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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, June 20

The Goldbergs - "Colors" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Barry enlists the JTP to help him break up Beverly’s group of friends so Barry can have all the attention but soon realizes he made a major mistake when Beverly gets into a fight with her friends. Meanwhile, Adam’s attempts to trick Murray into loving theater backfire.

The Goldbergs - "Jackie Likes Star Trek" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Adam and Jackie disagree over their Halloween costumes, Murray teaches Adam to be a shell of a man to keep Jackie happy; however, it backfires quickly also causing an issue for Murray and Beverly. But they soon all learn to compromise in their own special way.

Modern Family - "Brushes with Celebrity" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan recount all their biggest celebrity encounters. Phil shows a house to his musical hero and is determined to make a good impression despite the intense pain radiating from a very inconvenient part of his body. Meanwhile, Jay’s day at jury duty takes an unexpected turn when he gets to serve it alongside one of America’s biggest football icons. Finally, Manny’s encounter with his favorite playwright and a celebrated actor and comedian don’t go exactly as you’d expect.

American Housewife - "Field Day" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Katie wants to prove to the Westport moms that she is fully capable of competing at Field Day at Anna-Kat’s school, but she ends up taking the competition a little too seriously. Greg enlists Taylor’s boyfriend, Trip, to help him make the family recipe for chili in a local competition, which makes Taylor and Oliver jealous.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Downtown Gabi" (Freeform, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Elliot and Yolanda worry about how their work lives will change now that Josh and Gabi are a couple.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Third Wheel" (Freeform, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Sofia hits it off with Josh's dentist, but Gabi isn't so sure he's the right one for her.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 18)

Wednesday, June 20

  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Watch Nick on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Alison Brie (GLOW/Community) - Alison visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Chris is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Burt Reynolds (Evening Shade) - Burt appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Animal Practive/Better with You) - JoAnna guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared), Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show), Jay Pharoah (White Famous) and Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - The Ellen DeGeneres Show features funny guys from Season 15, so check your local listings.
  • Kym Whitley (Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) - Kym is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Jai Rodriguez (Malibu Country) - Jai guest co-hosts Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/CafĂ© Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie prepares one-skillet suppers on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Sydelle Noel and Britney Young (GLOW) - Sydelle and Britney talk about GLOW on Chatter on PeopleTV at 8pm.
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Jamie Lee (Crashing) - Jamie appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) and Daniella Pineda (The Detour) - Chris and Daniella talk about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry talks about Sorry to Bother You on the BUILD Series at 10am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June)

Living Single - The Complete Fifth Season Step by Step - The Complete First Season Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season One Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fourth Season Last Man Standing - The Complete Sixth Season

06/05 - Living Single - The Complete Fifth Season
06/05 - New Girl - The Complete Sixth Season
06/05 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-First Season (Blu-ray)
06/12 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fourth Season
06/12 - Life in Pieces - The Complete Third Season
06/12 - The Office - The Complete Series
06/12 - Speechless - The Complete First Season
06/12 - Speechless - The Complete Second Season
06/12 - Step by Step - The Complete First Season
06/12 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season One (Blu-ray)
06/19 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fourth Season
06/26 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Fifth Season
06/26 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Sixth Season
06/26 - The Mick - The Complete First Season
06/26 - The Mick - The Complete Second Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest