The Shout! Factory is a cool company that produces, uncovers, and presents all sorts of pop culture wonderment. It produces live music shows, CDs of classic performs, DVDs of TV shows and movies, and more. Their list of "clients" includes Barenaked Ladies, Lenny Bruce, Duke Ellington, William Shatner, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, G.I. Joe, The Middleman, The Weird Al Show, Johnny Got His Gun, and soundtracks to Forever Neil Diamond, The 40 YearOld Virgin, and Freaks and Geeks. I reviewed their complete Middleman DVD set recently and, today, I'm looking at two very different productions.
Adam 12: Season Three [$34.99] features all 26 episodes of that season of the series, which ran for seven seasons from 1968 to 1975 on NBC. Created by Jack Webb, the show was a spin-off from Webb's Dragnet, and, like its predecessor, presents stories based on real cases of the Los Angeles Police Department. I've watched about half the episodes and I'm enjoying them a lot.
Officers Pete Malloy (played by Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (Kent McCord) are believable, likeable characters. I'm a big fan of Jack Webb, but these guys connect with the audience much better than Webb's Joe Friday ever did.
The episodes run under 30 minutes each, but the officers deal with several situations in most of them. There's serious matters and lighter matters, and they combine nicely. A stand-out episode is the unfortunately named "Elegy For a Pig," which shows the life and death of a fellow officer. It's a moving piece of work, marred by its bunker mentality of cops versus everyone else. No attempt is made to show anyone in the community mourning the loss of this good man beyond his family and fellow officers. Conversely, there isn't the slightest hint of disrespect for the slain officer, save in the title of the episode. "Strident" was a watchword of Webb's productions, but it didn't always serve them well.
The supporting characters are a joy to behold. There were a number of familiar faces, such as Tony Dow, Butch Patrick, and an extremely young Jodie Foster, as well as those wonderful character actors I've seen dozens of times. In one episode, Foster Brooks is miscast as a drunken driver who kills a family man who was bringing Christmas gifts to his kids. Brooks was a comedian who spent most of his life playing comical drunks; casting him here diminished the seriousness of the episode.
Overall, the writing and directing of these episodes is first-rate. I was constantly impressed by how much sheer story could be found in each episode without the scripts ever feeling too crowded. However, I must warn you that the portrayal of Native Americans is stomach-churning horrible. They are either belligerent drunks or impossibly naive strangers in the big city.
These negatives aside - and most of them can be chalked up to times that hadn't yet changed for the better - Adam 12: Season Three is well worth adding to your DVD collection. It earns an impressive four out of five Tonys.
The Shout! Factory also sent me Jeff Garlin: Young and Handsome: A Night with Jeff Garlin [$14.99], which features the comedian performing stand-up at the Second City Theatre in Chicago. Garlin is known for his role on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but, having never watched the show, I knew him only from his appearances on Comedy Central and elsewhere. This may be the first time I've reviewed such a performance, so bear with me as I struggle to find the language to express my views.
Garlin connected with me immediately. Within a few minutes, I was thinking of him as a regular guy, albeit funnier than most, who lived in pretty much the same world I do. I can easily enjoy comics with whom I have little in common, but Garlin was familiar in a good way.
There weren't many huge LOL moments in Garlin's presentation, but I laughed and smiled throughout the ten segments. There wasn't a lot of "blue" material, but what "blue" material there was didn't smother the show. Garlin was engaging and friendly from start to finish. When the show was over, I thought to myself, "That was a fun way to spend an hour or two." I know this must sound like one left-handed compliment after another, but my comments shouldn't be taken that way. I liked Garlin. I really did.
Young and Handsome earns a perfectly respectable three out of five Tonys. I'll be keeping an eye out for more by Garlin. He's a keeper.
1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ
My 1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ [Krause; $29.99] has been on sale for a couple weeks and I'm immensely pleased by both the book itself - kudos to Shawn Williams and the other designers who worked on it - and the reception it's received. While I don't know how Amazon tabulates its ratings and what they represent, it must be a good thing to be ranked..."#4 in Books> Comics & Graphic Novels> History & Price Guides"...as it was when last I checked its Amazon listing.
A number of favorable reviews have appeared. Beau Smith gave the book lots of love in his "Busted Knuckles" column:
I also want to thank my pal Bill Thom for giving the book the lead spot in his pulp-centric "Coming Attractions" site this week. You read his comments on the book and all sorts of news about pulp reprints at:
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
Please send material you would like me to review to: