Monday, June 25, 2012

Deliverance The 40th Anniversary Blu-ray DVD



It is hard to believe, but 40 years ago one of the most enduring, memorable movies of all time was released, Deliverance. While Jon Voigt was already a star in his own right, with an Academy Award nomination, Deliverance would also make Burt Reynolds a star and the casting of two newcomers, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox gave them desirable careers in film. This action adventure film hovered in the category of horror, all while having as its primary theme, the conflict of human nature and their relationship with nature. The film has 4 thirty something friends deciding to take a white water river trip in Georgia prior to the region being damned up to make a lake. Along the way the four have to deal with the river, interpersonal relationships amongst each other and a band of mountain people they have offended who decides to take revenge and justice into their own hands. What transpires is a horrifying adventure that leaves the viewer on the edge of their seats. While the story is 40 years old, it is still fresh and for those not seeing it in the past, worthwhile. The movie is historic for a reason; the impact is lasting and enjoyable, for me, even some 40 years after first seeing it. While experiencing it as a youth, over the years, I have seen the movie many times and each time, it continues to amaze and educate me.

One of the unique attributes of Deliverance is it is filmed in sequence. For those who may not know, most movies are not shot this way, it isn’t unusual to shoot the last scene first or any other variety of combinations of filming. Deliverance was different however, the remarkable director of the film, John Boorman decided early on to shoot in sequence to the story. Part of the reasoning for this was that as the story evolved around the circumstances of 4 friends taking a canoe trip of which some had never been involved in before, the skills, attributes, and respect for the river would show through in a natural way. This and other reasons for the sequence filming not only works, it works terrifically. There is one scene made mention of in the special features that helps explain subconsciously the viewers understanding. This centers around a sequence where Jon Voight’s character is climbing a cliff, we see his watch glazed over with the moisture shining through from the inside of the watch crystal. In a discussion of the film it was noted that in most situations a prop man would have over looked this little facet. Yet, filming in sequence, wearing the same clothes from day to day, helped bring about a natural look to the film. The film is also edited well; there is ample foreshadowing and more to drive home the impact. There are also natural aspects of the story included in the final version of the film that are quite remarkable. One such instance communicated to me in my interview with Ronny Cox, the character Drew well known for his musical performance on the guitar during the gas station scene where the song Dueling Banjos is played. As the performers are acting out the scene, (which took only 2 hours to film) we see in the back ground an older man start dancing, another whistling. This was not scripted and happened naturally during the magic of the moment as the scene and song was filmed. That magic transcends throughout the film until the heart tugging, final scenes.

While Deliverance isn’t a perfect film, it may very well be one of the best cast films of all time. Few films have held together as well over the years and the cast of Voight, Reynolds, Cox and Beatty are as perfect as one could get. Reynolds has spoken over the years, as has the other cast members about Reynolds that he knew during the filming of Deliverance, that he was a star about to be born. The perfection of each actor in their role is remarkable, not just for Reynolds, but all of them. From Ned Beatty who will have to face horrors unimagined, to Ronny Cox’s character Drew which maintains some semblance of humanity as the story starts to get complicated. This adds to the genius of the film with each actor being outspoken as to how this helped them advance and experience their characters. They aren’t so much acting the lives of their characters as they are in some ways, living the lives of those characters.

Deliverance is in many ways the story of deliverance of each character and their short comings. It is also a story of survival of not just people who have little morals, but the survival of nature. In many ways it is nature that ultimately challenges the characters the most. In this journey of deliverance though is also the need to face the adversities of life. In that battle, it becomes quickly realized that without community, without brotherhood, there are certainly horrors in life and in some situations, little chance of survival. Deep down inside are characteristics that one must change in order to find fulfillment and purpose. How one comes to those conclusions is different for each person and being a good person is no guarantee of survival. Unfortunately, there are many, including those in the faith community who believe that good will ultimately win and that there is a great deal of protection provided by others or even God in some situations, yet, the truth is, it rains on the just and the unjust and there are bad, even horrible things that happens to the best of people. There are lessons in life that can be learned in these difficult situations though. Just as Ned Beatty’s character has a better than thou attitude at the start of the film, mocking and teasing the mountain people he comes into contact with, there is a price to pay, even those mountain folk in their simplistic lifestyles expects respect. He learns how little his opinions matter in the film in one of the most memorable scenes of the movie, one which has become a part of the vocabulary folklore of film. Here through his character we can learn of the respect that needs to be given all people, no matter how much better we think we are, we are in reality, just different.

