Category Archives: Television

Talk to the Animals

To TV vet Dr. Pol, every creature has a tale

Never Turn Your Back on An Angus CowNever Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow

By Dr. Jan Pol with David Fisher

Hardcover, 288 pages, $15.88 / $10.99 Kindle edition (Gotham Books)

A familiar character to fans of his reality show, The Incredible Dr. Pol on Nat Geo Wild, this no-nonsense, Netherlands-born veterinarian, who’s lived and worked in rural Michigan for the past 40 years, gives a fascinating account of his mission of caring for creatures ranging “from a white mouse to a 2,600-pound pound horse.” Amusing, colorful and heartwarming, it’s a tale any animal lover will enjoy. “Until they start inventing new animals, I think I can say there isn’t a type I haven’t looked into the eyes and wondered how it was feeling,” he writes. With Dr. Pol, every patient has a story—and every animal has a tale, as well as a tail.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Red, White & Snoopy

Charlie Brown & Co. reanimate American history highlights

This Is America, Charlie Brown

This is America, Charlie Brown

DVD, $26.99 (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Originally airing in 1988 as an eight-part CBS miniseries, this delightful animated roundup of recently remastered 24-minute TV specials features a crash course in American history as Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved Peanuts gang sail on the Mayflower, discuss the U.S. Constitution, watch the Wright brothers take wing at Kitty Hawk, dream of space travel, meet several presidents, explore the roots of American music and its composers, and bring other red, white and blue milestones to educational and entertaining cartoon life.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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More Lies

Secrets, scandals and surprises abound in ‘Pretty Little Liars’

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Fourth Season

DVD $59.98 (Warner Home Entertainment)

 

A clique of teenage girls (Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Tyler Blackburn and Lucy Hale) falls apart after the death of their “queen bee” leader. But is she really dead? Who is “Red Coat”? And is that really actress-singer Nia Peeples making a guest appearance? (Yes!) Welcome to the secrets, scandals and surprises in the fictional Pennsylvania hamlet of Rosewood and Pretty Little Liars, the hit ABC Family TV drama based on the popular young-adult fiction series by Sara Shepard. Now you can binge watch all 24 episodes of last season—just before the new one begins June 10—and catch up on all the lies, lies, lies!

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Oh, Magoo!

The theatrical roots of the TV cartoon grumbler-bumbler

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The Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection 1949-1959

DVD $34.93 (Shout! Factory)

Fans of the Golden Age of cartoons have been waiting for this roundup of all the cartoon “shorts” (made to be shown in movie theaters) starring everyone’s favorite bumbling, grumbling, visually impaired misanthrope. Voiced by actor Jim Backus, Mr. Magoo became an audience favorite who went on to have his own TV series in the 1960s. This generous collection, however, takes him back to his movie-house roots, with 53 original shorts, plus the 1959 animated feature film 1,001 Arabian Nights, two documentaries, an interview with film critic Leonard Maltin, and commentaries.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Life on ‘Mars’

Fan fervor revives cult favorite on big screen

Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars

Blu-ray $29.98, DVD $28.98 (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

 

Veronica Mars, a young super sleuth played by Kristen Bell, had many a prime-time close call and built up a sizeable TV following before the network bid her farewell in 2007. Earlier this year, however, due to fan clamor, Bell and the show’s creator, Rob Thomas, brought Veronica back in a full-length movie that also featured most of the series’ other original cast members. A selection of Blu-ray features, including a making-of doc, gag reel and on-set shenanigans with the actors and crew, make this home release a must-have for the Veronica faithful.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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British Invasion

Recalling the ’80s ‘new wave’ of bands from across the sea

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Mad World

By Lori Majewski & Jonathan Bernstein

Softcover, 320 pages, $19.95 / Kindle edition $9.99 (Abrams)

 

If you came of age the ’80s, you remember the impact of British “new wave,” as MTV introduced America to the sights and sounds of the synth pop, goth, industrial, electro and punk-alt-rock combinations that came from across the sea—and helped to define a generation. This sprawling, photo-packing oral history, featuring interviews with members of Tears For Fears (the title comes from one of their tunes) Duran Duran, Adam and the Ants, INXS, Simple Minds, A-ha, The Waitresses, Bow Wow Wow and many more acts of the decade, all talking about their music and their time in the spotlight, casts an entertaining, insightful retro glow on one of pop music’s most colorful, anything-goes eras.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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The Heat on the ‘Hill’

