PBS Pays Tribute To Bob Hope In New “American Masters” Episode

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

It goes without saying that Bob Hope is one of the greatest names in the entertainment industry’s modern history.  From radio to television to movies to his famed USO tours, Hope entertained audiences of all ages for years, so when he died in 2003, it left a great void in not just the industry but in America’s whole.  Now thanks to PBS and Public Media Distribution, Hope’s legacy continues to live in a new episode of the network’s bio-based series American Masters.

American Masters: This Is Bob Hope was released this past Tuesday, January 9 on DVD and Digital HD.  The two-hour-long profile of the legendary entertainer tells what made — and makes him still today — an American Master.  Billy Crystal (Monsters Inc., Monsters UniversityCity Slickers) lends his talents to the program, reading Hope’s own words, which were pulled from Hope’s own personal archives for the presentation.  Interviews with the likes of Woody Allen (SleeperMidnight in ParisManhattan), Dick Cavett (The Dick Cavett Show), film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, Hope’s own daughter, Linda Hope, Kermit The Frog (yes, even Kermit) and others, add even more depth to the story.

Clips from Hope’s television specials, radio shows and his movies — including My Favorite BlondeThe Cat and his beloved Road movies, in which he starred alongside Bing Crosby — are also incorporated into the program to help tell the story of Hope’s life and career.  Audiences can view a trailer for this episode online now here.

American MastersThis Is Bob Hope is available now on DVD and Digital HD.  It is retailing for MSRP of $24.99, but can be ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of American Masters is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSAmerMasters

 

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Kids, Adults Will Love To Meet The Fraggles For The First Time Again

Courtesy:  The Jim Henson Company/Vivendi Entertainment

Courtesy: The Jim Henson Company/Vivendi Entertainment

Jim Henson was one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century.  He was the brilliant mind behind the Muppets, Sesame Street, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and so many other creations.  While he was most well known for the aforementioned creations, one of his lesser known creations celebrates its 30th anniversary this month.  That creation is Fraggle Rock.  In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the beloved children’s series’ debut, The Jim Henson Company has released the entire series on single season collections and a complete thirtieth anniversary box set with the entire series.  The company has also released a special single disc collection that serves as a nice introduction to the world of the Fraggles for today’s younger audiences, while re-introducing them to the generation that grew up with these wonderful underground dwelling creatures in Fraggle Rock: Meet The Fraggles.

Fraggle Rock:  Meet The Fraggles offers six episodes of the classic children’s series on a single DVD.  It is aptly titled as it starts off from the series’ very first episode, “Beginnings.”  It is in this episode that audiences first meet Doc and his dog Sprocket, along with the Fraggles.  It’s through a hole in the wall of Doc’s residence that viewers travel into the world of the Fraggles.  Right from the very first episode, audiences are introduced to a program that is full of enjoyable musical numbers, colorful backdrops, and important life lessons.  The execution of the life lessons through the storylines does so much to make this show so timeless.  One of the best examples of this in this collection comes in the episode, “Red’s Club.”  This episode teaches an important lesson about acceptance of others.  It does this through setting things up through the storyline involving Sprocket being rejected from an elite dog club.  After having been rejected, Doc suggests that Sprocket start up his own club.  Meanwhile in the world of the Fraggles, Red is fed up with always going along with Gobo, and starts her own club.  The problem is that her club is so exclusionary that the one single member that she ends up with is a Doozer.  And the Doozer in question—Cotter Pin—ends up leaving Red’s club, too because of how exclusive it is.  Red ends up learning a very valuable lesson because of her actions.  Doc also learns a lesson in talking with Sprocket about why he couldn’t be in Sprocket’s club.  The lesson is told outright, making it easy for young audiences to understand.  This is the kind of writing existent throughout every season of this classic kids’ show.  This includes all six episodes included in this six-disc introduction to Fraggle Rock.

The writing behind Fraggle Rock is the show’s primary reason for its success.  But it isn’t the only part of its success.  As already noted, Jim Henson did during his life, things that no one else was doing.  The musical numbers which were part of his even more beloved Muppet Show 2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

Mix egg and milk. Sift dry ingredients and gradually add to milk mixture, beat until smooth.

