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DVD REVIEW: The Best of The Danny Kaye Show
Blog, Reviews, TV, People, Music, Books
Posted on Oct 14 2014 by Greg


THE DANNY KAYE SHOW isn't good. THE DANNY KAYE SHOW is great. It has a firm place in classic TV comedy/variety between YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW.

And it is Burnett Show that bears such a close kinship with the Kaye show, both of which were taped at Television City at CBS in Hollywood, likely on the same stage. Kaye's show ended just as Burnett's began. And both featured Harvey Korman.

So much of this is priceless treasure: Rod Serling sending up his own TWILIGHT ZONE series, which was on the air at the time; Art Carney is top form playing comedy against Kaye--as does the underappreciated Alan Young--creating a chemistry not found anywhere else.

Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Michele Lee, Nana Mouskori, John Gary and more. These are both revered names and also names that should be celebrated today. You'll see why.

And you get more of the purest form of Danny Kaye's talent, a quality never fully realized on the movie screen. It's simply Kaye sitting down and speaking to the home and studio audience as if each were an individual to him. The elegance of his hand gestures, the intent eye contact, the melodious voice. Like the image of Hans Christian Andersen he portrayed, Kaye was more than anything a true storyteller.

You'll also want to look into the other two fine Kaye DVD collections:
Christmas with Danny Kaye
The Best of Danny Kaye - The Television Years

and David Koenig's superb book: Danny Kaye, King of Jesters, for a full account of all his TV episodes, films and shows.



GUESTS
• Gene Kelly
• Rod Serling
• Liza Minnelli
• Michele Lee
• Art Carney
• Alan Young
• Jackie Cooper
• Harry Belafonte
• Ella Fitzgerald
• Nana Mouskouri
• John Gary
• Buddy Greco
• Jack Benny (cameo)
• Sergio Mendes and the Brasil '66

REGULARS include: Harvey Korman, Joyce Van Patten, Jackie Joseph, The Clinger Sisters, Tony Charmoli Dancers, The Earl Brown Singers, Paul Weston and His Orchestra

WRITERS: Mel Tolkin, Paul Mazursky, Larry Tucker, Saul Ilson Ernest Chambers Herb Baker, Sheldon Keller, Billy Barnes

SONGS

DANNY KAYE
• Consider Yourself
• You Make Me Feel So Young
• I Like the Likes of You
• Do You Ever Think of Me
• Pavlova
• Pennies from Heaven
• A Fellow Needs a Girl

DANNY KAYE AND GUEST STARS
• It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• Mood Indigo (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• We Like Each Other (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• By Myself (with Michele Lee)
• Just an Honest Mistake (with Alan Young and John Gary)
• Let's Talk it Over (with Liza Minnelli)
• Ballin' the Jack (with Gene Kelly)
• Who Will Buy? (with Harry Belafonte)
• Mama Look at Bubu
• Hava Nagila (with Harry Belafonte)
• Opa Ni Na Nai (with Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri)
• You'll Never Get Away (with Michele Lee)
• Side by Side (with The Clinger Sisters)
• Cherry Pies Ought to Be You (with Lovelady Powell)
• Medley (with Gene Kelly): I Could Write a Book / New York,
  New York / Long Ago and Far Away / 'S Wonderful / Singin' in
  the Rain

ELLA FITZGERALD
• Moment of Truth
• Body and Soul

HARRY BELAFONTE
• Raindrops
• Walk On

LIZA MINNELLI
• Maybe This Time
• For Every Man There's a Woman

NANA MOUSKOURI
• Telalima

MICHELE LEE
• I Could Write a Book

JOHN GARY
• The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
• Hawaiian Wedding Song

BUDDY GRECO
• Charade
• Satin Doll

LOVELADY POWELL
• Bye Bye Blackbird

JOE & EDDIE
• Children, Go Where I Send Thee

SERGIO MENDES AND THE BRASIL '66
• Goin' Out of My Head







DVD REVIEW: Muppets Most Wanted
Blog, Movies, People, Music
Posted on Aug 19 2014 by Greg


It’s always a great pleasure to see another big-screen Muppet movie. Like the earlier film with Jason Siegel, director James Bobin makes Herculean efforts to recapture the style, flair and glorious inanity of the original Muppet Show, thus the segments of the film featuring the actual show are the most fan-appealing. All the major Muppets and some lesser-known ones get a chance to shine in the most Muppety way possible.


The new movie has lots of color, great songs, clever cameos, very savvy scripting and skillfully timed direction going for it. But there’s still something missing. A jewel heist story was already done back in the ‘70s. Muppet movies seem to work better when they satirize show business, advertising or some other ripe-for-ridiculousness institution. Granted, the stakes are much higher here than they might have been in The Great Muppet Caper. Both films even have an Esther Williams-swimming cavalcade scene, though it was more lavish in Caper.

That wouldn’t matter so much if Ricky Gervais was either a supporting character than the co-star, was given more comedy to do, or was left to improvise so he would have been as funny as he is in the outtakes. Gervais is a great comic star, but not a movie star. Nor does he have the widespread appeal to justify how much screen time his character gets. This is in no way a criticism of him nor his talent, just a comment about how he might have been better utilized.

Ty Burrell, who gets just the right amount of screen time, making one want to see more, delivers his customary screen stealing performance—perfectly teamed with Sam the Eagle. Yes, his character is a Clouseau type, but he could easily play Clouseau. Nobody does determined cluelessness like Burrell. Tina Fey also takes on a tasty comic character role as the head of a Siberian prison, with convict show tunes (and incongruous cameos) worthy of Mel Brooks.

Like the last film, the songs are perfect for The Muppets and have a quality on their own that justifies more attention than they get. It was a shame that singer/songwriter Bret McKenzie did not get an appearance on the Academy Awards telecast, since that would have deservedly raised his profile. At least he is showcased to advantage is a music video with Miss Piggy (Bret looks a little like a bearded, lanky Herb Alpert).

Muppets Most Wanted is very good, yet not quite great. There’s a lot here to love, though, especially seeing the old gang (as well as welcome newcomer Walter) doing whatever it takes to get them on screen. Even on the classic Muppet Show, some episodes were better than others but it didn’t matter because The Muppets were the main raison D’κtre to tune in (ain’t I continental?).

Bonus Features are fine (but no commentary, sigh). There’s a blooper reel with a funny title about it being the longest ever, maybe. Again, Ricky Gervais is funnier here than he is in the movie. I realize he was playing a villain (Mr. Badguy), but they might have added in some of his infectious laughter.








This week's Spin: Hercules and Thor on Records
Blog, Movies, TV, Music, Records
Posted on Aug 06 2014 by Greg


With Disney's Hercules premiering on Blu-ray, here's a look at how Golden Records interpreted humbler version of the Olympian wonder boy from early '60s TV, plus another Golden adaptation of Marvel's movie powerhouse, The Mighty Thor...









This week's Spin: TV Classic Top Cat on Records
Blog, TV, Music, Records
Posted on Jul 26 2014 by Greg


Hanna-Barbera's impeccably written and masterfully acted prime time animated series gets the vinyl treatment on two classic albums from the mid-60s.









This week's Spin: Time Travel with The Sherman Brothers
Blog, Movies, TV, Music, Records
Posted on Jul 15 2014 by Greg


A young John Travolta, the voice talents of Paul Frees, music legends and more appear in two of the Sherman's most evocative musical scores.











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