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Thursday, July 31, 2014

'Gilligan's Planet' DVD; Far Out Space Nut and Other Castaways in Outer Space

Gilligan's Planet
Warner Archive once again shows tremendous love for fanboys in releasing a typically affordable complete series DVD set of the rarely seen 1982 Saturday morning sci-fi cartoon sequel "Gilligan's Planet" the week before the 2014 Comic-Con. This series combines everything awesome about the shows that receive Con love. (Next year in San Diego.)

One exciting aspect of "Planet" is that the original cast of "Gilligan's Island," with the exception of well-known malcontent Tina Louise, returns to voice their characters. (Dawn Wells does double duty as both Mary Ann and Ginger.)

The first of numerous terrific elements has the series utilizing the simple but brilliant technique of "Island" creator (and "Planet" executive consultant) Sherwood Schwartz of using the series' theme song to explain its premise. Schwartz famously describes this as allowing viewers to learn all that they need to know to understand the show in one minute.

Virtually any child who has watched television since the mid-60s knows that Schwartz does a great job with both the "Island" theme and the opening credits to his later fellow classic series "The Brady Bunch." Far fewer people know that Schwartz also has a catchy ditty for the late '60s failedcom "It's About Time," which is an intended "Island" followup that uses props from "Island" episodes that existed to provide those items for "Time."

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, is of the opening credits of "Time." The related warnings are that you will want to watch it repeatedly and will get the theme stuck in your head along with the "Island" and "Bunch" tunes.

The following clip, also courtesy of YouTube, of the opening credits of "Planet" shows that the premise of this series is that an attempt to use a spaceship to escape the island on which Gilligan and his fellow castaways are stranded goes comically awry and strands them on a strange alien planet. The odd aspects of the series include that this new home seems both to have the same atmosphere and gravity of earth but is largely uninhabited.

It is equally awesome that the legacy of "Planet" extends light years beyond the '60s live action "Island" sitcom. The overall premise is a nice homage to the very similar 1972 Saturday morning cartoon series "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space," which is an awesome spinoff of the classic 1970 Saturday morning cartoon series "Josie and the Pussycats." The similarities extend to both "Outer Space" and "Planet" featuring cute and friendly alien companions/pets.

The following clips, once again from YouTube, are of the catchy and explanatory opening credits of the "Josie" series.

The animated legacy of "Planet" extends even further to the two-season 1975-76 Saturday morning cartoon series "The New Adventures of Gilligan," which ran in the same era as the Saturday morning series "The Brady Kids."

The same information provided regarding the above clips also applies regarding the following opening credits.

The final obvious inspiration, other than the classic '60s live-action Irwin Allen series "Lost in Space," for "Planet" is the Bob "Gilligan" Denver low-budget live-action late '70s Saturday morning Krofft series "Far Out Space Nuts." This one has Denver not-so-boldly trekking to strange new worlds and encountering new civilizations during his mission to return to earth as soon as possible. The following YouTube video is of the catchy theme song that provides the background for this one.

"Planet" does this extended legacy proud by inserting our castaways in entertaining situations that both pay homage to the original series and takes advantage of the alien environment. The most amusing aspect of this is the theme from "Island" that visitors easily travel to and from the planet on which our heroes are marooned.

One of the cuter "Planet" episodes has a goofy-looking sea serpent stranding our group on an island. Another memorable episode uses the quasi-regular "Island" technique of a dream sequence as the format for an especially surreal adventure. This one has Gilligan encountering hostile aliens on traveling to the center of his planet to rescue his friends. One spoiler is that the rest of the episodes are equally bizarre and amusing.

The conclusions to draw regarding this extensive look regarding the probable influences that lead to creating "Planet" are that it does the legacy of animated and sci-fi series based on wonderfully goofy live-action series proud and that your reviewer spent far too many childhood Saturday mornings watching television (and eating oh-so-tasty Quisp cereal).

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Planet" or any other series that this review mentions is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

'The Royals' DVD: Regally Entertaining Six-Part Look at the Windsors

The Royals DVD
This series of reviews of  the wonderful line of June 2014 DVD releases of exceptional British television fare from BFS Entertainment aptly winds up with a post on "The Royals."

This six-part three-disc behind-the scenes look has Diana biographer Andrew Morton and a cast of 1,000s, which includes paparazzi and royal historians, discuss the triumphs and low-points of the Windsors.

The thing that makes this series smashing is that it provides fascinating depth. Most of us on both sides of the pond know roughly 75 percent of the presented incidents, but few of us know much about the reasons for them. 

Each episode covers a single subject. The range of these topics spans from royal weddings to royal pets. Other topics include royal funerals and babies. (It is presumed that Prince George gets plenty of attention.)

The series open with "Royal Weddings" and provides the nuptials of William and Kate as the inspiration for both this episode (and seemingly the entire project.) Especially interesting segments comment on the breaks with tradition that commence with the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Insights include Victoria wearing a white wedding gown for a reason other than the obvious one.

Other covered wedding ceremonies includes those of the current queen and the queen mother, who clearly enjoyed the fashion of the period in which she tied the Windsor knot. 

Predictably, the Charles and Diana story receives a great deal of attention. The tidbits include reasons for their engagement and wedding being so celebrated and the extent to which Charles demonstrates insensitivity regarding his relationship with (current wife) Camilla Parker Bowles. 

The Camilla Parker Bowles story also receives coverage in the "Royal Scandals" episode. The scope of this one also dates back to the Victorian era and partially attributes the decline of discretion regarding bad behavior to the rise of the media, which also plays an obvious role in modern scandals. Surprisingly, the story of Prince Andrew and Koo Stark (who was still up to no good at least as of last year) does not make the cut.

The most satisfying segment in this episode relates to a documentary on the everyday life of the royals failing because the subjects come across as an ordinary family. This portion includes great footage of the clan sitting down for a seemingly ordinary breakfast.

This crude colonist confessions confesses to using his iPad to search for uncensored photos of Kate Middleton and Harry in response to discussions of their being caught in compromising positions. It seems that the level of indiscretion regarding these two is still limited to the well-known blurred images of the future queen and the pics of his nibs cupping his cue stick and related equipment. Her Majesty may not be amused, but the rest of us certainly are.

The series wraps up with segments on "Royal Pets" and "Royal Babies." Commentary during the former that England established an organization to protect animals from abuse 50 years before doing the same regarding children reflects that only the episode on the non-humans was watched for this review.

Of course, the royal corgis are a primary focus of the episode on that class of beloved royal companions. The provided information offers some insight regarding the extent to which these dogs are pampered and will help alleviate guilt among audience members who are embarrassed to admit to buying their canines sweaters and spending $100 or more on elaborate kitty kondos.

Other topics include the wide range of exotic animals that once roamed free in and about the Tower of London and the high regard that ravens continue receiving today.

The insight regarding "The Royals" as a whole is that the insights, beautiful photography, great archival images, and humor make it a great choice for learning more about a family that makes headlines merely for attending a sporting event.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "The Royals" is very welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

'Eroddity(s) DVD: Logo After Dark's "Tales From the Crypt"

Product Details
The parallels between the recent DVD release of the 2014 comically bizarre film "Eroddity(s)" from leading purveyor of gay-themed video fare TLA Releasing and the similar erotic supernatural themed DVD set of the HereTV series "Dante's Cove," which Unreal TV considers the worst series ever made, extends beyond the common themes and the fact that things have come far enough to allow openly making them available to the general public.

