Saturday, December 22, 2012

Digital Digest: More on Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction Releases From MPI; An American Christmas Carol DVD Review

Happy holidays, and welcome to our first Digital Digest of the winter season! We've got a VERY slow news week this week, but we're here regardless with a special Christmas edition. This week, we've got a review of An American Christmas Carol. Let's get those reindeer going!

DIGITAL NEWS

Last month, we told you about a pair of Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction releases that appeared on a recent MPI insert, but we had confusion about what these were all about, particularly the Petticoat Junction release. This week, TVShowsOnDVD.com got a little more information about the Petticoat Junction release, but there still isn't a whole lot of clarity about what this release will actually be, or if it will actually contain any episodes. We'll let you know more once we know more, of course.

Shout! Factory will be finishing up the '80s detective series Simon & Simon in January with their release of Simon & Simon - The Final Season. The three disc set is scheduled to be released on January 15 as a Shout! Select title, and will cost $24.99.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (December 25) is Christmas, and the studios are taking a break from releases. So, for perhaps the first time in years, we have no releases to discuss for next week.

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

An American Christmas Carol

DVD Review: An American Christmas Carol (Shout! Factory, $29.99)
by Todd

In this unique retelling of Charles Dickens' beloved A Christmas Carol, Henry Winkler is Benedict Slade, a heartless finance company president in Depression-era New England. He shatters the Christmas hopes of his debtors by mercilessly repossessing their most prized goods - and then fires his faithful assistant, Thatcher, on Christmas Eve.

Alone in in his apartment, the selfish Slade is visited by three ghosts - Christmas Past, Present and Future - who take him on a late-night journey and reveal the bitter truths of his life to teach him the true meaning of Christmas. This wonderful tale of a 20th-century Scrooge is a moving and heartfelt adaptation that brings new life to a treasured holiday classic.

An American Christmas Carol is a made-for-television film. It aired on ABC on December 16, 1979. Eric Till directed the film. It was written by Jerome Coopersmith. The screenplay was inspired by Charles Dickens' 1843 classic novella A Christmas Carol. The film stars Henry Winkler as Benedict Slade, David Wayne as Merrivale, Chris Wiggins as Mr. Brewster, R.H. Thomson as Thatcher, Kenneth Pogue as Jack Latham, Gerard Parkes as Jessup, Susan Hogan as Helen Brewster, and Dorian Harewood as Matt Reeves. Hagood Hardy provided the music.

The packaging is a clear plastic Viva case. Henry Winkler and Derrick Jones (Harry Barnes) are pictured on the cover art. It has a lighted Christmas tree in the background. On the back of the case, there are three circular snapshots from the movie: Helen Brewster and a younger Benedict Slade, the orphan Harry Barnes, and the older Benedict Slade. A synopsis of the movie, the production credits and the DVD specs are provided. Henry Winkler is featured on the spine of the case. Opening up the case, there are three additional snapshots from the movie of Henry Winkler with Derrick Jones, Dorian Harewood and Susan Hogan. Various pine cones and holiday ornaments are used as a border around the photos. It's a very nice and festive design. The disc has the movie title in white text and a shot of the city street, with snow in the background.

There's only a single menu screen. It has a cropped version of the cover art. There's some animated snow falling in the background. An instrumental version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is played in the background before looping after about 35 seconds. There are options for Play Movie and the Interview with Henry Winkler in a red bar. The option you highlight is yellow that turns light blue upon your selection. Chapter stops are placed at the appropriate places where the commercial breaks were originally placed.

According to the packaging, the picture has been newly remastered. Image Entertainment previously released the movie on DVD in 1999. This new Shout! Factory DVD offers improved video and audio quality. They've also released it on Blu-ray. It's a very nice transfer, with only occasional dirt or digital artifacts. The movie is presented in its original 4x3 (1:33) format. It has a running time of 96 minutes. The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. It's not spectacular, but it gets the job done. There is no closed captioning option for this release.

Only a single bonus feature is included, but it's a pretty good one. There's a new interview with Henry Winkler that runs 8 minutes, 40 seconds. He talks about what attracted him to the film. He was very concerned about accepting the role. They show some still shots of the prosthetic makeup design, which was designed by Greg Cannom. It was a lengthy process to put it on and later remove it. He also discusses the process of playing the older Slade. Overall, he seems very proud of the movie and its legacy.

There have been many film and television adaptations of A Christmas Carol over the years, but this Americanized version has always been one of my favorites. This 1979 made-for-TV film doesn't seem to get the same amount of attention or critical acclaim as some of the others. It's just a very well-made and enjoyable movie. There seems to have been less and less television airings of it over the years, but it has continued to live on and be popular on DVD.

