Thursday, November 30, 2006
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the many great animated specials and Christmas movies that the season has to offer. I remember certain presents that Santa brought, or special gifts from my family that meant a lot, but when I think of Christmas the memories of watching Rudolph or White Christmas with my family is what comes flooding back. I remember sitting in front of the television with my brother and sisters, watching some Christmas special while Dad or Mom brought us hot chocolate to drink. When I was really young, there was no VCR- so when Charlie Brown or even Miracle on 34th Street came on, it was on and that was it until next year. We got to stay up to watch them and it was always like a special event. Even the commercials were different somehow; maybe seeing kids open up the same thing you wanted for Christmas had some sort of vicarious thrill effect. Heck, McDonalds even seemed better even though they were selling the same stuff. It was Christmas…at McDonalds.
By the way kids, here’s a tip: when your Dad asks the following question: “Do you want to go by McDonald’s?” with a smirk on his face, do not trust him. You will go by McDonald’s – in fact you will drive right by it as your Dad laughs and says, “I told you we would go by McDonald’s.” Trust me. I speak from years of bitter experience.
In those prehistoric days before the VCR, no one in kid-Dom could really foretell that years in the future you could own copies of these specials and watch them year around if you wished. Phrases like “DVD”, “Special Features”, or “Bonus Cartoon” were never uttered on the playground. Well, maybe “special features”, but never about a DVD. Today my kids don’t comprehend just how good they’ve got it. I know every generation says that about the upcoming generation, but it is true. My nephew has demanded to see The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town continuously since Easter. Now that is one lucky kid who is blessed not to know of a pre-DVD time, and knows good stuff when he sees it. Either that or he has an unhealthy obsession with the Easter Bunny. Or both.
Either way, in this day of everything on demand, a bit of the magic surrounding these specials and movies has been somewhat lost: the magic of anticipation. Sure, most of us put away those movies and shows until the holiday season comes round again. But when the holidays are here, I’ll bet you’ve seen at least one of them several times. If you have small kids you can ratchet that up a few notches. (Hey, at least it’s a bit of a break from Dora or Elmo.)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I would much rather be able to own these movies and specials on DVD, so I can really enjoy them with my family. All I’m really saying is, how about instead of plopping the progeny in front of the DVD of the Grinch, how about sit down with them, make a batch of cookies and hot chocolate and really enjoy them together as a family. They will remember those times that you celebrated the season together for the rest of their lives. And they’ll try and do the same with their kids. Enjoy the Christmas season together as a family and you will see that they will carry the warmth of those memories long after they’ve grown up. I know- I have.
When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting, whatever it is you've got left.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
2006 will go down as the year of Superman. Supermen, really, for almost every incarnation of Superman to hit the big and small screen has seen some action this year. It has been an explosion of Superman DVDs, a new film, Television series DVDs and more. So let's begin the roundup... besides, we've got to get back to Christmas.
Top Shelf Pick of the Week:
Superman: The Ultimate Collector's Edition.
What do you get when you cram in all of the big screen Superman films and a whole bunch of extras into one box? Well, you get this huge set. This mega set contains all for of the original Superman film series (including the four disc special edition of Superman), Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, Superman Returns, and the documentary Look Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman; all to comprise a 14 disc set. The set is also jam-packed with tons (and I mean tons) of extras including the 1950s Television movie: Superman and The Mole Men, all of the Fleischer cartoons in their restored glory, bunches of documentaries on all of the films (including one on the Fleischer cartoons), deleted scenes, trailers, several booklets and a Superman comic and more. (See Amazon for a complete list). For a Superman fan this is an automatic notch on the old Santa wish list. This year has seen an awful lot of Superman material being released. In addition to the complete Superman film series, you can also have the complete series of the 1950s Superman television series, The 1990s Lois and Clark series and Superboy series, you can be steadily obtaining Smallville, the original Kirk Alyn serial from the 1940s (see below) and now especially great for animation fans are all of the incredible Max Fleischer Superman cartoons. In particular interest also is the Richard Donner cut of Superman II. Donner was filming Superman I and II at the same time. When Marlon Brando complained that he didn't know that he was filming two films, production stopped for a time on II, and then Donner left the project. Now Donner has recut the film to his original vision. Our friend Laura over at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings has an excellent look at this DVD. This is one set you do not want to miss, and when we do our Shelf roundup awards after Christmas this may be in contention for set of the year.
