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Monday, August 31, 2015

'Danger 5' S2 DVD: That '80s Edgy WWII Farce

Image result for danger 5 images

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region 4 DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player. It requires an International region-free player.]

Both the best and most accurate thing that can be stated about the Australian-based Madman Entertainment DVD set of the 2015 second season of the heilarious farce "Danger 5" is that it is surreally awesome. The adventures of the titular commando team that spends the recently reviewed first season simultaneously attempting to thwart the latest Nazi plot in their '60s style reality and to kill Hitler shift to a very '80s period. There are also other blatant changes that subsequent events show to be extremely clever.

The second-season action in this series that gleefully combines cheap effects, bizarre plots, and satires of numerous war cliches begins with bringing the remaining members of the band back together in the wake of Hitler gunning down the Reuben Kincaid of the group.

The killing in turn leads to a season-long Christmas period plot that centers around Hitler using Valley Girl high school student Holly as an integral element of his plot for world domination. Both the cleverly presented reveals and the climax of this story line wonderfully illustrates the artistic comic genius of danger and inadvertently honors "A Christmas Story" and "Home Alone."

Side stories include one team member awesomely losing his head after the decapitation of a colleague, another team member experiencing a radical transformation that puts Michael Jackson to shame, and the team leader taking a pause (this will be hilarious on watching the show) to break down the fourth wall.

Meanwhile, Khrushchev does his best to influence events through his covert relationship with team member Ilsa, who pursues her own agenda. Although this pair makes a great sitcom couple and regularly plot, Lucy and Ricky they ain't.

The award for best episode of the season (and the series) goes to "Johnny Hitler." This one has the nemesis of the team pose as a cool high school kid as part of his campaign to become the object of the affection of the aforementioned teen who is made for him. This send-up of John Hughes movies (and "21 Jump Street") and later awesome homages to "Back to the Future" and '80s cop films are only part of what makes "Danger 5" so spectacular.

The '80slicious fun literally continues to the end of each episode through commercials for wonderfully perverse "Danger" themed toys.

Other fun continues with virtually weekly transformations of Hitler. Declaring that he is not himself throughout most of the season is a HUGE understatement. These events further will inspire that most awesome ever trip to Build-a-Bear.

The overall effect of all this '80slicious mayhem is a mental image of the "Danger" writers having a very free-form stream-of-consciousness session in which they shout out everything that comes to mind. The terrific result is a melange of perfectly blended very diverse elements.

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

'The Chambermaid' DVD: Deserves Clean Sweep of Awards

THE CHAMBERMAID DVD & Online Streaming

The 2015 German drama "The Chambermaid" is one of two fantabulous feminist movies that uber-awesome foreign film distributor (and operator of the best ever film-of-the-month club) Film Movement is releasing on DVD on September 1, 2015. The other is the Bulgarian film "The Lesson," which is the subject of a upcoming Unreal TV review.

"Chambermaid" director Ingo Haeb stating in an interview with Movement that the appeal of the film includes that it could be set anywhere reflects one of the primary appealing aspects of every title in the Movement catalog. Movement having an excellent eye for such titles strongly supports the statement of Haeb.

The following YouTube clip of brief looks at scenes from "Chambermaid" illustrates the artistry of the film that earns it a place in the Movement catalog.

The universal themes of "Chambermaid" include titular hotel employee Lynn being shy to the extent of that condition once requiring a stay in a psychiatric hospital, a textbook "difficult" mother being a major factor regarding that disease, and Lynn vicariously living through the lives of the hotel guests to the extent of hiding under their beds while the unsuspecting clientele conducts conversations and engages in other activity that is typical during stays in temporary lodgings.

The aforementioned dust bunny imitation leads to Lynn connecting with professional dominatrix Chiara. Their ensuing "courtship" is the stuff of which classic German existentialist dramas are made. The terrific mix of sensuality and eroticism is a nice bonus.

Other great entertainment comes in the form of star Vicky Krieps wonderfully bringing the quirks of Lynn to life, the cathartic value of watching the abuse and resulting despair that Lynn endures, and watching Chiara dominate (of course, pun intended) every scene in which she appears.

The aforementioned universal themes are the bottom line regarding all this. All of us can relate to the characters and feel their emotional and/or physical pain.

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

'No Ordinary Hero' DVD: Shows Must Not Turn Deaf Ear to Needs of Hearing Impaired

Product Details
Provider of "innovative and provocative" documentaries Icarus Films takes a short summer vacation from releasing those equally educational and entertaining films to release the DVD of the 2013 dramedy "No Ordinary Hero: The Superdeafy Movie." Well-known deaf actress Marlee Matlin adds her star power to this tale of fictional deaf actor Tony Kane, who uses his fame as television super hero Superdeafy to advocate for the hearing impaired.

Deaf actor John Maaucere, who has a 15-year history of portraying Superdeafy, nicely conceals the education in this one via a entertainingly humorous and passionate performance. The recognition of this love includes festival awards for Best Film.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Hero" nicely conveys the spirit of this charmer.

