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Saturday, January 31, 2015

'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis' BD/DVD/Ultraviolet Uber-Awesome Fishman Out of Water Tale

Product Details
The many reasons that fanboys have to rejoice regarding the highly anticipated Warner Brothers Home Entertainment January 27, 2015 DVD/Blu-ray (BD)/Ultraviolet release of the film "Justice League: Throne of Atlantis" include a highly publicized terrific revamping of Aquaman. Those who feel that this hero whose orange and green attire resembles a Howard Johnson's restaurant is the Jar Jar Binks of the League no longer have a reason to carp (of course pun intended.)

The fanboy joy, which the bright clear images and pristine audio in the BD version enhances, continues with having Christopher Gorham of the 2003-04 cult-classic sci-fi series "Jake 2.0" wonderfully voice The Flash and Jerry O'Connell of "Sliders" do just as well with Superman. 

As an aside, "Throne" is based on the graphic novel of the same name.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a proverbial early scene from "Throne" nicely combines elements of both the nature of the League at that point in time and the mission that they will soon undertake.

A bizarre deep ocean attack against an American submarine in the opening minutes of "Throne" sets the stage for the newly formed (but incomplete) League to simultaneously attempt to prevent a faction from the titular underwater kingdom from attacking us "surface dwellers" and to bring future Aquaman Arthur Curry into the fold. Curry knowing that his bond with sea creatures, having extraordinary strength, and possessing skin that knives cannot penetrate means that he is not like other boys. The problem is that he does not know why he has those characteristics.

The primary story to which these developments relate awesomely brings in elements of sci-fi franchises that have the same high quality as the D.C. Universe (DCU) world of which the League and "Atlantis" are a part.

The most obvious parallel relates to the similarities between half-human/half-Atlantian Curry and his evil step-brother Orm and Thor and Loki of the Marvel franchise. Both sets of rivals must contend with both whom Mom (or Dad) likes best and disagreements regarding the proper policy toward humans.

The questionable at best effort of Orm to convince his people that surface dwellers are evil and threaten the Atlantian way of life further evokes thoughts of the Xindi plot in the series "Star Trek: Enterprise." Like the Atlantians, a portion of the Xindi positively respond to manipulation that is intended to create intense ill will regarding humans. Both story lines further have parallel developments regarding reveals that greatly impact developments.

The Xindi and Marvel themes continue through to the final epic confrontation between our heroes and Orm and his followers. 

The background developments regarding the League members include a romance that involves a wonderful PG-13 meta-human "embrace" and having the League itself being at a maturity level that places it squarely in the middle of the more established League that fanboys know and love and the Young Justice team of the Unreal TV reviewed series of that name. The hilarious phrase "Yaa, we're forming a book club" provides a good sense of that developmental stage.

All of this amounts to a fun movie that has a couple of "bad" words and other mildly edgy elements to entertain the kids while maintaining enough of a classic element to appeal to their older siblings from the era of the "Justice League" series and even their parents who watched "Super Friends" on Saturday mornings in the '70s.

The abundance of extras include 25 minutes of the 2014 New York Comic-Con Panel (which includes Aquaman voice actor Matt Lanter ) discussing things such as the reason for excluding Aquaman from "Justice League:War," the tailor-made "Robin and Nightwing" sequence that "Throne" producer James Tucker explains fills out another sequence, and four apt animated shorts that include "Aquaman's Outarageous Adventure" from the Unreal TV reviewed second season of the uber-awesome "Batman: The Brave and the Bold."

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

Friday, January 30, 2015

'Sugarfoot' S4 DVD: Have Law Books, Will Travel

Sugarfoot: The Complete Fourth Season
Getting hooked on the '50s era Western television series "Sugarfoot" through episode promos for that show at the end of episodes on reviewed Warner Archive DVD sets of fellow Western series "Bronco" makes receiving the S4 set of "Sugarfoot" very exciting. Although the more rugged Bronco Layne is the guy whom you would want have your back in a gunfight, the more sweeter and caring Tom Brewster (a.k.a. Sugarfoot) is whom you would to share a sarsaparilla with at the local saloon.

As an aside, a bonanza from Archive is facilitating "evergreen" reviews of "Sugarfoot" S1-S3 throughout 2015.

The titular nickname in "Sugarfoot" refers to the cowboy skills of correspondence course law student Brewster being so sub-par that he is one level below that of a tenderfoot. Fortunately for the many folks in need of an advocate with whom Brewster encounters in his travels, his legal skills greatly surpass his talent for ranch work.

The IMDb entry for "Sugarfoot" includes a report of  amusing trivia regarding the show. It states that star Will Hutchin appears as "Young Lawyer" in an autumn 1957 episode of "Maverick" that airs after the cancellation of "Sugarfoot." This information includes a statement that Beau Maverick asks Lawyer if he is the person known as  Sugarfoot and that Hutchins replies that he never heard of any such individual.

An even better surprise comes in the form of a wonderful cameo in an episode that has Brewster in town in response to a call for deputies. Seeing him team up with the unexpected visitor is almost as exciting as the Batman/Superman DCU pairings.

The cute and charming Hutchins is a perfectly cast as the similar Brewster. He literally is kind to small children and animals and sticks to drinking the aforementioned soft drink despite more macho types teasing him for abstaining from the hard stuff.

This creative combination of traditional Western and legal drama succeeds thanks to the aforementioned charm of Hutchins, the parallels (and conflicts) regarding the court system and frontier justice, and the timeless nature of both aforementioned systems of achieving justice.

The S4 season premiere is wonderfully typical of the episodes that season. That one has Brewster defending an Indian whom a ruthless white man frames for a nefarious purpose. Our aspiring attorney being a "Sioux" advocate adds wonderful humor to this one.

The second S4 episode is awesome for involving a legal principle that is still highly relevant roughly 60 years after this story first aired and roughly 150 years after the era in which "Sugarfoot" is set.

It is undisputed that the innocent in this one fatally shoots her victim. The challenge that Brewster faces is finding proof regarding the motive for the shooting that allows his client to avoid a murder conviction. This illustrates the "it depends" principle that applies to the liability for any acts that facially are a crime.

The first of two S4 episodes that has Brewster coming to the aid of folks engaged in the generally despised profession of sheep herding has him teaming up with tough but sophisticated future president Theodore Roosevelt to help a small operation fend off the evil doing of a larger ranch. The second episode with this theme is a more amusing outing that involves two Mexican children and the more serious effort of the teen boy in this group to prove that he is a man.

The season (and the series) ends on a high note with Brewster becoming both the legal advocate and substitute big brother for a (justifiably) angry young man who is the victim of the current frame up. Former "Lassie" star Tommy Rettig plays the lad who finds himself in this mess.

The final argument regarding the merits of the final season of "Sugarfoot" is that this depiction of quests for truth, justice, and the frontier way is amusing fun that makes winter gloom more bearable.

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'Panic Button' DVD: Euro Take on 'The Producers'

Panic Button (1963)
Warner Archive kicks off its always wonderful (and often awesomely weird) DVD releases for 2015 with the 1964 comedy "Panic Button", which stars the unlikely pair of  film legend Maurice Chevalier and spectacular sex kitten (who does not go to college) Jayne Mansfield. This clever take on the Mel Brooks classic "The Producers" has a syndicate of legitimate American businessmen that seeking a $500,000 tax write-off deciding to produce a television pilot that is sure to fail.

As an aside. the cynical attitude regarding TV pilots being a money pit makes "Panic" a perfect companion to the Unreal TV reviewed late 2014 Archive release of the 1938 James Cagney comedy "Boy Meets Girl." That one focuses an unflattering spotlight on the studio system.

The scheme of the entrepreneurs commences with the theory that TV pilots are a good bet for losing money; the next step in hedging that wager is selecting aging French actor Phillipe Fontaine, whom Chevalier terrifically portrays,  as their star based on the films of that thespian constantly bombing in the ratings when run on television.

