‘Star Trek Discovery’ Improves Noticeably In Its Third Season

Courtesy: Paramount+/CBS DVD

Paramount+’s Star Trek series Discovery is a property that has struggled to find its place in the bigger Star Trek universe over the course of its first two seasons.  Of course, the series did show some growth in its second season, offering some hope for the show.  Now in its third season, which is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray, that growth has continued even more, showing even more potential for its own future.  That is exhibited mainly through its writing, which while not perfect is still key to this season’s success.  While the writing does much to make Season Three a continued improvement for the Discovery franchise, the bonus content detracts slightly from the season’s forthcoming home presentation.  This will be addressed a little later.  Luckily, the detraction that the season’s bonus content causes is not enough to make this season’s presentation a failure.  The acting works with the writing to continue showing the noted growth.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Star Trek Discovery: Season Three’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the season such that longtime Star Trek fans will agree is another improvement in this series.

Paramount+ and CBS DVD’s forthcoming home release of Star Trek Discovery: Season Three is a presentation that brings the series another step forward in its ongoing growth.  That is due in large part to the season’s writing.  The writing stands out because while it ensures the season is still serialized, there is more going on within the season.  Instead of just one central story, the writers create two central stories – Burham’s efforts to reunite with the Discovery crew, the crew’s efforts to find the source of “the burn,” and the crew’s efforts to rebuild the Federation.  Along the way, the writers also developed story lines within those larger stories that allow the rest of the crew to shine (E.g. Lt. Detmer’s dealing with what is essentially PTSD, Tilly’s own personal growth as she comes into her own on board the Discovery, and Emperor Girgio’s own growth and change).  Given, the writers still make Burnham something of a Christ-like figure, ensuring she is at the center of the bigger stories (and crying as much as possible yet again along the way), but seeing the rest of Discovery’s main crew getting their own time in the spotlight is a nice growth.  That the writers were able to keep everything balanced and keep the whole from getting bogged down in itself is definitely worth its own share of applause.

Adding onto everything already noted is the fact that the writers also worked hard this season to bring Discovery into the bigger Star Trek canon through items, such as the introduction of Andorians and Orions, and even Carl (a.k.a. the Guardian of Forever).  The Guardian of Forever reaches all the way back to Star Trek The Original Series, showing once again the attempt to pull this series into canon.  As if all of that is not enough, the discussion of Spock’s attempts to reunite the Vulcans and Romulans is a direct throw back to The Next Generation.  Captain Picard’s name is even directly used in this discussion, which will make even the most devoted viewers happy.  There is even a tribute to Star Trek Voyager at another point, adding for even more appeal.  That the writers did everything noted here without making any of it feel forced is even more impressive.  It results in each episode being that much more engaging and entertaining.

While the writers’ work in this season is unquestionably important to its presentation, the lack of any real discussion on that work in the bonus content detracts somewhat from the season’s presentation on DVD.  That is not to say that the events of Season Three are not addressed.  Quite the opposite is true as a matter of fact.  They are discussed in the home release’s only real worthwhile bonus, “The Voyage of Season 3.”  Audiences are taken from the season premiere to its finale, outlining how the crew grows and changes, and how everything happens.  The one thing that it does not do however, is offer commentary from the cast or crew on how the course was set (no pun intended) throughout the season.  It would have been nice to have known from the show’s creative heads why the surprising source of the burn was chosen for instance.  That one is a bit of a head scratcher with all due respect.  The source of “The Burn” will not be revealed for those who have yet to see Season Three, but again, it just feels like the writers, in this case, just decided to throw something against the wall and see if it sticks.  It is just a little disappointing at least in the mind of this critic.  It is the only real downside to the writing, though.  Considering how much the writers brought Discovery into Star Trek canon this season, it also would have been nice to have received comment from the writers and creative heads about that.  That sadly is absent in this bonus feature, too.  Did the creative heads do this out of reaction to audiences or was this all planned long term?  Audiences are left not knowing this.

Looking at the rest of the bonus content featured this time out, the “Bridge Building” bonus is entertaining in its own right.  Considering how much more the Discovery’s bridge crew is featured this season, this profile of the crew from the actors themselves is a nice added nod to those actors.

Speaking of cast profiles, the profile of cast member Kenneth Mitchell is engaging in its own right, even if it is not necessarily memorable.  Audiences get to hear from Mitchell himself here and learn of how many roles he has played over the course of the series’ now three seasons.  His discussion on being diagnosed with ALS will grip and move audiences, certainly.  It adds a little more appreciation for the character development and widening character portrayals this season too. 

Looking at all of this (and the mostly forgettable “Writer’s Log” bonus feature), the bonus content adds some appeal to this season in its home presentation at best, but because of what it lacks, it also detracts from that presentation.  Luckily, that balance of pro and con here is enough to keep the presentation still mostly positive.

One more item that makes the third season of Star Trek Discovery positive is the acting.  Every cast member serves his or her own positive part in terms of the acting.  That includes Mitchell.  While Mitchell only appears near the season finale, his subtle performance as part of the Emerald Chain and his realization as to what the Emerald Chain is really all about is powerful in its simplicity.  Mitchell shows here a real appreciation for his time on screen, making audiences really connect with him.  On another note, Michelle Yeoh is once again one of the real highlights in terms of the acting.  Her role as Emperor Giorgio, that hard-nosed figure is just so great to take in.  Even the crew appreciated that snappy nature.  Audiences will be left for audiences to figure that out for themselves. On a more subtle note, Linus (David Benjamin Tomlinson) makes for some great subtle comic relief as he tries to figure out how the new Federation badges work, even accidentally breaking up a romantic moment between Burnham and Book.  Yes, she falls in love again, but that development was obvious right from the duo’s meeting in the season premiere.  Tomlinson may not be a key member of the cast, but he is used so well even as a lesser member of the crew and deserves his own share of applause.  Between his work, that of the other cast members addressed here and that of the rest of the cast, the overall acting does a lot to make this season enjoyable in its own right.  When it is considered along with the positives of the writing and even some of the positives in the bonus content (as few as they are), the whole makes the third season of Star Trek Discovery a cast improvement on the series from its first two seasons.  One can only hope that the improvements continue in the now apparently planned fourth season.

The third season of Star Trek Discovery is a noticeable improvement on the series from its first two seasons.  That is evidenced in large part through its writing.  The writing has expanded this season, incorporating more story elements rather than just focusing on one item.  That means also allowing stars other than Sonequa Martin-Green to have the spotlight.  It is a nice change of pace.  Add in the more clear effort by all involved to tie Discovery into Star Trek canon, and the writing creates even more appeal.  While the writing does a lot to make this season appealing, the bonus content that accompanies the season’s home release detracts from the presentation.  That is because while it does offer some background on the season, that background is limited.  Luckily, the character profiles make up for that shortcoming at least to a point.  Keeping that in mind, the few positives in the bonus content make up for the shortcomings to keep the bonus content from dooming the presentation.  Those positives work along with the wholly positive acting to rounds out the most important of the season’s elements.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the season.  All things considered, they make the third season of Star Trek Discovery largely a win and clear improvement on the show from its first two seasons.