Deliverance has held up well over the years, and this special edition of the film on Blu-ray not only has a terrific transfer and sound quality, it has some remarkable and thought provoking special features. There is an excellent book packaged into the packaging of the DVD which tells some terrific stories on the filming of the movie. There is also several special features that looks at various components of the film, my personal favorite was the discussion among the four actors at Burt Reynolds home in Florida. There is no doubt of the love each of these actors has towards this movie but also of the love and appreciation they have for each other. For fans of the movie, this DVD is almost worth the purchase price for this interview alone. There are also terrific stories related to other aspects of the film that will likely be educational for most viewers, even for those who are long time fans of the film. For a perfect companion piece, I would recommend the purchase of the new book release by Ronny Cox, titled Dueling Banjoes, The Deliverance of Drew. While a short book it adds much to the understanding of the film.

Deliverance, The 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray DVD is well worth the cost and is a must own for fans of the show. It is a deserving special edition and one fans will love, not just for the movie, but for the background of the film available through the book in the packaging and the special features on the DVD. For more on the story, including my interview with Ronny Cox, click here. Otherwise, for fans of the movie, enjoy the DVD, it is well worth revisiting, for those who haven’t seen it, this is a great place to start and a chance to see why this movie is so historic.

To see the video below, just click on it, if for some reason the video doesn’t appear or is distorted or not in full frame, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA61zycbLSI

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.


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An Interview with Ronny Cox, Musician, Author, Actor and Star of Deliverance





Ronny Cox is a man who was in many ways made famous by the movie Deliverance. There is little doubt that he would have made it in music or some other life vocation had without Deliverance but it was in fact, the movie Deliverance which catapulted him into the world of film. Ronny has been in many favorites over the years, from such movies as Robocop, Total Recall and Vision Quest to television roles in Dexter, Apple’s Way, and The Starter Wife. He has recorded numerous albums and tours nationally playing his music. There are interesting tid-bits I learned while doing this piece, for example, the scene in Deliverance where he plays Dueling Banjos took all of 2 hours to record. The movie Deliverance was filmed in sequence, an almost unheard of thing now a days, but one of the reasons many believe the actors did so well in their parts, as the story developed, so did their characters because the characters were in fact developing along story lines as they developed.

Ronny has a new book out, titled Dueling Banjos, The Deliverance of Drew. The book is available in paperback, hardback, and e-reader versions. It is a captivating story of stories related to the movie Deliverance. Included are stories of how Ronny Cox was largely responsible for the author of Deliverance being asked to no longer be on set during the initial filming of the movie. There are other well told, captivating stories such as the story of Billy Joe Redden, the 15-year-old boy at the time who played the banjo in the now infamous and iconic scene in the movie. While the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray DVD version of the movie has a mini-book that comes with it, Ronny’s book carries far more detail than previously told before. The book in itself is a worthy companion to the film Deliverance. I have seen the movie many times, seen various features on the making of the movie, but the book Dueling Banjos, The Deliverance of Drew was a captivating, page turner of a read that I couldn’t put down until completing it.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ronny in an exclusive for The Virtual Pew and Hollywood Jesus. I enjoyed the short time we had together, and hope that others glean some information about Ronny and of course, the movie Deliverance. The interview was about much more than the movie though and in it are lessons we can all learn from and things of interest we can learn about Ronny Cox. Enjoy and hopefully you will have as much fun reading it as I did getting it.

Ronny Cox (RC): Hi Mike

Mike Furches (MF): Hi Ronny, how are you doing?

RC: I’m good, how about you?

MF: I’m doing pretty well; I guess you’re staying pretty busy right now?

RC: Yeah!

MF: I have a number of questions, don’t think I’ll be able to get through them all, but over the years I’ve been a huge fan of Deliverance. One of the questions is related to music as I’m also a musician. Some of your music has intrigued me over the years. Can you tell me some about your music and the guitar you play?

RC: Well, I have one off the great guitars in the world. It is a hand made guitar by Dave Bertoncini. He is a luthier out of Tacoma Washington. He made this guitar for me. I’ll drop just a little bit of names; I live here in L.A. and I have a guy who works on my guitars, and to drop just a few names, Paul McCartney picks this guitar shop as does Jackson Browne and people like that, and according to the guy who works on my guitar, he said none of those guys have a guitar as good as mine. So that’s about as good as it gets.

I play acoustic stuff. I am a really simple player who plays with a 3 finger picking style. I play more acoustic and rarely play with a pick.

MF: I love your style of music, would you say you play more of a folk style than anything else? I also have seen that you are going to be coming to my neck of the woods in Kansas.

RC: Yeah, but I like all kinds of music, but I am a singer songwriter and I play a whole lot of folk clubs, folk and music festivals and things like that. When I come to Kansas I’ll have a piano slash accordion player and a fiddle slash mandolin player with me.

MF: I look forward to seeing you when you are out here. Another question though, how did you develop your love for music?

RC: I actually started playing when I was 10-years-old. I grew up in New Mexico and most people don’t realize this but where I grew up in New Mexico is a little town called Portales New Mexico. It is 19 miles south of Clovis New Mexico. In the late 50’s and early 60’s Clovis was a hotbed of recording. I was actually at the studio where they were cutting the Buddy Holly cut Peggy Sue. Do you remember Jimmy Boyle and Buddy Knox?

