Blu-ray Review: Rediscovering Bill Persky’s Lost Comedy Classic “Serial”

Bill Persky’s "Serial"

Bill Persky’s “Serial”

This week, our resident movie review, Jeremy Morrison, goes into full geek mode with a look back at one of Olive Films most exciting new releases, “Serial.” First, let’s take a walk down memory lane with a quick synopsis:

Inspired by the Cyra McFadden novel, The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County, Serial is director Bill Persky’s (TV’s Kate & Allie) satirical look at the lifestyles of California’s 1970’s hippie culture.

Viewed through the eyes of Harvey Holroyd (Martin Mull, TV’s Roseanne), a man perplexed by the behavior of his wife Kate (Tuesday Weld, Pretty Poison) and their liberal-minded friends, Serial lampoons everything from feminism, free love and sexual politics to cults, motorcycle clubs and the random midlife crisis.

The Gifted Ensemble Cast Includes Sally Kellerman (MASH), Christopher Lee (Dr. Terror’s House Of Horrors), Bill Macy (The Holiday), Peter Bonerz (TV’s The Bob Newhart Show), Nina Talbot (Night Shift), Tom Smothers (Get To Know Your Rabbit), Pamela Bellwood (TV’s Dynasty) And Stacey Nelkin (Halloween III: Season Of The Witch).

ActorsMartin Mull,  Tuesday Weld,  Sally KellermanChristopher Lee,  Peter Bonerz

REVIEW: How Olive Films continues to find these lost classics and hidden treasures is beyond this reviewers comprehension. Month after month the fine folks over at Olive Films find titles that the rest of cinema would rather forget about. They’re doing the cinematic equivalent of the Lord’s work over there, and bless their hearts for it. Now that the IRS is sending out some much needed spending money to you readers, might I suggest picking up a brand spanking new copy of “Serial” on bluray. What the disc lacks in bonus content it more than makes up for in the way of entertainment.

I found myself baited and hooked from the start as Lalo Schifrin’s score accompanies Martin Mull’s Harvey Holroyd as he bikes his way to the office. The film was shot in the late-70s around Northern California and it is gorgeous to look at. Rexford Metz acted as DP on the project. He fills the frame with an artistry that has been lost in today’s digital age. They just don’t shoot ’em like this anymore, kids.

If “Serial” ever found itself down on it’s luck, the film could take up a night job as a course instructor for a master class in ADR. Another sign of the times, many films of that era have noticeable sound quirks, but this film has so much, I wonder if it was shot entirely MOS. This isn’t a drawback for me, but a more casual viewer might find the noticeable audio to shot difference a bit jarring. Be warned, while Martin Mull is having a conversation on a crowded street corner, or a boat, it sounds like his lines were recorded while whispering in a broom closet.

As far as the actual movie, I dug the hell out of this flick, folks. The film tackles post 70s family values with wit and charm. However, let it be known another sign of the times is the characters ability to hold a relaxed, educated conversation while tossing around terms like “fairy”, “fruit cake”, and “faggot” while bashing liberals in San Francisco. Warning: The Easily Butt-Hurt need not apply.

Overall “Serial” is a fun way to spend an evening inside with a loved one, or by yourself. Actually, some scenes you might wish you were by yourself. Shout out to Stacey Nelkin as eye candy here a whole two years before she went full frontal in “Halloween III: Season of the Witch.” And a fun piece of trivia that has yet to find its way to IMDb, five years before Mull would go on to play Col. Mustard in 1985s “Clue”, we have his psychiatrist playing the board game with a young patient and yes, you guessed it, the doc asks if it was Col. Mustard that committed the act. #nerdshit — Jeremy Morrison, Film Geek

Check out this film and a plethora of other amazing releases from Olive Films via their official website — www.olivefilms.com.

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