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:
Amazon.com



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

Friday, January 24

American Housewife - "Wildflower Girls" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Katie grows concerned when Anna-Kat is invited to join Westport’s elite scout troop, The Wildflower Girls. Meanwhile, Taylor learns her Carnegie Mellon interview is scheduled with famous alumnus and Broadway star Brecken Phillips (Ian Gomez); and, Oliver befriends the school recluse, Trevor (Tenzing Norgay-Trainor).

Fresh Off the Boat - "The Magic Motor Inn" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
In a selfish move to avoid Jessica’s wrath once SAT scores arrive, Eddie convinces Evan that coaching from former classmate and spelling bee champ Simryn is exactly what he needs to finally win the state spelling bee. However, when it backfires and Evan begins to spiral, Eddie gets some much-needed wisdom from Simryn’s dad. On the other side of town, Jessica and Louis convince Emery to get a job only to be shocked by what he chooses.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 20)

Friday, January 24

  • Penn Badgley (Do Over) - Watch Penn on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Larry appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ali Wong (American Housewife/Are You There, Chelsea?) - Ali is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Tim Robbins (The Brink) - Tim chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Bless This Mess/Broad City) - Susie chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jennifer Anison (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Jennifer guest hosts The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) - Selena is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Ashley Williams (The Jim Gaffigan Show/Good Morning, Miami) - Ashley talks about Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer on People Now at 12pm.
  • The Cast of Indebted - Abby Elliot, Jessy Hodges and Adam Pally are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Retta (Parks and Recreation) and Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly) - Retta and Reno talk about Good Girls on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff appears on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/Cafe Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Vivica A. Fox (Mr. Box Office/Getting Personal/Out All Night) - Vivica is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One

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)
11/18 - The Guest Book - Season Two
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (Blu-ray)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
12/03 - The Simpsons - The Nineteenth Season
12/03 - The Simpsons - Seasons 1-20: Limited Collector's Set
12/06 - 9JKL - The Complete Series
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Atlanta - Season 2 - Robbin' Season
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
12/17 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (2019 Release)
12/17 - The Other Two - Season 1
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season ((Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

01/24 - Fri-Yay: Sitcom Line-Ups - A Thing of the Past?; Adult Swim Comedy Returns Feb. 23
01/23 - The Conners Celebrate Grand Opening of Lanford Lunch Box with Contest; Lifetime Celebrates 30 Years of Original Movies
01/22 - HBO Max Gets Animated with Royals Comedy; Netflix Announces Premiere Date for Sophia Lillis Comedy
01/21 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Hulu - a Comedy with Steve Martin and Martin Short, the Renewal of Dollface
01/20 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: More Cable; 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® Winners
01/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 20, 2020)
01/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Punky Brewster Reboot Officially a Go; Freeform Renews Pair of Series
01/17 - Fri-Yay: Sitcoms in 2020; Peacock Streaming Services Programming Update
01/16 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Cable Day 2 - American Dad! 2 Season Renewal, Tacoma FD Season 2 Premiere Date
01/15 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Cable Day 1 - Comedy Central, Amazon, Paramount Network and More!
01/14 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Showtime and Pop; Will Smith & Martin Lawrence Talk Hit Sitcoms
01/13 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: NBC and CBS Includes The Rock Comedy at NBC and The Price Is Right at Night on CBS
01/12 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 13, 2020)
01/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Gets More of Original Cast; ABC Expanding Game Show Empire
01/10 - Fri-Yay: Top Sitcoms of the Decade, Part 2; PIX11 Celebrates 45th Anniversaries of The Jeffersons and Barney Miller
01/09 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: ABC Includes Modern Family Finale, The Conners Live and Return of Millionaire
01/08 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Fox; 13 Series Renewed for 2020-21 on The CW
01/07 - E! News Gets 3rd Host for Midday Show; Freeform Schedules Valentine's Day Comedy TV Movie
01/06 - 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards Winners; Fox Animated Comedies to Air After NFL Divisional Playoff
01/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 6, 2020)
01/04 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Loses Streaming Rights to Friends; Networks Prepare for Midseason
01/03 - Fri-Yay: Top Sitcoms of the Decade, Part 1; Modern Family Heads to Paris for Episode
01/02 - Fox Orders New Animated Comedy; Netflix Leslie Jones Comedy Special Premieres Jan. 14
01/01 - Happy New Year! Binge on Merry Happy Whatever, A New Holiday Sitcom
12/31 - New Year's Eve 2019 and New Year's Day 2020 TV Marathons
12/30 - In Memoriam: Remembering the Sitcom Stars We Lost in 2019
12/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 30, 2019)
12/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The On-Going Feud Between Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy; Writer of Friends Theme Song Dies
12/27 - Freeform January 2020 Schedule with The Simpsons, Superstore, Family Guy; WarnerMedia and Xandr Upfront Now Combined in 2020
12/26 - SNL with Eddie Murphy Scores in Ratings; REELZ and Alex Trebek Explore Game Shows
12/25 - Merry Christmas from Sitcoms Online
12/24 - 2019 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day TV Marathons & Movies