MF: Oh yeah!

RC: Remember I’m Sticking with you, the Fireballs, Sugar Shack?

MF: Yeah I remember all of that.

RC: There was a country artist named Charlie Phillips who had a song called Sugar Time: (Ronny starts singing here) Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime. (Ronny starts speaking again) Those were all cut there so I was cutting records when I was in high school. I had a rock-n-roll band back in those days, Ron’s Rock Outs, (starts laughing.) I put myself through college with a rock-n-roll band and then when I started struggling as an actor I went to Arena Stage in Washington DC and I was in New York so I was playing folk clubs at the same time. I was struggling sort at the same time as an actor as I was struggling as a musician. I got the role in Deliverance because I could play. My second film was a film called Bound For Glory, a Woody Guthrie film, I also played music in that.

MF: I see that you’re going to be playing the Woody Fest down in Oklahoma?

RC: Yeah, I’m going to be at the Woody Fest in almost another month.

MF: Have you been there before?

RC: Oh yeah! This will be my sixth or seventh time there. I just got back from another Folk Festival. What kind of stuff do you play?

MF: I’ve played everything from a little bit of classic rock to with my wife I play some folk music, so it’s kind of a full-circle thing.

RC: Okay!

MF: You have a new book that has just come out which I have been reading. Can you tell us some about it?

RC: As you can see from the book, it is a book of stories about the making of Deliverance. The film meant so much to me that I just wanted to write about what it was like. I was a total unknown and to get to be in a place where I was one of the stars in a picture, but not only just a picture, but a picture that ended up being one of the most talked about, and iconic films that has been made in the last forty or fifty years. It really was an incredible breakthrough for me. It was my first time in front of a camera and it was Ned Beatty’s first film. While the film is 40-years-old it still holds up pretty well today and it is I think an incredible film. Now did you get the Blu-ray version of the film?

MF: Yes

RC: Are you enjoying the book?

MF: Yes I am, one of the things I appreciate is that it reads like a story. One of the questions I have is that the editor of your book makes mention of the fact that you are a storyteller. I love the Harry Chapin style and the art form. Do you think that storytelling as an art form is kind of lost in today’s society?

RC: I think that is part of it. The music just becomes so important. These days, I spend most of my time playing music. I don’t mean to be cavalier about this but most of the acting jobs I get offered these days I say no to just because I would rather go and play music.

MF: I have a question about possibly the most iconic song in the history of film, at least in my opinion. The song is Dueling Banjos. I can’t think of any single song that has had the impact in film. There is likely no one left alive to better tell the story of the song in the movie than Ronny Cox.

RC: Well, you know it was originally played with two banjos. In the book they were playing Wild Wood Flower but Jim Dickey had heard Dueling Banjos and recommended to John Boorman. Warner Brothers wasn’t too in favor of it because they didn’t think that anyone listened to Bluegrass Music. (laughter,) It became a huge hit. I think Dueling Banjos along with theme from Bonnie and Clyde and Oh Brother Where Art Thou are primarily responsible for the popularity of Bluegrass in America today.

MF: Why do you think that scene is so iconic and has such a lasting memory?

RC: Well, I think there is an energy about that scene. It is also the incredible connection that music makes with a scene like that. One of the reasons that Drew, my character, has no fear of the mountain people like the other characters is because he was able to make a connection with that young boy through the music. It shows the power of music. I think that people, without maybe even realizing it consciously, subconsciously get it, they feel the power that that energetic piece of music occurring between two human beings. It becomes that energy which brings about a connection for everybody and it becomes infectious. If you notice that old man starts dancing, there is another guy that starts whistling, people start moving and there is something about that piece of music that transcends the movie for a little while.

MF: I have 2 friends that asked me to ask you specific questions. One was a great fan of the show Apple’s Way. He wanted me to ask your thoughts as to if you think there is still a need for strong families in television oriented programs?

RC: Yeah, I loved doing that show in that it was a kind of modern day Walton’s. Shows that talk to the human condition are I think, really important in television and movies and I think needs to be done. Now, I am in no way in favor of censorship, but it seems to me that we are just doing these reality shows where people trash other people and I just don’t know what those are all about.

MF: Another friend wanted me to ask your long love affair with your wife Mary who passed away several years ago. He wanted me to ask, what you think was the reason for the success of your long love affair and marriage with your wife?

RC: You know, I was just lucky that I found that love of my life, early in my life. Mary lived in my hometown and we met when she was 11 and I was 14. We started going together when she was 15 and I was 18 and we got married when she was 22. I’ve never had another date or another girl in my life. I think one of the reasons for our success is I married someone way, way, way, way smarter. (Each of us, including the publicist present during the interview starts laughing here.) Mary had a PHD in Chemistry, that is the secret for us guys, to marry up. (Myself and the publicist start laughing again, but Ronny stays serious) I said that to Mary, thinking I would get some brownie points, “Mary I know the secret to our great marriage.” She said, “What?” I said, “I married up.” She looked at me kind of funny and she said, “What? All men do!” (we all, including Ronny, start laughing again.)