Note: Unfortunately, Digital Bits is reporting that disc 1 and disc 8 of this set shipped with incorrect audio for the film and missing several bonus features. Warners is aware of the problem and will be providing replacement discs, and if you go to Digital Bits you can find contact information on how to obtain those.
If you own most of the films and do not wish to upgrade, you still may want to check out this year's Superman Returns. Bryan Singer left X-Men III when offered the chance to direct a new Superman, and the results were somewhat mixed. I think X-Men lost some of its vision when Singer left, but I also think that while Superman gained quite a bit of security in terms of continuing the character and staying close to the story and characters, I also think the film was not all that it could be. I definitely appreciated the homage to the Christopher Reeve films and to essentially picking up where that series left off (really after Superman II). Too much time was spent on reviving Reeve and not letting Brandon Routh run with the character. It had too much of one foot in the past films and not enough in the present series. But the film had many things going for it that make it promising and hopefully in looking forward to the next installment. Visually stunning, the special effects were somehow natural and unbelievable at the same time. Even though Kevin Spacey was not effective as Lex Luthor, and Kate Bosworth is OK, but rather bland as Lois- Brandon Routh was promising as Superman. The next installment is coming and Superman Returns may end up being the transition piece from the old series into the new. It's still an otherwise excellent film and Singer appreciably is self-referential without resorting to parody, and reverent without becoming pedantic. I am anxious to see where this cast and director take the characters next.
Superman: The Theatrical Serials Collection.
Kirk Alyn was really the first live action Superman up on the big screen in a set of chapter serials in 1948 and 1950. Now I was a bit too young to remember anything other than trailers before a film, but my father has oft told me about the days when he would go down to the movie theater on a Saturday and see a newsreel, several cartoons, two different chapter serials, a couple of trailers, a muscial short and a double feature. And to hear him tell it, he got all of that, plus popcorn, candy, a hamburger and shake at the Chock'lit Shoppe, a toy, a shoeshine, a magazine, a tip on the horses and busfare all for a dime. And he further claims that was after prices went up. These two theatrical serials are as much science fiction as my father's account of the economic value of a dime in his bygone days, but they reflect the ideas of science, fantasy and adventure that one could find in other serials and comic strips. Let us not forget that the original incarnation of Superman was more in the vein of science fiction, than say the pumped up superheros of the the last several decades. These enjoyable chapter serials may be a little different to the younger crowd to whom the Christopher Reeve movie special effects seem dated, but the stories are very enjoyable and it's great to see Superman in a post WW II pre Cold War context.
Criterion continues to release DVDs of great and important films in high quality sets brimming with great features. This DVD is no exception. Pandora's Box (Die Busch de Pandora) was the controversial film by German filmmaker G.W. Pabst that made actress Louise Brooks an icon of the jazz age. Her character Lulu (which became a nickname for her among fans) is a showgirl who spirals down into a lurid world that affects all of those around her. Definitely shocking for its time, and scathingly criticized for its sexuality and story, the film is now considered a masterpiece of the late silent era. Louise Brooks is a facinating person who became the actress, the it girl, of the jazz age. She still has legions of fans, here and abroad. A Kansas native, she found her beginnings in show business in Hollywood. but became a legend through her work in films in Germany. John over at Greenbriar Pictures Shows had recently made Louise the subject of one of his regular Monday Glamour Starters. Some of the images John posted just smolder through the moniter screen. For more info on Lulu check that post out or the site of the Louise Brooks Society.
Becoming Charlemange: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800
To truly understand where we are today, we must better understand where we have been. This is a lesson that is lost on many people in today's modern world, who seemingly cannot wait to get to tomorrow. Why would I recommend a book about a long ago ruler and his Empire from centuries ago? Because our past is relevant and it's relevance extends far beyond your immediate geographical era. The story of Charlemagne is not as well known, or perhaps even taught to the young jet set in school these days. Author Jeff Sypeck focuses on the four years of conflict, diplomacy, and empire building that led to the German king Karl being crowned leader of Imperial Rome and, for the most part, all of Europe. The influence and legacy and impact of Charlemagne extended well beyond Christian Europe, and it changed Europe (and affected the world in some ways) in the long run. Get to know the past and you can affect the future. And that's... one to grown on!
