Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mini-DVD Review: Pioneers of Television (Jan. 29); Solomon's Weekly Rant: Sick of Seacrest, VH1 Obsessed with Flavor Flav, Sony TV DVDs

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for mini-DVD reviews and Solomon's Weekly Rant! First up, are the mini-DVD reviews. Today week we take a look at PBS Home Video's Pioneers of Television. Pioneers of Television is a recent four-part PBS series that took a look back at the pioneers of late night, sitcom, game shows and variety. See both my and Todd's mini-DVD review of Pioneers of Television:

Pioneers of Television

Pioneers of Television (PBS, $24.99) brings us the wonderful four-part documentary series that focuses on the pioneers of television in four different genres...late night, game shows, sitcoms and variety shows.
On the late night portion it features many of the most important figures to emerge on the late-night scene. Merv Griffin gives his last interview before passing away, and Regis Philbin offers revelations about his years as a late night sidekick to Joey Bishop. Dick Cavett and Arsenio Hall provide insight into how their shows broadened the late-night audience. For the first time, Sigourney Weaver offers personal details about her father, Pat, inventor of The Tonight Show and one of the most visionary TV executives ever.
For the sitcom portion, it focuses on the five key sitcoms that shaped the genre: I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Then we have game shows and it traces one of broadcasting's strongest genres, from its nascent beginnings in radio through its heyday in the late 60s. Bob Barker talks about his earliest work, and Merv Griffin details the "eureka" moments that led to the creation of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
Finally for variety, it begins with Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town and Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater, and progresses through The Carol Burnett Show, Smothers Brothers and Laugh-In, among others.

Let's start this review off with the packaging. It is a simple movie style case that holds a disc inside. We have two buttons to pull to do that. The cover has some of our pioneers on the cover in black & white such as Johnny Carson, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Barker, and Lucy & Desi. PBS Home Video logo is on the top followed below by the title of the DVD (Pioneers of Television), along with the four segment titles. The back of the case has details on the set, along with break-downs of each segment, special features list, and some of the stars that are interviewed on this set. When we open the case we get the disc...it is in blue with the logo of the documentary.

The main menu screen has the same montage of black & white photos as the cover art. The Pioneers of Television logo is in red and the four specials are in yellow. There are options for Play Programs, Scene Selections, Special Features and PBS. org . On the Play Programs sub-menu, there is a photo of Johnny Carson waving in front of NBC Studios. For Scene Selections, there are a number of options for each special. Johnny Carson and Steve Allen are on Late Night. Lucy and Desi are featured on Sitcoms. Flip Wilson is on Vareity. A young Bob Barker is featured on Game Shows. The Special Feature sub-menu offers a photo of Phyllis Diller and Johnny Carson.

The video and audio are of course good since this special was just aired. Some of the archive clips might not look as good, but that is to be expected. There are chapter stops within each genre, but it depends on the genre. It is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 2.0 Stereo. Closed captioning is available. The total running time is approximately 220 minutes.

We will rundown a bit about each special and who you will find on it.

Late Night (55:36) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Introduction; Steve Allen; Jack Paar; Johnny Carson; Merv, Joey, & Dick; Credits. We get comments from Tim Conway, Jay Leno, Johnathan Winters, Phyllis Diller, Dick Cavett, Betty White, Andy Williams, Merv Griffin, Regis Philbin, Tommy Smothers, Doc Servinsen, Ed McMahon, Arsenio Hall, Steve Allen, Hugh Downs, Sigourney Weaver, Pat Harrington, Florence Henderson, Barbara Eden, Bob Uecker, and Jack Narz.

Sitcoms (55:35) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Introduction; Jackie Gleason; Lucy and Desi; Danny Thomas; Andy Griffith; Dick, Mary and Carl; Credits. We get comments from Mary Tyler Moore, Joyce Randolph, Jim Nabors, Andy Griffith, Marlo Thomas, Dick Van Dyke, Art Linkletter, Florence Henderson, Tony Orlando, Barbara Eden, Pat Harrington, Tim Conway, and Rose Marie.

Game Shows (55:35) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Mark Goodson, Ralph Edwards, Groucho Marx, The Scandals, Password, Let's Make a Deal, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Hollywood Squares, Chuck Barris, Emcee job, Women as emcees, Bill Cullen, Credits. We get comments from Bob Barker, Dick Van Dyke, Merv Griffin, Tom Kennedy, Betty White, Monty Hall, Bob Eubanks, Peter Marshall, Phyllis Diller, Chuck Woolery, Wink Martindale, Jack Narz, Bob Stewart, Dick Cavett, Hugh Downs, Florence Henderson, and Vicki Lawrence.

