 2015 ESPYS Awards broadcast is officially in the books. For those that missed all of the events from the big night, all the results can be found right here. One of the night’s biggest winners was UFC star Ronda Rousey, who took home two awards—Best Female Athlete and Best Fighter. This year marks the second time that Rousey has received the award for Best Female Athlete. NBA star Stephen Curry also took home two awards—Best Male Athlete and Best NBA Player. Both awards are the first ESPYS that Curry has won. Curry, the 2015 NBA MVP, led the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Championship this year and a league-best 67 – 15 record. The Championship is the team’s first in forty years. On the baseball side, Mike Trout took home the award for Best MLB Player. The award comes fresh off the heels of his second MLB All-Star Game MVP Title earlier this week. Thanks to earning the 509th touchdown of his career this past season, veteran NFL quarterback Peyton Manning took home the trophy for Best Record-Breaking Performance. It is the second consecutive year that Manning has taken home the trophy for Best Record-Breaking Performance.

In one of the night’s more memorable moments, Cincinnati Bengals star Devon Still accepted the Jimmy V Award For Perseverance. The award, named after the late North Carolina State basketball coach, was given to Still and his daughter Leah for their courage and personal strength throughout Leah’s battle with cancer. And in what remains one of the night’s most talked about moments, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Jenner was presented with the award for going public with the story about the decision to become a woman, having kept hidden for years the feeling that she had always been a woman trapped in a man’s body. The Pat Tillman Award for Service was given out for just the second time this year. The award, named after NFL standout turned soldier Pat Tillman, was presented to Notre Dame Basketball player Iraq war veteran, and Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green for her service to the nation and commitment to both her service and her education.

Best Moment Award was posthumously presented to the late Mount St. Joseph University basketball player Lauren Hill while New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter took home the Icon Award. The awards noted here are just some of the awards passed out at this year annual ESPYS Award broadcast. The complete list of this year’s winners is noted below.

 

COMPLETE LIST OF THE 2015 ESPYS WINNERS

Best Record-Breaking Performance: Peyton Manning

Best Breakthrough Athlete: Mo’ne Davis

Best Championship Performance: LeBron James

Best Comeback Athlete: Rob Gronkowski

Best Female Athlete: Ronda Rousey

Best Play: Odell Beckham Jr.

Best Male Athlete: Stephen Curry

Best Team: USWNT

Best Game: Super Bowl

Best Upset: Ole Miss over Alabama

Best NFL Player: Aaron Rodgers

Best NBA Player: Stephen Curry

Best Fighter: Ronda Rousey

Best Female Action Sports Athlete: Kelly Clark

Best Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Best Male Athlete with a Disability: Krige Schabort

Best MLS Player: Robbie Keane

Best Coach: Steve Kerr

Best International Athlete: Lionel Messi

Best MLB Player: Mike Trout

Best NHL Player: Jonathan Toews

Best WNBA Player: Skylar Diggins

Best Driver: Kevin Harvick

Best Male Golfer: Jordan Spieth

Best Female Golfer: Lydia Ko

Best Male Tennis Player: Novak Djokovic

Best Female Tennis Player: Serena Williams

Best Male College Athlete: Marcus Mariota

Best Female College Athlete: Missy Franklin

Best Male Action Sports Athlete: Ryan Dungey

Best Female Athlete with a Disability: Becca Meyers

Best Bowler: Jason Belmonte

 

SPECIAL AWARDS

Jimmy V Award for Perseverance: Devon and Leah Still

Pat Tillman Award for Service: Danielle Green

Best Moment: Lauren Hill

Icon Award: Derek Jeter

Arthur Ashe Award for Courage: Caitlyn Jenner

 

More information on this year’s ESPYS including video clips from last night’s broadcast and much more is available online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/espys/2015

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

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The Sixties Is A Must See For Any Real History Buff

