9 Story Media Group Comes Up Short Of Expectations Again With ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 3’ Set

Courtesy: 9 Story Media Group

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Everybody knows that timeless adage.  Even knowing the hugely important mantra, some out there refuse to acknowledge that famed words of wisdom.  9 Story Media Group is among that mass.  The company has proven that already with the release of the first two seasons of the classic animated series Garfield & Friends on DVD.  Now with the forthcoming release of the series’ third season later this month, the company has once again ignored the noted recommendation.  That is evidenced through the most notable of the set’s negatives, its general presentation.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the general presentation detracts quite a bit from the forthcoming set to a point, it does not make the set a complete loss.  There are at least a couple of positives, the most important being the featured shorts.  This will be addressed shortly.  The set’s packaging couples with its episodes to make the collection at least a limited success.

9 Story Entertainment Group’s forthcoming release of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 is a moderately positive new release from the company, at best.  As with the series’ previous DVD sets released by the company, it is a collection that even with its positives, still leaves audiences wanting for more.  The set’s featured shorts are collectively one of the collection’s rare positives.  The shorts are just as entertaining in this season as in any of the show’s other four seasons.  One of the most memorable and enjoyable of the season’s shorts comes late in the season’s run in the form of the U.S. Acres short “Barn of Fear II.”  This short’s story once takes audiences back to the farm’s haunted old barn.  Orson and company’s ancestors save the day again after Orson’s brothers plot to tie up Orson and his friends and steal their harvest.  Wade’s reaction at seeing the ghosts of the group’s ancestors is classic to say the very least.  The tricks that the ghosts use to save the day, and the reaction of Orson’s brothers at being stopped are just as great. That the writers managed to avoid a certain sense of redundancy with this “sequel” to “Barn of Fear” puts the finishing touch to the short.  All things considered, the short stands out as one of the season’s best moments.

The Garfield short “How The West Was Lost” is another of the season’s most memorable moments.  This episode features returning character Cactus Jake, who was voiced throughout the series by Pat Buttram (Robin HoodThe AristocatsThe Fox and the Hound), out of a job after his ranch is automated.  Jake tries a variety of fields, but to no success.  It shows you can take the cowboy out of the west, but you can’t take the west out of the cowboy.  Thanks to Garfield, Jake ends up getting his job back after Garfield sabotages some of the ranch’s robots to prove mechanization is not the answer to the workplace.  That very adult topic is another example of what made this series so far ahead of it’s time, along with the likes of “TV of Tomorrow” and other shorts.  It is a matter that grown-ups are sure to love.  The comic aspects of the short will appeal to audiences of all ages, meanwhile.  It’s yet another way in which the season’s shorts prove so important to its presentation.  The U.S. Acres short “Secrets of the Animated Cartoon” is yet another unforgettable moment from this season.

”Secrets of the Animated Cartoon” is educational and entertaining.  The very fact that it is meant to be presented as an educational style presentation is itself so funny.  That audiences learn about topics, such as the various types of takes (spit, delayed, double ) the classic falling gag, the running gag, and even the famed breaking down of the fourth wall, is just as great.  It’s such a simple approach to story telling, yet is just so entertaining.  It forms a foundation that will help audiences appreciate any cartoon.  To that end, it just makes for so many laughs.  This is one of the season’s (and series’) best moments overall.  When it is considered along with other memorable moments, such as those in “Count Lasagna,” “Quack to the Future” and “DJ Jon” among so many others, the shorts in whole prove to be the most important aspect of Garfield & Friends’ third season.  They form a strong foundation for the set.  Sadly though, the folks at 9 Story Media Group did not build too well on that foundation in looking at the set’s general presentation.

The general presentation is composed of a variety of aspects, including by relation to the episodes, the actual listing of the episodes.  It should be noted here, that the episodes are listed only on the discs.  They are not featured anywhere in the collection’s packaging.  This is a concern in itself.  Sure, the set is composed of only two discs, but it certainly would have been nice to have had an episode guide in the packaging so as to determine which disc one wants to play.  On a related note, the episode listings that are available on the discs completely omit the U.S. Acres shorts.  Why this course of action was taken is anyone’s guess, but it is misleading.  It’s like someone at 9 Story Media Group thought the Garfield shorts were more important than the U.S. Acres shorts.  That is troubling, since the latter are just as important as the prior.  As the old adage states, “you can’t have one without the other.”

The episode listings that are and are not featured in Garfield & Friends: Season 3 are collectively just one of the important aspects of the collection’s general presentation.  Another equally important aspect to address is the re-mastering of the episodes themselves.  As with the series’ first two seasons, 9 Story Media Group letterboxed this season’s episodes.  That means that yes, there was once again content loss.  Heads and get were cut off, as were other aspects of specific scenes.  Interestingly enough, the company avoided the use of the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen once more in an attempt to try and recreate the series’ original full-screen presentation.  Even with that approach taken, audiences who own 20th Century Fox’s original Garfield & Friends collections will be able to easily catch the content loss.  Case in point is the short “Close Encounters of the Garfield Kind.”  The scene in which the alien is looking into the house allows viewers to see what the alien was seeing through its viewing device.  The shot was much more zoomed in (for lack of better wording), leading much of the picture to be cut off all the way around.  Other shorts feature loss in other ways.  Between that moment and others featured throughout the set, the overall content loss featured in this collection is enough to hurt the collection that much more.  It still is not the last of the concerns raised through the general presentation.  That the show’s opening and closing sequences have been altered, too, detracts from the general presentation even more.

Noting 20th Century Fox’s Garfield & Friends sets again, everything featured in those sets stays true to the original animated series, including even the opening and closing sequences.  This set has completely re-worked both.  Season Three’s closing sequence features Garfield and all of his friends at the bottom of the screen, with Garfield in the center, flanked by all of the series’ other characters fanning outwards.  The show’s credits play above the static picture over a black background that also boasts a spotlight type effect just above the characters.  The show’s theme song plays over the whole of the imagery.  By comparison, the new closing sequence changes this a lot.  Garfield, Jon, Liz, Nermal, and Odie are on one side of the screen while the U.S. Acres gang is on the other side of the screen.  The credits play in the middle of the screen.  Making things even worse is the spit shined look that it all has.  It just looks too perfect.  That original closing sequence does more for viewers’ sense of nostalgia than this re-worked closing sequence.

The opening sequence completely does away with any elements of the original opening from the time – the three Garfields, Orson falling in the mud, the famous cheerleading scene from the short “Basket Brawl,” etc.) and replaces all of that with a whole new opening sequence.  It begs that noted adage again, if it’s not broke don’t fix it.  Why those behind this set’s creation would go to this length is just a headscratcher.  There was no reason to replace the original opening sequence just like there was no reason to replace the closing credits sequence.  To that end, this aspect of the general presentation detracts even more from the set’s presentation.  When the changes to the opening and closing sequences are considered along with the content loss in the actual presentation of the shorts and the concerns in the episode listings, it becomes clear that the general presentation of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 completely fails.  It collectively detracts greatly from this set’s presentation overall.  Thankfully for all of the damage that the general presentation does to the set, it does have at least one other positive to try and make up for all of the negatives.  That one other positive is the packaging.

