Ted: Season 1

STREAMING REVIEW:

Peacock;
Comedy;
Not rated;
Stars Seth MacFarlane, Max Burkholder, Alanna Ubach, Scott Grimes, Giorgia Whigham, Penny Johnson Jerald, Ian McKellen.

Seth MacFarlane’s 2012 film Ted introduced the world to the foul-mouthed teddy bear of the title, a CGI character voiced by MacFarlane himself.

The premise involved a child named John Bennett who is so desperate for a best friend he wishes the toy would come to life, but the film’s story centered mostly on John and Ted’s relationship as adults 30 years later. Their raunchy exploits would continue in a 2015 sequel, but its lackluster box office performance didn’t yield much hope for further adventures.

The seven-episode “Ted” series serves as a prequel to the films, taking place after the 10-minute prologue of the first film that shows Ted coming to life and achieving a bit of instant fame due to being a magical living teddy bear.

Set in 1993, the show features MacFarlane reprising his role as the voice of Ted, with Max Burkholder as 16-year-old John, the character played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg in the films. The series depicts Ted’s life with the Bennett family following his celebrity days, as he’s forced to join John in attending high school.

The show has some fun depicting the origins of some hallmarks of the John/Ted friendship from the movies, such as their introduction to smoking weed. Ted is as foul-mouthed as ever, with the show’s setting providing plenty of fodder for 1990s pop culture references.

However, the presence of Ted is a bit of a red herring for what seems to be MacFarlane’s true intention for the series, which is to make an “All in the Family”-style family sitcom in which John’s conservative parents (who have been reinvented a bit for the show compared to their brief portrayal in the movies), constantly butt heads with John’s politically correct cousin Blaire (Giorgia Whigham). While this formula has served MacFarlane well on “Family Guy” as an equal opportunity offender, the shtick starts to wear thin on “Ted” when the jokes mostly involve John’s blowhard caricature of a father (Scott Grimes) earning sincerely indignant responses from Blaire at every turn, as if in MacFarlane’s world the progressive college student must be correct by default despite the lack of life experience. At least on “Family Guy” all sides would get their comeuppance once in a while.

The other big drawback to the show is that the episodes are unusually long for a comedy series. Rather than the typical 20-30 minute sitcom episode length, most episodes of “Ted” are about twice that, and more is not often merrier. The cinematic pacing doesn’t make for a very tight comedic experience, and some gags take so long to pay off it’s easy to forget you’re still watching the same episode in which they were set up earlier.

Still, the show is quite effective when it manages to focus on the strengths of its premise — Ted’s hilarious conversations with John about random observations and pop culture appreciation — and should satisfy anyone who enjoys MacFarlane’s brand of humor. Some of the best moments involve the real-world and religious implications of Ted being alive to begin with, leading to the show’s best moment conceptually when John’s dad decides to make a little wish of his own.

‘Cats’ Dancing to Digital March 17, Disc April 7 From Universal

Cats, the film adaptation of the hit Broadway show, will come out on digital March 17 and Blu-ray and DVD April 7 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Director Tom Hooper reimagines Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical in the film starring James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and introducing Royal Ballet principal Francesca Hayward. The film also includes a cast of dancers showcasing styles from classical ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street dance to tap.

The story follows a tribe of cats called the Jellicles that must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle Life.

The film made $71.9 million at the global box office.

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Special features include:

  • “Making Music,” in which the stars of Catswill talk about Andrew Lloyd Webber, who conceived the musical almost 40 years ago, and how his music has stood the test of time;
  • “Singing Live,” in which talent and filmmakers explore what it was like to sing, dance, and act for live performance in front of the camera;
  • “Cat School,” a step behind the scenes to watch as the cast speak about their experiences learning how to move and embody their roles as felines;
  • “Making Macavity,”  in which viewers navigate through an immersive 360º video as the conniving cat duo, Idris Elba and Taylor Swift, master the iconic “Macavity” musical number;
  • “9 Lives: The Cast of Cats,” following the cast on set among the worlds that the filmmakers brought to life at Leavesden Studios;
  • “The Dancers,” a featurette about the dancers in the filmwith host “Frankie” Hayward of the London Royal Ballet;
  • “The Art of Dance,” about choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler work on the film;
  • “Scaling Up,” about how the film is scaled 2.5 times to that of the human perspective;
  • “A Director’s Journey,” with cast and crew talking about Hooper; and
  • “A Little Magic.”

 

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Warner Releasing ‘The Good Liar’ Digitally Jan. 21, on Disc Feb. 4

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the thriller The Good Liar through digital retailers Jan. 21, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 4.

Directed by Bill Condon, the film features acclaimed actors Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen on screen together for the first time.

McKellen plays a con man who sets his sights on a recently widowed woman (Mirren) worth millions of dollars.

The cast also includes Russell Tovey and Jim Carter.

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The film earned $16.8 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray and DVD will include more than 12 minutes of deleted scenes. The Blu-ray will also include the featurette “A Perfect Match: Inside The Good Liar.”

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