Courtesy: CNN/PBS/Fremantle Media International/Herzog & Co./Playtone

Courtesy: CNN/PBS/Fremantle Media International/Herzog & Co./Playtone

Earlier this year, PBS and CNN teamed up to release CNN’s 2014 documentary The Sixties on DVD. This latest trip back in time is not the first time that PBS has taken viewers back to America’s most tumultuous and transformative era. It is however the most in-depth look at the era that PBS’ viewers have gotten to date. That depth lies at the center of the series’ success and its overall enjoyment. The depth in question is provided by the interviews and general material covered within each segment. Making this presentation just as enjoyable is that segmentation. Rather than just trying to jam everything into one continuous stream of consciousness sort of presentation as many other outlets do, CNN has shortened the whole of the program, thus shortening it into ten roughly forty-five to fifty minute segments. This better ensures audiences’ engagement from beginning to end. That coupled with each segment’s pacing ensures even more that audiences will remain engaged from one segment to the next and might even lead viewers to want to remain engaged. Whether for the material covered, for the segmentation of the series in whole or for the pacing of each segment, the whole of these elements together shows The Sixties to be one more of this year’s best new documentaries.

The Sixties is one of this year’s best new documentaries hands down. It is not the first time that PBS has delved into what was one of America’s most tumultuous and transformative eras. But it is the most in-depth look at that era that the network’s viewers have gotten yet, even with the documentary being originally aired on CNN last year. It is that depth that lies at the center of the series’ success. The depth in question is provided by a variety of interviews and vintage footage that was originally recorded during the course of the presented events. Even more specifically, the interviewees featured within each segment are not just random celebrities and academics. They were people who were directly linked to the events in question. For instance, the series’ final segment “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll” features commentary from Jefferson Airplane member Grace Slick, Graham Nash of CSN, and famed music critic David Wild among others to discuss the cultural changes of the 60s and how they were being reflected within the music industry and back out amongst those subcultures that were linked to the changes (I.E. hippies, etc). There is also vintage footage of folk legend Joan Baez discussing politics and Jerry Garcia discussing the role of the Grateful Dead (in his younger days) in the world in comparison to the other bands and artists at the time. In “The Space Race,” audiences hear from Glynn Lunney, who was at the time head of the Gemini and Apollo missions, NASA administrator Charles Bolden, and NASA astronaut Mike Massimino among others. Their knowledge and experience within the U.S.’ space program throughout its history makes this segment all the richer and engrossing. They talk about the role that American pride played in the space race, President Johnson’s role in the space race and much more with the end result being yet another example of the series’ content playing an integral role in its success and enjoyment. Audiences even hear in the series’ opening segment “Television Comes of Age” from famed television personality Dick Cavett, Everybody Loves Raymond executive producer Phil Rosenthal, and veteran actress Sally Field among many other notable figures on the role of television in the 1960s from the good to the bad and the downright ugly. It’s interesting to really discover the tight connection that television had on America at the time and vice versa. This is especially the case when examining the role of television in America today. The material presented here is just as in-depth as the series’ other segments and shows just as much why once again the presented material is so important to the overall success and enjoyment of The Sixties. Whether for these segments, the segment centered on The Vietnam War, which reveals that the impact of the war weighed heavily on Johnson during his one term in office, or for the series’ other segments, the material presented throughout each segment via interviews and vintage footage presents The Sixties as one of the most in-depth and insightful pieces ever composed about America’s most influential eras.

The material that is presented through each of The Sixties’ segments proves it to be in the long run one of the most in-depth and insightful pieces crafted yet on what is one of the most important eras in America’s history. That is thanks to interviews with those directly linked to each segment and vintage footage that ties everything together. Of course as important as that element is to the whole of the presentation, it is only one part of what makes The Sixties worth the watch. The fact that it has been separated out into ten standalone segments adds to its success and enjoyment. This seems elementary. But the reality of the matter is that there are some specials and documentaries out there that try to cram everything into one long stream of consciousness sort of presentation, expecting to keep viewers’ attention along the way. CNN didn’t do that here. Each of the series’ ten segments clocks in at roughly fifty-one minutes each. That is about the same length of time as most episodes of PBS’ hit series. What’s more each segment even includes the bumps used to go to and come back from commercial breaks. This helps keep viewers engaged as it breaks up each segment within themselves, thus allowing viewers to take a quick mental break rather than feeling like they have to constantly keep up with everything being discussed. Having those quick breaks and relatively standard run times within each segment, audiences will be more inclined to remain engaged from one segment to the next. Being more inclined to remain engaged, audiences will in turn find themselves taking in the breadth of material presented within each segment and in turn experience for themselves the importance of said material in the whole of The Sixties as well as the segmentation of each segment.

