Thursday, September 22, 2005

TV ON DVD - September 20, 2005 - Better Late Than Never

I'm not even sure that "better late than never" covers this. I'm sorry for not writing more, but for the past couple of days I haven't been feeling that great - mainly a bit of a problem with my back. I tried to get back on track on Wednesday but I had some extra work that needs to get done reinstalling some quarter round during the process of which I hurt my left thumb.

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Season 5, Collection 1
- I haven't seen the fifth season of Andromeda, in fact I've only seen a few episodes from the fourth season. I think I gave up on the series by the end of season three mainly because what they were doing had changed so much from what the original intent seemed to be. I know that a lot of people blame this on Kevin Sorbo and if that is the case, so be it. One thing is certain and that is that too much of the cast had changed between the third and fifth seasons. I did see the final episodes of Season Four though and it seemed like that shiny red reset button was being pushed which would take care of all the problems.

Batman: The Man Who Would Be Bat (Season 1 Vol. 2)
- I haven't seen the most recent version of the animated Batman so I really don't feel competent to comment beyond saying that I was a fan of the original Batman animated series of a few years ago, but this is from a different production company.

Battlestar Galactica: Season One
- A few weeks ago Best Buy released an "exclusive" version of Battlestar Galactica's first season. At the time I told you to wait for this one. The biggest and best reason is that this version includes the mini-series as well as the thirteen episodes of the first season. There are also commentary tracks for a number of episodes, eight featurettes, about 48 minutes of deleted scenes and a bunch of other stuff. Oh yes, and a trading card. Now given that Battlestar Galactica is one of the five best TV shows on right now - no matter what the results of the Emmy nominations let alone the actual awards indicated - it deserves the absolute best when it comes to presentation.

Clone High: The Complete First Season
- I've never seen this but from what I've read of the concept it sounds truly amazing - the greatest minds of all times (and John Kennedy too) cloned and attending high school together. The show was a Canadian production and aired on Teletoon but rose and eventually fell on the MTV network in the US - when they didn't renew the series and in fact didn't air the last five episodes - the series died.

Crime Story: Season 2
- Oh lord I loved this series, from the rendition of "Runaway" and the scenes of the cities in the 1950s in the opening credits (Chicago for about half the first season, Las Vegas in the second) right through to the end. The casting was absolutely letter perfect. It was the first time most people had seen Dennis Farina, and certainly the first time for the former Chicago cop to have such a big role. There was also Anthony Dennison (who I so rarely see on TV anymore) as Ray Luca as the main villain, Stephen Lang as the Federal attorney working with Farina's character, and such low lifes as a pre "Diceman" Andrew Clay, Ted Levine, and former real life jewel thief John Santucci as the dumb but dangerous Paulie Taglia

Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season
- I'm not sure if Desperate Housewives really belonged in the comedy categories at the Emmys but what I can tell you is that it is a funny series, that doesn't restrict itself to the slapstick situations that Terri Hatcher's Susan finds herself in or the quiet desperation that Felicity Huffman's Lynette Scavo deals with when trying to be a good mother to her three little terrorists. The show is full of satire, both of the soap opera form - daytime and nighttime - and of cultural concepts, like Bree acting like a local Martha Stewart or the member of the high school's abstinence club having an affair with a married woman. Definitely worth the effort.

From the Earth to the Moon [The Signature Edition]
- I have a theory dating back to the heyday of the mini-series in the 1980s. In those days a mini-series amounted to a four hour movie shown on two nights, usually stuff from the likes of Danielle Steele and Judith Krantz. My theory then and now is that the miniseries needs to have an epic quality about its subject matter. Think of the best miniseries, shows like Roots, Holocaust, Shogun, Winds of War, War and Remembrance and my personal favourite Centennial, and you'll realise that they all had an epic quality. Ironically the epic quality proved too disruptive to viewing habits which is supposed to explain why there are so few miniseries on network TV. Tom Hanks produced two magnificent examples of the miniseries with Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon and he apparently has two more in various stages of production. From the Earth to the Moon is already out on DVD but this version runs five disks rather than four, which promises considerably more extra material.

Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats
- Never saw it, but this was one of a number of attempts to bring the Heathcliff comic strip to television. The Catillac Cats referred to in the title was actually a second segment which didn't interact with the Heathcliff character. This all occurred in a single half hour giving each segment about 12 minutes. The Heathcliff character was voiced by Mel Blanc which is always a plus.

Justice League Unlimited - Joining Forces
- I love this series. Character design is a cleaned up version of the comic book characters (cleaned up to make them easier to animate) and the producers have access - with some restrictions - to a huge number of characters. The second season introduced a major opponent for the League in the form of Amanda Waller and a suspicious US government. There's some intelligent and witty writing and on the whole the series works on several levels. Fans of the comics will definitely appreciate this.

Man Show: Boy and Household Hints from Adult Film Stars
- No idea but I have a suspicion that it's not the sort of comedy I'd enjoy.

My Dad the Rock Star Vol 1: Dad's Debut
- Not listed on and I don't know much about it except that it was on Nickelodeon for 24 episodes

Ned and Stacey: The First Season
- We first got Fox (out of Rochester New York) in 1995 - about the time the UPN launched since the Rochester station was also serving as a UPN station on the weekends and other off hours. As a result Ned And Stacey wasn't exactly on my radar. The series ran for only two years and I can't think of any good reason for putting it out on DVD. I can think of a not so good reason, one of which is the current popularity of Debra Messing from Will & Grace and the other is Thomas Haden Church who earned an Academy Award nomination for Sideways. Reason enough? Maybe.

Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour
- Like Teller, not so crazy about Penn who can be a loud obnoxious jerk. This was a series that the two did for the CBC in 2003 in which they examine magic in China India and Egypt. I missed it (probably because I can't stand Penn) but it sounds like it has lots of potential and not just for fans.

The Pretender: Season 2
- Another series that I was never able to really get into although a great many people did. It was part of the last real gasp of NBC trying to produce new programming on Saturdays and probably the most successful of the shows, running for four seasons. Pretender fans tend to be rabid about the show so this box set will sell a lot of copies.

Ren & Stimpy Show: Season 5 and Some More of 4
- I really disliked Ren And Stimpy although when compared to my feelings for Beavis & Butthead my dislike for the cat and chihuahua is as nothing. Despite the fact that the show aired on Nickelodeon, I think it is fair to say that it isn't really aimed at kids. There is certainly an argument to be made that the quality of the show went down when the executives at Viacom forced out the show's creator John Kricfalusi (I certainly remember a great deal of anger and bitterness being expressed on the various Animation newsgroups, including comments from "John K" himself). The fifth season was in fact the show's last.

Rides: The Complete Second Season
- A Discovery Channel show about "tricked out cars" and their creators, hosted by Jason Priestley who is most assuredly a "car guy" to the point where he has driven in professional races (and was seriously injured in one). Never seen it.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Absorbing Favorites
- Although the SpongeBob SquarePants shows have been released in full season sets, Nickelodeon has also done what most producers of children's shows have done and released episodes with similar themes in single disk compilations. I have no idea what's on this one, but presumably it maximizes profits.

Taboo Complete Second Season
- I've never even heard of this series before. Apparently produced by the National Geographic Society it examines rites of passage, "body modification", religious practices and other activities that might be considered unacceptable or off-limits in our culture - "taking viewers beyond their comfort zones" as the National Geographic Channel's web page puts it. I gather that some of what they show is way beyond a few viewer's comfort zones. I've never seen it so I can't say much about it.

Teen Titans: Fear Itself - Season 2, Vol. 1
- I've only seen a couple of episodes of this and I have to confess that I am of two minds about it. The stories are on the whole fairly good, about what I'd expect from Bruce Timm, who has been producing superhero cartoons for almost fifteen years, starting with Batman back in 1992. On the whole the characters seem fairly close to their comic book realities. The problem I have with the show is the character design. The character design is clearly influenced by anime with an influence on big heads for most characters and disproportionately small bodies. I was a big fan of the comic back when George Perez and Marv Wolfman created it, and have enjoyed some of Bruce Timm's other work, most recently Justice League Unlimited. Character design on this is nowhere near as strong as either - at least not in my opinion.

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