Matlock: Greatest Cases Is A Great Set For Dramaphiles And Matlock Fans Alike

Courtesy:  CBS DVD/Paramount

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

Courtroom dramas today are so boring. The reason being that there are so many of them. And among that mass of legalese there is little to no originality among said series. Thankfully those that love the genre but hate the general lack of choices have another option thanks to the people at CBS DVD and Paramount. That option comes in the form of the new Matlock compilation set Matlock: Greatest Cases. The three-disc collection was released in stores this past March. And regardless of viewers’ familiarity with the series this recently released collection proves to be one that any courtroom drama fan will enjoy. This is especially the case for those looking to escape all of the cookie cutter series on television today. The main reason for this is the collection of episodes featured throughout all three discs. There are eleven episodes featured in this set, one of which is a two-part episode. What’s more, each of the series’ nine seasons is represented through the episodes. This will be discussed shortly. It is just one reason that the collection proves so interesting for audiences. The writing behind each of the featured episodes is just as much to note as the episodes themselves. Audiences will note a clear difference between the overall content of these episodes and those of nearly every other courtroom drama that has been on television since it ended its run. Last but hardly least of note in this set is the work of the show’s cast, most notably of lead actor Andy Griffith. The intensity that seems so prevalent among casts of today’s courtroom dramas is nowhere to be seen at any point in these episodes. Yet the cast (including the guest stars) still keeps viewers entertained and engaged from beginning to end in each. It shows that even today dramas don’t have to be so overly dramatic in order to be entertaining. It rounds out the ways in which Matlock: Greatest Cases proves to be such an entertaining new collection of episodes from the classic series. Together with the featured episodes and their writing, the collection in whole shows clearly why dramaphiles and Matlock fans alike will want to pick up this box set.

Matlock is one of the best courtroom dramas of the 20th century. It ran for a total of nine seasons from 1986 to 1995. That run is actually as long as CBS’ classic courtroom drama Perry Mason. THAT series ran for nine seasons from 1957 to 1966. Earlier this year, CBS DVD and Paramount teamed up to release Matlock in its entirety in one complete series box set. It marked the second time since 2013 that the series had been released in one complete box set. Along with that collection CBS DVD and Paramount also released the much smaller compilation Matlock: Greatest Cases ahead of the show’s full-series re-issue on March 10th. This collection is a good representation of what made Matlock such a hit series for so long regardless of viewers’ devotion to the series. The main reason for this is the collection’s featured episodes. Matlock: Greatest Cases features a total of eleven episodes, one of which was a two-part episode. That brings the episode list to a total of twelve spread across three discs. The episodes themselves are just part of what makes them important. A closer look at the set reveals that all nine of the series’ seasons are represented through these episodes. That means that while it may only present eleven (or twelve depending on how one decides to count it) episodes, the collection in whole paints a relatively rich picture of the series and what made it such a fan favorite in its initial run on television. That being the case, the episodes that are featured throughout this collection show clearly why they are an important part of the collection’s overall presentation. They are not the set’s only important element, either. The writing behind the episodes is just as important as the episodes themselves.

The episodes that were culled for Matlock: Greatest Cases are in themselves an important part of the presentation’s whole. That is because they paint a relatively full picture of the series. The picture in question succeeds in showing in its own way what made (and continues to make) Matlock such a fan favorite. Of course without solid writing, the episodes wouldn’t be worth the presentation. It is safe to say in regards to the series writing that it is definitely solid. As a matter of fact, it is far more solid (and enjoyable) than that of so many courtroom dramas that have come along since Matlock ended its initial run. That is exemplified in every one of the collection’s episodes. That is because the show depicted within each featured episode is one that was more soft-boiled than hard. To illustrate that comparison, it is more akin to the like of Perry Mason than Law & Order or other more modern courtroom dramas. That is exemplified primarily through the set’s lead episode “The Judge.” Guest starring legendary entertainer Dick Van Dyke, the episode sees Van Dyke’s character Judge Carter Addison on trial after the murder of his lover Joanne Leigh (Bobbie Eakes–The Bold and the Beautiful, All My Children, One Life To Live). Most of the story takes place in the courtroom. There is no time wasted with investigators running around searching for evidence and interviewing possible suspects here, there, and everywhere. What this does is it allows for more character and story development. In turn, the noted character and story development will keep viewers fully engaged from beginning to end. It’s just one example of the importance of the series’ writing in this collection of episodes. “The Last Laugh” is another example of the importance of the series’ writing.

