Saturday, July 30, 2011

Digital Digest: Exporting Raymond DVD Review; The Color Honeymooners - Best of Collection DVD Review

Welcome to Digital Digest, a place to cool down from the heat in the shade! It's been a very busy news week, thanks to several announcements from Shout! Factory, plus we have two reviews for you this week: Exporting Raymond and The Color Honeymooners - Best of Collection. And we are also back for the second week of our new feature, "Click of the Week," where we introduce you to websites that may be of interest to sitcom fans everywhere, and this week, it is all about the music that we hear in TV shows. So, let's get started!


DIGITAL NEWS

Just this week, MPI released The Honeymooners: The Lost Episodes - Best of Collection, and although it had a nice collection of episodes, fans undoubtedly want more. Little did we know, though, that MUCH more is on the way! On October 4, MPI is set to release The Honeymooners: The Lost Episodes (1951-1957) - The Complete Restored Series, a fifteen disc set that compiles every single one of the still existing lost episodes from that era. That should include all of the ones that air in syndication as "lost episodes," along with many others that have not been seen since they originally aired. It has been reported that archivists at UCLA have restored many of these episodes, though it remains to be seen if they actually will look any better than previous releases from MPI.

Shout! Factory hasn't exactly had a busy week with announcements this week, but some information on TVShowsOnDVD.com let the cat out of the bag (so to speak) about what appears to be their plans through the end of the year. And they have a LOT coming soon, although we just don't know the full details about any of this yet. When we do, we'll tell you more, but here is what we do know. Hazel - Season Two is coming November 1, Webster - Season Four is coming November 22, Designing Women - The Complete Fifth Season is coming December 6 and Adam-12 - Season Six is coming December 13. That is four releases in one sentence! Of course, all of this is subject to change, and there could even be other releases coming that aren't listed here. We'll let you know when we know!

Is The Bob Newhart Show "back from the dead" on DVD? Maybe, because recently, a pre-order for The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Fifth Season popped up on amazon.com! But there is a lot of mystery here still. For one thing, no release date has been given. Also, we don't even know for certain who could be releasing it. While Fox does own the DVD rights to the series, it is possible that they could have licensed the series out to a third party. There are many unknowns, and it is possible that perhaps the release info is just totally premature. But when we know more, we'll let you know.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (August 2) is mostly a bust for new home media releases, but HBO does have several releases of the series Eastbound & Down, including Eastbound & Down - The Complete Second Season (DVD/Blu-ray) and a Blu-ray release of Eastbound & Down - The Complete First Season.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

It may be true that in America, everybody loves Everybody Loves Raymond, but not all things American translate so well in other countries. And that is what the creator of the series discovers when trying to adapt the series for Russians. The documentary Exporting Raymond is a hilarious behind-the-scenes look at the reality of what happens when trying to do just that. Here is our review of Exporting Raymond (DVD/Blu-ray).

DVD Review: Exporting Raymond (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - $35.99 Blu-Ray/$30.99 DVD)

We don’t usually review movies at SitcomsOnline, but we’re taking unique exception with this one because it directly involves one of the most popular sitcoms in recent history. “Everybody Loves Raymond” was extremely popular during its nine-season run on CBS. In fact the show was so popular, that in 2009, Russian television executives decided they wanted to produce their own version of the show, that for purposes of the film and this review, we’ll call “Everybody Loves Kostya.” “Raymond” show creator and writer Phil Rosenthal was tapped to go to Russia t o help guide the producers of the new show, and that’s the basic plot of the film.

Russian broadcasters had great success with their version of “The Nanny” and wanted to copy that success with “Raymond.” Rosenthal decided it would be fascinating to bring a documentary film crew along with him to Russia to document his odd trip, which Rosenthal almost called off when he was told he would need “K&R” insurance. K&R, by the way, stands for kidnapping and ransom.

The main comedy of this movie comes from the “fish out of water” scenario—Rosenthal trying to adjust to how very different the Russian culture is from American culture, and yet adapt his highly popular American show to fit. And believe me, any culture that considers the work of Britney Spears to be art, is a very different one. One hilarious scene comes when Rosenthal has dinner with one of the Russian network executives, who reveals that the main part of his job is producing lasers. Yes, lasers.

One thing he did learn though, is that show business is the same everywhere. The Russian network interfered with casting choices, and generally made things difficult for everyone.

I found the movie to be, while not laugh out loud funny all the time, it did have funny moments, and as someone who works in the television business, I found the storyline fascinating. And as the packaging claims, you do not have to have ever seen an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” to appreciate this film.

I received the Blu-Ray version to review, so it came in a standard blue keep case, with the movie’s poster as the cover… Rosenthal dressed in a Russian-style parka holding a large photograph of the “Raymond” cast, surrounded by critics’ reviews and acclaims from various film festivals. The back cover includes some shots from the film, a description, and a list of special features. The disc itself looks similar to the front cover.
The menu is well designed, especially for a Blu-Ray menu, which can be confusing if not laid out well. You have a choice of Play the Movie, Scene Selection, or Bonus Features. Russian-style music plays in the background while clips of the movie play. The disc has closed captions and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. Chapter marks are in appropriate places.


Considering this is a Blu-Ray release, the video and audio quality are quite good. The film makes good use of the full 1080i afforded by Blu-ray, and some of the exterior shots of Russia are quite beautiful. Audio is in 5.1 surround. Although the Blu-Ray format affords 7.1 sound, I think the 5.1 sound is adequate here.

This disc really benefits from its special features. First is a commentary on the film by Phil Rosenthal, that I unfortunately did not have a chance to listen to before the deadline for writing this review, but I’m sure it’s quite entertaining. There are also roughly 11 minutes worth of deleted scenes, that while they were interesting, they were probably best left deleted. There’s also a theatrical trailer.

I did, however, get to enjoy what is probably the most important bonus feature: two episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and their “Everybody Loves Kostya” counterparts based on the same script. Both versions of each show were hilarious, which just goes to show that no matter what the cultural differences are, husband and wife problems translate to all languages. The Russian episodes, which include English subtitles, are quite hilarious and the actors chosen for the show are very talented. I sometimes found myself laughing before even reading the subtitles. One thing that could have been beneficial, especially since this is a Blu-Ray release, would be to be able to watch the Russian and American episodes side by side or picture-in-picture. While the timing would be way off, and the Russian episodes added subplots that were not in the original, I think that could still have been pulled off somehow. At any rate, I enjoyed getting to sample the Russian show.

Overall, this was a very entertaining movie, and I loved the bonus features. The film belongs in any “Raymond” fan’s library, but can just as easily be enjoyed by someone who has never seen the show. The fish out of water story is pretty universal, and some of Rosenthal’s reaction to the Russian wackiness is priceless. The discs are a bit on the pricy side, I suppose because it is an independent film, but you can likely find discounts. I highly recommend the film.

(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase the DVD version, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

To purchase the Blu-ray Disc version, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

Related links:


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

There have been many incarnations of The Honeymooners over the years, and perhaps one of the least well-known ones are those that aired from 1966-1970, "from the fun and sun capital of the world, Miami Beach!" The series featured Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, as in the past, but now, Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean take over the roles of Alice and Trixie. Here is our review of The Color Honeymooners - Best of Collection.

DVD Review - The Color Honeymooners - Best of Collection
by skees53

The Color Honeymooners - Best of Collection (MPI, $9.98) brings together four of the "best" episodes from the 1966-1970 version of the classic series with the Kramdens and the Nortons on a single disc. Coming in now from Miami Beach, The Color Honeymooners is a little bit of the old in a whole new environment.

The DVD includes the following episodes:

"Be It Ever So Humble" (September 9, 1967) - Ralph fights a $5 rent increase by moving to the country, but not without his tenants, the Nortons.

"The Sun and Raccoon Capital" (November 22, 1969) - Ralph and Ed vie for Highly Exalted Mystic Ruler.

"Two Faces of Ralph Kramden" (November 18, 1967) - Ralph is set up when he resembles a mob boss (note: this is a remake of one of the original lost episodes, "Stand in for Murder.")

"Double Trouble" (December 6, 1969) - Ralph has trouble with somebody using his likeness and bouncing checks while in Sun Valley, Idaho.

All of the episodes seem to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:

"Be It Ever So Humble" (50:36)
"The Sun and Raccoon Capital" (49:19)
"Two Faces of Ralph Kramden" (50:20)
"Double Trouble" (50:30)

The packaging for the disc is pretty standard. It is just a standard DVD case with a very low-resolution photo of Ralph and Ed on the front. On the back of the case, there is a cast snapshot, along with a brief synopsis of the series. The episode titles are all listed on the back. Inside, the disc contains the same artwork as seen on the cover.

The disc really only contains one menu, the main menu. Here, you have a list of all of the episodes on the disc, a Play All option, and an option for subtitles. Though there are no scene selection menus, chapters are placed throughout each episode.

The video and audio quality of the episodes is on par with the previous releases. The episodes definitely look and sound a lot better than the lost episodes from just a decade earlier, thanks to better preservation techniques and the fact that there actually was an effort to preserve these episodes. Still, there are some defects in the video, and the audio is sometimes difficult to hear due to the fact that the series was performed in an auditorium very obviously not designed for a TV show. Each episode has English subtitles.

There aren't any special features on the DVD, but for a best of release, it is rare to find these anyway.

I have grown to like The Honeymooners over the years, but I really think that these color ones are not the greatest of the series. Sure, they have their place in TV history, but they don't exactly live up to the charm of the "classic 39" or the lost episodes from the 50s. But with that regard, I think that this DVD, containing just four episodes, is perfect for the fan who just wants a taste of this version of the series. There are four other collections out there from MPI which contain many episodes, although not all of the episodes were released (and perhaps never will, due to music rights and other miscellaneous issues). But this low-priced DVD will satisfy many fans, I think.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com DVD Reviews Page
The Honeymooners on TV.com


CLICK OF THE WEEK

Tune Find (www.tunefind.com) - Pop culture has combined TV and music so much in recent years. When we watch really old TV series, such as I Love Lucy or Leave it to Beaver, we pretty much never hear any music aside from public domain tunes or tunes created specifically for the show. In the modern era, TV series are full of music, including music from popular artists and indie artists who peak our interest. Sometimes, we hear songs that we like on these TV series and just want to know what the song is. Just this week, I watched the latest episode of Weeds on Showtime, and wanted to know the name of the song that was playing when Heylia James (Tonye Patano) made her return at the end of the episode.

Well, there are websites out there to help you find the songs, and one of my favorites is Tune Find. Tune Find features episode-by-episode listings for many recent (as in the past decade) series from TV, such as Cougar Town, How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs, Weeds, and many others. The website depends upon user contributions, and seems to have rather thorough information on music used in episodes compared to other similar websites. In fact, they even claim to have "30,100 songs. 13,800 artists. 8,800 episodes and movies." The only pitfall of the site is that they don't include any older series at all. Additionally, even a few current series that occasionally use music within the episodes, such as The Office, are not included. But compared to most similar websites out there, this is definitely the go-to place when you are watching a recent series and just want to know "what was that song?"

That's all for this week. Until next time, keep it digital!