Coverage of these  titles, and of the recently reviewed entertaining and much lighter non-erotic film "Tennessee Queer," does not signal that this site is shifting away from focusing on DVD releases of classic scripted films and TV series.

The aforementioned reviews, as well as the hilariously vicious pan of "Magic Mike," merely show that gay fare (like any genre except most reality shows) is welcome in the Unreal TV family. Further, it is likely that "Eroddity(s)" will not be the last TLA title to receive coverage. Fans who dislike this fare are asked to please just pass on that one.

"Eroddity(s)" is wonderfully unusual in that (like "Cove"), it both strips (pun intended) away all pretense regarding the sexual nature of most suspense-themed horror and makes the four tales in this anthology gay-themed.

It is equally nice to see that the attractive (and hairless or nearly hairless) late teens and early 20s young men (commonly known as twinks) act more like out and proud guys of their era than freshly scrubbed broadly smiling youngsters of both more mainstream gay fare featuring their generation and Disney Channel shows. (However, one naughty character shares his name (but little else) with a certain tow-headed twin who starred in two hit Disney shows.)

It is equally nice that most of the acting is decent, and definitely is better than the performances of people of all ages and both genders who appear in films that call for them to be fully naked and engage in sexual activity throughout most of the film.

Further, the production values and music in "Eroddity(s)" far exceeds that of the titles that can only be bought after providing verification of age. A featured song in the opening credits of one segment is actually very catchy and validly prompts head bobbing.

The logo for the studio that produces "Eroddiy(s)" being a palm tree with two ripe coconuts framing the trunk is the first indication that clueless reviewers and other audience members are in for a film that is more "ero" than "odd." Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The following slightly erotic clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Erodity(s)" provides an exceptional sense of the intended mix of erotic and odd in the film. It additionally includes recaps of each tale and lets the audience check out the assets of the cast.

The first tale, which is titled "Forever Mine," provides the lore regarding the delightful and cute host of this "Tales From the Crypt" inspired movie. This one centers around said host and the object of his affection entering a forbidden relationship with a tragic end. It involves acceptable full-frontal nudity and an explicit (but non-sexual) urination scene that seems a little extreme for this film.

The next story, which is titled "A Mind of Their Own," is a little more sexual (and clever) than the opening segment. This entertaining tale has the life of a 20-something stud taking a very bizarre twist when he confronts the man with whom he suspects that his boyfriend is cheating.

Great humor in this one includes the host finding himself the victim of the "Warehouse 13" style "artifact" that causes all the problems.

The third story, which is a personal favorite, titled "An Unsolved Christmas" has a good mix of humor and suspense but is not one that you want to pop in the DVD player during a family gathering next December.

The adorable young offender in this one gets into trouble using the camera that his minister father gives him to "cure" him from having gay thoughts to make predictably erotic photos and videos. Male and female fans alike of the boy next door type will especially like all-American neighbor Bobby.

The film ends with the darkest (and most sexual but least erotic) tale of the four; "The Way to A Man's Heart" has a teen who is abused in every sense during life return on the anniversary of his death to exact revenge. This one is closest of the four to traditional horror. Hilarious exchanges between an accomplice to the pivotal events in the film and his unseen neighbor provide the humor in this one.

The epilogue to this anthology is that it is a creative and respectable production of erotic gay horror. Folks who enjoy that genre should be satisfied despite the lack of happy endings.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Eroddity(s)" are welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

'The Mill' S1 DVD: Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Dickensian Period Piece

The Mill - Series One DVD
The recent BFS Entertainment DVD release of the first series (my people call them seasons) of the exceptional 2013 docudrama "The Mill" provides an extraordinary look at the real-life circumstances regarding the teen and younger apprentices, the adult employees, and the owners of a cotton mill in 1833 England.

The certificate of authenticity comes in the form of a statement at the beginning of each episode that "this drama is based on the people and history of Quarry Bank, Cheshire, England." Brief online research indicates that many names are not changed and that there is not much effort to protect the not-so-innocent.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of an exceptional spoiler-free trailer for "Mill" provides a sense of it authenticity and near-film-level quality.

The opening scene in the series premiere expertly conveys the tone and authenticity of "Mill" by having the ringing of a large bell disturb the peace of the enormous and very sparse room in which the pre-teen and teen girls that make up a large portion of the workforce of the titular factory reside.

This event occurs in pre-dawn hours and leads to the army of indentured servants rushing to get to work before the bell that is tolling for them goes silent. The audience soon learns of the bad fate that befalls a girl who is outside the mill gate when the bell goes silent.

A brighter spot is that a later scene involves humor that centers around the hated bell. One spoiler is that the clapper makes very apt contact with a bellend.

Seeing the girls scurry among the rapidly moving machines is cringe-worthy enough, and a horrific industrial accident within the first 15 minutes of the first episode is even worst. This harm befalls a very sweet boy, who at least gets a hand from the company.

Seventeen year-old Esther Price is a feisty girl who receives brutal punishment for asserting her rights and those of her co-workers. She additional is the victim of a common scheme that mill owners use to extend the period of servitude that children who effectively sign their lives to the mill must fulfill. It is akin to manipulation by the military to extend the length of an enlistment.

Daniel Bate is in debtor's prison when the audience first meets him; he is soon released and goes to work using his mechanical brilliance to develop semi-automated machinery that greatly reduces the need for human labor. His primary contribution to the drama involves strongly advocating for the workplace reforms, which include reducing the workday from 12 to 10 hours, that are receiving increasingly strong support throughout England. Needless to say, this does not please Robert Greg, who is transitioning into the role of running his family's mill.

Daniel additionally is developing a stronger relationship with teen girl Susannah, who is pregnant under circumstances that are very embarrassing to the Greg family. This growing romance places increasingly strong pressure on Daniel to curtail his rebel-rousing.

Matriarch Hannah Greg is a caring woman, whose humanitarian efforts include teaching the apprentices to read and playing an active role in the abolitionist movement. The fact that her husband owns a cotton plantation that uses slave labor impairs the street cred of Hannah despite said spouse asserting that the "negroes" on the plantation receive much better care than similarly situated individuals.

The first series devotes a perfect amount of time allowing the audience to learn about these characters and those with whom they interact in the context of the running of the mill. These stories additionally provide an excellent sense of the conditions under which Esther, Susannah, and their fellow apprentices live and toil. These powerful images include depictions of their meals consisting of ladles of mush that is scooped directly into their outstretched hands.

All those involved do equally well showing the increasing tensions on both sides of the effort for improved conditions for the poverty-stricken children who end up at the mills. The final episode in particular shows that those youngsters are mad as Hell and are not going to take it anymore.

This expert job in telling these stories leave you wanting more, which the second series that has begun airing on Channel 4 in England is providing. One can only hope that BFS makes these episodes available on this side of the pond in the near future.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "The Mill" or other BFS DVD releases of awesome British programs is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

'Tennessee Queer' DVD: Southern Fried Prejudice

Product Details
Breaking Glass Pictures continues giving fellow Philadelphia LGBT film producer/distributor TLA Entertainment a run for its money regarding the DVD release, which hits actual and virtual store shelves on July 29 2014, of the 2012 comedy "Tennessee Queer."

This film, which another reviewer apt refers to as 'Mayberry LGBT,' aditionally makes a great companion to the Unreal TV reviewed DVD of the hilarious Del Shores comedy "Southern Baptist Sissies."

The very amusing "Queer" revolves around the efforts of the supportive family of roughly 30 year-old Jason Potts to pack up his male lover and the rest of his happy life in New York City and (ala "Green Acres") move back to his hometown of Smyth, Tennessee. Both a history of brutal bashings during high school and a chance to move to London (England, not Tennessee) make that prospect less than appealing for our hero. A twist related to the desire to have Jason move back is the less-than-altruistic motives of his siblings regarding this.

All this leads to Jason conditioning his moving back on the city leaders of Smyth granting a permit for a gay pride parade. This bluff fails when the request is granted despite the presentation regarding this including images of rugged lesbians on motorcycles, men clad in leather, and svelte young men dancing in cages.

Of course, the motives of those who approve the request are no more pure than the man who makes them.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Queer" provides a cliff notes version of the premise of this film while nicely conveying the charm and sweetness of the manner in which this tale is told. This glimpse of the film also spares viewers a sense of the mean-spirited cruelty of the moral majority in the small town in which the action occurs.

Personal experiences show that the depiction of the attitude of the politicians and the more blatant childish/unenlightened/cruel hatred of the general population is accurate. That is not to assert that things are much (if any) better in other regions of the United States.

An encounter with folks similar to the citizens of Smyth occurred during a business trip to Arlington, Texas. A group of us were walking back to the hotel after a Texas Rangers game, when a colleague made the PURELY PLATONIC friendly gesture of putting his arm across my shoulder. Ignorance regarding that gesture being fine but reciprocating it indicating that you are queer resulted in putting my arm across his shoulder. He seemed fine with it.

Within minutes, someone inside a battered pickup that was driving by yelled "fags." Readers who know of the humor of your (often humble) reviewer will not be surprised to learn that his response was to shout out "it takes one to know one."

This retort prompted the driver of the pickup to come to a dead stop in the middle of the road and put the vehicle in reverse. This prompted the group to run across a field. Fortunately, the person or persons in the truck chose to not pursue us.

More recently, each post of a review of an LGBT film coincides with losing a Twitter follower. This unfortunate price is a small one to pay for spreading the word about (often terrific) productions that will never show up on Wal-Mart shelves or be featured items in sales of online retailers. Like the Catholic Church, Unreal TV always welcomes back those who stray.

The award for best line in "Queer" goes to Jason comparing getting gay men to commit to any event to herding kittens. A similar concept that the film does not include is gay men referring to their friends constantly being late as FST.

The award for best scene in "Queer" goes to a scene that shows a fall-on-the-floor funny video for a Christian camp that is designed to "cure" gay teens of that evil. Highlights include the most erotic car maintenance ever and wonderful youthful exuberance regarding a particular "wholesome" film genre.

Other scenes in which seemingly gay teens and early 20-somethings play butch straight high school boys are very amusing. The (most likely intentionally) horrible acting of these young men who seem to have trouble relating to their characters prompt thoughts that their filmography includes more sexually explicit gay-oriented titles.

All of this adds up to an entertaining film to which anyone with a family and/or a traumatic childhood can relate. It additionally is nice for having a generally realistic and positive ending. The town does not form a flash mob and dance to "Its Raining Men," but SOME progress is made.

Anyone with questions or (civil) comments regarding "Queer" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect through the aforementioned method of Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

'Marine Boy' S3 DVD: 'Very Special Boy' is Awesome Jonny Quest Aquaman Hybrid

Marine Boy - Yr. 3
Warner Archive demonstrates its usual excellent instincts regarding releasing the 26-episode 3-disc DVD set of the third and final season of the '60s anime series (think the '60s versions of "Speed Racer" and "Kimba the White Lion") "Marine Boy" a few weeks before the 2014 Comic-Con. Missing out on the Friday and Sunday screenings, most likely complete with a sing-a-long of the awesome theme, at the event is very sad. (Next year in San Diego.)

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the U.S. version of the opening credits of "Boy" includes the aforementioned catchy theme. The very Japanese vibe, including the "he's a boy; a very special boy" lyric and "do a do do" chorus, will have you nodding your head from side to side. 

In the joint interests of space and the American tradition of doing a half-assed job, fanboys who are interested in a relatively in-depth discussion of the lore of "Marine Boy" are asked to please read the Unreal TV July 2013 post on the WAC DVD release of S1.

An abbreviated version of the condensed lore in the aforementioned review is that the titular hero is a boy who uses his father's tech. to battle foes that threaten the tranquility and/or safety that Mariner family employer Ocean Patrol is charged with preserving.

Another nice aspect of this show is that it has the terrific action-adventure cartoon series violence that characterizes this genre before the buzzkills of the '70s squash it in the supposed best interests of the children. Watching Marine Boy zap human, animal, and mineral foes alike with his super-charged boomerang is some of the best entertainment ever. His aptly named colleague Professor Fumble showing far less skill with that lethal toy is amusing as well.

S3 starts strong with an episode that hits several elements that make "Boy" so awesome. The first and best has said aqua lad hitting a button that triggers enveloping him in his bulletproof wetsuit, complete with the jet-propelled boots that allow him to cruise underwater while breathing thanks to the oxygum that he chews.

This outing pits Marine Boy against the incredible telepathic powers of Tremendo, who is a tool of a non-super-powered Legion of Doom style organization. This adventure includes said cabal capturing our hero, which triggers a rescue attempt by the very Jar Jar Binks/Scrappy-Doo style character Clicli.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of footage from the season premiere perfectly illustrates the noble quest of Marine Boy and his gang. It further explains the aforementioned disdain regarding Cliccli.

The writers add a terrific "Scooby-Doo" vibe to the existing boy adventurer "Jonny Quest" feel of "Boy" in the next two episodes by pitting the titular character and his Ocean Patrol colleagues against malfeasors who use fabricated ghosts to further their nefarious schemes. These plots include a scheme to produce weapons of mass destruction. One spoiler is that both groups would have gotten away with it if not for that meddling kid and his dolphin.

Another common theme throughout the third season is having the bad guys capture Marine Boy with the goal of having him use the awesomeness that apparently is limited to this 12 year-old tech-reliant lad to further their evil schemes. This coercion often involves also capturing the adult colleagues of our hero, and limiting their role to asserting "don't do it, Marine Boy." 

A very special episode has wonderful elements of the '60s prime-time animated comedy "The Jetsons" by having quasi-wacky robots make up the majority of the staff at a newly opened float-up restaurant in the ocean. These automatons violate the first "I, Robot" rule regarding not harming humans after becoming the victims of escaped prisoners who arrive on the scene.

Additionally, a very cute scene in this one has the mechanical servers running hilariously amok.

The BEST EPISODE EVER, which is titled "The Gill Men," comes later in the season. This uber-uber-awesome classic has Dr. Diablo turning people into the titular creatures. His altruistic purpose is to allow them to survive after the climate-change triggered flooding of the entire earth that he predicts.

This plot extends to devolving world leaders who are attending a shipboard conference that is reminiscent of the December 1989 Malta Summit between Bush Sr. and Gorbachev into the underwater creatures that Diablo feels will ensure the survival of mankind. Determining that all this wouldn't be prudent, Marine Boy springs into action.