The packaging used for the third season of Garfield & Friends is much more ergonomic than that of 20th Century Fox’s previously released sets.  Instead of the slim cases housed inside the bigger box approach that 20th Century Fox used, 9 Story Media Group instead used the now more commonly used packaging practice of placing each disc on its own spindle inside the case.  This serves to protect the discs from damaging one another while also saving space.  That reduced capacity can and does also help reduce the price for consumers.  It is an approach that the people at 9 Story Media Group has also used in the DVD presentations of the series’ first two seasons.  Now in defense of 20th Century Fox’s sets, the slim cases also protect the discs from one another in their own way.  At the same time, those slim cases also present episode listings on the casesSo even while 20th Century Fox’s sets take more space on viewers’ DVD/BD racks, they still prove just as good as that of this set if not better.  When all of this is taken into account along with the season’s shorts and all of its negatives, the end result is a presentation that once again falls short of expectations for Garfield & Friends fans.

9 Story Media Group’s forthcoming DVD release of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 is another interesting release from the company, which has also handled the release of the series’ first two seasons.  That the season features lots more entertainment in its featured shorts makes it somewhat enjoyable.  That cannot be credited to the people at 9 Story Media Group, though.  The set’s packaging can be credited to the company, too, though even it has its own concern.  That concern and those raised by the set’s general presentation detract so much from the collection’s overall presentation that the set in whole ends up coming up short of fans’ expectations once again.  The set is scheduled for release Oct. 27.  More information on this and more from 9 Story Media Group is available at:

Website: http://9story.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/9StoryMediaGroup

Twitter: http://twitter.com/9StoryMG

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PBS Distribution Announces ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 3’ Release Date

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution will release the third season of Garfield & Friends to DVD next month.

The 18-episode collection is scheduled for release Oct. 27.  It will retail for MSRP of $14.99.  Season Three features a variety of great shorts both from Garfield and from his U.S. Acres pals.  “For Cats Only” is one of the many great shorts featuring Garfield.  This episode finds Garfield hosting a special program that tells the history of cats on Earth.  According to the story, cats came from another planet, and that they control humans, not the other way around.

In what is yet another of the season’s most memorable moments, the series shows once how far ahead of its time it was in “How The West Was Lost.”  This episode features returning character Cactus Jake, who was voiced throughout the series by Pat Buttram (Robin HoodThe AristocatsThe Fox and the Hound), out of a job after his ranch is automated.  Jake tries a variety of fields, but to no success.  Thanks to Garfield, Jake ends up getting his job back after Garfield sabotages some of the ranch’s robots to prove mechanization is not the answer to the workplace.

In yet another great moment, the series pokes fun at how mainstream commercial radio works in “D.J. Jon” after Jon becomes a disc jockey at his local radio station.  His new (and short-lived) stardom leads Jon to inadvertently neglect Odie and Garfield, so Garfield takes it on himself to  get out of the industry’s grip, to hilarious results.


The U.S. Acres shorts featured in Season Three offer their own enjoyment.  One of the most notable of this season’s shorts comes in what is clearly a tribute of sorts to The Andy Griffith Show in “The Legal Eagle.”  This short finds Roy Rooster taking it on himself to enforce the farm’s laws.  There’s just one problem:  The laws that Roy is enforcing are out of date, but Roy doesn’t know, so everyone ends up getting locked up, including Roy himself.  There was an episode of The Andy Griffith Show in which Don Knotts’ character Barney Fife got into some trouble for doing much the same, locking up lots of Mayberry’s residents for the tiniest infraction.

Another memorable U.S. Acres short from Season Three comes in the form of “Quack to the Future.”  The short’s title is a take-off of the Back to the Future franchise title.  The short’s story finds Orson hurting Wade’s feelings after he shouted at Wade following an accident.  It is not until after the fact that Orson realizes he overreacted to what happened.  He wishes he could go back in time and undo what he did, leading to another important lesson from the series; that of friendship and being aware of the power of words.

In another of U.S. Acres’ lighter moments, audiences get an adaptation of the classic story Alice in Wonderland when Orson dreams he has gone to Wonderland.  Lanolin plays the part of the Queen of Hearts and is just as loudmouthed as ever.  The dream sequence happened when Orson took a nap after searching for a missing croquet ball.

More information on this and other titled from PBS Distribution is available at:



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‘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, CBS Announce Release Date For ‘Star Trek Picard: Season 1’

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS/CBS All Access/CBS DVD

Paramount and CBS are bringing CBS All Access’ latest Star Trek series to DVD and Blu-ray.

The series’ first season is scheduled for release Oct. 6 on each platform.  The 10-season debut season follows now retired Starfleet Admiral Jean-Luc Picard as he comes out of retirement an embarks on a whole new journey.  It begins 20 years after the events of the last of the Star TrekTNG movies, Nemesis (2002).  Data’s death and the destruction of the planet Romulus have had a deep emotional impact on him.

When a mysterious young woman named Dahj (Isa Briones — TakersLonely BoyBrown Soup Thing) approaches Picard for help, he realizes she might have a connection to his own past.

Season One also stars Harry Treadaway (The Lone RangerHoneymoonCity of Ember), Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. The WorldMilkDan in Real Life), Evan Evagora (Fantasy Island), Michelle Hurd (BlindspotAsh vs. Evil DeadLethal Weapon TV series), and Santiago Cabrera (Big Little LiesTransformersThe Last KnightHeroes).

More information on Star Trek Picard and other CBS and CBS All Access series is available at:


Website: http://cbs.com/shows/star-trek-picard

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cbs


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Animal Lovers, Biologists Everywhere Will Enjoy ‘NOVA: Cat And Dog Tales’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Almost 30 years ago this year, the timeless animated series Garfield & Friends presented one of its most notable shorts, “For Cats Only.”  The episode is a hilarious telling of the history of cats (and to a point dogs) on Earth.  It is a laugh riot story that while largely fictitious, apparently had some truths, according to PBS’ recently aired NOVA episode Cat and Dog Tales.  Released to DVD in May, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is its own telling of the history of dogs and cats.  That story, complete with revelations about some other items – also addressed in the noted Garfield & Friends short – makes for its own reason to watch this episode of NOVA.  It will be addressed shortly.  The program’s general presentation adds to the DVD’s presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.  All things considered, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales a presentation that will appeal to any feline fanatic and canine companion.

NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a presentation that pet parents and pals alike will enjoy.  That is proven in part through its central story.  The story in question tells the history of cats and dogs and how they came to become humans’ beloved companions.  Now unlike in the noted Garfield & Friends short, audiences learn here that cats did not come from another planet, but in fact from Europe and Asia while dogs descended from wolves that had existed around the world for thousands of years.  At the same time though, that noted short apparently proves right about cats being domesticated according to his real life documentary.  The documentary points out that humans did not domesticate cats, but that in fact they domesticated themselves.  The same can be said of dogs, according to this program.  It points out in its central story, that dogs (like cats) domesticated themselves over time.  How each species’ domestication happened is interesting to learn in its own right.  Another item addressed in the overall story is that of whether cats and dogs actually love us or if they love the food that we provide.  Not to give away too much, but owners of cats and dogs alike should find no surprise in either revelation here.  All things considered, the overall story of feline and canine history is certain to keep audiences wholly engaged and entertained throughout each segment of the two-part program.

As noted, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a two-part program.  This is important to note as it plays directly into the episode’s general presentation.  Rather than bundling everything together into a single, nonstop, two-hour presentation, audiences can watch each “story” in itself.  As a result, audiences won’t have to worry about feeling mentally spent.  They will then have an easier time remembering everything presented in each story.  This is something that audiences are sure to appreciate.  To that end, those responsible for making the decision to separate the segments are to be commended for that decision.  It proves to be just as positive as the program’s overall, in-depth story to the DVD’s overall presentation.  Together with the noted content, this element gives viewers even more to appreciate in the DVD’s overall presentation.  It is just one more aspect that audiences will appreciate about the DVD.  Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The average price point of NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is $19.32.  That price is obtained by averaging price listings through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  That is a price point that will not break anyone’s budget.  The same can be said of most of the separate listings.  While PBS’ listing, and that of Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ listings exceed that average, they are not by much.  Meanwhile, the listing of $24.99 at Books-a-Million once more far exceeds the average.  Amazon, Walmart and Target each have the lowest price listing at $16.99 while Best Buy’s listing of $17.99 also comes in below that average.  It is not the least expensive listing, but is still less expensive than the average, proving once again that for the most part, the price for this DVD is not prohibitive for any viewer(s).  Considering all that the DVD offers in terms of its content and how said content is presented, it makes the DVD even more affordable and worth the price – save of course for that one noted listing.  Even with the listing at Books-A-Million noted, audiences should keep in mind that regardless of the retailer from which they buy the DVD, at least a portion of the price paid will go to benefit PBS.  That is always important to note considering how little funding PBS gets from the federal government.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales proves itself to be a DVD that pet parents and pals alike will appreciate.

NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a presentation that animal lovers everywhere will enjoy.  That is due in part to its central story, which presents the history of cats and dogs and much more.  The manner in which the overall story is presented adds to the appeal of the DVD’s presentation.  Considering all that the noted items show in themselves and collectively, audiences will agree that the DVD’s average price point is money worth spending.  Each item noted here is important in its own way.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales a presentation that any animal lover will enjoy.  It is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:






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CBS All Access’ ‘Twilight Zone’ Reboot Fails To Live Up To The Legacy Of Rod Serling’s Original Series

Courtesy: Paramount Home Entertainment

When Rod Serlings’s The Twilight Zone made its television debut in 1959 on CBS, it was a groundbreaking and landmark moment in modern television history.  There was nothing like it on television at the time.  The series’ only competition, The Outer Limits didn’t come along until 1963, right as The Twilight Zone was nearing the end of its five-season run.  In the decades since The Twilight Zone ended its run, it remained one of television’s most influential programs.  Its stories have been spoofed by countless other series.  From the likes of The Simpsons to Tiny Toon Adventures and so much more, audiences of all ages have been entertained by this timeless series in one way or another.  It has even been rebooted on television now three times, the most recent reboot coming last year with a new 10-episode debut season, hosted and executive produced by Jordan Peele.  The full season run is available now on DVD and Blu-ray through CBS Distribution and CBS All Access, complete with some bonus materials.  The content is the core positive of this season’s home release and will be discussed shortly.  For all that the bonus content does, the stories featured at the center of this season’s episodes, which are supposed to be the show’s core, detract quite a bit from its presentation.  This will be addressed a little later.  While the stories that make up the body of Season One detract quite noticeably from the season’s presentation, Peele’s work as the show’s narrator makes up at least slightly for the problems posed by the stories.  Each  item noted is key in its own way to the whole of this Season One set from the latest reboot of The Twilight Zone.  All things considered, they make this collection worth at least one watch, but sadly falls short of the legacy maintained today by Rod Serling’s original series.

CBS All Access’ new reboot of The Twilight Zone is a presentation that is worth at least one watch in its debut season, but not much more.  Keeping that in mind, it is not a total loss.  That is due in part to the bonus content that is featured with the season’s home release.  The most notable of the set’s bonus content is the tribute to Rod Serling and the legacy that he left with his landmark series.  The 36-minute feature that is “Remembering Rod Serling” is a fitting tribute to Serling.  It tells the story of Serling’s life, career and impact on television (and media) history through the words of his family and friends as well as clips of Serling discussing his work.  One of the most powerful statements that Serling makes through the culled footage comes late in the feature.  He notes to a group of college students that they need not worry so much about a misplaced comma or a run-on sentence, but rather making sure the idea that they want to express is done so clearly in their works.  That is something that so many people need to take to heart today.  There are editors out there who are so nitpicky about those tiny items, that they lose total sight of the bigger picture.  The figures who were interviewed for the feature add their own comments, noting Serling’s desire to speak on social issues throughout his life. They stress that Serling used the series as a way to address those concerns while also entertaining audiences at the same time. What’s more, it is pointed out that he understood in doing what he did, that he also understood the role of advertisers and studios at the time, which played into his ability to so solidly balance the show’s more serious and lighthearted elements.  One of Serling’s daughters is among the interviewees featured in this semi-documentary. She talks about Serling as a family man away from work, and how committed he was to his family.  It is a truly uplifting, smile-inducing anecdote that is shared, and adds even more enjoyment to the presentation.  Between all of the items noted here and the rest of the discussions that make up “Remembering Rod Serling,” the whole of the bonus feature is in itself well worth the watch.  It is just some of the bonus content worth watching.  The introductions to each of the episodes, called “Opening The Door To…” are important in their own way to the set’s presentation.