This film, which has Hallmark Channel permanently imprinted all over it, shifts its focus between the humiliation that Kane sustains as both Superdeafy and a working actor and the plight of a mainstreamed deaf seven year-old boy named Jacob who faces his own struggles.

On-screen and backstage ridicule that Kane experiences while filming "Deafy" is sometimes painful to watch. A scene in which he attends a casting call that spreads an absurdly wide net in seeking a deaf actor is equally embarrassing but much more amusing.

The numerous challenges that Jacob faces include general ridicule from his classmates, less gentle abuse by the "cool kid" in the class, and just overall difficulty fitting in with his peers. Problems on the homefront include a loving and caring father who does not properly understand the special needs of his son.

These worlds collide when Jacob's teacher uses a personal connection with the actor who plays Kane's sidekick to get that less-than-dynamic duo to perform for Jacob and his classmates. The ensuing drama leads to a positively life-changing experience for all concerned.

The most nice thing about this film is that it puts the audience in the shoes of hearing-impaired people to the extent of including closed-captioning that cannot be turned off. One hopes that the general populace is far more sensitive than the sidekick of Kane, some classmates of Jacob, and other "villains." At the same time, many of us simply do not think about these (and more subtle) abuses.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hero" is strongly encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

'Up the Front' DVD: Brit. WWI Farce Shows Britannia Rules the (Air) Waves

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region-Four Australian import will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player. Watching it requires using an international region-free player.]

The 1972 theatrical British comedy "Up the Front" which Madman Entertainment recently released on DVD, is typical for the titles from the Britannia film collection division of Madman. This collection consists almost entirely of feature films based on Britcoms. Examples that are familiar to American audiences are "Steptoe and Son" and "Man About the House," These titles respectively inspired "Sanford and Son" and "Three's Company."

"Front" is similar to the classic Britcom "Black Adder" in terms of engaging in time travel.  The risque broad farce "Up Pompeii"is set in the period before the historic volcanic eruption in the titular city. "Front" stars "Pompeii" lead Frankie Howard as WWI-era shoeshine boy Lurk who almost certainly is a descendant of his Lurcio "Pompeii" character.

"Front" opens with scenes of the typical inter-related "upstairs" and "downstairs" activities at an English manor house literally at the brink of WWI (i.e, The Great War). The aptly named Lurk observes much of said shenanigans by lingering outside closed doors and peeking in keyholes.

An adversarial working relationship and personal rivalry with the aptly named butler Groping finds cowardly Lurk attending a lively Army recruiting event. Lurk getting into the act hilariously leads to getting into the service.

Other great general fun relates to Howard engaging in the regular asides to the audience that he uses to the proverbially great effect in "Pompeii" and the well-performed broad stereotypes regarding each character. The cathartic element of this is that Lurk the stooge comes across far better than his pompous and/or foolish  'betters."

Once in France, Lurk finds himself in a series of comically unfortunate circumstances that are typical for farces with a little political humor thrown in for good measure. A scene in which an oblivious Lurk sits by during a rapid-fire series of advances and retreats is a perfect example of the hybrid humor described above.

This hilarity climaxes with Lurk stumbling into a situation that makes him essential to the British war effort. Highlights of this portion of front include a scene very reminiscent of the classic "chalice" scene from "The Court Jester" in which Lurk matches with Mata Hari, wonderfully played by Zsa Zsa Gabor.

The final scene nicely wraps up the film with the silliness and the word play (including the title of the film) that make "Front" a true delight.

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

'Rake' S2 DVD:Hilarious Aussie Barrister Aptly Defends Guilty in Kangaroo Court

Rake Season 2 DVD

Watching the eight hour-long episodes in the BFS Entertainment DVD release of the 2012 second season of the Australian textbook dramedy series "Rake" shows the evolution of this terrific series (not to be confused with the 2014 U.S. remake) from a fun and lighter one to a show that keeps the humor while adding a higher dose of well-presented drama. Folks who are interested in a primer on this show about a hilariously hedonistic criminal barrister (my people call them attorneys) are welcome to read the Unreal TV review of S1.

The numerous acknowledgements of "Rake" going from merely a highly entertaining program in S1 to one of more substance include several awards for the S2 episodes. Two of these awards are Best Actor wins for Greene portrayor Richard Roxburgh

The titular legal "professional" aptly sums up his practice in an S2 episode in which the latest in a long string of sexual conquests asks him about his success rate in court. He responds on her commenting that his roughly 50-percent success rate is not very impressive that she must consider that virtually every client is guilty.

The classic opening scene in the S2 season premiere has Greene and a married uber-high-level Australian politician, wonderfully portrayed by the terrifically offbeat Toni Collette, engaged in a tryst in a limousine. The fallout from the exposure (no pun intended) of that adulterous activity drives (again, no pun intended) much of the action throughout the season. Much of this relates to the cuckolded husband of the Premier using his own high position in the government to seek revenge against Greene for humiliation that extends well beyond making the entire nation aware of the husband not adequately satisfying his wife to keep her from straying.