I hope everyone enjoyed A Charlie Brown Christmas the other night. More Christmas specials will be on the way. The Amazing Race, The Unit and NCIS were excellent as always. The Unit just keeps getting better and better. One thing is for sure, with your regular shows either on hiatus or in reruns until the first of the year, this is a perfect time to enjoy some classic films on Turner Classic Movies. To help you out, we will be posting a TCM for the Holidays Guide so you can really enjoy a classic film Christmas. For now let's see what's on for the next week:
Shelf picks for Turner Classic Movies:
Nov. 29th: Lucille Ball is the star of the month and tonight you can enjoy some of her films: Meet The People (1944), Stage Door (1937), (also June Allyson's debut) Best Foot Forward (1943), and The Affairs Of Annabel (1938).
Nov. 30th: Lucille Ball was also in the Marx Brothers' Room Service (1938). Then follow that up with more Hotel based offerings: The Bellboy (1960), Plaza Suite (1971), and Hotel Berlin (1945).
The Christmas season has kicked fully into gear so stay tuned to The Shelf for more essential Holiday viewing on TCM. In the meantime- you can't watch Christmas flicks 24/7- can you say burnout. That's alright TCM has you covered with more essential viewing.
Dec. 1st: Don't miss a day of comedy with Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1963), Annie Hall (1977), and Danny Kaye in Wonder Man (1945) and Up in Arms (1944).
Dec. 2nd: Frank Capra reigns supreme on TCM today with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), You Can't Take it With You (1938), Lady for a Day (1933) and Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Dec. 3rd: Suave and urbane William Powell brings his detective skills and wit has Philo Vance in The Kennel Murder Case (1933). Later William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow star in Libeled Lady (1936). Then stick around for another Powell -Loy feature: I Love You Again (1944).
Dec. 4th: Mark your calenders, it's Forbidden Hollywood night on TCM. These films were made before the Hayes code and censorship took effect. Then on Dec. 5th you can snatch up the Forbidden Hollywood Vol.1 DVD (review of this set will be forthcoming!) set from TCM and Warner Brothers featuring several of these films: Waterloo Bridge (1931), Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face (1933), Red Headed Woman (1932), Union Depot (1932), Under Eighteen (1932) and Night Nurse (1931).
Stick around. We've got more Christmas stuff headed your way plus some exciting previews and reviews and more on classic films. Stay tuned. Up, up and away!
We all have our little faults. Mine's in California.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Several things have always kind of bothered me about this special:
First: Santa gets pissed off by a letter to the editor, despite years of letters and cookies. Man, that Santa is a touchy guy.
Second: People spend most of the movie seemingly unaware that talking mice live in their homes. Then, near the end it's as if they knew it all along and talking mice is as natural as a Santa Claus with surgically implanted strawberries in his cheeks. "Hey Father Mouse, 'sup playa? I haven't seen you since the beginning of this show 20 minutes ago." "Nothing, much man. Yo- my kid broke your clock." "That's alright - ain't nothing but a thang." Riightt.
Third: The town council sure has no problem throwing alot of public funds towards building a musical clock to attract Santa Claus. If the government was worried about appeasing Santa Claus, wouldn't it be a whole lot cheaper just to send him a case of his beverage of choice- or a fruit basket or maybe even name a street after him. Hell, name the town hall after him that kind of thing works with other "gift-givers".
Fourth: It sure brings up some interesting points about the destructive nature of both fanatical belief and non-belief systems. Discuss. 10 points if you can work in the phrase: "The Crusades."
Fifth: I don't even want to get into the complexities of mice who not only talk, but possess mutant powers to turn into any number of ethnic stereotypes.
For what it's worth, this really is one of my favorites. Enjoy:
Stay tuned for tomorrow's "super" media roundup.
Don't quite know everything, do you?
Thursday, November 23, 2006
And here's a little Thanksgiving treat: The Barenaked Ladies performing Jingle Bells in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2004. Enjoy a few days off.
