Saturday, June 04, 2011

Digital Digest: Celebrity Bowling DVD Review

Welcome to Digital Digest, your weekly dose of all things digital in the world of sitcoms! We've got all of your regular news and a preview of Tuesday's releases, of course, and this week we try to make a strike with our review of Celebrity Bowling from S'more Entertainment. So, pick up your ball, step up to the lane, and roll towards the center for Digital Digest!


DIGITAL NEWS

We've avoided mentioning Charlie Sheen here the past few weeks, but today, we pretty much have to mention him, as his series (well, former series), Two and a Half Men, will be returning to DVD on September 6. Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eighth Season (and the end of Charlie Sheen's days as a star of the series) will arrive on that date in a two-disc set. No word yet on special features, but I have this weird feeling that there won't be any interviews or commentaries from Mr. Sheen or any of his goddesses.

There is still no release date for Community - The Complete Second Season, but thanks to creator Dan Harmon's Twitter account, we DO know some details. The set will contain numerous special features, including blooper reels, deleted scenes, making of documentaries, and best of all, commentaries on EVERY episode. It looks as if it is shaping up to be a great set.

But that isn't all for the NBC Thursday night lineup. The recently canceled series Outsourced appears to be coming to DVD at some point, though no specifics are known. From this entry on TVShowsOnDVD.com, we see that the cast members have reportedly been recording interviews for a DVD release. Of course, that is very preliminary information, but a pretty good sign that DVDs are on the way.

We may think that everybody loves Raymond, but it turns out to be tougher than one can predict when taking the concept to Russia in Exporting Raymond, which comes to DVD and Blu-ray Disc (not yet available for pre-order on Blu-ray Disc) on August 2. So, what exactly is this? Basically, it is about Phil Rosenthal, the creator of the series, trying to make the series a successful Russian TV series. Here is information from the press release:
Truth is funnier than fiction in the real life comedy, Exporting Raymond, arriving on Blu-ray™ and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on August 2nd. Viewers will laugh out loud when “fish out of water” Phil Rosenthal, the Emmy® Award-winning creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” takes us on a journey halfway around the world to detail his struggle to make one of America's most beloved sitcoms a successful Russian TV series.

Exporting Raymond has received major recognition at multiple film festivals. The film's awards include Audience Award Winner at the 2010 Austin Film Festival, Winner of Best Comedy at the 2011 Sedona Film Festival, Official Selection at the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival and Audience Award Winner at the 2010 Hatch Festival.

Finally, we head over to Mill Creek Entertainment, which has been releasing a ton of stuff lately--although mostly rereleases of out-of-print DVDs--but we're happy to have them anyway. More "best-of" releases are on the way, including The Best of California Dreams, Punky Brewster - The Best of Season Two, and Punky Brewster - The Best of Season Three. All will be released at the standard $14.98 MSRP.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (June 7) is not a busy day for releases, with no sitcom releases at all, but we do have the release of the ABC Family series The Secret Life of an American Teenager - Volume 6. We also have the U.S. release of McMillan and Wife - Season Three.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

The 1970s was a bizarre time for television, as it was rising from just a few major networks to many more networks and the rise of syndication. To compensate for this time, a syndicated series called Celebrity Bowling came along to fill in, often between sporting events, with bowling tournaments between celebrities. Now, you can watch the series on DVD in S'more Entertainment's Celebrity Bowling.

DVD Review: Celebrity Bowling

Celebrity Bowling (S'more, $29.98) puts your favorite '70s celebrities on the bowling lanes for good times, lots of laughs, and occasionally loud outfits in a 3-disc DVD set. The show ran in syndication from 1971 to 1978, hosted by Days of Our Lives and Beverly Hills, 90210 star Jed Allan, and was mainly as filler on weekend afternoons in between sporting events. The show pitted two teams of celebrities against each other in a game of "Best Ball" bowling. Each celebrity takes a shot on his or her own lane. If neither gets a strike, whichever rolled the worse shot tries to pick up a spare on their partner's lane. The teams bowled 10 frames and how high their final scores were determined which prize someone in the studio or home audience would win. An actual bowling alley was built in the TV studio for the tapings!
The show is a very lighthearted, fun one…a fascinating trip back in time. And no matter how good the celebrities were at bowling, it was fun watching them. Some were very good at bowling, some very bad at bowling (and fun to laugh at), and some that made fun of other people's bowling. Then there's the '70s style. Some of the celebrities wear very loud '70s clothing. In short, the show is a good way to enjoyably pass the time.

The big names they were able to get on this set is sometimes surprising... on this set you'll see everyone from sitcom stars to singing stars and even a few "before they were" stars. Some of the guests featured in this set (and I'm sure you'll recognize all of them): William Shatner, Jimmie Walker, Dick Martin, Leslie Nielsen, Roy Rogers, Don Adams, Bob Newhart, George Foreman, Michael Douglas, Ed Asner, Loretta Swit, Rosemary Clooney, Adam West, Rue McClanahan, and so very many more. The episodes seem to be unedited, all running between 22 and 23 minutes. All the prize plugs are left in, and a couple episodes even have some of the original commercials.

