Welcome Back, Kotter Season Four Is A Fond Farewell For A Great Series

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The end of the road is finally here for ABC’s timeless sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.  Late last month, Shout! Factory released the final season of the classic series on DVD.  And Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Fourth Season is quite the interesting way for this one of-a-kind series to go out.  As viewers will note in going through each of the season’s twenty-three total episodes, the writers are to be very highly commended for handling the drastic changes to the series’ landscape.  That is the central aspect of the season’s success.  It will be discussed shortly.  In connection to the work of the writers, the work of the series’ cast is just as important to its whole.  After the near complete departure of one-time star John Travolta and series head Gabriel Kaplan, Robert Hegyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and Ron Palillo carried on quite well alongside Marcia Strassman and John Sylvester White.  Last but hardly least of note is the series’ overall production values.  Audiences will appreciate that once again the show looks and sounds surprisingly good even as more than three decades have passed since the show ended its run on ABC.  All things considered, Welcome Back, Kotter goes out on a high note in its fourth and final season.  The proverbial waters were not easy to tread considering the show’s changes.  But somehow all involved managed to navigate them.  The end result is a collection of episodes that every Kotter fan will want to have in his or her own DVD library even though it really is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.

Welcome Back, Kotter is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.  That is because in this the series’ final season, Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) is written almost entirely out of the show after the season’s first three episodes.  After those first three episodes, the only mentions of Mr. Kotter come in the part of his wife (played by Marcia Strassman) mentioning him being at this conference or that–as he is now the school’s Vice Principal–whenever now Principal Woodland is looking for him.  She essentially becomes the Kotter in Welcome Back, Kotter.  All of this aside, Season Four still manages to be just as entertaining as the series’ previous three seasons.  The main reason for that enjoyment is the work of the show’s writers.  The work of the series’ writers in the final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one of the most important reasons for the show’s success.  With what can only assume was the departure of star Gabe Kaplan from the show and the all but nonexistent John Travolta (Travolta appears in this season only in a handful of episodes), the writers had a lot to handle.  That’s because it forced the writers to either adjust to the changes or completely overhaul the show.  Luckily, they did the prior and did so with the utmost professionalism.  They crafted twenty-three episodes that stylistically were familiar both to the cast and crew, and to viewers.  They also exhibited the writers’ collective ability to show that the series could still float even without two of its main stars.  Sure there were some changes here and there.  But by and large, the emphasis on education, friendship and other serious subjects were just as appreciable as the laughs that were tied into every one of the season’s episodes.  Some of the best examples of that balance and solid writing come in the form of “Washington’s Clone,” “The Gang Show,” and “Once Upon A Ledge.”  The prior of the trio takes a similar tone as that of the season’s two-part premiere in its emphasis on the importance of education.  The difference between the two is that “Washington’s Clone” tackles the subject by having Washington having to address a straight-A student named Arthur who wants to be just like him instead of the student everybody had come to know him to be.  Arthur goes so far as to steal watches from his father’s store in order to try and impress Washington.  What’s really interesting here is that for all of the “coolness” for which he is normally known, Washington is forced to show an unfamiliar, serious side in which he has to play counselor to Arthur in his attempt to get Arthur back on the right track.  It’s a surprising yet welcome change to see from Washington.  “The Gang Show” is more light-hearted but still tackles some serious issues in the process.  That light-hearted approach begins right at the episode’s title, which playfully pokes fun at the one-time hit game show The Gong Show.  Beau and Arnold become judges for the school’s annual talent show in this episode.  Fittingly Epstein and Washington team up for their own act.  This forces Arnold and Beau to balance loyalty and friendship with honesty and honor as judges.  The result is absolutely comical but still presents a good message that even today’s younger viewers will appreciate.  Those same viewers will appreciate the writers’ tackling of teen suicide as new character Mary Johnson threatens suicide because she feels unnoticed and unappreciated by anyone else at school.  Go figure, she would go on to be a key character in the season’s advancement.  These are just a few examples of how the writing that went into Season Four make it work so well even with the seeming departure of Kaplan in front of the camera at least and the near full departure of John Travolta.  Each of the season’s remaining twenty episodes could just as easily be used as examples of the writers’ talents, too.  For instance, the handling of alcohol abuse (and more specifically teen alcohol abuse) in “Come Back, Little Arnold,” the lessons of friendship and truth in media in “The Sweat Smell of Success” and the still hot button topic of sex education in “X-Rated Education.” Whether through these episodes, the ones more directly addressed, or through any of the season’s others, it can be said that the episodes in whole prove clearly the importance of the show’s writing even with the changes that came with the season. They are just part of what makes this season work as well as it does, too. The work of the show’s cast proves just as pivotal to its success and enjoyment.

The work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter shows throughout each of this season’s episodes makes this season just as enjoyable as the series’ previous three seasons. That is the case even despite the changing landscape of the show in its final run. In connection to the work of the show’s writers, the work of the show’s cast is just as pivotal to its continued enjoyment. This is key to note because of the noted changes. Stars Ron Palillo, Robert Hegyes, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs were forced into the spotlight after [Gabe] Kaplan was essentially written out along with Travolta’s Vinnie Barberino. The trio handled their new roles with just as much professionalism as the show’s writers. There were plenty of laughs from the trio’s mix of physical comedy and almost Three-Stooges style back and forth throughout each episode. Even when it was time for the trio to step up and be more serious, such as when they get Norman to admit to his trouble with alcohol and when they had to get Arthur back on the right track, they did so with an equal level of expertise. Interestingly enough, Beau (Stephen Shortridge) was rather underutilized after his introduction as the newest member of the Sweathogs. It’s almost as if he was brought in without full forethought. Even considering this, Palillo, Hegyes, and Hilton-Jacobs hold their own and create plenty of laughs and moving moments through this season, showing time and again why their work was so important to the season’s success.

Both the work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter and that of the show’s cast are of equal importance to the enjoyment and overall success of the series’ final season. As important as both elements are to the whole of the recently released box set neither would be worth the mention without mention of the set’s production values. Specifically speaking none of it would be worth mentioning without mention of the footage’s audio and video mix. In regards to its video mix, the footage looks just as impressive as that in the series’ previous standalone season sets. The season has been restored to its original condition. And once again, the grainy look of the footage has been cleaned up without losing that original look that the show presented in its original run. The sound is just as enjoyable. Considering the recording tech available at the time, that says quite a bit. When set alongside the work of the show’s cast and writers, the work of those charged with restoring Season Four’s footage makes this final installment of Welcome Back, Kotter one last must have for Kotter fans and classic TV fans alike.

The fourth and final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one last must have both for fans of the classic series and for classic television fans alike. That is proven through the work of the series’ writers and cast, and through the work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here. Season Four is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/welcome-back-kotter-the-final-season. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

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Shout! Factory To Resurrect Another Hidden Classic This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

This fall, Shout! Factory will resurrect another piece of hidden television history that was long thought forgotten when it releases the short-lived ABC action-comedy Automan.

Shout! Factory, in partnership with Fabulous Films, will release Automan: The Complete Series on Tuesday, November 10th. The 13-episode series originally ran on ABC from December 15th, 1983 to April 2nd, 1984. It starred Desi Arnaz, Jr. (The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy) in the series’ lead role of Walter Nebicher. Nebicher was an IT professional with dreams of being more than just a tech man for his local police department. Though, his superiors have other ideas. So he creates the artificial intelligence program Automan (Chuck Wagner—General Hospital, All My Children) to help fight crime in his city. Automan is accompanied by a small, floating droid named Cursor much as Clu did in Disney’s surprise hit 1982 movie Tron. Speaking of the similarities between Automan and Tron they are not coincidental. Automan was co-produced by Donald Kushner (Tron, Tron: Legacy).

