Tuesday, September 13, 2005

TV on DVD - September 13, 2005

Last night was my first night of bowling which also meant it was the first time in a while that I've been able to fuel this blog with a Double Gulp of Dr. Pepper from 7-11 (the store that used to be five blocks from me was bulldozed about three months ago). Even then I couldn't stay up long enough to finish writing this last night. Better late than never though. There are a couple of really interesting releases this week, notably the Dick Cavett set featuring appearances by Ray Charles.

Da Ali G Show: The Complete Second Season
- This is the second (and apparently last) season of the wickedly satirical and often controversial HBO series featuring Sacha Baron Cohen and his alter-egos Borat the anti-semitic Khazak journalist, Bruno, the homosexual Austrian "voice of youth television", and of course black hip-hop talk show host Ali G ("real" name Alistair Leslie Graham). I've never seen the show myself, but reading descriptions indicates that it find humour by exposing the foibles and hypocrisy of people who are either in on the joke or, more likely, really are that way. I can see where it has a great deal of potential to be funny even if it probably doesn't represent my personal taste.

The Brady Bunch: The Complete Third Season
- Seasons of The Brady Bunch tend to blur together except for special episodes. The third season had the Brady family visiting the Grand Canyon, encountering a looney old prospector en route - played by Sherwood Schwartz favourite Jim Backus. If I'm not mistaken this is also the season in which Jan utters the immortal words "Marcia Marcia Marcia!" It's not a particularly deep series, but I can remember lusting in my heart for Maureen McCormick and increasingly (by this season) Eve Plumb.

Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season
- I was never a huge fan of Shelley Long. Correction, I was never a fan of Shelley Long at all. This may explain why I tended to watch Cheers more when Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe replaced Alley. Gone was the whole focus on Sam and Dianne's relationship. There was sexual tension between Sam and Rebecca but it mostly consisted of Sam wanting to get into Rebecca's pants and Rebecca categorically rejecting the notion while she pursued her corporate career - a career which anyone with half a brain could see had been run into a siding and the fast track pulled up behind it. This actually allowed a bit more focus on the regular barflies that went a bit beyond just Cliff and Norm. All in all I think the change might even have made the show better than it had been with Shelley Long.

Dick Cavett Show: Ray Charles Collection
- Dick Cavett was the intellectual talk show host following in the wake of Jack Parr. Nothing proves this more than the other guests who were on his show with the legendary Ray Charles. According to the notes for the DVD on the Amazon.ca page for it the guests included anthropologist Margaret Mead, New York Mayor John Lindsay (he may have been the former mayor by that point), and noted surgeon Dr. Samuel Rosen (I know, you'll have to look it up). The point is of course that I doubt that any of these people (well okay, maybe Lindsay) would have been on with Carson or any of the other talk show hosts of this period. Even more surprising is that there's one of the three shows in this set is devoted entirely to Ray Charles. Can you think of anyone else who would do that.

Empire Falls
- The multiple Emmy award nominated miniseries has finally been released on DVD so that those of us who either don't have or don't want HBO or its Canadian equivalents can actually see why it was so highly regarded by the Television Academy. One thing that is absolutely clear is that it has attracted a cast that is the very definition of the words "star studded", including four Oscar winners and at least one actor who should have won an Oscar by now.

Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Fourth Season
- I didn't. I tried to like the show, and there's no denying that it has a truly amazing cast, but I never found it enjoyable. I think a lot of it has to do with Ray Romano but it spread out across the rest of the cast - I 've always enjoyed Doris Roberts's work, except in this. About the only bright spot for me was Brad Garrett as Ray's brother Robert. Him I found funny.

Frasier: The Complete Sixth Season
- I always liked Frasier even though I rarely watched it, particularly in later season. I had a tendency to catch the shows in reruns and seeing them both out of order and in a fragmentary way. Kelsey Grammer's Dr. Frasier Crane is one of the great comedic creations - proven by the character's longevity. The series is, of course, all about the interaction between Frasier - and his equally pompous brother Niles - and the "normal" people, and the relationship between Frasier and his father Martin and his aggressively sexual producer Roz are the high points of the show. Still I have to confess that my favourite character was Frasier's brother Niles, played by David Hyde Pierce. There's something about the character which, despite all his pomposity, is a rather sweet individual in his (at this point) unrequited love for Daphne.

Kids Say the Darndest Things
- Art Linkletter was born in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan in 1912, and although he didn't spend much time here (he was an abandoned baby and was adopted by the Linkletter family of California) Saskatchewan will continue to claim him. Kids Say The Darndest Things was a segment within his popular morning variety show Art Linkletter's House Party which ran for almost 20 years on CBS. While House Party is virtually forgotten, the little segments at the end of the show where Art interviewed kids and got all sorts of funny cute answers took on a life of its own. Those segments were sold to stations apart from the regular show and long after House Party was cancelled Bill Cosby would revive the concept of Kids Say The Darndest Things as half hour show in 1998, with the then 86 year-old Linkletter as co-host introducing some of the original segments. A true TV legend, both the man and the idea.

Las Vegas: Season Two
- This set and a couple of others on this week's list indicates the growing importance of DVD sales to TV producers. It's no surprise that this set is being released a day after the repeat of the season finale of Las Vegas. It is in fact a trend that has been common in Britain for many years with both VHS and DVD releases of current shows coming very soon after the shows end their run for the season. I enjoy Las Vegas as harmless fluff... and as a chance to see several lovely women - including on occasion Cheryl Ladd - in various stages of undress. The second season of the series included guest appearances by Alec Baldwin, Sylvester Stallone and Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman as well as a host of musical guests ranging from Tony Orlando to Black Eyed Peas to Clint Black (and a guitar player who I swear looked like Paul McCartney). However, since I haven't actually seen the first season DVDs of this, could someone please tell me whatexactly is "uncut and uncensored" about it?

Midsomer Murders: Set 6
- I've never actually seen this series, although it was on A&E for a while (before they apparently decided that reality shows like Dog The Bounty Hunter were more their style - but I'm not bitter, I'm not bitter,... the hell I ain't). Anyway the show is a standard from the BBC which is still in production. It's based loosely on a series of novels by Caroline Graham and set in the fictional English county of Midsomer, which is both rurally idyllic and full of killers, not unlike a British Cabot's Cove. By all accounts quite addictive.

One Tree Hill: The Complete Second Season
- Typical WB series full of teen angst and relationships, this time involving teenaged boys who share the same father and just about nothing else. I've never seen it so for once I won't comment further.

Peep Show: The Original UK Series
- Never heard of this show. From a look at just about anything I can find about it it has a vague resemblance to Men Behaving Badly except that there are too many differences for that to be a correct comparison. Two old college chums share a flat and become involved in various romantic entanglements. When one guys star is ascendant his friend's is in decline. It sounds like it could be interesting but I just don't know.

Rambo, Vol. 3: S.A.V.A.G.E. Island
Rambo, Vol. 4: Up in Arms

- More episodes of the Rambo cartoon series. Why? In the name of all that is holy WHY???

SCTV: Volume 4
- Even though SCTV was one of the most talked about Canadian series ever, and one of the few ever to be sold to an American network even for a brief run, I didn't actually see it until it went into reruns many years later and when I did see it I didn't actually care for it. The series had a rather convoluted production history being made in Toronto for a producer in Alberta but broadcast over the Global network which at the time consisted of one bankrupt station in Toronto and a bunch of repeaters around Ontario. The series eventually moved to the CBC but for the life of me I can't recall seeing it there. This DVD is of the last season, and is missing Catherine O'Hara, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas (no Bob and Doug! Outrageous!), although it does have Martin Short including his Ed Grimley character. As I say, I was never a fan but there are a lot of fans out there.

Smallville: The Complete Fourth Season
- The funny thing about Smallville fans is that they are inevitably filled with gloom, doom and despair about the show. Every episode seems to be regarded as the worst episode ever and each season is reported to be going downhill fast. Moving the series to Thursday night for the fifth season is clear proof that those bastards at The WB are attempting to kill it, which if it were really as bad as they claimed wouldn't bother them a bit. The fourth season did have some messy moments with the whole "Lana the Teenaged Witch" storyline and the additions of Jason Ackles and Erica Durance (as Lois Lane) to the cast, but in my view there were some enjoyable episodes including a bit of a parody of Charmed with Lana, Lois and Chloe as three very wicked witches. The season finale is, as usual, a major event.

Taxi: The Complete Third Season
- By the third season of Taxi I had ceased to be a regular viewer. I can't remember why it happened although a big reason was Christopher Lloyd's drug addled Reverend Jim. I couldn't stand the character and so I sort of drifted away and never came back (just to be fair I also wasn't particularly a fan of Jeff Conaway either). I suspect I just found something that, at the time, I liked better but heaven knows what it was.

Tony Orlando and Dawn Ultimate Collection
- So what I'm wondering is why, if they can release a DVD featuring episodes from the Tony Orlando And Dawn Rainbow Hour they can't - or won't - release episodes of the Johnny Cash Show on DVD. Don't get me wrong, the Tony Orlando And Dawn series was fun in a kitschy sort of way and attracted a lot of guest stars - in fact George Carlin was even listed as a regular in 1976 - but for me the Johnny Cash material is far more important, perhaps because the Johnny Cash Show focused on the music, and it was better music.

No comments: