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:
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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

Tuesday, July 23

The Conners - "O Sister, Where Art Thou?" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Becky helps Harris keep a secret from Darlene, it opens up a can of worms that causes a rift between the two sisters. Jackie supports Peter with his Nordic history project, and Dan reunites with an old friend.

American Housewife - "Insta-Friends" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Katie feels left out and slightly jealous when Greg becomes fast friends with the newest member of the Westport Historical Guild. Meanwhile, Oliver fears Cooper is ditching him when he sees on social media that Cooper lied about his weekend plans.

Modern Family - "Whanex?" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
While preparing a presentation for his students about their future goals, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) must also contend with a bully at the school and Jay (Ed O’Neil) is having a little technical trouble during his video conference. Meanwhile, the local mall is holding a photo shoot for its new ad campaign and Gloria tricks Phil and Joe into participating.

black-ish - "Under the Influence" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Jack is going through an experimental phase and getting himself into trouble, so Dre chaperones the twins’ school dance to keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, Junior fights with his girlfriend, Niecy, after she thinks he spends too much time taking care of Devante.

Modern Family - "We Need to Talk About Lily" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil may have conquered his biggest real estate challenge when he thinks he found Pepper his dream home. Meanwhile, in an attempt to connect with Lily, Mitch and Cam get invited to an exclusive event for her favorite vlogger.

black-ish - "Each One, Teach One" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre feels like he has made a difference with the diversity at Stevens & Lido as the head of the Urban Division, but when Junior tells him that Josh is his mentor, Dre flips out. Meanwhile, Jack and Diane show their friends a video of Bow dancing and now she’s become the hot mom.

The Detour - "The Game Show" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
The Parkers are contestants on a Japanese game show.

Sydney to the Max - "Dancin' the Vida Loca" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Sydney struggles with ballet, something her mom was great at, she starts to feel like she's losing touch of her mom.

Sydney to the Max - "How Sydney Got Her Phone Back" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When a cell phone ban policy during school hours goes up for a vote, Sydney is sure that her dad, who's on the Parent School Committee, will vote against it.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 22)

Tuesday, July 23

  • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever) - Catch Fred on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Eva Longoria (Telenovela) - Eva stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Thomas visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared) - Charlie is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Rami appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David drops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback/Web Therapy) - Lisa is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kyle Richards (Down to Earth) - Kyle visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Idris Elba (Turn Up Charlie) - Idris appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings. He also talks about Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jason Priestley (Call Me Fitz) - Jason talks about the Casteel Family Movie Series on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Billy Eichner (Friends from College/Difficult People/Parks and Recreation) - Billy talks about The Lion King on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David talks about Lights Out with David Spade on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (May/June/July)

My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two The Good Place - The Complete Third Season

05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 2
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons (WBShop.com)
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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