Friday, December 18, 2009

Pre-Order Mr. Belvedere Season 4 DVD Now!

Let's not make Shout Factory regret buying the rights to this show by showing support for buying from them directly!  Why directly? It seems that the big retailers are no longer ordering for sale at their shops because of the decreased sales after the Season 1-2 Box Set. Where have you guys gone? You can pre-order the DVD HERE. It will be available on January 19, 2010.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mr. Belvedere DVD Season FOUR! OH YES!

Bad news is, the DVD sets have been selling less and less per season, resulting in flagging interest from retailers to stock the new set. But the DVD will still be available at the Shout! Factory site beginning January 19, 2010.


Read about this bit of news at TV Shows on DVD here.

I gotta say I'm kinda disappointed that there isn't much support from fans for this DVD. Perhaps we're not as many as we thought we were. ha! ha! But if this is sold directly from Shout!, it will most likely mean a larger profit margin for them as they won't have to deal with retailer commissions. (Either that or they lower retail price.) That means the show may prove to be more profitable for Shout! in the long run, and it would allow them to continue producing the DVDs well into the 6th season.

An interesting tidbit in the news in the link is that bonus material in this DVD set includes commentaries from creator and cast. I'm not sure who the "creator" they got to do commentaries, but I'm betting it's Jeff Stein.

Mr. Belvedere Season 4 DVD will soon be made available at this particular page at Shout! Factory's site. Let's make this the most popular page on Shout's site when the time comes!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Whole Lotta Brice

After being unceremoniously pulled from You Tube, Brice's Drama 3/4 Production company's channel is back on the site. And they want your help!

Drama 3/4 Big Fat Demo Reel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EYy4ADKxEA

Drama 3/4 Big Fat Addendum
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkhh8-x6vP0

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Mr. Belvedere Season 3 DVD is HERE!



I wasn't able to pre-order Mr. Belvedere Season 3 right away (sigh. economy), but I placed an order as soon as I could and now it's here! OH YEAH!

The first thing I did was listen to the audio commentary on "DUETS", the episode where George gets electrocuted in the bathtub and decides to be a lounge singer. Robert Goulet guests. I love this episode because of the part where Ilene Graff shows us for the first time (in this show) how awesome she is as a singer. There are plenty of really cool behind the scenes info shared on the audio track like how Ilene often runs into guests of the show in public and how some remember her, and some don't. There's some talk about the technicalities of the show, specially the difficulty of shooting "porch" scenes. Ilene talks about how thrilling it was to record with Robert Goulet, and Brice does an absolutely UNCANNY Robert Goulet. It was amazing.

I've been so busy at work that I managed to watch just that one episode so far, but I'm amazed at how much Brice remembers about the show. He even remembers minutia of set details, and how the Hufnagels never appeared on the show except the maid, which appears in one episode, then the actress appears again in another episode to marry Mr. Belvedere.

Speaking of Brice, some of my recent work involves Brice directly. I'm proud to say that his art will appear in a comic book for the first time in "Where Bold Stars Go To Die", which I am writing. Brice contributes a pinup for this comic book that's just absolutely gorgeous. The comic book is now at the press and I should be getting copies next week. More about this in a future post.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tracy Wells for Patrick Lopez and Associates

I won't get my Mr. Belvedere Season 3 DVD until next month, but until then, here's a video I found featuring Tracy Wells, posted August 2009.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Release of Season 3 DVD Imminent!

The release of the Mr. Belvedere Season 3 DVD is only two days away! Whoo hoo! Have you ordered your copies yet? If you haven't, please reserve your copies at your local store, your favorite online store, or at Amazon!

Watch the Mr. Belvedere DVD Trailer here!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ilene Graff at Magic Castle Anniversary



(Isn't that just an awesome photo of Ilene? Photo courtesy of Broadwayworld.com)

Ilene Graff To Appear In Celebration Of The 100th Anniversary Of The Magic Castle, Celebration To Take Place 9/14-15

Cabaret at the Castle (www.magiccastle.com) has chosen Grammy-nominated recording artist, television and Broadway star, Ilene Graff (www.ilenegraff.com), to appear in celebration of 100th anniversary of the structure known today as the Magic Castle. Accompanied by her Musical Director-husband Ben Lanzarone, Graff performs songs from Broadway, the movies and the pop world with completely unique interpretations and arrangements.

For the full article, click here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Interview with Zach Baker (Updated)

Zach Baker played "Wayne" in the episode "The Outcasts", the 2nd episode of the first season of Mr. Belvedere. I managed to track Zach down and I'm very glad he agreed to be interviewed for this site.

Thanks very much to Zach for taking the time to offer his thoughts about his stint on the show, and update us with what's he's been up to all these years. Thanks Zach! Much appreciated!



According to IMDB, the role of Wayne is your one and only acting credit on TV/Film. Is this accurate?

I have two other minor appearances (the pilot of Otherworld and in a skit for Flip Wilson's People Are Funny) around the same time. But of course, Mr. Belvedere is the highlight of my acting career!

Have you done acting outside of TV/Film like on the stage? What led you to the role and why didn't you continue acting?

Well, my acting career actually started with a classified ad in the Los Angeles Times. I was in the second grade and very quick to strike up conversations, especially with adults. One day there was an ad looking for "outgoing children between the ages of 6 and 9" for a game show. I loved game shows, so when my parents took me to audition I was thrilled. The game show was Child's Play hosted by the legendary Bill Cullen. I ended up doing several appearances on the show, defining words for the grown-up contestants to guess.

As time went on, I saw how many of the (very bright) kids I was with at Child's Play and even some of my classmates at my elementary school (Carpenter Avenue in Studio City) were involved in acting. So I got interested in doing that as well, and my mom was very kind to take me around town to auditions. So that ended up being my after-school activity instead of piano lessons or karate practice. I wasn't as focused on it as most of the other kids in the business, and really wasn't a very good actor, but I enjoyed it. Later I attended a performing arts magnet school and played the lead role in our high school play, so I did improve my skills significantly and really enjoy acting, but I simply haven't pursued it professionally since then.