“The Judge” is in itself a key example of what makes Matlock’s writing so important even in this three-disc episode collection. “The Last Laugh” is another example of its importance. While subtle the episode’s title is one way in which the writing proves to be so important not just here but in every episode. The episode’s title, as with each featured episode’s title, is short and straight to the point. It tells the episode’s story without trying to be kitschy in its delivery or too simplistic either. The story’s execution is just as important as its title. In this episode, Matlock has to defend comedian Harvey Chase (Milton Berle) after Chase is accused of murdering another comic that had insulted him in front of an entire audience. The case looks to be cut and dry until Harvey accidentally reveals an important piece of evidence that could in fact prove his innocence. Not even Harvey had thought about the key piece of evidence. The ultimate reveal at the story’s end makes the whole adventure worth the watch. That is because at no point in the story’s run does Berle (who co-wrote the episode with Stephen Lord) make the answer obvious to audiences. Rather it keeps audiences guessing right up to that moment. In other words, Berle and Lord keep audiences engaged with ease from beginning to end yet again. They show just as much here as in any of the series’ other episodes that it is possible to have an enjoyable mystery without the dark, gritty content that is so prevalent in so many of today’s crime and courtroom dramas. It is not the last example of what makes the featured episodes’ writing so important even as impressive as it is here. “The Debt” is another example of the importance of the writing behind Matlock even in this collection of episodes.

“The Judge” and “The Last Laugh” are both key examples of what makes Matlock’s writing so important in the series’ latest collection of episodes. That is thanks in large part to the stories’ execution. The same can be said of Season Seven’s “The Debt.” This episode sees Matlock’s daughter Leanne having to defend her ex-husband Peter MacIntyre after he is accused of murdering his friend and boss. The accusation stemmed from the discovery of Peter kneeling over said individual’s dead body, which had a large knife sticking in it. While not an overly used plot element, the use of an estranged couple being forced into one another’s lives in a difficult situation is not necessarily new to the entertainment world. Nor was it new at the time of the episode’s airing. That aside it was still handled quite well here. It was nice to see Leanne not just giving in to Peter as he begged her to represent him even as he tried to seduce her. Female viewers will be proud to see her stand up to Peter and remind him that he is with another woman and she will not fall for his attempts. In the same vein, it is interesting to see something of a different side to Matlock in this episode, too. He shows a certain vulnerability when Leanne tells him that she is going to represent Peter. As the story proceeds audiences see a change in Matlock’s view of his one-time son-in-law. That is because Peter’s sense of morality begins to kick in and even he grows. That overall character development ties directly in to the episode’s overall script and helps the story in whole advance with ease. Because it does, it will keep viewers just as engaged as any of the other episodes featured in this box set. It is one more example of the importance of the writing behin Matlock in the series’ new box set. It is not the only other example of said importance either. There is still a handful of other episodes in this collection that could just as easily be cited in illustrating the importance of the series’ writing. Regardless of whether one cites those episodes or the ones noted here, it can be said of each episode within this collection that each one shows in its own way the importance of the series’ writing. All combined, the writing with each of the set’s featured episodes proves why dramaphiles and Matlock fans alike will want to add this box set to their own DVD libraries.

The episodes that make up the body of Matlock: Greatest Cases, and the writing behind each episode clearly show together why this three-disc set is one that any dramaphile and Matlock fan will want to add the collection to his or her own home DVD library. They are just part of the reason why said audiences will want to pick up this recent release, too. The work of the show’s cast is also of note in the set’s featured episodes beginning with lead actor Andy Griffith. While Griffith isn’t playing Andy Taylor in Matlock, each episode here shows that he still carried over some of that down home personality that made him so beloved during his days on The Andy Griffith Show. Yet at the same time, there is a certain serious element to his portrayal of Ben Matlock. Thanks to boasting both character elements, Matlock comes across as the kind of person that anyone would want should they ever end up in court. He is a lawyer with heart. And it’s not the overly pious and emotional heart that is so common among lawyers on today’s courtroom dramas. The guest stars are just as enjoyable to watch in this collection, too. Dick Van Dyke showed that he was just as capable as a villain in “The Judge” as he was a comedic actor in The Dick Van Dyke Show or even a more serious actor in Diagnosis Murder. It goes to prove his versatility as an actor in simpler terms. And Milton Berle is just as entertaining in his guest role in “The Last Laugh.” Given, he was type cast for the role. But even considering this, Berle (It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Batman, The Love Boat) still handled his role with the utmost seriousness and expertise. When Harvey is forced to admit that his career is near its end, the emotion in his voice and on his face is so powerful. With his acting experience, it would have been so easy for him to just phone it in and even ham it up. But he didn’t go that route, opting instead to really give his best possible performance. It is just one more portrayal that proves the work of the show’s cast (main and otherwise) to be just as important as th episodes themselves and the writing behind each featured episode. Th combination of all three elements together makes Matlock: Greatest Cases a collection that dramaphiles will enjoy just as much as the series’ original fans.

