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:

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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!
Sitcoms Airing Tonight (Wednesday, April 16)

The Middle - "Vacation Days" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After being forced by his work to take a paid vacation, Mike tries to relax but finds his alone time being invaded by Brick, who wants to cash in and implement all of the personal gift coupons he has given his dad for Father's Day and birthdays over the years. Meanwhile, Frankie is livid when she discovers that Axl has been hanging out at the Donahues for the past few days and didn't let her know that he was even in town, and Sue is horrified when she discovers that someone has given her service at Spudsy Malone’s a bad review online and overreacts in her efforts to better please the customers.

Suburgatory - "Blame it on the Rainstick" (ABC, 8:30PM/ET) (Repeat)
When Noah is released from a court mandated anger management program, George is shocked to find a docile Noah has replaced his former hot-headed friend. Shaken by the change, George decides to put the new Noah to the test. Meanwhile, Tessa ditches “senior tanning” and meets a cool new age band hanging out at the park. The free spirited music group isn’t exactly what they appear.

Modern Family - "The Big Game" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With a big football game coming up and a record to break, Coach Cam is intensely focused and showing no mercy even when the opposing team is playing with an unexpected disadvantage. Elsewhere, Claire is determined to prove to the staff that she is more than just the boss’s daughter, and Phil tries to teach his kids a lesson about optimism, but the universe just isn’t cooperating.

Mixology - "Jessica & Ron" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jessica regrets sending a naked photo to Ron and sets out to get him to delete it after realizing she barely knows him. Meanwhile, Liv complicates things between Jessica and Ron and Maya hits it off with an attractive guy who gives her an offer she can’t refuse…or can she? And the chance to hook up is in Bruce’s favor when he meets a woman who is into red-heads, but things quickly begin to look grim when a famous red-head also enters the bar.

Melissa & Joey - "Born to Run" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel's father sends out a racy photograph; Ryder tries to come up with a winning business idea.

Baby Daddy - "Play It Again, Bonnie" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Bonnie asks Tucker for help in reconnecting with her former boyfriend.

Hot in Cleveland - "The Undead" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Elka (Betty White) throws a fake funeral for Victoria so she can join her husband in hiding. Her nemesis, Susan Lucci attends. Simon (Craig Ferguson) and Joy face a dilemma in their relationship.
Guest Stars: Craig Ferguson, Susan Lucci, Matt Iseman, David Cheaney, Laird MacIntosh

The Soul Man - "Oh My Goddy" (TV Land, 11:00PM ET/PT)
Boyce feels the pressure when he's nominated for a big award. So he goes above and beyond to brand himself as the "Second Chance Preacher."

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Reunited" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph and Leslie work on their relationship.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 14) (All times Eastern unless noted)

Wednesday, April 16

  • Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) - Watch Kunal on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Denis Leary (The Job) - Denis appears on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Tracy visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) - Adam appears on The Pete Holmes Show at midnight on TBS.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi previews her new Lifetime movie A Day Late and a Dollar Short on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Billy Crystal (Soap) - Billy stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin talks about new animated movie Rio 2 and her upcoming show at Carnegie Hall on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Alan Thicke (Growing Pains) - Alan talks about his TV and music career, his son Robin and new reality series, Unusually Thicke, on Katie, so check your local listings. He will also be on The Couch on WLNY 10/55 in New York between 7-9am. Finally, he is a guest on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 at 10am.
  • Judy Greer (Mad Love/Arrested Development/Miss Guided) - Judy takes us on a trip to her happy place...the drugstore on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Tasha Smith (Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse/The Tom Show/Boston Common) and Michael Jai White (Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse) - Tasha and Jai are guests on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Marlon Wayans (The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS. He will also be on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher is a guest on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. He will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Valerie Harper (Rhoda/The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Valerie) - Valerie talks about Signed, Sealed, Delivered (premieres April 20 on Hallmark Channel) on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET. She is a guest on Howard Stern.
  • Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl/I Hate My Teenage Daughter) - Jaime appears on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
  • Seth Green (Dads/Greg the Bunny) - Seth is a guest on a repeat of @midnight at 12am on Comedy Central.