The amount of information provided across the ten episodes that make up The Sixties and the separation of the episodes together makes this documentary a presentation that any and every history buff will appreciate. By themselves, both elements easily make the argument for this documentary series’ place on any critic’s list of the year’s best new documentaries. While both elements play their own important role in the success and enjoyment of The Sixties, the pacing of each segment should also be noted. Given that each segment runs roughly fifty-one minutes in length that offers plenty of room for lots of information. It also makes for plenty of room to add too much information. Luckily for audiences, those behind this series didn’t go that route. Each segment is expertly timed out, spending just enough time on each subject that makes up each segment. Viewers won’t be left feeling like they have to go back and watch one segment or another over again. The end result here is a greater understanding and in turn appreciation for the material presented throughout the course of the series. That understanding and appreciation will lead viewers to agree that The Sixties is well-deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new documentaries.

The Sixties is one of this year’s best new documentaries. Audiences that purchase this three-disc box set will agree with that sentiment. They will agree as they will see for themselves the depth of the information provided with in each of the series’ segments. They will agree just as much in noting the clearly defined separation of each segment from the others and each segment’s run time. Last but not least of all, audiences will agree in noting the pacing taken within each of the series’ segments. All things considered, The Sixties is one of the most in-depth documentaries to be released yet on the history of what is one of America’s most pivotal eras. It is available now and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=54994166&cp=&sr=1&kw=the+sixties&origkw=The+Sixties&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/

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

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Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season Gets An A+

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Warner Home Video

It’s been a while since this critic has said this but thank goodness for Shout! Factory. Ever since it went from being solely a music distributor to handling home entertainment releases a little more than a decade ago, Shout! Factory has gone on to become the leading name in home entertainment, releasing some of the biggest movies and TV series of the industry’s past and present. That includes one of its latest releases Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Third Season. Released this past May, the third season of the classic sitcom is yet another welcome escape for those wanting to get away from all of the overly violent and over-sexed dramas and comedies on television and in theaters today. Like so many of Shout! Factory’s previous (and current) releases, the secret to this season’s enjoyment and its overall success, is the work of the series’ writers. Regardless of their familiarity with the series, viewers will agree that the stories and the jokes that made up the body of season clearly offer their fair share of entertainment. The work of the series’ cast plays its own part in the episodes’ enjoyment, too. The quality of the episodes’ footage rounds out the ways in which this standalone set shows itself to be so enjoyable and a success. The footage looks and sounds just as good as it did in the series’ original broadcast nearly four decades ago. If not for that element, the other noted elements would be moot. Thankfully that isn’t the case here. Because it isn’t, this season in whole proves to be yet another great addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library. It is just as welcome in the collection of any of the series’ fans.

Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season is a welcome addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library and that of any fan of the beloved classic sitcom. It may have only lasted a total of four seasons in its original run on ABC, but it still stands decades after it ended that run as one of the best sitcoms of the 20th Century. That is just as obvious in the series’ third season as its first seasons thanks to the work of the series’ writers. Much as with its first two seasons the writing incorporated into Season Three boasts a wonderful, solid mix of both heart and humor. It is yet another refreshing escape from everything on television and in theaters today. It exemplifies everything that was once great about television and could be again. One example of what makes the writing this season so entertaining comes in the form of the episode “Kotter For Vice Principal.” This episode sees Mr. Kotter dreaming about what it would be like if he were vince principal instead of Vice Principal Woodman. The dream takes Mr. Kotter years into the future. His wife and students have all aged by decades. But he is still young. And he is dressed in regal attire. Over the course of his dream, he discovers that everyone is out to get him and replace him, leading to his revelation that he doesn’t in fact want to be Vice Principal. He reveals his decision to the Sweathogs, explaining that a low-paying job that you enjoy is better than a high-paying one that you don’t. In an age when people are being pushed to step all over each other and climb that proverbial corporate ladder, this is a lesson that is all too necessary and welcome.

The heart and humor incorporated into “Kotter For Vice Principal” by themselves make this episode a great example of what makes Season Three a blast. On another level, the use of the dream sequence should be noted, too. The use of the dream sequence is something that while not too overly present, was commonplace among sitcoms of the day. The fact that this is the only one of Season Three’s episodes to use the dream sequence element makes it even more enjoyable. Had any more episodes used this element it might have gotten old. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Because it didn’t, it makes its use here that much more enjoyable and valuable to the season in whole.

