Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Still more shameless self-promotion: New review at ClassicFlix

If you just can't wait for the next TV Time column, I have good news for you:  My review of the brand-new VCI release of "Waterfront Volume 1" is up at ClassicFlix. Don't you dare miss it!


Waterfront, Vol. 1
By Rick Brooks
VCI's latest classic television DVD is a pleasant surprise, not just because Waterfront may be one of the most obscure programs to get a video release in 2015, but because the show is so entertaining. Airing in syndication from 1954 to 1956, this black-and-white half-hour adventure/drama may not be the most sophisticated example of early TV, but it stands out with its blend of action and lighter family-oriented elements.

Waterfront Volume 1 contains 10 of the first 14 episodes, including the debut, "The Skipper's Day." As on its recent "My Little Margie" and "I Married Joan" collections (which I review here), VCI apparently uses 16mm film prints as source (read more)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

This Month in Crackle

My Journey Into Amazon Prime will resume soon, though I did not stay on past my free trial, but today I debut a new, possibly recurring, feature. The first of the month brings new movies and TV episodes to Crackle, Sony's free (but with frequent commercial interruption) streaming video on demand service.

What, you forgot Crackle existed? Hey, no shame in that. So did everybody else about a month ago when a huge controversy erupted over "The Interview," it was yanked from its theatrical run, and people speculated that it would end up on sites like YouTube, Google Play, Netflix...and almost nobody, including Sony, mentioned that Crackle existed.

Of course "The Interview" is now available on Netflix Instant Watch, but Crackle debuts its "cyberhacking thriller" this weekend. Jimmy Caan and Kevin Dillon may be no Seth Rogen and Jimmy Franco, but, hey, Sony saved something for its own site!

There are some interesting non-original films debuting today, but I warn you that many of them are only available through February. Watch 'em before they go! Don't be like me and wait till the last minute to see "Drive" when it was on Netflix, have a technical problem, and miss the last half of it. Fortunately, it's now on Crackle again.

Also here are "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II." "Hitch," and "Hot Fuzz." There's also "The Counterfeiters," which may not star Bill Murray, nor Will Smith, but it DID win an Oscar for best foreign feature. In the "legit classic" category (not an actual Crackle category, but maybe it should be) is "On the Waterfront."

The big thing I check for on Crackle each month is the assortment of 10 new "Seinfeld" episodes. February is an improvement over January in that most of these, leaning heavily towards the first few seasons, haven't been on Crackle in a while. Unfortunately, there are only 7 of them! Even if you count the two-parter (the Keith Hernandez episode) as two episodes, as Crackle usually does, that's still just 8. 8 free instead of 10 free? That's a ripoff! Outrage!

While poking around the TV section, I noticed the first season of "The Jeffersons" is there. SEE the epic adventure FROM THE BEGINNING! Speaking of that, making its Crackle debut is the immortal "T.J. Hooker," with the complete first two seasons now online.

There is also a new assortment of "Sanford and Son"s, basically the entire fifth season plus one from season 4 to make a total of 25. Just looking at the Crackle descriptions reminds you of how absurd the plots became. In "Greatest Show in Watts," one of Fred's tenants (this is when he was running the Sanford Arms boardinghouse) leaves him a elephant. So naturally Fred starts a circus. Why not, eh?

"Steinberg and Son" is a funny look at a show Fred sees that reminds him of his own life...with some obvious differences. It's been a long time since I regularly saw "Sanford" reruns, but some of these I don't remember at all. In "Sanford and Rising Son," Fred and Ah Chew  turn their living room into a Japanese restaurant. I remember Ah Chew, and he's bad enough, but opening a Japanese restaurant at Fred's? And in "The Director," Fred directs a community theater play starring George Foreman! By the way, credit screenwriter on those last two: Garry Shandling.

Yes, the ads are annoying, but the channel runs fairly smoothly since I upgraded my Roku. There's a lot going on on Crackle, even besides "Comedians with Cars." Just because Sony doesn't feel like pushing it doesn't mean you can't give it a shot.