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:
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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



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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 10

The Conners - "Messy Situation, Miscommunication and Academic Probation" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Becky inadvertently outs her relationship with Professor Davis, he’s forced to reevaluate his career, but his erratic behavior sends Becky down a path to reevaluate their relationship. Meanwhile, Dan and Darlene check in on Chuck, only to learn heartbreaking news about his family.

The Goldbergs - "Hip-Shaking and Booty-Quaking" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Erica and Geoff decide to throw a party to prove to others and themselves that they can still have fun as a young, engaged couple. Meanwhile, Beverly assumes control of William Penn Academy as “acting principal” and presses the school faculty to put together a “Fame”-themed send-off for the senior class.

Abbott Elementary - "Open House" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
It’s Open House night at Abbott Elementary, and while Janine prepares to meet her struggling student’s mother, the rest of the faculty uses the time to relax. Gregory is taken aback when he learns how Ava got the principal job, and later, Barbara’s daughter’s visit creates a commotion in more ways than one.

Home Economics - "Keg of Light Beer, $180" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
While Tom and Marina attempt to relive their youth at a college party, Connor and Denise deal with JoJo (Tetona Jackson) potentially leaving when she gets an offer to go on a reality show. Meanwhile, Sarah considers casting her niece in the school musical.

Wellington Paranormal - "A Civil War" (The CW, 9:00PM ET/PT)
In the wake of a shocking blindside, players scramble for power; a pair of underdogs must choose between creating chaos and playing it safe.

grown-ish - "Look What U Started" (Freeform, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Eager to impress Gamma Psi Delta while pledging, Junior faces a moral dilemma when he books a controversial comic to perform at a fundraiser; Aaron struggles to fit in with his colleagues, and receives advice from Zoey about how to cope.

Everything's Trash - "Family Is Trash" (Freeform, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Jayden's obsessive need to fix Phoebe creates a rift between them; Jessie, Malika and Michael attempt to mend the relationship and reunite the siblings.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 8)

Wednesday, August 10

  • Jamie Foxx (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Jamie Foxx Show) - Watch Jamie on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) - Abbi appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • David Alan Grier (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Cool Kids/The Carmichael Show/Bad Teacher/Life with Bonnie/DAG) - David guest hosts Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kieran Culkin (Go Fish) - Kieran is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jeff Foxworthy (The Jeff Foxworthy Show) - Jeff appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Vanessa Bayer (I Love That for You) - Vanessa is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Julie Andrews (Julie) - Julie chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Michaela JaĆ© Rodriguez (Loot) - Michaela discusses Loot on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Laura Linney (The Big C) - Laura appears on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Gabriel Iglesias (Mr. Iglesias/Cristela) - Gabriel is a guest on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Mariska Hargitay (Can't Hurry Love) - Mariska appears on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Biggs (Outmatched/Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason and his wife Jenny Mollen are guests on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • D'Arcy Carden (Barry/The Good Place) - NBC's Today catches up with D'Arcy in the 9am hour.
  • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect/Suddenly Susan) - Sherri guest hosts a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/The Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - Sofia is a guest on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
  • Howie Mandel (Good Grief) - Howie will be on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
  • Megan Suri (Never Have I Ever) - Megan appears on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:40am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April-August)

Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release) The Neighborhood - Season Four The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three

04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
05/13 - The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Time Life)
05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
06/14 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Eleventh Season
06/14 - Hacks - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/14 - Rutherford Falls - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/21 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season One / Season Two
07/19 - The Neighborhood - Season Four
07/19 - Reno 911! - The Hunt for QAnon (Blu-ray) (DVD)
07/26 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three / Season Four
08/16 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. - Canada)
08/16 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
More Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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