So although I actually auditioned for Wayne, was called back for another audition, I didn't get the part. However, the acting business is about what breaks you get as much as anything. As it happened, the other boy who was cast as Wayne was sick with the measles the week that "The Outcasts" was filming and I was hurriedly called in as a replacement. Which fits very well with the episode, come to think of it!

What was it like acting on the set of Mr. Belvedere?

I arrived at the ABC Studios in the middle of the day and walked onto the sound stage. There was the Mr. Belvedere set, the living room/dining room and kitchen set which faced the audience, Wesley's room off to one side, and way off to the side, the set for the nursing home in that episode and Mr. Belvedere's room. I remember it pretty well. I hadn't seen the show or the movie, but I was a big baseball fan and thought Bob Uecker was a pretty funny guy, so that's what I thought was the coolest part.

So I did table readings earlier in the week, then rehearsals and a run-through, each time with some changes to the script. I couldn't get the right delivery on a line in table readings and in the next draft, it was changed, then changed again. Like I said, I wasn't that great of an actor at the time, and didn't always get how to deliver a line the way it was intended. I just didn't "get it" a lot of the time, which is what happens when you're nine.

There actually isn't a lot of time for younger actors to hang around, since our working hours are limited by law and when we weren't working we had to do schoolwork supervised by an on-location tutor. We didn't see Brice, who had his own tutor, or other kids like we would have in school, so it's actually a pretty isolating experience. I worked on memorizing my lines, since the worst thing I could think of was to forget or mess up a line while they were taping.

So we had a full rehearsal on Thursday, where we were in costume and had props. During the party scene, we all had plates with a slice of cake on it. We were sternly warned not to eat or touch the cake. But you know, I was a pretty impulsive kid, so I kept thinking about it. Finally, when everyone's attention was elsewhere during the rehearsal, I had my chance. I swiped my finger over one tiny corner of the clear blue frosting and put it in my mouth. Do you know what is clear, blue, looks like frosting and doesn't melt under studio lighting? Gel toothpaste. Yeah. I just ate toothpaste. I'm probably lucky I didn't have the white frosting, which was probably spackle. That's right, the cake was a lie!

Well, before I knew it, it was Friday and we were shooting. Live audience, all the lights down, everyone's very serious. It was exhilarating and terrifying. Backstage after makeup and before the taping, I crossed paths with Bob Uecker. I didn't think it showed that I was nervous, but I was. He said hi, offered me some words of encouragement and a couple Tic Tacs. That really meant a lot to me, that the guy I most looked up to took just a little bit of time to encourage me when I needed it most.

I got through everything fine, didn't mess up my lines, and got a little rush when I heard the audience laugh at my lines. But just as quickly, it was over. The next week, I was back to school.



I think it's really interesting that you were once a 2-time Jeopardy champion. I'm sure it was a very exciting time for you. You seem like a really well read guy. Was this after Mr. Belvedere? Before? Or long after?

I've always had a memory for trivia and an interest in knowing a little about everything. Once I discovered the web in college, it only got more pronounced. I'm glad I found a way to make it pay off! I know it helped having experience in front of a studio audience, so I can definitely say that my bit part on Mr. Belvedere helped me win on Jeopardy!

You've been in the computer games industry since 1995. I assume you've always liked computer games (I do too!). What led to your playing them to actually working on them?

I always had things easy in school and made the mistake of picking a very demanding college. I wasn't up for the amount of work involved and my school was not very accommodating in that situation. So at 19 I got myself a job programming video games at Sega instead of finishing college.

What's the one computer game has been your favorite to play, and what is that one computer game that has been your favorite to work on?

I have to mention my current favorite game, which is Plants vs. Zombies, not only because I worked on a game project in college with its programmer, but because it's a fun and satisfying game. My favorite game to work on is definitely the one I'm currently working on at Blizzard!

What does a "Tools Programmer" for Blizzard Entertainment do?

Basically, I get to write software that helps empower the amazingly talented and creative folks on my team do the best work they can. So I don't work directly on improving the game as much as working on improving the process of developing the game.

What is LA Life?

After I was a part of the team that made the game True Crime: Streets of LA and its sequel, I wanted to run my own business with a friend of mine. Making original game console games as a startup, what I wanted to do, had basically become a really bad business to get into -- you could say the frontier had closed.

But it was about this time, late 2005, that web development, particularly in Ruby, a programming language I had picked up some years earlier, was exploding. I had, a year earlier, gone through an exhaustive analytical home search to find the best place to buy a home and commute to where I worked. The centerpiece of this search was a huge wall map where I had scribbled statistics about different neighborhoods and zip codes. So the idea I had was to make a website that provided this information, and that's LA Life. After I went to Paul Graham's seminar at Harvard, I left the game studio Luxoflux to work on creating LA Life full-time, which was a lot of fun. I loved being a full-time entrepreneur, but then there was a certain real estate and economic downturn, as I'm sure you're aware. So I went into consulting and worked for a while at a company called Applied Minds until I ended up at Blizzard, which is just awesome.



Finally, I just want to mention my incredible wife Jennifer and our two sons, Alexander and Daniel, all of whom I love very much. All other things considered, being married to Jen and raising our kids together is the highlight of my life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Where Are They Now? #1

With the DVDs out, and more on the way, it's nice to see new interviews with the cast. Over the years and through a few magazines, we've been kept up to date with what's been going on with them since the show went off the air.

But what of the guest stars? A few of them continued acting, with one or two achieving huge success like James Cromwell, and other people went off and did other things in different fields.

I thought it would be nice to see, through a basic search online, what the guests stars of the show are up to now on an episode basis. Since the most recently revisited episode is "The Outcasts", let's start there.



Casey Ellison appeared in "The Outcasts" for the first time as Miles, who would eventually become Wesley's best friend. His other notable credit is "Allen Anderson" in the popular Punky Brewster, which was telecast at roughly the same time as Mr. Belvedere. Casey is a tough guy to find info on. Information is a bit sketchy, but based on IMDB, he has continued acting on and off, with his last acting credit being the thriller "Head Hunter" in 2002, and he has several crew credit as an electrician, most notably for "Starship Troopers: Hero of the Federation" in 2004. His last crew credit was for set dresser for the short film "Horses in the Sky" in 2007.

