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
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
To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
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!
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New on DVD/Blu-ray (February)
02/16 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series
02/16 - The Brady Kids - The Complete Animated Series
02/16 - Girls - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
02/16 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - The Complete Series
02/16 - Togetherness - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Sunday, February 14
The Simpsons - "Friend with Benefit" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Lisa befriends Harper, a new kid at school who happens to be super-rich. Then, Homer befriends Harper’s dad and is able to enjoy the perks of Lisa having a rich friend, as well. But Lisa decides that Harper is a bully and moves to end the friendship, which prompts Homer to try and smooth things over so he can continue to enjoy the good life.
Bob's Burgers - "The Gene and Courtney Show" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Gene and Courtney get their big break when they are asked to be the new hosts of the morning announcements, but their romantic history threatens to get in the way. Meanwhile, Tina’s attempt to play Cupid goes tragically awry when she volunteers to spear-head the Valentine’s Day carnation fundraiser.
The Simpsons - " Love Is in the N2-O2-Ar-CO2-Ne-He-CH4" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Lonely Professor Fink uses science to turn himself into a man whom women find attractive. Then, overwhelmed by the attention, he invents an algorithm to perfectly pair the lonely men and women of Springfield, realizing that scientific exploration is his true love. Meanwhile, Marge, Bart, and Lisa visit Grampa for Valentine’s Day and try to rescue the old folks from a drug-induced hallucination that allows them to relive their happiest memories.
Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life - "How to Survive Losing Your Phone" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Cooper faces the ultimate, life-halting devastation when he loses his phone, and the guys stop at nothing to help him get it back. Meanwhile, Leslie and Kelly’s karaoke duet turns into an all-out bar brawl.
Family Guy - "An App a Day" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Peter learns about phone apps and overloads his phone with them. He buys a new phone with more memory and gives his old phone to Chris, which causes a series of horrible events. Meanwhile, Stewie joins a tennis club and invites Brian to be his tennis partner.
Bordertown - "High School Football" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Bud becomes the high school football coach after the previous coach is forced out of the job by the local redneck fans. Bud, desperate to win, discovers a secret weapon – an illegal immigrant whom he sees gracefully and skillfully run across the border. Of course, this kid also happens to be the No. 1 drug mule in Mexico.
Stuck in the Middle - "Stuck in the Middle" (Disney Channel, 8:45PM ET/PT)
Inventor Harley is ready to accept a community award after she figures out how to get her family out of the house on time.
Monday, February 15
- David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - Watch David on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig drops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Jason Sudeikis (The Last Man on Earth/The Cleveland Show) - Jason appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) - Jerry is a guest on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
- Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Jim appears on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Allison Williams (Girls) - Allison stops by LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
- Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Brandy Norwood (Zoe Ever After/The Game/Moesha) - Brandy chats about Zoe Ever After on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Fran Drescher (The Nanny/Happily Divorced) - Fran plays accomplice to co-host Clinton Kelly during a mystery ingredient party on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- William Shatner ($h*! My Dad Says) - William discusses his new book Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour and on HuffPost Live at 1:30pm.
- Giacomo Gianniotti (Selfie) - Giacomo is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Alison Brie (Community) - Alison visits ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
- The Cast of The Facts of Life - It's a special Facts of Life Reunion with cast members including Charlotte Rae, Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields and Geri Jewell on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT. Lisa Whelchel cooks a Mexican corn bread; DIY blinged roller skates; how to achieve Blair's fabulous hair from The Facts of Life; a prep school inspired fashion show; singer Gloria Loring performs The Facts of Life theme song; how to make a personalized DIY diary.