Mike Furches here, with just a thought, there are so many places I could have gone with this interview, so many things I could have concluded with, but I think it appropriate that Ronny and I ended our conversation on a note about his long love affair with his wife. In a world where so many couples just don’t seem to make it, there is something to the concept that a husband loves his wife so deeply and sees her as much more than he. It is a concept of servitude I think Ronny lives by, it is a concept many of us can learn by. His character in the movie, Drew is one who tries to maintain a since of normalcy with the world around him, with his surroundings, with doing what is right. It was a role in many ways made for a man like Ronny Cox, it is a character, that through the actor Ronny Cox we can still learn from, not just in the things presented in the movies, but in this thing called life which Ronny has continued to live for some years now. You can find out more about Ronny, his touring schedule, plus listen to his music at his web site: www.ronnycox.com

To see the video below, just click on it, if for some reason the video doesn’t appear or is distorted or not in full frame, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KTCspkO0Wc

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.


Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid 

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There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

ABC's GCB on DVD

I am one of those folks who enjoy television since the advent of the DVR and TIVO machines. I am always looking for new shows to check out. My first impression upon seeing advance trailers for ABC’s GCB was quite promising, I thought; “Wow a series with Kristin Chenoweth that deals with life in the church in the South!” Then I started hearing rumblings about the show from within Christian media sources. The GCB originally stood for “Good Christian Bitches,” it was later changed to “Good Christian Belles” and eventually shortened to just GCB. The Christian press tore the show apart; they seemed to make a lot of sense. I got sucked in and decided to boycott and not watch the show. I expressed gratitude when it was eventually cancelled, thinking; “Ha! Goes to show them they shouldn’t mock Christianity!” Then something strange happened, I got the chance to review the DVD prior to release of the first and last season of the show. I then realized how I had been duped and influenced; what I had read, heard and observed was in fact, not true. It was instead, in many ways, another ‘christian’ effort to manipulate and get involved in things with an apparent lack of understanding of the real world, and real world perceptions of Christianity in regards to what was actually going on.

GCB is the story of a young mother and wife from Dallas who lives in Los Angeles. Her husband is involved in a patsy scheme and is killed along with his mistress, (his wife’s best friend) in a car wreck while running away from an apparent investigation involving his crimes. After his death and eventual Federal Investigation and national news reports his wife, Amanda Vaughn, played beautifully by Leslie Bibb moves in with her mother in Dallas, ‘Gigi’ Stopper, played by well respected Annie Potts. Across the street lives an active church and choir member, neighborhood gossip and antagonist, Carlene Cockburn, played to the tee by Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth and her husband Ripp, played by David James Elliott noted for his previous role in the television series JAG are extremely wealthy and have their hands in all kinds of financial ventures. These two, along with friends and others are actively involved in their church and in the process haven’t forgotten about the past sins of Amanda. They will stop at nothing to make life for her a living hell. It is here one could also come up with another meaning of the GCB title, one which I think describes the show best, Gossiping Christian Bitches.

This mid-season replacement series only aired 10 episodes, it didn’t take long for the press to mount against this controversial show and prior to the conclusion of the series it was canceled by ABC. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many had cast their judgment on the show based only on the short clips they had seen and on what others had told them about the show, including many in the “Christian’ press?” What I found was quite different than what I had heard or seen.

GCB was actually a very well acted and cast program with a funny, entertaining, yet thought provoking story line. There is a good job, even in a short period of time of having a story line that develops character but also has us thinking. While the church is the single most used set in the film, what happens there isn’t that much different from what I have personally seen and observed in many churches. We see a pastor who clearly loves God and wants to represent the things of God to his church. This is important because it helps detract against much of the criticism of the show. This pastor has a hard time with some in his congregation, yet wants the best for them in his desire to see them actually become Christ like. The show does have Christians who are sincere in their life and example. What many don’t like though is that the show focuses on the hypocrisy of some in the church. The viewer sees this through various choir performances, disingenuous prayers, church programs used for the wrong purposes fund raisers and to the extreme example, a funeral. It was clear in the way the show is edited, narrated and presented that the show isn’t trying to mock Christianity but instead, those who are hypocritical about their beliefs and the way they practice their faith. At the risk of many devaluing me as a person, I found the show in regards to the actions of many to be quite accurate. I have seen these characters many times before but unfortunately, with real people, in real life situations.