Automan: The Complete Series will be accompanied by a handful of extras for even more enjoyment including a forty-two-minute documentary titled: “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature,” which includes interviews with series stars Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz, Jr., and heather McNair. There will also be a feature focusing on “The Story of Automan,” a trailer for Manimal: The Complete Series, which will be released alongside Automan: The Complete Series by Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films, a number of picture galleries and more. The complete list of bonus features included in Automan: The Complete Series is noted below.

Special Features:

  • “Calling Automan” – The Auto Feature – 42 minutes

An all-new documentary featuring interviews with Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Heather McNair

  • The Story of Automan
  • Feature Story
  • Original Cast and Crew Biographies
  • Collectables Gallery
  • Stills Gallery
  • Manimal Trailer

Automan: The Complete Series will be available on DVD in stores and online on Tuesday, November 10th. It will retail for MSRP of $26.99 but can be pre-ordered for a discounted price of $21.99 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-sci-fi/automan-the-complete-series. 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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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Fans Of The “Western World” Will Enjoy TMG’s The Rebel: The Collector’s Edition

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group

Next Tuesday, Timeless Media Group will resurrect another piece of television’s golden era when it releases The Rebel: The Collector’s Edition. While not the first time that any of the classic Western series’ episodes have ever seen the light of day, the release of the box set will mark the first time ever that the series will have been released in its entirety. That very fact is one reason, if not the most important reason, that fans of this and other classic Westerns will want to add this box set to their home libraries. The series’ production values in its re-issue are just as important to note. Thanks to the efforts of those charged with restoring the footage, it still retains its classic vintage look and sound without looking any worse or even spit-shined. This includes it being presented in its original 4:3 format. Last but hardly least worth noting of the series that makes it worth any Western fan’s time is its writing. The series’ premise and various storylines set this series apart from the glut of other Westerns that dominated the airwaves from the late 1950s up until roughly the early 1970s. Thanks to the “rural purge,” all of those shows eventually met their demise along with the likes of Green Acres, The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies and other series of that ilk. All three elements combined, they show clearly why TMG’s upcoming release of The Rebel: The Collector’s Edition a collection that every Western fan will want to have in his or her home DVD library.

Timeless Media Group’s upcoming release of The Rebel: The Collector’s Edition is not the first time that this classic Western has ever seen the light of day in any form. It is however, the first time ever that the series will have been released in its entirety in one complete collection. For fans of the classic Western series, this is the core reason that its release will be quite welcome. Nearly six decades have passed since The Rebel first aired on ABC. And more than half a century has passed since it ended its two-season run. In that time, it has never seen a complete series release either on VHS or DVD. That means the only other set to which this box set can be compared is the thirty-episode set The Rebel Volume 1: Collector’s Edition. That set doesn’t even present half of the classic Western’s episodes. More specifically, it only presents thirty of the series’ seventy-six total episodes. It also comes complete with a number of extras that more than live up to the title of bonus features. Among those extras is a retrospective on the series presented by series writer/producer A.J. Fenady, an interview with star Nick Adams’ children Allyson and Jeb, and even the pilot episode for The Rebel’s proposed spinoff series The Yank. The standard production stills gallery are there as are a number of commercials featuring Adams. All things considered, the end result here is material (bonus and main) that totals in the range of forty-hours. Now that is a true binge-worthy offering. And it is just one part of what makes this first ever full release of The Rebel worth the addition to the library of any of the series’ fans and to those of any fan of the Western world (and yes, that pun was fully intentional).

