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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Sitcom > Animals > Drama > Civil War > Mini-Series > Superhero > Action > Scandal > Cheat > Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale (2007*)/Vikings: Season 6, Volume 1 (2019 - 2020/MGM/*all Warner Blu-rays)

Flintstones: The Complete Series (1960 - 1966*)/Grant (2020 Mini-Series/Lionsgate DVD)/Legends Of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season (2020/DC Comics*)/Quiz (2019/Acorn DVD)/Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale (2007*)/Vikings: Season 6, Volume 1 (2019 - 2020/MGM/*all Warner Blu-rays)



Pictures: B/C+/A-/C+/B/B- Sound: C+/C/A-/C+/C+/B Extras: B-/D/B/C-/C+/C+ Main Programs: B-/B-/A-/B-/C/C+



This next group of TV shows includes a big classic, some new, continuing hits and more...



We start with one of the all-time animated favorites, The Flintstones: The Complete Series (1960 - 1966) that became the first prime time evening animated TV series ever made and landed up being a hit on the then third-place and newest of the TV networks, ABC. The American Broadcasting Company was smart enough to keep trying to do different things than the other networks, which eventually made it the second-ever network to be number one (CBS was always so from the beginning despite strong competition) and late led to innovations like the TV mini-series and TV movie.


Hanna-Barbera had a young new company after great success for the MGM Studios and were trying to make their mark in TV and the animation world. This show was aimed at adults and children (one of the first to have jokes for both audiences) and until The Simpsons decades later, was the longest running prime time animated series ever. The the animation was simpler and less expensive than what they made at MGM (the thick black lines became thinner as analog TVs became larger and moved to color) or elsewhere, the simple style only enhanced the idea that they lived in the past.


Partly inspired by The Honeymooners, a TV show that bombed when it first was shown, though it was also a series of many skits, the show eventually developed its own ideas, quirks, jokes, situations and characters that were all its own and when looking back on this original show, you can see how later revivals were far more aimed at children. The one aspect that has aged oddly are having animals work as machines or free labor, which has a ring of truth when it comes to early humans, but does not age well in the current era of animal rights that started a few years after this show debuted.


Alan Reed and Jean Vander Pyl voiced Fred and Wilma Flintstone, Bea Benaderet voiced neighbor Betty Rubble for most of the series, but it was the already legendary Mel Blanc (whose Warner Animation contract had folded, so he was freelance now, et al) voiced Barney Rubble and many other characters on the show. The chemistry worked and soon, Flintstone pet Dino was joined by two children, Pebbles Flintstone and inexplicably ultra-strong Bamm Bamm Rubble.


Many of the visual gags still work, the humor can be very funny (even with the canned laughs, pre-recorded laugh track; guess they could not find the voice work without it for this release) and it can even be downright charming.


Yes, some stereotypes can show up and surface (Reed got to reuse his fake Italian voice from the hit radio show Life With Luigi a good few times here) and the writers managed to come up with 166 half-hour shows. Major movie stars of the day (Ann-Margaret, Tony Curtis) turned up as stone-aged variants of themselves to great effect, the show constantly made fun of the latest trend, teen fads and Rock Music in some of its funniest moments and the show subtly also spoofed Americana of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite some flaws, things that have not aged well and repetitiveness, the show is a classic and holds up well enough, even with ambitious revivals and the two live-action theatrical films that went all out to imitate the show. The huge fan following includes how expensive collectibles from the show to the mid-1970s have shot up in value and tells us the diehard fan base it has that should never be underestimated. The show is loved unconditionally for a reason, partly because it bridged two decades of family TV through its transition to the realism of another show that owes a bit to The Honeymooners: All In The Family.


The bottom line is these six season were able to create a totally palpable world that was pure fantasy, but fun and iconic results are inarguable. Nice to see it finally on Blu-ray, which took longer than many expected.


Extras are many and include two movies featuring the series cast, albeit with only lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, Mono on the first, stereo on the latter. We previously reviewed both at these links:


A Man Called Flintstone DVD (a theatrically-released movie)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7867/A+Man+Called+Flintstone+++Hey+There,+It%E2%


Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! Blu-ray w/DVD

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/13380/The+Flintstones+and+WWE:+Stone+Age+Smackd


Plus you also get The Flagstones: The Lost Pilot, How To Draw The Flintstones, Carved On Stone: The Flintstones Phenomenon, Songs of The Flintstones album, All About The Flintstones, Wacky Inventions, Bedrock Collectibles: Collecting All Things Flintstone, The Flintstones: One Million Years Ahead Of Its Time, First Families Of The Stone Age, Hanna-Barbera's Legendary Music Director Hoyt Curtin, The Flintstones Meet Pop Culture and The Great Kazoo - From A To Zetox.



Next up is the semi-documentary TV Mini-Series Grant (2020) co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and runs 256 minutes in two-parts, telling the story of how General Grant rose to fame against the odds and what the results of that were. Like too many such historical shows of recent times, unknown actors play the parts so we think (somewhat) we are seeing history, though the acting and writing and character development is always mixed at best and a little of this can go a long way.


Still, these are relatively inexpensive to produce versus an actual biopic or totally dramatic mini-series ands they'll continue to be made despite anything lackluster about them. This was a little more energetic than the usual ones we've seen in recent years and though not great or greatly memorable, you could do worse.


There are no extras.



After saving the multi-verse and combining all the worlds, The Legends continue protecting the timeline and world from dangers (and congress). But just when they think it's safe and over, they didn't realize by combining the worlds The Fates have returned ...and they don't like how the Legends have been messing with the timeline. Now, The Legends must find and collect the pieces to the Loom of Fate before The Fates completely rewrite history in Legends Of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season (2020).


The Legends are a group of misfit heroes that don't fit into history, but instead they can protect history and the timeline of history. On their space faring time ship The Waverider, they are joined by other cameo heroes throughout time, including the dark arts master John Constantine who is trying to resurrect Astra's mother who being manipulated by Hell and The Fates are secretly manipulating her and Hell, and they believe that human free will was a mistake.


Of all the DC TV series, Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, Black Lighting and Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow is the most versatile series because each episode can happen at any time and any place. As the season progress, they are joined by other hero characters in crossovers from other series and while the original cast of characters have changed, it is amusing to watch how the new cast heroes go about saving the world. And with all the crossovers, the characters often break the 4th wall and make references to modern pop culture too. Brendan Frasier adds to the fun and you can find out more about the show and its characters in our reviews of past seasons elsewhere on this site.


Extras include post production theater, more fun moments, unaired scenes, gag reel and a Crisis on Infinite Earths special, included on many of the other DC season sets we have covered recently.


Episodes this time include:


Crisis on Infinite Earths: Hour 5 - The entire multi-verse has been saved and combined, but not everyone was saved The Legends morn their dead.


Meet the Legends - To protect The Legends from Congress, the Legends invite a TV crew on the Waverider to documentary their adventures.


Miss Me, Kiss Me, Love Me - Behrad's sister becomes the newest Legend to join the team.


Slay Anything - The Legends gets stuck in a high school slasher horror episode. Mick finds out he has a daughter.


A Head of Her Time - Legends must save the world from an undead Marie Antoinette.


Mortal Khanbat - The Legends must save modern day Hong Kong from Genghis Khan.


Mr. Parker's Cul-de-sac - Ray proposes to Nora, but can he survive her father?


Romeo v Juliet: Dawn of Justness - The Legends must save Shakespeare and so that he can write Romeo and Juliet.


Zari, Not Zari - Zari learns about her past life. Mick connects with his daughter.


The Great British Fake Off - Zari and Constantine go search for the pieces of the Loom of Fate.


Ship Broken - The Legends discovers they need Gods to control the Loom of Fate.


Freaks & Greeks - The Legends challenges a Greek Party God for the Goblet of Immortality (for a day) in beer pong.


I Am Legends - The Legends find themselves in a zombie apocalypse.


The One Where We're Trapped on TV - The Legends get trapped on TV sitcoms.


and Swan Thong - The Legends face off with the Fates in the final showdown.



Stephen Frears' Quiz (2019) is a dramatic mini-series about a TV game show scandal. Not the one from NBC in the 1950s (as told in Robert Redford's mixed feature film Quiz Show a few decades ago, but on the U.K. version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? That was later a huge U.S. hit hosted by the late Regis Philbin. With a million pounds, British sterling on the line, the temptation is too great when a woman wants to be a contestant, then her Army husband gets picked instead. When he wins big and early, it is an event, until the scandal kicks in that he may have cheated.


The script assumes you have not heard of the show and like all hits (this one was a prime time hit on both sides of the Atlantic, then there are the hit daytime versions) might fall out of the public eye if it is not in syndication or being produced later. Michael Sheen, Matthew McFadyen and Sian Clifford lead the cast very convincingly and I am surprised this scandal and this program are not more well known in the U.S. Could it be some kind of censorship?


Extras include A Look At The Series, Constructing The Set, Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant and Introducing Charles and Diana Ingram.



Though not a classic of any kind, Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale (2007) has been issued on Blu-ray years after we covered the DVD at his link:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/6120/Tom+&+Jerry+%E2%80%93+A+Nutcracker+Tale


I was not a fan of the program at the time and it has not improved with time, though not aged too badly for what it is. It is now part of an even larger glut of mostly forgettable Christmas programs that should have never been made (making that Pac Man special look somehow better by default) and the 79 minutes still seem a bit long. For fans only.


Extras include Digital Copy and two more holiday antics with the cat and mouse team: Tom and Jerry: The Night Before Christmas and Tom and Jerry: Santa's Little Helpers.



Finally we have Vikings: Season 6, Volume 1 (2019 - 2020) which has outlasted competitors like Game Of Thrones and has had as many twists and turns with some early cast members now gone. The show still takes its audience seriously and it is still enough of a hit that it is still in production, but so much has happened since the debut season that even beginning to explain where we are now is almost impossible. Bjorn Ironside is now a hero and are sick of tyrant Ivan, who now travels to Russia and meets the equally evil Prince Oleg.


The characters continue to plot against each other and anything can happen, but unless you watched most or all the previous seasons, it is easy to get lost. There are 10 episodes altogether and at least fans will be likely to love it. I thought it was not bad, but not too memorable. Save history buffs, try binging from the beginning.


Extras include the longer International Versions of all the episodes, plus Deleted Scenes, The Creator's Audio Commentary on Best Laid Plans and The Legacy Of Lagertha featurette.



Now for playback performance, The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all episodes of The Flintstones can sometimes show the age of the materials used, but the color fidelity, its richness and fullness is a revelation for anyone who has never seen the show on a high-quality 16mm or 35mm film print and will shock most viewers. It easily makes it superior to all previous releases of the show in all older video formats. Unfortunately, like the live-action Blu-ray releases of the Adam West Batman and Linda Carter Wonder Woman series on Blu-ray, Warner has sadly decided to use older, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound and though Flintstones is the oldest show and the sound can be more sonically limited from its old optical mono origins, this would still sound better if it were lossless. At least the sound is not too problematic otherwise.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Legends is as good as any presentation here, even just topping previous seasons and has the same smart color as the other DC Comics TV series currently in production, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on each episode is very impressive and has great soundfields.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Tom and Jerry is a definite improvement on the DVD version of Nutcracker we saw years ago, but it still is not up to the Technicolor brilliance of their old, best MGM theatrical short films. Still, it at least is consistently good-looking for what it is and yet, we get stuck with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound like the old DVD. Why no upgrade here? Sad.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Vikings episodes are plastered with all kinds of digital visual work and that includes more softness and some motion blur, neither of which anyone would want to see, but that is how it looks and disappoints a bit. Fortunately, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on each show are only surpassed by Legends sonically of all the releases here, helping to make the image limits more bearable.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Grant is also plastered with its share of so-so digital visual work, but it is softer than it should be and the format does not help, while I was shocked that the only soundtrack we get is rather weak and soft lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Especially with DiCaprio involved, why no 5.1 mix?


Finally, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Quiz looks fine, but it is also soft at times, part of which is the transfer and part of it is this format, but it at least has lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and that makes it more involving by default.



- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Legends).


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