I am going to say something again that many will have a hard time with. I want to publicly apologize for basing an opinion on this program prior to seeing it. I have rallied in the past against that type of behavior and yet, I was, drawn into it and am sad to say it. If some are offended by that, they will really be offended by my next comment; I truly wish ABC would reconsider the cancellation of this program because this show, in its satirical, humorous, yet realistic way, had the opportunity to help change these attitudes within many churches. Public awareness and public ridicule of these types of behaviors and hypocritical life styles would help bring awareness to the actions of some through embarrassment more so than most any sermon a pastor could preach. I consider the episodes of this show as mini-sermons, sometimes outlandishly done along with some embellishment, but the point of the programs, normally based on a Bible Verse, were in reality, modern day parables. From episodes like; “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” “Turn the Other Cheek,” “Love is Patient,” and “Pride Comes Before the Fall,” we have numerous sermon illustrations that help drive home the true meaning of those Biblical and Christian concepts. I truly and honestly suspect that many non Christians loved this show because of the humorous way it showed the hypocrisy of many within the church, not from a distasteful perspective of Christianity on the non Christians part, but from an appreciation and understanding of the way many Christians say it is and the way they really act. I also suspect much of the uproar came against the show from many who accept and lifestyle and mannerisms presented. That isn’t to say that all of the criticism comes from these circles, but I can’t help but believe much of it does or did. I still wonder; how much of the criticism came from those who actually saw the show?

There are times GCB goes overboard. I am okay with that as it was still clear to me, the intent of the show was not to mock Christianity, it was to address the unfortunate actions of some of those who claim to be Christian and use the Bible and Church at times to promote their own agenda, in an inappropriate selfish way as opposed to the way they were intended. The product I reviewed, while not a Blu-ray had surprisingly good visual quality, excellent sound, (which was nice for the nice soundtrack included) and a nice array of special features including program commentaries and deleted scenes. There are also other nice features including the making of, the appreciation of Gospel music by the directors and producers and much more. The only thing I didn’t like is that the series ended up being only one season but I blame myself in part for making judgment of something based on the gossip of certain groups prior to actually seeing the show. I am a follower of Jesus, a Christian if you will, I truly wish that many within my faith group could laugh at ourselves or those who represent us and see the potential for good as opposed to the negative. I believe this program could have done good within the church in getting those in the church, including myself, to recognize our faults and moments of hypocrisy. On the issue of hypocrisy, it wouldn’t just help those in the church; it could have been a seed to get all of us, despite our beliefs, to see the negative aspects of gossip and hypocrisy. At this point, we can hope that at least the one season of the program is purchased, rented, downloaded and viewed. Hopefully those who share my faith, who maybe cast judgment on the show, will now through this review give it a chance. It will be interesting to hear what people have to say if they do. As for me, I highly recommend this one. I figure it is like this, it will likely either confirm what you already believe, or convict you to consider your own actions, either way; I see it as a good thing. If you look at this from the perspective of the characters, their lives and actions, and look at the underlying meaning of the story lines, I honestly believe, you will see it much like I have, a program worth  thinking about or if you will, a sermon to learn from and apply to our lives.

To see the video below, just click on it, if for some reason the video doesn’t appear or is distorted or not in full frame, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMHMdR6jkFw

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry. Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work. Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the material is provided.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

HBO's Entourage Season 8 on Blu-Ray DVD




There are unfortunately, many bad television shows, there are pleasantly though, a few surprises that provide exceptional television, such is the case for HBO’s Entourage, unfortunately, Season 8 is the series last. Fans of the show now have the opportunity to own the final season on Blu-ray. The series follows the entourage providing protection, leadership, guidance, but more importantly friendship for fictional film star Vincent Chase, played wonderfully by Adrian Grenier. The show features an ensemble cast presenting real life scenarios of what it is like for a star living in Hollywood. Over the course of 8 years the show has taken its characters from inappropriate and dangerous sexual escapades to drugs and from pride and bitterness to a rekindling of friendship and brotherhood. Every great show deserves to have a great ending, and Entourage hasn’t forgotten its obligation to provide fans a fitting ending. A favorite among many in the entertainment industry, they do just that, provide a great closing season.

If I have said this once, I have said it at least 10 other times but if you are looking for quality entertaining programs, in all capacities, check out the series on some of the premium television stations. From Showtime to HBO there is some exceptional programming. HBO has once again, provided an almost perfect television series, the only negative I can find is there just aren’t enough episodes in a season. HBO has a unique ability of creating programming that one wants to see carry on. The storytelling, scripting, editing, sound, costuming and everything that goes into making a quality movie, is used to provide exceptional television. Outside of wanting more, I simply can’t find anything technically to complain about this program.

Over the last 8 seasons Entourage has taken us down the road of getting to know its characters. This season we have a number of things that happen as the season comes to a close. As a part of the conclusion of the series we see what happens to each of the characters but we also see and are reminded of their love for each other, even in tough times. To fully appreciate the series, one needs to see previous seasons as it will add tremendously to the viewers experience. We continue to see exceptional writing which is remarkable considering the short episode time frame. Normally an episode lasts around 30 minutes so what the creators have done to carry the viewer along is remarkable.

To fully appreciate where each character has come from and where they are at in the closing season, it will help to see the previous seasons. That said, the obvious off screen friendships clearly help the viewer understand the characters because over the years they have developed a friendship not just on screen but off screen. It is one of the things that keep the show moving along; the characters don’t just appear as actors on screen, they appear as real people, facing real life situations. While the viewer may not be able to relate to all of the characters, there are likely individual characters and situations we they can relate to.

If Entourage is about anything, it is about brotherhood and the love of family, especially men. Now don’t take me wrong here, it isn’t just about this, as there are strong female characters, but it is certainly, above all, about friendship and brotherhood. As a person of faith, who takes my Christian beliefs seriously, I am often offended by the lack of brotherhood and love that exists among my faith partners. I long for friendships and brotherhood like exhibited in Entourage. Sure, there are times we get angry, maybe in our disagreements with each other but there are examples of where real brotherhood, real family goes beyond the disagreements and disputes. I can’t help but believe, if the church, if people of faith loved unconditionally as the characters on this show, then maybe, just maybe, there would be more people accepting the things the church has to offer. One of the things so beautiful about Entourage is that brotherhood isn’t just with one or two people but 5 or 6 who have maintained that friendship and love over the course of 8 seasons. In many ways, the entourage in Entourage is like a church. There isn’t perfection but the members of the church don’t expect perfection, there isn’t the getting up and quitting over a simple disagreement, the characters understand love and friendship go beyond disagreement. Instead, there is willingness, a longing to stick together, to be there for each other. Some may question the ‘sinful’ lifestyles; yet, the common desire to love and be there for each other is the overlying theme, not just in Season 1, but also hitting home in the final season.

While I love this series, and the opportunity to own it, I am deeply disappointed in the Blu-ray rendition of the DVD. Don’t get me wrong, the color transfer, sound quality and more are exceptional but the lack of special features is disturbing, especially since it is a final season DVD set. There are no special features, there is a special feature, one feature that while good, isn’t enough. This series, its fans deserved more than what it got. While the star of the show is the show itself, the viewers watching this show over the last 8 years deserved more. It is for that reason I can’t recommend the purchase of the Blu-ray version of the film, certainly the standard DVD for a few dollars less or the boxed set of the entire series I can recommend but I can’t express enough my disappointment in HBO for not giving us substantially more in the realm of special features. They have done a good job in the past, but on this one, they let me down. Despite my displeasure with the special features I still highly recommend this DVD set. It is one of the few times that I will consider purchasing the entire boxed set of DVD’s. It is sad to see this show end and would be nice to have around. For fans of the show, I think they will agree with my thoughts here, for others, you just don’t know what you have missed, yes there are real adult situations but love conquers all and there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a brother. In Entourage we have seen the meaning of sacrifice for a grateful and wonderful 8 years.

To see the video below, just click on it, if for some reason the video doesn’t appear or is distorted or not in full frame, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_maLY94oUY

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry. Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work. Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the material is provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
6441 N. Hydraulic
Park City Kansas, 67219

Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Doctor Who The Seeds Of Death Special Edition, The Patrick Troughton Years 1966-1969





Since 1963 Doctor Who, a BBC television serial has entertained multitudes of people across the world. I recall, even as a small child, watching The Doctor in his interplanetary and time travels. I always thought the program, while hokey in some ways, was enlightening and entertaining in others. As of recent BBC Television has unearthed some historical programs from the series and is releasing them to the public. The newest of which is The Seeds of Death Special Edition featuring The Patrick Troughton years from 1966–1969. Fans of the new Doctor Who series will appreciate the backdrop and historical nature of the programs included on this DVD, for others, it may be a bit too dated to thoroughly enjoy unless they are a student of film or a fan of old Science Fiction. For those in this category, if for no other reason than its historical value, this will be a must own edition to their DVD collection.

In the viewing of this two DVD set, it should be noted, television series of the early to late 1960’s didn’t have what would be considered today, the best special effects. There is nothing exceptional here, not the acting, the special effects, editing, sound, etc… What is exceptional is the story and concepts as presented through the history of Doctor Who which has continued for some 50 years. What is also exceptional is the special features DVD which goes into the history of this particular series of episodes which features in part on the Martians and their two groups of citizens, based largely and in part on the cast system identifying a race of people based on economic status, seeing a lower cast of people, and a higher cast of people. While the special effects creating these creatures are not spectacular, what it does is focus on what makes up these characters emotionally, their desires, wishes, intentions and so forth is one of the things that makes Doctor Who as Science Fiction work. As mentioned in the commentaries on the DVD’s it seems as if most everything a basic film student is taught in film school is abandoned here. Yet despite that willingness to go against even the norms of film making for the time there is a humanistic, emotional understanding of the characters, one that translates to helping drive home the themes and points of the show.