Matlock: Greatest Cases may not be as big as the recent re-issue of the show’s full-series DVD box set. Regardless it is still a collection that any of the show’s original fans will enjoy just as much as any dramaphiles in general. The main reason for this is the set’s featured episodes. The episodes that were culled for the three-disc set represent each of the series’ nine seasons on television. The writing behind each of the featured episodes sets the show completely apart from all of the overly gritty hard-boiled courtroom dramas. The writing makes it more akin to the likes of Perry Mason than Law & Order. The work of the show’s cast in each of the featured episodes is just as important as the episodes and their writing. All three elements together make this collection whole and wholly entertaining to dramaphiles and the show’s original fans alike. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from CBS DVD and Paramount is available online now at:




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Time Life’s Latest Carol Burnett Show Collection Was Well Worth The Wait

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment

Three years ago Time Life Entertainment resurrected one of the greatest series in television’s modern history when it brought to audiences the first of its now multiple box sets from The Carol Burnett Show.  Since the release of those early box sets by Time Life back in 2012, audiences have also seen those early sets released in an “Ultimate Collection” late in 2014, with said collection being followed by even more compilations.  The latest of those compilations, The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes, was released late last month.  The six-disc collection features a healthy offering of episodes from the hit variety series’ first five seasons.  As Burnett explains in the introduction to the collection’s liner notes, these episodes (which will likely be followed by more collections) were held up for years due simply to lengthy legal matters.  Those legal matters having been settled, audiences have finally gotten at least some of those early episodes in the form of this collection.  And that within itself is plenty of reason for any Carol Burnett Show fan to add this box set to their own home DVD library.  The writing and acting within each of the set’s episodes will put just as much of a smile on viewers’ faces.  Rounding out the presentation is its bonus episode guide.  The episode guide is, much as with previous Carol Burnett Show sets not just an episode guide, but yet another history lesson that enriches viewers’ overall experience in watching the featured episodes.  Each noted element makes the compilation enjoyable it in its own right.  All three elements together make this latest addition to Time Life’s ongoing series of Carol Burnett Show compilations yet another enjoyable addition to any fan’s home DVD library.

Time Life Entertainment’s latest installment in its ongoing series of releases from The Carol Burnett Show is yet another enjoyable addition to the home DVD library of any one of the show’s fans.  The main reason for that is the very availability of these episodes.  While it obviously is not the full run of the series’ first five seasons it still presents a healthy offering of episodes from that run.  Burnett herself notes in the collection’s liner notes that the episodes featured here have until now been unavailable to fans of the classic variety series due to certain legal issues.  Thankfully it looks like at least some (if not all) of those issues have been settled, thus resulting in the release of the episodes featured in this collection.  One can only hope that it is just the first of the episodes from the show’s early seasons to be released, too.  That is because in an age when there is so much sex and violence dominating television, every one of these largely family friendly episodes provides a much welcome and needed respite from those other shows.  Each episode is such a welcome break from today’s television thanks in large part to the work of the show’s writers, which is the next reason for its enjoyment.