TMG’s presentation of The Rebel in its entirety for the first time is plenty of reason for fans of the series to add this new box set to his or her own home library. The additional material that is included to complement the series adds even more motivation for fans of both the series and of classic Westerns. Collectively, they give fans plenty of reason to pick up this box set. They are only part of the whole reason that the set proves so impressive. The look and sound of the footage in its restoration (I.E. its production values) play into its end result, too. Considering that a little more than half a century has passed since The Rebel ended its original run on ABC and that its episodes have barely even seen the light of day since then, the quality of the footage in regards to its video and audio mix is surprisingly impressive. Those charged with restoring the footage are to be highly commended for their efforts to bring this classic series back to life. It is thanks to their work that the footage retains the grainy look from its original run on television so many decades ago. Yet it is obvious that it has been cleaned up without being completely spit-shined. It even retains its original 4:3 aspect ratio from its original run. The result of that work is a sense of nostalgia that the show’s original fans will appreciate wholeheartedly and a whole new appreciation for the series by its younger audiences. In regards to the sound quality, it still retains some of the show’s original audio imperfections. But those imperfections are not so overpowering that they ruin the set by any means. Rather, the fact that it retains said imperfections actually adds to that sense of nostalgia established via the quality of the video. It has obviously been re-mastered as best as possible by those same people who restored the show’s footage for its presentation here. Thanks to their efforts here, that sense of nostalgia is heightened even more with the end result being seventy-six episodes that look and sound almost exactly as they did in their original run if not a little better at the same time. It’s yet another reason that this new release will impress fans of the series just as much as those audiences that are fans of the Western genre in whole.

Both the presentation of The Rebel in its entirety here and the equally impressive work of those that restored the footage play their own important part in the enjoyment and success of this classic series. For all of their importance to the presentation in whole, they are hardly all that make the set worth the purchase. The work of the show’s writers is just as important as those elements to the overall enjoyment and success of this set. The work of the show’s writers is to be noted because it is thanks to their work that the show set itself so clearly apart from its counterparts on NBC, CBS, and ABC alike all beginning with the show’s premise. Looking at the series’ premise, it could be argued that Johnny Yuma was one of television’s earliest crime fighters. In Johnny, viewers get a man who is essentially an anti-hero figure of sorts. He is trying to make up for the things that he did in the Civil War. In turn, he becomes a roaming, crime fighter, righting wrongs wherever he goes. In the process, he avoids the use of violence whenever possible. That aspect of Johnny sets him apart from so many other classic western figures. This is so interesting in that while he is an anti-hero figure of sorts, it shows that he has a conscience at least to a point. He isn’t just another stereotypical shoot first-ask questions later type that is so common among western figures. That very basis provides more than enough reason for audiences to watch each of Johnny’s adventures. And audiences will be happy to know that thanks to the inclusion of an episode guide printed on the inside front and back of both cases, they will be able to choose which adventure(s) they enjoy with each watch. Regardless of which episode(s) audiences choose, they will agree that in watching each one, the writing proves to be some of the most underappreciated of television’s “Western era.” And combined with the previously noted elements, rounds out the reasons that Western aficionados will enjoy and appreciate this new set.

TMG’s upcoming release of The Rebel: The Collector’s Edition marks the first time that the series has ever been released in its entirety in any setting. That being the case, TMG and those charged with restoring the classic yet short-lived series are to be collectively applauded for the product that is presented in this upcoming box set. From the very fact that the box set includes the series in its entirety and does so with quality video and audio, to writing (both in regards to Johnny’s own back story and in regards to the episodes themselves), everything that has already been noted shows clearly why this new box set is one that any fan of The Rebel and that any fan of the “Western World” (is that term copyrighted yet?) will appreciate. The Rebel: The Collector’s Edition will be available next Tuesday, August 18th in stores and online. It will retail for MSRP of $59.97 but can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store at a discounted price of $53.97 at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/western/the-rebel-the-complete-series-the-collector-s-edition. More information on this and other titles from Timeless Media Group is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group

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Iger: “We Are Honored To Call Him A Disney Legend”–TWDC CEO Speaks On Giffords’ Passing

Courtesy:  The Walt Disney Company

Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company

The football world lost one of its most beloved names today.
NFL great Frank Gifford passed away today. Gifford, a former member of the New York Giants and one of the most respected and talented announcers in NFL history, died this morning. Reports state that the NFL Hall of Famer died of natural causes. He was 84-years old. As a former broadcaster for ABC Sports’ NFL coverage, Gifford became part of one of the greatest commentary teams in NFL history. That team consisted of himself, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. In response to Gifford’s passing Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company released a statement today speaking on Gifford’s legacy and his passing. The following is Iger’s statement.