Variety (55:37) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Introduction, Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle, Red Seklton, Arthur Godfrey, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Pat Boone, Sid and Imogene, Carol Burnett, Smothers Brothers, Laugh-In, Flip Wilson, Tony Orlando, and Credits. We get comments from Phyllis Diller, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway, Tony Orlando, Sid Caesar, Tommy Somothers, George Schlatter, Art Linkletter, Pat Boone, Pat Harrington, Peter Marshall, Andy Griffith, Jerry Stiller, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Dick Cavett, Dick Van Dyke, Andy Williams, Jonathan Winters, Jim Nabors, Vicki Lawrence, Betty White, and Arsenio Hall.

As for special features, we get about 15 minutes worth of expanded interviews. Betty White talks about her first sitcom: Life with Elizabeth. Phyllis Diller discusses the final Ed Sullivan Show. Dick Cavett tells a story about meeting Johnny Carson, who was performing as a magician in Nebraska. Florence Henderson recounts a painful experience that happened to her on a live TV show. Merv Griffin talks about his big break and meeting Jack Paar by accident. Jonathan Winters tells how he and Orville Wright lived in the same Ohio town at the same time. Tim Conway explains how pie-in-the-face-humor isn't all that much fun.

We recommend this set for any fan of television, especially television history. There are brand new, compelling interviews from nearly 100 classic stars. It has something for everyone...either late night TV, sitcoms, game shows, or variety shows. These are the people and shows that launched a TV industry. Recite your favorite lines "Heeeeeere's Johnny!," "Come on Down!," or "Lucyyyy," and learn more about these pioneers by ordering this DVD!

-- Reviewed by Pavan and Todd
(4/5 stars)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Pioneers of Television PBS Page


Solomon's Weekly Rant
Saturday, January 26, 2008
"Sick of Seacrest; VH1 Obsessed with Flavor Flav; Sony TV DVDs"
By Solomon Davis

Seems like everywhere you turn these days when watching TV there is Mr. Ryan Seacrest looking right back at you. He has hosted the Emmys, co-hosting Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on ABC, award show's red carpet shows and now has been selected to appear on Fox during Super Bowl Sunday to host the pregame show and red carpet. This man knows nothing about football and probably has never watched football a day in his life but we still get to see him on the biggest sports day of the year just because he hosts that American Idol. It's a good thing Fox doesn't air the NBA Finals because we would definitely see his face again in the month of June. What's next for him? The World Series on Fox? Seacrest Out!

You mean to tell me that VH1 is going to air another series of Flavor of Love in February so we can see Flavor Flav search for love for a THIRD time? I mean how many times is Flav going to do a Flavor of Love series in this decade? It looks like VH1 won't stop airing this show until Flav finds that special someone which will probably mean Flavor of Love 10 before I'm 40. I always thought that a new year for a cable network meant NEW PROGRAMMING for viewers but I guess I'm just that stupid.

Sony actually released the season two DVD of Barney Miller to start a new year when so many of its other shows are close to completion? Barney Miller's last DVD release was in 2004 and all of a sudden there is a season two release before seasons 7 of All in the Family and The Jeffersons, season 3 of Diff'rent Strokes, and season 2 What's Happening Now!!? What in the hell is going to make season 2 of Barney Miller sell so much better in 2008 when it didn't sell well in 2004? They had better release 227 and Who's the Boss' second seasons then since they haven't gotten a season two set yet either. I guess this means season 2 of Maude will hit the shelves in 2011 since season 1 was released last year. Slow Sony!

Agree or disagree with Solomon? Discuss it here.

DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, July 25

Jessie - "Space Out" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Ravi scores a trip to outer space for his birthday with Jessie and the Ross kids; when Ravi remains on Earth, the trip takes a startling turn.

Girls Meets World - "Girl Meets Father" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
It's time for the Matthews' annual trip to Coney Island for roller coasters and family bonding; this year, Riley would rather go to the school dance; while processing his daughter's adolescence, Cory also deals with giving Maya an ``F.''

Dog with a Blog - "Pod People From Pasadena" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Avery's been chosen to create a float for the town parade and enlists her father's help; after watching a movie, Chloe's convinced that her family has been taken over by aliens and that the float is a spaceship.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 21) (All times ET unless noted)

Friday, July 25

  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris and the rest of the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.
  • John Stamos (Full House/Jake in Progress) - John appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Mike Vogel (Grounded for Life) - Mike stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Mary McCormack (Welcome to the Family) - Mary is part of the guest panel on a repeat of Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney is part of the guest panel on a repeat of Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
  • Kelsey Grammer (Partners/Frasier/Cheers) - Kelsey chats about his upcoming FX series Partners on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) and Nat Faxon (Married/Ben and Kate) - Judy and Nat talk about their new FX series Married on Wake Up on Taylor on SiriusXM Stars Channel 109 sometime between 7-10am.
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub (How to Be a Gentleman) - Mary Lynn is a guest on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:35am. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET. Finally, she is a guest on Arise TV at 3pm.
  • Fran Drescher (The Nanny/Happily Divorced) - Fran will be on HuffPost Live.