The syndicate sends Frank Pagano, played by future "Mannix" star Mike Connors, to Rome to recruit Fontaine for the project and film it there. This soon leads to casting untalented wannabe starlet Angela, whom Mansfield gets down to a T, as the female lead. Recruiting the hilarious inept Pandowski to direct completes the main group for what is easily the worst ever staging of "Romeo and Juliet."

The ensuing hilarity largely revolves around Fontaine, who is a textbook has-been in blissful ignorance regarding his appeal and the true motive for the project. His best scenes include hamming it up in an early performance and the negotiation of his contract for "Romeo."

For her part, Mansfield plays the knock-out with a heart-of-gold wonderfully well. Her best moments include using her sex appeal to sell the paintings of an otherwise starving artist and flirting with a couple of local studs while on an outing with Pagano.

Of course, the footage of the final "Romeo" product steals the show. It is even worse than anyone could have imagined.

The clever '60s style plot points continue with a development that is as reminiscent of "The Producers" as the overall plot of "Panic." Suffice it to say, this still results in a Hollywood ending that would provide "Boy" good fodder.

The trifecta of classic film elements in the overall look of "Panic" and household name stars. terrific '60s style Europe elements, and similarities to "The Producers" further validate the theory that Archive could not find a money-losing dud in its seemingly infinite vault of vintage films and television if it tried.

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

'The Super Globetrotters' DVD: Hanna-Barbera Mashes Up 'Scooby-Doo' and 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids'

The Super Globetrotters: The Complete Series
The Warner Archive 13-episode 2-disc Complete Series DVD release of the 1979-80 Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon "The Super Globetrotters" provides fans of that show and/or the titular basketball clowns a chance to relive fond memories of either entertainment source. The treat for the rest of us relates to watching a lesser-known entry from the golden age of kids programming.

The apparent motivations for giving members of this famed basketball exhibition (rather than exhibitionist) group a Saturday morning series include the popularity of the real-life alter egos of these animated characters and the response to having said characters appear in the earlier "The New Scooby-Doo Movies." This appeal is also behind the prior HB Saturday morning series "The Harlem Globetrotters."

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the opening credits for "Globetrotters" offers a comprehensive look at the '70slicious style and cartoony fun of the series.

The concept of this series is that uber-popular Curly and four of his teammates moonlight as superheroes. In a wonderful nod to classic Superman, the gang literally springs into action by jumping in their highly portable (and compactable) lockers when contacted by the orbiting satellite known as Crime Globe, which looks like a basketball. This highly advanced can communicate via everything from a Jumbotron to virtually any other inanimate object.

'Scooby' veteran Frank Welker and veteran actor Scatman Crothrs (who also voices the lead character in the classic HB series "Hong Kong Phooey") do terrific jobs respectively voicing Crime Globe and Curly.

The superhero alter ego of Curly has a large basketball for a head. Multiman can quickly create numerous duplicates of himself; Gizmo Man stores a warehouse full of useful objects in his mother of all 'fros; Liquid Man can transform himself into water, and the even-more bizarre Spaghetti Man has a body that is mostly made of a super-strong pasta-looking substance.

Each episode pits the gang against a super villain who has his own special abilities and/or tech. The episode titled "The Super Globetrotters Vs. The Time Lord" horribly teases "Doctor Who" fans by having absolutely no connection with that series.

This combination of the Globetrotters using their basketball games as a cover for their crime-fighting activities under the direction of a highly advanced AI device and occasionally stumbling into their own adventures makes the series a great combination of the "Scooby" series and the Unreal TV reviewed companion HB '70s series "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids." The latter revolves around a teen rock band that (unlike fellow HB characters Josie and the Pussycat) purposefully seeks out the evildoers whom they make "take a fall."

"Globetrotters" is also akin to "Scooby" in presenting amusing variations on essentially the same storyline. The fun relates to the campy villains and the related variations on the largely unvaried theme.

In the case of "Globetrotters," each episode typically opens with scenes of the villain of the week carrying out his nefarious scheme and the five teammates showing off their basketball skills in a formal or informal venue. The two intersect when Crime Globe calls the boys into action.

Our heroes then leap into their lockers, transform into their meta-human personas, literally fly off to fulfill their mission, get captured, use their superpowers to escape, enter another confrontation with their current foe, agree to the peaceful solution of a basketball game regarding which the victors will receive the spoils, get trounced while playing in their non-hero mode against the (usually) enhanced-ability henchbeings of the bad guy, transform into super heroes after the first half of the game. and then amusingly use said powers to win the game by two points.

"The Super Globetrotters Vs. The Phantom Cowboy" is an excellent example of both the "Scooby" vibe and more general theme of "Globetrotters." This one opens with the team on their way to accept an invitation for a vacation at a ranch.  (The "Roadrunner" style desert backgrounds are a nice bonus.)

The gang soon encounters the aforementioned creepy entity; on arriving at the ranch, they further discover quicker than you can say "zoinks" that that creature is creating widespread chaos. It is equally predictably that the underlying nefarious scheme includes a campaign to scare the congenial ranch owner off her land. The basketball game in this one pits our pros against a team of extraordinary cowboys.

The nice thing about the "Globetrotters" variation of the "Scooby" theme is that basing it on real-life individuals broadens its appeal. Seeing the already amazing "Globetrotters" enhance their skills by playing in an environment in which the laws of physics do not apply further makes this show entertaining.

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

'Abstraction' DVD: Well-Produced Indie Crime Drama

Product Details
Philadelphia-based Breaking Glass Pictures continues branching out from offering gay-themed DVD releases that run more toward the sublime than the ridiculous in making the independent 2013 drama "Abstraction" available on January 27, 2015.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Abstraction" provides a good sense of the drama and intense moments of this film festivals hit.

The gritty look and tone of the film is perfect for this wonderfully dystopian tale for our times. The film begins with our heroes Tommy and Gary augmenting their meager incomes from dead-end jobs by pulling heists for a local small-time crime boss. The latest caper for this employer going horribly awry strongly impacts both our stereotypically small-town losers and their freelance employment.

Tommy particularly is feeling beleagured when aptly named new girlfriend Scarlet presents an opportunity to pull off the stereotypically one last big job. The drama commences with Tommy recruiting Gary to help him with the caper.

The "so easy it can't fail" crime involves stealing a $500,000 painting from an art dealer. Needless to say, things do not go as planned.

The unpredictable complications that involve predictable elements of violence and betrayal begin with a comical effort to locate the exact location of the dealer who knows the exact location of the painting.

Once the boys accomplish this task, they face several other obstacles that prove the theory about comedy that something that is tragic when it happens to you is hilarious when someone else is the victim.

We ultimately learn that the boys are pawns in a larger and slightly more elaborate scheme with a motive that extends beyond monetary gain. The cynical aspects that no one is innocent or trustworthy that this adds to the film provides terrific commentary on our adversarial times.

The success regarding this effort is due to the focus on keeping it realistic while avoid all the traps that would make it look like a reality show.

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

'Star Trek: Enterprise' BD S2: Zefram Cochrane, Borg, and Xindi Oh My

Product Details
This review of the CBS Home Entertainment 6-disc 26-episode Blu-ray (BD) of the 2002-03 "Trek" franchise series "Star Trek: Enterprise" is the last entry in the Year of Trek series on Unreal TV. A New Year's Day post on "Enterprise" S1 BD kicked things off, and a review of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" S5 BD will round it off (hopefully) in December 2015.

Before discussing these episodes, it is worth noting that the clearly high production values in "Enterprise" make buying it in BD a no-brainer. The benefits go well beyond the ability to see every blemish and makeup line on the actors to getting exceptionally clear images of the sets and the action sequences. Some of these effects are as good as those in theatrical films. Further, it is clear that the series is a labor of love by EVERYONE behind the camera.

"Enterprise" is an awesome series that is set roughly halfway between the 200-year gap regarding the 21st century events of the theatrical film "Star Trek: First Contact" and the 23rd century adventures of Kirk and the gang in the original "Trek" series from the 1960s. This version of the titular spaceship, which has the pre-USS designation of NX-01, is the first Warp 5 ship that governing entity Starfleet sets out to explore well beyond earth.