Star Trek Discovery Season Three is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on the series is available online now at:

Websitehttps://cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/StarTrekCBS

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/cbs

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

Re-issues Saved Movie, TV Studios During Pandemic

Courtesy: Arrow Video

This year was another rough one for television and movie studios alike.  Movie studios were forced to postpone the release of so many new movies until either 2021 or beyond and TV studios were forced to shut down production all as they faced the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  On top of all of that, the movies and TV shows that did release this year and that were announced for release were largely another massive batch of prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events.  That, again, made for very little for audiences to really appreciate.  Thankfully, there were a lot of worthwhile box sets for families and grown-ups alike.  There were also lots of enjoyable re-issues.  That is why Phil’s Picks once again is presenting a list of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video released some of the best of this year’s re-issues, with re-releases of classics, such as Black Angel, Flash Gordon, and The Last Starfighter.  Shout! Factory meanwhile produced its own interesting re-issues in the form of Thomas and the Magic Railroad, The Spider, and Attack of the Crab People.  CBS DVD and Paramount even had their share of interesting re-issues in the form of Mission: ImpossibleThe Original TV Series, Police Squad: The Complete Series, and Gunsmoke: The Complete Series 65th Anniversary Edition.  Audiences were even treated to re-issues of more classics, such as Roman Holiday, To Catch a Thief, and The Flintstones: The Complete Series.  All of these titles and others are on Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

As with each other list from Phil’s Picks, this final list of 2020 features the Top 10 New titles for the year along with five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New DVD & Blu-ray Re-Issues.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW DVD & BLU-RAY RE-ISSUES

  1. Black Angel
  2. Flash Gordon
  3. Mission: Impossible: The Original TV Series
  4. The Last Starfighter
  5. Thomas & The Magic Railroad
  6. The Spider
  7. The Flintstones: The Complete Series
  8. Warning From Space
  9. Mallrats
  10. War of the Colossal Beast
  11. Attack of the Crab People
  12. To Catch A Thief
  13. Roman Holiday
  14. Police Squad: The Complete Series
  15. Transformers: The Complete Series

That’s it for this year’s year-ender lists.  With 2021 already coming fast, plans are already in the works for lots more new music, movies, and TV shows.

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

‘Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels’ Is Not Dreadful, But Tough To Watch

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount/Showtime/Sky

Showtime and Sky’s Penny Dreadful spin-off City of Angels is an interesting addition to the franchise.  The 10-episode series, which ran for approximately two months this year from April 26 to June 28, is an interesting presentation.  While it only ran for one season, it is a presentation that will find its specific audiences.  That is due in part to the story featured in the program.  This element will be discussed shortly.  While the story does give audiences reason to watch, the general content that accompanies the story unarguably detracts from the show’s presentation to a point.  This will be addressed a little later.  The work of the series’ cast puts the finishing touch to the show’s program.  Together with the story, those two elements are enough to make up for the show’s somewhat overly gritty content and make it worth watching at least once.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is an interesting addition to Showtime and Sky’s original Penny Dreadful franchise, which originally launched in 2014 and ran for three seasons. It is a presentation that fans of hard boiled crime dramas will find at least somewhat appealing.  That is proven in part through its expansive story line, which spans the show’s 10-episode run.  Unlike the original series, which is based on a series of Victorian-era monsters and their experiences, City of Angels is centered more on the real world.  The gritty, hard-boiled crime drama takes place in pre-World War II Los Angeles, California.  It follows the murder of a well-to-do white family in Los Angeles.  The murder is initially blamed on members of the city’s Hispanic community, but of course the truth is eventually revealed at the series’ end, not to give away too much.  This frame-up highlights the racial tensions that did in fact exist between the white members of the city’s citizenry and its immigrant population, especially in the interactions between the city’s all-white police force and the members of the city’s Hispanic population.  Adding to the mix is the impact of the Nazi party in the region at the time.  As if that is not enough, Magda, in all of her various forms, keeps the tension high throughout each of the story lines that interweave throughout the series, adding even more intrigue to the story.  Her actions add to the never-ending discussion on whether human behavior and thoughts are innate or are influenced by external factors (I.E. the sociological discussion of nature versus nurture).  This is discussed in the bonus content that accompanies the series’ home release.  That overarching aspect makes for so much interest in this series.  Of course it cannot be denied that through it all, there are moments when all of the story lines do cause the series to get bogged down in itself.  Each of the story lines do ultimately tie together, but because there is so much going on, it was clearly easy for the writers to get lost in their project.  As a result, audiences end up getting a little lost, too.  Luckily that is not enough to completely ruin the series’ presentation, but it also cannot be ignored.  The fact that the story occasionally gets bogged down in itself is just one of the problems from which this series suffers.  Its general content creates its own problem for the its presentation.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels was intentionally presented as a gritty, hard boiled crime drama.  There is no denying that.  This brand of crime story is nothing new to audiences.  It has been around since at least the early to mid 1920s and 30s.  The thing is that this series takes the general elements of hard boiled crime to a new and somewhat controversial level.  The gruesome fate of the family that was killed is explicit to say the least.  It is reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s look of the Joker in The Dark Knight only far more extreme, complete with blood and gore, oh and nudity.  This is just one over-the-top element of the show’s content.  The overt displays of homosexual (and bi-sexual) intercourse are completely unnecessary, and another way in which the show’s content goes way too far over the top.  As if that is not enough, a moment, such as that in which a police officer’s neck is slashed with a razor and his body left naked and covered in blood (yes, this really is shown) is far too explicit, too.  Between these moments and all of the unnecessary foul language that is used throughout, the general content featured in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels proves to be anything but angelic.  Maybe that is because the show’s heads could get away with it, being on Showtime after all.  Regardless, the noted content (and more) does a great deal to detract from what could have otherwise been a great classic crime hard boiled style crime drama.

