Audiences Of All Ages Had Lots Worth Watching On TV And Streaming in 2022

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

Hollywood’s major movie studios offered audiences little to enjoy this year both in regard to theatrical and streaming content.  This year’s crop of new cinematic presentations has just been more of the same prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events and books.  The last of those categories – the movies based on actual events and books – change so much from the source material that they are really that unworthy of watching and always have been.  Anyone that wants the real stories behind those movies based on actual events would do better watching PBS’ American Experience and American Masters series.

Speaking of PBS, PBs is also known for importing shows from overseas that really are so much better than even what major American networks have to offer, as in the case of Endeavour and the surprisingly enjoyable rebooted series, All Creatures Great & Small.  Both those series saw their latest seasons released to DVD and BD this year, and those seasons are included in this year’s list of the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets for grown-ups.  Also on this year’s list is the recently released full series release of Seaquest DSV: The Complete Series.  DC also had a number of notable home releases this year from series, such as Doom Patrol, The Flash, and Lois & Superman, all of which also made it onto this year’s list.

As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this one features the year’s top 10 titles in the given category and five honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 titles.  From dramas to comedies to action and more, this year’s collection of new box sets for grown-up audiences offers so much enjoyment and engagement.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2022 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets For Grown-Ups.


  1. All Creatures Great & Small: Season 2
  2. Endeavour: Season 8
  3. Seaquest DSV: The Complete Series
  4. Abbott Elementary: Season 1
  5. Star Trek Discovery: Season 4
  6. The Flash: Season 8
  7. Lois & Superman: Season 2
  8. Doom Patrol: Season 3
  9. The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection
  10. Peacemaker: The Complete First Season
  11. Spiderman: Far From Home/Homecoming/No Way Home
  12. James Bond: Daniel Craig 5-Film Collection
  13. Star Trek Lower Decks: Season 2
  14. Halo: Season 1
  15. Titans: Season 3

Grown-ups were not the only audiences who received lots of enjoyable offerings this year in regard to home releases.  Families in general also had lots to like this year in the way of home releases.  Only 10 titles made Phil’s Picks list this year, instead of 10, just because there were not enough new family releases for families.  This year’s field of notable family releases includes the 2022 World Series Collector’s Edition set, The Batman: The Complete Series, and even the complete series run of Ed, Edd, & Eddy.  That Seaquest DSV set is technically family friendly, too, in comparison to so many action shows out there today.  Keeping all of that in mind, here is the list of this year’s top new Family Friendly DVD/BD Box Sets.


  1. The Batman: The Complete Series
  2. The Proud Family Original Series: Anniversary Edition
  3. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: Kindness Collection
  4. World Series 2022: Collector’s Edition
  5. Seaquest DSV: The Complete Series
  6. Ed, Edd & Eddy: The Complete Series
  7. Rugrats: Season 1, Volume 1
  8. Kamp Koral: Season 1, Volume 1
  9. The Patrick Star Show: Season 1, Volume 1
  10. Scooby Doo & Guess Who: The Complete Second Season

That is it for this year.  Work is already underway for new titles being released in 2023.  The second season of the Rugrats reboot is due out in March, for instance.  Strange New Worlds: Season 1 is due out around the same time.  Lots of new music, movie, and TV reviews are coming as 2022 gives way to 2023, so stay tuned!

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MPI Home Video’s New ‘Honeymooners’ Collection Is Loaded With Laughs, Insight

Courtesy: mpi home video

The Honeymooners is one of the most iconic and important series in the history of television. Given, it only lasted for 39 episodes over the course of less than a year (October 1955-September 1956), but in the course of that time and in the years since it ended, the impact that it has had remains fully evident. It is well-known that it is the source material for The Flintstones, and there is no denying it had to have had at least some influence in the creation of All In The Family. It has also been spoofed by countless other TV series since its end, and even remained so popular that it apparently has a new reboot in the works, with famed actor Damon Wayans Jr. executive producing.