The “Opening The Door To…” segments are brief, but they give viewers a concise explanation as to the commentary presented within each episode.  The topics are presented by the cast members who star in each episode, too, adding to the engagement and entertainment.  Audiences will learn through the introductions, that the topics tackled are at least in most part, just as timeless as the topics that Serling addressed in his stories.  ‘Replay’ for instance presents a commentary about the ongoing issue of the relationship between minorities and law enforcement officers.  The introduction to ‘Point of Origin’ explains that as complex as the episode is, it is essentially an allegory about how we as a people handle the issue of illegal immigration and how racist views play into that discussion.  The introduction to ‘The Wunderkind’ notes the story is a warning about letting identity politics control a nation rather than the important issues facing a nation.  Simply put, the explanation of each episode’s story might not seem like a lot on the surface, but in the bigger picture of things, it plays directly into the engagement and entertainment of the stories themselves.  The introductions are…well…introductions.  They set the scene so to speak for each episode, and allow audiences to better decide if they want to watch one episode or another.

Staying on that note of audiences’ ability to decide which episode(s) to watch, the set’s packaging plays into that decision, too, making for another positive worth noting.  The season’s episode listing is provided for audiences inside the collection’s box.  Each episode’s title is featured along with a brief episode summary, adding to the ability to decide which episode(s) to watch.  That initial decision can save time for audiences as they try to decide which episode(s) to watch.  The compliment of the episode introductions with each episode adds even more pleasure for viewers as they make the noted decisions.  Keeping all of this in mind along with the value of the bonus tribute to Rod Serling, it becomes clear why the bonus content is so important to the overall presentation of the first season of CBS All Access’ reboot of The Twilight Zone.

The bonus material featured in the home release of The Twilight Zone’s first season reboot is clearly critical to its presentation, and does a lot to make this set worth at least one watch.  While it does a lot to make the set at least partially appealing, the stories collectively detract just as much from the presentation.  From start to finish, it is easy to see that all the show’s writers did was re-imagine Serling’s stories, rather than make something original.  Case in point is the episode “Six Degrees of Freedom.”  It is clear that this episode coupled elements of the original episodes “I Shot An Arrow Into The Sky” and “Where Is Everybody?” and made them into a re-imagined take on the two.  That realization does detract greatly from the enjoyment.  The same thing applies for instance in the new episode “A Traveler.”  “A Traveler” is essentially a mash-up of “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up” and “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” what with the matter of the alien invasion and the matter of the friends fighting amongst one another as a result of the intervention by the alien.  Those familiar with Serling’s original series will remember that in “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” those neighbors who knew one another so well suddenly started fighting amongst themselves because of the intervention of the unseen aliens.  In this case, the alien was in plain sight, yet still unseen.  So again, it is in essence just an updated take on that story as well as the other noted tale.  “Not All Men” with its overly preachy product of the MeToo movement about toxic masculinity also lifts from “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” after asteroids land in a town and “infect” all the men in the town, and they all start going crazy and become violent.  Yet again, here is something from space causing the masses to go crazy.  On top of that, do we really need that preachy message about toxic masculinity?  The answer is a resounding no.  This episode was completely unnecessary, and just a knee jerk reaction to the times. For another example of the detriment of the stories, one need look no further than “The Wunderkind.”  This story is little more than a re-imagining of ‘It’s A Good Life,” which starred famed actor Billy Mumy as the “evil” child.  In the case of “The Wunderkind,” the evil controlling child becomes the tyrannical leader of the United States.  There is very little difference between the two stories in this case, other than this story clearly goes after Donald Trump, comparing him to a manchild of sorts.  Given, there’s nothing untrue or wrong with that.  After all, that is exactly what Donald Trump is.  He is the worst thing to ever happen to America in this critic’s own view.  But other than that, there is just no true originality in this case, either.  It’s just one more lifting of Rod Serling’s work instead of being an original story.  If all of this is not enough example of the detriment of the stories, the re-imagining of “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” is yet another example that proves how much of a disservice these stories are in Season One.  Rather than just being a fan piece about a man who sent crazy on an airliner (or did he?), this tale is loosely based on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  In this case, the outcome is quite different from what likely happened in reality.  To that end, it just takes so much from the enjoyment in this case.

On a slightly happier note, while the season finale, “Blurryman” is essentially just a re-imagining of “The Hitch-Hiker,” it is really the only story in this season that works.  It mixes elements of that story with the equally timeless episode “Time Enough at Last” to truly pay tribute to Serling and his legacy.  It is the only episode that can truly be forgiven for not being wholly original, just because of the way in which it was executed.  Other than that one story though, the other noted episodes and the others not directly addressed here prove themselves to be anything but original, much like the episodes in the previous reboots of The Twilight Zone.  Yes, they are at least worth watching once thanks to the acting and the cinematography, but in terms of the general writing, they are anything but positive.

Making things even more troubling for the stories is the overt inclusion of so much unnecessary foul language.  Between the adult cast and even the younger actors, there are lots of f-bombs, s-bombs and other related four-letter words tossed around so openly.  Serling’s series and even this series’ predecessor showed they did not need all that language in order to keep audiences engaged.  To that end, one can’t help but wonder why the show’s creative forces thought it was necessary to work blue.  The argument that this reboot is simply a product of its time does not hold water.  If previous series could go  without such language, then this reboot should be able to do the same.  It is just disappointing that it is there this time out.

Getting back to the matter of Mr. Peele, who has made quite the name for himself in recent years in Hollywood, he is deserving of his own share of applause in his time as the show’s narrator.  Peele only shows up in the episodes’ early and late moments, but there is something in his presence and his delivery each time that is so entertaining in their simplicity.  It is a presentation in itself that will make the most devoted fans of Serling and his timeless series happy.  He is just as stoic in his narrations as Serling was, his delivery so matter of fact, yet presenting just enough emotion to let audiences easily grasp the irony in each tale both at the start and finish.

On another note, Peele’s acting as he becomes one of the stars in the season finale is just as notable because he knows he is still more supporting cast than star.  He lets his cast mates take the lead while still offering his own lighthearted act along the way.  Between that impressive on camera role and his work as the show’s narrator, Peele proves to be his own key part of the season’s presentation.  Between his work on camera and the importance of the season’s bonus content, the two elements go a long way toward making the debut season of CBS All Access’ latest reboot of The Twilight Zone at least somewhat engaging and entertaining.  The stories, while clearly not exactly original, do have at least some positive to note, slight as it is.  All things considered, the home release of CBS All Access’ 2019 reboot of The Twilight Zone hardly lives up to the legacy of Serling’s original series and is worth maybe one watch, but sadly not much more than that.

CBS All Access’ latest reboot of The Twilight Zone is a presentation that is anything but the memorable work that Rod Serling’s original series has proven to be more than sixty years after it debuted.  Sure, the bonus content featured in Season One’s home release is engaging and entertaining along with star Jordan Peele (through his performance), but the stories prove anything but original.  They are largely little more than mash-ups and re-imaginings of Serling’s original stories.  The unnecessary foul language and overt violence and darkness in each episode makes this season even more targeted in terms of audience base than its predecessors.  Sure, Serling’s original series might not necessarily be kid friendly, but at least it is known that audiences as young as 13 years-old can appreciate that series.  This series, by comparison is more appropriate only for audiences 18 and older because of the noted content.  Keeping all of this in mind, this latest take on The Twilight Zone is largely a failure that hardly lives up to the legacy of the original series and of Rod Serling himself.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other content from CBS All Access is available online at:




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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Shows Some Growth In Its Second Season

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS/CBS All Access

Early next year, CBS All Access will debut the latest entry in the long-running Star Trek franchise in the form of Star Trek: Picard.  The series’ debut is set for April 2020.  According to information from multiple media outlets, the third season of the streaming service’s other Star Trek series, Discovery will premiere.  While audiences wait for the premiere of Discovery’s third season, they have the series’ to take in on DVD and Blu-ray.  Officially released Nov. 12, the series’ second season is a slight improvement from its debut season.  That is proven in part through the season’s writing, which will be addressed shortly.  At the same time that the writing has provided a certain improvement from the series’ first season, it also has proven to be a negative to the season.  This will also be addressed.  The season’s acting rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed here.  Between the writing and acting, audiences get in the second season of Discovery, an example of a show that is improving, but still has a very long way to go before it can be considered among the best of Star Trek’s series.Star Trek: Picard

The second season of Star Trek: Discovery is a small step up from the series’ debut season.  It shows that the series has some potential.  That is due in part to the series’ writing.  The writing offers audiences far more lighthearted moments this time out than in Season One.  There are more jokes and casual moments featured throughout the season’s 14 episodes this time around.  That could be perhaps because the crew of the Discovery has more breathing room, what with the war with the Klingons ended after Season One.  It is nice to see those more lighthearted moments, as it shows that the show’s writers apparently don’t constantly take themselves with a lot of seriousness and can offer some entertainment.

The writing offers entertainment not just through lots of lighthearted moments this season, but also in the more action packed moments.  Those moments are many throughout the season, too.  From the crew’s dealings with “Control,” which are essentially the ancestors of the Borg, to the fights with Capt. Leland to the final epic battle in the season’s two-part finale, there is just as much enjoyable action throughout the season as there is joking and lightheartedness.  The combination of those elements shows that clearly a lot of time and thought was put into improving the writing for this season.  The time and thought paid off, clearly.

For all of the payoff that the noted time and thought had in the writing, it also proved just as much a negative as a positive.  That is proven as there is an overabundance of unnecessary, over-the-top drama throughout the season, too.  From the season premiere to its exciting two-part finale, the show’s writing team gave star Sonequa Martin-Green more than her share of screen time and just as many opportunities to shed a river of tears and then some.  Between her personal moment with Saru when it appears he is going to die (not to give away too much here, but Saru doesn’t die), her nonstop emotional confrontations with Spock and her adopted parents, to her full-on emotional breakdown after another of her ship mates forced her to send her out of an airlock, killing her, Martin-Green gets plenty of crying time on screen.  As if all of that is not enough, Anson Mount’s extraordinarily (and unnecessarily) long speeches as the season nears its end make it quite easy for audiences to hit the fast forward button on their remotes.  The ongoing drama between Hugh and Stamets, and the seemingly never-ending drama between Michael and Ash adds to that overabundance of drama, too.  That overabundance of drama sadly detract quite a bit from the season’s overall general effect and make it difficult for audiences to take seriously.  Rather, they give the season more of a feel of one big supernova of an interstellar soap opera than an action, science fiction series.  Simply put, the overabundance of drama tied into Season two’s presentation does just as much to hurt this show even more as the more lighthearted moments do in order to make the show more enjoyable.  To that end, one can only hope that the show’s writers will continue to infuse more light dialogue next season than drama.  If they don’t go that route, odds are, it will just continue to alienate fans (no pun intended) and find itself ending sooner rather than later.

While the writing incorporated into Discovery’s second season is both a pro and a con, the one element that can be said to be a full positive is the work of the show’s cast.  Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) is a wonderful addition to the cast.  His portrayal of Capt. Pike makes him one of the best additions to the cast.  He really conjures thoughts of Capt. Kirk as he directly contrasts the much harder-edged presence of Capt. Lorca.  Getting off topic for a moment, the writes mention Lorca in the opening episodes of the season, but still do nothing to explain away what happened to the prime universe Lorca, since it was revealed that Discovery’s Lorca was from the alternate universe.  Getting back on topic, Mount effortlessly makes Pike a character that every viewer loves just as much as the Discovery’s crew.  He cracks jokes with the bridge crew, shoots sarcastic remarks at Ash and Emporor Georgiou, and takes control when the heat is on, just as a good leader would.  He just shows so much charisma throughout.  It makes it too bad that he allegedly will not return for the series’ third season.

Another notable acting job from Season Two comes from newcomer Tig Notaro.  Notaro, who takes on the role of Federation Engineer Jett Reno plays expertly off of Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets).  The verbal barbs that Reno so willingly shoots at Stamets are among the best of the season’s lighthearted moments.  Her timing and general presence makes for some of the season’s best laughs.  In the same breath, she shows her own unique brand of care as she talks to Hugh about his relationship with Paul (yes, Hugh does return this season, albeit in a rather comic book-esque fashion, which is another issue with the writing that detracts from the season’s general effect).  She maintain’s Reno’s edge, but still manages to show Reno has a heart in the process.  It makes her quite the sympathetic character and talented actor.  Between her acting, that of fellow newcomer Anson Mount and Ethan Peck (who plays Spock – Peck’s take on the timeless, beloved figure is noteworthy in its own right), audiences have just as much reason to watch this season for its acting as for the growth exhibited in the show’s writing.  One can only hope that between the growth exhibited in the writing and the positive acting jobs of the cast, the improvements made in this season will continue in Season Three and continue to help this show prove its potential.

Paramount Pictures and CBS’ latest entry into the Star Trek universe, Discovery has show n significant growth in its second season from its debut season.  That is evident in part in the season’s writing, which attempts to offer more lighthearted moments to balance out its overabundance of unnecessary over the top drama.  Speaking of the drama, there is a lot of that, which seriously detracts from the season, along with the oftentimes dizzying cinematography.  Thankfully, as much as those items detract from the season’s presentation, they are not enough to make the season completely unwatchable.  The on-camera work of some of the show’s new cast members adds its own share of engagement and entertainment.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered, they show this season has the potential for growth, if only its creative heads won’t let it become the full-on interstellar soap opera that it largely become this season.  Here’s to hoping Season Three will avoid all that drama and instead opt for more action than overdrawn, overabundant and unnecessary tear-filled jaunts.  If they do that, it can make Season Three a major turning point for Discovery; if and only if they go that route.  Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on the series is available online now at:




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Pricing, Packaging Saves 20th Century Fox’s Latest ‘Lost In Space’ Release

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Early this month, 29th Century Fox re-issued CBS’ classic science fiction action adventure series Lost In Space on DVD.  This new re-issue came a little more than three years after the series’ Blu-ray release, which was also distributed by 20th Century Fox.  It sadly is proof, though, that 20th Century Fox is itself still a little bit lost when it comes to giving this timeless series a fully proper home release.  It is not a total loss, however. The biggest positive of all to this set is its pricing.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the set’s pricing is clearly a positive, the bonus content proves to be a negative, compared to the bonus content presented in the series’ Blu-ray set.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the bonus content proves an issue for this re-issue of Lost in Space’s complete series presentation, it is not enough to make the set unwatchable.  Keeping this in mind, it is really the set’s only true con.  The set’s packaging is another positive to note, again in comparison to the series’ previous Blu-ray release.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, 20th Century Fox’s new DVD re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is an improvement over the company’s previous Blu-ray release of the series.

