Archive for the ‘comedy’ Category

Ernie Kovacs’ ‘Take a Good Look’ DVD Review: Early Edginess

October 13, 2017


You don’t expect to find old TV game shows on DVD, but the wacky work of early tube comedy master Ernie Kovacs is an exception. Rife with historic value, his series and specials already are widespread on DVD. And now his 1959-61 ABC series, Take a Good Look, joins them in a nearly complete box set.

The weekly show lasted 53 episodes, and a whopping 49 come to light via Shout! Factory’s Oct. 17 release of a seven-disc Ernie Kovacs: Take a Good Look: The Definitive Collection.

The show is — well, what? A parody, a mocking, a send-up, an homage, a rip-off?  You decide. But it clearly follows the essence of other popular game shows in which a panel of celebs tries to guess someone’s identity. (Think What’s My Line, To Tell the Truth and I’ve Got a Secret.) Kovacs’ spin was to add brief film clips, sketches and sight gags as vague clues.


DVD Review: ‘Beetlejuice: The Complete Series’: It’s DVD time!

May 26, 2013

BeetlejuiceFans have long awaited the arrival of Beetlejuice: The Complete Series. Indeed, for many this animated 1989-1992 TV spinoff is even more beloved than the 1988 film with Michael Keaton.

You can’t get more of it than this: all 94 supernatural adventures of ghostly Neitherworld prankster Beetlejuice and his human friend, goth girl  Lydia. They’re due in a 12-disc set Tuesday, May 28, from Shout! Factory.

For some, nostalgic appeal will be enough. For others, the flat, 2D animation will seem crude and cost-challenged compared to today’s routine CG wonders. But for anyone, the cheeky comedy should have merrily manic moments. (more…)

DVD Review American Masters ‘Mel Brooks: Make a Noise’: It’s Good to be the King

May 19, 2013

Mel  BrooksAnyone who lasts as long in show biz as Mel Brooks–who started as a  TV writer in 1949–is going to have hits and misses. So it’s understandable that Brooks’ body of work is uneven, from the truly inspired (Young Frankenstein) to the truly lame (Robin Hood: Men in Tights).

But it’s also one of the greatest comedy oeuvres in American cinema. Call him what you will, but Brooks is a king of comedy —  a manic madman of mirth — and also one of my heroes. Let’s put it simply: He knows how to make us laugh.

PBS’ latest American Masters program, Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, isn’t about making us laugh so much as showing us how all this happened. It’s done with interviews — lots and lots of interviews. And while some are vintage (clips of Brooks talking with Gene Wilder and the late Madeline Kahn), most are newly conducted by many of Brooks’ colleagues and admirers, from Cloris Leachman and Joan Rivers to Carl Reiner and Matthew Broderick. (more…)

Blu-Ray/DVD Review ‘Magic Mike’ and Matthew McConaughey: Match Made in — heathenism?

October 28, 2012

I must admit: As a former University of Texas boy, I enjoy seeing another fellow alum, Matthew McConaughey, show his Longhorn spirit on screen.

I don’t mean when he’s domesticated for romantic comedies like The Wedding Planner or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Matthew, after all, didn’t go to Baylor. I mean when he’s a life-loving, boisterous, cocky, roguish scoundrel as in Dazed and Confused, Tropic Thunder and now Magic Mike, new on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros.

As the owner of a male strip club in Florida, Matthew’s “Dallas” is the kind of guy that extends naturally from his own Austin persona. You know — playing bongo drums naked while enjoying a smoke, if you know what I mean. But he’s also a savvy businessman at heart who gets the job done, from showing his newbie “dancers” the ropes to making sure he makes as much profit as possible from the “ladies” who frequent his club. (more…)

DVD Review: Kathy Griffin: Red, White & Raw

October 15, 2012

If you enjoy — as I do — good twisted humor, then saddle up or settle in for Kathy Griffin: Red, White & Raw, featuring a whopping seven of Griffin’s stand-up comedy concert specials, including five never before released on DVD.

