Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mini-DVD Review: Pioneers of Television (Jan. 29); Solomon's Weekly Rant: Sick of Seacrest, VH1 Obsessed with Flavor Flav, Sony TV DVDs

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for mini-DVD reviews and Solomon's Weekly Rant! First up, are the mini-DVD reviews. Today week we take a look at PBS Home Video's Pioneers of Television. Pioneers of Television is a recent four-part PBS series that took a look back at the pioneers of late night, sitcom, game shows and variety. See both my and Todd's mini-DVD review of Pioneers of Television:

Pioneers of Television

Pioneers of Television (PBS, $24.99) brings us the wonderful four-part documentary series that focuses on the pioneers of television in four different genres...late night, game shows, sitcoms and variety shows.
On the late night portion it features many of the most important figures to emerge on the late-night scene. Merv Griffin gives his last interview before passing away, and Regis Philbin offers revelations about his years as a late night sidekick to Joey Bishop. Dick Cavett and Arsenio Hall provide insight into how their shows broadened the late-night audience. For the first time, Sigourney Weaver offers personal details about her father, Pat, inventor of The Tonight Show and one of the most visionary TV executives ever.
For the sitcom portion, it focuses on the five key sitcoms that shaped the genre: I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Then we have game shows and it traces one of broadcasting's strongest genres, from its nascent beginnings in radio through its heyday in the late 60s. Bob Barker talks about his earliest work, and Merv Griffin details the "eureka" moments that led to the creation of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
Finally for variety, it begins with Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town and Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater, and progresses through The Carol Burnett Show, Smothers Brothers and Laugh-In, among others.

Let's start this review off with the packaging. It is a simple movie style case that holds a disc inside. We have two buttons to pull to do that. The cover has some of our pioneers on the cover in black & white such as Johnny Carson, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Barker, and Lucy & Desi. PBS Home Video logo is on the top followed below by the title of the DVD (Pioneers of Television), along with the four segment titles. The back of the case has details on the set, along with break-downs of each segment, special features list, and some of the stars that are interviewed on this set. When we open the case we get the disc...it is in blue with the logo of the documentary.

The main menu screen has the same montage of black & white photos as the cover art. The Pioneers of Television logo is in red and the four specials are in yellow. There are options for Play Programs, Scene Selections, Special Features and PBS. org . On the Play Programs sub-menu, there is a photo of Johnny Carson waving in front of NBC Studios. For Scene Selections, there are a number of options for each special. Johnny Carson and Steve Allen are on Late Night. Lucy and Desi are featured on Sitcoms. Flip Wilson is on Vareity. A young Bob Barker is featured on Game Shows. The Special Feature sub-menu offers a photo of Phyllis Diller and Johnny Carson.

The video and audio are of course good since this special was just aired. Some of the archive clips might not look as good, but that is to be expected. There are chapter stops within each genre, but it depends on the genre. It is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 2.0 Stereo. Closed captioning is available. The total running time is approximately 220 minutes.

We will rundown a bit about each special and who you will find on it.

Late Night (55:36) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Introduction; Steve Allen; Jack Paar; Johnny Carson; Merv, Joey, & Dick; Credits. We get comments from Tim Conway, Jay Leno, Johnathan Winters, Phyllis Diller, Dick Cavett, Betty White, Andy Williams, Merv Griffin, Regis Philbin, Tommy Smothers, Doc Servinsen, Ed McMahon, Arsenio Hall, Steve Allen, Hugh Downs, Sigourney Weaver, Pat Harrington, Florence Henderson, Barbara Eden, Bob Uecker, and Jack Narz.

Sitcoms (55:35) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Introduction; Jackie Gleason; Lucy and Desi; Danny Thomas; Andy Griffith; Dick, Mary and Carl; Credits. We get comments from Mary Tyler Moore, Joyce Randolph, Jim Nabors, Andy Griffith, Marlo Thomas, Dick Van Dyke, Art Linkletter, Florence Henderson, Tony Orlando, Barbara Eden, Pat Harrington, Tim Conway, and Rose Marie.

Game Shows (55:35) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Mark Goodson, Ralph Edwards, Groucho Marx, The Scandals, Password, Let's Make a Deal, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Hollywood Squares, Chuck Barris, Emcee job, Women as emcees, Bill Cullen, Credits. We get comments from Bob Barker, Dick Van Dyke, Merv Griffin, Tom Kennedy, Betty White, Monty Hall, Bob Eubanks, Peter Marshall, Phyllis Diller, Chuck Woolery, Wink Martindale, Jack Narz, Bob Stewart, Dick Cavett, Hugh Downs, Florence Henderson, and Vicki Lawrence.

Variety (55:37) is broken up into the following sections (in order and how it is listed in the menu): Introduction, Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle, Red Seklton, Arthur Godfrey, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Pat Boone, Sid and Imogene, Carol Burnett, Smothers Brothers, Laugh-In, Flip Wilson, Tony Orlando, and Credits. We get comments from Phyllis Diller, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway, Tony Orlando, Sid Caesar, Tommy Somothers, George Schlatter, Art Linkletter, Pat Boone, Pat Harrington, Peter Marshall, Andy Griffith, Jerry Stiller, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Dick Cavett, Dick Van Dyke, Andy Williams, Jonathan Winters, Jim Nabors, Vicki Lawrence, Betty White, and Arsenio Hall.

As for special features, we get about 15 minutes worth of expanded interviews. Betty White talks about her first sitcom: Life with Elizabeth. Phyllis Diller discusses the final Ed Sullivan Show. Dick Cavett tells a story about meeting Johnny Carson, who was performing as a magician in Nebraska. Florence Henderson recounts a painful experience that happened to her on a live TV show. Merv Griffin talks about his big break and meeting Jack Paar by accident. Jonathan Winters tells how he and Orville Wright lived in the same Ohio town at the same time. Tim Conway explains how pie-in-the-face-humor isn't all that much fun.

We recommend this set for any fan of television, especially television history. There are brand new, compelling interviews from nearly 100 classic stars. It has something for everyone...either late night TV, sitcoms, game shows, or variety shows. These are the people and shows that launched a TV industry. Recite your favorite lines "Heeeeeere's Johnny!," "Come on Down!," or "Lucyyyy," and learn more about these pioneers by ordering this DVD!

-- Reviewed by Pavan and Todd
(4/5 stars)

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

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Pioneers of Television PBS Page


Solomon's Weekly Rant
Saturday, January 26, 2008
"Sick of Seacrest; VH1 Obsessed with Flavor Flav; Sony TV DVDs"
By Solomon Davis

Seems like everywhere you turn these days when watching TV there is Mr. Ryan Seacrest looking right back at you. He has hosted the Emmys, co-hosting Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on ABC, award show's red carpet shows and now has been selected to appear on Fox during Super Bowl Sunday to host the pregame show and red carpet. This man knows nothing about football and probably has never watched football a day in his life but we still get to see him on the biggest sports day of the year just because he hosts that American Idol. It's a good thing Fox doesn't air the NBA Finals because we would definitely see his face again in the month of June. What's next for him? The World Series on Fox? Seacrest Out!

You mean to tell me that VH1 is going to air another series of Flavor of Love in February so we can see Flavor Flav search for love for a THIRD time? I mean how many times is Flav going to do a Flavor of Love series in this decade? It looks like VH1 won't stop airing this show until Flav finds that special someone which will probably mean Flavor of Love 10 before I'm 40. I always thought that a new year for a cable network meant NEW PROGRAMMING for viewers but I guess I'm just that stupid.

Sony actually released the season two DVD of Barney Miller to start a new year when so many of its other shows are close to completion? Barney Miller's last DVD release was in 2004 and all of a sudden there is a season two release before seasons 7 of All in the Family and The Jeffersons, season 3 of Diff'rent Strokes, and season 2 What's Happening Now!!? What in the hell is going to make season 2 of Barney Miller sell so much better in 2008 when it didn't sell well in 2004? They had better release 227 and Who's the Boss' second seasons then since they haven't gotten a season two set yet either. I guess this means season 2 of Maude will hit the shelves in 2011 since season 1 was released last year. Slow Sony!

Agree or disagree with Solomon? Discuss it here.

DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, November 21

Young Sheldon - "The Sin of Greed and a Chimichanga from Chi-Chi’s" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The University makes George Sr. a lucrative job offer in the hopes of recruiting Sheldon. Also, Georgie gets a job working for Meemaw’s new boyfriend, and Mary is determined to rid her home of greed.

The Unicorn - "Turkeys and Traditions" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Wade and the girls tackle hosting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for friends and extended family. Also, Ben attempts to make a fried turkey for the very first time. Annie Mumolo guest stars as Aunt Allison, Wade’s opinionated and passive-aggressive sister-in-law who’s visiting for Thanksgiving.

Mom - "Hot Butter and Toxic Narcissism" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Christy regrets fleeing the scene after hitting a parked car. Also, Bonnie’s therapist, Trevor (Rainn Wilson), offers tools to help her better communicate with Adam.

Carol's Second Act - "Sick and Retired" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Carol’s dear friend Phyllis (guest star Jane Kaczmarek) is admitted to the hospital, and Carol jealously witnesses what retirement would have looked like for her. Also, Daniel takes credit for Caleb’s excellent diagnosis and is bothered when Caleb doesn’t seem to mind.

Superstore - "Curbside Pickup" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As part of a new corporate initiative Dina is spearheading, Jonah, Cheyenne and other overworked employees have to rush items directly to shoppers’ cars. Amy’s brother, Eric (George Salazar), visits the store, and Amy thinks she sees a spark with Mateo. Garrett is impressed by a customer’s high-tech purchase.

Perfect Harmony - "Thanks-taking" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jax convinces Arthur to join the choir's progressive Thanksgiving dinner and snoop in various choir members' homes to find a missing item. Meanwhile, Adams invites her handsome contractor to dinner as a set-up for Ginny, but he has something else in mind.