As if all of that is not enough to show its place in America’s (and the world’s) television pantheon, the show remained so popular following its short run in the late 50s that the cast was brought back in the late 70s for four live specials recorded at a studio in Miami Beach, Florida. Those specials — Second Honeymoon, Valentine Special, Christmas Special, and A Christmas Carol — have each seen their own standalone releases over the years, but have not been collected into one set. That is until last month. MPI Home Video, which also has released the original series in full on DVD, released those four specials on DVD March 22 in a two-disc collection. The set is another win for any devotee of The Honeymooners. That is due in no small part to the stories featured in each special. This will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that accompanies the collection makes for its own positive and will be discussed a little later. The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection. All things considered, they make the collection a must for any fully devoted fan of The Honeymooners and even any casual fan of the iconic series.

MPI Home Video’s recently released DVD collection, The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection is an impressive presentation that will appeal just as much to the most devoted fan of The Honeymooners as it will to the series’ more casual fans. The set’s success comes in part through its featured stories. Second Honeymoon is funny in its own right as Ralph (played then by a much older Jackie Gleason) thinks Alice (played by a much older Audrey Meadows) is pregnant when he finds a knitted warmer for his bowling ball and a pair of knitted mitts that Alice had made. Ralph is not smart enough to realize that the holes in the ball warmer are for the holes in his bowling ball. The rest of the time, Ralph leans how to put a diaper on a baby, even thinking a list titled “Mother’s Diet” is a list of what Alice is eating for herself and the baby that does not exist. Gleason’s acting chops are just as sharp throughout the episode as are those of his longtime partner, Art Carney, and their female counterparts. Watching this hilarious story unfold and climax at a meeting of Ralph and Ed’s lodge meeting makes for so many laughs from beginning to end. It is a story that itself has been spoofed so many times by so many other shows, including The Flintstones and other sitcoms.

Another great example of the importance of the stories is that featured in Valentine Special. Ralph gets suspicious of Alice when he finds a list of phone calls that she has taken during her time as an operator. Seeing the names, he thinks Alice is cheating on him. The discovery of a life insurance policy, and Ed mentioning how everything was playing out like an episode of Kojack (which was nearing the end of its run when this special was recorded — it ended in 1978) does not ease Ralph’s nerves any more, especially when Alice has Ralph lay on the floor face down in order to measure him for his new surprise Valentine’s Day gift. The whole thing is yet another fully engaging and entertaining comedy of errors that thrives in its physical and verbal comedy. It shows even to this day that it is possible for comedy to be enjoyable without going full blue. When these two episodes are considered with the two Christmas specials that are also featured in the set (the Christmas Carol story, by the way, is clearly the inspiration for the story at the center of A Flintstones Christmas Carol), the whole of the stories makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment.

Going back to the matter of how the stories manage to show that it is possible for comedy to work without going full blue, one of the bonus features included in the collection proves that even more. The bonus in question is an episode of the series’ reboot from 1967 in which Alice is played by Sheila MacRae. The episode’s story centers on women’s liberation. The writing was clearly an attempt by those behind the cameras to try to make the show relevant to the times, but it sadly fell flat. All of the humor was so opposite of the topics and writing on which the original series rested. It is a clear example of the importance of the collection’s bonus content. That is because it allows viewers to see the contrast of the original series to at least one of its reboots.

On a similar note, Jane Keane, who plays Trixie in the featured specials, is featured in a behind the scenes featurette in which she speaks of Gleason’s apparent dislike of working with MacRae because she was so starkly different than Audrey Meadows. Keane mentions specifically as an example, that Gleason did not like that MacRae wanted to make Alice softer than the portrayal made so famous by Meadows throughout her own career. In comparing the two women, Meadows really is better than MacRae. That is just this critic’s own take on that discussion. This bonus is yet another example of the collection’s overall bonus content.

The two skits that spoof The Honeymooners further show the bonus content’s importance because they show how far the show’s impact reached even long after its original end. One of the skits features Ralph and Alice as an interracial couple, Ralph being black and Alice being white. It shows that the show’s influence even reached into the social climate of the time yet was not preachy in that fashion. The other skit, featured in an episode of The Hollywood Palace, features Ray Bolger alongside Meadows as Ralph and Meadows once again as Alice, except in this case, Alice is the bus driver and Ralph as the stay-at-home spouse. It is a subtle social statement even here, but not overly preachy, thankfully. If anything, it makes for its own share of laughs. When this and the other skit are considered along with the other noted bonus content, the whole of the set’s bonus features makes its overall importance clear. It adds its own share of engagement and entertainment to the overall presentation, making the viewing experience that much more enjoyable.

Moving from the bonus content, there is one more item to note in examining this collection’s overall presentation. That item is the set’s packaging. The collection’s two discs each sit inside the standard size DVD case on their own “plates.” This protects the discs from marring one another, and in turn ensures their longevity. Those responsible for this packaging item are to be commended for going that route. In similar fashion, the smart packaging also means the collection will take up the same amount of space on any rack as any DVD case containing just one disc, making for even more aesthetic appeal. When all of this is considered along with the positives of the stories featured in each of the set’s specials, and with the bonus content that accompanies them, the whole makes this collection a fully engaging and entertaining presentation.

MPI Home Video’s newly released The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection is a thoroughly enjoyable presentation. Whether one is an established fan of the series or more casual, there is plenty for viewers on both sides to appreciate, beginning with the specials’s stories (and the cast’s work presenting them live on stage). The stories and the cast’s work presenting them make for so much engagement and entertainment, showing that the show still had some gas left in the proverbial tank, even nearly two decades after it had ended its initial run. The bonus content that accompanies the collection adds to the engagement and entertainment because of the secondary level of content that it brings. It really leads to so much discussion through everything presented. The set’s packaging rounds out its most important items. It is ergonomic, which is appealing for any physical media fan. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this collection. All things considered, they make the set one of the best of this year’s new DVD/BD box sets for grown-up audiences.

The Honeymooners Specials: The Complete Collection is available now. More information on this and other titles from mpi home video is available at:



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Paul Warren Goes Back To The Future For His New Single

Courtesy: Paul Warren

Guitarist Paul Warren is taking on a classic TV theme song for his latest single.

Warren premiered his take on the theme song from the classic TV series, Mission: Impossible and a companion video Tuesday. The song is the lead single from Warren’s new project, Light Theory. He most recently worked with another project, Infinite Eve, and performed on the group’s single, ‘2020.’

Warren’s take on the song gives the timeless theme song an amped up take on the song. It blends heavy metal guitar with a subtle keyboard line to give it a sound more akin to that of the rendition used for the Tom Cruise-led MI movies than that used in the original series.

Warren’s take on the Mission: Impossible theme song is available to stream and download through Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon.

The video that accompanies the song is also similar to what one might expect from a trailer for one of the series’ big screen adaptations. There is footage of a tech specialist at his desk, tracking something or someone, footage of exotic locales, such as the pyramids of Egypt, mountainous regions of Europe, and busy city streets throughout to add to the presentation.

This all pairs with footage of Warren performing his take on the song. Lights illuminate Warren from behind, leaving him fully silhouetted as he performs. The visual is meant to create its own air of mystery to echo the sense of mystery in the arrangement.