The episodes featured in Time Life Entertainment’s latest Carol Burnett Show collection are in themselves plenty of reason for fans of the series to add the box set to their own home DVD libraries.  That is because until their release this year, they had been unavailable to audiences on any platform.  They are just part of what makes this new compilation well worth the watch, too.  The work of both the writers and actors within each of the presented episodes adds even more to this set’s enjoyment.  One of the prime examples of the writers’ ability to entertain audiences within this set comes early on in an episode that sees Burnett and guest star Nanette Fabray play a pair of pregnant women waiting to see their doctor.  The comedy contained within this episode is timeless.  The dialogue shared between the duo will have every woman out there laughing uproariously because of their ability to relate to said topics.  On a related note, the pair’s portrayal will have women laughing just as much regardless of whether or not they have been pregnant.  Later in the set’s run, viewers are treated to a handful of equally entertaining performances by the late, great Andy Griffith.  Griffith’s take on the tale of the mouse and the lion will have viewers just as entertained.  It stays largely true to Aesop’s original tale. Of course there are some changes and updates to the story that will put a smile on any viewer’s face.  The same can be said of Griffith’s portrayal of Joe in the skit “Mr. Law and Order” will entertain viewers just as much.  That’s because it is a full-on spoof of his former character in The Andy Griffith Show almost in the vein of Mad Magazine.  If that’s not enough for fans, Don Adams’ appearance in the collection is one more great example of how the writers’ efforts will entertain viewers.  That is made clear in “The Donny Bishop Show,’ which openly throws jabs at The Late Show With Johnny Carson.  Adams fills in for Carson while Harvey Korman takes the place of Ed McMahon.  The whole presentation is intentionally terrible complete with the worst possible camera and mic operators.  Burnett is a laugh riot as the “show’s” special guest.  Seeing Adams constantly covering his face in his attempts to keep from completely breaking down in laughter will have viewers laughing just as much.  It’s just one more way in which the work of both the show’s writers and actors keeps audiences laughing nonstop throughout The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes.  There are plenty of other episodes that could serve as example of their ability to keep viewers entertained such as Harvey and Carol’s work in the show’s beloved “The Old Folks” skits, Carol’s work with famed singer Mel Torme in “The Tin Pan Alley Story” and Jim Nabors’ partnering with Carol in “The Ski Lodge” just to name a few more key episodes.  Whether one chooses one of those episodes, one of the ones more directly addressed, or any of the others, every viewer will agree that the collection in whole presents plenty of great examples of how the writers and actors make The Lost Episodes a laugh riot from beginning to end.

The work of The Carol Burnett Show’s writers in conjunction with that of the show’s cast and guest stars makes for plenty of enjoyment for viewers throughout every episode included in The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes. For all of the enjoyment that they bring viewers, they are not the only elements of this set that fans will appreciate. The companion booklet included with the set is just as important to the set’s presentation as the previously noted elements. That is because it is, as with previous Carol Burnett Show box set booklets, it isn’t just a companion booklet. Yes, it is an episode guide. But it is more than that. Throughout the course of the booklet, fans are presented with a rather rich history on not just the episodes themselves but of the series in whole. For example, audiences learn in the summary for Show #006 that this audience marked the debut of both Lucille Ball and Tim Conway on Burnett’s show. There is an additional tidbit noting Conway’s notoriety coming into his debut thanks to his work on McHale’s Navy. Burnett also reveals in the companion booklet that her love for “backstage movie musicals” was her inspiration behind the “Tin Pan Alley” sketch in Show #107. And in regards to Jim Nabors’ appearance in Show #003, it is revealed that he was the very first guest star to appear in The Carol Burnett Show in what would then become an eleven year-run on CBS. The discussion here goes on to note that his appearance was such a success that the show’s heads had him back on the season premiere of every season that followed. Interestingly enough, Nabors, as is explained in the show’s summary here, was not exactly an unknown upon his first appearance on The Carol Burnett Show. In fact, he was already enjoying his celebrity of his own hit sit-com, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which itself was a spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show. So it should probably be no surprise that Andy Griffith himself would go on to appear on The Carol Burnett Show, too. The information on Nabors’ appearance on The Carol Burnett Show is just one more of so many examples of the depth of information provided by Time Life Entertainment in The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes. There is so much more interesting information shared throughout the set’s companion booklet that fans and audiences in general will enjoy learning. Together with the enjoyment brought by both the show’s writers and cast, the set in whole proves itself in the end to be yet another joy for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show and for lovers of classic television in general.

