Do the long-running sitcoms of the "must-see" TV era still hold up today? Times may changes, but human nature doesn't, so the more insightful the series, the more it stands the test of time.
was a mammoth hit from 1984 to 1992, running for eight seasons, pretty much in the top ten or number one in the ratings. The Huxtables are an upscale family who, even though they have their idiosyncracies, are aspirational role models of their time and today as well.
More TV families should be like this now. Most of the storylines are of the traditional family sitcom ilk, with very funny writing by some of TV's best. And then you have Bill Cosby, who makes every line count and is at his best when constructing a story-joke with the artistry of Frank Lloyd Wright.
This DVD package contains the first two of the show's eight seasons, when the kids were young. Watching is now as a parent is particularly entertaining.
-- but they all struggled with ratings and/or began strong and lost steam. Only
was a bona fide hit right out of the gate and self-cancelled even when it was still in the top ten in its eighth season. The hypnotic charm of Elizabeth Mongomery is the chief reason, with a stellar cast of seasoned acting giants including Agnes Moorehead and Maurice Evans. (Learn more about Montgomery and
The first two seasons on this DVD set are considered by many to be the best, with
show runner Danny Arnold at the helm. If you want to know how great a show like this can be, just watch the episode "A is for Aardvark," directed by screen legend Ida Lupino.
I always really liked this series, if only because the bald guy was the ladies' man (baldness rocks!). Seriously, Laura San Giocomo is a fantastic lead with Mary Tyler Moore skill. She's surrounded by a great supporting cast that have pretty much gone on to subsequent success in other projects. And of course, there's George Segal, whose timing is impeccable. The material is sophisticated and often spicy but there's more to the show and the characters than that.
The new DVD combines the midseason premiere episodes and the second season. You can see the chemistry simmer and come to a boil with every installment.
enjoyed a solid run of eight seasons as part of the NBC must-see lineup. It was overshadowed by the more flashy shows of the lineup, but it's proven to be a well regarded favorite to its very fierce legion of fans. (A little bit of trivia:
was the second sitcom about a small airline service -- the first was the short lived
Monk fans, look for Tony Shalhoub in a very different character role and lots of "before they were stars" actors who have become prominent over the years. This set is the second Mill Creek release, containing season 3 and 4 (the first two seasons are already available).
, which was a spinoff of All in the Family. Unlike earlier sitcom spinoffs, there were never visits from the cast of the previous shows. So Maude never traveled from Tuckahoe, New York to visit the Florida and the Evans family in Chicago.
included on this new DVD release are different from the show it became, as J.J. became like Fonzie and became the focus of the series. But the early episodes are also significant because they were more about the struggles of the Evans' to just get by -- much as the theme song says. Getting a job, having enough money to afford the basics, all very pertinent issues that transcend the 70's setting and style of the show.
2013 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE, PART TWO
Blog, Reviews, Movies, TV, Music, Downloads, Records, Books
Posted on Dec 20 2013 by Greg
BLU-RAY/DVDMARY POPPINS 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
No home should be without a copy of Mary Poppins
to watch. If you've seen it many times, just leave it on and go about your business, it adds an element of fun to every job that must be done.
This is the first time Mary Poppins
is on Blu-ray, much anticipated by all its fan. The picture is overall superb, but there is a bit of a contrasty quality that I'm guessing to due to Herculean efforts to spruce up some special effects that were state-of-the-art 50 years ago. The matte lines and grains are much less noticeable now and the animated sequence (I'm just as sorry as I can be, Mrs. Travers) glows with color. Mary Poppins
, by the way, has finally been added to The National Film Registry (somebody must have told them, "Spit-Spot! Get to it!"