In the world of Doctor Who there is a time space travel machine called the T-mat. The T-mat transports individuals almost instantly, something like the transporter on Star Trek. In this season the T-mat has been hijacked by the Martians, and the Doctor and his team must get it back before the Marians use it to destroy the earth. The series aspect allows the story to be developed along with some social commentary along the way. As is the case in many Doctor Who story lines, they actually do a pretty good job at all aspects of story development, especially in creating scary creatures. There are some surprises along the way as well as some thought provoking moments.

This series features primarily Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor in the incarnation of the Doctor Who actors who has played the part over the years. The character in regards to the stories in this series is quite well developed and we can see that in various concepts of the video, from the relations the Doctor has with others in the cast to his relationship and understanding of The Martians. While Troughton may not have been the best in the line of Doctors in my opinion, he was a likeable character who did quite well in the part. Much of that was due to the way the program was often times scripted, using the talents of the actors in the particular scenes they were playing. Patrick Troughton, the second in the series of Doctor Who Caracters did as well as any of the Doctors at presenting fear, it is a concept that enabled him to be one or the more memorable Doctors even if he isn’t the favorite of the Doctors.

Doctor Who, since its origins has found ways to interject the spiritual along with science in its themes, even back in the mid 1960’s. Especially in this series are the treatment and understanding of foreign culture as well as the concepts of how people or aliens in this case are treated. There are also the concepts of fear and death which are addressed. Often at play is popular perception, however, while popular perception is at times important, especially if rooted in reality, there is always more than what one can quickly observe. Quick judgments often lead to inappropriate or even dangerous situations. Just as Jesus and his followers give caution to judgment, the assessment of ones actions is always encouraged and what is important. Sometimes, we discover that those least likely to be judged appropriately may in reality, be something or someone much better than we expected. Of course there is always danger and we have to have a leader who will lead in life, live by example, and show the reality of our surroundings. It is important to have a leader, like The Doctor who will understand the reality of the situation they and others who follow them face. Just as Doctor Who doesn’t guarantee an easy time in following him, neither does Jesus guarantee an easy time or perfection when his followers follow him, in fact, there are certainly at times difficulties we face, some we will make it out of, others we may not, but having a deliverer there like either Jesus or Doctor Who can improve our chances. There may be fear all around us, but there are those who can, and do overcome fear and difficulty, even with the monsters that would do us in.

I’ll be honest; these aren’t my favorite years of Doctor Who. While there is something special about the quirkiness of the shows, that doesn’t mean they are easy to watch. The special features however, including the episode commentaries and the making of features are quite special and a must for fans of the series. While I don’t think there is anything special enough here to generate new fans, there is ample material to please old and lasting fans of the show, even the fans of the most recent years, younger fans. The only recommendation I would have had, is if having a series focusing on the late Patrick Troughton, there should have been far more in the features that focused on him. Unfortunately there is surprisingly little. While I honestly don’t know if I would purchase the DVD’s at the price they are listed, I suspect there will be many who will and enjoy it thinking it is worth it. For those who do, enjoy, for those who just don’t know, but take the chance, good luck and hope you enjoy it, but don’t say you weren’t fairly warned.

To see the video below, just click on it, if for some reason the video doesn’t appear or is distorted or not in full frame, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuFCofFGSSk

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry. Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work. Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the material is provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
6441 N. Hydraulic
Park City Kansas, 67219

Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Monday, June 4, 2012

Breaking Bad Season 4 on DVD

My son in law Brett told me about the television series Breaking Bad on the AMC Cable network right after the first season. Some how I ended up getting the DVD of Season 1 to watch shortly before the 2nd season and as a result, I haven’t missed a episode yet. There is a reason this show has garnished the audience and won the awards it has, which are far too numerous to mention, what I will say, is there is a very large list of critics who has listed this show as among the best ever made and in the top 10 of all time. I will say as to those critics, (with whom I don’t always agree) that on this subject, I whole heartedly agree. For example, Season 4, reviewed here, carries an approval rating of the review aggregator website Metacritic, of an unheard of rating of 96 out of 100.

To fully understand the premise of Breaking Bad, one has to go back to the first season. Walter White, played by award winning actor, Bryan Cranston is a high school chemistry teacher who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. In order to financially provide for his family after death he ends up making Crystal Meth. He teams up with former high school student Jesse Pinkman and enters the world of selling drugs. There is an unusual working relationship that develops between the two along with Walter’s Family where he attempts to keep all things secret from his family. That is Season 1 though, by the time we get to Season 4, the one under review here, most everything has turned to hell; his wife knows what is going on and while Walt started it all off with good intentions, the viewer is fully aware that by Season 4, there are moral consequences for actions and while one may have good intentions, how they go about getting to those intentions definitely has a bearing on the lives of people who may be around, whether knowing and involved with them or not.