This episode also involves the first of many well-done "ripped from the headlines" episodes. This one has Greene defending the Muslim widow of an Anglo man who blows himself up in front of the Parliament building.The issues extend beyond the role of the widow in the bombing to whether her religious belief that requires wearing a veil in the presence of most men trumps the need of the court to see her face during her trial.

This episode further establishes the femme fatale theme that runs throughout the second season. Another client is a teen girl who dupes Greene into defending her against a murder charge, and a woman to whom Greene is deeply indebted uses that obligation as leverage.

Greene further once again finds himself involved with former prostitute Missy with whom his business relationship has become a very caring and loving one. The plethora of S2 plots involving this pair include fallout from a "tell-all" book by Missy, a slander suit by a former partner of that former professional, and one of the aforementioned "ripped from the headlines" storylines.

Missy currently having a romantic relationship with Joshua Floyd, who operates a WikiLeaks style website, leads to Greene defending Floyd against a treason charge based on disclosing classified government information. This, in turn, leads to a murder that has Greene defending the accused. The political intrigue surrounding all this adds nice drama to these episodes.

An episode that nicely captures the lighter and more bizarre nature of S1 episodes finds Greene defending an accused "Bobbitter," i.e. a man who faces charges related to a very personal form of dismemberment. A closed-door discussion regarding the optimal means for referring to the "member" in question is a "must-see" scene.

Meanwhile on the homefront, the teen son of Greene follows the sequel rule of making the second one bigger in his follow up to his S1 affair with a teacher. In true S2 fashion, the S2 relationship is more serious on a few levels and leads to several other developments.

The season finale notably merges the the higher level of humor in S1 with the more serious overtones of S2. It further ties in virtually every aspects of the S2 plots. The case-of-the-week this time finds Greene using his own cartoon-style legal tactics to defend himself against a very serious legal charge.

The not-so-happy ending in the final S2 offering further seems to be a textbook example of an episode that is designed to serve as either a season or series finale. Fortunately for lovers of quality digestible television, "Rake" does come back for a third (and final) season. A review of those episodes should run in this space by the end of August 2015.

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

'Seventeen' DVD: Doc.on High School Students Banned on PBS

The recent Icarus Films DVD release of the highly controversial 1982 documentary "Seventeen" provides a chance to see the reasons for all the fuss, which includes PBS opting to not broadcast it, regarding this film. This DVD also rounds out the Icarus releases of the six films in the Muncie, Indiana centric Middletown documentary series. This series looks at various aspects, including a mayoral campaign and the daily life of a fundamentalist family, of that communuty. The subject in "Seventeen," which won the Grand Jury Prize in the Documentary category at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival,  is high school seniors leading their daily lives and considering the future.

The following YouTube clip of a scene from "Seventeen" nicely represents the themes of the film.

The audience meets the subjects during a very raucous home economics class over which a grandmotherly teacher maintains a surprisingly high degree of control. The highly amusing dialog includes discussing which Fs that central character Lynn and her best friend, who can be considered the Laverne and Shirley of Southside High School, deserve. This segment includes a hilariously botched cooking project.

The obliviousness of said teacher regarding a teen pregnancy and a lighthearted conversation with the baby daddy likely is one factor behind PBS bowing to Congressional pressure during the Jesse Helms era by cancelling a planned broadcast of the film. Other cited reasons are the interracial romance between Lynn and a black boy, scenes of pot smoking, foul language, and several other depictions of the lives of working (and higher) class high school seniors.

Additional subversive elements include challenging the value of the lessons taught in school and the risks associated with recent high school graduates joining the military to achieve financial stability.

Aspects of the inter-racial relationship around which much of "Seventeen" focuses includes the reactions of the peers of the couple, scary-level threats, and violence and entertaining discourse regarding the differences between a black boy who dates a white girl and a white girl who dates a black boy.

On a larger level, "Seventeen" realistically depicts the hearts and minds of young adults who share struggle with the transition to that stage in their lives.

The extra is an eight-page booklet that discusses the film and its participants, the aforementioned controversy, and glimpses of the post-film lives of the subjects.

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

'Baffled'! DVD: Unfairly Failed Leonard Nimoy Drama Pilot

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[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Australian produced DVD will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player. You will need a Region-Free international player.]

These thoughts regarding the recent Australia-based Madman Entertainment DVD release of the 1973 Leonard Nimoy TV movie "Baffled!" is the first of what will be numerous posts on titles in the "the Britannia film collection." This extensive collection primarily consists of films based on British television series. "Benny Hill" and "Till Death us do Part" are two of such programs that are better known in the U.S.

The following YouTube clip of a promo. for "Baffled" wonderfully showcases the '70slicious elements of the film.

"Baffled" opens with Nimoy's Tommy Kovack in the middle of a NASCAR-style race in Pennsylvania when sudden Gothic images of an English manor house prompt a spectacular crash. A subsequent television interview in which Kovack discusses the images brings him to the attention of British ESP expert Michele Brent. Susan Hampshire of the long-running classic British series "Monarch of the Glen" plays Brent.