I went down to buy a turkey tree and all they have are things for Christmas.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I'm very sick to my heart right now. I just realized that I missed watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving last night. That alone wouldn't be so bad, but what's worse is that I also missed watching the last Peanuts special that Charles Schulz ever worked on, He's a Bully Charlie Brown. I have never seen it before and just am not happy that I didn't realize that they were on last night. Used to be I couldn't wait until the week of a major holiday and then I would sit down in front of the tube and that spinning "Special" logo would fill the screen. When the last note of the fanfare concluded, you knew you were in for a treat. Several animated specials and many toys, McDonalds, and Peppermint Patty commercials later, you could peacefully go to sleep. Yep, those were the days. In some ways, they'll never return for those of us who experienced them. Perhaps that is why we cast them in such a romantic, rosy hue. Ah- but not today. Today we celebrate our media roundup with some great primetime specials of the past. So grab your popcorn and get ready. You can even start by watching the spinning "special" logo here. Shhh! The special is about to start...
Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
The Grinch and Miracle on 34th Street Special Editions
The week of Thanksgiving meant more than just Thanksgiving cartoons, days off from school and lots of leftovers: it meant the first Christmas specials out of the gate: The Grinch and the annual airing of Miracle on 34th Street. Miracle was an automatic given on Thanksgiving night, possibly because it begins during Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It's a neat way to kick off the Christmas season and yet not quite kick out Thanksgiving altogther. Do I really need to summerize anything for you? Good- lets move on to what you really want to know: Is it worth buying these films again? Yes, these have been previously available on DVD (in fact, you probably can find both versions out in stores today). However, even if you already own previous versions, you might consider picking these up. I own the older Grinch version, but I've held off on Miracle in anticipation of a SE release.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas SE is a two disc affair that has features a remastered edition of the original animated classic and another animated Dr.Seuss special, Horton Hears a Who. This DVD set is tagged as a "50th Birthday Deluxe Edition." The "50th" refers to the birthday of the book, as the special is only 40 years old, having premiered in 1966. New to the DVD are several special features; a featurette entitled "Dr. Seuss and the Grinch - From Whoville to Hollywood", Pencil tests, "Songs in the key of Grinch" with composer Albert Hague and grrreaat Grinch vocalist Thurl Ravenscroft (aka: Tony the Tiger and a bajillion other characters), and "Who's Who in Whoville" gallery. If you don't own it, this is definitely the edition to pick up. If you own the previous edition, well that's up to you. The previous edition already included Horton and is a decent DVD. The features on the SE will probably win me over.
The Miracle on 34th Street Special Edition is also a two disc affair that has the remastered 1947 original version, the colorized (around the 1980s) version, and a 1950s television remake. In addition the set has an audio commentary featuring the great Maureen O'Hara, in which she tells a funny story about the parade scenes being filmed during the actual Macy's parade and many people being extras, unawares. The DVD set is packed with other extras; an AMC documentary on the film, documentary on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, Movietone News reels, poster stills and promotional shorts. In other words- this is not only the edition to pick up if you don't own it, but it is the edition to pick up even if you own the previous edition.
More classic DVD goodness:
Preston Sturgess: The Filmmaker Collection
Seven great Preston Sturges films are included in this must-have set: Sullivan's Travels,The Lady Eve,The Palm Beach Story,Hail the Conquering Hero, The Great McGinty, Christmas in July, and The Great Moment. Several of these films are arguably some of the great comedic films in American cinema. Several are on several AFI's 100 lists. These are just great films from this gifted director. The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels were previously available on very fine Criterion DVD releases. But (look online) for around 5 bucks a flick you can own a great collection of some great American comedy. One of my favorite films is the underappreciated Christmas in July. Check it out.
O'Henry's Full House
I haven't seen this film, and hadn't really heard of it before. Two things have encouraged me to check it out. It features a rare film appearance by one of my favorite radio comedians and writers, Fred Allen. The second thing was a confirmation from Greenbriar that Fred Allen's segment is included in the film, as it was previously cut for a theatrical release. The film is comprised of five O'Henry short stories, and features an aray of stars. I look forward to seeing it.
Classic Comedy Teams Collection
This box set features two films each from three different classic comedy teams. Abbott and Costello: Lost in a Harem and A. and C. in Hollywood
The Three Stooges: Meet The Baron and Gold Raiders
Laurel and Hardy: Air Raid Wardens and Nothing But Trouble
A few of these films are previously available, and each double feature is available separately. But you want the set, don't you- for all the classic comedy goodness. Especially The Three Stooges set- I've only seen these films several years ago on AMC and cannot find them anywhere. Until today that is.