The following clip, courtesy of CBS and YouTube, of the trailer for the S2 BD release amazingly provides spoiler-free glimpses of most of the season highlights. It also offers a look at the exceptional picture quality and exceptional special features.

The "Enterprise" S2 season premiere follows the pattern of other "Trek" series (and similar qualify sci-fi shows such as the "Stargate" franchise) in both resolving the compelling S1 season-ending cliffhanger and taking the entire episode to do so. This differs from many shows that wrap up a cliffhanger artificially quickly in the pre-opening credits sequence only to go onto an entirely different story in the first act.

The season premiere opens with Enterprise captain Jonathan (Admiral Johnny) Archer (played by "Quantum Leap" star Scott Bakula) stranded under circumstances that make returning to his ship seemingly impossible. Meanwhile, his colleagues are contending with the related invasion of the highly elusive Suliban on the craft. The literal fate of the universe hanging in the balance significantly contributes to the fun that culminates in a satisfying climax (no pun intended).

This continuity is representative of the plots in the other episodes. Hostile encounters with Trek faves the warrior race the Klingons often play a role in subsequent episodes, other alien species also reappear, and the crew naturally discusses their prior adventures in the same manner that the rest of us discuss past projects with our colleagues. This narrative technique is a nice contrast to many sitcoms that become live-action cartoons in which a character is in full-body cast at the end of one episode only to be perfectly healthy the next week or in which a destroyed room is none the worse for wear in the next offering.

The second episode of "Enterprise" S2 is the first one of this group that largely depicts a story that an officer is telling. This one has highly logical (and largely humorless) science officer T'Pol (who is a successful mix of Spock from the OS and the alluring Seven of Nine from "Star Trek: Voyager") telling Archer and chief engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III the previously unknown to humans story of stranded Vulcans living in a small American town in the 1950s. This one is more notable for what it contributes to the lore of T'Pol than for the yarn that she shares.

The second episode that has an officer sharing a tale of the past has Archer telling T'Pol about his rivalry with a fellow Starfleet officer to pilot an early warp ship. This one provides a depiction of an interesting analogy to the '60s era U.S. space program, fills in some important gaps in "Trek" lore, and offers insight into the development of Archer into the man who he is during the present from the perspective of "Enterprise."

The Archer aspect of the story is very similar to an episode in the Unreal TV reviewed S6 BD set of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." That offering has omnipotent mischief-maker Q bring Captain (Ensign?) Picard of that series back to the early days of his career to provide a second chance to make a decision that affects his life even more than he knows at the time of making it.

The "Enterprise" S2 episode "Vanishing Point" is even more reminiscent of TNG in that it has anxiety-prone communications officer Hoshi, who has neuroses comparable to those of engineer Reg Barclay on TNG, struggling to prove to her sympathetic but highly skeptical crew mates that using the (then-new) transporter technology adversely affected her. A similar TNG episode revolves around the certainty of Barclay that strange creatures are inhabiting the (then highly developed) transporter system. The nods to the OS include a cameo by a Gremlin-like tribble.

Similarly, stranding Tucker (played by "Stargate: Atlantis" regular Connor Trinneer) with an initially hostile alien with whom he cannot communicate is a relatively common theme in TNG and other "Trek" series. It is akin to trapping two sitcom enemies in an elevator or locked room.

The "Enterprise" S2 episode "Future Tense" is the first of two to greatly add to the Zefram Cochrane lore from "First Contact." This one revolves around efforts to learn more about a mysterious small craft that seems to be of earth origin. This episode is notable as well for the uber-uber-awesome line "its bigger on the inside than on the outside," which is a terrific franchise-crossing nod to "Doctor Who." (An S3 "Enterprise" episode continues the "Who" love by having a female character becoming a companion to a quirky alien.)

The second episode that refers to Cochrane in a meaningful manner is "Regeneration." This one relates to the Enterprise crew getting involved with the consequences of discovering members of the very powerful and evil cyborgs known as the resistance defeating Borg on earth. Cochrane comes into the picture in the form of Archer discussing the efforts of that pioneer to convince the people of the 21st century of the existence of time-traveling evil cyborgs.

S2 ends with an uneven cliffhanger that fans know leads to a season-long story arc. (Unreal TV will run a review of "Enterprise" S3 BD in early February 2015.) The opening sequence depicts a well-presented devastating alien attack on earth that prompts Starfleet to recall Enterprise to earth. The events during the first 3/4 of this episode lead to Enterprise traveling to what Archer refers to the Bermuda Triangle of space in an effort to prevent an even more catastrophic attack.

The plot of this episode and the third-season adventures that stem from it are creative and well worth watching. The fact that Enterprise makes it back to earth remarkably quickly and (other than the Suliban and the Klingons briefly rearing their figuratively and literally ugly heads) without any difficulties is very hard to swallow. Our heroes had to dodge a literal minefield, take refuge during a massive week-long storm, barely escape from aliens who did not want them traveling in their space, etc to get between earth and their location in the second season alone. Believing that their return voyage was smooth sailing is very difficult.

It is also worth mentioning that CBS does its usual excellent job regarding the special features for this S2 release. The three-part documentary "Uncharted Territory" discusses the S2 plot developments and related topics. Trekkers and Trekkies also get a reunion panel with series creator Brannon Braga and the seven (not of nine) regular cast members.

The end result of all this is that "Enterprise" S2 provides great adventures and awesome additions to "Trek" lore; it also is the "Trek" series that best relates to our current level of technology. Increasingly common private flights into space exploring of relatively deep space seem feasible in a manner that prompts franchise crossing by shouting "to infinity and beyond."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Enterprise" or any other "Trek" series is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

'Wicked, Wicked' DVD: Something Wicked Awesome (in '70slicious Duo-Vision) This Way Comes

Wicked, Wicked
The Warner Archive camptastic '70sclicious horror film "Wicked, Wicked" further cements the position of Archive as the leader in obscure home video releases. The studio tagline for this film, which is largely presented in the split-screen format dubbed "duo-vision," aptly describes  the movie as "Twice the Tension! Twice the Terror!"

As an aside, "Wicked" writer/director Richard L. Bare is a veteran of the '60s sitcom classic "The Beverly Hillbillies" rural spinoffs "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres." Setting the hotel-based mayhem of "Wicked" at the "Junction" B&B The Shady Rest would have been beyond awesome even though young blonde Billie Jo in that series would have been the first to get diced and sliced. 

The fun of this film extends well beyond a truly "Psycho" killer (who is tense and nervous and can't relax) stalking his prey at a busy seaside hotel that has the same architectural style as the grand lodging at which the horror classic "The Shining" is set. An opening scene in which the first depicted victim is seen checking in to this hotel California on one side of the screen while the other side shows a concealed individual watching her through a removed panel in the lobby ceiling quickly introduces the audience to the awesome fun of the aforementioned "duo-vision."

The following clip, courtesy of Archive and YouTube, also wonderfully conveys the "Wicked" elements described above. We see a creepily eerie scene between a quirky hotel electrician and a lonely old female guest played by Madeleine Sherwood of "The Flying Nun" unfold next to equally disturbing images from the mind's eye of the former that help us understand how he becomes the manboy he is today.

The initial concern of stereotypically blustering hotel manager Mr. Simmons is that the handful of female blonde guests who check in but do not check out are doing midnight skips. This prompts him to put hairy chested studly hotel dick (and disgraced former cop)  and wonderfully named Rick Stewart on the case.  Of course, Stewart figures out the real score long before his highly unpleasant superior. They are no Higgins and Magnum, but their interaction offers somewhat comparable entertainment.