20th Century Fox’s recent re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is a sign that while the company itself still seems slightly lost on how to finally give fans of the classic series a proper release of the show, it is at least a move in the right direction for the organization.  This is proven in part through the average price point of the series.  The DVD set’s average price point is $29.49.  That is in comparison to the average price point of $74.52 for the Blu-ray set.  The DVD’s price point was a little tricky to pinpoint as the set is not listed on Walmart’s web store, yet it is available in store at Walmart’s brick and mortar stores.  It is however, listed online at the stores for Amazon, Best Buy and Books-A-Million.  The Blu-ray set, which was met with quite a bit of blowback for its packaging – which will be discussed a little later – is listed at the stores at Amazon and Walmart.  The DVD set’s price in store at Walmart is only $19.99.  With tax, that puts the set’s price at just over $20, which is not a bad price at all considering the primary and bonus content presented in the DVD set.  The primary content featured here is the series’ full 83-episode run, complete with previously unaired pilot episode.  That unaired pilot is also included in the set’s BD release.  The bonus content is relatively limited, especially in comparison to the series’ BD set, but the bonus “Lost in Space Forever” featurette is entertaining and enlightening in its own right.  All of the bonus content will be discussed a little later.  Getting back on topic, the collective primary and secondary content presented in the DVD re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series makes the set’s average price point not too bad.  That is especially in comparison to the average price point of its BD counterpart and so many of its counterparts and contemporaries currently available in stores and online.

The average price point of the DVD re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is a positive for consumers as it is a point that is affordable for any fan of the series.  The bonus content presented here – or rather, not presented – likely plays into that price.  It is limited here in comparison to the bonus content presented in the set’s BD release back in 2015.  The only real notable bonus content presented in the new DVD set is the roughly half-hour-long featurette “Lost in Space Forever.”  It features famed actor John Laroquette (Night Court) as the host, taking audiences through the history of the series and the movie that eventually followed from New Line Cinema in 1998.  Audiences will be interested to learn through this featurette what led Lost in Space the series to eventually become as campy as it did in its second and third seasons.  Not to give away too much, but it has to do with competition at the time from another show on another network.  Audiences also learn what eventually led to the series’ cancellation: the same factors that leads to so many series’ ending.  If that is not enough, audiences also learn through this featurette, who the actors were behind one of the series’ most beloved characters, the robot, and about the change of characters’ focus in the writing as the series progressed.  Between all of that and much more, the program proves quite entertaining.  Sadly, it is really the only positive bonus content featured in this set, other than the previously noted unaired pilot.  Other than those two bonuses, there is little else to appreciate here.  The rest of the bonuses are just TV spots for the series.  In comparison, the Blu-ray set featured the series’ 1973 animated special (which is also discussed in this set’s bonus material), an audio interview with the series’ creator Irwin Allen and two full-length documentaries about the series, along with the noted pilot and even more bonus content.  One cannot help but wonder why 20th Century Fox did not transfer those bonuses over to this DVD set for audiences who perhaps could not afford the BD set or who do not own a Blu-ray player.  It definitely detracts from the set’s presentation.  Luckily though, it does not detract from the set’s presentation so much that it makes the set a complete loss.  That is because it is the set’s only con.  One area in which this set improved over its BD counterpart is its packaging.  That packaging, together, with the pricing, does just enough to save the set.

The packaging used in the DVD presentation of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is critical to note because it takes a completely different path from that of the series’ BD set.  The 17 discs that make up this set are housed in a clamshell case, inside which are plates on which the discs sit on either side.  One disc is placed on one side while another is on the other side.  One is on the top of the plate, and the other on the bottom.  This is crucial because it is actually wise packaging.  It might make for a bulky package, but it protects the discs from any potential of damage.  In comparison, the discs housed in the BD set were placed in cardboard sleeves inside the case, which offered absolutely no protection at all for the discs.  This is multi-disc packaging done right, and a sign that maybe 20th Century Fox took a cue from Shout! Factory, considering that said company has led the way for years in multi-disc packaging.  Now if only CBS and Paramount would follow suit since they have released so many of their series lately in large clamshell cases.  Simply put, the packaging for this set might not be overly flashy, unlike that of the series’ BD release, but it is smart this time around.  20th Century Fox can be commended for making that move for audiences.  When one considers this along with the set’s relatively affordable price point, the end result is a set that while still not a perfect presentation of a timeless series, is an improvement from its predecessor.  That is despite the issues raised by its bonus content.

20th Century Fox’s recently released DVD box set of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is an improvement over the company’s previous 2015 Blu-ray release of the series.  It shows that while the company is still slightly lost over how to present a proper release of the timeless series, it is at least moving in the right direction.  That is proven in part through the set’s average price point, which is affordable for any viewer in comparison to the price of the series’ Blul-ray release.  The packaging, also in comparison to that BD set, is another move in the right direction.  The only real con to the whole thing is its overall lack of worthwhile bonus content.  Keeping all of this in mind, this set is a slight improvement over its predecessor, but still leaves one wanting for more.  More information on this and other titles from 20th Century Fox is available online now at:



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CBS All Access’ New ‘Star Trek’ Series Fails In Its First Season

Courtesy: CBS Television Studios/Paramount

In a little more than a month, CBS All Access’ latest entry into the Star Trek universe – Star Trek: Discovery — returns for its second season.  While audiences count the days until the fledgling series returns, they have its debut season to take in on DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of CBS Television Studios and Paramount Home Entertainment.  Released in stores Nov. 13 on separate DVD and Blu-ray sets, Season One’s home release offers both pros and cons to note, beginning with the series’ very writing.  It will be discussed shortly.  The set’s bonus content is its own positive, and will be discussed a little later.  The set’s average price point is also important to discuss, and will be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered, the debut season of Star Trek: Discovery proves to be a new start for the Star Trek universe that is worth at least one watch, but sadly not much more.