On contacting Kovack in a charmingly amusing scene, Brent convinces him that his visions are not all in his mind. She also asserts that they are premonitions and ultimately convinces him to travel to the manor house to prevent the viewed harm. The immediately clear entertaiingly subtle chemistry between these characters alone makes one lament that "Baffled!" never became a series.

On arriving in England, the pair quickly meet American movie star/ex-wife of a British actor Andrea Glenn, played by Vera Miles of "Psycho," and the seeming devil child Jennifer. This pair, who are the stars of the aforementioned visions, are newly arrived co-guests of Kovack and Brent at the house.

The ensuing investigation produces further evidence both of the presence of an evil force in the house and Andrea being the target of a nefarious plot. The manner (no pun intended) regarding how all this plays out makes for good creepy atmospheric '70s style fun. Nimoy using the same dry wit in portraying Kovack that he brings to Spock greatly enhances the fun. One disappointment is that Kovack never utters the phrase "fascinating."

The summer camp continues with visions that Kovack experiences during his investigation aiding that effort, Jennifer terrorizing Andrea, and Brent and Kovack finding themselves in "Hart to Hart" style peril.

Other awesome elements include Brent trying to train Kovack to focus and otherwise better utilize his visions, taking full advantage of setting the story in an old English country home, and an unintentionally hilarious climatic mental showdown.

A scene at the end in which Kovack experiences a vision that lacks any connection with the manor house or its occupants provides a frustratingly teasing glimpse of the potential of "Baffled!" the series.

The DVD extras include the U.S. version, which is slightly longer than the U.K. version, of the film and the trailer for "Baffled." Hearing a slight variation on the standard pronunciation of "Nimoy" makes that teaser especially fun.

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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Personal Pride

Image result for rainbow flag images

The typical occurrence of a convergence of events that prompts these journeys to "blogland" every couple of months is behind sharing these thoughts on Gay Pride festivals. The most shameless of these motives this time is needing "evergreen" material to fill this space while an especially challenging move hinders watching/reviewing DVDs. Regularly scheduled programming will resume on August 18, 2015.

The recently reviewed good-quality gay/Pride-themed Tla releasing movie "Boys in Brazil" is the more respectable inspiration for these musings. The even-better (also reviewed) "Stand" provides the additional impetus to share these thoughts with the world.

A more hilarious coincidence relates to watching the DVD of the 1980 Goldie Hawn comedy "Private Benjamin" several weeks ago. The opening shot is a card that reads that Philadelphia heiress Judy Benjamin has wanted a large house, two closets, a professional man for a husband, and a live-in maid since she was eight. The upcoming move providing all of the above to a limited extent makes this sentiment relatable.

The combination of the aforementioned elements turned thoughts to sexual orientation and the true purpose of Pride. A personal philosophy is that everyone should behave like a civilized individual in public regardless of his or her orientation and that no one should feel compelled to suppress his or her personality but also should not amp it up to make a statement. Regular readers know that Unreal TV does not favor any extremism.

Personal thoughts on Pride are that it should be a forum to show that gay and lesbian folks are like everyone else and should not be feared or disliked based on that aspect of their personality. A related philosophy is that this also allows an opportunity to dispel stereotypes makes the large population of buff rollerblading Speedo-clad twinks and older hairy bearded men in dresses that seem to dominate a local Pride parade contrary to the interest of the cause.

Both the evolution of LGBT cinema to include indie films that are as good as their mainstream counterparts and the devolution of some Pride festivals to being the type of spectacles described above are behind focusing the themes discussed above on a first-time Pride experience that would provide good fodder for a releasing film.

Plans to meet someone from out-of-town to discuss establishing a support group prompted going into Washington, D.C. during an early '90s Pride festival. On arriving early at the Mayflower Hotel near the festivities for the meeting, a small group from California that came for the festival asked a question and then engaged me in conversation.

The thoroughly unexpected instant strong attraction with a member (whose name is remembered as Carlos) of the group was the type of bond that '30s films pulled off so well and that comedies from the '80s and beyond have parodied equally awesomely. Resisting the urge to cancel the meeting and spend the day with Carlos and his friends was very tough.

Because the event that the visitor was attending was at the end of a very long hallway of conference rooms in the lobby of the Mayflower, finding it required looking at the placards for several events before connecting.

The visitor and I had spoken for roughly 10 minutes when he said "someone is trying to get your attention." On turning around, I saw Carlos standing there with a huge smile on his face. Because he did not know the name of the event where I was scheduled to meet the visitor, Carlos finding me required that he first look in at least 12 large conference rooms.

I introduced the pair, and Carlos told me that he told his friends that he would meet them the next morning at the home of the local friend with whom they were spending the weekend. Before I could say a word, the visitor smiled and said "you boys have fun." He assured me that he did not mind my not meeting with him.

The combination of the aforementioned mutual attraction, Carlos literally and figuratively going to great lengths to connect, and the wonderful vibe of Pride made for a perfect moment. Seeing 1,000s of gay men gathered and merely having a terrific G-rated good time during an era in which two men holding hands in even a city as cosmopolitan as Washington was uber-awesome. It merely was a relatively rare gathering for that period and did not require outlandish behavior, outrageous clothing, or overt political messages. In other words, this was a kinder gentler version of the Million Man March.