“Meet Your New Teacher: Batteries Not Included” is another excellent example of the series’ continued display of heart and humor. This episode sees a computer introduced into Mr. Kotter’s class, leaving both Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs concerned that it is going to replace him. Thanks to their concern for their teacher, the Sweathogs re-wire the computer in order to make Woodman look bad in front of Mr. Jan. It’s not the only time over the course of the Welcome Back Kotter’s four seasons that the Sweathogs show such dedication and loyalty to their teacher. And even with that in mind, it still doesn’t get old. Rather, it is one of those elements of the series’ writing that continues to put a smile on audiences’ faces even this far into the series’ run. It’s too bad that so few students today have that kind of loyalty for their own teachers. What’s more, it is sad that so few teachers have such dedication to their students. That isn’t to say that there are no teachers and students such as what is seen here. but they seem increasingly rare. So seeing that dedication here, it is in itself a touching scene. It’s just one part of what makes this episode such a clear example of Season Three’s enjoyment and success, too. The commentary of sorts that is included in the episode makes the episode even more enjoyable.

The commentary of sorts that is included in “Meet Your Teacher: Batteries Not Included” shows just as much heart as the episode’s story. It can be argued that the commentary featured in this episode is prophetic in its own right not just in the realm of education but in the workplace in whole. It is a commentary about the role of man and machine in the workplace. As Mr. Kotter notes, the computer should be used as a tool used by man, not as a replacement for mankind. If only employers and businesses today saw this episode, maybe they would take this commentary to heart. Even if they don’t it is nice to see that at least at one point someone out there saw the writing on the wall and cared about it, even if it was just a writer for a TV series.

Both “Meet Your Teacher: Batteries Not Included” and “Kotter For Vice President” are in their own way examples of what makes Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season so enjoyable for audiences. Both episodes show their own share of both heart and humor. They are but a couple of examples of what makes Season Three such a hit. “The Return of Hotsy Totsy”, which comes near the end of Season Three, is one more example of the humor and heart that continued to be exhibited in the series’ third season. As the episode’s title hints, Hotsy Totsy returns. Only this time, it’s in a rather unexpected fashion. She is re-introduced, if only for the one episode, when the Sweathogs make a trip to a strip joint (yes, a strip joint) and discover her working there. They also discover much to their surprise that she is a mother. What happens from there is just as much of a surprise as Mr. Kotter, the Sweathogs, and even Vice Principal Woodman work to find her a job, rather than judge her. Even more touching and surprising is that Horshack reveals he has taken a job in order to support Hotsy Totsy and her baby, even though the baby isn’t even his. Such behavior is the polar opposite of what one might see on TV or even in theaters today given the presented story. There is no judgement, only respect, care and concern for her and her baby. The fact that even Vice Principal Woodman would even try to help her makes this episode even more touching and entertaining. It is one of those few moments from at least this season the Woodman shows he has a heart. There are other moments in which he shows a humane side. This is just one of those moments. It’s yet another way in which Season Three’s writing shows itself to be key to this season’s enjoyment. Whether through the episodes noted here or through any of the others that make up Season Three, audiences will agree that every one of Season Three’s episodes exhibits its own way writing that will both move viewers and move them to laughter. The fact that every single episode can move viewers in such positive fashion is a strong statement in itself. It’s just one way in which Season Three shows itself to be so enjoyable, too. The work of the show’s cast should also be noted in its enjoyment.

The episodes that make up Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season offer far more than their share of enjoyment. Not one episode can be said to be unenjoyable. As much enjoyment as they bring, they are just a fraction of what makes Season Three so enjoyable. The work of the series’ cast makes each episode enjoyable in its own right, too. Whether on their own or interacting with each other, the show’s cast members create plenty of enjoyment for viewers. Horshack’s continued zany antics will leave viewers in stitches as will Washington’s own take on Good Times actor Jimmy Walker’s J.J. Evans. Gabe Kaplan and John Sylvester White are just as entertaining together as Mr. Kotter and Vice Principal Woodman. The duo’s continued back and forth throughout this season harkens back to the comic greats of days gone by even before them. Of course one would be remiss to ignore John Travolta’s portrayal of Vinnie Barbarino. Travolta is just as entertaining as his cast mates both in his comical moments and his more moving moments. There is a solid balance of those moments both for him and his cast mates, too as audiences will see for themselves throughout Season Three. Whether for Travolta’s work in front of the camera or for that of the rest of the series’ cast, it can be said in watching through Season Three that the combined efforts of the cast in whole makes Season Three all the more enjoyable. Together with the work of the show’s writers, both elements make Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season yet another A+ installment of the classic series.