The debut season of CBS All Access’ new Star Trek offering, Star Trek: Discovery is a rough new start for the Star Trek universe’s latest offering.  It is not the franchise’s worst entry, but definitely is not the franchise’s best entry, either.  That is due in part to the writing, which like Paramount’s 2009 big screen Star Trek reboot, is little more than just another revisiting of the Star Trek universe’s past.  It takes audiences into the past, attempting to show what led to the never-ending tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  The result is a presentation that conjures thoughts more of SyFy Channel’s most recent Battlestar Galactica reboot than any Star Trek entry, either on the big or small screen.  This is just the beginning of the problems with the writing, because the set-off is actually somewhat ambiguous.  Were the Klingons already planning to rise up before the incident with Michael Bernham and the Klingon warrior, or did it only happen after that incident?  Audiences know that said incident played at least in part to the conflict, but because of the dialogue featured throughout the early episodes of Season One, audiences will be left scratching their heads to a point as to that setup.

As season one progresses, it resurrects some ST story elements that are all too familiar to longtime ST fans.  One of those elements is a time loop arc. Another is the alternate universe story arc.  The time loop has been done already in Star Trek: The Next Generation while the alternate universe arc was used in Star Trek: TOS.  This series’ writers try to freshen up the time loop arc by setting it off through a character that fans of TOS will recognize, and while it does work to a point, the story starts to plod along after a while, getting lost in itself along the way.  The alternate universe arc proves even more problematic not only because it’s already been done, but also because it creates its own share of plot holes.  Not to give away too much for the sake of those who haven’t yet seen Season One, but if the alternate universe has the evil twins of the Discovery “prime” universe – the term “prime” is actually used by Berham in this arc – then where is the “good” twin of Capt. Lorca and the “evil” twin of Bernham?  Bernham’s doppelganger is mentioned by the “evil” Phillipa, but the writers never address where she is in a bigger sense.  Nor is it mentioned where the “good” Capt. Lorca is or if there even is a “good Capt. Lorca.  The writers try to explain it away in an early scene in the arc between Discovery’s Bernham and Lorca, but it is still ultimately left up in the air.  Even Paul Stamets’ double is introduced as he sits in a coma.  This is its own problem as one can’t help but make comparison to so many soap operas, as every major soap opera has done the coma “dream sequence” way too many times.  Getting back on track, even as Discovery gets back to its own universe, the whereabouts of the “evil” Discovery ship is not addressed, either.  Where is it?  Did it go back to its universe when Discovery jumped back to its universe?  Again, here audiences have a plot hole that is left wide open even as the writers struggle to address the situation in the story arc’s finale.

Another plot hole that is left wide open involves Bernham’s adoptive father, (who also proves to be the father of another even more well-known Star Trek character) Sarek.  Again, not to give away too much, but Sarek is rescued after his ship is sabotaged (in a moment that makes one think of something from Iron Man 3), but after his rescue, his character is ignored until the season’s final two episodes.  Audiences don’t hear from him after Bernham leaves him laying in sick bay, recovering from his wounds.  Next time he’s seen, he’s in full health.  This is problematic as it doesn’t take long after that instance for the problems to start again for Discovery.  Was Sarek still on the ship at that point?  When did he leave the ship?  Again, this is a plot hole that simply cannot be ignored.  It proves the writing that much more problematic.  This still is not the last of the issues raised through an examination of the writing.  The introduction of Lt. Tyler creates its own issue.

The introduction of Lt. Tyler is a direct comparison to Battlestar Galactica.  This critic will attempt to not give away too much information here, but the revelation about who and what Tyler is makes that comparison far too easy.  The recent reboot of Battlestar Galactica saw the Cylons infiltrate the humans’ ranks by making them look like the humans.  This in itself was a lifting from Terminator 2 (if not other previous movies and TV shows).  What the writers did here with Tyler is very similar, but instead of making him a robot, they made him something else.  Audiences who have yet to see this season will be left to make that discovery themselves, but it goes without saying that it has been done before.  In this case, it is the same thing, just altered slightly and in more gory fashion.

As if the general story elements, the plot holes and that they create, and the rehashing of another element are not enough, the smaller items of the writing prove just as problematic for this presentation.  There is lots of overt bloodshed, gore, sexual content and foul language.  Given, maybe her and there, there has been some mildly suggestive material in previous Star Trek incarnations, but never was it to the point that it is here.  There are flashes of a sex scene between one of the lead Klingon characters and another character late in the season’s run.  There is also enough bloodshed and overt violence to appease the most bloodthirsty person.  It’s a disappointment because none of the Star Trek universe’s other series’ needed any of that in order to be even mildly entertaining.  So, why did the writers think it was needed here?  Have audiences really become that dependent on violence and sexuality?  If so, then that is in itself is a troubling statement.

While the writing exhibited in the debut season of Star Trek: Discovery does a lot to detract from its presentation, the set is not a total loss.  That is thanks to the bonus content featured throughout the set.  Throughout the set, audiences are treated to featurettes, which focus on the series’ sets, costumes, makeup and even the philosophical aspects of the storylines as well as other items.  The discussions on the stories’ deeper ruminations are interesting, and do create at least a little bit of appreciation for the work that the writers put in.  After all, this is not the only Star Trek entry that has striverd to use its stories to create dialogues on certain deep topics.  However, it sadly is not enough to make up for the bigger problems posed through the writing.  The discussions on the sets and costumes make for fun glances behind the cameras,  Audiences will be interested to see how the costume and makeup departments used modern 3D printing technology alongside more traditional methodology to create the look of the Klingons.  In the same vein, the thought and effort put into the sets is just as interesting.  This feature will appeal just as much to theater production specialists as it will to general audiences.

As the season comes to an end, audiences are treated to another, different type of feature in the season retrospective, “The Journey of Season 1.”  This roughly 20-minute featurette features discussions from the show’s cast and creative heads about their favorite episodes and the importance of those episodes to the season’s overall presentation.  This brings everything full circle in regards to the bonuses.  It brings back those discussions on the season’s philosophical elements while also letting more people offer their own perspective on those themes.  Of course it is just one more of the bonus features worth watching.  The bonuses, including deleted scenes (at least one of which gives a hint about Season 2), are spread throughout the season’s discs.  This is important in that it shows Paramount and CBS Television Studios did not try to just cram a bunch of random featuerettes onto the last disc, unlike what so many other studios do.  It shows the companies wanted to give audiences the biggest bang for their buck.  They succeeded at that, too.

Speaking of bang for the buck, the set’s average price point is respectable.  The average price point for the season’s Blu-ray presentation – using prices listed at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million – comes to $39.86.  In other words it comes in at just under $40.  The DVD set’s average price – using those same outlets – comes to $32.14.  Both sets feature the same bonus content and the same episodes.  There is no real difference between the two platforms in terms of content.  Considering this, the pricing here is on part with other DVD and Blu-ray sets for other TV series, so there is that to appreciate.  Considering the entertainment that the bonus material (and to a slightly lesser degree, the primary content) offers, that makes both platforms’ average pricing respectable.  When this is considered alongside the noted bonus and primary content, the whole of Discovery: Season One proves worth at least one watch, but sadly, no more.