The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes is not the first collection of episodes to be released by Time Life Entertainment. And more than likely it will not be the last thanks to the efforts of certain parties to obtain the distribution rights for the show’s first five seasons. With any luck fans will hopefully one day see the release of this series in whole rather than just in a continued series of compilation sets since those matters have been settled. Until then though, this latest collection of episodes will more than please any Carol Burnett Show fan. That is thanks to the work of both the show’s writers and its cast. The attention to detail in the set’s companion booklet adds even more enjoyment as it helps provide even more interesting background information on the series. All in all, the combination of those elements combined with the very availability of these episodes makes The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes yet another collection one that any of the show’s fans and any lover of classic television will want to have in his or her own home DVD library. It is available now and can be ordered online via Amazon at More information on this and other titles from Time Life Entertainment is available online now at:






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CBS, Paramount Surprise With New Andy Griffith Show Season One BD Re-Issue

Courtesy:  CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment

Courtesy: CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment

The Andy Griffith Show is one of the single greatest sitcoms to ever grace television sets across the nation. There is not a sliver of doubt about that. It first made its debut on CBS nearly fifty-four years ago on CBS. It aired its final episode on April 1, 1968. That was over forty-six years ago. In the years since it ended its initial run on CBS, The Andy Griffith Show has remained a family favorite regardless of the network that has carried the series. All eight of its seasons have been released on separate DVD box sets, too. And last month, the series was given a new beginning once again thanks to the release of the series’ first season on blu-ray. The newly re-issued first season is a joy for viewers of any age, especially for those that have yet to start adding the series’ seasons to their own library. The main reason for this is that this re-issue contains every episode from the first season in its entirety. This actually is something important believe it or not. Just as important to the re-issue of the series’ first season is the clarity of the picture. The bonus material included in The Andy Griffith Show Season One is the final piece of the puzzle so to speak. Included among the bonus material in this newly re-issued season set are: An episode of The Danny Thomas Show, a vintage interview between Andy Griffith and Edward R. Murrow from his famed series Person to Person, and the hard to find movie Return To Mayberry among even more bonuses. The bonus material alone makes this set well worth the addition to any fan’s home library. The bonus features in conjunction with the re-mastered picture and the inclusion of every episode from Season One collectively make The Andy Griffith Show: Season One a wonderful re-birth for one of the greatest sitcoms in the history of television.

The Andy Griffith Show: Season One is a joy for every family first and foremost because it includes every episode of the series’ first season in a single box. From helping local Mayberry guitarist Jim Lindsey get his shot at stardom in “Guitar Player” to helping out his deputy and best friend Barney Fife in “Andy Saves Barney’s Morale” to the special holiday episode “Christmas Story” and more, there is so much to enjoy throughout the first season of The Andy Griffith Show. It just goes to show once more that television can be entertaining and family friendly at the same time. It’s too bad that such quality programming doesn’t exist anymore in any of the sitcoms that currently run on both broadcast and cable networks. Thankfully, audiences have this latest re-issue to make up for that. And especially being that TV Land either runs The Andy Griffith Show late at night now or doesn’t even run it at all—and apparently, neither do Me-TV, Antenna TV or the other retro networks—it becomes all the more important and valuable for any fan of truly worthwhile programming.

The people at Paramount and CBS Blu-ray have scored in a big way by including every original episode from the first season of The Andy Griffith Show on this newly re-issued box set. The inclusion of so many fun episodes is in itself a just the tip of the iceberg in the set’s success. On a deeper level, the very fact that every episode from Season One was included in a single set instead of split into multiple sets makes the set even more of a success. Far too often, people take such a factor for granted in purchasing box sets of their favorite television series. As many have seen though, there are some studios that have made a habit over the years of splitting certain shows up into multiple box sets. This causes viewers to have to spend more money over time. And such practice is anything but ergonomic. So to have every single episode of the series’ first season in one Blu-ray box set is a huge positive. Making it even more of a positive is the fact that each disc is placed on its own plastic “insert” within the box. This protects the discs from scratching one another and in turn allows for them to be enjoyed for many years as long as they are properly cared for. On another level, the new Blu-ray re-issue of Season One takes up far less space on DVD racks than its DVD counterpart.

Having examined the inclusion of the complete first season of the Andy Griffith Show, the next logical step is to examine the presentation of the episodes themselves. The automatic assumption of presenting a classic black and white television show in HD wouldn’t make that much difference in the look of the show. The surprise reality of the episodes in Season One is that there is a noticeable difference in the quality of the picture. While the original grainy quality of the show is still there, it is quite obvious that those charged with re-mastering these episodes did quite the job of cleaning them up. And they did so without losing any of the charm of the show’s original look. In short, it could be compared to transferring a classic vinyl record to CD. It is much cleaner, but it still maintains that vintage presentation at the same time. That that balance is present here only serves to make The Andy Griffith Show Season One all the more impressive of a re-introduction for audiences.

The inclusion of The Andy Griffith Show’s entire first season in a single box set and the laughs provided are both central to the success of this recently released Blu-ray box set. That those charged with re-mastering the episodes were able to enhance the picture without losing too much of the series’ original vintage look makes the set all the more of a success. Looking at these positives, there is only one positive left to examine in this set. That last remaining factor is the collective bonus features included with the episodes. Paramount and CBS Blu-ray have given audiences quite the impressive list of bonus features to finish off the viewing experience. The bonus material starts off small with the inclusion of a full episode of The Danny Thomas Show. Audiences will find the episode in question interesting as there are some slight changes to Mayberry here. Aunt Bea goes by a different name. And Otis the town drunk has been replaced. What’s more, Barney isn’t there, either. However, it is still Mayberry interestingly enough. Things step up a little bit more from here with the inclusion of an interview between legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow and Andy Griffith on Murrow’s famed interview series Person to Person. The pair discusses Griffith’s sitcom and more. And finishing off the whole presentation is the inclusion of the hard to find Andy Griffith Show spinoff movie, Return To Mayberry. This movie came nearly two decades after the original series ended. According to the movie, Sheriff Taylor was no longer the head lawman in Mayberry. His former deputy, the beloved bumbling Barney Fife was making a run for the town’s head officer. And Andy’s son Opie is now all grown up and about to become a father himself. Needless to say, it’s a happy reunion for all involved. Of course it isn’t without some bumps along the way. It is the final piece to the puzzle that is The Andy Griffith Show Season One a surprisingly impressive and welcome re-issue.

The Andy Griffith Show Season One is available now in stores and online. More information on this and upcoming seasons of The Andy Griffith Show on Blu-ray is available online at and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

StarVista’s New Carol Burnett Show Box Set Will Have Viewers Cracking Up

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

StarVista Entertainment has done it yet again. On Tuesday, April 15th, StarVista Entertainment will release the latest collection of episodes from The Carol Burnett Show in the form of The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups. This six-disc box set is one of the few box sets this year that has earned itself a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best overall new box sets. From the episodes collected for this set, to the equally hilarious bonus material, to the video’s once again high quality footage and the packaging, so much was done right concerning this set. So much was done right in fact that there is simply not enough time or space to discuss every single positive aspect of the set. All of these factors and more make The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups a box set well worth purchasing for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show and more than worthy of a place on this critic’s list of the year’s best overall new box sets.

The primary reason for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show to pick up this latest compilation of episodes from Burnett’s landmark show is the episodes themselves. Each of the set’s seventeen total episodes is jam packed with hilarious jokes and gags, and enjoyable musical numbers. Make the deal even sweeter, StarVista Entertainment has once again given audiences the ability to choose not only given shows, but the separate segments within each show. While the jokes and gags have a certain edge about them, they are quite tame in comparison to the majority of what’s out there today. Their edge proves that comedy can still be funny even in the 21st century without being overtly blue. One of the prime examples of this comes in the bonus skit, “The Oldest Man: Firefighter.” This skit sees Tim Conway playing his familiar “Old Man” character once again. This time the old man is a firefighter dispatched to stop a fire at the home of Korman’s unnamed character. The physical comedy and the jokes shared throughout the skit will leave any viewer laughing so hard that they cry. It certainly did that with this critic. Bonus skit or not, it shows just why The Carol Burnett Show is still such a beloved show even decades after it ended its original eleven-season run on CBS.

