The Simpsons Movie

Stef had a friend in from out-of-town yesterday. With Helaine, the four of us had dinner out. Just a pizza. Nothing special.

The girls headed north, into Hartford. We went south, to North Haven and the movies.

There was never a doubt I’d see the Simpsons movie. I’ve been saying it since I saw he first trailer. This movie has gotten an intense amount of buzz.

Here’s the funny part – though I enjoy The Simpsons, I’m not a regular viewer. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time I watched an entire episode. Yet I’m totally comfortable with the characters and can identify most by name.

There has never been another program on television with as many identifiable on-screen regulars.

I’ve never walked in on Helaine watching The Simpsons. She still wanted to go.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Homer is the straw that breaks the camel’s back as far as Lake Springfield goes. With pollution out of control, an emergency is declared and Springfield is isolated from the outside world.

Does the actual story make any difference? No. It’s all funny situations and incredibly clever, well thought out, funny dialog.

I’ve read the complaint the movie is just an elongated TV episode. OK. I came because I like what’s on the TV show. That wasn’t a problem.

The animation seemed more richly colored than what’s on the tube, and with more spatial layers. This is 2D, have no fears. Still, there were times when it was drawn with a very shallow depth of field.

It’s funny that on IMDB, there are people listing continuity errors! It’s a cartoon. for heaven’s sake. Schwarzenegger was drawn with three fingers on each hand on purpose.

What I liked most about this movie was, it was about the Simpson family and though some of what they do is cartoonish, it’s a very loving, tight-knit family.

All the characters are as you expect from the TV show, but Julie Kavner deserves singling out for her emotional portrayal of Marge. I was especially impressed by a very poignant monologue from Marge which added much to the movie.

We both loved the movie. It’s a good movie to see in a theater, where you can enjoy other people’s laughter as you watch. I just wish there was more Krusty!

Blogger’s note: There was a trailer for the Chipmunks movie, coming later in the year. I smell giblet gravy.

Raider Of The Lost Archives

My friend Paul, who I’ve known over 35 years, has been a producer in Los Angeles for a long time. As his career evolved he got involved in repackaging older shows to rerun on cable. When the Smothers Brothers went back to E! or Sonny and Cher’s old shows reran, it was Paul who put together the package.

He is called, “Raider of the Lost Archives!” The title fits.

To make these old shows new and attractive, special extra features get added. This is where Paul is a genius.

For each release there is also the pain of getting clearance and making payments to artists and performers who’d worked on these shows decades earlier. Some are tough to find. Some are impossible to find.

Over the past few years Paul has branched out. Now he repackages old shows into DVDs. The medium is different though his work product is similar.

Every few weeks we’ll be on the phone talking and Paul will tell me about some TV star of twenty or thirty years ago who he will be meeting to get guest commentary for a new DVD collection. Usually, these are people who were big stars, but have now retired… or sadly aged out of the roles they used to play.

All this work pays off, because sometimes it’s the special features, the little extras, that make his DVDs so desirable.

I’m not the only one who’s realized that. Just yesterday he scored the top two of the five “Best DVDs” in an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Paul lives in Los Angeles where success is often looked upon with envy. Not here. This is my friend and I couldn’t be more proud.

Here are the five best TV series on DVD, based on the legacy of the show and the inclusion of bountiful and substantive extras. They’re sure to take you to another dimension, a journey not only of sight and sound but of mind.

1. “The Dick Van Dyke Show”

Rob and Laura Petrie never had it so good. Each of the five season sets for the classic sitcom includes a giddy wealth of special features, thanks to DVD producer Paul Brownstein’s uncanny ability to dig them up and — more important — secure the rights to use them. Favorites are the cast’s appearance on the game show “Stump the Stars” and Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore’s in-character commercials for products such as dish soap and — gasp! — cigarettes (the latter a hidden feature). (Image, $69.99 per season; $249.99 for the entire five-season run.)

2. “The Twilight Zone”

Brownstein strikes again with the “Definitive Edition” re-releases of Rod Serling’s sci-fi anthology series, which has two seasons to go after the new third-season set. Goodies include commentary, isolated scores, archival audio interviews and fun bits such as the Sci Fi Channel’s promo spots for its annual “TZ” marathon. And the first-season set comes with the best program notes ever included with a DVD, the 466-page “The Twilight Zone Companion.” (Image, $119.99 for first season, $99.99 for others.)

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