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

New Girl - The Complete Season Three The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season

Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season Mom - The Complete First Season Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season

09/02 - Benson - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/02 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Halloween Episodes Collection
09/02 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season Nine
09/02 - The League - The Complete Season Five
09/02 - New Girl - The Complete Season Three
09/02 - Soap - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/02 - What's Happening!! - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/09 - The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season
09/11 - Growing Up Fisher - Season One
09/16 - About a Boy - Season One
09/16 - Awkward - Season 3
09/16 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season (Blu-ray/DVD)
09/16 - South Park - Season 17 (Blu-ray)
09/23 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One
09/23 - How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season / The Complete Series
09/23 - Mama's Family - The Complete Fifth Season / The Complete Collection
09/23 - Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season
09/23 - Mom - The Complete First Season
09/30 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 1 (MPI)
09/30 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season
Other TV Series:
09/02 - Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Tenth Season
09/09 - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
09/16 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Fourteenth Season
09/16 - Castle - The Complete Sixth Season
09/23 - Nashville - The Complete Second Season
09/23 - Scandal - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 1

The Middle - "The Loneliest Locker" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Frankie and Mike scramble to find second jobs in a desperate attempt to afford sending Sue to a good college next year. Sue and Brad strive to do something different and important while writing, directing and starring in the senior play, entitled “The Loneliest Locker,” instead of eating the family out of house and home, Axl literally begins to take the home apart when he removes -- without asking -- as many household items as he can to furnish his and Hutch's new rented house, and Brick drives the family crazy when he finds a box containing all of his noisy and annoying childhood toys -- that were purposely stowed away by Frankie -- and begins playing with them.

The Goldbergs - "Mama Drama" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Adam’s desire to be the lead in the school musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” goes unfulfilled when he’s cast in something other than the leading role. Insistent her son is a star, Beverly casts Adam in a rival show, but when he becomes too self-obsessed for the rest of the cast, Beverly makes a drastic decision. Meanwhile, Murray’s disdain for traffic results in leaving every sporting event early much to Barry’s dismay, including a Flyers game that ends with an unprecedented event. Actor and comedienne Ana Gasteyer guest stars.

Modern Family - "Do Not Push" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
It’s Jay and Gloria’s anniversary and they can’t seem to get on the same page on what kind of gift to give – sentimental or expensive? And, the Dunphys head to Caltech for Alex’s college tour and while Claire is busy convincing her to choose this school and stay close to home, Phil, Luke and Haley branch off to participate in a psyche experiment. Mitch and Cam are taking a new family portrait with Lily to replace the old one above their mantel, but Lily gives some serious face.

black-ish - "The Talk" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dre, disappointed that Bow has already given Andre Jr. “the talk” because she thinks he’s too big of a prude to do it, decides to rectify matters by giving his son HIS version of “the talk.” But Dre soon finds himself wishing he’d left well enough alone when Andre Jr. starts to drive him crazy with non-stop questions about sex.

The League - "The Hot Tub" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Kevin and Jenny get a hot tub, Taco shops for a new home, Pete tries to put an end to hand holding.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Shawn" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Though Shawn thought she was looking for a man named Marcus, Todd discovers that Shawn is actually carrying his child.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 29) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, October 1

  • Cristin Milioti (A to Z/How I Met Your Mother) - Watch Cristin on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Mulaney (Mulaney) - John appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tim Allen (Last Man Standing/Home Improvement) - Tim stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil continues to make the rounds on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also talks about Gone Girl on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton drops by The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Nasim Pedrad (Mulaney) - Tune in to see Nasim on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Tom Lennon (Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Tom is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Ana Gasteyer (Suburgatory) - Ana visits LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings. She will also be on The Better Show, so check your local listings.
  • Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Wanda chats on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher talks about being crowned the "best butt in primetime" and shares who he still keeps in touch with from SVU on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Entusiasm) - Jeff chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. He will also be on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York between 7-10am.
  • James Van Der Beek (Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James dishes with Rach on his new show, CSI: Cyber, and shares an adorable pic of his kids on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Reed Between the Lines/Girlfriends) - Tracee is a guest on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
  • Craig Robinson (The Office) - Craig discusses the USO Comedy Tour on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge) - Kate will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • William Shatner ($#*! My Dad Says) - William discusses his new project Brown Bag Wine Tasting on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia is a guest on The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 2am on BET.