Thursday, October 06, 2005

TV On DVD - October 4, 2005

Ah it's October, the time when a young marketer's thoughts lightly turn to thoughts of two things - Hallowe'en and Christmas (the exact equality of Hallowe'en and Christmas served as a springboard for a short mystery by Isaac Asimov but that's a whole other discussion). The big trend in this week's DVD releases is (1) scary stuff and (2) Christmas related releases. There are one or two interesting things and certainly one "must buy" item if you got the cash.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season One
- This is it, accept no substitutes or remakes. The Great Man's 195 series was one of the high points of television when I was growing up. There was the fat gentleman coming out in profile to that creepily funny music (Funeral March of the Marionettes of course) and fitting himself into that line drawing, followed by his witty introductions. Then came the episodes which I only grew to appreciate much later, followed by another appearance from Uncle Alfred with the final part of his little personal drama of mayhem. I suspect that this is being released now for little or no other reason than that Universal is releasing just about anything that Hitchcock did that they own the rights to, and it was the TV series and his friendship with Lou Wasserman that actually brought him to the studio.

America's Funniest Home Videos: Home for the Holidays
- What can I say? Not much really. The usual assortment of hijinx either real or set up by amateurs hoping to rake in the weekly prize money. This time the funny stuff relates to stuff that happens to people at Christmas. I don't watch the show and I'm not particularly interested in DVDs taken from the show. How's that for burning my bridges.

The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Second Season
- This is the second season of the Bob Newhart Show - the one with Suzanne Pleshette - and a good thing it is too, even if the release of the first season suffered somewhat from less than stellar masters. The show was one of the better comedies in a period when sitcoms tended to be very good and not locked into the formula of dysfunctional family life that they seem to be in today. Bob's work as a psychiatrist - or pshrink - is as much the focus of the show as his life at home with the lovely Emily and his not so bright neighbour Howard Borden. A great show.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike - Love Is Hell
- Four episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featuring everyone's second favourite vampire (well second favourite male vampire - I'm fonder of Dru and Darla and even -gasp- Harmony myself) Spike. The character was one of the fan favourites and I have to admit that there are a lot of Spike episodes that are classics. In fact of the four in this set the only one I'd omit is "Lie To Me" which could be replaced with something from his "chip period" - either a Harmony episode (because I like her inept vampire bit) or the episode where he gets the crap beaten out of him by Glory to protect Dawn's secret. "Lie To Me" just isn't that special.

Count Duckula: Complete First Season
- I caught a few episodes of Count Duckula and while the idea is funny enough in a sort of standard, often done way, I can't say that it's anything special.

Drawn Together: Uncensored! Season One
- Now this is special, but of course not for kids. Take the concept of a reality TV series like The Real World or (better) The Surreal Life and turn it on its head by bringing together various Cartoon archetypes - the superhero, the Disney Princess, an Elf, some "funny" animals - none of which really follow the stereotype for their characters or what the viewer generally thanks of when they think of animated characters. Good stuff.

Farscape: Starburst Edition, Vol. 6
- I will renew my all to frequent comment on the Farscape DVDs - why so many in so many different combinations?

Into the West
- No matter what else you may say about Steven Spielberg's mini-series Into The West it is impossible to deny that it lives up to my criteria for the mini-series as a form - it is epic in scope and tells an epic story. The mini-series deals with the white settlement of the American West and the simultaneous destruction of Native American society. Well worth a look.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker
- It seems clear to me that the release of the complete 1974 Kolchak: The Night Stalker series was meant to tie in with the new series The Night Stalker. This was probably a mistake in that it will remind people who saw it just how inferior the new version is and educate people who haven't seen it about why the others feel so strongly about it. Buy this and skip the series.

Cartoon Network Christmas 2 - Christmas Rocks
- Apparently - since there's absolutely no listing of what's on this on the website - these are Christmas episodes from some Cartoon Network shows, probably with a rock theme and I don't mean "Flintstone" type rocks.

Postcards from Buster: Buster's Got the Beat
Postcards from Buster: Buster's Outdoor Journeys

- More kidvid from the PBS series. Buy it just to tick off a social conservative.

SCTV: Christmas with SCTV
- Two SCTV Christmas episodes - the SCTV Staff Christmas Party and Christmas With Catherine O'Hara and Andrae Crouch. Not much here, but it is a Christmas DVD after all.

Stargate SG-1: Season 8
- I'm not a Stargate SG-1 viewer so I don't know if season 8 is good bad or indifferent. All I really know is that the series has been around for a long time and say what you will, longevity like that at least indicates that there are people who like the series enough that TV executives are keeping it on the air.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Series 3, Vol. 5
- Apparently this is from the 2003 version of the cartoon based on the comic book. In fact the 2003 version is based on the comic book which was a lot darker and more violent than either the movies or the 1987 cartoons. Of course back in 1987 people tended to regard both comics and TV animation as being for kids, even though comic books were moving quite radically away from the reasons for that assumption. It isn't surprising then that the took a strip that sounded like it was kid's stuff and made it into a cartoon for kids, or that the creators, seeing where their bread was buttered moved the comics closer to the kid market in tone.

William Shatner's Twist in the Tale
- I can't tell you very much about this show. It was filmed in New Zealand, it deals with supernatural stories but aimed at kids, and had William Shatner as a sort of modern Hitchcock or Serling clone.

Wild Palms
- I remember this series as being very entrancing and at the same time very difficult to understand. I confess though that for me the biggest moment was Bebe Neuwirth in very lacy black bra and panties, straddling Robert Loggia. Science fiction with a very scary twist.

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