CBS All Access’ latest journey into the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: DiscoverySeason 1 is a presentation that is nothing like its predecessors.  More akin to Syfy’s most recent Battlestar Galactica reboot and Disney’s most recent Star Wars movies, this latest revisiting of the Star Trek universe history’s past (it has already been done in 2009 with Paramount’s big screen Star Trek reboot) suffers severely from writing problems, such as lagging story arcs that are often times overflowing with plot holes and general lack of creativity.  Additionally, the overall cinematic nature of the season, and the knowledge that the series is a serial (unlike its predecessors) makes this season feel more like one big movie than a general TV series.  Some people will like it, but others – like this critic – will very much dislike these aspects.  The bonus content spread across the set’s discs does at least a little bit to make up for the problems posed by the writing.  The average price point for the set’s separate DVD and Blu-ray platforms lets audiences know that their money spent was not entirely wasted.  Despite that affordable price point and the positives in the bonus material, the problems posed by the writing are just too much to overcome.  In general, the positives of the pricing and secondary content makes this set worth at least one watch, but sadly no more than that.  Star Trek: DiscoverySeason 1 is available now in stores and online.  More information on Star Trek: Discovery is available online now at:




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‘The Carol Burnett Show’ Deserved So Much More Than It Got From CBS On Its 50th Anniversary

Courtesy: Time Life

Over the course of 11 seasons, CBS’ The Carol Burnett Show was one of the biggest hits for the one-time powerhouse network.  Its mostly family-friendly brand of sketch comedy was the type of programming that sadly has been so lost today.  Thankfully Time Life has, over the past four to five years, released so much material from that timeless series, for the show’s original fans to enjoy along with a whole new generation of fans.  Late last year, CBS paid tribute (or so it would seem) to the legacy of The Carol Burnett Show with what was marketed as a 50th Anniversary celebration that was broadcast nationwide.  That broadcast was released on DVD Sept. 18 via Time Life and while it is worth at least one watch, it sadly falls short of being a true tribute to The Carol Burnett Show and its namesake.  One of the items that makes the presentation worth at least one watch is its clips of the classic variety show.  This will be discussed shortly.  Where the clips succeed, the celebrity interview segments sadly fall very short.  They collectively do more harm than good for the show’s presentation.  This will be discussed a little later.  The bonus material thankfully makes up – at least a little bit – for the damage done by the live segments.  Together with the clips of the series’ classic moments, that combination does just enough to make this presentation worth at least one watch, although it clearly falls short of expectations.

CBS’ attempt at a 50th Anniversary tribute to The Carol Burnett Show and its namesake host is a presentation that is worth at least one watch, but sadly not much more than that.  Rather, it falls quite short as a tribute, especially to what was and is one of the most important programs in CBS’ history and the history of television.  The clips of the program’s most notable moments are, collectively, among the only reasons to watch this home release of the special broadcast.  From the famed Gone With The Wind spoof to the clips of Tim Conway’s greatest moments (including the famous firefighter skit and the dry cleaners skit) to the now infamous “The Family” skit, which saw Conway tell his story about the Siamese elephants to Bernadette Peters’ performance of ‘All That Jazz’ and more, the clips presented in this special are the crown jewel of the special.  At least in watching the clips, audiences of all ages will be entertained, and maybe even be influenced to pick up any or all of the far more worthwhile Carol Burnett Show compilations that have been released ahead of this presentation.  As much as the clips do to make the DVD worth the watch, the interview segments counter the benefits of the clips.

The interview segments, which feature Carol Burnett talking to celebrities, such as Jay Leno, Jim Carey, Kaley Cuoco, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Jane Lynch and Steve Martin (just to name a handful) are honestly painful to watch.  That is because it is clear from the introductions to the interviews themselves that every moment has been rehearsed multiple times.  Even the baner, that is supposed to come across as natural, is anything but.  This is especially obvious through each figure’s body language in each segment.  From the clear camera turns (some of which were jumps ahead of the cues) to the obvious reading of the prompter time and again, to the way the groups even acted, none of the interview segments felt natural.  The problem with this is that it can so easily lead one to feel like the celebs tapped to take part were just going through the motions and did not fully want to be there.  Even the approaches to various topics and the tosses to the clips felt forced throughout.  Keeping all of this in mind, the live segments that are meant to be the central point of this “tribute” are clearly not a tribute, but more just an excuse for a celebrity showcase.  That is really sad, especially considering that this program was billed as a tribute to Burnett and her show.  Of course as much damage as those live segments do to this presentation, the bonus material included in its home release couples with the show’s bevy of classic clips to give audiences a little bit more to appreciate.

The bonus material is limited in this DVD, but is still at least somewhat entertaining.  The “Red Carpet Love” segment takes audiences to the red carpet ahead of the special, showing some actually natural moments that are also light hearted in the process.  This segment even features actual comments from the celebs themselves offering their well wishes and congratulations to Burnett.  It is nice to see, considering how forced their on-stage moments feel.  The commercial break interview segments are okay at best.  Burnett’s talk with now former Dancing With The Stars host Tom Bergeron is another moment that feels entirely forced.  There is also a discussion with what turns out to be some former dancers from The Carol Burnett Show who attended the show’s taping as audience members.  Between those two moments and the celeb interview segments, the whole thing just seems even more forced.  However, there was one funny and seemingly natural moment in which Carol Burnett Show designer Bob Mackie offers a rather witty joke about the shows costumes, which will not be repeated here for those who haven’t yet watched this presentation.  Keeping in mind all of this, the bonus material included in the home release of The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special adds a little bit to the program’s enjoyment, albeit very little.  Luckily, it offers just enough that when coupled with the classic clips featured throughout the program, the whole of those elements makes for just enough to make the special worth at least one watch, but sadly not more.

CBS’ classic variety series The Carol Burnett Show is one of the greatest series to ever grace the airwaves.  It is also one of the elite series that made CBS a powerhouse in the network’s heyday.  Considering this, one would have thought that when the 50th anniversary of the series’ debut rolled around last year, the series would have gotten a huge tribute.  What was presented in its place was anything but entertaining.  Rather, as the recently released DVD presentation shows that it was little more than an opportunity for a celebrity showcase.  At least the program offers plenty of entertaining clips and a little bit of entertainment from the bonus material included in the DVD.  Considering all of this, the home release of The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special proves to be worth at least one watch, but hardly a fitting tribute for a landmark series that deserved far more from CBS.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Time Life is available online now at:




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