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

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

 

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

  1. THUNDERBIRDS: THE COMPLETE SERIES 

    2. GARFIELD: THE MOVIE

    3. JAMAICA INN

    4. STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL SERIES: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    5. MY FAVORITE MARTIAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES

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

    7. I LOVE LUCK: THE ULTIMATE SEASON TWO

    8. THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE

    9. THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER

    10. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

    11. I LOVE LUCY: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    12. ROBOT JOX

    13. ALADDIN

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

    15. RACE FOR YOUR LIFE, CHARLIE BROWN

 

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The Nanny Returns Again Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Nanny Fine, that blushing girl from Flushing, returns once again next month.

Shout! Factory will release the fifth season of CBS’ modern classic sitcom The Nanny next month. It will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, December 22nd. This penultimate season of The Nanny has lots of laughs and more in store for audiences. In the season premiere, comedianne Roseanne Barr makes a guest appearance as Fran’s cousin Sheila. Sheila makes an appearance as part of an ongoing story arc carried over from Season Four. Later as Season Five progresses, Niles ends up working temporarily for Fran’s aunt after Maxwell denies Niles’ request for a raise. Needless to say the Odd Couple style situation leads to its own share of laughs. And even more interesting this season is that things between Fran and Maxwell change quite a bit leading to the moment that everyone had anticipated since the series’ premiere four seasons prior. That and much more is all in the fifth season of The Nanny: Season Five.

The Nanny: Season Five will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, December 22nd. It will retail for MSRP of $34.99. It can be pre-ordered online now at a discounted price of $29.99 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/the-nanny-season-five. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

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Solid Writing, Acting Form A Solid Foundation For Maude: Season Three

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Maude is back again!  Fresh on the heels of Season Two’s release late this summer Shout! Factory released the hit dramedy’s third season in its own standalone season set this week.  And in going through Season Three, it is just as entertaining as the series’ second season in every way.  The central reason for that is the work of the series’ writers once again.  Throughout the course of Season Three’s twenty-three total episodes, the writers fill each episode with a solid balance of heart and humor once again.  The work of the show’s cast is just as impressive throughout each episode, too.  Last but hardly least of all worth noting in regards to this collection’s overall presentation is its bonus episode guide.  Each element in its own right plays an important part in the overall presentation of Maude: Season Three.  Combined, they make Maude: Season Three one more welcome addition to the personal DVD library of any of the series’ fans.

Maude: Season Three is the second of the classic series’ standalone series sets to be released so far this year.  It can be said in watching this latest collection of episodes that it is yet another welcome addition to the personal DVD library of any of the series’ fans.  The central reason for this is the work of the series’ writers.  Yet again, Maude’s writers succeeded in entertaining audiences in a big way.  That is thanks to their work in crafting episode after episode that expertly balances both heart and humor throughout.  This applies both to the stories and their minutia (I.E. the jokes presented within the episodes, etc.).  “Maude Meets The Duke” is one example of how this season’s writing makes it so entertaining.  The episode sees The Duke himself make an appearance.  Wayne comes to Maude’s house to promote his new movie as part of the episode’s plot.  As Maude and everyone try to convince Arthur that Wayne is only there promote his movie, Arthur’s blind idol worship of Wayne brings its own share of laughs.  Maude constantly spouting her feminist views in comparison to Wayne’s more conservative values makes for even more laughs, especially when the pair comes face to face.  The ultimate outcome is the sort of classic punchline that audiences will remember long after the episode ends and will in turn leave audiences wanting to watch and laugh along time and again.  It’s just one example of the strength in this season’s writing.  “Nostalgia Party” is another clear example of the strength of the show’s writing in this season.

“Maude Meets The Duke” is a prime example of the importance and strength of the writing behind Maude’s third season.  It is just one example of that strength and importance, too.  “Nostalgia Party” is another episode that can be cited in the explanation of the writing’s strength and importance.  This episode sees Maude planning a special New Year’s Eve party with Walter, Vivian, Arthur, and Carol.  She even asks Phillip to get involved.  That will be discussed shortly.  Maude’s idea is for everyone to dress up as his or her favorite year.  While everybody agrees that this is a great idea, the end result of the group’s reminiscing is arguments among the group.  Of course even with those arguments, everyone is reminded that they should just be happy that they have “now” by one of the guests, leading everyone to make up and disagree to disagree.  The story itself is great in its own right.  But the smaller elements that make up the episode are just as worth noting such as Maude asking Phillip to dress up in a diaper as the New Year.  Phillip’s reaction won’t be given away here.  But it is timeless to say the very least.  Vivian revealing the truth of Maude’s college days is just as much of a laugh riot, as Vivian reveals that Maude wasn’t that popular.  Rather, she was called the “Zit Queen” and that the only man that actually chased after her at any point was a young man that had been dubbed the “Zit King.”  This leads to a great back and forth between Maude and Carol in which Maude cautions Carol that she could have been the “Zit Princess.”  It is just a great moment.  Walter reminiscing about his favorite year is just as funny as he recalls having no responsibilities and having plenty of women to pursue.  Maude’s reaction to this memory is just as funny.  It’s yet another example of how the writing in all of its aspects remains so strong here in Maude’s third season.  And it is hardly the last example of that strength, too.  “Walter Gets Religion” is one more example of the strength of this season’s writing.

“Maude Meets The Duke” and “Nostalgia Party” are both clear examples of the strength and importance of the writing in Maude’s third season.  While both episodes clearly show the talent of the show’s writers thus far into the series’ run, they are hardly the only episodes that could be cited as examples of the writers’ talents.  “Walter Gets Religion” is one more wonderful example of that talent.  This time out Walter is the star of the show.  As Walter and Maude attend church Walter begins to discover that maybe he could make some money of his own from his fellow congregants.  That in itself is actually a bit of commentary on people’s real motives for attending church.  And it is just as relevant today as it was in the episode’s initial run so many decades ago.  On another level, Bea Arthur’s physical comedy early in the episode’s run is just as hilarious.  The satirical jab at people’s reactions to certain aspects of church (such as yawning and fighting to stay awake) is spot on.  And Arthur’s delivery of those moments is the main reason why.  It leads into another reason that the third season of Maude is such a hit—the acting.

The writing behind Maude’s third season is in itself more than enough reason for audiences to check out this collection of episodes.  Of course what would the writing be without a cast to interpret said work.  The work of the show’s cast is just as solid as ever in Season Three.  Bea Arthur is perfect with her jabs, jokes, and one-liners throughout the season’s run.  From spouting off Maude’s uber liberal views to shooting off said jabs at her cast mates, her timing is perfect in every episode.  What’s more the way in which she delivers her lines adds even more enjoyment to each episode.  Bill Macy is just as much of a laugh riot when he gets to share time on camera with Arthur.  The chemistry between the pair is just as obvious in these episodes as in those in the series’ first two seasons.  That is, just as with Arthur, because of his expert comic timing.  And while they remain mainly supporting cast, Rue McClanahan and Conrad Bain generate their own laughs as Vivian and Arthur respectively.  That is exemplified clearly in “Nostalgia Party” as Vivian reveals the truth of Maude’s college years and as Arthur presents his favorite year.  The pair’s reaction to the other kissing their neighbors—Vivian kisses Walter and then Maude ends up kissing Arthur—is equally entertaining.  The examples cited here are just a collective handful of examples of why the work of the show’s cast this season is as strong as the series’ first two seasons.  They are hardly the only examples that could be cited.  There are plenty of other examples that could be cited among the season’s twenty-three total episodes.  All in all, that multitude of examples makes clear once again why the work of the show’s cast is just as important as its writing to its overall presentation.

The writing and acting that went into Season Three’s twenty-three episodes collectively paints a picture of a series that was in its prime at the time of its original airing.  While both elements are equally important to Season Three’s overall presentation, they are only a portion of its presentation in its new standalone DVD box set.  The bonus episode guide included in the three-disc box is just as important to its presentation as the writing and acting that went into each episode.  Once again Shout! Factory has included a complete episode guide with one of Maude’s standalone season sets.  The episode guide features a complete episode guide noting the episodes in relation to their respective discs.  Also included once again is a short but concise summary of each episode. Shout! Factory took the same approach in the series’ second season DVD set. So it is nice to see this inclusion yet again. It makes choosing and following the season’s episodes that much easier and enjoyable. Together with the series’ continued expert writing and acting, all three elements make Maude: Season Three a fully welcome addition to the home DVD library of any of the series’ fans.

The third season of CBS’ classic dramedy Maude is a fully welcome addition to the home DVD library of any of the series’ fans regardless of said audiences’ ages. The series’ writing and acting combine to give audiences plenty of entertainment throughout the season’s twenty-three total episodes. The bonus episode guide included with the three-disc set makes the set’s presentation even more impressive. That is thanks to its concise episode summaries and direct connection between the episodes and their respective discs. Each noted element proves important in its own right to the set’s overall presentation. Collectively, they make the presentation in whole a collection that any of the series’ fans will want to add to their own DVD libraries. Maude: Season Three is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/maude-season-three. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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Maude: The Complete Second Season Shines In Its First Standalone Release

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Bea Arthur is one of the great names in television’s modern history.  The famed actress starred in a number of TV shows over the course of her life.  One of the most well-known of those roles (if not the most well-known) was as divorcee Dorothy Zbornak in NBC’s classic sitcom Golden Girls.  While most of her fame came from playing that role, it was not her only really well-known role.  Her role as the title character in CBS’ classic dramedy Maude can be argued to be the role that really made Ms. Arthur famous.  That is because as her character, Maude Findlay, was such anything but the typical female lead at the time.  She was a headstrong, self-assured figure who was also quite educated and witty (much like Dorothy Zbornak).  She was the very antithesis of every female lead on television up to that point.  It can even be argued that Maude remains today the inspiration for so many of the female leads on television today.  As popular as Maude remains, it mostly faded into the annals of television history after it ended its six-season run in 1978.  Though, earlier this year it was finally resurrected (and in grand fashion) with the release of Maude: The Complete Series on DVD.  The box set, released by Shout! Factory was the series’ first ever full-series presentation on any platform.  And this summer its release was followed up by the release of the series’ complete second season on DVD late this summer.  That box set, released August 11th, is a must have for any of the series’ original audiences.  It is just as important for anyone that wants to start learning about yet another of television’s most important series.  The main reason for this is the series’ writing.  The writing behind this series was, much like All In The Family, the series that spawned Maude, was just as hard-hitting as it was entertaining.  That is very much the case here.  In the same vein, the cast’s work in interpreting the episodes’ scripts is just as important to the season’s overall presentation.  Last but hardly least of note in regards to this set is its companion episode guide.  Once again, Shout! Factory has included a complete episode guide for viewers.  The company has done so in a familiar fashion, too.  It rounds out the elements that make this three-disc set worth the watch by audiences new and old alike.  Each element in its own right plays its own important role in the presentation of Maude: The Complete Second Season.  Altogether, they make this collection a fitting first installment of the series from Shout! Factory.

Shout! Factory’s recent release of Maude: The Complete Second Season this past August marks the first time ever that the series’ second season has ever seen the light of day on any home platform.  The series’ first season has been released twice over already, first by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and then most recently by Mill Creek Entertainment.  But save for that season, none of the series’ other five seasons had been released in any format until now.  There is plenty for fans of the classic dramedy to enjoy and appreciate here beginning with the work of the show’s writers.  While Maude was not necessarily groundbreaking in regards to its overall writing approach it was still an important series because of the fact that it was one of few shows on the air at the time that was brave enough to take on some tough issues  all while providing its own share of laughs at the same time.  “Florida’s Affair” is one prime example of this.  This episode is especially interesting in that it was penned by a male writer—Alan J. Levitt.  In this episode, Florida, Maude’s housekeeper at the time, is being pursued by a man other than her husband.  While Florida keeps telling the man no, he keeps coming after her.  Just as interesting here, is that Maude and Carol feel that it is okay for a woman to be attracted to a man other than her husband.  What makes all of this so important (at least in the eyes of this critic) is that it could be argued that it exhibits just how progressive mindsets were at the time in regards to gender roles and stereotypes in America.  It is a discussion that is just as relevant among men and women today as it was when this episode originally aired.

“Florida’s Affair” is an important example in its own right of how Maude’s writing is so important to its episodes in its second season.  It is also not the only example of the importance of that element.  “Maude’s Guest” is another key example of the importance of the series’ writing in the series’ second season.  That is because in its own way, it directly takes on the racial tensions that were still quite alive at the time of the episode’s airing.  When Maude decides to take in an African-American teen in this episode, it is obvious that it is for all of the wrong reasons.  While she thinks that her heart is perhaps in the right place, her reasoning isn’t.  Her own efforts reveal what could be argued to be a subconscious racist mindset within herself.  It is yet another issue that is just as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.  There are those people that do things such as what Maude did with the result that it maintains those very tensions that said people think they are trying to break down.  Of course in the case of this episode, everything ends on a relatively happy note. And as with “Florida’s Affair” it still is not the last example of the strength of the show’s writing this season. “Phillip’s Problem,” which comes later in the season’s run, is one more example of what makes this season’s writing so important to its overall presentation.

“Phillip’s Problem” is one more example of what makes the writing in Maude’s second season so important to its presentation here. This episode centers on not one but two very serious issues that are just as important in today’s culture as they were in American society in the seventies—divorce and its effect on families, and child discipline. In both cases, the subjects are tackled with both heart and humor. It is interesting to watch as Maude and Carol debate how best to discipline Phillip, who has been acting out quite a bit lately in this episode. It turns out in the long run that his behavioral issues stem from Carol dating another man. This is a very real portrayal as many young people caught in the middle of a broken family do tend to have behavioral issues. The issues stem from not having that family bond that is common among families not split by divorce. The discipline issue is even more wide-reaching. That is because it is a much broader topic. To this day, there is still intense discussion among Americans about disciplining children and whether or not something as simple as spanking a child should be considered abuse.   The manner in which both topics were presented here by itself will most assuredly keep viewers engaged. The balance of both topics throughout the course of the episode is just as impressive. The combination of both factors shows clearly why this episode is such a clear example of what makes it a key example of the show’s strong writing in its second season. Even considering this, it still cannot be said that it is the only other example of the strength and importance of the show’s writing. Any of the season’s twenty-four total episodes could be used as examples of the writers’ impressive work. That in mind, the season’s writing overall can easily be said to be among the most important elements to note in the set’s presentation.   The writing is just one part of the equation, though. The work of the series’ cast in interpreting the episodes’ scripts is just as important as the scripts themselves.

The writing behind the second season of Maude is a key element in the presentation of the season’s new standalone season box set. That is thanks in large part to the topics tackled in each episode and the manner in which they were handled. It is very reminiscent of the approach taken in All in the Family, which was the very show that led to Maude’s creation. As important as the writing is to the overall presentation of Season Two, the cast’s interpretation of Season Two’s scripts proves to be just as important as the scripts themselves. From beginning to end, Bea Arthur was wonderful to watch. Her comic timing and her ability to handle the show’s more serious moments makes suspension of disbelief simple. This is just as much the case when she is set against Walter (Bill Macy). The pair’s back and forth feels so natural in every exchange. Macy is a laugh riot in his own right with his take on Walter. He is the polar opposite of Maude. He is more grounded in his personality. That set against Maude’s overly self-righteous and self-confident personality (and at times thoughtless) makes for a great dynamic. Adreienne Barbeau (Escape From New York, The Fog, Creepshow) is just as entertaining as Carol whenever she is included in an episode’s script. Again, that is thanks to the dynamic created between herself and Arthur. It shows the very real chemistry that the cast had in whole throughout the season’s run. And because they had such fun, it makes every episode just as enjoyable for audiences. It is yet one more way in which Maude: The Complete Second Season well worth the watch by audiences old and new alike. It still is not the last way in which the box set shows to be so well worth the watch. There is still one last element to note in the overall presentation of this season. That element is the set’s featured episode guide.

Both the scripts and the acting within each of Season Two’s episodes are of the utmost importance to its overall presentation in its new standalone season set. While both elements are equally important in their own right to the presentation, the episode guide included in the box set is just as important as the set’s content. The episode guide lists all twenty-four Season Two episodes. They are split between the front and back inside cover of the box. Each episode is noted in relation to its disc throughout the guide. There is also a short yet concise summary of each episode outlining each episode’s central plot. This is, by and large, nothing new for Shout! Factory. That is given. However, there are other studios that put out TV series’ box sets but refuse to include an episode guide of any sort. Those studios will remain nameless here. Getting back to the point, the fact that there are those studios that refuse to include such guides are only shooting themselves in the foot. It is a minor aspect of any box set’s presentation. But it is still an important element nonetheless. It is part of that viewing experience. Having that guide saves time for audiences as it prevents them from having to go through one disc or another, trying to remember which episode(s) is/are on which disc(s). It’s incredible to think that there are some studios out there that will omit this minor yet important element in their box set presentations. Luckily Shout! Factory has once again made a point of including it in Season Two’s box set. Because the company did, it completes the viewing experience here and shows once and for all why this box set is well worth the watch by any audience regardless of familiarity with the series.

Shout! Factory’s release of Maude: The Complete Second Season marks the first time ever that it has received its own standalone DVD season set. Yes, it was originally released as part of the show’s full series set released earlier this year. But its release this past August by itself is the first time that it has ever been released by itself. Considering this, its first release proves to be quite the success. That is thanks in large part to the work of the series’ writers. The writers mixed heart and humor in every episode to make twenty-four episodes that are well worth the watch just for that reason alone. The cast’s interpretation of the scripts adds even more reason for audiences to purchase it. The companion episode guide that is printed inside the case’s box art rounds out the set’s positives. It gives a clear listing of the set’s episodes in regards to their respective discs and includes a short but concise summary of each episode. The full, clear listing dramatically reduces the amount of time that viewers have to spend searching for episodes. And the episode summaries make choosing which episode(s) to watch all the easier. All three noted elements combined together make the viewing experience in Maude’s second season fully immersive and enjoyable for fans new and old alike. They show collectively exactly why this box set is a solid first solo release from Shout! Factory and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and once again why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in home entertainment. Maude: The Complete Second Season is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/maude-season-two. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

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My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series Is An Out Of This World Success

Courtesy: mpi media group

Courtesy: mpi media group

CBS at one point in time was the single greatest network on television. It had such variety in regards to its offerings. From classic variety shows such as The Carol Burnett Show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to powerful dramas and dramedies such as Maude, M.A.S.H. and Murder She Wrote to equally great sitcoms including: I Love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, The Bob Newhart Show, The Jeffersons, Good Times, The Andy Griffith Show and so many others, CBS offered programming for everyone. Its programming transcended limitations of viewers’ age, gender, and even race. By comparison it seems that the majority of the once powerhouse network’s programming is made up of crime dramas, medical dramas, and “reality television” series. The variety of offerings that once made CBS so great, it seems, has gone completely by the wayside. Thankfully though, a number of those classic shows have been resurrected on DVD and Blu-ray thanks to the efforts of just as many home entertainment companies. The latest of those classic series to finally see the light of day—My Favorite Martian—saw all three of its season released in their own standalone season sets between 2012 and 2014 courtesy of MPI Home Video. Luckily for fans of the standout sitcom MPI Home Video didn’t stop there. The studio released the series in a complete three-season box set this week. And for those that were not lucky enough to add the series to their home DVD libraries in their previous releases, this box set is just as enjoyable and a must have. For those that perhaps will see the series for the first time or even the first time again in purchasing this box set it is so enjoyable first and foremost thanks to the work of its writers. The writing behind the series’ 107 total episodes will put a smile on any classic TV buff’s face. That will be discussed shortly. In direct connection to the writing, the work of the series’ lead actors—Bill Bixby and Ray Walston—is just as entertaining. Their interpretation of each episode’s script makes for more than its share of laughs from one episode to the next. That will be discussed in more depth later. Last but hardly last of note in regards to this box set is the inclusion of its bonus material. The bonus material spread across the series’ three separate season setsis extensive to say the least. There are no fewer than three pilot episodes, one which was for My Favorite Martian, and the other two for a pair of series which sadly never went past their pilots. There is also a full-length clip of Ray Walston on the classic game show I’ve Got A Secret, interviews with Lucille Ball on her show Let’s Talk To Lucy and so much more. These bonuses together with those not named here round out the core of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series’ positives. They are hardly the only positives worth noting, too. One would be remiss to ignore the set’s packaging or even its production values. All things considered, My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series proves in the end to be a piece that every classic TV buff should have in his or her collection and a collection that is one of the best of this year’s family friendly box sets.

MPI Home Video’s brand new release of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series is a collection that every single classic TV buff should have in his or her own home DVD library. It is also one of the best of this year’s family friendly box sets (versus those box sets featuring TV shows and movies that are aimed more at grown up audiences). This is most obvious through the writing behind the series’ three season run. Over the course of the show’s 107 total episodes, it presents plenty of classic story lines that while familiar to the buddy comedy genre, have been tweaked to be fully original in their presentation here. “The Memory Pill,” which is presented in the show’s second season is a prime example of the writers ability to take one of those classic story lines and make them fresh and funny. Tim, wanting to forget a certain woman that he keeps thinking of, takes one of Martin’s memory pills, leading him to develop amnesia of sorts in this episode. So it is up to Martin to get Tim back to his old self. What ensues in the process of the episode is what really makes it funny. Martin brings in a doctor who is played by David White, who was also Darren’s boss in ABC’s classic supernatural sitcom Bewitched. The antics that play out will have audiences of all ages laughing uproariously as Tim continues to try (in his state of amnesia) to convince the doctor that Martin is in fact a Martian. “How To Be A Hero Without Really Trying” (Season One) is another example of the talent of the show’s writers. That is because this episode sees the bachelor Tim trying once again to impress a young woman (which in itself becomes part of the show’s comedy right up to its finale) by taking her and her young brother out for a day trip. The trip is in reality also to help Martin find an element that he needs in order to work on his ship. Thanks to Martin, though the young boy ends up stuck high up on a cliff and has to be rescued. Tim, trying to impress the boy’s sister decides to save her brother. Needless to say plenty of antics come from this decision that will once again have audiences laughing just as much as with any of the series’ other episodes. What’s really funny about the story in whole is that for all of its entertainment that entertainment in question comes about from Tim and Martin having to clean up the other’s mess again and again throughout the course of the episode’s script. Season Three is just as packed with laughs as Tim goes back in time in the season finale, causing quite the disruption in the time space continuum. Also in Season Three, Tim helps Mrs. Brown’s brother build a robot that does household chores. That is a theme that had and has been used so many times before and since in other classic sitcoms including Gilligan’s Island. It’s just one more of so many throughout the course of the series’ original run of the writers’ talents. There are 104 other examples from which viewers can choose throughout the series’ three seasons. In finding their own favorites, audiences will agree that the writing behind My Favorite Martian is one of the series’ most important elements. Through it all, the buddy comedy element never gets old at any point in the series’ run. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in the series’ enjoyment. The work of lead actors Bill Bixby and Ray Walston in interpreting the scripts adds even more enjoyment to the series.

The work of the writers behind My Favorite Martian lies at the center of its success even despite it having just a three-season run on television. The scripts that were crafted by this show’s writers is the kind of material that is so sorely missed today. It’s the kind of material that parents can feel good about letting their kids watch for the most part. It’s the kind of writing that parents will feel just as good about watching with their kids, too without feeling uncomfortable at any point. It is just one element of the show’s enjoyment, of course. The work of lead actors Bill Bixby and Ray Walston in interpreting the writers’ scripts adds even more enjoyment to the show. Bixby’s manic behavior, for instance, in “The Memory Pill” is reminiscent of Cary Grant’s Mortimer Brewster in the classic 1944 comedy Arsenic And Old Lace. He is just so frenzied in his state of amnesia. On the other end of the spectrum, one can’t help but wonder to a point if Walston’s deadpan demeanor as Martin was any influence on Harvey Korman’s portrayal of The Great Gazoo in The Flintstones. For those that might not know, The Great Gazoo was introduced to The Flintstones two years after the start of My Favorite Martian. So it would, again, be interesting to find out if there might have been any connection between the two actors if at all. Getting back on the subject, that deadpan persona that is most prominent throughout the series, set alongside Bixby’s own Dick York meets Alan Young look and persona, makes for its own share of laughs throughout each episode. On a related noted, Walston does break that self-righteous, snooty persona that that audiences love so much. One of the best moments in which Walston breaks that person comes early in Season One in the episode “There Is No Cure For The Common Martian.” Martin gets a cold for the first time ever in this episode and it sort of knocks him down off of his proverbial high horse and makes him no better than any human. It forces him at least for the moment to see that and just makes for a great break from the norm in terms of Walston’s general performance. In its own way, it could be argued that both because of their personas and how they handle them (and the scripts), both Bixby and Walston could be argued to be the straight man and the comedian believe it or not. That is something that audiences just don’t see in comic performances today. It really is something original. And that originality makes for so many great, memorable performances throughout the course of the series’ run. It’s yet more proof of why the work of both Bixby and Walston was (and is) so important to the success of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series. It still is not the final factor in the set’s success. The set’s bounty of bonus material adds even more enjoyment for audiences.

The work of both My Favorite Martian’s writers and its lead actors makes for a great deal of enjoyment for audiences as they make their way through the course of the classic sitcom’s three seasons and 107 episodes. For all of the enjoyment that both elements bring to the series, they are not all that makes this set complete. The collection’s bevy of bonus material adds extra points to the newly released box set. And it is not an understatement to say that there are a lot of bonuses for fans included here. MPI has included in Season One the original pilot episode of My Favorite Martian, the pilot episode for the never-aired series The Reluctant Eye, and even a full appearance by Ray Walston on the game show I’ve Got A Secret. Walston’s appearance on the game show even includes the original TV spots (commercials) that ran in the specific episode between segments. So it really is complete in every sense of the word. On a side note, the episode in question features Walston trying to fool the show’s panels in regards to how he lights a jack-o-lantern. So this bonus is a great fit with Halloween only days away at the time of this posting. In regards to the pilot episode of My Favorite Martian, it should be noted that this is a little bit misleading. That is because episode #1 is in fact the series’ pilot episode. It hasn’t been separated out as a bonus episode. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. It maybe just shouldn’t have been listed under the “bonus” section since it is not listed actually within the list of bonus materials when Season 1 Disc 5 is played. What is listed is that appearance on I’ve Got A Secret and all of the season’s other bonuses, including a complete soundtrack album containing music from My Favorite Martian as well as the season’s bonus photo gallery, and separate sponsor spots along with one of Walston’s own commercials. MPI Home Video’s people didn’t stop here with the bonus material. Season Two boasts interviews with the show’s cast as well as original billboards and ads featuring the show’s cast. Season Three adds even more enjoyment as it features a slew of bonuses. Those bonuses include: interviews with Bill Bixby and Ray Walston on Lucille Ball’s Let’s Talk To Lucy program, home movies filmed by the cast on the set of the show, and a pilot for the also never-aired series The Man in the Square Suit along with other bonus footage. There is so much that there is simply not enough room to list or even discuss it all. But it goes without saying that when audiences purchase this box set for themselves, they will be blown away by the vast amount of bonus material included with this box set. That extensive amount of bonus material coupled with the work of both the show’s writers and lead actors makes for an experience that helps My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series live up to its title. They make it not just a complete series set in name but in experience and in turn they collectively make it one of he best of this year’s family friendly box sets.

The writing and acting that went into My Favorite Martian across its short three season run paid off in spades for the series even with it having run only three seasons. They combine with the bonus material included in this collection to make My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series compete in every sense of the word and in turn one of the best of the year’s family friendly box sets. That is not to discount the set’s packaging, which while it looks bulky on the outside is actually quite ergonomic in and of itself. Each of the series’ three seasons has been presented within its own standalone season set once more. Each set’s discs are placed in what is the norm today in multi-disc packaging–placing discs on either side of a given number of “plates” and in some cases even on the inside front and back of the case. This conserves space within each set and ultimately in the bigger picture of the set’s packaging. Considering the route that the people at MPI Home Video could have taken, this was the smartest possible route for the set’s presentation. Even better for audiences is that an episode guide has been included inside the case for Season One and Season Two. Each guide includes a precise listing of the season’s episodes along with a short yet concise summary of each featured episode. In regards to Season Three, the episode guide only features a listing of the episodes with their original broadcast dates. While it would have been nice to have gotten a complete episode summary as in Season One and Two, it is still nice to at least have an episode guide, period. To that extent, the packaging is yet another positive to a set that is sure to be among any classic TV buff’s favorites this year. Add in the highly impressive look and sound of each episode and audiences once again get a viewing experience that is just as complete as the set itself. It is an experience that will leave audiences of all ages agreeing that this collection of episodes will be a favorite not just of classic TV buffs but even more specifically fans of this beloved classic. All things considered My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series proves unlike collections from so many other series to be truly complete in every possible sense of the word. My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via MPI Home Video’s online store at http://www.mpihomevideo.com/products/my-favorite-martian-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from MPI Home Video is available online now at:

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Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special Is A One-Of-A-Kind Holiday Special

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/CBS

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/CBS

Holiday television offerings are not what they used to be. From its golden age up to about the early 1990s gathering the family around the television during the holiday season was one of the best parts of the holiday season’s annual festivities. By comparison to today’s offerings (or the lack thereof) the holiday specials turned out in television’s past were special in more than just name only. Now thanks to Shout! Factory one of those classic specials has finally been released on Blu-ray. And it is one of the most outrageous holiday specials to ever see the light of day, too. What is the special? It is none other than Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special. And it was released earlier this month thanks to the people at Shout! Factory, the leading name in home entertainment. There is plenty to like about this new re-issue of the classic holiday special beginning with its very presentation. It has been presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio from its original broadcast. And nothing has been added to or deleted from its original presentation. On another level, the script behind the special is just as noteworthy. It presents the classic story of someone learning the true meaning of Christmas. Yet it does so in the way that only Pee-wee’s Playhouse could do. Last but not least worth noting of this presentation is its bonus material. Between the bonus in-show commentaries and the retrospective behind-the-scenes featurette audiences get a thorough look at everything that went into bringing the special to life as well as the importance of the special in regards to the series’ overall run on television. It is all collectively one more reason that Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special. Together with the special’s overall presentation and its writing, all three elements together make this presentation a great addition to the home DVD/BD library of any of the now grown up Pee-wee’s Playhouse fan and potentially one of the year’s best new DVD/BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory’s new BD re-issue of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special is a great addition to the home DVD/BD library of any now grown up Pee-wee’s Playhouse fan. It is also potentially one of the year’s best new DVD/BD re-issues. The central reason for its reception of such high marks is its overall presentation in its new Blu-ray release. Its release earlier this month is not the first time that the special has ever seen the light of day in its own standalone release. It was released on DVD roughly eleven years ago. But its release on Blu-ray earlier this month marks the first time that it has ever been released in its own standalone Blu-ray release. It is presented here in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. And being presented on Blu-ray, it looks surprisingly impressive even being presented in its original standard definition presentation. Making the presentation even more impressive is that nothing has been edited out of the original showing. That means that audiences get in this standalone re-issue Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special in its full original presentation. This is significant in that there are some classics that have been re-issued by other companies minus one part, another or more. This is not one of that mass. It is a piece that any of the series’ original fans will appreciate in large part because it is presented in full. And it is just one part of what makes Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special so special for anyone that grew up watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse when they themselves were kids. The script behind the special is another element in the whole of the special that makes it such an interesting presentation.

The overall presentation of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special is in itself plenty of reason for those that were fans of the show in their own childhoods to check out this new re-issue of the classic holiday special. For all of its importance to the whole of the program, it is just one part of what makes it so enjoyable. The script that lies behind the program is another of its elements that makes it so interesting. The central plot at the center of the program’s script is nothing new by any means. Through the course of the fifty-two minute presentation, Pee-wee learns the invaluable lesson that the true meaning of Christmas is the joy of giving, not getting. However, the fact that the show’s writers were able to maintain all of the wild, zany antics that made the series in whole throughout it all is what’s really impressive about the script. It would have been easy for the series’ writers to just take the easy way out and get schmaltzy. But they opted to not take that road. Rather they opted instead to make the special feel just like every other episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse that had come before. Even more impressive of the script is its rapid fire introduction of the show’s list of celebrity guest stars. The very use of the guest stars is in itself a classic element of the great holiday specials of yesteryear. But none of those specials introduced their celebrity guests at such a fast pace. That pacing also tied in to the story in whole, allowing for the story to advance quickly without losing viewers to either confusion or boredom. That is an impressive feat. And the writers are to be commended for maintaining such a balance in regards to the show’s pacing. The expertise exhibited in that balance alongside the balance of the program’s wild, zany elements and more serious message come together in the grand scheme of things to make even more reason for audiences to be impressed by Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special. It still is not all that audiences will find interesting in the program’s new re-issue either. The bonus material included in the special’s new BD re-issue rounds out the special’s positives.

Both the overall presentation of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special and its script play important parts in their own right in the special’s enjoyment. While both elements are both important in their own right, they are not all that make the program so enjoyable. The bonus material included with the special in its new BD presentation is just as important to the program as those elements. The bonus material in question includes two audio commentary tracks that play over the special and a collection of standalone rerospective interviews with the show’s cast and crew. Audiences get quite a bit of insight through the interviews including the fact that the Marine chorus that opens the special is in fact not a Marine chorus at all. It was in fact actors dressed as Marines. In today’s society some might find that to be a smack in the face of those that wear and have worn the uniform with pride. It definitely is one of the more interesting tidbits noted in the commentary. There is also an intriguing anecdote about the cast kidding around with Kevin Carlson, the actor behind Corky 2000 at that point because of his inability to move inside the Conky suit. There is also some humor about Pee-wee putting up a dummy to deal with a certain annoying caller that will have audiences laughing just as much as they would with other tidbits revealed through the commentaries. As if all of that isn’t enough, the insights offered via the bonus standalone interviews adds even more interest to the program in whole. That being the case, the bonus commentaries and interviews included with Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special prove in the end to be just as important as the program’s presentation within itself and its one-of-a-kind script. All three elements together show that Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special is in whole a great addition to any of the series’ original fans this and any holiday season and potentially one of the year’s best new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

Shout! Factory’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special is a great addition to any of the original Pee-wee’s Playhouse fans this and any holiday season. It is also potentially one of the best of the year’s new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. That is the case primarily because it is presented here in whole from its look to its general content. Its one-of-a-kind script makes it just as interesting to take in. The bonus material included in this re-issue rounds out the presentation, adding quite a bit of insight and enjoyment to the program in whole. The end result of all three elements is a presentation that any original Pee-wee’s Playhouse fan will enjoy this and any holiday season. It also results in the program being potentially being one of the best of this year’s crop of DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special is avaiable now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-comedy/pee-wee-s-playhouse-christmas-special. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

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

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment

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

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

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

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

The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes is not the first collection of episodes to be released by Time Life Entertainment. And more than likely it will not be the last thanks to the efforts of certain parties to obtain the distribution rights for the show’s first five seasons. With any luck fans will hopefully one day see the release of this series in whole rather than just in a continued series of compilation sets since those matters have been settled. Until then though, this latest collection of episodes will more than please any Carol Burnett Show fan. That is thanks to the work of both the show’s writers and its cast. The attention to detail in the set’s companion booklet adds even more enjoyment as it helps provide even more interesting background information on the series. All in all, the combination of those elements combined with the very availability of these episodes makes The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes yet another collection one that any of the show’s fans and any lover of classic television will want to have in his or her own home DVD library. It is available now and can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Burnett-Show-Lost-Episodes/dp/B011QLAYCU/ref=pd_bxgy_74_img_y. More information on this and other titles from Time Life Entertainment is available online now at:

 

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