More times than not, the transfer of a television series to Blu-ray just isn’t necessary due to the lower than normal filming qualities of the show. I don’t have the Blu-ray rendition for review but the transfer, quality of the show, sound and look is amazing! The series is shot on 35 mm film at a reported cost of $3,000,000 per episode, making it among the most expensive per episode programs on television. That cost in filming and production is obvious. From the incredible set design to the ensemble cast including its minor characters, there are as many memorable characters of any show since The Sopranos.

While one doesn’t have to watch every season to appreciate this season, as mentioned in other reviews, the benefit of shows like this is it allows a period of time where characters can be developed. The creator of the show has mentioned that he doesn’t view Breaking Bad as a series with many different stories or episodes; he sees it as a single story all playing together to get to a central theme. To fully understand the plights of the characters in this film, especially Walt and Jessie, you really need to start with Season 1. That said, it isn’t as difficult as one may imagine due to the reasonable prices of the videos, I was able to find online for this season from $19.99 - $32.99, ($34.99 for Blu-ray). One can easily find earlier seasons for less than that. While watching the viewer will become enthralled in the characters as there changes, twists, turns and surprises through out the season. The intensity develops from episode to episode until the final shocking episode of Season 4.

As coarse as Breaking Bad is in its language, imagery, and adult content, it is real and the coarseness of the show is needed to drive home the point that there are consequences for actions. The lovable Cranston family from Season 1 is no longer such a lovable family. Yet in the brilliance of the direction of the show we still want for Cranston. The viewer longs for Walt and his family to come together and get their life back. His cancer is in remission, there is after all no way the program can continue for 4 seasons otherwise and he is stuck in this world, dealing with unsavory characters and in a life likely not imagined when he first decided to become a high school chemistry teacher. In that life though, we the viewer can reflect on our lives and the decisions we make. While some may choose destiny or predestination as a component of life, Breaking Bad clearly drives home the concepts of free will. We all make choices and those choices have a clear impact on not only our lives but the lives of others we come into contact with. Those decisions often involve eternal consequences for those around us. In regard to these concepts, Breaking Bad plays like a book out of the Old Testament. Concepts and imagery that is as real as that of Breaking Bad causes one to justifiably make the comment, ‘if God is a God that would cause this, or bring this to happen to someone, then how can he be a loving God?’ This show, while not denying the existence of God, drives home that we make decisions and are responsible for those decisions. While the issues related to God of Free-Will Vs. Predestination is far more complicated than this analysis, the reality as a discussion starter or a place to think, is that Breaking Bad clearly brings home the reality that there are consequences for the things we do including the inappropriate things that are intended to accomplish something of value.

There are other spiritual values to Breaking Bad including the easy judgments we often place on people for the lives they live, which we may consider inappropriate or evil. Breaking Bad illustrates there are normally circumstances that causes one to make the decisions they do. Without a moral compass, such as God, we are on our own in making those decisions. While it doesn’t excuse the actions one makes, or the consequences, to understand the why is important because it is in the understanding and the addressing of the why that one can make a difference. For example, in the world of Walter White, a fair and appropriate medical care plan would have helped; a way to better provide for school teachers may have helped. Of course there is also the issue of poor judgment, which each person has control over but life is more complex than many realize and ultimately, we are either in this thing called life together, hopefully with the wisdom God can provide, or, we are in it alone. If in it alone, the consequences compound due to not only our actions and consequences in our own lives but also in the lives of others around us, including those we love.

I love the moral dilemma and lessons from Breaking Bad. For fans of the show the DVD is a must. Season 4 has over 13 hours of special features. There are excellent commentary episodes where we get some wonderful insight into filming techniques, character insights and more. There are also some pretty entertaining features such as a Karaoke by one of the shows chacters. Fans of Breaking Bad, even those who have seen each episode on television will enjoy this DVD and it is certainly affordable.

A final note, for those that don’t know, Season 5 is reportedly the last season for Breaking Bad. I am anxiously awaiting it. I hope there is resolve, repentance, and change in the characters that allows them to get back to their lives. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out for the life of me how the lives of The Whites’ or others in the show can end up in a good way. There are times that outside of the eternal, the decisions we make on this earth have finality to them. There are certain laws, spiritual, physical and societal that once broken, have consequences. It will be entertaining and thought provoking to see what finality lies in Season 5. While I hope for good, it is possible that Walter White’s decisions have an unfortunate end. Of course in that, there are lessons to learn and life examples to apply. It is one of the things that makes Breaking Bad such an outstanding, worthwhile show.

To see the video below, just click on it, if for some reason the video doesn’t appear or is distorted or not in full frame, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7AvqD2loX4

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry. Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work. Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the material is provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
6441 N. Hydraulic
Park City Kansas, 67219

Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed