2014’s “The Lego Movie” surprised fans two fold, not just by being an excellent movie, but by turning Batman in to one of the funniest supporting characters in an animated movie since—well ever. “The Lego Batman Movie” initially had me very skeptical as to how far they could stretch the hilarious side character in to his own feature film, and shocking enough Lego Batman’s spin off is fantastic. It’s laugh out loud funny, very clever, and has a bonafide appeal to both hardcore fans and new audiences looking for a giggle or two. Like the original movie that spawned it, “The Lego Batman Movie” garners a myriad absurdity and off the wall hilarity that will keep many viewers laughing almost non-stop, but the writing team also injects a lot of heart. While Batman is a self confident, obnoxious, egomaniac in love with his own vigilante persona, he’s also a man who doesn’t realize much of it is hollow without a family or someone to lean on.
I’ve given “Fear the Walking Dead” two seasons already and it’s failed to really impress me. It shifts locations constantly, doesn’t seem to garner one interesting character of the bunch, and there are so many sub-plots that are set up only to be left dangling at the end of the season. While most people are saying the show resolves a lot of the sub-plots, I still am asking a bunch of questions after the finale. Also, I’m still trying to figure out why the series builds up these huge storylines only for them to sputter out and run out of gas so suddenly? So Daniel really is dead or what? Why did Ofelia leave the hotel and go out on her own, again? Why didn’t she at least leave a note for Alicia? Was she trying to look for her father? So can Nick talk to walkers or was he hallucinating? Why did Madison and Alicia fight for the hotel and work so hard to clean it out as a refuge only for them to give it up at the drop of a hat?
If you’re like me, you’re a hardcore fan of “The Lion King” and didn’t mind extensions of the mythology. Sadly the follow ups were all sub-par, and “The Lion Guard” muddies up the mythos even further. Granted, “The Lion Guard” is a perfectly fine animated movie, and you’ll likely say “Felix, this series isn’t meant for you,” but even kids will have a difficult time figuring out the time line if they decide to do the math. “The Lion Guard” is set immediately after part one and before part two. So that means everything after “The Lion Guard” doesn’t matter, and the central focus of the series is back on a young lion cub rather than the lioness Kiara, originally Simba’s spunky daughter. “The Lion Guard” works on actively erasing the latter story line by reworking the entirety of future story lines, which include Skar’s children, his wife, and the lack of a mention of the plot elements in the sequels.
Speaking as a guy who loves “Full House,” grew up watching it, and even spent his own money on the complete series on DVD, I’m surprised that I’m not the person “Fuller House” is apparently targeted toward. Granted, I love my fair share of nineties nostalgia, and will spend hours savoring on even the most minute nineties details, but “Fuller House” fails mainly because it is painfully aware that it’s a television show. Granted, I wouldn’t argue “Full House” is high art, but they embraced the sitcom formula, despite the far fetched story line and inconsistencies in story. “Fuller House” knows it’s a sitcom, feels like a very long sketch for a late night talk show, and even breaks the fourth wall. Even in the worst of episodes, “Full House” never broke the fourth wall and never acknowledged that it’s a goofy sitcom mainly for the family.
With “The Lion Guard,” you have to keep telling yourself, it’s mainly a show for the kids, and you might be able to forgive some of the mistakes it makes. While it does make the wise choice of somewhat ignoring the lackluster sequels to “The Lion King,” it also adds unnecessary dimension to what was already a complex animated movie. Since the series “The Lion Guard” is touted for kids, I doubt Disney will do much to patch up continuity problems, so you have to decide if you want to acknowledge “The Lion Guard.” This time around, “The Lion Guard” is set somewhere during Simba’s reign and obviously before “The Lion King 2.” As a matter of fact, “The Lion Guard” essentially ignores “Simba’s Pride,” altogether.
So I guess that’s the answer to any old stale franchise in the old days? Just put them in to space? Josie and the Pussycats went there, and now the gang from Gilligan’s Island. Considered the official sequel, the premise for this series is just as outlandish as the original series. And you have to take it with a grain of salt as well. Logic be damned, rather than build a boat out of the island, the professor builds a space ship. The group manages to get off of the island and find themselves stranded in space! Now they’re on an alien planet coming across all sorts of extra terrestrials while trying to repair their spaceship to get home.
Almost sixty years later, Jackie Gleason’s legendary spin off of “Cavalcade of Stars” popular comedy segment about a normal bus driver named Ralph Kramden seeking his riches and fame, while living with a long suffering wife endures and remains one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. It stands besides “I Love Lucy,” and “Gilligan’s Island,” as one of the most recognizable and beloved series that always manages to find its way on to television, in spite of the series being set during a time where the telephone was still a rare element of the average household. The reason why “The Honeymooners” continues to live on, is not just because of the fact that Ralph Kramden is a quintessential every man, but for the brilliant writing, excellent acting, and top notch comedy that packs a punch even today.
When I was a wee lad, local television stations often played classic television programming that was more than two year old. Often times they ranged from being well in to the mid-seventies. Often times as a child whenever I found myself awake in the middle of the night, I’d often sneak in a few minutes or so of “Mama’s Family.” It was a long running and very well loved syndicated program for years, before networks phased out classic TV.
It was usually sandwiched between “Hee Haw” and “MASH,” and it was usually a fun half hour. Nowadays it’s a nice kitschy series that spun off from the popular skit from “The Carol Burnett Show.” Cast member Vicki Lawrence took her character of Mama once the series ended and gave audiences the Southern fried family sitcom that served as a relative precursor to the Madea movies.
Much like Madea, Mama was tough, rough around the edges, but had a really good heart, that often benefitted her odd family in the end. The series thankfully hasn’t aged much at all, if you watch it in the context of the Southern-centric seventies. Though Lawrence often played the matriarch and straight woman to the characters, she was often hilarious in her own ways, displaying her own form of Christian discipline that involved love and caring.
Among the cast members were Rue McClanahan, and her son Vint and eventual daughter in law, Naomi. “Mama’s Family” has genuine heart and old fashioned sitcom tropes for folks who love the staged open room environment of the bygone shows. Lawrence is hilarious as Mama, and is a woman much in the vein of Archie Bunker who is set in he ways, but learns to change with the times as her family grows over the course of the series. It may not appeal to everyone, but for my money “Mama’s Family” is a gem of a seventies sitcom worthy of an audience.
For folks expecting the royal treatments for “Mama’s Family,” you’ll find yourself very much out of luck. Though Time Life is often very generous about their releases, both season sets feature nothing but the edited syndicated cuts of the episodes. Fans who want the uncut and bold humor from the original series will likely have to wait longer until another studio offers up their edition of “Mama’s Family,” as fans had to do with “Roseanne” after Anchor Bay royally fouled up their release of the series.
To make things even worse, the DVD sets offer no special features or uncut scenes for the fans, not even as extras. The original theme song is missing in favor of a truncated version, while the Harvey Korman introductions have been edited out in favor of time. There are also no bloopers, no acknowledgement of the Carol Burnett Show, and none of the usual bells and whistles that should come with a spin off from a Grade A comedy series like “The Carol Burnett Show.”
The Season Two DVD atones for the mistakes made by the first release, with some interesting extras. There’s the original TV movie entitled “Eunice” focusing on Mama’s daughter as played by Carol Burnett. There’s the featurette “Mama’s Family Tree: The Roots” about Mama and her daughter Fran, as well as interviews with Mama conducted by Vicki Lawrence, along with Lawrence interviewing Carol Burnett, and Betty White.