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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New on DVD/Blu-ray (July)
07/07 - Archie Bunker's Place - Season One (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Barney Miller - The Final (Eighth) Season
07/07 - Married with Children - Season Eleven (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Married with Children - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
07/07 - The Michael J. Fox Show - The Complete First Season
07/07 - Playing House - Season 1
07/14 - Growing Pains - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
07/14 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Third Season
07/28 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites - Season 7
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Thursday, July 30
The Big Bang Theory - "The Fortification Implementation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Sheldon and Amy build a blanket fort, they come to major crossroads in their relationship. Also, Wolowitz meets the half-brother he never knew he had, and when Penny is invited to appear on Wil Wheaton’s podcast, she and Leonard have a huge, on-air argument.
Mom - "Nudes and a Six-Day Cleanse" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After realizing she's been a waitress longer than she planned, Christy takes steps towards a new career. Also, Bonnie and Alvin try to recapture their youth.
Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll - "Lust for Life" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Johnny dies. On the internet. And decides to stay dead for financial reasons. Which leads to a big break for Gigi.
Married - "The Sandwich" (FX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Russ and Lina go on separate dates.
Thursday, July 30
- Jason Bateman (Arrested Development/It's Your Move/Silver Spoons) - Catch Jason on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Bella Thorne (Shake It Up) - Bella visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Christine Baranski (Cybill/Welcome to New York/Happy Family) - Christine stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Christina Applegate (Up All Night/Samantha Who?/Jesse/Married with Children) - Christina drops The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Seth Morris (The Hotwives of Orlando/Go On/Happy Endings) - Seth appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) and Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Cedric and Niecy dish about The Soul Man on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
- Roseanne Barr (Roseanne) - Roseanne appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- Tamela and David Mann (Mann & Wife/Meet the Browns) - Tamela and David are guests on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
- Emeril Lagasse (Emeril) - Emeril cooks on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Tahj Mowry (Baby Daddy/Smart Guy) - Tahj appears on The Boris and Nicole Show on select Fox-owned stations, so check your local listings.
- Bobcat Goldthwait (Unhappily Ever After) - Bobcat is a guest on the AOL Build Show.
- Casey Wilson (Marry Me/Happy Endings) - Casey appears on a repeat of Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
- Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi talks about her new single and participation in the upcoming iHeartRadio Music Festival on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
- Vivica A. Fox (Out All Night/Arsenio) - Vivica talks about her new movie Ways to Die on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Jessie T. Usher (Survivor's Remorse) - Jessie will be on Essence Live.
- Damon Wayans, Jr. (New Girl/Happy Endings) - Damon is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.