According to Wikipedia, Casey now lives in Lafayette, Indiana and works as a research assistant at Purdue University, although I haven't been able to independently confirm that.



Zach Baker, who played Wayne, has only one acting credit in his IMDB page. However, I've since gotten some interesting updates on the whereabouts of Zach, so much so it deserves a whole post of its own. Coming soon!



Christina Nigra, who played Roda, continues to act and has a fair bit of credits in her IMDB page. Her most notable role to date is Lindsay Selkirk which she played for 80 episodes for 5 years in the series "Out of this World".

You can visit her official site here:
http://christinanigra.com/

There you can find new photographs of her like the one below.



Gokul, whose real name is apparently Datta V. Gokhale, played Mr. Rajnij.



According to IMDB, he has appeared in numerous notable shows and films like Hill Street Blues, Naked Gun, NYPD Blue, Profiler, and most recently he played a sherpa guide (photos below) in the pilot episode of Eli Stone in 2008.



Thursday, June 25, 2009

A.S.S. With Brice Beckham



"Another Showcase Showdown" from Drama3/4

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mr. Belvedere Reunion Photo



This photo comes courtesy of Ilene Graff (watermarks mine). No info came with it, but I assume it was from the cast getting together to record commentaries for the Season 3 DVD.

Bob Uecker Article at the Superior Telegram

Uecker still speaks volumes

"Bob Uecker, at 74, is as entertaining, relevant and insightful now as he was when he was the only sane reason to invest in Brewers games. You remember those days, don't you? Consecutive losing seasons from 1993 to 2006."
By: By Andy Baggot, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram

Read full article here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

DVD Commentaries!

Long time Mr. Belvedere fan McFly121 posted on the Sitcoms Online Message board that he spoke with Brice Beckham who says that they have recorded more than one audio commentary, which included Tracy Wells.

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=247908

I say awesome!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Season 3 DVD Bonus Feature?

A little birdie told me that there's going to be a cast commentary on the Season 3 DVD. Oh yeah.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Revisiting Mr. Belvedere: The Outcasts


"You try to raise a kid, give him a sense of whatever, and the first real something comes along...you know what I mean?"

The Outcasts
Season 1, Episode 2
Original Air Date: March 22, 1985

Ever since I started the Mr. Belvedere website in 1998, I've always wanted to do more in depth analysis of each episode. I wanted to have my own copies so I could look at them more closely, and repeat if necessary. Now that the DVDs are here, I can much more easily do that.

These thoughts about the show come from someone who is a long time fan of the show, and is very much a love fest thing only. This article, and in fact, this entire blog is not for anyone who doesn't like the show. Please feel free to shower everyone with your opinion in your own respective blogs.


Wesley is pissed that his friend Howie didn't invite him to his party. Mr. Belvedere suggests that Wesley hold a party of his own and invite all the others who weren't invited. Halfway during Wesley's party, Howie calls and asks why Wesley isn't at his party. Faced with staying or going, Wesley leaves his own party but feels horribly guilty later on.

It's a simple enough episode on the outside, but upon reflection, it's actually a rather weighty one, with a deep and complicated moral issue.

It's a remarkable showcase for young Brice Beckham's acting talents. Under a lesser child actor this story would have fallen flat on its face for lack of credibility and humor. Brice's take on an indignant Wesley at the start of the episode was truly effective and realistic. Wesley is absolutely fuming when he enters the room. He slams his school stuff on the counter, sits on the table, ranting and finally kicking the chair before stalking to sulk some more in the living room.

Wesley is furious that he wasn't invited to his best friend Howie's party, who lives down the street. George chimes in about Howie's family, the Hufnagels, and how George and Marsha weren't invited to the Hufnagel's party sometime before.

Now, the Hufnagels would become a regular, albeit unseen "cast" on this show. Many episodes would feature stories that involve the Hufnagels, but we will never see any of them, except towards the end of the series. But that's for later.

Mr. Belvedere suggests that Wesley hold a party of his own with other children who weren't invited to Howie's party. George doesn't like the idea. It seems he has an automatic dislike for any suggestions that Mr. Belvedere offers. From their conversation, one gets the impression that a considerable time has passed since the pilot. George refers to "other" instances of Mr. Belvedere offering such suggestions and advice. He later comes around and pats Mr. Belvedere on the back when the party doesn't come off as bad as he expected.



Wesley would disagree with that because he's having a horrible time. Apparently, the kids are outcasts themselves. Miles wears an orthodontic headgear, Wayne is kind of weird nerd who is allergic to most food groups, and Roda is kind of an evil psychopath who would cause accidents just to get what she wants. Even Miles and Wayne are afraid of her. Wesley clearly doesn't want anything to do with them and would rather be somewhere else. Namely Howie's party.

Howie calls and asks Wesley why he isn't at the party. He says being his close pal, Wesley never needed an invitation. Wesley gleefully shares the news with the rest of the family and the guests. For a short moment, Wesley is conflicted about what he's going to do. Should he stay or should he go?

Remarkably, George and Marsha allow Wesley to decide for himself. How old is Wesley at this point? 8 or 9? Not being a parent myself, I have no idea what to do in a situation like this. As a parent, do I tell Wesley the right thing to do (which is to stay), or do I let him decide? I'm not sure if 8 is an old enough age for a child to decide for himself. That's what parents are for, isn't it? To teach their children what is right and what is wrong? Because where else are they going to learn it? If Wesley has never faced a situation like this before, where would he base his decision on?

In any case, the parents decided to let Wesley decide. And in a momentarily hysterical moment, Wesley jumps ship and hops on to Howie's party, much to the shock of everyone present. The other kids seem disappointed. They, it seems, know it was the wrong thing to do.

Even when Wesley comes back, he expects to be punished. But George and Marsha stick to their guns and do nothing, and allow Wesley to go about his business like nothing happened.

It was either the most stupid thing they could have done, or the smartest. But as to how this particular story turned out, it was the latter. It was a pretty brave thing for a parent to do. It was a gamble and if their gamble worked, their child would learn one of the most valuable lessons in his life. I'm not sure if it would work for every child, but it worked for Wesley.

Wesley starts to feel crushingly guilty for what he's done. He's taken to punishing himself by getting good grades, cleaning his room, eating brussel sprouts, things a kid like Wesley would normally be caught dead doing.

So why does Wesley feel guilty? How does he know if what he did was wrong if his parents said/did nothing?

It tackles a very interesting issue of Morality. Is morality instinctive, or is it learned? Does a child, taught to steal and lie and hurt and taught it was the right thing, would he grow up believing the same? Or does some instinct click in the brain and tell him it's not?



MILES

This episode is the first appearance of Casey Ellison as Miles Knobnoster (whose surname the show will reveal later on). Miles would eventually return to become Wesley's best friend, but not before Casey appears again in another role as Ben, the sick kid, in the second season episode "The Prize".

Miles appears as a kid who wears an orthodontic headgear, which makes him the object of ridicule. Even adult George privately makes fun of him.

FACT CHECKING MR. BELVEDERE

When George makes fun of Miles by telling Mr. Belvedere "Got one out there that looks like an erector set!", Mr. Belvedere pompously informs George of a historical leader who rose above his shortcomings to succeed.

"I'm reminded of Prince Eugene of Savoy, stunted and sickly, pallid and hunchbacked, he rose above those who ridiculed his appearance, by driving the invading Turks back into the Straits of Bosphorus."


It's a nice story, but hardly accurate. Although Prince Eugene was never tall, he was not stunted, pallid or hunchbacked. And although he was not really a handsome man (based on his portraits), he never seemed to be ridiculed for it.

An interesting triva: Prince Eugene commissioned a structure that still stands today in Vienna, and is now a museum. It's name? "Belvedere Palace".

Now we all know that Mr. Belvedere knows everything and he's hardly ever wrong (at least that's the position I will be making in this blog), there has to be an explanation for this seeming error.

It's not an error. Mr. Belvedere simply flubbed the facts a bit to impress upon George a lesson by providing an example of how ridiculed people sometimes can compensate for their shortcomings in a spectacular way.

The antagonism between Mr. Belvedere and George is quite a fiery one in this episode which required Marsha stepping in between them to stop them fighting. It's a curious dynamic which would be explored in further episodes.

If I can hazard a guess, George feels threatened by the presence of Mr. Belvedere, considering his experience. He's another man of the house, who seems to have a better grasp of his children's problems than he does. Mr. Belvedere's superior demeanor further infuriates George, and he takes every opportunity to poke a needle into Mr. Belvedere's high faluting notions.



HEATHER and KEVIN

Both Heather and Kevin are minor players in this episode although we learn one thing about Heather that would remain consistent with her character until the end of the series. We can forgive Heather for her self-centeredness considering her age. And among the entire family, she seems to be the most socially conscious. We see the first hint of that characteristic in this episode.

Here we learn that she is a member of "The Iron Maidens", a Community Service Club. Their current activity is to visit retirement homes to read books to old people. Later in the series, we will learn that this is more than just an club thing for Heather, but a distinct characteristic of who she is as a person.

Wesley gets the funniest lines. When he found out Heather was reading books to old people, he retorts, "You better read fast!"

Kevin remains consistent as a bumbling teenager who manages to injure himself and spends half the episode in a cast.

It's great that the show does a pretty good job of keeping the characters consistent. It allowed the characters to remain grounded and more believable to an audience.

The show wasn't afraid to be politically incorrect. And I like that. I can almost hear George saying, "We don't go in for that kind of stuff here!" Political incorrectness make for the most hilarious of lines.



Curiosities

"This ends my first month with the Owens brood." Writes Mr. Belvedere at the end of the episode. If this is truly the 2nd episode, then a month has passed between the pilot and this story. However, I get the impression that this is not the second episode despite the fact that it was the 2nd one aired. In the third episode (which we will revisit next), Mr. Belvedere says he's been with the Owenses "a few days".

I think this episode was shot much later than many Season 1 episodes. Brice Beckham seems more at ease with his acting (perhaps that's why he's so good here), and he looks slightly older than he does in the pilot.



Heather is seen carrying a book which he later shows to Mr. Belvedere. It's "Born To Run, The Bruce Springsteen Story". It's a real, actual book. I know because I have the exact same edition that Heather carries. Being a Bruce Springsteen fan, I was thrilled to see it. Written by Dave Marsh, it's not a trashy biography, but a really serious, well researched look into the life and work of one of the greatest musicians in the history of music.

"The Outcasts" is written by Frank Dungan and Jeff Stein. Directed by Tony Sheehan.

Casey Ellison as Miles
Zach Baker as Wayne
Christina Nigra as Roda
Gokul as Mr. Rajnij
Doroty Neuman as Old Woman

Next Episode: Gotta Dance
Previous Episode: Strangers In the Night

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

They Sure Love Bob Uecker!

I was just surfin' You Tube, you know, looking for funny stuff to pass my time when I found these two videos. They both feature two of the funniest guys in show business, Artie Lange and Norm MacDonald. These videos are from relatively recent episodes of the David Letterman show, and man they share some hysterical Bob Uecker stories!



This next clip the Bob Uecker segment comes halfway though but Norm is so funny it's worth watching the whole bit.



Did you hear that? They have to get Bob Uecker on the show! All right! I know it's just a thing said in passing, but man they really ought to do it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

New (and Hysterical) Bob Uecker Ads

He's still as funny as ever!



Saturday, May 30, 2009

Revisiting Mr. Belvedere: Stranger In the Night


"No one ever expects someone like me."

Stranger In The Night
Season 1, Episode 1 (Pilot)
Original Air Date: March 15, 1985

Ever since I started the Mr. Belvedere website in 1998, I've always wanted to do more in depth analysis of each episode. I wanted to have my own copies so I could look at them more closely, and repeat if necessary. Now that the DVDs are here, I can much more easily do that.

