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/August)
07/08 - The Monkees - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
07/12 - Grady - The Best of Grady
07/20 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 5th Season
07/26 - Family Matters - The Complete Seventh Season (WBShop.com)
07/26 - Where's Huddles? - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
08/02 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
08/09 - Maude - The Complete Final (Sixth) Season
08/23 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Three
08/23 - Superstore - Season One
08/23 - The Wonder Years - Complete Series (New Slipcase Version)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Sunday, August 28
The Simpsons - "The Burns Cage" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Smithers is devastated by Burns’ lack of affection towards him, Homer makes it his mission to find him a boyfriend. Meanwhile, after Bart orchestrates the removal of the lead in the school’s stage production of “Casablanca,” Milhouse serves as a terrible understudy, which frustrates his co-star, Lisa.
The Simpsons - "Teenage Mutant Milk-Caused Hurdles" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
A new teacher arrives (guest voice Sofia Vergara) at Springfield Elementary, and a captivated Bart tries everything to win her over. Meanwhile, Homer decides to buy a new brand of “milk,” which causes early puberty, both for Bart (augmenting his wooing powers) and Lisa (whose small bout with acne opens her up to the world of makeup and popularity).
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Oolong Slayer" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When investigating a serial killer, Jake enlists Holt’s help in an attempt to solve the case off the radar. At the precinct, Rosa and Amy are forced to deal with demands from an old adversary and Terry discovers a new obsession.
Family Guy - "The Heartbreak Dog" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Meg begins working at a retirement community and starts stealing from the residents. Then Chris finds out and wants in on the heist. When the residents catch them, they blackmail them and force the thieves to listen to all of their boring stories.
The Last Man on Earth - "Fourth Finger" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With little else to do, Tandy starts a prank war within the group. Meanwhile Todd establishes his dominance.
Monday, August 29
- Tika Sumpter (The Game) - Watch Tika on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also talks about Southside with You on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Jerrod Carmichael (The Carmichael Show) - Jerrod is a guest on Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.
- Walton Goggins (Vice Principals) - Walton appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identiy) - Jerry is a guest on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12:05am on BET or on your local stations.
- Chris D'Elia, Ron Funches, Rick Glassman and Brent Morin - The cast of Undateable are guests on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
- Sally Field (Gidget/The Flying Nun) - Sally whips up a delicious Pea Pesto & Potatoes with Mario Batali on a repeat of ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/One Day at a Time) - Valerie bakes up her Sicilian Love Cake for dessert on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Tyler Labine (Deadbeat/Animal Practice/Mad Love/Sons of Tucson) - Tyler talks about Zoom on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Emeril Lagasse (Emeril) - Emeril explains the surprising origins of his catchphrase “Bam!” on People Now at 8:30am.