Preheat oil in fry pan to 375 degrees F.

Pour batter into hot oil with a funnel with a ½ “ or ¾” hole. Let batter drizzle into hot oil. Spiraling to create a circle.

Cook about 1 minute, flip over, cooking both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with fruit preserves while still warm. 2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

Mix egg and milk. Sift dry ingredients and gradually add to milk mixture, beat until smooth.

Preheat oil in fry pan to 375 degrees F.

Pour batter into hot oil with a funnel with a ½ “ or ¾” hole. Let batter drizzle into hot oil. Spiraling to create a circle.

Cook about 1 minute, flip over, cooking both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with fruit preserves while still were just as integral to Fraggle Rock.  Even as old as this show is, its musical numbers will still have young viewers dancing and singing along.  It’s another of the show’s elements that sets it apart from so much of today’s children’s programming, even today. 

Fraggle Rock’s writing and musical numbers will entertain audiences of all ages.  There is still one last piece of the puzzle to this show that makes it so enjoyable for any viewer.  That piece is the simplest.  Yet it’s still one of the most important.  That final piece is the originality of using puppets.  Children’s television is at a point today at which so much programming is much the same in terms of its format.  Children are being placed in front of television sets, and for all intents and purposes left to let the television teach them.  Fraggle Rock doesn’t allow that, as audiences will see in this introductory set of episodes.  It’s not one of those shows in which the characters talk to the children.  It forces parents to sit down with their children and discuss the lessons taught through each episode.  It forces parents to be parents and spend time with their children.  This is exactly what children and parents need.  They need to spend time together and bond.  And what better way to bond than on what is an original and timeless program.  If parents and children enjoy this set, they can also pick up the complete Thirtieth Anniversary box set with the show’s entire run.  Both sets can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BCMT1RS/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0X19EM0G0KMXPWH3S33S&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846 and http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BCMT4B6/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0NFWRPA7QJPVK8VF9MHY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846.

Fans of Fraggle Rock and Jim Henson’s creations can get all the latest news from the Jim Henson Company online at http://www.henson.com and http://www.facebook.com/hensoncompany

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

The not so new Muppets is still great nostalgic family fun

Thank you Jason Segel.  Thank you Disney.  Thank you for bringing one of the most beloved franchises in the history of both television and movies back to life.  In an era when so few truly family friendly movies exist, the return of The Muppets is a breath of fresh air.

This new installment in the Muppets franchise isn’t exactly the most original work.  It lifts very liberally from most of the previous movies in the Muppets franchise.  And it goes without saying that it goes way over the top with its glut of blatantly Broadway style musical numbers.  Sure the other Muppets movies have musical numbers.  But not to the extent of this one.  All of that aside, star and co-writer Jason Segel is to be commended for his role in bringing this beloved franchise back to life.  Segel has stated that he grew up with Jim Henson’s characters.  That would explain the constant references to the previous Muppets movies.  Considering that, Segel and co. can be forgiven for essentially rehashing said movies and tossing them into a big pot for this flick.  It could be argued that making so many references to the other Muppets movies might even go so far as to raise interest in them, and bring that much more interest in the Muppets mong this new generation.

For the issues that The Muppets has, there’s also plenty of good in it.  The most obvious of the movie’s positive aspects is in the statement of The Muppets’ relevance in today’s cultural world..  The story presents that Muppets in a world in which they are no longer relevant, or so they think.  That is until Walter and his brother,  Gary (played by Jason segel) try to get the gang back together.  It’s not the first time that’s been done in a Muppets movie.  In the real world, of course, the Muppets have always been relevant.  There has really never been a time when the Muppets haven’t been relevant.  Now thanks to this new movie, Kermit, Miss PIggy, Animal, Rolf, and all the rest will likely be even more relevant than ever.  It’s kept these beloved characters alive for a whole new generation.  And with any luck, this new generation will carry the Muppets torch lit for the generation that follows it.  More than likely, as the movie’s ending shows, there’s little rason to worry about that.  Suffice to say that while this new incarnation of The Muppets isn’t overly original, Jim Henson would still be proud of it if he were with us