THE GENE AUTRY SHOW: THE COMPLETE SERIESCOLLECTORS EDITION
Gene Autry was not only King of the Cowboys in the mid-20th century, he also is still one of the best selling recording artists of all time. He recorded the original "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," "When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter" and "Here Comes Santa Claus," which he co-wrote. This series is just a part of his entertainment empire, which you can glimpse in one of the many bonus features (and see momentos of at LA's Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage. The Gene Autry Show
is a lot like Scooby-Doo: there are only a handful of plotlines, but who cares because you just want to watch him and his sidekick (Pat Buttram) bring baddies to justice. Some stereotypes are on a very few episodes (amazing considering its age), but overall it's a cozy slice of Americana. Some are even in color and remarkably well preserved.
IRON MAN & HULK: HEROES UNITED
For Marvel fans impatient for the next movie, this nicely constructed animated adventure is an exciting adventure. The action is virtually non-stop, but when there is a brief respite, Hulk and Iron Man bicker like Martha and Gertrude at the Automat. There are a few bonus features, including the very funny re-voiced "Marvel Mash-Ups" that make gentle but ridiculous sport of earlier Marvel TV cartoons.THE LIFE & ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS /
NESTOR, THE LONG-EARED CHRISTMAS DONKEY
It isn't really the holiday season without squeezing in as many Rankin/Bass specials as you can. The first special in this Warner Archive release, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
, is based on the book by Wizard of Oz
scribe L. Frank Baum. It's a fitting way finale to the Rankin/Bass canon of stop-motion animated specials, as it combines the whimsy of Rudolph
with the mystical fantasy of The Hobbit
, drawing both aspects of R/B together (the voice cast is also that of ThunderCats
). Nestor is based on another song by Gene Autry (see above), with a very amusingly caricatured Roger Miller telling and singing the story of a misfit who triumphs over his "non-conformity." The animation for this special is especially smooth, (SPOILER) but be warned that there is a sad, Bambi
-like moment. THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER /
MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND
My favorite of the early Muppet films, The Great Muppet Caper
was Jim Henson's feature directing debut. The score by "Bein' Green" composer Joe Raposo is the old-school Hollywood extravaganza type, with some major production numbers including a mammoth Esther Williams
tribute that actually topped Mel Brooks' similar number the same year in his History of the World, Part 1
. Plus it's got Diana Rigg. 'Nuff said. Muppet Treasure Island was the second feature after Jim Henson passed and though very entertaining with the dependable comic chops of Tim Curry, The Muppets were starting to chew their cabbage more than twice here. Both look spiffy on Blu-ray.
KUKLA, FRAN & OLLIE: THE FIRST EPISODES, VOL. 3
First of all, the first two volumes of this priceless DVD series are required if you love The Muppets, clever comedy timing, imaginative use of limited resources and pure talent. Burr Tillstrom's puppets stop being puppets after only a few minutes, thanks in large part to the golden-voiced Fran Allison, who makes us all believe. Forget the picture quality and little cramped stage: Burr and Fran turn it into the Tardis.
MUSICDOCTOR WHO: SERIES #7 TV SOUNDTRACK
Speaking of Tardises (or is it "tardi?"), you can't go wrong with Murray Gold's magnificent music for the current crop of Doctor Who series that have really taken the world by storm in a way I can't recall since The Muppet Show. Gold's score for season seven (and also several Christmas episode scores, also on CD) are varied, ethereal, dramatic and as "big" as the galaxy. SAVING MR BANKS SOUNDTRACK
The Deluxe Edition Soundtrack Album of this very special film not only contains Thomas Newman's masterful score -- weaving his own compositions with interpolated Sherman songs -- but also includes several Sherman Brothers song demos and what is, in effect, Poppin's Greatest Hits. Plus, you can hear Colin Farrell's lyric read from the film's opening and the three memorable song pitch scenes with Emma Thompson, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak. Tom Hanks does not appear on the album, but then, Walt himself only recorded one album for his record company (Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland).HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS SOUNDTRACKS
First of all, know that there are actually TWO sound track albums for the Chuck Jones/Boris Karloff animated TV special. The first one was released in 1966 by MGM Records
and combines Karloff's sound track narration with a re-created version of the music and singing. It's quite wonderful, won a Grammy Award and is the only one of the two that is in stereo. You can get it on CD on the Mercury label.
Warner/Rhino released the actual TV soundtrack on another CD
many years later. You'll notice a few seconds of additional music at the beginning and end, because they originally had sponsor mentions over them. A brand-new green vinyl disc of the Grinch
was just released this year as well.
BOOKSTHE BOOK OF MOUSE
Few if any of even the most knowlegable Disneyphiles can read any book by longtime Disney Historian Jim Korkis and not say "I did not know that!" It's a testimony to the infinite nature of Disney's legacy that factual tidbits keep on coming, and it's also a testimony to Korkis' careful research and easygoing writing style that we get to enjoy it. This time, Jim takes on the life and times of the most iconic of animated characters, so much of a "real" being that he often transcends being a cartoon. ANIMATED LIFE
If I were writing a book about my career, it wouldn't be nearly as amazing as Floyd Norman's but it would have the same conversational tone, candid without being tattletale-ish, respectful of both the subjects in the story and the reader. As you read, you're seeing the Walt Disney Studios through his eyes as he wanders the hallways where cool stuff is everywhere. The first half of the book chronicles Floyd's journey through his Disney career; the second half is a series of observations, advice, wisdom and fascinating anecdotes. What a joy that we are able to share in all this wonder with a Disney Legend in his own words.
THE ART OF JAY WARD PRODUCTIONS
In addition to animation veteran Darrell Van Citters' gotta-have tome about Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol,
this is a must-have too. While doing research for the Magoo book, he uncovered a treasure trove of artwork, sketches, layouts and more that really drive home the talent of the artists behind the Ward cartoons. You're only seeing the tip of the iceberg if you've only seen the shows themselves.EVERYTHING'S COMING UP PROFITS
Longtime Late Night with David Letterman
writer Steve Young (who was the mastermind behind "Dave's Record Collection") reveals a heretofore undiscovered side of musical theater, some of which is fantastic, some that might have been better left covered. Industrial musicals were common in the postwar era, all the way up to the '80s. Some soon-to-be Broadway musical powerhouses (like Bock and Harnick, who wrote Fiddler on the Roof
) started their careers with these shows, which were surreal ways to get sales people excited about everything from cars and household notions to toilets and tractors. If you ever saw a live corporate sponsored show at a World's Fair, you get the idea.
BOOK REVIEW: "Must Kill TV" by Emmy winner Ken Levine
Blog, TV, Books
Posted on Dec 12 2013 by Greg
Only a seasoned TV pro could have dreamed up this deliciously scathing dark comic journey through the labyrinth of the TV biz.
Ken Levine draws upon untold thousands of real-life jaw dropping moments he has encountered in the social, business and creative arenas of TV, and delivers a crisp satirical thriller that, while it may suggest other works along the same lines, is a fresh creation in itself.
The lead protagonist, over-promoted TV executive Charles Muncie, is not so much a character with whom the reader identifies as a set of eyes through which we peek behind the scenes and in the boudoir, where characters may not be what they seem and twists are as serpentine as they can really be in the creative and corporate world. Wait until you read how the sitcom -- upon which Charles' biggest success and his biggest moral dilemma -- got on the schedule. Let's put it this way. He took the credit -- and that's not a spoiler if you know work politics.
I could not help casting this story in my head as I read it. That was part of the fun. Levine's expertise in building characters and putting them into situations that are at once dark and yet very funny is a hallmark of his experience working on such shows as M*A*S*H, Frasier, Cheers, and the underappreciated Almost Perfect -- which gets a nod in the book, as "Blue Justice" was also the fictional TV show within that show.
Saying too much would spoil the fun and surprises of Must Kill TV
. Suffice to say that I did not quite guess the "Oh NO!" moment at the heart of the book's denouement. But that's not even as much of a strange surprise as the fates that ultimately befall the major characters.
I read Ken Levine's blog every day, and based on what he has told readers about his real-life experiences, not EVERYONE in network TV is like this, nor are all the "non-pros." Just some.
Maybe a little more than just some.
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