More information on Paul Warren’s take on the Mission: Impossible theme song and his new project, Light Theory, is available along with all of his latest news at:



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Champlin’s New LP Is A Presentation That Most Audiences Will “Love”

Courtesy: Imagen Records

It goes without saying that singer-songwriter Bill Champlin is one of the most respected figures in the music industry today.  A one-time member of the world renowned band Chicago, Champlin has also worked on hits from  the likes of Donna Summers, Kenny Rogers, and Elton John just to name a few.  He has even worked on the theme song for CBS’ prime time drama In The Heat of the Night.  On top of all of those accolades, Champlin has also released 10 solo records, many of which have themselves generated some hit singles.  Now this Friday, Champlin will add another proverbial notch to his belt when he releases his new album Livin’ for Love.  The 14-song record will release physically and digitally through Imagen Records.  The 64-minute album is a presentation that will appeal to Champlin’s fans, what with its musical arrangements and lyrical themes, many of which follow the central theme of relationships, as hinted by the album’s title.  There are other songs featured in the album that break from the familiar and focus on other topics.  One of those songs comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Losin’ Ground.’  The socially conscious composition will be addressed shortly.  ‘A Stevie Song,’ which immediately follows ‘Losin’ Ground’ is another one of the rare works that avoids the album’s overarching theme of relationships.  It will be addressed a little later.  In regards to the mass of songs featured in this record that present the noted overarching theme, the least blatant of those works comes early in the album’s run in the form of ‘Especially Me.’  That song will also be addressed later.  Each song noted here plays its own important part to the album’s presentation.  The variance that they offer amongst the overwhelming songs of love is enough to make the album worth hearing at least once.

Bill Champlin’s latest album Livin’ for Love (his 11th album) is a presentation that will appeal equally to his own fans and those of classic rock in general.  That is due in part to the musical arrangements and to its lyrical themes, most of which focus on the central theme of relationships.  That theme is hinted at directly through the album’s title.  Now for those who want at least some lyrical variety, the album does offer that in a small handful of songs, one of which being the late entry ‘Losin’ Ground.’  The musical arrangement featured in ‘Losin’ Ground’ is a catchy, vintage blues style composition, complete with Hammond organ, soulful vocals (including backup vocals).  What’s interesting here is that the sound and style in  Champlin’s vocals lend themselves to comparisons to vocal performances from the likes of Dr. John.  It sounds odd, yes, but it is there at least in this critic’s ears and mind, and it works well.  The bluesy guitar line, while more of a supporting role here, adds its own nice touch to the overall arrangement, too.  Even more interesting is that the bluesy approach to the song’s musical arrangement works well here considering the social commentary featured in the song’s lyrical content. 

The lyrical content featured in ‘Losin’ Ground’ is somewhat mournful and rueful in its own right, making it a good fit with the song’s musical arrangement.  That is considering that the blues is meant to help alleviate negative feelings and thoughts.  The commentary here will resonate with listeners with its accessible wording.  Champlin opens the song, stating, “You can bet your bottom dollar/The lies are gonna come/An they’ll wrap it in ribbons and bows/And tell you we’re gonna have fun/We’ll scream and we’ll holler/And search for somebody to blame.”  He adds in the song’s chorus, “The same things always happen/When history’s ignored/It’s time to pay attention/We’ve all been here before/And we’re calling out for more.”  The commentary continues in the song’s second verse, “So fasten your seat belts/Here comes the same old thing/There’s just one destination/These promises will bring/Of course, the only answer/Is that we give up everything.”  Champlin continues from there/For someone else’s power/That’s what it’s always been/That same someone will tell you/It’s you who’s gonna win/So we let the games begin again.”  The message is clear here.  This is, as noted, a commentary on what is happening in the world.  Again, the bluesy musical arrangement that goes with the commentary is a good fit.  The two elements together will ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment and in turn make this song stand out among the bigger body of Champlin’s album.  It is just one of the most notable of the album’s entries.  ‘A Stevie Song’ is another of the album’s most notable works.

As with ‘Losin’ Ground,’ ‘A Stevie Song’ avoids the overly common lyrical theme of love and relationships that abounds so much in this album.  Rather, this song is more about the power of music.  It is about the ability of music to help people’s emotional health.  Champlin even states in the song’s final line, “Music is the perfect path to love.”  It is just one of the lines that helps prove this song gives listeners an alternative on this record.  Champlin opens the song singing, “It doesn’t really matter who you are/You’e  never gonna travel very far alone/A melody you’re hearing comes across/Something on the radio and you’re lost/Somewhere deep inside a Stevie song.”  Now the mention of “Stevie” leads one to assume maybe Champlin is referencing Stevie Wonder.  Champlin does not come out and say it, but considering the R&B style musical arrangement featured in this song.  This will be addressed shortly.  Champlin continues after the lead verse, to continue, “Music is the perfect path to love/Poetry belongs just because it does/How’re you gonna break somebody’s heart/When you’ve just heard a really soulful part/Somewhere deep inside a Stevie song?”  Again, it is not confirmed that Champlin is referencing Stevie Wonder here, but one can’t deny the impact that Wonder’s music has.

Getting now to the song’s musical arrangement, the slow jam approach taken here lends itself to thoughts of Wonder’s 1974 hit song ‘Creepin.’  Yes, Wonder’s song is slightly more upbeat, but the similarities are there.  At the same time, the use of the soprano sax conjures thoughts of Kenny G.  Of course, that element is more supporting than main.  To that end, the overall arrangement still boasts some similarities to works from Stevie Wonder, and it does in fact leave listeners feeling good.  Keeping that in mind, the song’s lyrical content does prove true.  Collectively, the two sides leave no doubt as to why this song stands out.  It is just one more of the songs that manages to break the mold of the love song standard set throughout so much of this record.  ‘Especially Me’ is another key song to examine.

‘Especially Me’ stands out because its lyrical theme largely seems to break from the norm of most of the album.  This song comes across more as a song about someone who is trying to deny who and how she (in this case) really is.  That is evident right from the song’s lead verse, which finds Champlin singing, “I wanted to tell you/Whatcha, whatcha already know/Here comes that same old overused phrase/”I told you so.”  This is the song’s subject being blunt right from the get go, telling the woman he saw what was coming, coming.  He adds in the song’s second verse, “You make believe you weren’t in school/The day they handed out the rules/So you choose to play the fool/Every time you turn around/It’s like you’re reading a book full of lies/’Bout whatcha need/And you’re  eating it up/Tryin’ to love every man that you see/So, you’re eating it up just because  you wanna be free/You’re only cheating yourself/And all your friends/Especially me.”  This all seems to point, again, at someone who is trying to get a friend to see the light of what she is doing.  The content that follows is very much in the same vein.  To that end, this is the one remaining rare songs featured in this record that lyrically diverges from the more overarching theme of relationships.  Adding to its interest is the musical arrangement that pairs with the statement.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Especially Me’ is a funky, mid-tempo composition.  The energy in the song, does well to help illustrate the confidence, and even slight snarkiness in the main subject’s discussion with the secondary subject.  That energy is exuded through the combination of the solid time keeping and even the slight force in the delivery of the verses.  Simply put, the musical arrangement featured in this song and its companion lyrical content work well to make this song stand out.  Together with the other two songs noted here, this trio of songs does well to keep things at least somewhat interesting for Champlin’s new album and worth hearing at least once.

Bill Champlin’s latest album Livin’ for Love is an album whose overall body is largely composed of songs that, as noted by the title, are about relationships.  Fans of such content will certainly enjoy those songs.  Those who prefer a little more variety get that here, too, as noted by the songs examined here.  From a song that addresses the current state of the world, to a song about the soothing power of music, to a song in which the main subject tries to help a friend see the error of her ways, the record does offer some variance.  Between that variance and the album’s more overarching content, the whole of the album becomes more appealing for more audiences.  All things considered, the album proves itself worth hearing at least once.  Livin’ for Love is scheduled for release Friday through Imagen Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Bill Champlin’s latest news at:




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Grown-Ups Got Plenty Of TV To Enjoy In 2020

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution/PBS

Families nationwide got a lot of worthwhile ways to spend time together during the COVID-19 pandemic this year, thanks to all of the new DVDs, Blu-rays and box sets.  Of course while families got plenty to watch together, grown-ups also needed something of their own to enjoy.  Thankfully this year produced just as much for grown-ups to enjoy as children.  That is why Phil’s Picks is taking a look at what were among the best of this year’s new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for grown-ups.  This year saw a bunch of new content from Warner Brothers and DC, some better than others (E.g. the new Swamp Thing reboot and new seasons of Black LightningBlack Lightning proved better this year than Swamp Thing, but the latter still proved worth watching at least once.  Itv and PBS presented a rather intriguing new season of itv’s crime drama Endeavour.  The season was okay but left something to be wanted.  The short-lived deep comedy The Good Place finally met its end this year and also received its only full-series release on Blu-ray thanks to the folks at Shout! Factory.  In an even more surprising move, ABC’s hit comedy Modern Family got a full series release this month exclusively through Target.  While not inexpensive, it is a presentation that devotees will appreciate.  It is just one more entry in Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New DVD & Blu-ray Box Sets For Grown-ups category. 

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 titles in the category along with five honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles.  Without further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 new DVD & Blu-ray Box Sets for Grown-Ups.


  1. Endeavour: Season Seven
  2. The Good Place: The Complete Series
  3. Modern Family: The Complete Series
  4. Doctor Who: Season 12
  5. The Expanse: Season 4
  6. Black Lightning: The Complete Second Season
  7. Black Lightning: The Complete Third Season
  8. Stargirl: The Complete First Season
  9. Mission: Impossible: The Complete Series
  10. Gunsmoke: The Complete Series 65th Anniversary Set
  11. Gunsmoke: The Movies
  12. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1
  13. Swamp Thing: The Complete Series
  14. Star Trek Picard: Season 1
  15. The Twilight Zone: Season 1

One more list is up to finish up this year’s lists.  That list is the year’s top new re-issues.  Stay tuned for that.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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Greta Van Fleet To Perform Live Tonight

Courtesy: Lava/Republic Records

Greta Van Fleet is scheduled to be on television tonight.

The band is scheduled to perform its new single ‘My Way, Soon’ on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. The song is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming album The Battle at Garden’s Gate, which is scheduled for release April 16 through Lava/Republic Records.

In anticipation of the album’s pending release, the band debuted its second single, ‘Age Of Machines‘ Dec. 3. The single’s premiere last week came less than two months after the band debuted the album’s lead single ‘My Way, Soon’ and its companion video.

The ‘My Way, Soon’ video’s production is most of note in that its production is meant to make the presentation look like something right from the 1960s and 70s, as if it was shot on an 8mm camera. The effect plays into the continued neo-classic sound that has defined the band since its rise to fame more than three years ago.

Speaking of musical content, the song’s musical arrangement helps the band expand away from the Led Zeppelin comparisons that audiences made early on. While the comparisons between front man Joshua Kiszka and Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant are unavoidable, the song’s overall sound is less comparable. The song’s arrangement is grounded in the pairing of its guitar and bass line, whose juxtaposition makes for its own memorable impact. The production even gives the drums a fuller, richer vintage sound than the tight, spit shined sound of so much modern music.

The result of the noted elements is that the song’s arrangement boasts its own unique neo-classic rock sound while also exhibiting the band’s growth as a unit.

The lyrical content featured in ‘My Way Soon’ came from a personal point, according to Kiszka.

“This song was inspired by what three years of touring did by opening so many doorways,” he said. “ This is my truth, how I feel about all of our travels, but I know it echoes the experiences and changes of perspectives for Jake, Sam, and Danny as well.”

Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney) produced The Battle at Garden’s Gate.

More information on Greta Van Fleet’s new singles and videos is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:




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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:




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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.

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