Tuesday, March 28, 2006

its media roundup time, charlie brown

Yes, its time for our weekly look at what's hit the shelves and what should be put on The Shelf for this week. And for the first time - not an "oldie" in the bunch! And one of them is a New Release. Hmm- the plot thickens. This episode of media roundup is very much a trip down memory lane to the shows and films of my youth .


Top Shelf Pick of the Week
A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Come Home.
Well, you had to know this would be the top pick for the week. Yes, true believers some of the feature-length Charlie Brown films are starting to come to DVD. And they really couldn't have started off with a better two films. A Boy Named Charlie Brown is the film that we all know and love from our childhood. Charlie Brown wins the spelling bee at school, which propels him through competitions to a final showdown in the national spelling bee. Will he win? I think you remember. This one was funny, it had a great musical score (an Oscar-nominated one by Vince Guaraldi), and great Peanuts moments taken from a similar storyline in the strips. Charles Schulz wrote the film directed by long time collaborator and animator, Bill Melendez and produced by Lee Mendelson. Charles Schulz partnered with Mendelson and Melendez for all his Peanuts features and specials ensuring a long run of quality and very special Peanuts animation.
Snoopy, Come Home is the film that made the ladies cry. A quite sentimental tale in which Charlie Brown discovers that Snoopy has had a previous owner- and that Snoopy has run away to go see her, because she is very ill. When she recovers she asks Snoopy to stay with her - Snoopy faces a difficult choice. Both films are highly recommended and worthwhile family entertainment. Hopefully this means that the other films like Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown will make it to DVD as well.

Quantum Leap The Complete Fourth Season-
Top Shelf Pick of the Week - runner up
I gotta tell ya- I'm pretty picky when it comes to picking up TV season sets. For one thing - not every episode in a TV series is watchable, or more importantly - rewatchable. So a series has to have something going for it that makes me want to watch episodes again (and again) and bring me back for more. Quantum Leap was such a television series. Very different and and entertaining, QL was able to stradle sci-fi, comedy, drama, history, mystery, romance, and adventure without really loosing the things that made it work. It didn't hurt that the two leads were fantastic actors who made you care about the characters. Scott Backula and Dean Stockwell were great as leaping Sam and his holographic 21st century guide, Al. The Fourth season in particular had some classic QL episodes as well, including the first of the season in which Sam and Al switch places.

King Kong -
Wow, if any week deserved multiple Top Shelf picks, it would be this one. Peter Jackson's King Kong hits DVD this week- and if you've previously purchased any of Peter Jackson's DVD's before, you know that he knows what he's doing when it comes to the extras. The two-disc Special Edition and one disc widescreen and fullscreen editions hit the shelves today. This movie was visually stunning, and Peter Jackson spun a good yarn. All in all, a great remake that really stands a tribute to the original. Yes, it is a bit long, clocking in at a little over 3 hours, but Jackson uses them well. Also, if you haven't picked up the 1933 original- how about do so this week. A single disc edition is being released to coincide with the Peter Jackson DVD release. But do yourself a favor - get the 2 disc special edition. The features are a wow, and some places are selling at special sale price to cash in on all the aped up hype.

Planet of the Apes- the Ultimate DVD Collection.
I am not a huge fan of the Planet of the Apes series. I really liked the first and second one was OK, but I found that the premise and the storyline wore thin as the series went on. Nonetheless, if you are a fan - and there are many out there- this collection looks pretty sweet. The "ape-head" packaging is pretty cool and when they mean "Ultimate"- I believe 'em. Included in the package are not only all of the 5 original feature films, but also included are the 2001 remake (sorry- you can probably use it as stand for the "ape-head"), the TV live actions series, the TV animated series, a host of features, and the excellent AMC documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes, hosted by Roddy McDowell, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original and a look at the entire franchise. In fact, "Franchise Collection" might have even been a more appropriate moniker for this box set. Although I am not a huge fan of the series, I hope this collection does very well. I know it is a beloved series for many fans. Hopefully success of this box set will encourage studios to do similar franchise box sets of films that had great runs and also appeared in TV, etc. That being said, I wouldn't mind some single releases of this set- I really liked the first one and the AMC documentary.

Not the 9 o'Clock News-
If you watched HBO in the mid-80s you've got to remember Not Necessarily the News. C'mon! You've at least got to remember Rich Hall and Sniglets. Yeah, I thought so. Well This DVD is the best of the British original. I saw some of this series in the late 80s on PBS and "discovered" Rowan Atkinson. I soon watched as many of his series as I could. I loved Mr. Bean ( don't know why- I just "get" it) and the more recent The Thin Blue Line series- but I especially love Black Adder. After Monty Python, Black Adder has to be my most favorite British comedy series. Even before the great Fawlty Towers , Benny Hill and the work of Hugh Laurie and Stephan Fry. I mean how can you not love Baldrick? So- if you don't "get" it- check out Not the Nine o'Clock News. Then you might be on to something.

Other excellent films and DVD sets hitting this week:
Louis Malle's classic Au Reviour, Les Enfants.
The richly animated and woven Airbender, The Last Avatar, Book 1 Water, Vol.2 And for more of a trip down memory lane try the Danger Mouse Seasons 5 & 6, and The Super Mario Brothers Super Show DVD sets.

Television: (Check Local listings for times)

Tonight is the CBS action block. You know the drill. Don't miss The Amazing Race. The Mighty Phil K. has them headed to Italy. Arguing, breakdowns, and difficult challenges lie ahead. And this week on South Park: Stan convinces everyone to buy Hybrid vehicles, but it isn't too long until everyone discovers a huge stormy mass headed for South Park in "Smug Alert!" Sounds promising. I wonder if we will see a reappearance of Darth Chef? (Chef Vader has better ring to it I think).

Shelf picks on TCM:

March 28th: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance their way through an entagled web of a trumped up marriage, all for the sake of publicity in Shall We Dance (1937).

March 29th: It's Tough Guy day at TCM. Great features on the block for today are The Charge Of The Light Brigade (1936), Gunga Din (1939) , White Heat (1949) , The Roaring Twenties (1939), Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) , The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) , Double Indemnity (1944) , and Whispering Smith (1948).

March 30th: Great adventure abounds with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr in King Solomon's Mines (1950). Archaeologist get more than they bargained for when they uncover a lost tomb in Valley Of The Kings (1954).

March 31st: Americana at it's Hollywood best. Comedy is on the menu for Doris Day and David Niven in Please Don't Eat The Daisies (1960). Cary Grant and Myrna Loy tackle the American Dream with hilarious results in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). The mid-west gets a musical sendup in Oklahoma! (1955). And don't forget Baseball! Gary Cooper is the great Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig in The Pride Of The Yankees (1942).

It's April Fools at TCM on April 1st: The Marx Brothers bring their own particular brand of destruction in Duck Soup (1933). W.C. Fields stumbles his way through guarding a bank in The Bank Dick (1940). Lou Costello is a Revolutionary war ghost haunting Bud Abbott in The Time of Their Lives (1946). Bob Hope and Bing Crosby sing, dance, and smirk their way through Alaska in The Road to Utopia. And let us not forget Jerry and Dean in The Caddy (1953).

That's it for this week Shelfers. Enjoy the last of March. And don't forget: It's good to be the King.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

You know what I need? I need more 'hello's'.

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