The awesomeness of this especially Quest-centric episode extends beyond the early concern about climate change and the genuinely mad scientist villain. The action includes pitting Jonny (er Marine Boy) against underwater gorillas. (It additionally is believed that this one is Clicli free.) They sadly do not make 'em like that anymore.

The series ends with a very rare land-based episode that allows Marine Boy to demonstrate his amphibian abilities. It further shows that Boy's Ocean Patrol colleagues are like fish out of water when required to operate in the desert.

The only thing missing from "Marine Boy" is an episode that has his very cute dolphin friend Splasher caught up in a tuna net. Considering that Clicli devotes a great deal of his attention to this sidekick, it is arguable that Splasher would get caught on porpoise.

Anyone (other than Clicli) with questions or comments regarding "Boy" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

'The Indian Doctor' S3 DVD: Wonderful BBC Welsh Version of 'Northern Exposure'

The Indian Doctor - Series Three DVD
Not having (yet) watched the first two series (my people call them seasons) of the truly delightful 2010-2013 BBC dramedy "The Indian Doctor" slightly impairs this review of the recent BFS Entertainment DVD releases of the third season. However, a clever recap in the season premiere and other provided exposition in these episodes allows following them just fine.

The titular physician is India-born Prem Sharma who relocates to the rural Welsh town of Trefelin in the 1960s to practice medicine in response to the British government issuing a call for such action. His (generally) loving wife Kamini Sharma is his partner for this "Northern Exposure" style adventure.

The Sharmas seem well integrated in their adopted home when native sons Basil and Robert Thomas roar onto the scene in their sports car and resume living in the family manor. The scheme of Basil to acquire ownership of all the property (and shut down the local coal mine) for the stated purpose of building a better and more modern Trefelin drives much of the third season action.

This asserted urban renewal project provides wonderful humor that extends beyond the bumbling opposition by the worst anarchists ever and the promise for new homes with hot water and central heating. The shameless tactics of Basil regarding his plans include spinning an absurd tall tale for Ruth-Anne esque middle-aged shopkeeper and offering Kamini something that Prem is unwilling to provide.

Additional conflict develops in the form of Robert being a very Anglo doctor whose presence threatens the viability of the practice that Prem operates. The latter additionally struggles with challenges related to needing a new receptionist.

The most direct hostility between Prem and Robert relates to Robert dangerously overruling the conclusion of Prem that mine foreman Owen Griffiths is medically unable to continue that work. This storyline also serves as a great technique for communicating the nature of the relationship between Robert and Basil.

The other eccentric characters of the community provide additional entertainment. These include the not-so-bright local farmer and kind-hearted but rather incompetent policeman. Throwing in a town drunk would complete the Mayberry vibe of Trefelin.

The season finale nicely wraps up the aforementioned storylines (and others that include interrupted efforts of Prem and Kamini to enjoy quality alone time). This leaves fans of this "community" hoping for "six seasons (or series) and a movie."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Doctor" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'The Law and the Lady' DVD: Greer Garson in the Best "Cheyney" Adaption of Them All

Law And The Lady, The
The Warner Archive DVD release of the 1951 comedy "The Law and the Lady"completes such releases of the three film adaptations of the Frederick Lonsdale play "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney." "Law" can be considered "Cheney Begins" in that it tells the origin story, which includes exposition on the motivation for beginning a life of crime, of the titular socialite bandit.

As an aside, Unreal TV has reviewed the 1929 Norma Shearer version and posted thoughts regarding the 1937 Joan Crawford film.

"Law" is particularly noteworthy for the aforementioned successful exploration of the genesis of the central con artist/thief of the tale and for providing star Greer Garson a chance to show that her talent extends beyond dramatic roles, such as the titular character in the uber-uber-classic "Mrs. Miniver." This portrayal shows that Garson can play anything.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, perfectly showcases the perfection of Garson in her role and additionally conveys the fun spirit of the film.

"Law" opens with Garson being Jane Hoskins, a maid at the home of the respectable brother of neer-do-well Nigel Duxbury. Nigel arriving on the scene quickly results in he and Hoskins commencing the long-time personal and professional relationship that the Fay Cheyney/Charles relationship represents in the other films.

The two-person worldwide non-violent crime spree in which Hoskins, who is representing herself as Lady Loverly, and Duxbury engage ultimately brings them to San Francisco. The social-climbing aspirations, which out-pace even those of the titular character in the recently reviewed Archive title "Alice Adams," of nouveau riche Julia Wortin soon has Hoskins ensconced as a guest in her palatial home and Duxbury employed there as a butler.

The same wonderful sense of casting that has Greer Garson playing the sophisticated Loverly has Marjorie Main of the "Ma and Pa Kettle" films expertly poortraying the loud and brassy Julia, Natalie Schafer of "Gilligan's Island" as a lady who lunches, and Hayden Rorke of "I Dream of Jeannie" playing a guest with a romantic interest in Loverly. The "simply mahvelous" Fernando Lamas (who looks very much like his son Lorenzo of "Falcon Crest") plays a dashing rival for the heart of our heroine.

Similar to the earlier film versions of "Cheney," the weekend party that brings the merry band described above to the home of Julia provides Hoskins temptation in the form of a necklace that Julia owns. "Law" further follows the model of the earlier adaptations in having complications arise regarding the planned theft of that jewelry.

The conclusion is a wonderful mix of a resolution that parallels the endings in the other films and a new twist that expands on the even closer relationship that Hoskins and Duxbury share than do Cheney and Charles in the other films.

These variations prompts prompt thoughts of both  vive le difference and of putting the "Law" into your own hands. Giving into this temptation will not prompt any regrets.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Law" or the "Cheyney" films is strongly encouraged to email me. Connecting on Twitter via @tvdvdguy is another option.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

'The Girl He Left Behind' DVD: Awesome "Before He Was a Star" Tab Hunter/Natalie Wood Film

Girl He Left Behind
The Warner Archive DVD release of the 1956 drama "The Girl He Left Behind" allows watching dreamy clean-cut all-American boy Tab Hunter in a tailor-made role as a privileged BMOC/golden boy that predates his well-deserved fame from the uber-uber-uber-uber-awesome film version of "Damn Yankees" by two years.

"Girls" also showcases the rare talent and charm of Natalie Wood a year after she hits in big in the uber-uber-uber-uber classic "Rebel Without a Cause."

As an aside, Jim Backus of "Gilligan's Island" co-stars in both "Rebel" and "Girl" and is marvelous simply marvelous in both productions.

The following (complete with Spanish subtitles) clip, courtesy of the trailer for "Girl" covers most of the themes of the film and particularly highlights the star quality of the leading man.

On a more general level, "Girl" is part of a trilogy of Unreal TV reviewed Archive releases over the past few months that have featured miscreants who find themselves at odds with the military after joining a branch of the service under less than ideal circumstances. This site ran a post on the wonderful James Cagney film "Here Comes the Navy" in March 2014 and offered thoughts on the equally terrific Andy Griffith project "Onionhead" earlier this month.

Common themes in "Girl" and "Onionhead" are that Hunter's Andy and the character whom Griffith plays respectively end up in the Army and the Coast Guard after breaking up with their best girl. A primary difference is that Andy is sliding by on his dreamy looks, charm, and mother's generosity with father's money. Conversely, Griffith's character is a blue-collar Okie who is working his way through school.