This is an interesting collection that features 17 silent films never released on DVD and several other archival rarities. The set includes some of the earliest screen appearances by Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, and Harold Lloyd. I am a big fan of silent comedies and this is a must for the library of any silents fan.
The Thief and the Cobbler
This is a much talked about animated feature film that has been in the works for a long time. Cartoon Brew has discussed it many times over. The film was created by master animater Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) and is the story of a poor cobbler (aren't they all?) in love with a young princess. Many things and world events reportedly caused backers and producers to hold up the release of the film. If you are a fan of animation that isn't of the Happy Feet/Over the Hedge/Open Season variety- do yourself a favor and pick this up. Give the talking animals a break this season.
A Fish Called Wanda Special Edition
This two disc special edition was set to be released this past summer, but was held back until now. The film was written by John Cleese and as such, features a bevy of John Cleese goodies in the special features department. For my money Michael Palin was one of the best performances in the film and his scenes were perhaps among the funniest. That combined with the excellent cast, great lines, and overall great script make this DVD an easy pick this week.
This may seem to be another greatest hits repackage. And essentially it is, but still you can't go wrong with this CD set featuring some of the best of the Dublin foursome. The DVD features footage from a live performance in Italy. And yes, Bono used to have a short mullet. Business in the front, party in the back.
There are some of the last new episodes for the rest of the year on tonight:
Numb3rs, NCIS and The Unit- this season has been excellent thus far. Last week's episodes were among the best. Catch 'em on CBS Innertube if you've missed them.
No new South Park this week- but there will be a new Amazing Race on Sunday. They are down to 4 teams now and the challenges are getting harder.
I really love Turner Classic Movies this time of year. They really pull out all the stops to bring you the best classic holiday films, some of which aren't available on DVD. Check back with us in the next week as we preview the month of Decemeber and bring you "TCM for the Holidays". In addition, don't miss some previews/reviews of some first run and original programming for Decemeber on TCM. The Shelf and TCM will be the places to be this December.
Shelf Picks for Turner Classic Movies this week:
Nov. 21st: Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn do their best to stay alive and discover the her dead husband's secrets in Charade (1963). Then stick around for an evening with John Ford: Mogambo (1953), The Lost Patrol (1934) and Wagon Master (1950).
Nov. 22nd: It's Basil Rathbone as urbane detective Philo Vance in The Bishop Murder Case (1930). Then Cary Grant and Tony Curtis find they have their hands full in Operation Petticoat (1959). Later you'll find there is No Name On The Bullet (1959) in this Film Noir classic.
Nov. 23rd: What better way to digest that big Turkey meal than with some light comedy on TCM? A slew of Doris Day movies including The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), That Touch of Mink (1962) and Lover Come Back (1961).
Nov. 24th: If you aren't out shopping you might as well be watching some great movies. First part of the day: Westerns!- Seven Men From Now (1956), The Desperadoes (1943), The Westerner (1940), McLintock! (1963) and The Wonderful Country(1959). The second part of the day: Ray Harryhausen films!- The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (1958), Jason And The Argonauts (1963) and the shorts Rapunzel (1951) and King Midas (1953).
Nov. 25th: Irving Berlin done right: Top Hat (1935), White Christmas (1954) and Easter Parade (1948).
Nov. 26th: Some excellent Christmas films: The Bishop's Wife (1947) and White Christmas (1954) again. Also stick around for some excellent musicals: In The Good Old Summertime (1949) and Singin' In The Rain (1952).
Nov. 27th: It's tough guy day on TCM. You've got your gangsters: Little Caesar (1930). You've got your detective: The Thin Man (1934). You've got your soldier: Sergeant York (1941). You've got your grizzled old tough guy: The African Queen (1951). And you've got your suave guy in the wrong place at the wrong time: North By Northwest (1959).
Awww- now the "Special Presentation" is over. And I have a strange craving for York Peppermint Patties. Hmm. Guess it won't be long before we're watching the Parade. Don't stuff yourselves too much. Enjoy this Thanksgiving, and be sure to give thanks to the man upstairs and give thanks to those you love. See you around the bend.
Update: Unfortunately there is a bit of sad news to report: Director Robert Altman (Short Cuts, M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller) has passed away at the age of 81. Link to report is here.
Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos' feast. He took the who pudding, he took the roast beast. He emptied the ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took the last can of who hash.
