Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blog DVD Review: A Shari Lewis Christmas

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the blog DVD review! Since we are in the middle of the holiday season, it makes sense today to take a look at S'more Entertainment's A Shari Lewis Christmas. The Shari Lewis Show of course was the popular children's series starring Shari Lewis and her sidekick Lamb Chop! See skees53's blog DVD review of A Shari Lewis Christmas:

A Shari Lewis Christmas (S'more, $9.98) features Shari Lewis and her (both figuratively and literally) right-hand man (well technically girl), Lamb Chop, in three classic Christmas episodes of the children's series The Shari Lewis Show. For those unfamiliar with Lewis, she was a multi-talented ventriloquist that found success in sock puppets, particularly one that was a lamb that she named Lamb Chop. But Lamb Chop was hardly her only puppet. She also had Charlie Horse and other sock puppets as her "leading stars." Lewis and Lamb Chop made their debut on a WNBC morning show in New York City, and by 1960, they had their own children's show on NBC called The Shari Lewis Show, which is featured on this DVD. Her success continued on for generations and hit a new high in the early 1990s when she revived the Lamb Chop character for the "modern" generation in the PBS series Lamb Chop's Play Along. Here, we have three Christmas episodes from the original series that aired from 1960-1963, as well as one of the Christmas episodes from the WNBC morning show.
In the 12/24/1960 episode (21:05), Charlie Horse and Lamb Chop have a disagreement on Christmas presents. Lamb Chop thinks that people should buy Christmas presents for each other while Charlie Horse thinks that everybody should just buy one present for himself or herself. But is that what Charlie Horse really wants? We get to see even more of Charlie Horse's greed in the 12/23/1961 episode (22:56). Finally, the 12/22/1962 (22:05) involves Lamb Chop getting very upset about opening presents on Christmas, but just exactly why is he so against the idea of opening presents?
The DVD contains a few minor special features. Christmas Wishes from Shari and Lamb Chop (1:19) is just a short message that aired in movie theaters to wish movie-goers a merry Christmas. There really isn't much more to be said about it. Next, we have a Christmas episode of the WNBC morning show Hi Mom! (58:02), which was a weekday variety series that featured many different topics, but part of the entertainment in this episode comes from Lewis and Lamb Chop. This episode is completely intact, including commercials for movies, butter, baby bottles, and even Bosco.
The set is presented in a standard DVD case with a black and white snapshot of Shari and Lamb Chop on the cover (with color decorations surrounding them). Inside, we have just one disc with very basic artwork. As far as the menus, there is nothing truly out of the ordinary about them, with just a little Christmas music in the background and options of Play, Shows, and Bonus. There are no chapters placed within the episodes, nor are there any scene selection menus.
The unfortunate reality of the whole DVD is that this series is old and was not very well preserved. In fact, the video and audio, while it looks as if efforts to clean it up were indeed made, can be described as being pretty bad. Of course, these are not the originally filmed versions that were filmed and placed on the shelf and designed to remain perfect over several decades. These are all kinescopes that were preserved at the UCLA Film & Television archive.
What you'll notice about these shows is that the lighting levels are pretty bad, the picture sometimes jumps around, and the audio levels are INCREDIBLY low. No closed-captioning is available, at all. The runtimes for the episodes seem to suggest that perhaps some things were edited and removed from the episodes. In fact, you'll notice some strange edits here and there. However, my gut feeling is that the only thing that was removed was sponsorship elements, as these were episodes preserved in an archive. It seems unlikely to me that an archive would preserved materials that are intentionally edited to allow more commercial time.
This is a great DVD for those that love true vintage children's television, although personally I have to say that isn't really something I'm in to. Still, it was fun to see what children were watching on TV back in the "golden age" of television, and to see how much children's TV has changed over the decades. Back then, it was much simpler to entertain the youth of America, but these days, you have to go over-the-top, be cutting edge, and be flashy to attract the attention of children. Even Shari Lewis had to adapt to the "modern era" in her PBS series Lamb Chop's Play Along, which was nothing at all like this series. One thing that I find interesting, though, is that these are all Christmas episodes, while Lewis herself was actually Jewish. Of course, having a Hanukkah episode of a series would have been a little out of the ordinary in the 1960s, but she did do a Hanukkah episode of the PBS series in the 1990s. In any event, fans of Shari Lewis, puppets, or just vintage children's programming are sure to enjoy these episodes. They also have a lot of positive messages about what the Christmas spirit is all about that anybody is certain to get a lot out of.
-- Reviewed by skees53
(3.5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
The Shari Lewis Show TV.com Page


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, November 17

The Simpsons - "Go Big or Go Homer" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Homer is demoted and must supervise interns, among whom is a go-getter who asks Homer to be his mentor; when Homer inspires him to start a business of his own, the two find themselves being chased by the mob.

Bob's Burgers - "Boys Just Wanna Have Fungus" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Unable to afford a rare gourmet mushroom for a Burger of the Day, Bob and Gene jump into the cutthroat world of mushroom foraging; Tina's powerful new prescription glasses lead her to believe she has a superpower.

The Simpsons - "Livin La Pura Vida" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The Simpsons join other Springfield families on the Van Houtens' annual trip to Costa Rica, which they obviously can't afford; Homer befriends Patty's new girlfriend; Lisa tracks down the real reason the Van Houtens can go on this trip every year.

Bless the Harts - "Myrtle Beach Memoirs" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When The Last Supper is closed for repairs, the Harts head to Myrtle Beach for a family vacation that they can't afford; Jenny sees an opportunity to win some cash by competing in an intense mini-golf tournament.

Bob's Burgers - "Land of the Loft" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bob and Linda challenge themselves and attend a loft party on a stormy night; the kids challenge their babysitter and face the storm in an ice cream truck.

Family Guy - "Heart Burn" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
In celebration of Peter and Lois' anniversary, the Griffins recount their own versions of three well-known love stories.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 11)

Friday, November 15

  • Shia LaBeouf (Even Stevens) - Watch Shia on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Lil Rel Howery (Rel/The Carmichael Show) - Lil Rel appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Tig visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Cobie Smulders (Friends from College/How I Met Your Mother) - Cobie is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Trial & Error/Kristin) - Kristin appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lea Michele (The Mayor) - Lea is a guest on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Patrick Stewart (The Blunt) - Patrick stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Lena Waithe (Master of None) - Lena appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi dishes about her new book The Unqualified Hostess on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony talks about Disney+'s Forky Asks a Question on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/Cafe Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie appears on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff talks about his new Netflix comedy special on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Autumn Reeser (Entourage/Complete Savages) - Autumn talks about Christmas Under the Stars on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) - Wilmer is a guest on Access Daily, so check your local 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)
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