The best casting comes in the form of having Edd "Kookie" Byrnes of the classic television series "77 Sunset Strip" play studly hotel lifeguard Hank Lassiter. Suffice it to say that the extra attention that Lassiter provides female guests extends beyond moonlighting as a room service waiter. Further, the special effects in the scene that depicts the fate of Lassiter hilariously evoke thoughts of 12 year olds with a early model video camera.

The latest target for our villain being the singer ex wife of our hero additionally contributes to the '70s style fun; revealing that Rick and the former Mrs. Stewart end up in bed together is not an especially egregious spoiler.

This time capsule in film form wonderfully has our killer using his knowledge of the hidden areas of the hotel to pursue his hobby while Rick is not so hot on his trail through most of the movie. The aforementioned stereotypes of the era being well represented add to the fun.

All of this culminates in a final chase that is very much in keeping with the post-Code standard of "Wicked." However, the manner in which this comes to pass is adequately surprising to entertain.

All of this amounts to "Wicked" being another in a long string of Archive releases to which the phrase "they don't make them like that anymore" applies. The difference this time is that the emphasis is more on cult than on classic.

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

'The Indian Doctor' S2 DVD: Best Rural Physician Fish Out of Water Dramedy Since 'Northern Exposure'

The Indian Doctor - Series Two DVD
This review of the BFS Entertainment DVD release of the second series (my people call them seasons) of the modern BBC dramedy "The Indian Doctor" wraps up the (non-sequential) trilogy of posts on this highly entertaining program. These offerings commence with a late 2014 entry on the newly released S3 set, go back to the beginning with a January 2015 review of S1, and finish with this post. One can only hope that the BBC opts for an S4 and that BFS continues its great tradition of making British shows and films available here by releasing it.

The premise of "Indian" is that the newly immigrated titular physician Prem Sharma and his very proper wife Kamini Sharma set up shop in the small Welsh mining community of Trefelin in the early '60s. The prejudice that this couple encounters extends beyond bias regarding their ethnicity to applying to the fact that they are not natives of the community.

The aforementioned S1 review notes the similarities between "Indian" and the '60s American rural sitcom "Green Acres." Both shows revolve around the misadventures of an educated professional and his reluctant sophisticated wife moving to the country where they encounter eccentric and  not-so-sophisticated locals.

"Acres" addresses aforementioned socialite Lisa Douglas becoming more accustomed to Hooterville by having the equally prominent mother of husband Oliver visit a few times only to run afoul of the natives. In the case of "Indian," the writers bring the very proper mother of Kamini for a full S2 visit in response to Kamini becoming more integrated into the community by then.

The arrival of Puspha Bakshi in the S2 premiere episode coincides with the relatively concurrent arrivals of evangelist Hebert Todd from Africa, his wild child daughter Verity Todd from boarding school, and a case of small pox from an unknown location.

The arrival of Pushpa is also interesting in that her portrayor Indira Joshi is a cast mate of Prem portrayor Sanjeev Bhaskar in the hilarious Britcom "The Kumars at No. 42."

The arrival of small pox drives roughly 75 percent of the second season action; Prem must solve the mystery of the source of the first infection in the community, contend with the behavior of the locals that hinders the efforts to prevent the disease from spreading, and try to offset related prejudice and ignorance regarding this outbreak. A Barney Fife style deputy hilariously trying to nip any problems in the bud does not help matters.

Herbert further hinders proper procedures by engaging in practices that promote his agenda at the risk of the well being of the community. Herbert additionally plays a second very obvious role regarding the events that could decimate the Trefelin population. In all these respects, this man of the cloth fills the role played by mine manager Richard Sharpe in the first season.

Meanwhile, a second-season romance provides a nice bridge between a special first season relationship and a marriage in the third season. Similarly, the second season events help build the bond between Kamini and local boy in need of a mother figure Dan Griffiths that starts in the first season and is very strong in the third.

These events lean a more toward dram than edy but never get melo or otherwise over the top. They simply tell the tale of a town that is largely its own worst enemy regarding the peace and prosperity of the town.

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


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

'Why Be Good?' DVD: Silent Film Communicates Timeless Truths

Why Be Good?
The 1929 silent film "Why Be Good?," which is relatively recent addition to the Warner Archive DVD library, is notable both for vivaciously depicting the Jazz Age and for the timeless morals in this pre-Code film. It also benefits from the participation of acclaimed (and prolific) director William Seiter and star Colleen Moore.

Archive also shows excellent instincts in making the following clip from "Good" available, courtesy of YouTube. This spoiler-free scene wonderfully captures the '20s style spirit of the film.

Moore plays 20-something working girl Pert Kelly who spends her days as a well-regarded department store clerk and her nights as a well-liked flapper (a.k.a. party girl.) Not having the benefit of '70s and '80s sitcoms, Pert does not recognize the wisdom of the belief of her father that Pert presenting an image of a loose woman makes men believe that that reflects her true personality and related willingness to make whoopee.

The worlds of Pert and department store heir Winthrop Peabody, Jr., played by future Commissioner Gordon in the '66 "Batman" series Neil Hamilton, collide when they meet while she is enjoying what is a typical night for her and he is slumming as part of celebratory debauchery on the evening before he begins his job as the personnel director at the department store that his father owns and that employs Pert.

In true romcom style, our leads fall in love at the raucous Boiler Room establishment and share a highly amusing moment when an oblivious Jr. calls Pert into his office the next morning to chastise her for being late. His embarrassment at discovering that the object of his discipline is also the object of his affection leads to what arguably is an overreaction.

For his part, Peabody Sr. merely advises that his son exercise good judgment in his personal and professional lives. The primary message regarding both is that Jr. should be careful regarding acting in haste and repenting at leisure. 

After sacking Pert, Jr.  uses his charm and other resources to rekindle their relationship to the extent that it seems that he will get her in the sack in the bedroom despite sacking her in the office. The scene in which it is determined how much Jr. will demand of Pert and the extent to which she will go to keep her man (and her job?) is one of the best in the film and deserves a place among the best clips from the silent film era.

The awesomeness regarding the aspects of "Good" described above and those, including the oily creep with whom Pert finds herself early in the film, make this film well worth seeing.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Good" is welcome to use the modern devices of email or Twitter (via @tvdvdguy) to contact me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

'Alien Rising' DVD: Potential Sci-Fi Cult Classic

Product Details
Breaking Glass Pictures takes a break from DVD releases of good gay-themed films, including the uber-awesome Del Shores film "Southern Baptist Sissies,"  to release the 2013  sci-fi flick "Alien Rising"  (nee "Gemini Rising") on January 20, 2015. (This event follows a December 2014 VOD release of "Rising.")

The terrific direct-to-video look of "Rising" makes it a perfect choice for when you want to watch a well-produced low-budget fun. The entertainingly hokey premise is that the U.S. military drags emotionally traumatized former Homeland Security officer Lisa Morgan into covert research involving the telepathic ability of aliens who are "guests" of the armed forces.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Rising" offers a great look at the cheesetastic style of the film that loudly talks cult classic. These include glimpses of a clearly model spaceship and pretty boy extras playing special forces types.

As is the case in good sci-fi, Morgan is selected based on her unique suitability for the project. This qualification relates  to her family background.

Lance Henriksen of a plethora of classic sci-fi theatrical and television series does a great job in his role as the evil Colonel Cencula. Cencula is both under great pressure from above to make a breakthrough and has personal objectives that place him at odds with Morgan.

It does not take Morgan long to figure out that Cencula and his group is being dishonest. Morgan additionally feeling the effects, to which the original title of "Rising" alludes, of extended close proximity to the E.T. creates additional emotional turmoil within this already damaged individual.

The aforementioned developments prompt Morgan to flee into the tropical jungle of the remote (and "uncharted desert" ?) isle on which Cencula is working. This escape attempt requires that Morgan use her kick-ass skills to do just that regarding the men whom Cencula sends after her.

The release of the seemingly more vicious of the two titular visitors from another world complicates matters and contributes unintentionally hilarious humor to the film. Schlock master Rober Corman, who has more than 400 producing credits, could not have designed a more apt monster for this film or orchestrated a better rampage for it.