Monday, November 20, 2006
This is the week! As many of you know, I think Thanksgiving is a holiday that is sort of given the short end of the stick. Last year, we made the case for Thanksgiving in a two part post. You can catch up by checking out these links:
All done? Good. We really think that we could all do with a little time to sit down with family and friends and give thanks for that which we have. You can do it anyway you wish, but stopping to give thanks- having an attitude of gratitude- is important. Too many in this age of entitlement and selfishness either neglect or outright refuse to acknowledge that having gratitude and giving thanks in their lives will truly make them better people. Shelfers don't fall in this category. We know for what and to whom we are grateful. Let us not forget. This is a week to give thanks and to spend time with those you love. Put aside work, shopping, squables, grudges, worries, and cares away for just a little while. Take the time to reflect and remember.
Now we won't take too long today other than to prep you for the rest of this week and provide some Thanksgiving goodies along the way.
Today: Thanksgiving goodies and the weekly Thanksgiving cartoon.
Tomorrow will be the Weekly Media Roundup- prime special edition.
later, it's a special episode of The Shelf: a post on Thanksgiving
Then we are off for a couple of days. Don't worry, we'll be back for the weekend. Besides, you've got better things to do on Thanksgiving than surfing the net.
You know it's kind of strange when you think of it: there is very little in the way of Thanksgiving candy. Oh sure, there are all kinds of goodies and desert. I love pie, myself. But no real candy like other holidays. Of course there is no Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday candy, but that's the subject of another post. Now, that is not to say we didn't find any. Wolf actually found some online. So we present to you: Chococlate Thanksgiving Turkeys and Leaves:
The company that makes these, Candy Warehorse, is listing them as "out of stock". Oh, well- now you know for next year. You could always buy some Hershey bars and cut them into shapes. We don't recommend it.
The weekly Thanksgiving cartoon:
Not just one, but three - three - Thanksgiving cartoons this week.
First up, a cartoon that perhaps is one you haven't seen in a while, or don't even think of when you think of Thanksgiving cartoon. It is a winner though- Tom and Jerry in The Little Orphan. This one features the little mouse Nibbles, who can really put the food away. Enjoy!
We also want to provide links to two Thanksgiving animated specials that you won't find on DVD or on television. On In2TV from AOL here are links to Bugs Bunny's Thanksgiving Diet and The Thanksgiving that Almost Wasn't. Just scroll down to each episode and click "streaming", and sit back and let yourself go back to a time when the week before and week of Thanksgiving was filled with such animated goodies.
Hope you enjoy - see you tomorrow. Same Shelf time, same Shelf channel.
Now quit stallin' and start roastin'.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I imagine that our vast readership (thanks, Ma) is sitting there wondering what could possibly be the Top Shelf Pick of the Week. Riiightt. You know what its going to be even with out the pictures. You know what our weaknesses are. It's like going out to eat with the friend who orders the same entre, every time at Olive Garden, but yet acts like they just can't decide. "Gee, I don't know...everything looks so good....You know what? I'm just going to have to go with the Lasagna. I think I had it last time, so I know it's good." Don't you just want to smack the back of their heads. They are same people who swear they have never seen a certain film before, even though you can provide physical evidence to the contrary. "I know you say that ticket stub to There's Something About Mary is mine, but I just don't remember it." Then, half way through the DVD..."Oh, NOW I remember."
But I digress... and great, now I'm hungry for Olive Garden. Or maybe just Lasagna. I don't know, but let's get on with this week's Media Roundup.
Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume 4
I've been looking forward to this set for a very long time. I've got the first three volumes and my children and I have watched all of them...multiple times. This edition delivers the goods for both casual Looney Tunes fans, and the serious animation buff. Included are tons of commentaries (I'm really looking forward to the one with Stan Freberg and Jerry Beck), Behind the Tunes features, documentaries (including a new one on Friz Freleng) and many other features. There are just too many great cartoons to name a few as highlights, but I am looking forward to Knighty-Knight Bugs, Rabbit Hood, The Aristo-Cat, Cat Feud, Mouse and Garden, Knight-Mare Hare, Conrad the Sailor, The Case of the Stuttering Pig , and many, many more. Also included are some Snafu shorts that WB made for the Military during WW II. A few weeks later, a complete set of the Snafu shorts will be released by Image Entertainment. We'll have to do a wait and see on that set, but if it is what it reports to be, it will be a natural pick. Take my advice, pick yourself up a copy of Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4 and stick it in front of the kiddie table on Thanksgiving this year. You'll actually have to make some of the adults sit at the "adult table." Enjoy.