The work of both the writers and cast members throughout the third season of Welcome Back Kotter give it a clear passing grade. For all of the enjoyment that both elements bring to Season Three, neither would be of any importance if not for the work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here. Those individuals are to be just as highly applauded as the show’s writers and its cast. Being that nearly four decades have passed since Season Three made its original debut, a lot has changed in the world of recording technology. It is thanks to those advances and the work of those at Shout! Factory and Warner Home Video that the footage looks and sounds as good as it does here. The sound and video are perfectly synched up and sounds wonderful. In regards to the video, many of the imperfections created in the series’ original recording have been handled with just as much as care and precision. While some smaller elements do still remain, the footage by and large looks far clearer than in its original broadcast making it that much more worth the watch. Coupled with its clean audio mix, the overall production values presented in this season round out the ways in which it shows itself to be so enjoyable. Those values coupled with the work of the show’s writers and its cast, all three elements combined show Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season to be one more welcome addition to the home library of any classic TV buff and any long-time fan of a series that is one of the 20th Century’s greatest sitcoms.

Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season is one more welcome addition–and must have for that matter–to the home DVD library of any classic TV buff and fan of Welcome Back Kotter. It shows this clearly through the work of the series’ writers, who have presented once again a solid balance of humor and heart that will move viewers and move them to laughter. The work of the cast in its interpretation of each episode’s script makes for even more enjoyment throughout the season. The restoration of this season’s episodes rounds out the ways in which Season Three shows itself to be so enjoyable. All things considered, Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season gets yet another A+ as does Shout! Factory for its release. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/welcome-back-kotter-season-three. More information on this and other titles 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 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.

StarVista Succeeds Again With The Wonder Years: Season Three

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

It is official. StarVista Entertainment now has two new releases on this critic’s list of this year’s best new box sets for children and families. There is a third release from StarVista that has made this critics list of the best new box sets for grown-ups. But that is a story for another time. Getting back on topic, one of the noted box sets on this year’s list—The Wonder Years Season 2—was released back in February of this year. The other—The Wonder Years Season 3—was just released late last month. It is interesting to note how quickly StarVista has churned out the series’ first three seasons considering that Season One was released as recently as this past October. It’s interesting to note because of how enjoyable each season has proven, including the newly released third season. Typically when companies churn out releases (box sets or DVDs/Blu-rays) the end result is a presentation that is largely forgettable and hardly worth the watch. Thankfully, in the case of The Wonder Years, audiences will be happy to know that the standards established by StarVista in the series’ first two seasons have been maintained throughout the course of this season, too thus making Season Three just as enjoyable as those first two seasons and proving why it is yet another piece from StarVista that is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families.

The third season of The Wonder Years is just as enjoyable for audiences of all ages as the series’ first two seasons. This is the case even though the company released it only about three months after the release of the series’ second season and only seven months after the series’ debut season. It is so enjoyable because those charged with its assembly and release maintained the same standards used within those sets in this one, too. The main standard in question is the inclusion of every one of the season’s twenty-three total episodes in their entirety. The episodes in question are ones that once again are just as relatable for audiences today as they were to audiences in their original run on ABC so many years ago. The set’s first disc is loaded with examples of how those episodes remain so timeless. It opens with “Summer Song” in which Kevin has his first-ever summer romance. While not everybody out there has had that fabled one-time “relationship” enough people have had it even now in the twenty-first century to make it relatable. “Rock ‘n Roll” is just as relatable. Again it is not entirely relatable to every viewer today. But one glance at the teeny-bopper and tweeny-bopper sitcoms and dramas out there today shows just how relatable this episode remains despite its age. Having that teen band is something that so many young people do as part of their “coming of age” even today. Even this critic went through that at one point. “Goodbye” is perhaps one of the most powerful of the season’s episodes in its ability to relate to viewers as it sees Kevin having to face one of the most difficult situations that he would ever face in his life. It is a situation that every young person has to face at one point or another. It is just part of that personal growth that everybody goes through at one point or another as they get older. Staying on that note, the fact that the third season of The Wonder Years continues to present Kevin’s coming of age—his personal growth and his growth as part of a family unit—in whole, it makes the series that much more believable and in turn more memorable from one episode to the next. That alone makes this latest season set that much more of a must have for audiences of any age. In other words it proves even more why it is one of this year’s best new box sets for the whole family.

The presentation of The Wonder Years’ third season in its entirety is the most important aspect to its enjoyment. It is a serial that really is not a serial. The scenarios presented in each episode are timeless mirror images of the real world and vice versa. They are just part of what makes this season another success. Along with including all twenty-three (NOT seventeen) episodes featured in the season’s original run, StarVista Entertainment has once again included a load of in-depth bonuses for audiences. Audiences get to hear from stars Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano yet again in another roundtable discussion that focuses on not just Season Three but the show’s other seasons, too. There are also one-on-one interviews with McKellar and her sister Crystal–who played another of Kevin’s romantic interests, Becky Slater—as well as Olivia d’Abo (Karen Arnold) and Jason Hervey (Wayne Arnold). If that’s not enough for fans, StarVista has one again included a companion booklet that serves as not just an episode guide but its own true bonus companion to the season set. It is a bonus because once again, it provides extra behind-the-scenes “secrets” about each episode such as the revelation that Fred Savage’s younger brother (and now fellow famed actor) Ben played Cupid—a.k.a. Curtis Hartsell—in the episode “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” or that Danica McKellar joined the ranks of greats such as Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra, Eva Marie Satin, Hal Holbrook, Spalding Gray, and Paul Newman in performing in the play Our Town. Sure, it was as Winnie Cooper. But it is still pretty interesting to learn this little tidbit of information. There are even more masses of extras shared throughout the set’s bonus companion booklet that audiences will enjoy learning for themselves. Together with the season’s full complement of fully believable and entertaining episodes it both elements together show quite clearly why this latest release is another of the year’s best new box sets for families. While both elements are equally important to the season’s enjoyment, they still are not all that makes this set so memorable and a must have. The look and sound of the set is another standard that StarVista has maintained in this season.

Audiences that perhaps might not have already picked up the first two seasons of The Wonder Years will be quite pleasantly surprised by the series’ third season box set. That is because it maintains the high standards set by StarVista for itself in the noted box sets in every way. It presents every episode from the classic series’ third season in whole. Added on to that, the episodes continue to keep audiences engaged and entertained because of their reality. The bonus material that was included with the series’ previous standalone sets are just as prevalent here as in those sets. They make the overall viewing experience presented in this box set all the richer for viewers. While both standards go a long way toward making The Wonder Years: Season Three enjoyable for audiences, the collective production values of the episodes (their overall look and sound), are also just as impressive as those of the previous seasons’ episodes. The grainy look of the show from its original run is there. Bu it has been cleaned up just enough to keep the picture clear. The season’s audio mix is just as impressive. This is especially the case with the show’s soundtrack. The songs that make up the show’s foundation sound wonderful whether on a standard television or one with a home theater system. In the same vein, the audio has been handled so professionally that at no point will viewers have to ride their remotes so to speak. In other words, whether in the transitions from dialogue to music and back or from scene to scene in general, viewers will not have to worry about adjusting the volume on their TVs. Yes it seems minor on the surface. But there are those series and movies that suffer dramatically from poor audio management which leads to viewers riding their remotes constantly. It really takes away from the overall viewing experience. Thankfully, again, viewers don’t have to worry about that here. Because they don’t have to worry about making that constant adjustment, viewers will be able to spend their time taking in the stories presented in every one of the season’s twenty-three episodes as well as all of the season’s bonus material. It rounds out the set and shows once and for all why The Wonder Years: Season Three is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families.