The caste closed lips kisses with Carlos in the midst of all this provided the sense of Pride that the first organizers of such events intended. Namely, to express your true self in a socially acceptable manner.

The West Hollywood movie feel to the day continued with going to an Indian restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia that evening. Asking for a booth after being seated at a table led to the nice surprise of saloon-style doors in front of each booth increasing the feeling of intimacy at the hotel.

The strong compatibility continued until the next morning to the extent that an offer to fly back to California with Carlos was incredibly tempting. Being unemployed, having a month-to-month lease, and only having one close friend at the time made it feasible. Only fear of regretting moving across the country on a whim prevented taking that leap.

A subsequent letter from Carlos stated that he greatly missed me and that the combined impetuses of Pride and meeting me prompted him to come out to his parents, who were very supportive. The temptation to move to California that time was even more difficult to suppress.

Fastforwarding many years brings things to the point of eagerly anticipating moving to the aforementioned large house with the aforementioned professional man. A former child star/equal rights supporter/current friend agreeing to officiate if we ever marry and that our knowingly goofily thinking of our relationship in terms of the lyrics "here we are face to face, a couple of silver spoons, hopin' to find we're two of a kind. making a go, making it grow. Together" from the '80s Rick "Don't Call Me Ricky" Schroeder sitcom suggest that we will be together for "a million more" years. Sha la la.

Friday, August 14, 2015

'The Young Kieslowski Theatrical Release: Unplanned Pregnant Pause for College Students

The Young Kieslowski Poster

Winner of the award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival The Young Kieslowski recently hitting theaters provide a chance to check out the indie flick goodness of this film for yourself. This dramedy with the emphasis on the "edy," is a charming cautionary tale about casual college hook-ups.

One of the most appealing aspects of "Young" is that leads Ryan Malgarini (of the Jay Mohr sitcom "Unmarried") and Haley Lu Richardson, who respectively play the titular Brian Kieslowski and Leslie Mallard, look like ordinary people in contrast to super model college studs and coeds.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Young" exemplifies the blessing and the curse of these shorts. It contains a fair amount of spoilers and includes a large percentage of the best moments of the film.

The primary tale commences with socially and physically awkward virgin Brian meeting good Christian girl Leslie, who is committed to saving herself until marriage, at a college house party. In equally typical college fashion, Leslie being drunk is a factor regarding Brian spending the night in her apartment.

In more general romcom style, a couple of wacky developments precludes Ben from reconnecting with a now-pregnant Leslie. On reuniting a little later, the pair must decide both their own future and that of their inadvertently created life. Said deliberation includes a very amusing visit to the parents of Ben and a more somber one to the father of Leslie.

The assorted dilemmas open the door for stories related to obtaining independence from parents, the numerous issues regarding an unexpected pregnancy, and the complications regarding a relationship with a baby daddy. That is not to mention the consequences of not finishing college because of a combination of these factors.

As mentioned above, "Young" has a nice "every college kid" vibe to it. Brian rooms with his equally quirky best friend and hangs with the one typical handsome guy who always seems to have a guy like Brian in his life.

Leslie is the stereotypical dedicated student who is not obnoxious about it. Although she openly discusses her ambition, she does not make us slackers by comparison feel either lazy or stupid.

This all amounts to "Young" being a movie to which a large portion of the population of college students can relate and that prompt various degrees of nostalgia in those of us whose college days are behind us.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Desert Island TV on DVDs: 'Must-See' Choices for Periods of Isolation

In its more ambitious days, Unreal TV regularly ran "Best Of" lists. These included thoughts regarding "Black Friday" and "Best of the Year" titles. However, the thoughts below are the first attempt at a figurative desert island list.

An impending move, which relates to a recent post on Boston-centric television fare, is requiring several days without any form of Internet connection. Rather than engaging in a higher degree of human interaction or exceeding a personally recommended daily allowance of reading, your (sometimes humble) reviewer is selecting a season each of the following series to enjoy in the period between the packing of all of his worldly possessions and the moving of them and subsequently the lengthy period between said possessions (including at least 50 boxes full of DVDs and Blu-rays) arriving at his new home and the organization of them.

1. The Golden Girls

Including a season of the '80s Saturday night comedy staple "The Golden Girls" in this list is such a no-brainer that the biggest moron in St. Olaf (or even St. Upidtown) would select it. "Girls" is an regularly amusing (and often hilarious) series that nicely depicts numerous aspects of friendships during our current period of isolation and aggressive conflict.

"Girls" further has a few pop culture elements that make it fun 30 years later. Seeing a masculine-looking woman often prompts remarking that she is "Lebanese." Even greater fun relates to threatening "Shady Pines, Ma, Shady Pines" in response to being mildly annoyed and "the West Wing" when really upset.

The more important culture impact of "Girls" relates to the primary theme of the show  during the period of its broadcast run. It being a staple on television sets at gay bars long before marriage equality or even widespread enlightened views reflects the seemingly rare ideal of spending one's golden years living with good friends (rather than having a solitary and restrained existence) in an atmosphere in which you do not need to worry about being polite.