The incident that causes a washout (of course, pun intended) regarding the relationship between Andy and Wood's Susan is a particularly irresponsible act by the former that prompts the latter to have the brainstorm (of course, pun intended) both that her beau has a chronic case of Peter Pan syndrome and that marriage to an over-grown boy is not an option.

This breakup sets a series of incidents in motion that lead to the aforementioned enlistment in the Army. The facts that Andy has avoided hard work all his life and does not want to be a soldier creates a conflict that pits him against his superiors and fellow grunts alike.

Wonderful entertainment ensues regarding the stubbornness of both Andy and his nemeses using Army regulations as a weapon, and the general depictions of military life.

Narration that prompts memories of the educational films that were a popular element of the American educational system from the '50s at least through the early '80s adds to the fun of "Girl." One almost expects a scene in which Andy the soldier contracts a painful and embarrassing medical problem after succumbing to the charms of a "loose" woman.

"Girl" further offers especially awesome scenes that revolve around Susan and Andy's mother separately visiting the base where Andy is stationed. The mix of humor and drama related to these visits is highly memorable.

A scene in which Andy undergoes his Army physical is amusing because it is shamelessly inserted to provide a pretext both for Hunter to appear on-screen shirtless for several minutes and provide the related thrill of seeing him turn his head and cough.

"Girl" additionally does a good job depicting the nature of peacetime military service (and general life in the '50s). This is the era of trying to train men to be good soldiers despite no real enemy being in sight and in which well-off housewives spend their afternoons attending lectures at ladies' club while their full-time maids are preparing the evening meal for the family.

All of this well-mixed awesomeness results in a film that literally has something for everyone and will make you want to get every other film in which Hunter appears.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Girl" is welcome to email me. Connecting on Twitter via @tvdvdguy is another option.

Monday, July 21, 2014

'The Perfect House:' DVD: Split-level, Three Stories of Grindhouse Terror

Product Details
Horror flick god Wild Eyes Releasing shows particularly good instincts in releasing the 2012 film "The Perfect House", which is coming out on July 22 2014, on DVD.  Film fest love for this movie includes the awards for Best Feature at the Scarlet Waters Film Fest and for Best Actor at the Underdog Festival.

The titular domicile is an outwardly typical suburban dwelling with a long history of extreme violence; the three tales that comprise the anthology that comprise said history are portrayed in the context of a young couple, who are potential buyers,  falling under the spell of the basement where all the mayhem ensues.

An observation of a scratch on the floor, etc. during the tour triggers the telling of the tales that relates to that flaw.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Perfect" offers a good sense of the premise of the film, as well as the horror and humor.

The first tale depicts gruesome events that deep family drama triggers; the best that can be written regarding this one with giving away too much is that it shows an extreme example of second child syndrome.

The second tale is even more wonderfully twisted creation; it has a terrifically deranged serial killer keeping a now-jaded long-term captive around to provide a audience for the torture and ultimate killing of other victims. Great humor includes the witness calmly sharing the schedule that said maniac follows regarding feeding and sexually assaulting her.

The third entry in this trilogy revolves around a neighborly feud going to an extreme. Lessons from this one include the importance of returning borrowed yard tools and of not allowing sibling rivalries to continue.

The satisfying (but somewhat predictable) conclusion to "Perfect" provides a good sense that the saying "cellar beware" is sage advice regarding the home at issue.

The press materials for "Perfect" point out that this format (and the tales themselves ) are designed to provide an overview of different sub-genres of horror. This seems reasonable to the untrained eye of someone with a limited knowledge of horror.

It seem more apparent that the stories depict the horrors that occur next door while we are living our lives. Watching the film evokes thoughts of stereotypical post-tragedy comments to news crews such as "they seemed like such a happy family," "he was just a quiet guy who did not come out much," and "he was a terrific neighbor that I never thought would do anything like that."

The final analysis regarding these tales of folks who should be tossed into a deep dark basement at Arkham is that they have ample gore and perverse drama and humor to satisfy even hard-core horror fans.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Perfect" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

'Cannibal' Theatrical Release and VOD: Tailor-Made Thriller

Product Details

[Editor's Note: The recent DVD release of the exceptional Spanish drama "Cannibal" is prompting reposting the following July 2014 review of the theatrical release of the film.]

Film Movement, which operates the uber-awesome independent foreign film club with selections that Unreal TV often features, once again exceeds expectations regarding making the 2103 Spanish thriller "Cannibal" available to the American public. This film should be watched while drinking Chianti and eating farva beans. It additionally will get the lyrics to the '80s song "I Eat Cannibals" stuck in your head.

This compelling tale of a skilled tailor with a taste for human flesh is hitting an art house theater near you and oodles of VOD platforms, which include  iTunes and Amazon Instant, on July 25, 2014. Folks who want this future classic on DVD, which is definitely theater-worthy, will need to wait until October 21 2014.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the silent trailer for "Cannibal" provides an excellent taste (of course, pun intended) of the film. The beautiful cinematography in these scenes alone should have you running to the independent theater down the street despite the assortment of concession items likely disappointing true fans of the film.

The aforementioned exceeded expectations relate to the first of many twists in "Cannibal." The opening scene strongly indicates that the audience is in for a fairly standard slasher flick. The very  minimal gore is the first clue that Film Movement once again emulates Indiana Jones in choosing wisely.

The night-time and lowly lit action soon shifts to the much brighter and more ordinary Granada-based life of titular carnivore/skilled tailor Carlos. The hunky Antonio de la Torre, whose credits include the Pedro Almodovar films "I'm So Excited" and "Volver," does a great job conveying this Spanish version of Dexter Morgan.  Most men and women would gladly accept an invite to his secluded cabin/butcher shop.

Early scenes in this portion of the film have Carlos becoming friendly with his upstairs neighbor Alexandra. She is a masseuse who may well ensure that her seemingly all-male clientele leaves happy. Alexandra additionally derives pleasure from playing cat-and-mouse with Carlos, being unaware that that kitty has claws.

Ala the Hitchcock classic "Psycho," "Cannibal" really gets rolling when Alexandra's sister Nina arrives on the scene following the disappearance of her sister. One awesome twist regarding this is that any suspicion that falls on Carlos regarding Alexandra vanishing is minimal.

The relationship that develops between Nina and Carlos provides wonderful suspense regarding whether she will either come to believe that he literally has had her sister for lunch or if Nina will end up as Carlos' Christmas dinner. It additionally is interesting to see Carlos go about his everyday life in a manner that does not provide any inkling of his unusual eating habits or the manner in which he acquires his food. (The audience never does learn whether he is a leg or a breast man.)

The closing scenes further validate the theories that Film Movement has perfect instincts regarding the foreign films that it releases in North America and that those movies show American cinematographers that they have a great deal to learn.

These final moments have a plethora of truly unexpected twists and nicely bring "Cannibal" full circle. All this truly whets your appetite for more. 

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Cannibal" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

'Teacher's Pet' DVD: Gable and Day Do Tracy and Hepburn

Teacher's Pet
It is amusing that the 1958 Doris Day/Clark Gable romcom "Teacher's Pet," which Warner Archive recently released on DVD, is a very good film that does not quite live up to its potential.

This tale of a hard-edged veteran newspaper editor falling in love with the instructor of a journalism class in which he covertly enrolls earns a solid B+. The exceptionally strong resolution of conflicts at the end of the film helps earn this grade.

