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



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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

Thursday, January 20

Young Sheldon - "A Pink Cadillac and a Glorious Tribal Dance" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Sheldon attends his first comic book convention. Also, Mary tries selling make-up.

United States of Al - "Poker / Pokar" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Art grows concerned when Al gets hooked on playing poker, misses a class and is late for work. Also, Lizzie and Brett’s relationship grows stronger, but she struggles with dating again for the first time in a few years.

Ghosts - "The Vault" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Just as Sam and Jay are set to host a friend’s wedding that could get their B&B business off the ground, the ghost of Hetty’s husband, Elias Woodstone (Matt Walsh), tries to ruin it.

B Positive - "Louisville, Bubbaroo and Sully" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Gina hires Peter’s son to be her lawyer, but things get complicated when he asks her out. Also, Drew and Harry’s van breaks down during their road trip.

Call Me Kat - "Call Me a Sporty Giant" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
While staying in Kat's apartment, Randi starts to feel overwhelmed by Kat's quirks; Max and Carter try to teach Phil how to ride a bike.

Pivoting - "The Giving Tree" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Sarah drags Amy and Jodie out on a night of hijinks; Amy struggles to balance a work crisis and her new dedication to motherhood; Jodie's anxiety takes over after sending a flirty text to Matt and doesn't get a response.

Single Drunk Female - "Pilot" (Freeform, 10:00PM ET/PT)
A public flameout forces 20-something alcoholic Sam to move back home with her overbearing mother, Carol; surrounded by all the triggers that made her drink, Sam tries to move past her worst self and figure out her best self.

Single Drunk Female - "One Day at a Time" (Freeform, 10:00PM ET/PT)
An awkward run-in with her former best friend and her ex inspires Sam to own up for her past mistakes, both emotionally and financially; as she resets her relationship with her mother, Sam is horrified to learn Carol is dating.

Warped! - "Pilot" (Nickelodeon, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Milo, the beloved head geek at a comic book shop, finds his world disrupted after his boss hires the quirky and excitable Ruby.

Warped! - "Challenged!" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After Milo's nemesis Carl beats his world record, Ruby helps him try to reclaim it.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 17)

Thursday, January 20

  • Jason Bateman (Arrested Development/George and Leo/Chicago Sons/Simon/The Hogan Family/It's Your Move/Silver Spoons) - Catch Jason on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth/The Cleveland Show) - Will appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Jennifer Coolidge (2 Broke Girls/Joey) - Jennifer is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • David Cross (Arrested Development/Running Wilde/Oliver Beene) - David appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Laura Linney (The Big C) and Kristin Davis (And Just Like That.../Sex and the City) - Laura and Kristin are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 10:30pm on Bravo. NBC's Today catches up with Laura in the 9am hour.
  • Ricky Gervais (After Life/The Office) - Ricky chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Sharon Gless (House Calls/Turnabout) - Sharon chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Edi Patterson (The Righteous Gemstones/Vice Principals/Partners) - Edi will be on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (Rutherford Falls/The Office) and Randall Park Fresh Off the Boat/Veep) - Ed and Randall talk about Peacock's True Story with Ed and Randall on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT and on PEOPLE in 10 at 8am.
  • Kym Whitley (Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) and Finesse Mitchell (Outmatched/A.N.T. Farm) - Kym and Finesse guest host The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Game/Here We Go Again/The Steve Harvey Show/Minor Adjustments) - Wendy talks about Paramount+'s The Game on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/CafĂ© Americain/Sydney/One Day at a Time) - Valerie talks about her new book Enough Already on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Chris Kattan (The Middle) - Chris is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kyle Mooney (Arrested Development) - Kyle appears on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • John Early (Search Party) - John talks about the final season of Search Party on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen talks about The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Bridget Everett (Somebody Somewhere/Camping/Lady Dynamite>) - Bridget talks about Somebody Somewhere on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Sofia Black-D’Elia (Single Drunk Female/The Mick) and Ally Sheedy (Single Drunk Female - Sofia and Ally talk about Freeform's Single Drunk Female on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Marsai Martin (black-ish) - Marsai talks about Remix My Space on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October-January)

Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Mom - The Eighth and Final Season Punky Brewster (1984-88) - The Complete Series (2021 Release) I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
11/02 - The Honeymooners Specials - A Christmas Carol
11/02 - Mom - The Eighth and Final Season
11/02 - Punky Brewster - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
11/02 - Sex and the City - The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)
11/09 - Saved by the Bell (2020) - Season One
11/09 - Younger - The Complete Series
11/16 - Kevin Can F*** Himself - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
11/23 - Dead Pixels - Seasons One and Two
11/30 - I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (2021 Release) (Blu-ray)
12/07 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/07 - Rick & Morty - Season 5 (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray Limited Edition Steelbook)
12/14 - The Abbott and Costello Show - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
12/14 - Letterkenny - Season 9
01/04 - Work in Progress - Season 2
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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