These thoughts about the show come from someone who is a long time fan of the show, and is very much a love fest thing only. This article, and in fact, this entire blog is not for anyone who doesn't like the show. Please feel free to shower everyone with your opinion in your own respective blogs.

As Wesley says in this episode: "Yeah we don't go in for that sort of stuff around here!"

In this very first episode of Mr. Belvedere, all the cast members are quickly introduced and the essence of their characters quickly established.



Mr. Belvedere, played by Christopher Hewett, is a rather posh English gentleman with an enormous life experience whose wry wit flows from him like tap water from a faucet.

Marsha Owens, played by Ilene Graff, is the mom of the family who is taking up law late in life and has been having a hard time keeping up with the household and her studies.



Kevin Owens, played by Rob Stone, is the oldest child who in very short sequences is quickly established as someone with average intelligence, kind of clumsy, not very good at a lot of things including growing up. He is kind of scheming in his own clumsy way.

Heather Owens, played by Tracy Wells, is the middle child, and has apparently been designated as the representative of the 80's in terms of fads and fashion. When everyone else wears rather generic and thus less fashion conscious clothing, Heather shines like an 80's beacon that forever dates this show to that marvelously flamboyant era. Heather is established to be slightly boy crazy, if a bit afraid to step into that phase quite so easily.



Wesley Owens is the youngest child who is kind of a sadist towards his sister, a schemer, a liar, tactless, frank and yet very talented and intelligent. In spite of that, he's endearing because of the brilliant acting talents of Brice Beckham.

George Owens, played by sports personality Bob Uecker, is established to be a practical, down to earth and rugged guy who instantly has an animosity towards Mr. Belvedere.

I didn't know who Bob Uecker was when I first saw him in this show. I had no idea that he was such a huge personality outside of the show. In a way, that came as an advantage to me because it allowed me to appreciate him based on his performance only. And I think Bob is a really good actor. He's very natural and very convincing in the scenes he's been asked to play, and it's a difficult part to play. He seems to be naturally funny, and he can be stern when appropriate.

In the very first scene of the show, the three children are quickly established.



Kevin is immediately established as slightly inept, implicitly and explicitly. Wesley points out that Kevin should never be allowed to cook because of a "microwave incident" that happened a few months previously, which nearly caused a "meltdown." Additionally, upon entering the house, actor Rob Stone drops his scarf on the floor (see photo above). Whether this is intentional or not, it does support his character sa being slighly bumbling.

Heather, in a bright red jacket, immediately spells out the 80's. This outfit is actually kind of tame in comparison to what we will see eventually, but the intent of the producers with regards to her character is clear. Heather is established to have a boyfriend named "Billy" who seems to desperately want to get in her pants, but she is not ready to go all the way. Interestingly, it is also established that Heather also has a friend named "Angela", a character that we will eventually see and be established as Heather's best friend for the rest of the series.

Wesley is already scheming the very first time we see him. Having lost his pet hamster Inky but doesn't want to let everyone know because it would disqualify him from getting a bigger pet, namely a dog, Wesley has been pretending to feed inky with lettuce. All the while he himself had been eating all the lettuce. Wesley, who hates vegetables, consider this to be a nightmare.

It's quite a sacrifice for Wesley to do. Apparently, he wants a dog really bad. His journey to get a dog would be a long one, as he won't get a dog till late in the series.

It's rather appropriate for Wesley to be the very first member of the Owens family to open up emotionally to Mr. Belvedere considering the relationship that the two will have for the next 6 years. This is also the moment that Mr. Belvedere begins to make himself indespensible to the family. Apparently, Mr. Belvedere begins to scheme on his own to help the kids whether they want it or not.

Mr. Belvedere finds out about Heather's boy problem when he accidentally walks into a conversation she is having on the phone with her boyfriend Billy. Heather does not open up to Mr. Belvedere completely with her problems, but it's enough for him to know what to do.

Kevin opens up to Mr. Belvedere in a big way as he sits in the car in the garage. Kevin equates driving with growing up. His refusal to drive is an indication of his reluctance to grow up so quickly. It's a very realistic portrayal of male teenagers. It's true that not all of us (well, this is me remembering how it was like when I was a teenager) relish the thought of growing up and relinquishing our care free childhood. Mr. Belvedere and Kevin's conversation in the car is an illuminating one. Having been in Kevin's situation myself, it's a scene that resonates strongly with me. I would identify with Kevin from this time forward.



The mess in the house is a curious one. Looking at the house more closely, everything is actually quite immaculate. There's no furniture, no rug, no vase, painting or other decoration that's messed up and out of place. It's only scattered shirts, pillows and food that seem to have been added as an afterthought. There's not a single speck on the floor for example. It's a niggling point, but having a really messy house that might even be badly arranged would certainly heighten the need for a housekeeper and serve the plot better.

I'm not completely sure why George and Marsha reacted so strongly against Mr. Belvedere as a housekeeper for their home. The reason they gave was simply that they expected someone different. Perhaps a quiet unassuming domestic? Certainly not a portly, unrelentinigly posh English gentleman who served under luminaries such as Winston Churchill.

Perhaps that is good enough reason, but having seen Mr. Belvedere's qualifications, it's hard to imagine why they wouldn't prefer him. Even after Mr. Belvedere has indicated that he can do all the chores of a housekeeper, Marsha was still hesitant.

George was even more so. He even thought the idea was ridiculous. And when things conspire (specifically the weather) to keep Mr. Belvedere in the house, George begins an acrimonious relationship with Mr. Belvedere. To which I believe Mr. Belvedere only reacted in kind.

Consider that Mr. Belvedere shares tumultuous relationships only with members of the family who have reacted negatively towards him at the very beginning. The most intense is the one with George. The other one is with Wesley who begins by insulting Mr. Belvedere's first name, "Lynn", tactlessly saying that it's a girls name. Mr. Belvedere almost immediately reacts with an insult of his own. "Wesley! A difficult birth, I take it."