2. Smallville

This coming-of-age Superman origin story hits the trifecta of providing good light-hearted fun that is perfect for summer fare, paving the way for the very similar "The Flash" and other recent super-hero TV sagas, and being a good choice in the period before the premiere of "Supergirl."

This is not to mention a scene in the pilot in which a stripped-to-his-boxers Clark Kent is bound to a scarecrow post presenting an erotically "grey" issue regarding the appropriateness of such a scene in a family show.

3. The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

The reasons for including this late '60s spin-off of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." are similar to choosing "Smallville." This '60s "Batman" like series about undercover super spy April Dancer, played by Stefanie Powers, travelling around the world simultaneously looking gorgeous and thwarting nefarious schemes is wonderful summertime fun. The similarities between the timing of these viewings and watching Smallville continue with co-ordinating them with the theatrical release of the "Man" feature film.

"Girl" further deserves credit for featuring the exciting adventures of a fabulous heroine years before the premiere of the '70s "Wonder Woman" series.

4. Friends

The simple reasons for including this one in the list are its participation in arguably the golden age of "Must-See TV" and always enjoying watching it when coming across reruns on basic cable.

5. My Favorite Martian

"Martian" holds a special place in the heart of Unreal TV due to the DVD release of the first season being the first of 1,000s of DVD reviews since 2006. Related relevance of this series is that the rejection of "TV Land shows" by the site on which this review appears and by two subsequent sites is a primary reason for starting this current forum.

The "Martian" lore continues with the love of the series prompting spending $70 for an Australian version of the DVD set for the third season of the show in response to the (long-defunct) Rhino division of Warner repeatedly postponing the American version of that DVD set.

Former child star Harlen Carraher of the fellow '60s fantasycom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" provides further validation of the quality of the latter. A recent interview with Carraher includes a report of his laughing and stating "me too" on being sincerely told of great love for "Muir" but stating even higher regard for "Martian."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding this list (or anyone wanting suggestions tailored to their personal tastes) is encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

'Famous Nathan' VOD: Hot Dog, This is a Good Doc.

FAMOUS NATHAN DVD & Online Streaming

New York based independent international film distributor Film Movement returns home to make "Famous Nathan" available to the home-video market. This documentary about the legendary New York hot dog restaurant Nathan's Famous and the man behind that company hit VOD platforms in early August 2015 and is coming out on DVD in September 2015.

The following YouTube clip of the "Famous" trailer wonderfully showcases the heart and the humor that distinguish the film.

This labor of love by Lloyd Handwerker, who is the grandson of Famous founder Nathan Handwerker, is the end result of material that Lloyd has collected for 30 years. The jewel in this treasure trove of home movies and photographs is an audio tape of Lloyd's cousin interviewing Nathan. This true rarity is the only recorded interview by Nathan.

The wide range of the topics in the recording go from the early childhood of Nathan in Poland, the circumstances regarding his emigration to the United States, his operation of the business, and his retirement. Nathan's wife Ida regularly coming into the room to shout at her husband adds terrific unintentional humor.

These elements make Lloyd narrating "Famous" from the former office, which has shrine status, of his grandfather very apt. A tour of the desk drawers is a highlight.

The family aspects continue with discussions of the conflict between Nathan's father and uncle. Some of this information comes from "the horse's mouth" in the form of an interview with Nathan's father. These portions of  "Famous" verify that these issues are universal regarding a family business.

Literally learning how the sausage is made makes a good case for becoming a vegetarian.

On a larger level, "Famous" awesomely portrays a nice achievement of the American dream. The film shows how a virtually penniless immigrant works very hard to build a multi-million dollar business that has a very positive reputation. We learn as well that this success is largely attributable to providing employees extreme generosity and kindness.

The most colorful of said employees is a counterman known for physically assaulting customers who offend him. Another profiled notable worker seems to provide fast food at light speed.

The end result of this recipe of love, well-deserved success, and good old-fashioned storytelling is the feel good summer hit of 2015. This coming in the form of a more "nutritional" product than its subject is a nice bonus.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

'Red Knot' DVD: The Neo Love Boat

Product Details
The 2014 drama "Red Knot," which purveyor of (almost primarily documentary) independent films Icarus Films recently released on DVD, is a good character study of a married couple set in some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. Writer/director Scott Cohen pulling off the neat trick of mashing up "The Love Boat" and nature documentaries sets this one apart from members of the latter genre.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Knot" provides the desired tease regarding the themes and scenery that equally contribute to the quality of the film.

"Boat" caliber actors Vincent Kartheiser and Olivia Thirlby play Peter and Chloe Harrison. Fellow character actor Billy Campbell plays research vessel captain Captain Emerson. The "course for adventure" with their minds on their fairly new romance that Peter and Chloe take involves sailing from Argentina to Antarctica so that writer Peter can work with real-life whale expert Richard Payne, who plays himself. (A wonderful special feature that Cohen hosts discusses the experience of filming that actual fantastic voyage.)

