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

Thursday, August 28

Two and a Half Men - "Tazed in the Lady Nuts" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Walden joins his beautiful former employee on a brilliant new project. Meanwhile, Alan advises Jenny to open up to her girlfriend or risk losing her. Odette Annable guest stars as Walden’s former employee, Nicole and Aly Michalka returns as Jenny’s girlfriend, Brooke.

The Millers - "Cancellation Fee" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Nathan tries to date his mother’s dentist in secret after Carol adds her to the Miller Family Blacklist for charging her a $75 cancellation fee for being late to her appointment. Meanwhile, Carol goes to great lengths to get her money back, and Tom can’t figure out why he keeps waking up with gum stuck in his hair.

Welcome to Sweden - "Separate Lives/Saknad" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bruce (Greg Poehler) returns to the United States to help out his former client, Amy Poehler (guest starring as herself), who is in desperate need of his aid in resolving her financial issues. Back in Sweden, Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) remains unsure of where her relationship with Bruce stands, and has difficulties dealing with her ex-boyfriend Marcus (guest star Gustav Roth) who has resurfaced after being away. Meanwhile, Viveka (Lena Olin) yearns to recapture her youth and spends a girls night out on the town with Emma, but things don’t go quite as planned.

Welcome to Sweden - "Home/Återförening" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After a night out, Bruce (Greg Poehler) finds himself in a compromising position with Aubrey Plaza (guest starring as herself). Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) and Gustav (Christopher Wagelin) do their best to reunite their parents Viveka (Lena Olin) and Birger (Claes Månsson). Meanwhile, Bruce runs into obstacles, including Amy (guest star Amy Poehler), who has her own agenda, in his quest to return to Sweden.

Married - "Waffles and Pizza" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
AJ and Lina encourage Russ to consider a shady real estate deal. Jess's boss puts her in an uncompromising position.

You're the Worst - "Equally Dead Inside" (FX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Jimmy opens up emotionally, which completely freaks Gretchen out.

Love That Girl - "The Kid Is Not My Son" (TV One, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jasmine lands a broadcasting gig in Alaska so Delroy is forced to hire a temp. The temp, however, accuses Delroy of sexual harassment and it's up to Imunique to clear his name. And back in Alaska, Jasmine slowly finds out that she's been catfished by the Naked Bunny Channel.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 25) (All times ET unless noted)

Thursday, August 28

  • David Duchovny (Californication) - Catch David on a repeat of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) - Jason appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Bill Cosby (The Cosby Show/Cosby/The Bill Cosby Show) - Bill chats on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Biggs (Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason guest co-hosts a repeat of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Julie Bowen (Modern Family) - Julie appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Niecy discusses women's issues on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Molly Ephraim (Last Man Standing) - Molly shares behind-the-scenes stories from Last Man Standing on a repeat of Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Timothy Simon (Veep) - Timothy is a guest on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • The Cast of The Love Boat - Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange, Fred Grandy, Lauren Tewes, Jill Whelan and theme song singer Jack Jones are guests on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.