For all that the content displayed in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels does to detract from the series’ presentation, it is not enough to make the series completely unwatchable.  The work of the series’ cast on camera works with the story to help save it at least somewhat.  Most notable of the cast is star Nathan Lane.  The veteran actor, Lane serves as a supporting cast member here.  Even as a supporting cast member, he still shines both by himself and alongside fellow cast member Daniel Zovatto (It Follows, Lady Bird, Don’t Breathe).  Lane is known typically as a comedic actor, but his dramatic turn here is so powerful.  When he’s by himself, he stands out so much because he takes the full chance to let Michener’s personality develop.  His years of experience on stage and screen comes through fully and fully entertaining.  When he is working alongside Zovatto, who shines in his own right as Tiago, he never tries to outdo the younger actor.  Rather, the duo works so well together, sort of building their characters’ personalities together.  Natalie Dormer meanwhile shines in her own way as Magda as she takes on her various roles.  Among the best of her moments comes as she portrays Alex, clerk to Councilman Townsend.  The way in which she basically plays him is classic clerk to an evil business.  At the same time, she makes her evil intentions just barely noticeable enough really balance things out and make her character so wonderfully despicable.  Going back to Zovatto, the way he presents Tiago’s personal identity struggles as he works with the police and tries to balance that with his identity as a Latino is moving in its own right.  There are moments when he hams it up a little too much, but for the most part, he takes on his portrayal quite well.  In the same vein, the way in which Tiago’s police counterparts take on their roles is fully believable, too.  There is no way that doing and saying what they did could have possibly been easy, but sadly there is a lot of reality about those racial tensions even in that era.  To that point, the actors made it easy to have a strong dislike for their characters and their awful behavior.  That means that they did a good job of showing the vile nature of how horribly they treated minorities even back then, so they are to be commended for that, as difficult as it must have been, morally.  Taking in the performances noted here, that of Lane’s fellow veteran actor Brent Spiner (who does well in a rare non-Star Trek role), and those of all others involved, it can be said easily that the work of the series’ cast plays well into the overall presentation of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.  Together with the story, they do just enough to counter the questionable content featured within the story, and make the series worth watching at least once.

Showtime and Sky Network’s short-lived series Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is an interesting addition to the franchise, which started six years ago as a fantasy type series.  Its overall story, which incorporates multiple story lines does relatively well to engage audiences.  Given those story lines do bog the series down at times, but not enough to make the series a failure.  The content that is displayed throughout the series does quite a bit to make it difficult to watch, as has been noted here.  It goes way above and beyond the content presented in classic hard boiled detective novels and movies, basically throwing it all out the window just for the sake of having something shocking.  It really is the series’ biggest detractor and makes the series difficult to watch more than once.  The work of the series’ cast works with the story to make up for the problems created by the content at least somewhat.  Those two elements are positives, and do make up for the problems posed through the content to a point.  Taking everything noted here collectively, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is a powerful addition to Showtime and Sky Network’s franchise that crime drama fans will find worth watching at least once.  Hopefully if another addition to the franchise comes along, it will not be as explicit as this series and worth far more.  If not, then the franchise has closed out on a difficult note.  It is available now.

More information on this and other programs from Showtime is available online at:

Website: http://www.sho.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Showtime


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

‘Mission: Impossible’ BD Re-issue Will Appeal To Series’ Most Devoted Fans

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

Retro television networks are among the greatest networks out there today.  They are free and they offer audiences who grew up during television’s golden age (which ended, sadly in the late 90s) a great, safe alternative to all of the garbage that currently pollutes the airwaves.  From the likes of The Munsters and Emergency! to Betwitched, Black Sheep Squadron, and The Flintstones, networks, such as Me-TV, CoziTV, H&I, and Antenna TV have grown in popularity as worthwhile viewing options steadily decline on broadcast television (and even streaming outlets).  While the retro networks that are out there offer so much great programming, there are still some shows from TV’s golden age that are still not on any of those networks.  One of those shows is the timeless action/adventure series Mission: Impossible.  Luckily though, the series has gotten new life on Blu-ray thanks to the folks at Paramount and CBS DVD.  The series was re-issued Dec. 1 on Blu-ray marking the first time that the series has ever received the Blu-ray treatment.  Its release last week comes more than seven years after the series’ most recent DVD release in 2012.  This latest presentation is as good as the series’ most recent DVD release if not a little better.  That is proven in part through the presentation’s collective audio and video quality, which will be discussed shortly.  The one negative to the set is its lack of any bonus content.  This does detract from the set’s presentation at least to a point.  It will be discussed a little later.  The collection’s packaging is a slight positive that deserves its own examination.  It will be addressed later, too.  All things considered, the new Blu-ray presentation of Mission: Impossible The Original TV Series a presentation that every vintage television fan will appreciate.

Paramount and CBS DVD’s new Blu-ray re-issue of Mission: ImpossibleThe Original TV Series is a mostly positive presentation that will appeal easily to fans of real television.  That is proven in part through its production values; its audio and video.  Considering the age of the footage (the show ran from 1966 – 1973 over seven seasons), the audio and video is largely impressive.  There are a few moments here and there in which audiences will find themselves having to adjust the volume as the episodes progress, but those moments are so few that it cannot be said that they really detract from the series’ presentation.  The explosions, car chases and everything else are well-balanced with the dialogue throughout the series.  Adding to the pleasure brought by the audio is the largely high quality in the video.  The colors that were used in the scenery are so rich.  The explosions (everyone’s favorite part of the show) are bright and fully capturing for viewers.  Even ordinary scenes, such as jail cells, hotel rooms in which the team stays on its missions, and car scenes look full.  This is a tribute to those who transferred the footage from the series’ previous standalone season sets and its most recent full-series set.  The full impact of the set’s production sets a strong foundation for this re-issue.  Considering the strength of this aspect and the award-winning series’ equally enjoyable writing, those aesthetic elements collectively give this classic series’ fans plenty to appreciate. 

While the audio and video presentation in Mission: ImpossibleThe Original TV Series (and the series’ writing) goes a long way toward making the series’ re-issue a success, the set is not perfect.  It is missing any bonus content.  Considering the series’ legacy and impact in America’s pop culture realm, it would have been common sense to have at least discussions on the writing (E.g. how did the writers develop the ideas for the Impossible Missions Force’s adventures).  On another note, the series saw cast changes as it progressed, along with a variety of guest stars.  The series’ first season saw guest appearances from at least two actors who appeared in timeless episodes of The Twilight Zone.  Discussions by the series’ creative heads and/or writers would have enriched this aspect even more for the series’ most devoted fans.  Considering that Mission: Impossible was yet another product of Desilu Productions (which was also responsible for other timeless series, such as The Untouuchables, Star Trek, and of course I Love Lucy) a discussion on those shows and the overall legacy of Desilu Productions would have enhanced the viewing experience even more.  All things considered here, there is so much extra content that could have been included for audiences in this latest iteration of Mission: ImpossibleThe Original TV Series.  The lack thereof does not make the series’ re-issue a failure, but there is no denying how much it does detract from the series.  Without that content, the re-issue is essentially a bare bones presentation.  Thankfully though, the content in the episodes does manage to make up for that lack of still keep viewers fully engaged and entertained.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is still one more aspect of the set to examine.  That aspect is its packaging.

The packaging for the new Blu-ray re-issue of Mission: ImpossibleThe Original TV Series is another interesting aspect of the set.  That is because while it is an improvement over that of the series’ DVD release, it is still imperfect.  The previous set contained all of the series’ discs on their own discs inside cans that are themselves inside a bigger package shaped like a stick of dynamite.  The overall packaging was bulky and anything but ergonomic.  What’s more, getting the discs in and out of the inner cases was problematic in its own right.  By comparison, this set’s packaging uses gatefold style packaging for each season.  The slim cases open up to reveal the discs placed inside in their own spots.  This does make the overall packaging less bulky and more space conservative.  The problem here is that while the packaging is more ergonomic, there is nothing securing the discs inside their respective season “cases.”  The result is that the discs can easily slide right out of the “cases.”  That, in turn, increases the chances that the discs can be damaged by scratching.  Yes, it is – again – something of an improvement over the packaging for the series’ DVD set, but still does leave something to be wanted. 