Henry Winkler gives an excellent performance as Benedict Slade. This was filmed during a break of Happy Days in March-May 1979. He was concerned that he was be forever typecast as Fonzie, so he accepted this role. He proved here that he's a very versatile and gifted actor. The movie didn't have a huge budget since it was made for television, but it had excellent production values. It was filmed in Ontario, Canada. I thought the costumes and sets looked very authentic for the Depression era and other periods depicted in the movie. The prosthetic makeup design for Henry Winkler, which was done by future Academy Award winner Greg Cannom, was very good. The supporting cast featured many local Canadian actors and really didn't have any big name stars, but they all gave solid performances. Since this movie is seldom shown on television these days, it's definitely worth picking up on DVD or Blu-ray. It's an underrated and overlooked classic that is perfect for the entire family.

(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

To purchase it on Blu-ray, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com



Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
An American Christmas Carol IMDB Page
An American Christmas Carol Wikipedia Page



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Who to Follow: Alec Baldwin Foundation (Twitter), "Supporting the arts and artists, amateur and professional."
Claim to Fame: The Twitter account is titled "Alec Baldwin Foundation," but this account doubles as Baldwin's personal account. Of course, Baldwin is currently in the final season of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, but he is also well known to TV fans from his many appearances on Saturday Night Live (so many that he is practically a regular) as well as his role on Knots Landing in the mid-80s. And, of course, he is also able to claim dibs on the title of the most well-known Baldwin.
Why You Should Follow Him: Really, Alec Baldwin is one of the most interesting celebrities out there. He isn't the least controversial celebrity either. But whether he is getting kicked off of a airplane after refusing to give up his game of Words with Friends or preparing for another episode of Saturday Night Live where he'll get into character of Tony Bennett (by the way, a rerun of last week's episode where he did just that will repeat at 10:00pm ET on NBC tonight), there is no denying that this man is a here to entertain us (as long as you're not one of the many people he gets angry with). But if you can handle the controversy and his strong opinions on many issues, you'll find that Baldwin is just as funny (and, we'll admit, a bit short-tempered) on Twitter as he is in real-life and in his acting roles. And, by the way, the Alec Baldwin Foundation is, as indicated in Baldwin's Twitter tagline, an excellent foundation that supports the arts and artists, amateur and professional... including, perhaps, up-and-coming sitcom stars.
Pick of the Tweets: "You have to take nearly everything you read in entertainment media with a block of salt. The goal is to mock, rib, reduce..." (October 18, 2012)


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March)

227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete First Season The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season

02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, March 22

The Goldbergs - "O Captain! My Captain!" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Beverly substitutes for Barry’s chemistry class in hopes to inspire students in the same way as Mr. Keating from “Dead Poets Society,” much to Barry’s embarrassment.  When Beverly refuses to give Barry special treatment, Murray pushes Barry to work hard and prove to her that he can get a good grade.

Speechless - "R-O--ROAD T-R--TRIP" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The family goes on an annual impromptu family road trip, but Ray has something in store, which angers Maya when she finds out what it is.  But Maya’s relentlessness proves to be helpful when she takes control of an emergency situation involving Ray’s appendix.

Modern Family - "Ringmaster Keifth" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Trying to recover from his Thanksgiving debacle, Cam decides to treat the family to a New Year’s Day feast. After realizing that Cam’s recent attempt is also a complete fail and in order to salvage their meal, Mitch uses a “concierge gift card” that he received as a Christmas gift. Cam soon discovers that the concierge who is on his way to save the day is none other than his ex-boyfriend, Keifth (Kelsey Grammar), a former circus ringmaster who left him without saying goodbye. Meanwhile, Phil’s dad, Frank (Fred Willard) arrives with his new girlfriend, who happens to be Phil’s childhood babysitter, which sets him on a confusing tailspin. Finally, Gloria and Jay have to decide who should take care of little Joe if something should ever happen to them.

black-ish - "40 Acres and a Vote" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With Obama leaving office and the upcoming election, Dre finds a new candidate to believe in – Junior. Junior is running for class president and is overqualified for the job, but he just can’t seem to connect with his fellow classmates. Dre becomes his campaign manager and tries to make Junior appeal to the masses. Meanwhile, Pops, Johan and Jack discuss why they’re not voting in the upcoming election, and Bow is worried that Zoey’s college essay is not going to get her into college.

Schitt's Creek - "Stop Saying Lice!" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Johnny tries to stop the spread of lice; Moira tries to get out of having a garden named after her.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 20)

Wednesday, March 22

  • America Ferrera (Superstore) - Watch America on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She will also be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - Woody stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Michael McKean (Laverne & Shirley) - Michael appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's Burgers) - H. Jon is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Josh Gad (The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Greg Proops (True Jackson, VP) - Greg is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Eugene Mirman (Bob's Burgers) - Eugene appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Laura Dern (Enlightened) - Laura stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. She also talks about Wilson and The Founder on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge/The Drew Carey Show) - Kate is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
  • Rhea Perlman (Cheers/Kirstie) - Rhea talks about Me and My Grandma on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 4:30pm.