Marsha was perhaps spared from Mr. Belvedere's jibing only because she has displayed politeness and kindness towards him.

Mr. Belvedere reacts more kindly towards Kevin and Heather, perhaps only because they didn't object to Mr. Belvedere's presence and said nothing untoward against him. In fact, it was Kevin, through perhaps his own clumsiness of mind, was one of the first to encourage Mr. Belvedere to stay.

At the end of the episode, it is both Wesley and Kevin, who both opened up to Mr. Belvedere with their problems (and not Heather who kept her problem to herself), are the two who actively campaigned Mr. Belvedere to stay.

Marsha and George, realizing that Mr. Belvedere has impressively made such an intimate connection with their children, finally asks him to stay, but the animosity with George remains.

It's not an ugly animosity though, as it becomes a springboard for clever jokes and funny moments. George's "Just One?!" jibe directed at Mr. Belvedere at the end of the episode was funny, and appropriate to the relationship that they have established.

Curiosities



What's up with the clocks? Plenty of clocks, and all of them not telling the same time. Very strange no? More on these clocks in a future episode.

The opening credits sequence (screenshots above) is curious in that it is used only in this episode and never again. The credits roll like a photo album showing photos of the cast in various solo shots, many of which were never seen in the show itself. This solo shot of Kevin is a curious one:



Who is this girl? This shot appears again in the opening credits of Season 2, along with another shot of the girl looking at Kevin. In that shot, we still don't see her eyes and can't tell who she is. At first I thought it was Heather standing on a box, but looking at it more carefully now, it's not her. The first time Kevin wears a spiffy suit on the show would be in "The Contract", the 6th episode of the 2nd season, but it's not the same suit, and Kevin's date wasn't seen.

**************

All in all it was a pretty good establishing episode with some really kooky characters. Wesley is certainly one to watch out for. He's a brilliant kid, but not exactly right in the mind most the time. Very refreshing to see, actually.


Next Episode: The Outcasts

Friday, May 29, 2009

Season 3 DVD Package Art

Thanks to TVShowsOnDVD!



I find it interesting that it's the exact same pose/positions/angle as the first DVD cover, but the kids are older.

Mr. Belvedere gets a Season 3 DVD!

I can't tell you how happy I am that Mr. Belvedere Season 1 and 2 sold very well for Shout! Factory, well enough to warrant further DVD releases.

Thanks to all those who posted in the comments section about the news. Boy, you guys are fast! There's obviously quite a bit of excitement about this, if what I feel is any indication.

News on TVShowsonDVD:
http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Mr-Belvedere-Season-3/11989

Mr. Belvedere Season 3 comes out on September 8, 2009 in 4 discs. Bonus material is planned, but nothing specific was mentioned yet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Vote for new Mr. Belvedere DVD Releases

Shout Factory! The nice guys who brought us Seasons 1 and 2 of Mr. Belvedere on DVD is conducting a survey as to which shows you want to see further releases on DVD. Of course, you would want to vote for Mr. Belvedere. Yes, I command you.

http://www.shoutfactory.com/video/wip/13/vote_for_upcoming_tv_show_releases.aspx

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ilene Graff Blog Talk Radio Interview

Check out this thirty minute interview with Ilene Graff for Blog Talk Radio. It's available as both streaming and for download.

Thanks to Adrian for the tip!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mr. Belvedere Season 1 and 2 DVD Review



I've been a fan of this show for a long time. So much of a fan that I created one of the longest running fan sites on Mr. Belvedere on the Internet, online in some form or the other since 1998. That's Eleven Years now. Oh man. I've since carved a sizable career as an artist in another field, but this show still has a pull on me that I can't explain.

I've been waiting for this DVD for a long time, and quite honestly, I really can't be expected to give an objective review. I'll still try and offer my thoughts nevertheless.

I would like to make it clear that for this particular post, I will not make any comment about specific story points, because I will be doing individual reviews of each and every episode.

I like the packaging of this DVD because of it's "home-y" feel. It's feels like a photo album, which is reflected in the opening credits of the first episode, where photos of the cast, as if gathered from a photo album, are shown one after the other.

5 discs containing 29 episodes of the first and second seasons are housed in three thin plastic casings within a sturdy slipcase. I like the packaging because it's not too bulky.

The decision by SHOUT! Factory to release Season 1 and 2, instead of a "best of" set is a very good, and very hopeful indication that they will push through with the rest of the series. The way this first set is packaged, it's only logical to expect that Season 3 and 4 will go in one package, then season 5 and 6 will go in a third set. Fingers crossed!

The picture is better than I remember them being, watching them on cable many years ago. It's not as good as the picture quality of say, Three's Company on DVD, but I suppose these are the best prints that can be found. And they're good enough for me.

There is a pretty good bonus feature with four cast members reminiscing about the show. They give rather illuminating insight into what goes on behind the scenes, specially with regards to Bob Uecker. I wish it were longer, but that's just me.

With Christopher Hewett gone, the only remaining cast member not included in the new interviews is Tracy Wells. In an interview with Star 102.5 in Buffalo, Brice Beckham has a possible explanation. Tracy may well have been unable to join the interviews because of a previous commitment. I'm sure we'll hear from her in future DVD releases.

Another extra includes a Saturday Night Live sketch, "The Mr. Belvedere Fan Club" sketch with Tom Hanks. SNL sketches are a hit and miss for me, but this one was actually kind of funny.

There's an unlisted bonus feature here, which is Stewie of Family Guy singing the theme song to Mr. Belvedere. But as it's integrated into the interview section, I suppose they opted not to mention it. But I thought I would, because it's kind of cool.

I'm glad for the features that's there, but it leaves me hoping for other stuff like perhaps a Christopher Hewett tribute. Perhaps interviews with the creators of the show. Jeff Stein has a pretty frank and illuminating interview for Macleans.ca and it would be pretty interesting what more he has to say. I think there is a certain aspect of the show that a lot of people have missed, that of the subversive nature of the writing which would be great to spotlight.