All of this culminates in an explosive climax followed by an somewhat predictable finale that leaves the door open for a sequel. Fans of good low-budget sci-fi can only hope that that follow-up becomes a reality.

The special features on the DVD consist of a "making of" feature.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Rising" is welcome to either email me or connect on Twitter via

Saturday, January 17, 2015

OSCAR NOMINATED 'The Judge' BD/DVD: Downey, Jr. Presents Iron-Clad Defense in Murder Trial of Dad Duvall

Product Details
The Blu-Ray combo. pack of the Oscar-nominated 2014 film "The Judge" that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is making available through the WBShop and the other usual suspects on January 27, 2015 includes Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film as well as a code for a digital HD version. The accolades for this legal/family drama includes an best supporting actor Oscar Nomination for Hollywood royalty Robert Duvall.

This film is also notable for casting Robert "Iron Man"  Downey, Jr. in a role that does not have him playing either an exceptionally quirky goofball or a lead in a summer blockbuster. In this respect, "Judge" seems to be one that is made for Downey in exchange for the higher profile films that he makes to add another cash cow to the studio herd. It further provides a look at a more mature and mellowed Downey.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a trailer for "Judge" provides an exceptionally good sense of the film and the terrific jobs  by Downey and Duvall.

Although "Judge" is chock full of cliches and stereotypes, it works because they are done well. The simple truth is that these familiar concepts achieve this status because they have elements of truth.

Downey's Hank Palmer starts out as a somewhat watered down version of a typical Downey character. He is an arrogant high-powered big-city defense attorney who does not hesitate to literally pee on the prosecutor. At the same time, Hank does not engage in outrageous courtroom antics.

Hank is also an escapee from both the small Indiana town where he grew up and from father Joseph Palmer. Joseph, played by Duvall, is the titular adjudicator.

The apt leisurely pace in this film about small-town and family drama is conducive to the reveals that ultimately tell the complete tale of the conflict that prompts young Metallica fan Hank to abruptly leave family and friends behind to lead the life that brings him to the point of being a highly skill legal shark.

The cliched family tragedy that brings Hank home after a couple of decades away is the death of his mother. This plot point provides a good character development device.

The filmmakers do not disappoint regarding expectations of shots of an unhappy Hank sitting on a plane and then driving past fields and rural road signs before hitting a textbook Main Street on his way home to attend the funeral of his mother.

Hank predictably hightails it back to the big city ASAP after laying his mother to rest but returns almost as quickly on learning that Joseph is charged with a murder regarding a death on the night of the funeral. The fact that the dead man is a defendant regarding whom Joseph ill-advisedly shows leniency many years earlier complicates the matter.

It is equally interesting that the circumstances regarding the death that provides the basis of the criminal charges against Joseph relate to a literal first day lesson in an introductory criminal law class. The professor presents the scene that one person shots another and then asks the law students if the person who fires the gun is guilty of murder. The spoiler is that the correct response is "it depends."

Comic relief in "Judge" comes in the form of the amusing Dax Shepard playing local attorney C.P. Kennedy, whom Joseph initially hires to defend him. The quirks of the Pylesque Kennedy include vomiting due to nerves outside the courthouse each day of the trial.

The cliches end with Hank discovering highly relevant information related to the mental state of Joseph at the time that the car that he is driving collides with the bicycle that the soon-to-be-deceased man is driving. Understandable pride on the part of Joseph creates conflict with Hank, who would rather see his father (or any other client) validly set free than have him unnecessarily sacrifice his freedom to preserve his reputation.

The final scene returns us to predictable cliche territory but is well presented nonetheless. The impulse to comment that we see a stark difference in Downey by this point is to strong to resist.

The final arguments regarding the merits of "Judge" are that the entire cast (which includes numerous household names) does a nice job, the film presents universal truths about family to which most of us can relate, and the filmmakers nicely execute this effort to blend courtroom and living room drama. Additionally, the charm and arrogance of Downey contribute oodles of nice humor.

"Judge" additionally sends an awesome message that a multi-plex success can attract both top-notch stars and the general public without resorting to raunchy dialogue or costly pyrotechnics and cutting edge effects.

The extras include extensive interviews with Downey, Duvall, and other folks both in front of and behind the camera.

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

Friday, January 16, 2015

'Foster's Home for imaginary Friends' S3 DVD: Cartoon Network Answer to 'Calvin and Hobbes'

Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends: The Complete Third Season
The Warner Archive 14-episode 2-disc DVD release of the 2005-06 S3 of the Cartoon Network original animated series "Foster's Home for imaginary Friends" fits the textbook definition of "delightful." This premise of this adorable show, which should equally appeal to boys and girls, is that eight-year-old human Mac must visit his imaginary friend Bloo at the titular residential-care facility every day to avoid having another child adopt this creature whom Mac has "outgrown."

One of the best things about "Foster's" is that it has the same spirit and imaginative spark as the best-ever comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes."  Similar to "Foster's," Calvin centers around an all-American boy and his imaginary friend.

This creative and fun show is the brainchild of Craig McCracken; other great programs from this genius include "The Powerpuff Girls" and "Dexter's Laboratory." (A cross-over involving all three series would be beyond fantastic.)

The animation style of "Foster's" falls squarely within the middle of the highly stylized superhero sagas that Warner Prime produces and the cheaply made fare that is typical of lesser-known small-studio productions that littered the airwaves on Saturday mornings in the '70s.

Bloo and his fellow odd Foster's residents keep things entertainingly hectic. This mischief-maker, the very nervous monster Eduardo (think a highly neurotic Cookie Monster), the officious rabbit-man hybrid Mr. Herriman and the others all have strong personalities that make a bad situation hilarious.

Mac's fellow humans include the elderly Madame Foster and her early 20s granddaughter Frankie, who is the caretaker charged with cleaning up the tremendous literal and figurative messes at the establishment.

The third season commences with an homage to "Fight Club" in the form of an underground organization that pits imaginary friends against each other. Our gang gets involved when the desire of Mac's obnoxious teen-age brother Terrence to enter a friend in the competition coincides with a bullied Eduardo wanting to prove to his friends that he is not a "big scaredy baby."

Typical teen boy obnoxiousness is also the center of a later episode in which an individual who strongly resembles a mid-teens lad in appearance, word, and deed demands entry into the home on the ground that it is required to shelter any imaginary friend seeking a place to live. The hilarity this time extends beyond the strong evidence of fraud regarding the allegedly imaginary Goofball John McGee to said individual placing comically heavy demands on an already over-taxed Frankie.

An episode in which Mac frantically tries to get his friends out the door for a flight to Europe has a strong sitcom vibe and could be filmed as a famcom entry. Mac telling an anxious friend that flying to Europe is safer than driving to the airport prompting a fear of riding on the home's bus is a good example of the humor in this one.

The season finale unfortunately is weaker than the others in this season. This one commences with the entertainingly hyper and immature Bloo becoming jealous regarding attention that fellow resident Coco is receiving. Coco creating a popular series of trading cards that depict the friends leads to Bloo becoming obsessed with collecting said memorabilia. This episode is just a bit drawn-out (no pun intended) and not especially funny. 

The special feature consists of the S3 Christmas special; this particularly good outing has Bloo staging a warped "Christmas Carol" themed con in an effort to increase his Christmas morning. Meanwhile, Mac is engaging in his own hilarious effort to maintain his faith in the existence of Santa Claus.

The terrific elements discussed above combine to form a show that is well worth watching; it will also make you wish that you could visit this large abode full of the wackiest individuals whom you could ever conjure up in your mind.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

'Boy Meets Girl' DVD: James Cagney Shows His Screwball Comedy Side

Boy Meets Girl
Warner Archive showing that the range of Hollywood royalty James Cagney extends well beyond his tough-guy gangster persona is one of the best treats regarding Archive DVD releases. A recent example is the Unreal TV reviewed uber-awesome Blu-ray release of the classic George M. Cohan musical biopic "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

The Archive DVD release of the 1938 screwball comedy "Boy Meets Girl" showcases the wild and crazy side of Cagney. This further illustrates the studio system of the era that somewhat randomly matches contract players with roles. The incredible versatility of Cagney makes all these efforts successful regarding him.

The following spoiler-laden clip, courtesy of YouTube of a pivotal scene in "Boy" provides an excellent sense of the talent of the cast and the superb writing and directing in the film.

The role of zany screenwriter Robert Law has Cagney delivering lines in a manner that Archive aptly describes as tossing "words around like hot potatoes." The equally good Pat O'Brien does a great job keeping up with Cagney in the role of Law writing partner J.C. Benson. The highly satirical depiction of the studio system contributes to the fun of this film that Archive informs us is based on a successful Broadway play of the same title.

Fellow Hollywood nobility Ralph Bellamy plays overwhelmed film producer C. Elliott Friday, who is the foil of the boys. Seeing Friday try to control these crazies while simultaneously overseeing the making of three films and contending with the conflict between what he asks for and what he wants is comic gold.

One of the best scenes has frantic and motor-mouthed Law and Benson offering a rapid-fire description of the variations on the titular film cliche only to segue into pitching the idea of adding a baby into the mix. This element brings pregnant studio food service employee Susie, wonderfully played by "Walk of Fame" comic actress Marie Wilson, into the insanity.

The ensuing hilarity also ropes in faltering Western star Larry Toms into the action as the star of the proposed film.

The success of the innovation makes the baby a star, creates hilarious problems for Larry, and allows Wilson to show off her talent for playing a dumb blonde.

The satirical aspect of the film wonderfully includes seemingly constant incidents of self-serving grasping, manipulations, flat-out fraud, and betrayals. These dirty studio politics makes those associated with running the federal government look respectable.

This is aside from the publicity-related shenanigans that include a staged incident during a scene in which Ronald Reagan plays an announcer at a movie premiere.

The seemingly constant general developments and twists in this film build up palatable suspense regarding which boy who meets which girls ends up with same, if they even do in this deliciously cynical film.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Dallas' S3 DVD: New J.R. (Somewhat) Same as the Old J.R.

Product Details

The Warner Home Entertainment January 13, 2015 DVD and Digital HD releases of S3 of the TNT "Dallas" reboot provide the proverbial chances to bring home all the action and drama in this wrap up of  one of the most successful franchises in television history.

S3 is notable as well for more fully shifting the action from the nefarious schemes of evil oil tycoon J.R. Ewing, played by Larry Hagman, and his power struggles with more ranching-oriented younger brother Bobby Ewing, played by Patrick Duffy, in the original '80s series (OS) to the nefarious schemes of J.R. offspring John Ross and John Ross' power struggles with his younger kinder and gentler cousin (and Bobby offspring) Christopher. 

As "Dallas" fans and virtually everyone else knows, the real-life death of Hagman during the filming of S2 is a major catalyst for the shifts in the second half of the run of the reboot. The latter half of S2 largely focuses of the impact of J.R. on the Ewing family and their effort to carry out his final malicious wishes.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a highly stylized trailer for "Dallas" S3 offers a good look at the intense drama and Western aspects of this season.

An observation in a recent review on the February 2014 DVD release of "Dallas" S2 that the lifestyle of the Ewings disappointingly lacks opulence makes a scene in the S3 season premiere exciting. John Ross announces grand plans to remodel the Ewing family homestead South Fork. His reasoning includes that it is about time that the family lives like the rich folks that they are.

The multiple storylines that keep the action at a pace comparable to a Texas rodeo includes the ongoing battle between the J.R. faction of the family and those on Team Bobby regarding drilling for oil on South Fork. The opening scene in the pilot for the reboot focuses on this issue; an S3 fight between oil rig workers and ranch hands reinforces the strong feelings regarding it.

The conflict relates to Team J.R. wanting to profit from the large quantity of oil under the ranch and those on the side of Bobby whose concerns include the impact on the land and the desire (which is well known to OS fans) of '80s-era matriarch Miss Ellie Ewing to never drill on the land.

John Ross further honors his father by engaging in dirty dealings in the boardroom, the bedroom, and the living room toward making family company Ewing Global obscenely profitable and to force Christopher and Bobby out of that enterprise.

This scheming brings an especially violent and ruthless drug cartel, a middle-eastern monarch, and  other nefarious types into the mix. Having the grandson of '80s era Ewing foe Carter McKay join the fray until provided enough rope to hang himself greatly contributes to the fun.

One handicap is that John Ross portrayor early thirties Dallas native Josh Henderson does not play gleeful ruthless and evil as well as Hagman. Henderson has some success filling Hagman's shoes but still somewhat comes across as the Scrappy-Doo of "Dallas."

The shortcomings of Henderson are most blatant regarding his efforts to undermine the much-older and wiser Bobby, who has roughly 30 years of experience of wrangling with the master under his belt. As John Ross' mother Sue Ellen (played by OS cast member Linda Gray) tells her son, Bobby beat J.R. more times that he should have.

One of the best scenes related (pun intended) to this nephew-uncle rivalry has Bobby hilariously informing John Ross about the presence of an endangered species in the drilling area. The reaction of Henderson offers further proof that he has a while to go before reaching the skill level of Hagman.

Long-time Ewing nemesis Cliff Barnes, played by OS member Ken Kercheval, spends the season trying to recover from the intense fall that he suffers at the hands of Bobby et al at  the end of S3. His own millennial addition to the series being against him because of severe harm that she suffers at his hands in S2 is not fatal; Barnes has his own foxy ally in the Ewing hen house.

The telenovella aspects of the reboot that the aforementioned review of S2 addresses are particularly strong regarding new Ewing enemies Harris Ryland, played by "The X Files" veteran Mitch Pileggi, and his creepily close mother Judith Ryland. The manner in which Judith Light portrays Judith removes any doubt regarding who is the boss in the Ryland home and company.

The involvement of the Rylands with a with the aforementioned drug cartel both plays a role in the dealings of that cartel affecting the Ewings and in an over-the-top scene in which the former Angela Bower partially strips down, requests coke, and then indulges in said elicit substance. This is on top of scenes with Harris that have disturbing elements of incest. Having this Judith further be the madam of the best little whorehouse in Texas is the marshmallow in the s'mores at the campfire that is S3.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, oil expert (and daughter of long-time South Fork cook Carmen Ramos), Elena Ramos is moving on from romantic involvements with the younger Ewing boys to hook up with dangerous Mexican Nicolas Trevino with whom she has a different type of past.

The Ramos family involvement with the Ewings further includes drama relates to fulfilling the desire of the father of Elena to drill for oil on land that he once owned that is now Ewing property. An aspect of this ties into the Barnes-Ewing feud.

The explosive on many levels season finale is typical of shows of this era; it wraps up numerous loose ends and creates new ones. The good news is that the viewing public is very desensitized to series being cancelled before tying up every storyline.

All this amped-up conflict truly makes "Dallas" a show for the 2010s. The sad micro and macro-level answers to the question "can't we all just get along" are "no." Like our fictional counterparts, virtually everyone feels both that his or her needs and desires supersede those of others to the extent that the ends always justify the means and that "resistance is futile" makes for a accurate commentary.

This ruthlessness provides a model for those who agree with the above sentiment and offers good entertainment for those of us who understand that things operate this way but hope for change.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding either the OS or the reboot is welcome to email   me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It’s hilarious cat and mouse high jinks on "The Tom and Jerry Show Season 1 Part 2: Funny Side Up" DVD!

Product Details
The Warner Brothers Home Entertainment press release for the January 13, 2015 DVD release of "the Tom and Jerry show: Funny Side Up" shares regarding this 13-episode set of the second half of the first season of this Cartoon Network series that "everyone's favorite cat and mouse duo storm back on the scene." A tag line on the back cover of the DVD set expresses a similar sentiment in stating "the cat and mouse battle for the house."