Gable does just as well in his role of James Gannon as he does in the other films in which he plays a traditional newspaperman. The fairly recently released (and Unreal TV reviewed) 1935 film "After Office Hours" is a lesser-known but prime example of this. Gable deserves an A+ for his performance in both movies.

Shockingly, Day does not less well in her role as Erica Stone. One would think that this knockout character with a wonderfully feisty independent spirit, excellent brain, and kind heart/good humor is tailor-made for America's sweetheart.  On a happier note, Day does an exceptional job with the "Pet" theme song

The distressing sad truth (and major "Pet" peeve) is that Day simply does not put her heart into this one. Her spark is largely missing, she trips over her lines at least four times, and she lacks any chemistry with Gable. The latter may be the primary problem, which may relate to Gable being roughly 20 years older than Day.

On a more positive note, Gable has uber-awesome chemistry with Gig Young; Archive shares that Young received an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Dr. Hugo Pine.

Pine is a colleague of Day and perceived rival of Gannon. At the least, Pine has the role of ensuring that Gannon is good enough for the beloved Erica.

The scenes between Pine and Gannon are among the best in the film, which would have earned an A+ if it focused on that relationship.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, is typical of the much of the Gable/Day interaction. It shows that the writing is clever but not presented quite as well as hoped for.

Secondary fun and good casting has Marion Ross of "Happy Days" as the secretary of Pines and '50s bad girl Mamie Van Doren as a sultry night club singer who is dating Gannon. Day does shine in a scene in which she mocks the singing performance of Van Doren's character.

On a more substantive note, "Pet" does a great job portraying the debate regarding relative value of experience versus formal education and offers nice commentary on the impact of the relatively new technology of radio and the even newer technology of television on the more outdated technology of newspapers. The clear disdain of Gannon for "college boys" conveys this well.

The sad truth regarding all this is that most folks who watch "Pet" 50 years from now on the video technology of that day likely will never have picked up a newspaper.

The homework assignment for anyone with questions or comments regarding "Pet" is to email me. You alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'Parnell' DVD: Frankly My Dear, Clark Gable Gives a Damn About Ireland

Parnell (1937)
The IMDb listing for the 1937 Clark Gable biopic "Parnell," which is a recent Warner Archive DVD release, describing this film as "moderately accurately historically" reinforces the sense that veteran Hollywood producer John M. Stahl is going more for romantic drama than the story of the life of a historic figure. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The real-life Charles Stewart Parnell is a Victorian-era Irish politician during the period of the "troubles" with England regarding oppressive policies toward the Emerald Isle. Needless to say, relations between the two nations are far from magically delicious during this era.

Seeing Gable playing the titular role in a manner that evokes thoughts of Rhett Butler evokes nice memories of  "Gone With the Wind," which Gable makes two years later.

Gable fans may also enjoy the recent Unreal TV review of the Warner Archive DVD release of his films "After Office Hours" and the post on the Archive title "Teacher's Pet." These films show that Gable can do no wrong.

"Parnell" co-star (and fellow Hollywood royalty of Gable) Myrna Loy takes a break from her lighter role of Nora Charles in the uber-uber-awesome Warner "Thin Man" film series to play the more serious role of Katie O' Shea. Katie is the husband of a cad who is political colleague of Parnell.

The refusal of O'Shea to grant Katie a divorce in their loveless marriage is the only impediment to her finding happiness with the much more dreamy and honorable Parnell.

The brilliant casting continues with having Edna May Oliver, who shines in the Unreal TV reviewed Archive collection of the light-hearted "Hildegarde Withers" mysteries, as the very out-spoken and loving aunt of Katie. This is one Oliver who has the audience always asking for more.

"Parnell" opens with our hero taking his duly elected seat in the British parliament after finishing a successful American tour followed by essentially incarceration in name only on multiple charges of sedition. Parnell soon rises from his elected seat to advocate establishing a separate Irish parliament. This results in mayhem, and a proportional response by the English leaders, both of which evokes strong thoughts of the tactics of the Republicans and the Democrats in the current U.S. Congress.

Parnell meets the charming Katie in the midst of this uproar. This relates to the effort of Katie's spouse to establish a political alliance with Parnell, who enjoys rock star-level prestige with his constituency.

This wooing coincides with the dirty politics that are a central theme of the film becoming filthy. A serious charge that is leveled against Parnell results in both an adversarial proceeding and an intensifying of the devotion of Katie toward the unofficial king of Ireland.

An ensuing scandal that revolves around the Parnell/Katie relationship further threatens the political standing of our hero. This one shows, as Gable addresses in one of the best speeches in the film, that even crusaders are human and should not be held to unduly high standards.

Stating that the dramatic conclusion of the film clearly sends the message that the political leaders of the day will not have Charles Stewart Parnell to kick around anymore is not much of a spoiler considering that the text that scrolls at the beginning of "Parnell" states that his country betrays him. Regardless of the extent to which that claim, the closing moments, and the rest of the film accurately portray the life of the real Parnell, the biopic provides good escapist entertainment.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Parnell" is welcome to email me; your other option is connecting on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'The M Word' DVD:A Slice of a Change of Life at an L.A. Television Station

Product Details
Today's indie great Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the comedy "The M Word" is a perfect companion for the concurrent Glass release of the 2009 film "Oy Vey! My Son is Gay" that Unreal TV recently reviewed.  Both movies are amusing looks at the reality of modern life.

"Word" is also notable for being a recent addition to the body of work by veteran independent film producer Henry Jaglom. The contributions of Jaglom in this one extend beyond writing and directing to using his home for several scenes. It is unknown if he additionally provides craft services, pulls wardrobe from his own closet, and/or builds sets.

Fans who have enjoyed the commentary of Jaglom on topics that include pregnancy and eating disorders should enjoy his take on the numerous topics in "Word."

"Word" centers around the chaos that ensues at an "WKRP in Cincinnati" style independent Los Angeles television station when the "suits" arrive to investigate embezzlement and evaluate the overall financial viability of the enterprise. The title refers to a proposal by station employee Moxie Landon to make and air a documentary about menopause.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the uber-spoiler-laden trailer for "Word" covers most of the topics of the film and provides a good sense of the humor in it. 

Like the aforementioned '70s sitcom, which tells the tales of a struggling AM radio station in the titular city, the KZAM staff is the wackiest group of folks you ever want to meet. Gregory Harrison of "Trapper John, M.D." plays Mack Riley, who is both the host of an extreme sports show and the estranged husband of Moxie's mother.

Former child actor (and more recently reality show star) Corey Feldman appears as the rather creepy and obnoxious Benny. This character is a co-worker from Hell who would be right at home at the cult classic workplace comedy "Office Space." 

Other employees include a 40-something actor who dons drag to star in the most bizarre children's show ever. This thespian's sidekick is a "keyboard kid" intern whose quirks include working shirtless and gleefully using webcams to spy on co-workers.

Additional humor relates to the modern "Ya Ya Sisterhood" that Moxie, her mother, and other female relatives form. The interests of this California-centric group extend beyond menopause to general peace, love, and understanding.

The disruption that hatchet-man Charlie Moon, who Michael Imperioli of "The Sopranos" plays with the proper understated tone, causes extends beyond concern regarding losing a job in an historically tight job market. His personal relationship with Moxie is a complication when she leads a rebellion regarding the plans that the corporate overlords have for KZAM.