Well, it's wishful thinking, but a commentary track or two would be AWESOME.

Thanks to everyone at SHOUT! Factory for making this DVD happen. It's been a long time coming, but I'm glad it's here!

Detroit News DVD Contest!

Mekeisha Madden Toby of the Detroit News has a contest which will give you the chance to win the DVD!

"Mr. Belvedere" Is Released by Shout!

DVD Review from DVDTown.com

"Mr. Belvedere was designed as a vehicle for Bob Uecker but emerged as an ensemble comedy that was pleasant-enough family fare for an Eighties' Sitcom."

DVD Review by James Plath for DVDTown.com
http://www.dvdtown.com/reviews/dvd-mr-belvedere-tv-series/6824

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Listen To Brice Beckham's Radio Interview



John Anthony of Star 102.5 at Buffalo, NY interviewed Brice Beckham last March 17 and the interview is now up for listening/download at John's blog site here.

Thanks John!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mr. Belvedere Trending HOTLY on Google



http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends?q=mr+belvedere&date=2009-3-15&sa=X

It can only mean good news for the Mr. Belvedere DVD set when it's one of the hottest trends on Google right now.

As of March 16,Google rates "Mr. Belvedere" as VOLCANIC on the trend scale. I don't know how long it lasts, but hopefully, it encourages people to check out the DVD, or let fans of the show who might not know the DVD is coming that it's finally here.

************

Incidentally, Belated Happy Birthday to TRACY WELLS who celebrated her 38th birthday last March 13. Happy Birthday Tracy! We missed you on the Mr. Belvedere DVD!

Mr. Belvedere is HERE!



My Mr. Belvedere Season 1 and 2 DVD set is here! Yeah! Am I gonna watch it now? I wish I could, but it's work hours so I have to wait until later. But I am very excited.

I plan on posting extensive episode by episode recap/review/commentary of the entire series right on this blog. Starting very soon!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brice Beckham Radio Interview

Brice Beckham will be interviewed on radio at Star 102.5 in Buffalo, NY, "as close to" 6:15pm EST on Tuesday, March 17th.



The station can be heard online here:

STAR 102.5 WTSS Buffalo Radio
http://www.mystar1025.com/

Brice's interview will be posted later, minus the music, at the station's blog page.

Thanks to John Anthony!

John Anthony's blog post on Mr. Belvedere:
http://john-anthony.blogspot.com/2009/03/mr-belvederes-wesley-on-star-1025.html

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jeff Stein Interview

Jeff Stein was one executive producers and creators of the Mr. Belvedere TV show and Jaime Weinman of Macleans.ca spoke to him about the show and the upcoming DVD release.

Here is an excerpt of the article:

Watching the show again on Shout! Factory’s five-disc DVD set — which includes the first season of seven episodes (it was a mid-season replacement) and the 22-episode second season — I think the reason for the enduring cult appeal of Mr. Belvedere is the fact that it was one of the few family sitcoms of the era where the characters were dysfunctional and openly hostile, within the boundaries of the need to have everyone make up and learn something by the end of the episode. The character of the youngest kid, Wesley (Brice Beckham) was particularly popular with kids because he was an out-and-out brat, a self-described sociopath with destructive urges who is basically evil even when he tries to do the right thing. He really does seem like the prototype for Bart Simpson, especially when you learn in one episode that his parents had to get married because the mom was already pregnant.

Stein says that their approach to writing the show was that “since nobody at the studio or network level was interested in smart, we tried to make it as subversive as possible.”


Read the full article here:
TV On DVD: Notes On MR. BELVEDERE From the Executive Producer
http://blog.macleans.ca/2009/03/04/tv-on-dvd-notes-on-mr-belvedere-from-the-executive-producer/

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Early DVD Reviews

From Sitcoms Online:
http://www.sitcomsonline.com/mrbelvedereseasons1and2dvdreview.html

"We just might live the good life yet! This set is awesome. Brian Blum has done an excellent job with this set for Shout! The packaging is great, the menus are clever, the episodes are in their original form, and we get all-new interviews with the cast."

More at the link.

From DVD Talk:
http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/36468/mr-belvedere-seasons-one-two/



"It's probably nowhere to be found on your average "Top 10 Sitcoms" list, but Frank Dungan and Jeff Stein's Mr. Belvedere (1985-1990) managed to entertain enough audiences to last six seasons."

More at the link.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Preview Clips from the DVD!

video
Video embedded with permission from Shout! Factory






You can download four clips from the show from TVShowsonDVD.com or from Shout! Factory in the links below:

TVShowsonDVD
http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Mr-Belvedere-Seasons-1-and-2/11358

From Shout! Factory:

Stream Link:
Stream Link 1
Stream Link 2
Stream Link 3

Windows Media for Download:
Clip 2
Clip 3
Clip 4

QuickTime for Download:
Clip 2
Clip 3
Clip 4

Saturday, February 14, 2009

DVD Special Features Announced!

From TVShowsonDVD.com:
http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Mr-Belvedere-Seasons-1-and-2/11318

The features for the Mr. Belvedere Season 1 & 2 DVD has been announced! There will be all new cast interviews, as well as the classic Saturday Night Live "Mr. Belvedere Fan Club" skit with Tom Hanks.

New cast interviews include those by Bob Uecker, Ilene Graff, Brice Beckham and Rob Stone.

It's good to know that they've included the SNL skit in this one. It goes to show what sports they are for doing so. After all, the skit does look unkindly towards Mr. Belvedere fans and Mr. Belvedere himself. Of course, it's nice to know the makers of this DVD, and hopefully the fans, would have the sense of humor to just laugh at it, and consider that the show got popular enough to be spoofed at all at the legendary Saturday Night Live.

Wishful thinking made me hope for a few audio commentaries, but I'm perfectly happy with the new interviews... and of course, perfectly happy that these DVDs are coming out at all. Thanks again to Shout! Factory for making all this possible.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Exclusive Interview with Rob Stone!