The indications that Peter and Chloe may not be "docking in San Pedro" at the end of their trip begin with their quickly discovering that their cabin has bunk beds and that they are sharing a bathroom with another passenger. Chloe almost as quickly demanding that she be on top proves to be highly symbolic.

Other equally good symbolism and the skill of the cast conveying this is a nice bonus. You will feel the pain and increasing separation of our young lovers and their captain. Including flashbacks of happier times from earlier in the film helps solidify that sense.

In true "Boat" style, Peter and Chloe become increasingly estranged during the voyage, and Chloe develops a correspondingly closer relationship with Emerson. The angst that is behind "farm boy" Emerson finding himself very far from home in an isolated environment is a factor. A mid-point discovery that further estranges the once-happy couple further adds to the "Boat" vibe. However, this story does not include the same guarantee of a Hollywood ending.

The extraordinary footage of the aforementioned whales, a flock of seagulls (and penguins), glaciers, and other natural wonders provide a special background for all this. These scenes including images of a whale in distress is the only sad aspect of this travelogue element in "Knot."

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

Saturday, August 8, 2015

'All the Wrong Reasons' DVD: 2013 Cory Monteith Drama Lacks Glee

Product Details
Aside from being the penultimate film of "Glee" star Cory Monteith, the 2013 Canadian drama "All the Wrong Reasons" is notable for exceeding expectations. Finding far more substance and quality than the anticipated wooden acting and thoroughly cliched plots makes the recent Monarch Home Entertainment DVD release of "Reasons," which scored writer/director Gia Milani three film festival awards, worth watching.

The ensemble in "Reasons" consists of four 20-something employees of a fictional Target/Wal-Mart hybrid store. The dystopia that pervades their lives validates the thoughts in the three-part Unreal TV manifesto on that subject. The most depressing aspects of the depiction of that state in "Reasons" are that the despair occurs in Canada and hits characters that young that hard.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the spoiler-laden trailer for "Reasons" does a good job introducing the characters and themes of the film.

Monteith plays store manager James Ascher; the effectively "blue light" event that plagues him is that the long-term effects of wife/co-worker Kate Ascher experiencing a trauma a year earlier include an inability to engage in any form of physical contact with anyone.

Clerk Nicole is a stereotypical single mother working a McJob while trying to care for the small child of a deadbeat dad. Former firefighter Simon, who is working in the store while trying to get reinstated as a firefighter following a serious work-related injury, rounds out the quartet.

Both the events of the film and the backstories of the characters intersect both in how those elements of their lives affect the others and the bonds that develop between them. A common thread is that each (like the rest of us) of them requires physical and emotional intimacy.

Memorable scenes include James awesomely humiliating the aforementioned deadbeat dad, surveillance camera monitor Kate repeatedly witnessing depraved behavior by customers, and eager young assistant manager Radley cluelessly trying to play the role of authority figure. The only aspect of retail world missing from these scenes is the Wal-Mart shuffle, which consists of employees power walking away on making eye contact with a customer who requires assistance.

The award for most absurd scene goes to a segment in which Kate incredibly over-reacts regarding a store emergency requiring that she temporarily relinquish her private office. Anyone who responds in the manner that she does would not be able to walk out the front door each morning.

On a more general level, "Reasons" is a good film that seems to largely reflect the reality of middle and lower-middle class millennials. Their lives are far less than great, but they manage to keep a roof over their heads and to accept that their prospects are not so wonderful.

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

'Adult Beginners' DVD & BD: Nick Kroll's Neo-Modern Peter Pan

Product Details
The public relations firm PubLIZity from the Comedy Central sketch show "The Kroll Show" would likely describe the 2014 Nick Kroll comedy "Adult Beginners," which Anchor Bay Entertainment separately released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 4 2015, as tasty medicine for the current summertime movie blues. An absence of even "wanna see" films during what should be the blockbuster season screams for turning to good home-video titles.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the "Adult" trailer offers an extensive but moderately spoiler-free recap of this modern-day fairy tale about the related values of family and being a responsible grown-up.

Kroll plays "young hipster entrepreneur" Jake,  whose life falls apart hours before his latest project is set to become the next big thing. That reversal of fortune and other unfortunate incidents prompt him to flee to the suburbs to arrive unannounced at the New Rochelle home of his largely estranged sister Justine (played by Rose Byrne) and her husband. Said abode being the family home of Jake and Justine greatly contributes to the family drama aspect of the film.

The desperation of Jake leads to his agreeing to be the manny of Teddy, who is the toddler son of Justine, in exchange for room, board, and a small allowance. An amusing moment regarding this has Jake ask "a week?" and Justine responding "a month" when discussing his monetary compensation.

The direct meaning of the title of "Adult" relates to Jake and Justine learning to swim in conjunction with swimming lessons that young Teddy is taking. The typical "hidden meaning" relates to the siblings becoming happier and more complete grown-ups.

Kroll and the filmmakers do a nice job with relatively clever variations on the standard humor related to Jake adjusting to caring for a small child. A scene in which Jake faces the dilemma of being able to leave Teddy alone for the few minutes that Jake needs to perform an urgent bodily function is one of the best in "Adult."