The wide-ranging aforementioned social issues regarding all this include the true nature of the change of life, the economic viability of the remaining few "truly independent" television stations in the United States, the lack of privacy in modern life, the undue emphasis on the 18-to-49 demographic, and the intense power of social media. "Word" truly illustrates how public opinion can rapidly impose pressure to conform to the standards that it advocates.

The  market report regarding this one is that it is entertaining and has nice performances. The social commentary is a nice bonus.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Word" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @ tvdvdguy.

Monday, July 14, 2014

'Oy Vey! My Son is Gay! DVD: When One of the Chosen People Chooses One of His Own Sex

Product Details
Watching the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release, which is coming out (of course, pun intended) on July 15 2014, "Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!" will evoke thoughts of an old joke in which a Jewish mother accepts her son coming out on hearing that his boyfriend is a Jewish doctor. The amusing "Oy Vey!" mines similar humor from comparable stereotypes.

"Oy Vey!" additionally brings a Jerry Seinfeld joke to mind.This observation is that Jewish men marry non-Jewish women because these men want someone who does not remind them of their mother.

The proverbial film festival accolades for "Oy Vey!" include the audience awards at the Toronto International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

This film centers around the fallout from happily partnered 30-something Nelson Hirsch, played by John Lloyd Young of "Jersey Boys," getting adequately swept up in the spirit at a wedding of a cousin to come out to his parents. Head-of-household Martin Hirsch, played by Saul Rubinek of "Warehouse 13," becoming confused regarding this news is one of the best sequences in the film.

Lainie Kazan of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and the subsequent "My Big Fat Greek Life" television series does her usual excellent job as a well-intentioned by overly emotional ethnic mother. The big news does not thrill Kazan's Shirley Hirsch, but she takes the same heavy-handed approach once devoted to finding Nelson a nice Jewish girl to understanding his chosen lifestyle and supporting him. A hilarious scene has her unilaterally inviting a completely adorable gay couple to speak with her and an annoyed Martin.

Other good humor relates to Shirley and Martin separately interacting with sexy Sybil, played by Carmen Electra, who plays the role of the straight best friend in this alternative romcom.

The fact that the just as sexy Angelo Ferraro, played by Jai Rodriguez, who is Nelson's partner but is not Jewish further complicates the entire situation and prompts a hilarious negotiation regarding the restaurant at which the parents will meet to discuss the situation.

Stereotypical hijinks that ensue after the big revelation include Martin making an awkward visit to a gay bar, the prospective fathers-in-law clashing, and Angelo getting frustrated regarding Nelson not being more "out."

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the uber-spoiler-laden trailer for "Oy Vey!" touches on virtually every element described above and provides a good sense of the overall charm of the film.
The DVD extras include the entertaining animated opening of "Oy Vey!," scenes from the premiere of the film, and deleted scenes.

The final analysis of this film about parents trying to understand why their son likes boys is that it often amusing, occasionally very funny, and has hilarious moments. However, it should especially appeal to chosen people whose sons do not make the initially hoped-for choice in life partner.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Oy Vey!" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

'Dr. Kildare' S3 DVD: Medical Negligence Lawsuits, Terminal Patients, and Epic Guest Stars Oh My

Dr. Kildare: Season 3
The recently released whopping eight-disc 34-episode Warner Archive DVD release of the 1963-64 third-season of "Dr. Kildare" gives fans of top-notch medical dramas and/or dreamy star Richard Chamberlain cause to rejoice. These episodes are among the best so far and create strong expectations regarding the Archive releases of the fourth and fifth seasons.

Readers who are interested in learning more about the second season of "Kildare," including a truly "very special" color episode are invited to read the Unreal TV review of the Archive DVD release of that season.

The third-season premiere has the titular knight with the shining stethoscope graduating from golden-boy intern to chief resident at Blair General Hospital. This episode provides light drama regarding that transition and good humor regarding the "newbie" interns. One spoiler alert is that none of the recent medical school grads runs afoul of an ill-tempered janitor by sticking a penny in a door as a prank.

This episode also excels regarding the guest star and the related (typical) analysis of a medical ethics issue. A surprisingly upbeat Charles Bronson plays a cancer patient who is married to an old friend of Kildare. The wife knows that her hubby does not have much longer to live but asks that Kildare not tell him.

Developments (this will be hilarious when you watch the episode) that concern Kildare regarding the secrecy include Bronson's character acting in a manner that only makes sense on a long-term basis. This shows that adhering to the wishes of the family of a patient is not always easy.

Another episode from early in the season has Kildare hauled before a judge regarding a civil lawsuit that relates to a good Samaritan act in the form of stopping by the side of the road to help a pregnant woman in great distress. The issues on which this episode touches include whether falsely admitting guilt to keep a settlement within the bounds of insurance coverage is justified.

A later episode is very similar and provides Kildare mentor/boss Dr. Leonard Gillespie, played by Raymond Masssey, a chance to make an impassioned speech about the fiduciary duty that even private (as opposed to public) hospitals owe sick and injured people.

An unrelated recurring theme is having newbies misbehave to the extent that it requires that Kildare step in. One such episode has the intern du week involve his wife in a plot against Kildare to save the career of said newbie. Another one has an even more irresponsible medical student horrendously take advantage of the good nature of a struggling classmate/roommate.

An additional episode is very memorable for having a plethora of '60s sitcom stars. Barbara Eden of "I Dream of Jeannie" plays a nurse out to nab a wealthy husband. Ken Berry and James Hampton of "F Troop" and Bob Denver of "Gilligan's Island" play doctors at the hospital. Only having David White as a hospital administrator would have enhanced this one.

Another light-hearted episode has a seemingly healthy and very demanding well-respected author checking in based on his premonition that he is going to die within the next several days. His theory is that he wants the dignity of passing away in a hospital, rather than being found dead somewhere and having his body subsequently carted off.

The "Kildare" producers save one of the best for last in having very prolific '30s and '40s comic actress Joan Blondell play a wealthy widow, who is out to convince old friend Gillespie to marry her. This role seems tailor made for Blondell, who gloriously chews up so much scenery that she almost surely gains 10 pounds filming the episode.

The final diagnosis regarding all this is that the quality remains very strong in the third season of "Kildare."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Kildare" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

'A Fever in the Blood' DVD: Politics. Murder, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Oh My

Fever In The Blood
Warner Archive releasing the 1961 drama "a Fever in the Blood" clearly shows that the dirty nature of politics is a time-honored tradition. The extent to which the three pols at the center of this film are willing to manipulate the proceedings in a murder trial to boost their campaigns makes a compelling morality play.

Widowed state court judge Leland Hoffman, whom Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. of the "The F.B.I." television series perfectly portrays, is at the center of the aforementioned two matters of great significance that strongly impact each other. The film starts with Hoffman recruiting and supporting rags-to-riches candidate District Attorney Dan Callahan, whom Jack Kelly of "Maverick" expertly plays, for the party nomination in a governor's race.

This support coincides with U.S. Senator Alex Simon, whom Don Ameche seems born to play, throwing his hat in the ring for the nomination that Callahan is seeking. This contest can be thought of as a more local version of a federal race between a well-connected Beltway insider and a man of the people. The fact that Simon's wife, whom Angie Dickinson plays well, still carries a very obvious torch for Hoffman creates another triangle among this group of movers-and-shakers.