Exclusive to this site, here is a new interview with Rob Stone, who played "Kevin Owens" in the show. As some visitors to this blog and my main Mr. Belvedere site would know, I previously conducted an interview with Rob in February of 2003.

With the pending release of the Mr. Belvedere Seasons 1 and 2 DVD, I thought I'd visit Rob again and get his thoughts about the show.

Much thanks and appreciation to Rob for taking the time to participate in the interview. Be sure to check out Rob's site linked below to find out what he's been up to in recent years.

**************

Mr. Belvedere went off the air in 1990. What thoughts go through your mind knowing that 18 years later the show is now going t be immortalized on DVD? Do you feel it's about time, or is this a surprise for you?

RS: Actually, I’m kind of relieved because now I can give people an answer every time they ask me when the heck the show is going to be available on DVD! Also, I have two daughters (7 and 4) so I’m glad when they get older and want to see the show, their Dad won’t look all blurry on VHS.

I enjoyed watching Mr. Belvedere because it was lighthearted and fun. But once in a while, it would tackle very serious issues like date rape (in the case of Heather), child abuse (in the case of Wesley), and in the case of your character Kevin, it's alcoholism. I'm sure it was ground breaking in its own way back in the 80s for a sitcom like this to go into those places. What are your thoughts on it?

RS: Ahh, yes, the “Very Special Episodes”. Well, I’m proud that the show tackled some of those issues and tried to present it in an honest way. Still, first and foremost, we were a family comedy and I think our first priority was always to entertain and be funny. However, I think it’s great to be able to inform people about certain issues in a non-threatening way and television is great for that. We were also one of the first (if not the first) shows to do an episode about AIDS and that was important. Also, almost twenty years later, I still have people come up to me and tell me they really enjoyed the “drunk” episode where my character Kevin signs a contract with his parents not to drink and drive. That was also a really fun episode to do as an actor, so when it makes people laugh and think, that’s awesome. I remember when I was growing up watching things like James at 15 and the Brady Bunch, it had a big impact on me and helped me a lot. So if we were able to do that once in awhile for people, that’s great.



I recently saw a complete cast interview right before the show's 6th season on You Tube and it seemed to me like you pretty much formed a second family. Is that true? Did you consider the cast of Mr. Belvedere a second family during the time you were making it? Do you stay in touch with the other cast members?

RS: Yes, a friend of mine recently sent me that youtube link and it was fun seeing it. I barely remember doing it, but it’s great to have that as a record of how we were “out of character” because that was the real deal. I know it sounds cliche and hokey, but the cast really was like a second family to me. I grew up in Dallas, Texas and have always been extremely close to my family, so to have a “tv family” out in California was the best part about doing the show. And I extend that not only to the cast, but we also had wonderful directors like Noam Pitlik and Don Corvan and a fantastic crew. There were no egos on our show--I didn’t realize how rare that was until I visited sets of other shows or movies-- let’s just say it felt a whole lot different.

As for keeping in touch, we always have kept in touch over the years, although it’s much easier now with things like FaceBook and all. The great thing is that regardless of how often we actually see each other or talk on the phone, I think we all know we can still count on each other. We all shared a really wonderful and unique experience for almost six years and I think that’s special for everyone who was involved with the show. I feel very fortunate and thankful to have been a part of that.



Having started your directing career on an episode of Mr. Belvedere, you continued to direct other things later on. What were the shows you were involved in and what are the things you are working now?

RS: I mostly have been directing and producing documentaries and specials under my production company, Vienna Productions. Most of the stuff we do has been on networks like A&E, Discovery, History Channel, etc. As much as I enjoyed acting, I’ve always wanted to direct and have a more active role in creating and shaping stories. We’ve been very fortunate to work on some really fun projects with some wonderfully talented people. I’m also excited about some of the new media projects we’re doing as well (I’m a bit of a technology nut). You can check out more at www.viennaprod.com.



I saw you for a split second in the short film "I Am Stamos" in 2004 and it made me realize how much I missed seeing you on screen. Do you have any plans to go back into acting?

RS: Thanks. I did that film for a good friend who was one of the producers and it was a lot of fun. I think the only times I miss acting is when I see a really great performance in a film or play. My background was stage and I do miss having the immediate feedback of an audience. However, most of the time being an actor is about looking for and hustling for work which I don’t miss at all. I enjoy having a proactive career path and working to create opportunities with talented and creative people. And whenever I feel the need to perform, my kids are a great audience and laugh at all my stupid jokes.

Gerry, thanks for the interview and thanks to everyone for their support and interest over the years!

*****************

Rob Stone 2003 Interview
http://blogvedere.blogspot.com/2003/02/exclusive-rob-stone-interview-february.html

Happy Birthday to Brice Beckham!

Today (February 11) Brice Beckham turns 33. Happy Birthday, Brice! And to commemorate this, here's a video that's animated by Brice (and he voices one of the characters), in one of the most hysterically funny videos I've seen online. Note: Adult Language.



I've been looking for the official link at You Tube, but horrors of horrors, You Tube seems to have suspended the channel. Boo! You Tube! Boo!!

For more of Drama34 and Brice's videos, visit their site here:
http://www.drama34.com/moviebox.html

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ilene Graff sings at the Metropolitan Room

From: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/125973.html
By Andrew Gans
05 Feb 2009
Singer-actress Ilene Graff, who is best known for her work as the mom on the long-running ABC comedy "Mr. Belvedere," will return to the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan March 1.

Graff's show, entitled First You Dream, is scheduled to begin at 4 PM at the intimate cabaret. The actress will be accompanied by her husband, musical director Ben Lanzarone.

Among the songs Graff will interpret are "Where or When," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Out of This World," "Little Things," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "First You Dream," "A Quiet Thing," "The Impossible Dream" and a Grease medley, among others.

Ilene Graff has been seen on Broadway in Promises, Promises; Grease; Truckload; and I Love My Wife.

The Metropolitan Room is located in Manhattan at 34 West 22nd Street. There is a $20 music charge and a two-drink minimum. For reservations visit www.metropolitanroom.com or call (212) 206-0440.