Saturday, July 30, 2011
Digital Digest: Exporting Raymond DVD Review; The Color Honeymooners - Best of Collection DVD Review
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.
DVD Review - The Color Honeymooners - Best of Collection
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.
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SITCOMS AIRING TONIGHT (May 23)
The Big Bang Theory - "The Santa Simulation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sheldon revisits some Christmas memories during a game of Dungeons and Dragons, while Penny, Bernadette and Amy try to find a girl for Koothrappali when he joins the girls for ladies' night.
Two and a Half Men - "I Scream When I Pee" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Alan’s smokin’ hot, famous ex-wife, Kandi, wants him back. Meanwhile, Berta isn’t interested in celebrating her birthday, so Walden helps make it special. April Bowlby (“Drop Dead Diva”) returns as Alan’s second ex-wife, Kandi.
Save Me - "The Book of Beth" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Series Premiere)
“Save Me” premieres with Emmy nominee Anne Heche (“Hung”) starring as Beth Harper, an absentee wife and mother who suffers a dramatic near-death experience and is revived only to discover that she now receives messages from God. As she warms up to her powers and begins dispensing advice that is astonishingly accurate, her husband Tom (Michael Landes, “Final Destination 2”) is skeptical and their teenage daughter Emily (Madison Davenport, “Shameless”) is horrified. Complicating matters even more, Tom’s mistress Carly (Alexandra Breckenridge, “American Horror Story”) shows up to confront Beth about the affair and quickly gets a shocking surprise. Read our review.
Save Me - "Take it Back" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Beth (Anne Heche) begins a new life on the straight and narrow and wants to make amends with old friends she has offended. Her efforts to return a long-ago stolen espresso machine to next door neighbor Maggie (Joy Osmanski) are rebuffed. Meanwhile, Tom (Michael Landes) learns to adjust to his wife’s newfound ability to communicate with God and they both try to re-establish some sense of normality with their old friends and their daughter Emily (Madison Davenport).
The Office - "Couples Discount" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Office pairs off into pretend couples to take advantage of a Valentine’s Day discount at a local mini-mall. Erin (Ellie Kemper) assures Pete (Jake Lacy) she will break up with Andy (Ed Helms) when he returns, but he has good reason to doubt her. Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) share a meal with Brian, the documentary's sound man.
Parks and Recreation - "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Andy (Chris Pratt) visit Ben (Adam Scott) and April (Aubrey Plaza) at their new jobs in Washington D.C., and Leslie feels overwhelmed by the city -- especially after meeting two of her idols (Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe). Meanwhile, Ron (Nick Offerman) throws a “thank you” barbeque for the entire Parks and Recreation staff.
Men at Work - "The Gibbs-Orcism" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Tyler's new girlfriend is all too familiar to Milo and Gibbs, so they do their best to hide the truth from him. Neal and Amy do their best to avoid the "anniversary curse," but they can't seem to escape their fate.
Anger Management - "Charlie, Kate and Jen Get Romantic" (FX, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Martin tries to undermine Charlie and Kate's relationship by telling Kate that Charlie and Jennifer are getting back together.
Big Time Rush - "Big Time Bonus" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Gustavo gives the guys a bonus for their hard work, but they quickly begin to make bad decisions with their money. Carlos hires a personal assistant, James buys a snake he can't live without, Kendall accidentally buys a truck full of oranges and Logan can't resist the power of tipping and getting favors done in return.
Wendell & Vinnie - "The Dutch & Us" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Wendell befriends a lonely student from Holland, Jann. But when Jann abandons Wendell for a cooler crowd, Vinnie decides to help Wendell win him back by putting them in a situation where they're forced to spend time together.