Along a similar line, an article at the time of the premiere episode of "Tom" earning a top rating for its time period essentially reports that the more than 50-year history of these characters shows there apparently are endless variations on how a cat can chase a mouse. This piece is negligent only in not mentioning that the impact of the classic adventures of Tom and Jerry includes the hilarious "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons on "The Simpsons."

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a Cartoon Network promo. for "Tom" expertly conveys the terrific fun and look of the show. It will make you want to get a cat and mouse of your own despite the ensuing heavy property damage.

The wonderfully retro opening credits for "Tom" has Tom Cat chasing Jerry through the 50s-style letters of the title of their series; this leads to two always amusing (and often hilarious) roughly 10-minute shorts featuring our stars.

The arguably best aspect of this series for old-school animation fans is that the buzzkills behind non-violent cartoons are absent; these cartoons are chock full of wonderfully twisted cartoon violence that lacks any lasting impact.

The aptly titled "Turn About" gets the set off to a great start by having house cat Tom and tougher alley cat Butch compete for the affection of the sultry cat named Ginger. An initial hilarious scuffle between the boys regarding getting ice for Ginger results in Tom being the victor with the prize being an invitation to Ginger's home.

Butch subsequently sabotaging the efforts of Tom to make the rendez-vous results in simultaneous adventures. Jerry the mouse and his baby cousin Tuffy (who can be considered the Scrappy-Doo of "Tom") inadvertently repeatedly pummel Tom out of a mistaken belief that he is a hideous creature.

Meanwhile, Butch is outsmarted in that he becomes the victim of fall-on-the-floor funny pranks at the paws of the most adorable mischief-makers ever. Lighting dynamite under the chair in which Butch is sitting right below a chimney is a personal favorite in this sequence.

The Tom and Butch rivalry continues in another notable episode; a competition for the honor of "Top Cat" leads to these boys facing off in a competition to capture Jerry; this leads to under-handed tactics to foil this effort and to incurring the wrath of Spike the bull dog, who is Jerry's protector.

An adorable Christmas entry titled "The Plight Before Christmas" occurs in the regular format of Tom and Jerry living with two witches who rule with iron wands. The fallout from the antics in which our heroes engage requires that they go out in the woods in search of a Christmas tree.

Santa is the victim of a subsequent magic-related mishap during the aforementioned mission; the resolution of this dilemma provides a sweet (but not saccharine) holiday message.

The aforementioned success in keeping the concept of playing cat and mouse fresh includes our heroes traveling. "Just Plane Nuts" and "Crusin' for a Bruisn'" are self-explanatory and another outing uses "Star Trek" technology to transport these furry fellas to Paris.

This discussion of the latest exploits of two of the most enduring and successful animated characters ever shows that there is no reason that they will be scrapping in hologram form or whatever other technology entertainment is being presented in 50 years from now.

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

'The Indian Doctor' S1 DVD: New Physician Seeks to Curry Favor With Welsh Patients

The Indian Doctor - Series One DVD
Watching the BFS Entertainment DVD release of Series One (my people call them seasons) of the award-winning BBC dramedy "The Indian Doctor" further confirms both that BFS rules regarding releasing British shows and films in North America. These episodes also show that the (previously reviewed) S3 of "Doctor" nicely builds on the earlier developments in the program.

The historic elements of "Doctor" extend beyond setting the show in a small Welsh mining village of Trefelin. Dr. Prem Sharma emigrates to the UK in response to broad recruiting efforts by health minister Enoch Powell. The "Green Acres" vibe regarding this extends beyond Prem wanting a rural adventure; his cultured wife Kamini actively resists this move and has great difficulty fitting in with most of the locals.

The following promo., courtesy of YouTube, for "Doctor" offers a nice look at the origin story of the titular medical practitioner and the charm of the series.

Sanjeev Bhaskar, who is arguably best known for playing Sanjeev Kumar in the classic British comedy series "The Kumars at No. 42," is wonderful as the stoic and charming Prem who must contend with hostility both from his wife and his new community. He is the doctor whom you want to treat you and the friend who would see you through as many rough patches as life throws in your path.

The eccentric locals provide more of the humor than the culture clash. Ambitious and unscrupulous mine manager Richard "Dickie" Sharpe, played by "Harry Potter" actor Mark Williams, is a hilariously impotent mid-level bureaucrat. The pretentious nature of the not-so-sophisticated Mrs. Sylvia Sharpe is equally fun and makes the social-climbing efforts of "that Bucket Woman" in the Britcom "Keeping Up Appearances" pale in comparison.

The greatest hits of Sylvia include a comically inept effort to host an Indian meal, shamelessly throwing herself at a dreamy rugby star at least 15 years her junior, and inadvertently broadcasting her marital woes to the entire community. Seeing the genuinely cultured Kamini politely show up Sylvia is equally entertaining.

The dreamy Alexander Vlahos of the "Merlin" television series also shines as aspiring singer Tom Evans. He does a spectacular job with the dances and songs of the day and engages in a sweet courtship that ultimately involves a tough situation.

The younger mischievous Dan Griffith provides even better humor as an adorable juvenile delinquent who develops a close S1 relationship with Kamini that extends through S3. The blase manner in which this under-aged lad drives a stolen car and commits a burglary hinders any efforts to stay mad at him.

The eccentric situations in which Prem finds himself as the medical practitioner for the area include being called on to deliver a calf and dealing with two women with whom a local man is concurrently engaged in a committed relationship.

A more serious season-long story arc has Richard initially frantically trying to prevent Prem from discovering evidence of a black lung problem and Prem subsequently trying to get the miners to cooperate with efforts to document this problem. The obstacles that Prem faces extended beyond being a foreigner; the close-knit mining community generally distrusts newcomers of every nationality and additionally value their economic well-being over their physical health.

Another story line that contributes to the S1 drama relates to guilt that Prem experiences regarding a death in India.

The well-blended compound of talented well-cast actors and good writing makes "Doctor" a good prescription for folks suffering from the wintertime blues.

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

'Dr. Gillespie Movie Collection' DVD: Awesome Kildare Follow Leaves You Wanting Barrymore

Dr. Gillespie Film Collection
Warner Archive continues honoring the awesomeness of the Dr. Kildare franchise with a six-film 3-disc DVD release titled "Dr. Gillespie Movie Collection." Fans of the original Doctor McDreamy know that Gillespie is the entertainingly cranky expert diagnostician who mentors the attractive and charming Kildare.

The Wikipedia entry for "Gillespie" reports that these movies lack Kildare because movie-era Kildare portrayor Lew Ayres was dropped from films in the franchise after declaring himself a conscientious objector regarding the WWII draft. An Unreal TV review of the Archive nine-film collection of Kildare movies shares thoughts regarding these offerings. Unreal TV also has posts on the '60s "KIldare" television series starring uber-dreamy Richard Chamberlain.

The following clip, courtesy of Archive and YouTube, from a "Gillespie" film perfectly conveys the wit and wisdom that screen legend Lionel Barrymore contributes to that character.

"Gillespie" starts with the 1942 melodrama "Calling Dr. Gillespie." This one stars Donna Reed as a finishing school student whose serious boyfriend Roy suddenly turns psychotic. Gillespie is called in and ultimately finds himself the object of the rage of said "excitable boy." The wonderfully campy '40s style depiction of the rampage and stalking by the young man is as entertaining as watching the girls at the finishing school fawn all over grandfather-figure Gillespie.

Roy returns in the aptly titled 1943 film "Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case." This socially conscious movie has Gillespie advocating transferring Roy from the prison where he is serving time for the offenses that he commits in "Calling" to a psychiatric facility. The main obstacles that Gillespie faces relate to convincing the powers-that-be that the bad acts that land Roy in the slammer are manifestations of said illness.

"Criminal" includes a terrific sequence involving prisoners capturing hostages and going on the lam. This contributes great cops-and-robbers fun to the film.

The 1942 film "Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant," which is sandwiched between "Calling" and "Criminal," introduces a concept that runs throughout the remaining titles in the collection. The professional demands on Gillespie prompt him to begin the process of selecting a young doctor with whom to work. Two of the three candidates are Dr. Randall Adams, played by future matinee idol Van Johnson, and the very Brooklynesque Dr. Lee Wong How. Number One Son Keye Luke from the Charlie Chan films plays Lee.

Like "Calling" and "Criminal," "Assistant" centers around a disease of the mind (rather than of the body.) In this case, a truly newlywed woman suddenly asserts a strong case of amnesia. This provides the candidates for the coveted position of closely working with Kildare to compete to determine the cause of the condition.

"3 Men in White" has Lee and Adams competing in the final stage of the selection process for the job with Gillespie. This contest requires that each diagnose the baffling case that Gillespie assigns him. The ensuing friendly rivalry and collaboration are nicely entertaining.

The post-war film "Dark Delusion" is the final entry in Gillespie series and has little to do with him or his aforementioned potential assistants. Gillespie sets the action in motion by recruiting young Dr. Tommy Cobalt to fill in for a absent small-town doctor.

Similar to underlying issues in "Calling," Cobalt soon becomes involved in the puzzling case of wealthy young Cynthia Grace. In contrast to the parents of Roy in "Calling" denying that their son has serious psychological problems, the father of Cynthia wants his daughter treated at a psychiatric facility. However, Cobalt is not convinced that that course of action is best.

The dramatic battle of wills between professionally vulnerable Cobalt and stereotypical wealthy and powerful Wyndham Grace contributes wonderful conflict to "Dark." Lee literally wrestling a reluctant patient provides some of the best humor in the entire "Gillespie" series.

The diagnosis regarding "Gillespie" is that it is a good group of films, and the eccentric group of medical professionals at Blair General Hospital from which the titlular physician operates (no pun intended) keep things interesting. Gillespie regularly wrangling with nursing supervisor Molly Byrd and browbeating and otherwise tormenting rookie physicians for their own good alone make the films worth watching. The wonderfully nostalgic war-era patriotism is simply a nice bonus.

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

'Dallas' S2 DVD: Aptly Crude Blend of Old and New

Product Details
This belated review of the Warner Home Entertainment 4-disc 15-episode February 2014 DVD release of the second season of the TNT "Dallas" reboot is timely regarding the (soon to-be-reviewed) January 13, 2015 DVD release of the third and final season of this prime time soap. S2 is notable as the season in which legendary television villain J.R. Ewing, perfectly played by Larry Hagman in both series, truly breathes his last breath in a storyline worthy of the original series (OS). Stating that this plotline creates a "cliff" hanger is very apt.

The following frantically paced clip, courtesy of YouTube, of S2 of the new series provides a good sense of the modern kick-ass style of this update. These brief scenes also provide glimpses of the original cast members who appear in this reboot.

The reboot picks up roughly 25 years after the end of the OS that depicts the standard-establishing soapy drama in the lives of the oil-rich/ranching Ewing clan of the titular Texas community. Then youngster cousins John Ross and Christopher Ewing are at the center of much of the modern drama.

The Ewing clan still lives at the ginormous family homestead known as South Fork. Further younger brother Bobby's (played by Patrick Duffy) son Christopher and J.R.'s son John Ross are their fathers' offsprings and are continuing the same types of conflicts as those of their parents that made the OS "stay-home" Friday night television.

This aspect of the OS, as well as including even Audrey Landers and virtually every other living member of the primary original cast, is clearly designed to appeal to the fans from the '80s. Having a younger and hunkier cast portray the current Ewing generation and those in their universe compared to the original cast during the airing of the OS is an obvious effort to attract a more youthful demographic.

Old school fans will delight in seeing John Ross and Christopher (respectively coached by their fathers) fight for control of Ewing Energies. A nod to the 21st century has Energies involved in both the oil business and the alternative energy technology that is largely the brainchild of Christopher.

The involvement of long-time Ewing enemy Cliff Barnes, played by OS star Ken Kercheval further contributes to the nostalgic feel of the new series. Barnes bringing his own millennial into the fray is consistent with the updates in the series.

The unexpected real-life death of Hagman prompts a storyline that is manna to OS fans; the writers pen a wonderfully soapy death for J.R. and create an aftermath that is perfect for that character. This includes a funeral scene in which "mourners" openly (and hilariously) express their scorn for the not-so-dearly departed. One can imagine J.R. (and Hagman) looking up at all that with his trademark grin.

The new series does less well regarding shamefully adding an over-the-top telenovela feel to the "Dallas" lore to appeal to the new generation of fans. These include John Ross' mother Sue Ellen (played by OS star Linda Gray) being both the perpetrator and victim of dirty politics in her campaign to be elected Governor of Texas, an oil-rig explosion that subsequently requires a risky surgical procedure, and the involvement of secondary character in a drug-smuggling operation.

The new series further dilutes the fun by eliminating most of the grandeur of the original series; the South Fork decor is tremendously scaled-down, the Ewing bedrooms are no larger or more expensively furnished than those of a typical American middle-class home, and the fashions do not seem to even warrant consideration for the Mr. Blackwell Best-Dressed List.

The fact that we are living in much tougher times than existed in the '80s only means that seeing one-percenters live in the fashion to which they were once accustomed is that much more important; escapism is necessary more than ever.

It also is sad to not see the motel art portrait of family legend Jock Ewing anywhere in sight; even casual OS fans know of the importance of that "art" work.

Despite the influence of the 21st century on a 20th century classic, "Dallas" entertains nicely and provides plenty of male and female eye candy.

Many of special features that the abundance of riches regarding extras in the S2 DVD set include revolve around the deaths of Hagman and J.R. Other features include footage of a PaleyFest 2013 "Dallas" panel. Additional goodies include deleted scenes and an extended episode.

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

'Gold is Where You Find It' DVD: Landowner Claude Rains' Daughter Olivia de Havilland Finds Inappropriate Romance

Gold Is Where You Find It
The Warner Archive DVD release of the glorious Technicolor 1938 drama "Gold is Where You Find It" is an awesome part of a collection of such releases of Olivia de Havilland films. Including the Unreal TV reviewed 1943 screwball romcom "Government Girl" in this group demonstrates that de Havilland is more than just a pretty face with a well-known talent for the type of dramatic performance that she delivers in "Gold" and more famously in "Gone With the Wind."

The following clip, courtesy of Archive and YouTube, of scenes from "Gold" highlight the spirit of  deHavilland and the dynamics among the members of her family.

Classic elements of Westerns in "Gold" include pitting landowners who use their vast properties for agricultural purposes against mining companies whose knowledge that "there's gold in them thar hills" prompts activity in the region above the farms and ranches that ruins those properties for farming and raising livestock. This is very analogous to the sheep farmers vs. cattlemen conflict that is often at the center of an oater.

The audience is also treated to a saloon fight, a shoot out, and plenty of horse riding.

"Gold" enhances the fun with 14-carat romantic drama. This consists of deHavilland's Serena Ferris, who is the daughter of  a wealthy landowner whom Claude Rains portrays, falling in love with mining company employee Jared Whitney, played by regular Bette Davis co-star George Brent. Brent is in town to address problems with the local operation. Ferris Sr. forbidding Whitney from seeing Serena adds to the drama regarding this Romeo and Juliet story.

Wonderfully cute interaction between Serena and Whitney includes the pride of the former regarding inviting the latter to visit the orchard that she maintains and essentially asking "how do you like them apples." This pair also has several heartfelt moments which these drama veterans expertly pull off.

"Gold" further offers the bonus of having two mid-scale dramatic confrontations between the landowners and the miners. The first occurs at the mine just before commencing activity that greatly threatens the land below, and the second occurs in a courtroom. The latter includes a nice discussion of the law that determines property rights.

This alloy of Western and romance depicted by the golden boys and girls of 30s-era Hollywood make "Gold" an enjoyable treasure. It is difficult to imagine any critic of the day panning it.

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