The film continues following the standard pattern for this type of movie. Jake bonds with his nephew in the course of caring for him, the sibling bonding includes discussing past conflicts, Justine and her husband having their own conflict, Jake reconnecting with a high school classmate, and Jake getting a chance to at least partially return to his prior life.

The aforementioned success regarding the transition to Mr. Uncle continues throughout the remaining cliches in "Adult." There is no melodrama or anything else that is atypcial for modern life. The characters merely are everyday people leading everyday lives. Further, no one is dramatically different at the end; they simply achieve an intermediate ability to be an adult.

The DVD and Blu-ray extra consists of a "making of" featurette.

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

'A Little Chaos' DVD/BD: Midday in a Versailles Garden of Good and Evil

Product Details
Accessibly artsy is the first impression regarding the 2015 light period drama "A Little Chaos," which Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing on DVD and Blu-ray on August 4 2015. This great summertime choice features Kate Winslet as widowed 17th century landscape designer Sabine de Barra making her own way in a Frenchman's world. More specifically, de Barra faces numerous challenges related to designing and literally getting her hands dirty creating an outdoor ballroom in the new palace of Versailles.

The actual palatial interiors and exteriors, lush outdoor settings, elaborate costumes, and classical background music make owning this one in Blu-ray worth the investment.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the "Chaos" trailer expertly conveys the visual and spoken styles of this film. Examples of the latter include some of the clever wordplay in the film and the meaning of the title.

An early scene in which de Barra sashays past male colleagues to interview with landscape artist Andre Le Notre regarding the project establishes the girl power vibe of "Chaos." Latter scenes in which de Barra strives to understand court politics, becomes the center of attention of a group of ladies of the court, and literally battles the elements further establish de Barra as a 17th century woman with 21st century independence and grit.

Examples of the great humor in "Chaos" are the witty exposition at the beginning of the film, the immediate reaction of de Berra to the result of her meeting with Le Notre, and the wonderful childlike elements regarding the portrayal of "Chaos" director Alan Rickman of King Louis XIV. His candid style is truly delightful.

The timeless human qualities of "Chaos" include de Barra mourning the loss of her child under truly traumatic circumstances, Le Notre being very unhappily married to a woman who is a textbook fairy tale villain, de Barra choosing her challenging profession for very practical reasons, and personal issues among members of the royal family.

In other words, "Chaos" is a good film about real people trying to find the same happiness as the rest of us. One difference, aside from living more than 300 years ago, is that they do so in a wonderfully pre-French Revolution opulent setting,

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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

'Our Daily Poison' DVD: Food for Thought Regarding Pesticides and Other Chemicals

Product Details
Icarus Films continues its campaign of distributing DVDs of "innovative and provocative documentary films from independent producers around the world" with the July 28, 2015 release of "Our Daily Poison." This one by French filmmaker Marie Monique Robin studies pesticides and other chemicals that impose significant hidden health risks. A personal memory regarding this topic is a graduate school classmate remarking that Coke that lacks sugar and caffeine merely is "cancer in a can."

The broad scope of the film encompasses a plethora of French and American scientists and other experts on both sides of the aisle. Watching the "suits" try to refute the findings that are contrary to their interests is hilarious.

The opening scene in "Poison" is an amusing retro French educational short, which leads to Robin beginning to wonder about the toxic impact of pesticides. This analysis begins with coverage of French farmers with devastating chronic health problems that are attributable to long-term exposure to those substances.

The focus then shifts to the logical topic of how eating foods that are coated with the chemicals that sicken farmers affects consumers. This excellent analysis of those effects and how acceptable levels of exposure are determined is fascinating and also scary to the extent that it highlights the serious fallacies associated with making those conclusions. It also evokes thoughts of the (possible urban legends) regarding the allowable levels of insect parts and other foreign substances in candy bars and other foods.

Watching sketched rats die animated deaths in this segment provides the strongest visual in this somewhat clinical film. Heavily focusing on the science is valid, but a little more "excitement" would have been welcome.

Robin next tackles the well-publicized issues associated with the artificial sweetener Aspartame, which is better known as NutraSweet. The degree to which dirty politics plays a role regarding approving use of that substance is interesting by itself and that much more so as to the involvement of a high-ranking government official with a long history of prominent roles in several administrations.

A third segment begins with an informative and interesting look at the events that inadvertently led to discovering the use of harmful chemicals in plastic drinking products. A Boston researcher who literally is a pioneer regarding all this wins the award for dumbing down her topic to the level of the typical viewer. Her peers simply have slightly less skill regarding this.

The DVD extra consists of a full-color booklet with excerpts from the book, which has the same name as the film, by Robin on which she bases the film.

The final analysis is that the somewhat dense nature of "Poison" provides so much information regarding the covered topics that it is a little tough to digest (pun intended). The take-away (pun intended) is that Robin offers strong proof of what you likely have suspected for years; it just condenses that data (and a bunch o' stuff of which you were unaware) into a well-presented two-hour movie.

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