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 (February/March)

227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete First Season The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season

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
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, March 28

The Middle - "Look Who's Not Talking" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Although excited about finding a new discount store that sells oddly shaped fruits and vegetables, Frankie is devastated when Axl refuses to talk to her or even answer her texts after inadvertently admitting how she feels about April in front of him. Meanwhile, Brick develops a new quirky tick in the form of a repetitive phrase and lands in detention, and Brad surprises Sue by coming out for a weekend visit at her college.

American Housewife - "Surprise" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Oliver tells his parents that he’s so embarrassed by their modest house that he’d rather not have a birthday party at all. Katie decides to teach him a lesson by ambushing him with a surprise party at home with all his wealthy friends.

American Housewife - "The Man Date" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Greg is delighted to finally have made a friend in Westport, fellow history buff Stan (guest star Timothy Omundson), but Katie isn’t as happy, especially since Stan is married to her nemesis, Chloe Brown Mueller (Jessica St. Clair).

Fresh Off the Boat - "The Taming of the Dads" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Eddie reluctantly agrees to take Alison to the see a modern remake of Romeo and Juliet. But when Louis and Alison’s dad bond over their love of Shakespeare and crash their date, Alison wonders if she and Eddie’s relationship has lost its spark. Meanwhile, Jessica gets called for jury duty and campaigns to be the “Jury Boss,” and Emery and Evan struggle with the responsibilities of raising a Tamagotchi digital pet.

New Girl - "San Diego" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Jess continues to stay with her dad (guest star Rob Reiner) in Portland, they unexpectedly help one another with their love lives. Meanwhile, Nick turns to a reluctant Aly for help with his relationship with Reagan, and Schmidt contemplates using his first name.

The Mick - "The Bully" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The tables are turned when a cyber bully targets Sofia, leading Mickey to come up with a plan for revenge. Meanwhile, Jimmy teaches Chip and Ben how to be self-sufficient, resulting in a painful disaster.

Trial & Error - "Right-Hand Man" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
A new piece of evidence emerges that leads Josh (Nicholas D'Agosto) an unlikely, and dangerous, new suspect: Larry's (John Lithgow) brother-in-law, Jeremiah Jefferson Davis. Meanwhile, the case takes another turn when the search for the murder weapon leads Dwayne (Steven Boyer) to find a dismembered human arm.

Trial & Error - "Secrets & Lies" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
As Josh (Nicholas D'Agosto) focuses on his new suspect, Larry (John Lithgow) insists on taking a lie-detector test to help prove his innocence, but the results drop a bombshell on the case and the family. Dwayne (Steven Boyer) briefly becomes a hometown celebrity as the man who found an arm in the lake, and the team gets a surprising new benefactor.

The Detour - "The Heat" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The Parkers settle into a seemingly normal New York City routine but are being surveilled by federal agents who see more than they had suspected they would see.

Mann & Wife - "Take Me to the Mann" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The new Lieutenant arrives at the precinct, and everyone soon learns that she and Hobbs have a romantic past; A cable installer confuses Toni for singer Tamela Mann.

Mann & Wife - "Pressured by the Mann" (Bounce TV, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Toni faces a moral dilemma when the administrators at her school decide to change the students' standardized test results; Hobbs' mother brings her new fiance for a visit.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 27)

Tuesday, March 28

  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Catch Alec on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) - Jason is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Hank Azaria (The Simpsons/Free Agents/Herman's Head) - Hank visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge/The Drew Carey Show) - Kate appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Cheryl Hines (Son of Zorn/Suburgatory/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Cheryl is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Adam Pally (Making History/The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) - Adam drops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kevin James (Kevin Can Wait/The King of Queens) - Kevin is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea drops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall appears on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Busy Philipps (Cougar Town) - Busy guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Keke Palmer (Scream Queens/True Jackson, VP) - Keke reveals what it’s really like being a child star, plus, the truth behind her struggles with anxiety and depression on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Todd Grinnell (One Day at a Time/Four Kings) - Todd appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Richard Dreyfuss (Your Family or Mine) - Richard talks about Shots Fired on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • George Lopez (Lopez/George Lopez) - George chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Melissa Peterman (Baby Daddy/Reba) - Melissa share her recipe for Mexican pizza on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) and Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) - Jenna and Rachel talk about Imaginary Mary on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
  • Sutton Foster (Younger) - Sutton talks about Younger on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.