“Frank Gifford was an exceptional man who will be missed by everyone who had the joy of seeing his talent on the field, the pleasure of watching his broadcasts, or the honor of knowing him. His many achievements were defined by a quiet dignity and a personal grace that is seldom seen in any arena; he truly embodied the very best of us. Frank’s contributions to ABC Sports and our company are immeasurable. We are honored to call him a Disney Legend and I am very fortunate to have called him a dear friend and colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”

More information on this story is available online along with all of the latest NFL headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

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

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Saban, Shout! Factory’s New Standalone Power Rangers Series Is A Must Have For Any Power Rangers Fan

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Next Tuesday, Shout! Factory will continue its ongoing series of Power Rangers installments when it releases Power Rangers LightSpeed Rescue: The Complete Series. Its release next Tuesday marks the first time that it has seen the light of day as its own standalone series/season set. Previously, it was released as part of the Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 mega-set in November of 2013. That set also included Power Rangers Time Force: The Complete Series, Power Rangers Wild Force: The Complete Series, Power Rangers Ninja Storm: The Complete Series, and Power Rangers Dino Thunder: The Complete Series. The total price of the five-season set averaged well over one hundred dollars. For many that price made the box more of a wish list item than a reality. By comparison, the average price for Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: The Complete Series is only about fifteen dollars depending on the outlet. That and its more widespread availability together form the central reason that this new standalone series/season set will be of great interest to any Power Rangers fan. It’s just one small part of the whole that makes it worth the addition to any fan’s collection. The writing that went into PRLSR (as it will be called from here on out) plays its own part in this series/season set. Being a forty-episode run, the writers don’t waste any time moving the story along even from the show’s outset. Last but hardly least of note that makes this set enjoyable for fans is the work of the show’s cast. Keith Robinson’s take on Green Ranger Joel Rawlings while Sean Cw Johnson’s take on the Red Ranger Carter Grayson is just as solid on the opposite end of the spectrum. They aren’t the only cast members worth noting either. Whether for this reason, the set’s availability, or for the work of the series’ writers, Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: The Complete Series (a.k.a. Season 8), proves in the end to be yet another welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan’s collection.

Shout! Factory and Saban’s upcoming Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: The Complete Series is a great boon for any true Power Rangers fan. While it is not the first time that the series/season set has seen the light of day, it is the first time ever that the five-disc set has seen the light of day in its own standalone series/season set separate from the previously released Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 mega-set. That is the central reason that fans will want to add this latest set to their collections. Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 was not readily available to fans in stores. Nor was it cheap. It forced those that really wanted this season set to also go ahead and purchase the complete five-season set and do so online more often than not. It ran a little more than one hundred dollars. This set is much more affordable by comparison at roughly fifteen dollars. What’s more, odds are far greater of finding it in stores than the larger five-season set. That makes this standalone set just as valuable for fans as the larger collection regardless of their level of dedication to the show and in turn serves as a solid base for the rest of the reasons that audiences will appreciate this brand new box set.

The fact that Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: The Complete Series will likely be more readily available for Power Rangers fans is a most important reason for fans to pick up this collection. It serves as a solid base for the set’s other positives including the work of the series’/season’s writers. The work of those behind this series/season’s scripts is definitely well worth the note. Being that this season ran only forty episodes in total, the writers didn’t waste any time establishing its story line or assembling the season’s team of rangers. The execution of the team’s assembly lasted the entirety of the very first episode. And even after the team was established, the writers didn’t waste any time through the course of the series’ episodes dealing with any extra story elements unlike with the previous installments of the Power Rangers. Rather, they hit the ground running so to speak. Background elements such as Joel’s infatuation with Ms. Fairweather (Monica Louwerens) and Captain Mitchell’s relationship with his long-lost son Ryan (Rhett Fisher) in the multi-episode Titanium Ranger story arc were limited in their approaches. Joel’s infatuation with Ms. Fairweather was made more of a comic element than anything serious, though there were some rare instances when the pair got to show a little bit of dramatic flair. That will be noted later. And while the Titanium Ranger story arc was itself a key moment in the series/season, its more dramatic elements were controlled so as to not let them get out of control. This allowed for the story of Ryan’s return (and turn) to the good side to more easily progress and be more believable. Interestingly enough, true hardcore fans won’t be able to ignore this story arc’s blatant similarity to that of the original Green Ranger story arc from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. That aside, audiences will take note in regards to the series/season’s writing that this installment marks the first time ever that the Power Rangers went from being just a force for good, powered by fantastical powers to a more semi-militaristic organization (albeit a secretive one). It wouldn’t be the last time that the Rangers took such a form as they also appeared in that capacity both in Power Rangers Time Force and Power Rangers S.P.D. So to say that this series/season set the bar for later installments is the least. It really was a groundbreaking approach for Saban’s long-running hit franchise. That being the case, it rounds out the ways in which the series’/season’s writing proves to be key to its success. It still is not the last reason that fans will appreciate this latest installment of the Power Rangers ongoing saga. The work of the case is just as much to thank for this edition’s success and enjoyment.

The writing behind Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue was groundbreaking for the Power Rangers franchise at the time of its debut. That is because up until that point, the Rangers had been like so many other super-powered organizations. They were powered by fantastical, other-worldly sources. That was hardly the case in this installment. Rather here, they were created by a semi-militaristic source. That is actually just as believable as the source of the previous Power Rangers’ powers if not more so. It’s just one element of the series’/season’s writing so important. Even with the other elements previously noted, the writing in whole is only one more part–together with the set’s availability–of the set that makes it a must have for any true Power Rangers fan. The work of the show’s cast is just as important as its other noted elements. It has already been noted that in the case of Green Ranger Joel Rawlings (Keith Robinson–Dreamgirls, Dear John, This Christmas), Robinson’s portrayal of Joel is one example of what makes the cast’s work so entertaining. Robinson’s take on Joel makes Joel a fan favorite thanks to his comic timing and his surprising innocence. What makes this mix so impressive is the fact that Robinson balances it so well. He never lets that more emotional side overpower his comic side. Rather he lets it show just enough and at just the right moments to make Joel one of the true stars of the show. At the other end of the spectrum is Sean Cw Johnson as Carter Grayson (a.k.a. the Red Lightspeed Ranger). Johnson is given plenty of opportunities throughout this series/season to overplay his character’s All-American guy sort of character. Luckily, he didn’t do that. Rather, he embraced the role and made Carter into a persona that is the very definition of a leader. There is a certain humility about Carter throughout his time as the Red Ranger. It is a humility that interestingly enough even today’s young viewers might find themselves aspiring to emulate just as much as the young people of Mariner Bay. It makes Carter that much more of a believable character; perhaps even one of the single-most believable in the long-running history of the Power Rangers. Johnson’s is one more example of how the work of the Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue cast makes this season/series so enjoyable for any true Power Rangers fan. Any of the series’ other cast members could be used just as easily to exhibit the importance of the cast’s work. That would take some time to do, though. So considering this and the already provided examples, it is safe to say that the work of the series’/season’s cast is just as important as that of its writers and the general availability of this brand new box set in its overall success and enjoyment. All three elements combined together prove it to be a must-have for any hardcore Power Rangers fan.

Whether for its general availability verses that of the previously released Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 box set, the writing incorporated into this series/season, or for the work of the show’s cast, there is plenty to like about Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: The Complete Series. It will be available next Tuesday, August 11th in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/power-rangers-lightspeed-rescue-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Saban is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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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

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.