Forbidden Plant: 50th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition.
I really like where Warner's is going with these Collector's Editions. The King Kong (1933) set and The Searchers sets were superb. Leslie Neilson stars in this Sci-Fi classic, which was an iconic and memorable film for an entire generation. Not to mention Robbie the Robot, THE robot for many kids in the 50s. This set includes the two disc special edition DVD set, which is packed with special features such as a bonus film, commentary, and episodes of classic television series which featured an appearance by Robbie.
Lois and Clark: The Complete Fourth Season
This is the final season of this fan favorite. Lois and Clark, which to many ended too soon, seemed to critics to “jump the shark” when they married. Mrs. Loophole and I have watched all three of the previous season sets, and she was particularly peeved a couple of months ago when season three ended in a cliff hanger. You can pretty much guess what will be under the Loophole tree this year. Besides my socks, I mean.
NCIS: The Complete Second Season
As I’ve mentioned before, along with the unit, this is one of my favorite shows on television. Solid scripts and action, excellent characters and plots all add up to one great show. Donald Belasario is the producer of this some of my other all time favorites like: Magnum P.I., J.A.G. and Quantum Leap.
Quantum Leap: The Complete Fifth Season
Well – looky, looky; it’s another Belasario hit. The fifth was the final season for QL. And this one had some of the best episodes of the entire series. One element that was introduced this season was hit or miss with some fans, and that was the storyline of the “evil leaper”. The finale was also different, and one that left many confused about where Sam was and other questions still were unresolved. Was it really God leaping Sam about? Could he control his leaps? Would he ever return? Fans have been ticked off by the DVD sets, as some of the music and songs that were originally on certain episodes were replaced on the DVDs. Copyright problems continue to be a problem in producing DVD sets for certain television shows.
Duck Tales: Volume Two
This was a great animated series from the Mouse factory; and, in my opinion, features one of the best theme songs ever for an animated series. If you are a fan, it might be because you probably remember getting home from school and rushing to turn on the television to catch Duck Tales.
Northern Exposure: The Complete Fifth Season
I really love this show. It was different, it was funny and it was very character driven. Many stars from this show went on to bigger careers, but for my money Rob Morrow was one of the better actors on the show and, I believe, one of the most underrated actors working in television today. Take Numb3rs out for a spin and see if you don’t agree.
The Paul Newman Collection:
The movies in this collection are best summed up as: hit and miss. Harper is perhaps the best flick in the set, which also includes the sequel: The Drowning Pool. Other films aren’t quite so good; The Left-Handed Gun, The Mackintosh Man, Pocket Money, Somebody Up There Likes Me and The Young Philadelphians . If you are a Paul Newman fan, you should be happy as some of these films are being released on DVD for the first time.
Don't forget to check out
The Best of the Electric Company, Volume Two
and Family Guy, Season Four, Volume Two
Johnny Cash: At San Quentin
Some time ago a CD was released claiming to be the complete concert. It was not. This box set features the entire concert as it happened. All of the songs. All of Johnny. The box set includes several CDs and a DVD.
The General and Mrs. Washington.
Reviews of this book have been split down the middle. It seems to be a solid book, but some reviewers complain that it doesn’t include anything new. That’s what they said about the phenomenon that was David McCullough’s John Adams. I believe that a book that is solidly researched, written well, and can inspire the reader to delve deeper into further research is worth the effort. This book focuses on another famous First couple. Actually the first, First couple. Martha Washington was an important comfort and inspiring figure, not only to her husband, but also to the men of the Continental Army. She lived several months out of the year at the camps with her husband, and did her part for the effort. Their relationship and the impact on the nation cannot be underestimated nor overlooked. By the author of General Washington's War.
Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the American Navy.
Six Frigates tells the story of a Navy that began with very little and rose to become of the fastest and agile fleet of ships to sail the ocean. Some action was seen in the Revolution, but some of those ships were drydocked and taken out of service. It wasn’t until the problems with the Barbary pirates and President Thomas Jefferson, that the Navy really began in earnest and importance.
Turner Classic Movies
The Shelf Picks for TCM thru next Tuesday
In Which We Serve (1942), Brief Encounter (1945), and Dodsworth (1936)
Flying Tiger (1942), Fighter Squadron (1948), The Letter (1940) and Freaks (1932)
Bonnie Scotland (1935), King Solomon's Mines (1950) and Ivanhoe (1952)
Mrs. Miniver (1942), Desk Set (1957) and Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Top Hat (1935), Stagecoach (1939) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Mogambo (1953), The Lost Patrol (1934) and Wagon Master (1950)
You know I have to say it. I'm sorry in advance, but...
That's all folks!
Don't do anything I wouldn't do. And if you do, take pictures.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Well, we're less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving day. I have no clue where the time went, but it's gone and Loophole and I need to get back into holiday gear. Thanksgiving is a toughy. Eventhough we should, our county doesn't put too much into celebrating it. That means we don't have the great amount of source material to work with for our posts here at the Shelf, but we'll make do somehow. Today's attempt to bring Thanksgiving into your lives will be the posting of a weekly cartoon. That being said, I must inform you that by 'weekly' I mean "This week and next week provided the other cartoon can be found and embedded into a post." J.C. has a few other things up his sleeve as well so never fear. The Shelf is here. Todays cartoon will be the main Thanksgiving cartoon that all of you should remember: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (complete with commercials). Instead of writing a description of it myself, I'll simply hearken back to last year when J.C. mentioned it in 'the case for thanksgiving, part deux' :
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Paramont, 1973)What else can we say, other than perhaps no other special is able to top it. Peppermint Patty invites herself, Franklin, and Marcie over to Chuck's for Thanksgiving. One problem - Charlie Brown and Sally are headed to Grandma's for dinner and aren't cooking. Linus recommends that perhaps they have two dinners: one for the gang early and then the Browns can head to Grandma's. Snoopy handles cooking duties which includes Jelly Beans, toast, popcorn, pretzels and sundaes. Peppermint Patty gets pretty ticked and freaks out. Marcie reminds her that she invited herself over and PP apologizes to Chuck. Then Charlie Brown does what he should have done in the first place: he asks Grandma if his friends can come for dinner. When the gang heads for Grandma's condo, Snoopy and Woodstock then pull out the real Thanksgiving food that he hid for themselves. Woodstock, who apparently has no issues with cannibalism, wins the wishbone. I love this special- it's actually one of my favorite Charlie Brown specials. Also it has a very under-appreciated song: "Little Birdy." Love it."
Without further delay I present to you, Mr. Brown and crew.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Veteran actor and Hollywood icon, Jack Palance passed away today of natural causes at age 87. My first introduction to this unique artist was through a television show called 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not' in the early 80's. The current incarnation of that show isn't bad, but doesn't compare to the feelings of mystery and spookiness that Mr. Palance brought to it. He started his film career with 'Panic in the Streets' in 1950 and did one or two movies and plenty of television before starring in Shelf favorite 'Shane' in 1953 as bad guy Jack Wilson. After 'Ripley's', my next meeting with Mr. Palance would be in 1980's 'Hawk the Slayer'. That one is a favorite of mine and Loophole's. We enjoy laughing at the campiness and corny goings on in this strange fantasy film. It was definately a stinker, but one you can't help but watch. In fact Mr. Palance once said, "Most of the stuff I do is garbage." That may be his opinion of the films, but Jack himself was a fine actor with a style all his own. He was versitile. He was in everything from thrillers and noir to westerns, fantasy, TV, and comedy. He made a career out of playing the co-star in most of his pictures. He was one of the last actors still working from the era of "old Hollywood". He was not like the stars of today who were consumed with themselves. He would let someone else have the limelight, but his parts often stole the show. I think the last movie I saw him in (other than some of his classic films) was 'Young Guns' where he played Lawrence Murphy. He actually brought a little class to the film and was a villian you could really hate. That's the true job of an actor, though. You have to make people believe what you're playing and draw on their emotions. We don't see that too much these days. Sadly, we'll see even less of it now because with the passing of this man, we've lost one of our last true actors.
Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.
“One of the most important reasons for living is to do something - live outside of yourself and put together an idea, an idea that you want to explore and then complete... Awaken your creative sensitivities!”
------- Jack Palance