These four individuals additionally immediately recognize the political importance of an upcoming trial in which the nephew of a former governor is facing a murder charge for the death of the estranged wife of said nephew. Callahan successfully prosecuting the case would almost guarantee his getting the nomination. For their parts, Hoffman presiding over the case and the ability of Simon to try to manipulate the outcome have the potential to greatly influence whether Callahan succeeds.

In addition to shameful political maneuverings, the trial offers great entertainment in the form of very special lurid noir-like elements. One hint is that a planned (pun intended) but aborted (pun intended) "illegal operation" plays a major role.

The post-trial period further heats up the action related to the manipulations that politically-fueled fevers prompt regarding the trial. This triggers a strong crisis of conscience for Hofffman that prompts drastic action, triggers an even strong response in Simon, and reveals the true nature of Callahan.

A scene from this portion of the film in which journalists are seated in the jury box is wonderful not-so-subtle commentary on the aforementioned political process. These days, celebs and bloggers would likely fill those seats.

The end result of all these shenanigans is a bit Hollywood but still shows that power corrupts in a manner that is proportional regarding that influence.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Fever" is welcome to either email me or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

'Masters of Sex' S1 DVD: Awesome Prelude to July 13 S2 Premiere

Product Details
Sony Home Entertainment releasing the uber-awesome Sunday night Showtime docudrama "Masters of Sex" in time to watch these episodes before the second season premieres on July 13, 2014 is almost as perfect timing as the pace of this "behind-the-scenes" series about the truly ground-breaking research by Dr. Bill Masters and Mrs. Virginia Johnson. The perfection continues in casting Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan in the leads.

Aside from the excellent casting and the titillating (of course, pun intended) subject matter, "Masters" stands out as a well-written show that, ala "Mad  Men," nicely portrays an era from the not-so-distant past without bludgeoning one over the head with it. In this case, the audience gets a view of the mid-1950s.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the especially good trailer for "Masters" S1 provides a great overview of the drama and humor in the show and the style of the era in which it occurs.

As an aside, this "modern period" piece  evokes memories of a comment by "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall observes that setting that '70s show in the '50s prevents it from ever looking dated.

A second warranted aside relates to another element that distinguishes "Masters." The clever technique of having the "E" in "Sex" subliminally presented in the form of a female rear-end and/or breasts has received substantial media attention.

The series premieres with Masters both meeting Johnson and initiating his study to measure physical responses to sexual activity. Much of the series focuses on the highs and lows of both that relationship and study. One general spoiler is that the puritanical attitudes toward sex in the '50s hinder the project.

Getting to learn more about these historic figures, who are at most known to the general populace as the names on the report, is another fascinating aspect of the series. Masters is a rather rigid and humorless individual, who definitely is task oriented. Divorcee and former nightclub singer Johnson is looser but still very professional and shares Masters' dedication to the project.

The interesting people in the professional lives of Masters and Johnson at the Washington University hospital in St. Louis that employs them and how populate the personal lives of our  heroes add a great deal to the story. One of the more memorable characters is Masters' former mentor and current boss Dr. Barton Scully, expertly played by Beau Bridges in a manner much more like his General Landry on "Stargate: SG-1" than his Tom on the sitcom "The Millers."

It is easy to imagine that many professional men who had families in the '50s (and several decades on either side of that era) can relate to the conflicts that plague Barton. In his case, "to thine own self be true" is much more easily said than done.

"Masters" additionally addresses outdated social values without forcing the issue (of course, pun intended) and refrains from a heavy-handed approach. This extends beyond discomfort associated with discussing (let alone studying) sex to blatant gender inequality in the workplace and the home, ignorant views regarding homosexuality, and hilarious Cold War paranoia.

Nice humor related to the above include Scully's wife, with whom the divine Allison Janney does her usual perfect job, hilariously not grasping the concept of "queer" in reference to man-on-man action. A related scene has a very uncomfortable Masters watching two men engage in activity that is staged to enlighten the researcher about the mechanics of gay sex.

An absurd civil defense drill that many characters validly ignore provides further laughs. The ridiculous scenarios and thoroughly inaccurate information regarding the harm from an attack is fall-on-the-floor funny.

The first season aptly climaxes (of course, pun intended) with a scene in which Masters delivers a highly anticipated presentation regarding his study results to date. His purposefully pandering to his audience by adding information regarding the extent to which size matters is as amusing as a pre-presentation discussion regarding the frequency of male masturbation.

This episode additionally has a character literally come out of the closet in a scene that is refreshingly candid. This development is also reminiscent of the wonderful film "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" that Unreal TV reviewed a few days ago.

The special features include separate looks at how Sheen and Caplan play their roles, deleted scenes, and a "making of" documentary.

The final conclusion regarding this look at the history behind one of the most important modern medical reports is that well worth a few marathon viewing sessions. Those who do truly will still respect this (often humble) reviewer in the morning.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Masters" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

'HELIX' S1 DVD: Patient Zero in Viral Outbreak of Plague Series

Product Details
The recent Sony Pictures BD and DVD releases of the first season of the Syfy original series "HELIX" provides a second chance to see the first series in the current crop of shows based on viral (in both senses of the word) outbreaks. Having scfi god Ronald D. Moore of "Star Trek" series and the "Battlestar Galactica" reboot at the helm helps set this series apart from those that follow.  Mercifully, this one is free of shaky hand-held cameras.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the spoiler-lite trailer for "HELIX" provides a good sense of the suspense and theme of the series.

Virtually all of the "HELIX" action occurs at an Arctic research center where related viruses on which the resident scientists are working get released; the more aggressive of these substances turn a large portion of the team into feral beings with a strong compulsion to spread the disease.

This outbreak prompts calling in a team from the Centers for Disease Control. Intrepid leader Dr. Alan Farragut, played by dreamy Billy Campbell of "The Rocketeer" and several prime-time dramas, heads up the group. Other members include his ex-wife Dr. Julia Walker and newbie Dr. Sarah Jordan.

The death of a team member early in the season is reminiscent of "Angel," which seems to have pioneered the "no major character is safe" principle in television.

Complications that fuel the drama throughout the season include discovering that Dr. Peter Faragut, who is Alan's brother and Julia's former lover, is among the infected. Other drama relates to station leader Dr. Hatake being evasive regarding the nature of the research.

The concurrent objectives include finding a cure for the virus, humanely contending with the feral scientists, and re-establishing contact with the outside world. Hidden (and not-so-hidden) agendas, shifting alliances, and just plain ole fashioned subterfuge and sabotage hinder all this.

Terrific "Galactica" elements include the drama between les freres Faragut and/or Julia, another family triangle, and a (possibly flawed) test that is designed to detect the virus in a manner similar to the Cylon detection method in "Galactica."

Other related (of course, pun intended) family drama occurs later in the season regarding heads initially rolling and later exploding. Of course, discussing that is getting ahead of things despite this being a no-brainer.

An additional "Trek" touch comes in the form of a bringing in Jeri Ryan of "Star Trek: Voyager" as a ruthless corporate executive who does her best to ensure that any resistance is futile. It seems that the phrase "fun will now commence" is beyond the mindset of this character.

The season finale wraps thing up nicely and (like the other 12 episodes) does not have a dull moment. Additionally, the cliffhanger both creates tremendous anticipation regarding the second season and greatly adds to the "Lost" vibe that comes in a close third to the "Trek" and "Galactica" elements.

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