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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Skits > Slapstick > Satire > TV > Spoof > Moviegoing > Drama > Relationships > Cable > Womanhood > Race > The Best Of Tim Conway (from The Carol Burnett Show/1969 - 1978/Star Vista/Time Life DVD)/Drive-In (1976/Columbia/Sony DVD)/Grace and Frankie: Season Two (2016/Lionsgate DVD Set)/Insecure: The Comple

The Best Of Tim Conway (from The Carol Burnett Show/1969 - 1978/Star Vista/Time Life DVD)/Drive-In (1976/Columbia/Sony DVD)/Grace and Frankie: Season Two (2016/Lionsgate DVD Set)/Insecure: The Complete First Season (2016/HBO Blu-ray Set)/When Comedy Was King (1959/Sprocket Vault DVD)



Picture: C+/C+/C+/B/C+ Sound: C+/C+/C+/B/C+ Extras: C-/D/C-/C/B- Main Programs: B-/C+/C+/B-/B-



PLEASE NOTE: The Drive-In DVD is now only available online and can be ordered from our friends at Movie Zyng via the order button atop this review or on top of our right hand sidebar.



Here's our latest group of comedies, all of which have their good laughs to offer...




The Best Of Tim Conway is a new single DVD compilation that makes good, if not perfect choices, of how to show how hysterically funny the man was from The Carol Burnett Show on its 50th Anniversary. Running from 1969 to 1978, Conway began as a guest star, but was on so often and so often a hit that he eventually became a regular (especially after Lyle Waggoner left to be Steve Trevor on Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV series). So good and such a great fit in the cast, it seems like he always was there.


We get four episodes and they do a decent job of showing Conway at his best, but to be honest, you cannot fit enough on a single DVD, so the compilers were fighting against pulling off the impossible. Still, this is as good a start as any, especially if you have somehow sadly never seen him in great comic form as he is here. Some had hoped this disc might be highlights from one of his own variety comedy programs, but like his over-the-top comedy successor Dana Carvey, Conway had several shows that just did not work out despite what felt like endless talent. This intro is worth a look.


The only extra is the Dog's Life blooper clip.



Rod Amateau's Drive-In (1976) is a counterculture comedy of sorts, reveling in some dumb humor without wallowing in it, produced by George Litto (who also produced some key Brian De Palma films) with a cast of unknowns sending up small town life built around the title locale when there were still many of them. There's sex, a gang rivalry, some dimwits who intend to rob the place's receipts, some politically incorrect humor and all in a time capsule of a film that captures by default the mood and time of moviegoing then.


They are also watching a bad disaster movie in all this and this even gets semi-cartoonish, but it is plenty of fun in the way its made and paced, plus it also qualifies as a teen comedy despite the characters feat-rued are of all age groups. That makes it funnier.


There may not be too many giant laughs, but you will never be unamused or bored. I wonder if this film might even get a belated cult following. We'll see.


There are sadly no extras.



Grace and Frankie: Season Two (2016) is the new hot cable TV comedy reuniting blockbuster comedy 9 To 5 feature film co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as best friends in their twilight years, still dealing with dysfunction, some toxicity, a few slight regrets and being survivors. Though you get some great supporting acting from a cast that includes no less than Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston and Ernie Hudson, plus a new group of actors we may soon see again, the scenes between Tomlin and Fonda are so strong, it makes the rest of each episode seem restrained and limited.


There are 13 episodes on this 3-DVD set and you don't have to have seen all of the first season to enjoy this, but it helps. An interesting show that works a little more often than not, it is worth a look for the many moments that add up.


Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the DVD case adds an episode guide sheet and DVD a Gag Reel.



Insecure: The Complete First Season (2016) is a new hit HBO comedy with Issa Rae (who created the show) as Issa and joined by her best friend Molly, whose relationship is not as tight as it could be. Issa is having a few personal crisis of her own and part of it is really dealing with a re-segregated world, yet there are also issues of being female and just dealing with people who can drift to the air-headed side. The teleplays are very observant, but also expect more explicit language and situations than usual.


Most of all, I was just surprise dhow bold it was in being funny and how she is saying things that need to be said, are not being said or not being said enough. There are some off moments in each show, but it has to establish a narrative base its first time out. I just wonder if after this debut season they can really get crazy and take off. Either way, it is a success and one of the most underrated TV shows anywhere of the past few seasons. Cheers to HBO for letting Miss Rae go for broke here!


Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a look at the fictional Conjugal Visits 'reality TV' show the characters watch and two Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes in Insecure: In The Room and On The Insecure Set with Issa Rae.



When Comedy Was King (1959) is an important documentary compilation film, bringing together clips of many silent film classics (sometimes being in this film was the only way some of them survived!) and was THE crash course film to see, a hit in its time that was broadcast to fine ratings over the years into the late 1970s, early 1980s. Done comically, it is never boring, shows how funny the big names of the past really were and still are, makes you want to see more of all of them and especially now in the digital visual effects age, you can really appreciate the time, money, effort and risks to do the physical comedy that was done.


Now that we've lost way too many of these films through neglect or (because the nitrate film they were shot on can be unstable and catch fire!) just a lack of foresight and money to save them, it becomes a key document in all new ways. Luckily, as we've reviewed on DVD and especially Blu-ray, many of the films that are left are being painstakingly restored and have seen so many of them that way since I last saw this film decades ago, my love of silent comedies is shared by more people than I could have imagined. This film likely helped that situation.


Dwight Weist is the original voice over man on the film and he did a pretty good job, but likely never imagined people would still be watching this one six decades later, but that's how good a job they did. This is definitely worth a good look and if you are not used to these films, expect some laughs and surprises.


Extras include a very informative feature length audio commentary track by silent film historian Richard M. Roberts, plus three rare silent comedy shorts from Roberts' personal collection.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on episodes of Insecure are our visual champ, all digitally shot in HD and looking pretty good throughout as has been the case with practically all HBO Blu-ray releases. It makes for a fun sit, you can see the actors more clearly and this is also well edited.


The DVDs tie each other for second place, despite the varied formats they represent. The 1.33 X 1 image on Conway is from 2-inch analog color videotape and are as good as the previous Carol Burnett Show entries we continue to cover. The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 on Drive-In comes from a fine color print that is accurate and makes me want to see it in HD or on film.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Grace is a similar shoot to Insecure, but the DVD is going to be softer, yet this is well-shot enough to if not as solid. That leaves the 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on King slightly showing the age of the silent-era filmmaking and the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of this compilation and is bookended in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 frame.


As for sound, Insecure has a very well recorded DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on all of its episodes, also well edited and mixed. Again, up to HBO's usual standards and warm in playback


The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on and Grace could have been second best, but it has its moments of quiet that help the comedy and drama, plus it can be lite in parts. As a result the other three DVDs with their surprisingly clean, clear and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono can more than compete.



- Nicholas Sheffo


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