The Good Place - "The Answer" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
In an attempt to plan a better future, Chidi considers his past.

Will & Grace - "The Grief Panda" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
In the aftermath of Will (Eric McCormack) and McCoy breaking up, Grace (Debra Messing) and Jack (Sean Hayes) hire the Grief Panda to help Will process his pain. With Karen (Megan Mullally) completely occupied with her new baseball team, Grace believes that she has to fire Karen in order to set her free.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 18)

Thursday, November 21

  • Lena Waithe (Master of None) - Catch Lena on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Tom Papa (Come to Papa) and Fortune Feimster (The Mindy Project) - Tom and Fortune are panelists on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever) - Fred is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She also talks about Knives Out on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls/Raising Dad) - Kat stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jackée Harry (Tyler Perry's The Paynes/In the Cut/The First Family/Sister, Sister/227) - Jackée appears on The Real, so check your local listings. She also talks about OWN's Carole's Christmas on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Tisha Campbell (Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/Martin) - Tisha guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney drops by The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Lil Rel Howery (Rel/The Carmichael Show) - Lil Rel is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sean Hayes (Will & Grace/The Millers/Sean Saves the World) - Sean talks about Will & Grace on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Craig Bierko (Unhitched/Madman of the People/Sydney) - Craig wlll be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) - Soleil talks about Lifetime's Staging Christmas on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Peter Porte (Baby Daddy) - Peter talks about Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2 on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Niecy appears on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October/November)

My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season

09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
09/19 - The Guest Book - Season 1
10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - Mom - The Complete Sixth Season
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

11/21 - Miracle Workers Returns to TBS; ABC's Summer Fun & Games Lineup Renewed for 2020
11/20 - Lifetime's Winter Ripped from the Headlines; PIX11 Holiday Lineup
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11/18 - Viacom's Comedy Central Renews The Office & Parks and Recreation; E! Gets New Jason Kennedy Series
11/17 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 18, 2019)
11/16 - SitcomsOnline Digest: One Day at a Time Season Premiere Date Set; Brooklyn Nine-Nine Renewed
11/15 - Fri-Yay: Disney+ Launches; NBC Orders 8th Season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine
11/14 - Antenna TV's Classic Christmas Collection and Christmas Through the Years; TBS Orders a Fifth Season of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
11/13 - 2019 A Very Merry MeTV Lineup; Ricky Gervais Returns to Host Golden Globe Awards
11/12 - CBS Midseason 2020 Plans Include FBI Spin-off; E! Brings Back The Soup
11/11 - NBC Midseason 2020 Schedule; The CW Announces Midseason 2020 Lineup
11/10 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 11, 2019)
11/09 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fresh Off the Boat Coming to an End; Weeds Sequel in the Works
11/08 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on Netflix's Living with Yourself; ABC Orders More Episodes of American Housewife and Bless This Mess
11/07 - COZI TV's Thanksgiving Weekend Unexpected Guests Marathon; MeTV Salutes Veteran's Day with M*A*S*H
11/06 - Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family & Good Times on Dec. 18; NBC Orders More Superstore Episodes
11/05 - ABC 2019 Holiday Specials and Episodes; E! Sets Date for Reality Sitcom
11/04 - Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas Schedule for 2019; Showtime to Debut New Comedy On-Demand Before Premiere
11/03 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 4, 2019)
11/02 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Casting in Place for Punky Brewster Reboot; Happy Days Cartoon Spinoffs to Arrive on DVD

11/01 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on BoJack Horseman Season 6; Netflix Sets Dec. 5 Date for V Wars
10/31 - Will Arnett to Host Fox Lego Series; Lil Rel HBO Comedy Special Gets Premiere Date
10/30 - HBO Max Announces Lots of News and Series, Including Library Series The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Looney Tunes and More
10/29 - ABC Gets Full Seasons of mixed-ish and More; The Facts of Life Stars Ready to Light Up Lifetime on Christmas
10/28 - Fox Midseason 2020 Schedule; The CW Picks Up Full Seasons of Both Fall Freshman Series

10/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 28, 2019)
10/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Lizzie McGuire Reboot to Include Original Cast; New DVDs for The Mindy Project and Step by Step
10/25 - Fri-Yay: Sunnyside Becomes the Season's First Cancellation; Maureen McCormick to Co-Host HGTV Christmas Special
10/24 - Antenna TV's Sabrina & Samantha Witch-O-Ween Marathon; Remembering TV Producer Al Burton of Diff'rent Strokes, Charles in Charge and More
10/23 - CBS Renews Freshman Fall 2019 Class; Fox Schedules 9-1-1 Spin-off for Midseason 2020
10/22 - Fox Schedules Comedy Christmas Event; CNBC Gets A-Rod to Get Celebs Back in the Game
10/21 - Fox Picks Up 2nd Season of Bless the Harts; Remembering Bill Macy of Maude