Due Oct. 30 from Shout! Factory, the two discs running over four hours include these specials new to DVD: “Gurrl Down,” “50 & Not Pregnant,” “Whores on Crutches,” “Kathy Griffin Does the Bible Belt” and “Balls of Steel.” Also on the discs are “Pants Off” and “Tired Hooker,” which also are available as a separate release. (more…)

Blu-ray/DVD Review ‘New Year’s Eve’: All-Stars go only so far — but no disaster

April 29, 2012

The world hasn’t seen name-dropping all-star casts like this since the disaster-movie binge of the ’70s. But is New Year’s Eve (due Tuesday from Warner) a disaster?

Not really, despite scathing reviews and a tepid total domestic  box office of $54 million. The film should play better on video, anyway, since it’s not about spectacle so much as sentiment — though often to a fault.

OK, director Garry Marshall (culprit of the similar and even lesser Valentine’s Day) isn’t as amusing and charming as he used to be. But he runs a fun set, and the huge cast clearly enjoyed this romp through NYC on Dec. 31, with many (too many) stories and characters entwining as the film leads up to the big Times Square “Happy New Year!”


DVD Review ‘Ernie Kovacs: The ABC Specials’: A real surrealist

April 15, 2012

Even many Baby Boomers may not recall Ernie Kovacs, a maverick comedian who died in a car crash in 1962, just shy of his 43rd birthday. But the cigar-chomping iconoclast is worth celebrating, since he set the stage for so much off-the-wall TV humor to come, from Monty Python to Saturday Night Live — and beyond.

Now Shout! Factory is releasing a treasure from Kovacs’ final output, Ernie Kovacs: The ABC Specials, with five of the eight half-hour shows he did for the network in the last year of his life. (more…)

DVD Review ‘Here Come the Brides: The Complete Second Season’

February 25, 2012

Again, Shout! Factory comes to the rescue of fans who have waited years to see another season of a beloved show. Last week it was Hazel, with its second season. This week it’s Here Come the Brides, also with its second.

Each show’s first season hit DVD years ago from Sony, then — nothing. Now the payoff, though this marks the end of the line for Brides, which ended at Season Two, while Hazel lasted three more years.

Many nostalgic fans worship Here Come the Brides  in part for what it’s not: vulgar, crude, edgy, lewd. Instead, the 1968-70 series was a oasis of good-hearted family values at a time when America was in an uproar over racial divides, the Vietnam War, the spaced-out counter culture and the so-called Generation Gap. (more…)

DVD Review ‘Hazel: The Complete Second Season’: Colorful comedy

February 20, 2012

Imagine the relief of Hazel fans when Shout! Factory set a Feb. 21 date to issue Hazel: The Complete Second Season on DVD. After all, it’s been 5 1/2 years since the first season appeared, that time from Sony. So give a big shout out to Shout! Factory: Thanks!

The beloved Emmy-winning show deserved a better fate than that of too many series, with earlier episodes being issued digitally but later ones forgotten. (My Favorite Martian Season Three, anyone?)  And this 32-episode batch is a special treat, since it’s the first prime-time sitcom in TV history to be presented in color–and boy, does NBC go for the tints and hues, from Mrs. Baxter’s (Whitney Blake’s) scarlet inside-and-out convertible to Hazel’s (Shirley Booth’s) red hair and little Harold’s (Bobby Buntrock’s) blond locks.


Blu-ray Review ‘A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas’: Jolly holiday

February 7, 2012

Yes, it’s outrageously improper, even feigning pot, cocaine and ecstasy highs for a toddler. But A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is no more disturbingly real and thus truly disturbing than its stoners’ most fanciful dreams. In fact, that’s what the entire film feels like, making its drug-laced trips seem like dreams within a dream.

This third foray in the pot-puffers’ series has Kumar (Kal Penn) and Harold (John Cho) reconnecting on Christmas Eve after an estrangement fueled by Harold’s entry into respectable society. He’s married, has a steady job, owns a large home and is about to start a family. He doesn’t need weed-loving Kumar to enter that equation and upset it with the usual crazed trouble that follows them whenever they share a bong. (more…)