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



FOLLOW ME 


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)


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, August 27

The Middle - "Office Hours" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Feeling that her mind has been turned into Swiss cheese over the kids' never ending demanding requests of her, Frankie sets up office hours in which they can only voice their needs between 5:00-6:00 p.m. Meanwhile, an overprotective Mike keeps a stern eye on Darrin to make sure he doesn't take advantage of Sue, and Brick invites his surprising new friends over to the house for a book club meeting.

The Goldbergs - "For Your Own Good" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
From wearing the same shoes to always eating a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, Murray is a creature of habit in and around the house. When Beverly changes his favorite easy chair with something new and “better,” he flips out. So he repays the favor to Beverly by removing the oven in the kitchen so she can cook food in the “better” microwave. Soon, it becomes a heated game of back and forth between the couple as more things around the house get changed. Will they reach a breaking point and get their lives back to “normal?” Meanwhile, Adam is being bullied on the school bus by eighth grader JC Spink and looks to Barry to come to his rescue.

Modern Family - "A Fair to Remember" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The family attends the annual school fair and Phil has a big 20th wedding anniversary surprise planned for Claire at the fairgrounds, but unfortunately, she simultaneously has a surprise for him back at home. Gloria signs Jay up to be a fair cop for the day and it gets worse when he’s partnered up with his nemesis. Elsewhere, Mitch, Cam and Lily try to enjoy the fair but Cam is in a funk from the football team’s recent losing streak, and Haley has an awkward first encounter with Andy (guest star Adam DeVine).

Modern Family - "ClosetCon '13" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With some urging from Claire, Jay begrudgingly agrees to return to ClosetCon this year, and things get interesting when Jay is reunited with some old colleagues. Cam takes Mitch and Lily to the Tucker family farm for the first time and is excited to fold them into country life, that is until Grams pays an unexpected visit. And back at home, Phil, Gloria and the kids get into some mischief involving Jay’s very delicate Apollo 13 spacecraft model.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Thirty (and Getting Married!)" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Josh and Caroline's upcoming wedding puts Gabi in a panic.

Mystery Girls - "The Killer Returns" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The killer from the murder investigation that reunited the Mystery Girls goes on the loose.

Hot in Cleveland - "Win Win" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The killer from the murder investigation that reunited the Mystery Girls goes on the loose.

Love Thy Neighbor - "A Night Away" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Linda's inhibitions return upon her waking; she is shocked and upset when she realizes she's in Philip's bed.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 25) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, August 27

  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends) - Watch Jennifer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She will also be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Chris Rock (Everybody Hates Chris) - Catch Chris on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Ed O'Neill (Modern Family/Married with Children) - Ed is a guest on a repeat of Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Betty White (Hot in Cleveland/The Golden Girls/The Mary Tyler Moore Show) - Tune in to see Betty on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Biggs (Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason guest co-hosts a repeat of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Alan Thicke (Growing Pains) - Alan talks about his TV and music career, his son Robin and reality series Unusually Thicke on a repeat of Katie, so check your local listings.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly appears on a repeat of Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • Pooch Hall (The Game) - Pooch will be on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
  • Dustin Diamond (Saved by the Bell) - Dustin appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) - Wilmer will be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Marilu Henner (Taxi/Evening Shade) - Marilu is a guest on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.