Keeping everything noted here in mind, this latest presentation of Mission: Impossible proves to be such that the most devoted of the series’ fans will enjoy regardless of whether they own the previous DVD set.  That is especially considering the average price point of $118.37.  That price was obtained by taking prices from Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  It was not listed at Walmart or Books-A-Million at the time of this posting.  Amazon’s price listing of $99.99 is the least expensive while Target’s listing of $132.99 easily topped that average price.  Best Buy was able to join Amazon in staying below the average price point, listing the set at $109.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers meanwhile was well above the average, listing the set at $130.49.  That low price of $99.99 is a welcome aspect considering, again, the aesthetic value of the primary content and the lack of bonus content.  The series did run, after all, for 171 episodes over seven seasons.  So even without bonus content, audiences will still get their money’s worth at that lowest price.  What’s more considering the series’ long run, there likely will be no perfect answer to the packaging issue.  It will always be there.  All things considered here, Paramount and CBS DVD’s latest presentation of Mission: ImpossibleThe Original TV Series proves itself to be, again, a welcome presentation for the series’ most devoted fans. 

CBS DVD and Paramount’s new Blu-ray re-issue of Mission: ImpossibleThe Original TV Series is an interesting new presentation. Audiences will assuredly appreciate the high quality of the show’s audio and video in this presentation. The lack of any bonus content does detract from the series’ presentation in this iteration, but does not ruin the set’s presentation. At the same time, that needed bonus content definitely would have benefited the set’s appeal. The packaging of this set is a step up from that of the series’ DVD set, but still poses its own problem. Keeping all of this in mind, the set’s average price point and separate listings play (primarily those at Best Buy and Amazon) make for some more appeal. Hopefully when and if the series gets its next re-issue, there will be bonus content and more improved packaging.  Regardless, it is not *ahem* impossible (yes, that awful pun was intended) to appreciate this latest presentation of a timeless series that still is not on any of the major retro TV networks.

More information on this and other titles from CBS Home Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.viacomcbsexpress.com/cbs-home-entertainment

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CBSHE

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

‘Gunsmoke’ 65th Anniversary Set Is A Lackluster Celebration Of A Classic Series

Courtesy: CBS DVD/PAramount

CBS’ classic western series Gunsmoke is unquestionably one of the most respected and revered series of any genre in the modern history of television.  The series ran approximately 20 seasons on CBS, and went on to be nominated for 15 prime time Emmy awards, six of which it won.  That is almost half of its nominations, which is not bad, to say the very least.  The series has also never been off of television since it ended its historic run in 1975.  In fact, it still runs on Me-TV to this day.  The wife of a former CBS executive – Babe Paley – is really even to blame for the series’ survival past its 12th season and the demise of fellow CBS series Gilligan’s Island in its place.  Additionally, Gunsmoke has seen each of its 20 seasons released by themselves between 2007 and this year.  All of those standalone season sets’ releases culminated in May with what is seemingly its first-ever full-series set courtesy of CBS DVD and Paramount in the new 65th Anniversary edition box set.  Spread across a total of 143 discs, this extensive box set will appeal mainly to the most devoted of the series’ fans.  That is due in pat to the presentation of the set’s episodes.  This will be addressed shortly.  While the presentation of the set’s episodes proves a positive for its presentation, the set’s packaging proves to be a negative that cannot be ignored.  It will be addressed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the episode’s primary content – its episodes – is at least slightly positive even though it still leaves audiences wanting for more.  Together with the presentation of the episodes, these two elements and the negative of the packaging make the set a presentation that only the most devoted Gunsmoke fans will appreciate.

CBS DVD and Paramount’s recently released Gunsmoke collection is a mixed bag of a presentation.  It is a presentation that while it does have its positives, it also has its negatives.  The most notable of the set’s positives is the presentation of its episodes.  Considering that the series was released in standalone sets leading up to this full series presentation, it should come as no surprise that the episodes look and sound just as good if not better as they do on television.  Sure, that grainy look is there, but even after being upscaled on a Blu-ray player, they still maintain their integrity, which is certain play well into viewers’ nostalgia.  The sound is impressive in its own right from one episode to the next.  Of course that is again little to no surprise.  That is because likely those behind the set’s assembly essentially just took the already released season sets and put them together into one large box.  That eliminated the need to go back and remaster either element.  So to that end, audiences get the same audio and video presentation here as they would have in the series’ previously released standalone season sets.  Now taking into mind the sets, this is where the set takes a turn for the worse.

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

The one clear negative to this set is its packaging.  All six of the cases that contain the series’ 635 total episodes are placed into the back of their larger box, which boasts its own artwork on the front and sides.  This is where the problem comes into play.  Audiences who fork over the $200-$300 for this set (depending on the retailer and time of year) will have the set on their DVD/BD racks for storage, or even on another shelf.  Having no backing on the box, it is so easy for the cases to fall out and break, and/or discs to fall out and get damaged in the process.  The bigger box’s artwork is great.  That should not be misunderstood.  The problem is that lack of backing.  It would have made much more sense for the cases to be placed into a box that has a bottom and full box around them.  That guarantees the safety of the separate cases and the boxes therein.  The primary artwork could have been used as a box topper that could have been lifted and replaced.  Sadly that was not the packaging decision made here.

Making things even more difficult in terms of the packaging is the way in which the series’ discs were placed.  Again, the standalone sets used for this full series set are just the previously released standalone season sets.  The discs, in many of the cases, are stacked on top of one another inside the plastic cases.  The old style of multi-disc packaging is used once again here, just as with CBS DVD/Paramount’s full series DVD sets of shows, such as I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, and even The Twilight Zone.  This packaging method greatly increases the chances that the discs will get damaged by scratching one another or even being scratched by the boxes as they are removed and replaced.  Yes, by using a more “modern” packaging method might have made the box even larger, but audiences likely would forgive that if it meant the safety of the discs.  Keeping all of this in mind, Gunsmoke: The Complete Series 65th Anniversary’s packaging detracts from the set’s presentation, but does not make the set a total failure.  Its bonus content works with the episodes’ presentation to make the set at least somewhat worth the money.

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

The bonus content that accompanies the Gunsmoke: The Complete Series 65th Anniversary set is sadly limited mostly to commercials in which the series’ starts took part and episode promos.  The positive doesn’t really come until Season 15.  It is in this season and each season that follows, that audiences get treated to some history of the show in a feature titled “Ben And Beckey Discuss…”  The low-budget segments are co-hosted by authors Ben Costello and Beckey Burgoine.  The duo sits in front of a drop screen that looks like one of those screens used by Olan Mills for its photos.  The backdrop is anchored by a pair of red curtains on either side, while the duo sits at a table and talks about Seasons 15-20.  Given, some of the content that the pair reveals is at least somewhat interesting, such as the lack of ego among the cast.  Burgoine points out in one of the latter season’s segments that the cast would often offer lines to one another during table reads and that the cast members cared just as much for one another’s safety on set.  The pair also talks briefly during its Season 16 segment, about how the show’s directors would just as often run shoots on single takes.  That is enlightening, and could just as easily serve as a starting point for audiences about directorial styles for directors past and present in television and movies.  During the pair’s discussion in Season 17, it is revealed that there is a direct connection between the Apollo 8 space mission and the series’ cast.  That anecdote will be left for audiences to discover on their own. Additionally, the duo discusses in the Season 20 segment, why Amanda Blake (who played Miss Kitty) did not return to the series in its final season and how that was handled in the writing.  Between all of this and more, the pair’s discussions between Season 15 and 20 will engage and entertain audiences in their own right.  The issue that all of this raises is the question of why there were no discussions in the sets for Seasons 1-14.  Up until that point, the bonus content was relegated to the noted vintage ads and episode promos.  Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus content is positive in its own right, but only to a point.  Even with this in mind, that limited content together with the episodes’ presentations comes together to make the set at least somewhat appealing to the noted Gunsmoke devotees.

Paramount and DBS DVD’s recently released Gunsmoke 65th anniversary DVD box set is an intriguing presentation.  The audio and video presentation in the episodes is positive.  Again, that is understood just because the content is in fact just the previously released standalone sets released together in one larger box for the first time ever.  The set’s packaging detracts greatly from its presentation, but does not make it a total failure.  The bonus content that accompanies the series’ set is positive in its own right because of the “background” information that is provided to audiences in Seasons 15-20.  The problem is that said bonus content is the set’s only positive bonus content.  One is left wondering why there were no season discussions on Seasons 1-14.  Taking all of this into mind collectively, this new full series presentation of Gunsmoke is sadly a lackluster presentation that will appeal mainly to the series’ most devoted fans, especially considering its price.

More information on this and other title from CBS DVD is available at:

 

Website: http://cbshomeentertainment.com

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

 

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Paramount’s New ‘Star Trek: TNG’ Movie Collection Is A Welcome Set For The Most Devoted ‘Star Trek’ Fans

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment/Viacom/CBS DVD

Make it so!  Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment is beaming down a new Star Trek box set for fans of the franchise’s Next Generation era Tuesday.  Star Trek: Picard Movie & TV Collection is scheduled for release Tuesday on Blu-ray.  The six-disc collection is oddly titled, considering that it is more the Next Generation era movies than TV episodes.  This, the set’s presentation, will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured with the ser is a positive in its own way, in examining the set in whole.  It will be addressed a little later.  Keeping in mind the set’s primary and secondary content, its average price point becomes a key discussion topic in its own right.  It will be discussed a little later, too.  Keeping in mind the importance of all of these elements, this latest collection of Star Trek movies and television episodes is one that will appeal largely to the most diehard Star Trek fans.

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Star Trek box set is a collection that is certain to divide fans of the long-running franchise’s Next Generation era.  It is a set that will appeal mostly to the most devoted fans of the franchise and the era thereof.  That is due in part to the set’s overall presentation.  The box set is titled Picard Movies & TV Collection.  The catch is that the set only features two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation along with all four of the movies.  The two episodes featured in the collection are the famed two-part episode “The Best of Both Worlds,” which finds Captain Picard being captured by the Borg and turned into one of them.  The other episode, “Chain of Command” also finds Picard being captured, this time as a prisoner of war, so to speak.  One can’t help but wonder why those two episodes were chosen, considering that each was already previously released on DVD and Blu-ray.  There are other, equally entertaining episodes that could have been presented here, which were previously released only on the series’ full season and series box sets.  One of those episodes is the timeless “Darmok.”  The episode, featured in the series’ fifth season.  It was yet another episode that found Picard being captured and stuck on alien turf, having to get out of a tough situation.  What makes it stand out is that no conflict ever happened because Capt. Picard and his counterpart see past their differences and learn to communicate instead.  It is one of the series’ most beloved stories among fans and audiences in general.  “The Inner Light” is another powerful episode that focuses mainly on Capt. Picard in a completely different fashion.  It finds the beloved leader in a “what if” scenario that shows him what his life could have been like.  “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is yet another powerful episode of the series.  It finds Picard and the crew of the Enterprise D working with the crew of the Enterprise C to make sure history runs the way that it was meant to run in what was one of a handful of time travel episodes from the series.  Keeping all of this in mind, one can’t help but wonder why the two episodes featured here were chosen considering they’ve already seen the light of day.

The episodes chosen for this set are just part of what will divide audiences.  The set also features all four of the movies from the Next Generation era.  This is where things get even dicier.  On the surface, it would seem that having all four movies in one, slim package is a good thing.  It definitely is for the most devoted fans of that era from the Star Trek universe (no pun intended).  On the bigger scale though, only one of those movies ever proved truly successful in the long run – First ContactInsurrection, which premiered in 1998, was the second of the four movies.  According to information from Rotten Tomatoes, it was soundly panned by critics and viewers in general, receiving a 54% tomato meter score and 44% audience score.  It was panned by both parties as being little more than an extension of the series.  As a matter of fact, considering the story line, it is a story that had been done prior very early in the series’ run when a hidden federation outpost is accidentally revealed to a group of Romulans.  The Romulans in question end up thinking Capt. Picard is God.  Going back to the featured episodes in this set, that is yet another key episode featuring Picard.

Nemesis, the last of the Next Generation era movies, fared even worse,  receiving a tomato meter score of only 39% and an audience score of 49%.  Written by Brent Spiner, this movie is essentially a double evil twin story, with Data meeting his twin and Picard meeting his “twin,” who turns out to be quite the bad guy with a giant ship. In the end, the bad guy with the bigger ship (big gun) loses to the David character in Picard, of course.

Generations, while the first of the Next Generation movies, comes across as another very familiar story.  The crew of the Enterprise-D already encountered the crew of the Enterprise-C during the course of the series.  Now, here is some of the crew from the first Enterprise bridging the gap with the latest Enterprise crew.  Given, there is an intriguing story about us having to come to terms with our mortalities with the villain wanting to get to the Nexus, but the plot elements written into Picard and Kirk’s own experiences inside the Nexus echo previous episodes of The Next Generation, too.  There are lots of good special effects, but other than that, this movie felt more like a cash grab by Paramount to get fans of both Star Trek eras to open their wallets.  Is that bad?  No.  It makes sense.  At the same time though, the effort did not ultimately feel genuine. It felt more like those involved just wanted to make something that they knew said audiences would buy into even though there is nothing to buy into here.

First Contact is the best of the franchise’s big screen features.  That is because it finally answers the long-unanswered question of who and what was at the heart of the Borg collective.  Never once throughout the course of the series was this question ever answered, even though audiences knew there had to be a starting point, and finally that is what they got here.  Given, the movie’s story is familiar with its time traveling plot line and the attempt to keep history from being altered.  Even with that in mind, the story’s writing staff manages to do something here that makes the story stand out from the time travel stories that were featured in the series.  The set and costume design is also stepped up, adding to the movie’s draw.  To that end, it truly shows itself as something special.