The largely family friendly humor shared throughout each episode in this latest box set is just part of what makes the episodes the cornerstone of the set’s success. Audiences will enjoy just as much, the musical numbers included in each episode. The Carol Burnett Show was not the first, nor the last to incorporate musical numbers into its overall structure. The Smothers Brothers—Tom and Dick—incorporated musical numbers into their show in the late 1960s as did Sonny and Cher in their variety programs—The Sonny & Cher Show and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. This then raises the question what would make the musical numbers in The Carol Burnett Show so enjoyable. The answer to that is the same answer to what made the musical numbers in the other variety shows so enjoyable. Unlike a show such as Saturday Night Live, The Carol Burnett Show and its fellow variety shows didn’t stick just to pushing the most current radio hits of the day. The radio hits were there. But they weren’t all that got the focus. So simply put, the musical numbers were so fun because they weren’t part of the massive marketing machine that today’s talk shows are. The musical numbers included in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups sees the likes of And y Griffith (The Andy Griffith Show, No Time For Sergeants, Matlock) Gloria Swanson, Ruth Buzzi and more singing songs that are just as enjoyable today as they were decades ago. Those songs include: ‘Just Squeeze Me/Oh, You Beautiful Doll’, ‘Turn Your Radio On’ and ‘I’ve Been Around/A New-Fangled Tango.’ Those songs and all of the others included in each show serve to add even more enjoyment for viewers of all ages as they make their way through all six of the set’s discs.

The comedy and the musical numbers included in each of the seventeen total episodes on this set make for so much enjoyment. Making things even better for viewers is the fact that StarVista Entertainment has once again given viewers the option to choose not just from the episodes on each disc, but also to choose from specific skits and musical numbers within each episode. This option means that viewers will once again not have to sit through the entire episodes in order to their favorite segment in each episode. That in itself could be argued a bonus feature separate from the bonus features which will be discussed later. It is the finishing touch that makes the episodes included in this set such a joy to watch.

The episodes included in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crackups are the foundation of the success of the set in question. The bonus features included in the set make that foundation even more solid for audiences. This time out, StarVista has included as bonus material, special separate looks at the impact of both Tim Conway and Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Shows. Those examinations include footage of other classic Carol Burnett Show skits that really exhibit their talents both by themselves and together. Among the most memorable of those skits are “The Dentist” and Conway’s now famed “Elephant Skit” from The Family. It’s too bad that neither of those skits was included in this set in their entirety. That’s because of their level of hilarity. It was so funny to learn that in “The Dentist”, Tim Conway made Harvey Korman laugh so hard that he wet himself. And the bonus discussion on “The Peeping Tom” is definitely not for children, ironically enough. Carol and company discuss the comedy in guest star Dick Van Dyke and Tim Conway switching places in the skit and how Carol used a body suit with fake breasts to flash the peeper. Yes, that is what she did. And she shows the body suit, too. Again, it is not for children. It’s one of the rare moments that is not kid friendly. The other bonus material included in this box set is relatively safe for all viewers. And it is sure to have anyone watching laughing just as hard as ever.

Having discussed the role of the episodes themselves and the bonus features in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups, there is one last part of the set to examine in the set’s success. That last factor is its packaging. StarVista Entertainment has once again wisely packaged its set, placing each of the six discs on either side of three separate “plates” inside the box. Bizarrely enough, there is actually a fourth plate, which has been left empty. Perhaps this is only the case with review copies. But it was very much the case with previous Carol Burnett Show box sets, too. So it is definitely a head scratcher of sorts. That aside, the fact that StarVista has maintained that high standard of packaging, protecting the discs is one more reason the company is quite deserving of its share of applause. It is the last touch on a set that is more than worth the purchase for any viewer whether new to The Carol Burnett Show or not.

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups will be available Tuesday, April 15th. It can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at More information on this and other Carol Burnett Show DVD sets is available online at and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

StarVista, Time Life To Release Latest Carol Burnet Box Set Next Month

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

StarVista Entertainment will release the latest in a continuing series of DVD sets from the Carol Burnett Show next month.

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups will be released by StarVista Entertainment Tuesday, April 15th.  The new set features seventeen more episodes of The Carol Burnett Show on six discs.  Each episode presented in this new box set was hand-picked by Carol Burnett.  Fans of CBS’ hit sitcom Mama’s Family will be pleased to know that “The Family”, the skit that led to Mama’s Family, will be featured throughout the set’s seventeen total episodes.  Also included among the set’s sic discs are more installments of the beloved skits, “Carol & Sis”, “Alice Portnoy”, “The Charwoman” and “The Old Folks” just to name a handful.  There are also guest appearances from Carl Reiner, Charo, Roddy McDowall, Ruth Buzzi, Andy Griffith and lots more.

The classic resurrected skits featured throughout all six of this set’s discs are only part of what audiences can expect from Carol’s Crack Ups.  StarVista has sweetened the deal for fans by adding bonus cast interviews and commentary, bonus sketches, and two previously unavailable featurettes in: “Tim Conway: Chief Cracker Upper” and “Tim On The Street.”

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups retails for $59.95.  More information on this latest release and the complete 22-disc collection of Carol’s Crack Ups is available online at and, and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

MST3K Vol. XXVII A Laugh Riot For Film Buffs

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The latest installment of the cult classic, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), keeps the laughs coming yet again.  MST3K Volume XXVII brings audiences four more episodes and four more movies that are so bad that they’re good.  And of course, what volume of MST3K episodes would be complete without the absolutely hilarious commentary by Mike, Joel, Crow, and Tom Servo?  It’s all here in one more collection that any fan of this classic series will love to watch again and again.  Audiences even get to see a young Ron Howard away from his more well-known role as Opie Taylor in one of the movies.

From giant dancing teens to Cold War propaganda to a giant killer bug to subterranean creatures coming to take over the surface world, this volume has more than its share of campy greatness in its four discs.  The set is anchored by what is one of Universal’s best of the bad in The Deadly MantisThe Deadly Mantis is just one of the many classic horror/sci-fi flicks that Universal Studios churned out after the success of its original monster movies (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon).  This terribly campy flick features a giant prehistoric praying mantis wreaking havoc on the world when the iceberg in which it was encased breaks loose from the arctic and thaws out in warmer waters.  This sci-fi classic was one of the campiest of Universal’s monster movies.  But by comparison to today’s over-the-top movies claiming themselves to be horror, it is a welcome inclusion for fans of real sci-fi and horror flicks.  Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo’s irreverent commentary makes it even better.  There are pop culture references, some slightly politically incorrect jokes, and even some that are so nonsensical that one can’t help but laugh at them.  The jokes are just part of what makes this movie the anchor to this new set.  Fans of classic movies will appreciate the bonus feature on the life of William Alland.  “Chasing Rosebud: The Cinematic Life of William Alland” explains the importance of Alland in the history of monster and sci-fi movies.  Whether viewers are watching this movie for the first time or for the first time again, this feature will make audiences appreciate his work and The Deadly Mantis even more as a campy yet highly important piece of movie history.

If a classic monster movie from Universal isn’t enough, then perhaps audiences will enjoy the Cold War era propaganda piece, Rocket Attack U.S.A.  This black and white movie was centered on tensions between the United States and Russia and what would happen if the two sides both launched their nuclear warheads.  It would be no surprise if this 1961 classic was at least partially the influence behind the far more influential 1964 drama, Failsafe.  The movie’s criticisms don’t’ stop during the film.  Just as with the other movies in this and previous volumes of MST3K episodes, this episode is presented exactly as it aired, complete with intermission segments.  The killing of the movie keeps going with its intermission segment as Joel and company go off on the evil Dr. Forrester about all of the movie’s inconsistencies.  It’s so funny hearing them filet the movie because viewers know that what Joel and company have to say is exactly what they themselves would have said.  That ability to relate to viewers event today makes both this flick and The Deadly Mantis (as well as the set’s other pair of movies) as enjoyable as they are campy. 

The movies included in this latest volume of MST3K episodes are funny and enjoyable.  It should be noted that Village of the Giants probably isn’t entirely proper for younger viewers.  If anything, it comes across as a little bit of an exploitation film, as the “teen” girls outgrow their clothes when they grow.  They do keep themselves covered.  But some parents might find this a little unsuitable for children.  That aside, there is one more factor to note in this new set of episodes.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Each episode is set in its own slim case within the larger box.  And each box has its own hilarious artwork that goes along with the movie.  The artwork used on each episode’s box is just as campy as the movies themselves.  So even before viewers put in each disc, they get a good laugh from the artwork on each case.  That each disc has its own slim case, this protects each disc from scratching.  It’s one more positive—along with the set’s other factors–that will impress fans from the very first time they pull the wrapping from the box.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVII will be available Tuesday, July 23rd.  It will be available in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at  Fans can find out about all of the latest releases from Shout! Factory on its official website, and its official Facebook page,

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at