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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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.
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.