The Wonder Years: Season Three is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families, in case that point hasn’t already been driven home. It has more than earned this title thanks to the fact that it presents the same high standards established by StarVista Entertainment in the series’ first two season sets. It presents all twenty-three episodes that make up Season Three in their full, joy-filled and often emotional moments. The bonus material boasted by the series’ first two season sets are also present here. Just as impressive is the fact that this season looks and sounds just as impressive as those standalone sets. Whether on their own or collectively, all three elements noted here show without a doubt that the third season of The Wonder Years is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from StarVista Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://timelife.com

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

Twitter: 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

TMG Resurrecting The Rebel This Summer

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group

This summer, fans of the classic western series The Rebel will finally get to see it for the first time again when Timeless Media Group releases the series in its entirety on DVD.

Timeless Media Group announced this week that it will release The Rebel: The Complete Series on DVD on Tuesday, August 18th.  All seventy-six episodes of the classic series will be spread across eleven discs in the soon to be released box set.  The collection will also feature a number of bonus features including the pilot for The Rebel’s companion series The Yank, the retrospective featurette “Looking Back at The Rebel” with the series’ writer and producer A.J. Fenady, and a retrospective interview with star Nick Adams’ children in which they discuss their father both on-screen and off as well as other bonuses.  The Rebel aired on ABC from 1959 – 1691.  Over the course of that short run it featured a slew of well-known guest stars including: Robert Blake (Baretta, In Cold Blood, Lost Highway), Jack Elam (Once Upon A Time In The West, The Cannonball Run, Rio Lobo), Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched, Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons), Dan Blocker (Bonanza, The Restless Gun, Cimarron City), Soupy Sales (Love, American Style, Saturday Supercade, Black Scorpion—TV series), Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Bullitt, The Magnificent Seven), and Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek, Fringe, Mission Impossible—TV Series) among other equally well-known figures.

The Rebel: The Complete Series will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, August 18th.  It will retail for MSRP of $59.97.  Fans of the series can pre-order it for a discounted price of $53.97 online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://shoutfactory.com/tv/western/the-rebel-the-complete-series-the-collector-s-edition.  More information on this and other titles from TMG is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/Timeless-Media-Group

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364

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.

ESPN Events To Debut New College Football Bowl Game This Season

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

College football teams across the country will have yet another bowl to vie for when the 2015 – 2016 season kicks off this fall.

ESPN Events announced today that it will debut the Celebration Bowl this season. The game, which will debut Saturday, December 19th, is meant to pay tribute to the legacy and values of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The matchup will see the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champion take on the champion of the Southwest Athletic Conference. Pete Derzis, Senior VP of ESPN Events discussed the announcement with the press saying, “We could not be more pleased to have the Celebration Bowl kicking off the college football bowl season on ABC.” He went on to add the expectations for the inaugural game saying, “Not only will the first annual Celebration Bowl deliver a first-class postseason experience to the teams, their fans and their alumni; the live telecast on ABC will bring the thrill and pageantry of the bowl to fans across the nation.”

Both conferences’ commissioner also shared their thoughts on the upcoming game. Dennis Thomas, Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, was optimistic for the game’s debut and appreciative for ESPN’s continued dedication to both conferences. “We are excited about today’s announcement that the Celebration Bowl will be telecast on ABC,” he said. “We are eagerly looking forward to participating in this wonderful opportunity to showcase our student-athletes, coaches, institutions and our conference on this national stage. We are appreciative to ESPN for their continued partnership and commitment to this postseason experience.”

SWAC head Duer Sharp was just as positive in his remarks about the game saying, “The SWAC is excited about the announcement of the inaugural Celebration Bowl being televised on ABC. This stage will provide the nation with a front-row seat into the passion, pride and heritage of the SWAC and HBCU football. Our coaches, student-athletes and SWAC fans across the nation look forward to meeting in ATL on December 19.” He also spoke on behalf of the SWAC in noting the conference’s appreciation for ESPN’s support of both the SWAC and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference saying “The SWAC appreciates ESPN and their family of networks for their continued support and for providing our fans and student athletes the opportunity to perform on this national platform.”

John Grant is CEO of the organization 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. He expressed his thoughts on what the game means to the city of Atlanta since the game will be played in the Georgia Dome and what it means for America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “We are excited to collaborate with ESPN to launch the Celebration Bowl and continue our longstanding tradition of delivering an annual HBCU college football showdown to fans in Atlanta,” he said. “Having the game televised on ABC will showcase the best in HBCU football on a national stage.”

More information on the inaugural Celebration Bowl is available online now along with all of the latest news from ESPN Events online at:

Website: http://www.espnevents.com

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

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