Disc 1:
1. William Shatner & Fran Jeffries vs. Hugh O'Brian & Michele Lee (22:56)
2. Jimmie Walker & Michael Ansara vs. Dick Martin & Leslie Nielsen (22:36)
3. Roy Rogers & Don Adams vs. Bob Newhart & George Foreman (23:27)
4. Donald O'Connor & Rosemary Clooney vs. Rose Marie & Morey Amsterdam (22:48)
5. Tige Andrews & Elizabeth Ashley vs. Brenda Vaccaro & Michael Douglas (22:47)

Disc 2:
6. Ed Asner & Elena Verduo vs. Loretta Swit & Gavin McLeod (22:38)
7. Dick Martin & Billy Barty vs. John Schuck & Michael Ansara (22:38)
8. Bobby Troup & Roy Rogers vs. Bob Newhart & Robert Culp (22:22)
9. Adrienne Barbeau & Gail Fisher vs. Arlene Golonka & Cathy Lee Crosby (22:37)
10. George Foreman & Dick Martin vs. Anthony Newley & Don Adams (22:39)

Disc 3:
11. Rue McClanahan & Ron Masak vs. Charles Nelson Reilly & Robert Clary (22:39)
12. Leslie Nielsen & Susan Saint James vs. Angie Dickinson & Lloyd Bridges (22:39)
13. Roy Rogers & Adam West vs. Kent McCord & Gary Collins (24:48)
14. Howard Duff & Susan Saint James vs. Angie Dickinson & John Saxon (23:07)
15. Bob Newhart & Dick Martin vs. Anthony Newley & Nipsey Russell (22:48)

The set comes in a standard black keep case with a moving page holding the first and second discs. The third disc is attached to the back. The artwork seems a bit on the creative side... the words Celebrity Bowling are prominent on the front of the box... along with a bowling ball wearing sunglasses, with the reflection of the Hollywood sign in them. Names of some of the featured celebrities are featured as well. The back cover features some still photos from the show, along with a very detailed explanation of what the show is, and why it's fun to watch. Inside the case, we find a leaflet, filled with more photos from the show, and listing which episode is on which disc. The discs are in three different colors, each designed to look like a bowling ball.

The menu design is basic, but very functional. The main menu features a still shot of one of the celebrities on that particular disc, as a clip from an episode plays in a small box. The background art resembles a bowling alley. The show's theme song ("Everybody Loves My Baby" by King Richard's Fluegel Knights) plays in the background. Your two choices are to Play All or Select Game. The episode menus let you select an episode based on which celebrities are taking part. One chapter mark is in each episode at the halfway mark commercial break. There are, however, no closed captions or subtitles.

Video and audio quality are each good, considering this is a show from the 1970s recorded on video tape. Video on some episodes is bit soft, and colors on the muted side, but others are clear and vibrant. Without extensive restoration, this is about as good as the shows could look. Audio is clear, though flat. Again considering the age and the era the show is from, I doubt S'More could have done much better.
There are no special features, and quite honestly, I'm not sure what special features they could have included. I'm sure none of the celebrities would be willing to talk about the show. Many have passed on, and some may not even remember doing the show. The creators are still around, and may have some insight on how they came up with the show and booked some occasionally A-list celebrities... some who had never bowled before.

Overall, S'More has done a very good job with this set, getting out some of the best episodes from Celebrity Bowling, featuring some of the most well-known stars that appeared on the show. Celebrity Bowling is one of those shows you thought you'd never see again at all, let alone on DVD, so this set is a welcome addition my DVD library and I would think it would be for any fan of '70s pop culture. It's fun to see your favorite celebrity bowl a mean game (or a horrible one).

(3.5/5 stars)

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We'll be back next week with more news and a review of Pretty Little Liars - The Complete First Season. Until then, keep it digital!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

Wednesday, June 19

The Conners - "When Sisters Collide and the Return of the Grifters" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Darlene crashes Mark’s college trivia night to prove how smart she is. Elsewhere, Neville finds out the money he loaned Dan was used for something other than its intended purpose.

The Conners - "Hanging in Dorms With Boys and the Secret Life of Men" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Darlene urges Ben to make some male friends as he feels anxious about turning 50. Elsewhere, Mark asks Harris to buy him and his friends beer for their dorm room.

Abbott Elementary - "Career Day Part 1" / "Career Day Part 2" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
It’s a new year at Abbott Elementary, and Janine is as eager as ever. She plans a district-wide initiative – Career Day – and is anxious for it to be a success. Meanwhile, Ava has a new approach to her job, and Melissa is asked a surprising question.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 17)

Wednesday, June 19

  • Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) - Watch Dakota on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mr. Corman/3rd Rock from the Sun) - Joseph appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Ebon Moss-Bachrach (The Bear/Girls) - Ebon is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Abby Elliott (The Bear/Indebted/Odd Mom Out) - Abby appears on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen at 10:15pm on Bravo.
  • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Patti chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jason Biggs (Outmatched/Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason is a guest on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am.
  • Austin Butler (Ruby & the Rockits/Zoey 101/Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide) - Austin talks about The Bikeriders on NBC's Today some time between 7-9am.
  • Joe Manganiello (How I Met Your Mother) - Joe chats about hosting the new Deal or No Deal Island on a repeat of Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Sterling K. Brown (Solar Opposites/Starved) - Sterling is joining Drew and telling her all about receiving his first Oscar nomination, his most surreal moment on the red carpet and raising his two sons on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore ShoW, so check your local listings.
  • Jenny Slate (The Great North/Big Mouth/Married/Bob's Burgers) - Jenny is joining Drew and telling her all about being a mom to a three-year-old and her new comedy special Seasoned Professional on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Teri Hatcher (The Odd Couple/Sunday Dinner/Karen's Song/The Love Boat) - Teri talks about Lifetime's The Killer Inside: The Ruth Finley Story on a repeat of Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.
  • Keegan-Michael Key (Schmigadoon!/Friends from College/Playing House/Gary Unmarried) - Keegan-Michael discusses hosting NFL Honors and book, The History of Sketch Comedy: A Journey through the Art and Craft of Humor, on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


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01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
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04/08 - Check It Out! - The Complete Series (VEI)
05/21 - Frasier (2023) - Season One
06/11 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
06/11 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)

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