The movies that were spawned during Star Trek’s Next Generation era have themselves become extremely divisive among audiences and fans, as has been noted.  Even with that in mind, there are those fans who are still truly devoted to the series and its cinematic counterparts.  For those audiences, the featuring of all of these movies will certainly be appealing.  In the same breath, the fact that each of the movies featured in the set also themselves feature the same bonus content as was featured in their previous releases will appeal to those noted audiences as well as other audiences.  Simply put, regardless of viewers’ devotion to the Star Trek franchise, everyone will be on the same level, including regardless of whether audiences have seen all four or none of the set’s featured movies.  To that end, love the movies or hate them, at least everyone will get to take in all of the same bonuses thanks to this set.

The carrying over of the bonus content in each movie from this set is a key positive for this set.  The inclusion of all four TNG movies is a boon for the most devoted fans of the franchise, while for those who might be more particular might find it not as interesting a draw.  Keeping that in mind, the set’s average price range of $31.72 is actually not a bad thing.  That price was obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Book Sellers and Books-A-Million. It was not listed at Target at the time of this review’s posting. Considering the prices of the stand-alone episodes’ Blu-ray releases and the prices of the movies’ releases, that price for this set is actually affordable.  Consumers would have to spend more than $100 for each of the titles by themselves, so paying a little more than $30 for all of them together is its own positive, again, regardless of that noted devotion to the franchise.  Having all of the movies, and at least two episodes (which were clearly chosen subjectively) gives audiences of all devotion something to look forward to here.  To that end, it is money well spent both for the most devoted fans and for even the most casual Star Trek fans who want to still be able to check out all of the TNG movies in one collection, rather than having to hunt them down one by one.  When this is considered along with the featured content – both primary and secondary – the whole of the et proves a positive  for Star Trek fans even despite the division that it will certainly create.

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Star Trek: The Next Generation set is an interesting new presentation for audiences.  The most devoted audiences will certainly appreciate having all of the TNG movies in one set complete with all of their original bonus content, and at an affordable price.  The franchise’s more casual fans will appreciate the fans, but might find themselves better off with the movies that they enjoy the most.  What’s  more, those same audiences will find the set’s featured television episodes, which have already seen release in their own standalone Blu-rays, questionable as so many other episodes could have been featured.  To that end, those audiences might not find the set’s average price point enough to encourage them to purchase the set.  Keeping all of this in mind, this latest TNG set is an interesting journey, but not one that every Star Trek fan will want to take.  The set is scheduled for release Tuesday on Blu-ray.  More information on this and other titles from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.ParamountMovies.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/paramountmovies

 

 

 

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CMG’s ‘Lured’ Re-Issue Leads Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues List

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

It’s hard to believe but there are now only two weeks left in the year.  There’s still so much ground to cover before the year ends, too in terms of year-ender lists. This morning we move on again, staying still in the DVD and BD category, though.  On tap today we have the list of the year’s top new DVD/BD Re-Issues.

Included in this list are box sets and standalone DVDs/BDs.  So it’s a mix.  But it’s a solid mix.  Topping this year’s list of top new re-issues is Cohen Media Group’s re-issue of the 1947 thriller Lured.  The movie was one of star Lucille Ball’s very rare non-comedic roles, and she shines brightly in this movie.  The bonus commentary included in the movie adds even more to its viewing experience.

Speaking of bonus material, this critic took into account the re-issues’ bonus material as well as their packaging in assembling this list. It wasn’t easy.  But it is what this critic feels is a solid list nonetheless.  As a reminder, the list includes not only the Top 10 New DVD/BD re-issues but five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  That being said, here for you is Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES

 

  1. Lured

 

  1. Sudden Fear

 

  1. Return of the Killer Tomatoes

 

  1. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars

 

  1. A Boy Named Charlie Brown

 

  1. Peanuts: Snoopy Come Home

 

  1. A Scandal in Paris

 

  1. The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series

 

  1. Transformers: The Movie

 

  1. Bump in the Night

 

  1. Kingdom of Zydeco

 

  1. Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series

 

  1. The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series

 

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

 

  1. Beauty and the Beast

 

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Paramount, CBS DVD To Re-Issue Two Classic Peanuts Specials

CBS DVD and Paramount will re-issue two classic Peanuts TV specials this summer.

Courtesy:  CBS DVD/Paramount

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

On Tuesday, September 6th, CBS DVD and Paramount will re-issue the classic Peanuts specials Peanuts: A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Peanuts: Snoopy Come Home on Blu-ray.  It marks the first time that either special has ever been released on Blu-ray.  Peanuts: A Boy Named Charlie Brown is the first of the Peanuts specials to ever be aired.  It follows Charlie Brown as he unwittingly becomes his school’s representative in the national spelling bee.  It all begins as Charlie sets out to disprove his fellow students who believe that he can’t even win the school spelling bee.  Along the way Charlie Brown’s best friend Linus deals with the disappearance of his beloved blanket as he tries to help Charlie Brown prepare for the spelling bee.  And back home scheming Lucy plans to take advantage of Charlie Brown’s potential success by naming herself his agent.  Of course things don’t turn out quite as she, Charlie Brown, or anyone else expect.  But the special still leaves audiences with smiles on their faces and feeling such support for everybody’s favorite underdog.

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

Peanuts: Snoopy Come Home presents a completely different story.  When Snoopy receives a letter in the mail, he suddenly leaves his doghouse and embarks on a cross-country journey.  The reason for Snoopy’s journey is a mystery to everybody including Charlie Brown.  That is until the contents of the letter are revealed.  What comes next is a deeply moving story that will move audiences of all ages to tears of joy.

Peanuts: A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Peanuts: Snoopy Come Home will both be available on Blu-ray on Tuesday, September 6th.  Both titles are expected to retail for MSRP of $24.99.

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Paramount, CBS DVD’s New Hogan’s Heroes Series Set Is Enjoyable Even Being A Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Paramount Studios Home Entertainment/CBS DVD

Courtesy: Paramount Studios Home Entertainment/CBS DVD

CBS DVD and Paramount have been on quite the roll in the past year or so.  Between April and November of 2015 the two companies partnered to turn out no fewer than nine of CBS’ classic series in their full-series sets.  A small handful of those releases were first time releases while a number of others were re-issues including: JAG: The Complete Series, I Love Lucy: The Complete Series, Walker Texas Ranger: The Complete Series, and Star Trek The Original Series just to name a handful of those titles.  There were even re-issues of all eight seasons of The Andy Griffith Show in their own standalone sets courtesy of Paramount.  As busy as Paramount and CBS DVD proved to be in 2015, one would think that the companies would pull back a little bit this year.  That apparently has not been the case.  The Andy Griffith Show was re-issued in whole this past February on DVD.  And earlier this month another classic CBS series—Hogan’s Heroes—was re-issued (again) on DVD.  It marked the third time since 2007 that the series had been released in whole on DVD.  Even despite this it is still another welcome addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library.

