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 (June)

Ballers - The Complete First Season The League - Season 7 - The Final Fantasy Maude - The Complete Fifth Season Workaholics - Season Six Two Guys and a Girl - The Complete Series

06/14 - Ballers - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
06/14 - The League - Season 7 - The Final Fantasy
06/14 - The League - The Complete Series
06/14 - Maude - The Complete Fifth Season
06/14 - Survivor's Remorse - The Complete Second Season
06/21 - Workaholics - Season Six
06/24 - The Monkees - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
06/28 - Two Guys and a Girl - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, June 29

The Middle - "Land of the Lost" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Frankie becomes worried about Mike, who is being more quiet and distant than usual, and calls on Reverend TimTom to come over and try to find out what’s troubling him. Meanwhile, Sue invites an excited Brick to spend a weekend with her at college, which includes a tour of the library. But when Sue bumps into Logan — the hunky Abercrombie guy who had asked her out to prom — and once again falls under his dreamy spell, she realizes that Brick is no longer with her and is now missing; and Axl and Hutch decide to take matters into their own hands by complaining to the city when their house is completely overrun with ants, and they discover that they may have even more problems than an insect infestation.

The Goldbergs - "Magic Is Real" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Inspired by David Copperfield’s walk through The Great Wall of China, Adam becomes a magician in order to impress a girl at school. Meanwhile, Barry has no interest in taking the PSAT, but when he discovers his friends and girlfriend plan to do so, he’s hit with a harsh reality.

Modern Family - "Spread Your Wings" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sick of having the ducklings around the house, Claire and the kids seize an opportunity to help expedite the ducks leaving the nest while Phil is off visiting Alex at college. Meanwhile, Jay helps Mitch with Lily’s sleepover with her friends from her Vietnamese dance troupe; and Gloria and Cam are off on a hot pepper heist carefully orchestrated by Manny in order to meet a big hot sauce delivery deadline.

black-ish - "The Leftovers" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Dre and Bow realize they don’t have a legal guardian for their kids, they make it their mission to find replacement parents should anything happen to them. Meanwhile, Zoey and Junior reveal the truth to Jack about their old dog’s death and other family secrets he naively accepted.

Fresh Off the Boat - "We Done Son" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Jessica and Honey’s friendship hits a rough patch after an argument about the investment property. Louis’s old friend Barry (J.B. Smoove) overstays his welcome. And Eddie starts a part-time job working for DMX.

The Real O'Neals - "The Real Book Club" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Eileen faces her book club for the first time after her family’s “outing,” but things take a surprising turn when instead of shunning her the ladies begin opening up – way too much – about their own problems. Kenny’s first trip to the “gayborhood” coffee shop is everything he’d hoped for, until Pat tags along with him to a gay dodge ball match.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Fostered" (Freeform, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Elliot and Alan's new foster daughter turns out to be a teenager with an attitude problem.

Baby Daddy - "Unholy Matrimony" (Freeform, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben pretends to be Bonnie's husband; Danny's fake relationship causes Riley to return to Ross.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 27)

Wednesday, June 29

  • Adam Devine (Workaholics/Modern Family) - Watch Adam and Zac Efron on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Walton Goggins (Vice Principals) - Walton stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jennifer Lawrence (The Bill Engvall Show) - Jennifer appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • George Lopez (Lopez/Saint George/George Lopez) - George is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Dave Franco (Scrubs/Do Not Disturb) - Dave appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Julie Klausner (Difficult People) - Julie visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Ellie is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Eric Christian Olsen (The Loop) - Eric appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Jim is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Jim stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Brett Gelman (Married/Go On) - Brett appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Shiri Appleby (Sunday Dinner) - Shiri stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Megan Fox (Hope & Faith) - Megan appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace, Jodie and Andrea are guests on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Arrested Development/Miss Guided) - Judy discusses her roles in everything from The Wedding Planner to 13 Going on 30 and Jurassic World on a repeat of The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Adrian Grenier (Entourage) - Adrian talks about his new movie, Marauders, out Friday, July 1, on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Jolene Purdy (Benched/10 Things I Hate About You) - Jolene drops by Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Craig Bierko (Unhitched/Madman of the People/Sydney) - Craig talks about the new season of UnREAL on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Malin Akerman (Sin City Saints/Trophy Wife) - Malin is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Sarah and Erin Foster (Barely Famous) - Sarah and Erin talk about VH1's Barely Famous on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the AOL Build Show at 2:30pm.
  • Jason Sudeikis (The Last Man on Earth/The Cleveland Show) and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Jason and Eric are guests on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Ricky Schroder (Silver Spoons) - Ricky talks about The Fighting Season on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Donald Faison (The Exes/Scrubs) - Donald guest co-hosts Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Andrew Rannells (Girls/The New Normal) - Andrew joins Clinton Kelly to recreate one of his childhood favorites, a Cheeseburger “Funza” Sandwich, on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Jaime King (Gary Unmarried/The Class/Kitchen Confidential) - Jaime guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Yvette Nicole Brown (The Odd Couple/Community) - Yvette guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.