A royal roundup of the classic ’80s TV series

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Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series

DVD, $199.99 (Shout! Factory)

 

In the early 1980s, there were no smarter, sharper cops on TV than the ones who worked the metropolitan beat of Hill Street, the ones who began each day hearing the encouraging words of Sgt. Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) telling them to “Be careful out there.” This superb, first-time roundup of all 144 acclaimed episodes, which received 26 Emmy Awards during its seven-year network run, includes a bounty of bonus content, including the original 1981 pilot episode, a 24-page commemorative book, commentary by some of the show’s outstanding ensemble cast, writers and creators, and on-set gags and practical jokes.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Laugh & Learn

The many lessons between Monty Python’s punch lines

Everything I Ever Needed To Know About___ I Leared From Monty Python

Everything I Ever Needed to Know About ____* I Learned from Monty Python

By Brian Cogan, Ph.D and Jeff Massey, Ph.D

Hardcover, 320 pages ($25.99 Thomas Dunne Books, Kindle edition $11.04)

The authors, two profs at New York’s Molloy College, apply their scholarly skills to a entertaining, engaging deconstruction of the work of classic British satire of iconic comedy troupe, showing how it coursed with complex, nuanced references to history, art, literature, language, religion and a myriad of other “intellectual” contexts. Covering the group’s 1969-1973 TV series onward, it’s sure to delight diehard Python fans. But it’s also a hoot for anyone interested in learning more about one of comedy’s most durable acts, whose subversive pop cultural success spread from television to movies and eventually the Broadway stage.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Puppet Power

Jim Henson’s creations still serving up ‘entertainment for everybody’

MUPPETS MOST WANTED

Muppets Most Wanted

Ricky Gervais, Tiny Fey & Ty Burrell

Directed by James Bobin

PG, 107 min.

 

The Muppets have been around since 1955, and their creator and longtime driving force, Jim Henson, the puppeteer who brought them from TV’s Sesame Street to Hollywood and beyond, died in 1990. But Henson’s original idea that his Muppets offer “entertainment for everybody” is still very much alive and well.

The troupe’s eighth movie is yet another family-friendly, something-for-everyone affair, a rollicking roundup of trademark put-on-a-show shtick, gonzo sketch comedy, toe-tapping musical numbers and a zany bombardment of guests. As always, the felt-and-foam antics of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the other familiar Muppet cast are bolstered by a parade of Hollywood pop-ins, which helps freshen up some of the vaudeville-style gags.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED

Tina Fey plays a Siberian prison warden with a penchant for song-and-dance.

The cameos come fast, and often last only for an instant—step out to the lobby even for a moment and you could easily miss Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Saorise Ronan, Salma Hayak, Ray Liotta, Stanley Tucci, Chloë Grace Morentz, Josh Grobin, Celine Dion or a number of others who all seem eager for even a small part of the fun and a moment in the Muppet sunshine. Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Ty Burrell have more substantial roles in the story, which concerns a nefarious Kermit look-alike who infiltrates the ensemble, beginning a trans-European crime spree and sending everyone’s favorite show-biz amphibian away into shivery Siberian exile.

Of course it sounds preposterous. But you do understand we’re talking about a bunch of talking, singing, dancing puppet animals…right?

MUPPETS MOST WANTED

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Old Testament Twosome

Oscar-winning 1949 relic gets new Blu-ray shine

Samson and Delilah

Samson and Delilah

Blu-ray $22.98 (Paramount Home Media)

 

Available for the first time on hi-def Blu-ray, this 1949 epic tale one of the Old Testament’s most famous couples won two Academy Awards (for art direction and costumes) and starred Victor Mature and Hedy Lamar as the fabled Israelite strongman and the beautiful temptress who betrayed him—and gave him the most famous haircut in history. See: Samson subdue a lion! See: Samson slay an army of Philistines! See: Samson bring down the the temple! And see: Angela Lansbury as Delilah’s older sister, four decades before Murder, She Wrote!

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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