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 (April)

Barney Miller - The Complete Seventh Season Frasier - The Complete Series What's Happening!! - The Complete Series The Jeffersons - Season Seven Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Second Season

04/07 - Barney Miller - The Complete Seventh Season
04/07 - The Brady Bunch - The Complete Series
04/07 - The Crazy Ones - The Complete First Season
04/07 - Frasier - The Complete Series
04/07 - King of the Hill - The Complete 9th Season
04/07 - King of the Hill - The Complete 10th Season
04/07 - 1600 Penn - The Complete Season 1
04/07 - Wanda at Large - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
04/07 - Wilfred - The Complete Season 4
04/14 - Growing Pains - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
04/21 - What's Happening!! - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
04/28 - I Love Lucy - I Love Mom Edition
04/28 - The Jeffersons - Season Seven
04/28 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites: Season 5
04/28 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Second Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, April 19

The Simpsons - "Waiting for Duffman" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Duffman (guest voice Stacy Keach) undergoes hip replacement surgery and retires, the company sets up a reality show competition to find his replacement. Homer wins the competition, and because the job requires him to stay sober, he learns that beer isn’t as necessary as he thought to have a good time.

Bob's Burgers - "My Big Fat Greek Bob" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Bob scores a temporary gig as a cook at an “underdog” frat house and discovers that he fits right in! Hijinks ensue as Bob and the rest of the fraternity brothers find themselves in the middle of a collegiate prank war that involves the house's most famous alumnus, Dr. Yap (guest voice Ken Jeong). Meanwhile, the kids are on a mission to invade the frat house and get in on the action.

The Simpsons - "Peeping Mom" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Bart lies about being involved in a bulldozer crash, so Marge decides to follow him everywhere until he confesses. Meanwhile, Homer ignores Santa’s Little Helper when Flanders gets a new dog.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Beach House" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The team is excited to spend the weekend at Charles’ beach house for a detectives-only-getaway, until Jake ruins the fun by inviting Captain Holt. Meanwhile, Charles helps Rosa send romantic texts to her new boyfriend (guest star Nick Cannon), and Gina tries to get Amy drunk, simply for her own enjoyment.

Family Guy - "Once Bitten" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
After attending obedience school, Brian becomes much more submissive, and Peter realizes he misses his old, feistier pal. Meanwhile, Chris makes a new friend at school, but feels betrayed when he discovers it was all a ploy to get closer to Meg.

The Last Man on Earth - "Moved to Tampa" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Is it Tucson or Tampa for Phil Miller & the gang?

Liv and Maddie - "Prom-a-Rooney" (Disney Channel, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Andie asks Holden to prom before Liv can; Karen arranges for Craig to take Maddie to prom while Diggie's away.

Austin & Ally - "Duos & Deception" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Trish books a famous brother-sister duo to perform with the A&A students; a code inspector threatens to shut the school down.

K.C. Undercover - "Spy-anoia Will Destroy Ya" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
K.C.'s brother Ernie brings home his new girlfriend, Jolie; K.C. is suspicious and believes Jolie is a spy.

I Didn't Do It - "Stevie Likes Lindy" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
A rich kid named Stevie falls for Lindy and tries to buy her heart; Garrett's hiding that he has his driver's license.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 20) (All times ET unless noted)

Sunday, April 19

  • Brandy Norwood (The Game/Moesha/Thea) - Catch Brandy on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, April 20
  • John Travolta (Welcome Back, Kotter) - Watch John on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS. He will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • John Stamos (Jake in Progress/Full House/You Again?) - John drops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Ron Funches (Undateable) - Ron is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley/The Goodwin Games/Carpoolers) - T.J. appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Dick Van Dyke (The Dick Van Dyke Show/The New Dick Van Dyke Show) - Dick is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jenny Slate (Married/Parks and Recreation) - Jenny appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Josh Gad (The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Felicity Huffman (Sports Night) - Felicity stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 1am on BET.
  • Michael Rapaport (The War at Home) - Michael joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. He will also be on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:15am.
  • Suzanne Cryer (Silicon Valley/Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place) - Suzanne talks about what to expect on the second season of Silicon Valley on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick discusses his new film Adult Beginners and talks about saying goodbye to his sketch comedy series Kroll Show on HuffPost Live at 12pm.
  • Lily Tomlin (Malibu Country) - Lily discusses her new comedy Grandma and shares details on reuniting with Jane Fonda in the upcoming Netflix series Grace and Frankie (premiering May 8) on HuffPost Live at 12:30pm.
  • Kathryn Hahn (Happyish/Parks and Recreation/Free Agents) - Kathryn talks about Happyish on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Tamera Mowry (Sister, Sister/Roommates) - Tamera will be on People Now.
  • Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Game/The Steve Harvey Show/Minor Adjustments) - Wendy is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.