Paramount and CBS DVD’s latest re-issue of Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series is not the first release of the classic sitcom.  It is the third time since 2007 that the series has been released in full on DVD.  Despite this it is still a welcome addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library.  It is just as welcome in the library of any of the series’ fans that might perhaps not already own the series in its entirety.  For those that perhaps have never had the pleasure of enjoying Hogan’s Heroes the series’ writing behind the series is the central point of this box set’s presentation.  This applies both to the show’s premise and the stories within its episodes.  The premise presents a group of Allied POWs (led by Col. Robert Hogan), in a Nazi concentration camp that is helping the Allies defeat the Nazis.  They also help other Allied forces escape the Nazis along the way.  All the while Hogan and his band of misfits generate plenty of laughs as they outsmart Col. Klink and his bumbling head of security Sgt. Schultz in order to accomplish their missions.  All of this is important to note because over the course of its nearly six years on the air (It aired from September 17th, 1965 – April 4th, 1971.  That is just short of six years) there was nothing like it on the air.  This includes both the huge variety of sitcoms that populated television’s then limited channels and its dramas, as well.  Even more interesting is that the series, thanks to its premise, caused its own share of controversy because of its playful, lighthearted approach to the life of POWs in WWII-era Germany.  Thankfully though, that controversy has turned to appreciation over the years since the series presented Klink, Schultz, and the rest of the Germans as being rather dumb and gullible.  It is the American equivalent of the propaganda films used by the Axis forces during the war.  Sure, it came along two decades after the end of the war.  But one could argue that since it came along during the Vietnam War, it actually could have served, in its own right, to be a way for people to get escape the tragedies of one war with a comical approach to another war.  That’s probably a stretch on the part of this critic.  Regardless it was—and is—still an original premise.  For that reason alone, the premise behind the series makes it an important part of the series’ writing.  It is just one part of the writing that makes this element so important in the series’ presentation.

The premise behind Hogan’s Heroes is in itself hugely important to the series’ presentation.  That is because in comparison to other series of the time, it was just one more series that made television so great in what has become known as television’s golden age.  That is because it was unlike its counterparts at the time much in the same way that those series were unlike other series at the time.  It’s just one part of what makes the series’ writing so important to its presentation.  The stories that were crafted for each of the series’ one hundred sixty-eight episodes are just as important to the series’ presentation as the series’ premise.  Over the course of its nearly two hundred episodes, the series’ writers came up time and again with totally original stories that kept the series fresh and entertaining.  “Kommandant Schultz” (Season 6) is just one example of what makes the series’ episodes so entertaining.  This episode puts Schultz in charge of Stalag 13 for a short period of time in order to train him how to be a commanding officer.  The reason for the training is that Hitler had requested all NCOs in every camp be trained.  The end result is a story line that while tried and true, is still just as entertaining her as in any other series.  Viewers will love watching as Schultz tries to overcome his bumbling personality and become a respectable officer, only to come up short.  He still gets the last laugh in the end, though.  Viewers really can’t help but root for him here even though he is supposed to be one of the bad guys.  Of course audiences can’t really help but root for Schultz throughout the series. And that is likely linked to John Banner’s (the actor who portrayed Schultz) real life personality.  This will be discussed later.

“The Great Brinksmeyer Robbery” (Season 2) is another example of how the stories crafted for Hogan’s Heroes prove so important to the series’ presentation.  This episode is so important to note because it was one of the many times throughout the series in which the series’ writers took Hogan and company out of the confines of Stalag 13 for its story.  The story itself is just as important to note.  Hogan’s morals are tested somewhat when he is forced with the realization that he and the other men will have to rob a bank in order to purchase a map that would help the Allies’ efforts in the war.  He obviously doesn’t want to have to rob a bank.  But he reminds himself that it would be a German bank.  That in turn sets up the funny story that follows.  The episode’s bank heist story is just part of what makes the episode so entertaining.  Schultz does catch Hogan and his men as they are planning their operation.  But they turn the tables, blackmailing Schultz because he is not supposed to be away on leave.  Schultz’s reaction is timeless, especially as calm and collected as Hogan is in the moment.  It is just one of the great moments presented in this episode that make it so fun and funny.  The others will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  The end result of the episode’s story is just as entertaining.  All things considered, the whole of this episode’s story—from the story itself to the story’s smaller elements—shows once again why it is one more example of the importance of the stories’ importance to the series’ overall presentation.  It is hardly the last example, too.  “Is There A Traitor In The House?” (Season 5) is another example of what makes the series’ stories so important to its presentation.

“Kommandant Schutlz” and “The Great Brinksmeyer Robbery” are both prime examples of what makes the stories behind Hogan’s Heroes’ episodes so important to the series’ presentation.  They are not the only episodes that can be cited in proving this argument.  ‘Is There A Traitor In The House?” This episode is a good example of the strength of the series’ writing because it shows that the series could be entertaining even when Hogan wasn’t at the center of the episodes.  This episode puts Newkirk (Richard Dawson) at the center of its story.  Newkirk has to convince Klink, Schultz, and Berlin Betty that he has turned in support of the Nazis in order to get bombing coordinates to the British.  This happens after a bombing at the camp knocks out the Allies’ radio connection to Britain.  Even more interesting is how the story is executed.  At first audiences are actually led to believe that Newkirk has turned.  Though, it is revealed soon after that he hadn’t.  At the same time Berlin Betty has her own secret (or secrets).  That will be left for audiences to discover for themselves, too.  It’s just one of the story’s elements that makes it so engaging and even somewhat moving.  Audiences will understand and appreciate this when they see this episode for themselves.  It’s just one more way in which the episodes’ stories prove so important to the series’ presentation.  And it is hardly the last story/episode combination that can be cited in making this argument, too.  There are plenty of other stories presented across the series’ six-season run that could be cited just as easily.  Those stories and the stories cited here combine to show why the episodes’ stories are just as important in the bigger picture of the series’ writing as the show’s premise.  While the show’s premise and all of its stories combine to show the importance of its writing in the series’ presentation, the writing is hardly the only element within this box set that makes the set such a welcome addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library.  The bonus material contained within the series’ new box set is just as important as its writing to its presentation.

