Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blog DVD Review: A Shari Lewis Christmas

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the blog DVD review! Since we are in the middle of the holiday season, it makes sense today to take a look at S'more Entertainment's A Shari Lewis Christmas. The Shari Lewis Show of course was the popular children's series starring Shari Lewis and her sidekick Lamb Chop! See skees53's blog DVD review of A Shari Lewis Christmas:

A Shari Lewis Christmas (S'more, $9.98) features Shari Lewis and her (both figuratively and literally) right-hand man (well technically girl), Lamb Chop, in three classic Christmas episodes of the children's series The Shari Lewis Show. For those unfamiliar with Lewis, she was a multi-talented ventriloquist that found success in sock puppets, particularly one that was a lamb that she named Lamb Chop. But Lamb Chop was hardly her only puppet. She also had Charlie Horse and other sock puppets as her "leading stars." Lewis and Lamb Chop made their debut on a WNBC morning show in New York City, and by 1960, they had their own children's show on NBC called The Shari Lewis Show, which is featured on this DVD. Her success continued on for generations and hit a new high in the early 1990s when she revived the Lamb Chop character for the "modern" generation in the PBS series Lamb Chop's Play Along. Here, we have three Christmas episodes from the original series that aired from 1960-1963, as well as one of the Christmas episodes from the WNBC morning show.
In the 12/24/1960 episode (21:05), Charlie Horse and Lamb Chop have a disagreement on Christmas presents. Lamb Chop thinks that people should buy Christmas presents for each other while Charlie Horse thinks that everybody should just buy one present for himself or herself. But is that what Charlie Horse really wants? We get to see even more of Charlie Horse's greed in the 12/23/1961 episode (22:56). Finally, the 12/22/1962 (22:05) involves Lamb Chop getting very upset about opening presents on Christmas, but just exactly why is he so against the idea of opening presents?
The DVD contains a few minor special features. Christmas Wishes from Shari and Lamb Chop (1:19) is just a short message that aired in movie theaters to wish movie-goers a merry Christmas. There really isn't much more to be said about it. Next, we have a Christmas episode of the WNBC morning show Hi Mom! (58:02), which was a weekday variety series that featured many different topics, but part of the entertainment in this episode comes from Lewis and Lamb Chop. This episode is completely intact, including commercials for movies, butter, baby bottles, and even Bosco.
The set is presented in a standard DVD case with a black and white snapshot of Shari and Lamb Chop on the cover (with color decorations surrounding them). Inside, we have just one disc with very basic artwork. As far as the menus, there is nothing truly out of the ordinary about them, with just a little Christmas music in the background and options of Play, Shows, and Bonus. There are no chapters placed within the episodes, nor are there any scene selection menus.
The unfortunate reality of the whole DVD is that this series is old and was not very well preserved. In fact, the video and audio, while it looks as if efforts to clean it up were indeed made, can be described as being pretty bad. Of course, these are not the originally filmed versions that were filmed and placed on the shelf and designed to remain perfect over several decades. These are all kinescopes that were preserved at the UCLA Film & Television archive.
What you'll notice about these shows is that the lighting levels are pretty bad, the picture sometimes jumps around, and the audio levels are INCREDIBLY low. No closed-captioning is available, at all. The runtimes for the episodes seem to suggest that perhaps some things were edited and removed from the episodes. In fact, you'll notice some strange edits here and there. However, my gut feeling is that the only thing that was removed was sponsorship elements, as these were episodes preserved in an archive. It seems unlikely to me that an archive would preserved materials that are intentionally edited to allow more commercial time.
This is a great DVD for those that love true vintage children's television, although personally I have to say that isn't really something I'm in to. Still, it was fun to see what children were watching on TV back in the "golden age" of television, and to see how much children's TV has changed over the decades. Back then, it was much simpler to entertain the youth of America, but these days, you have to go over-the-top, be cutting edge, and be flashy to attract the attention of children. Even Shari Lewis had to adapt to the "modern era" in her PBS series Lamb Chop's Play Along, which was nothing at all like this series. One thing that I find interesting, though, is that these are all Christmas episodes, while Lewis herself was actually Jewish. Of course, having a Hanukkah episode of a series would have been a little out of the ordinary in the 1960s, but she did do a Hanukkah episode of the PBS series in the 1990s. In any event, fans of Shari Lewis, puppets, or just vintage children's programming are sure to enjoy these episodes. They also have a lot of positive messages about what the Christmas spirit is all about that anybody is certain to get a lot out of.
-- Reviewed by skees53
(3.5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
The Shari Lewis Show TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January/February)

I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete First Season

01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One / Review
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two / Review
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, February 20

Kevin Can Wait - "Neighborhood Watch" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Donna’s cousin, Irene (Claire Coffee), comes to visit with her chatty husband, Stuart (Alexander Chaplin), Kevin concocts an elaborate plan to avoid spending time with them by forming a neighborhood watch group with his buddies, including his neighbor, Rootger (Bas Rutten).

Man with a Plan - "Kate's First Date" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Kate is asked out on her first date, Adam can’t curb his overprotective ways. Also, Don enlists Lowell’s help to buy the perfect anniversary gift for Marcy.

Superior Donuts - "Trust Me" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Arthur is reluctant to let Franco make the shop’s bank deposit, Franco accuses his boss of not trusting him. Also, James regrets confiding in Randy after she shares an embarrassing secret about him with other cops at the station.

2 Broke Girls - "And the Jessica Shmessica" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Bobby (Christopher Gorham) invites Caroline to a party to meet his family, she is eager to make a good impression but isn’t prepared for the torch that his mother and sisters still carry for Bobby’s ex-girlfriend. Also, Caroline’s nerves are even more frayed when the diner gang decides to tag along. Guest stars include Nora Dunn as Bobby’s mother, Teresa, and Kerri Kenney-Silver as his sister, Denise.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 20)

Monday, February 20

  • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Watch Jason on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Norm Macdonald (The Norm Show/A Minute with Stan Hooper) - Norm is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Keke Palmer (Scream Queens/True Jackson, VP) - Keke appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - NeNe guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit and Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H) - Mike, Loretta and Jamie are guests on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Anne-Marie Johnson (What's Happening Now!!) - Anne-Marie discusses diversity at the Oscars on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) - Adam joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Rosie Perez (Search Party) - Rosie is a guest on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York sometime between 7-10am.
  • Regina Hall (Grandfathered) - Regina appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Louie Anderson (Baskets/The Louie Show/Life with Louie) - Louie is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.