The writing behind Hogan’s Heroes is hugely important to the series’ presentation in its latest full series box set.  The bonus material included in the set is important in its own right to the set’s presentation.  The bonus material featured in this re-issue includes: a pair of original promo spots for the series, Air Force recruitment spots starring series star Bob Crane, a vintage add for Jell-o and Dream Whip starring the series’ whole cast, and behind-the-scenes movies narrated by Crane’s wife Patricia among much more.  The vintage TV spots are fun little additions to the set’s bonus material offerings.  That is because they haven’t been touched up or spit-shined for their presentation here.  They will take viewers back to another age of television in so many ways.  From cast-involved ads to direct recruiting spots, such promotion is rarely to never seen on television today.  So for television historians and classic TV buffs alike the spots are hugely important if only for their historical value.  The behind-the-scenes footage is just as important to the set’s presentation as any of the other bonuses.  In fact it could be argued that this bonus is the set’s key bonus.  That is because of the information shared by Crane’s wife Patricia.  Over the course of the “movie” audiences learn that John Banner’s portrayal of Schultz may have been rather natural.  That is because, as Crane reveals, he was considered to be very much like Santa Claus.  That is because of how much Banner loved kids and just how personable he was off camera.  Comparing Banner to Schultz, one could see how the connection could be made.  On another level viewers also learn about the proximity of the Hogan’s Heroes soundstage to that of The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.  Sure it might not seem all that important on the surface.  But it shows just how busy Paramount’s lot was at the time of Hogan’s Heroes’ run.  It’s just one more way in which the bonus material included in this set proves to be an important part of the series’ presentation in this newly re-issued box set.  There are other bonuses not noted here that were also included in the set’s presentation.  Those extras along with the bonuses noted here make clear why the bonus material in whole is so pivotal to the set’s presentation in its own right.  They are collectively just one more part of the whole that makes this new re-issue of Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series so enjoyable for audiences.  The set’s packaging is just as noteworthy as its bonus material and its writing.

The writing incorporated into Hogan’s Heroes and the bonus material that accompanies the series writing are both important elements in the whole of the series’ newly re-issued DVD box set.  The writing, both in terms of the set’s premise and its stories, will keep audiences entertained and engaged from the series’ first season to its sixth.  The bonus material included in the set adds even more enjoyment to the set thanks to its historical value.  Even as entertaining and valuable as the series’ writing and bonus material prove to be in its presentation here, they are not the only important elements to examine in the set’s presentation.  The set’s packaging rounds out its overall presentation.  The set’s packaging is a little bit of a mixed bag.  The box set’s exterior packaging is much more ergonomic for audiences than owning each of the series’ standalone season sets.  However, a closer look at the packaging reveals a different picture.  The series’ first four seasons are spread across nineteen discs contained within one box.  Seasons Five and Six are presented in a separate box set.  Here’s where things get a little bit dicey.  The discs that make up the series’ first four seasons are placed one on top of the other top to bottom on either side of five connected leafs inside their box.  In other words they are packaged much in the older style of multi-disc DVD box sets.  This same method was used in Paramount and CBS DVD’s other recent DVD box set re-issues.  The problem with this style of packaging is that it greatly increases the chances of the discs becoming scratched and unusable over time.  On the other side of the proverbial coin, Seasons Five an Six are presented in the more modern style of packaging, with one disc on either side of the box’s leafs.  This is just as ergonomic if not more so.  It also serves to better protect the discs from scratching.  So while the packaging is in itself a good thing and somewhat better than that of the series’ previous DVD sets, it is also problematic in its own right.  Keeping this in mind, one can’t help but wonder what a Blu-ray box set of Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series would look like.  It definitely shows that a Blu-ray set would be a real positive for audiences if only for the set’s packaging.  A Blu-ray presentation could potentially even present even more bonus material.  Even if that shouldn’t happen anytime soon Paramount and CBS DVD’s new re-issue of Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series still proves itself to be a good addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library and that of any of the series’ fans.

Paramount and CBS DVD’s new re-issue of Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series is not the first time that this classic sitcom has been released on DVD.  Even despite that it is still a welcome addition to the home DVD library of any classic TV buff and that of the series’ fans.  That applies more so to those fans that don’t already own the series in its standalone season sets or its previous full series incarnations.  This is proven primarily through the set’s writing.  The original premise and equally original story lines will entertain audiences from beginning to end.  The bonus material included in this, the series’ most recent re-issue.  It adds even more enjoyment thanks to its overall historical value.  The set’s packaging, while at least somewhat problematic, is also more ergonomic than the series’ previous full series DVD box sets.  Though, it can be argued that the packaging alone necessitates a Blu-ray release for the series.  A blu-ray presentation would potentially be even more ergonomic than this DVD box set or any of the series’ previous full-series incarnations.  All things considered Paramount and CBS DVD’s new Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series re-issue is still a welcome addition to the home DVD library of any classic TV buff not already in possession of the series’ previous DVD sets and that of the show’s original fans in the same situation.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Hogans-Heroes-Complete-Richard-Dawson/dp/B017Q8QNJK/?tag=cbcoofsiofcb-20.

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Shout! Factory Shines Again In Phil’s Picks’ 2015 Top New DVD/BD Re-Issues List

Every year, dozens of albums get the re-issue treatment courtesy of record labels (and sometimes bands) that are either trying to fulfill contractual obligations or just trying to make a quick buck off of consumers gullible enough to blindly pick up copies of said albums. Sadly most of those albums are anything but worth the price. Though, there are some diamonds in the rough. The same applies in the realm of DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. Every year just as many DVDs and Blu-rays hit store shelves all over again. And just as with the noted albums, most are not worth the price. On the other hand there are some that surprise and show to actually be worth the purchase. This year is no different. Warner Home Video re-issued the classic Peanuts TV specials Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) and Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. Both are good specials. But considering the overall lack of bonus material (save for a bonus documentary included in the prior) neither are outstanding. Though, for real Peanuts fans that might not already own either one, they are both at least somewhat worth the purchase if not entirely. On the other end of the spectrum, Timeless Media Group (which is part of the Shout! Factory corporate family) re-issued Gerry Anderson’s classic Supermarionation series Thunderbirds both on DVD and Blu-ray. In comparison to the series’ previous release on DVD back in 2008, this one shines both in terms of its packaging and overall presentation. So it is definitely a great new re-issue. The same applies to CBS DVD’s re-issue of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series and MPI’s re-issue of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series. These are just some of the re-issues that made the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues. They explain how this critic went about deciding on this list. Packaging was taken into effect along with pricing, bonus material, and the presentations’ production values. Also on this year’s list is Shout! Factory’s re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, 20th Century Fox’s new BD re-issue of Garfield: The Movie, and Cohen Media Group’s re-issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s little known thriller Jamaica Inn among others. These titles and others are all on this year’s list of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. As always the Top 10 titles make up the main body of the list while the bottom five were all worth mentioning for at least one reason. They each received honorable mention. So without any further ado I offer for your consideration dear readers the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New DVD and Blu-ray Re-Issues.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES

  1. THUNDERBIRDS: THE COMPLETE SERIES 

    2. GARFIELD: THE MOVIE

    3. JAMAICA INN

    4. STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL SERIES: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    5. MY FAVORITE MARTIAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    6. GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    7. I LOVE LUCK: THE ULTIMATE SEASON TWO

    8. THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE

    9. THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER

    10. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

    11. I LOVE LUCY: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    12. ROBOT JOX

    13. ALADDIN

    14. BON VOYAGE, CHARLIE BROWN (AND DON’T COME BACK)

    15. RACE FOR YOUR LIFE, CHARLIE BROWN

 

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.