Thursday, November 03, 2005

TV On DVD - November 1, 2005

I'm still waiting for TCM although the channel has appeared on other Shaw Cable systems Tuesday and Wednesday - I can hardly wait but I have to. So I guess I should finish up this TV on DVD post. Not a bad lineup this week, with very little Kidvid, and some underrated material from the past. And yes there are a couple of items that I can't believe they've wasted time and resources releasing, but which obviously have a market.

21 Jump Street: The Complete Fourth Season
- Since I never watched this series I can't tell you much. This was Johnny Depp's last season, and the show would really suffer in terms of ratings without him.

The Adventures of Pete & Pete - Season 2
- I get the impression that this Nickelodeon series from 1993 was a lot quirkier than I gave it credit for. I wouldn't know since I never saw it, but the more I read about it the more I'd like to at least try it. Surreal huh? The plate in Mom's head picks up radio signals?

Alvin and the Chipmunks: A Chipmunk Christmas
- I'm old enough to remember Ross Bagdasarian Sr. when he created the Alvin and the Chipmunks. Back around 1961 there was the Alvin Show and ran for about a season. They were annoying then. Ross Jr. revived the characters back in 1980 and in 1981 produced the Chipmunks Christmas Special which eventually led to the Chipmunks to return to network TV in 1983. Still annoying.

American Chopper: The Series - Third Season
- A third season with the feuding Teutuls. I have to admit that there's a certain charm to watching Paul, Paulie and Mike yelling at each other, and let's admit that the bikes are amazingly artistic creations. But even though creating the motorcycles is the reason why the show is on Discovery, it's the Teutuls who make the show worth watching.

Backstairs at the White House
- I remember at the time this appeared that this was largely seen as a gimmick. There are some extremely good actors playing both Presidents and their ladies - Victor Buono, Robert Vaughan, Celeste Holm, Ed Flanders, and Harry Morgan among many others - and the men and women who worked at the White House. In their day the mainly black servants at the White House like the characters played by Louis Gossett Jr, Leslie Uggams and Olivia Cole were a privileged group within Washington's African-American community. The key to the miniseries was that while Presidents come and go, the staff was always there. While not entirely well regarded at the time, over the years it has come to be remembered very fondly.

Brady Bunch - Complete Fourth Season
- This season marked a couple of important points in the series' history. The family went to Hawaii for the first three episodes, and the musical aspect was becoming a bit more important - there were two or three musical episodes - probably inspired by the success of The Partridge Family. Plus this was the season in which Marcia's nose got broken. Other than that (and both Florence Henderson and Maureen McCormick appearing increasingly hot, and Eve Plumb growing into her hair) what you have are the usual antics from the kids and the clueless parents. At least Cousin Oliver hasn't arrived.

Best of Cheaters, Vol. 1: Uncensored
- I had to look this up. Apparently this is uncensored material from a series about real-life private investigators tracking down cheating spouses and filming them in the act and then showing the footage to the "client" and confronting the cheaters. I can't believe anyone would watch a show this smarmy, and the only people I appreciate less are the ones who sign the release forms so they can be on this steaming pile of crap.

Dick Cavett Show: John and Yoko Collection
- The release of these Dick Cavett episodes has been a very interesting journey. There isn't much music and as you might expect, Lennon's music in the post Beatles period isn't that great. For that, the Rock Icons and Ray Charles sets are far better choices. On the other hand Cavett's conversations with Lennon and Yoko Ono are worth watching because Lennon was a witty man and Cavett was always erudite. A good combination.

Fame: The Complete First Season
- Another series I never watched when it was on. The subject matter and what little I saw of the characters never appealed to me, and again it was a case of always being able to find something on that I'd rather watch.

Hearts Afire: Season 2
- I've always preferred the first season of Hearts Afire to the second season, when the show abandoned the congressional office of a Republican senator as a setting and moved to a Missouri newspaper office. I am apparently the only one who feels this way. The show was never a huge success despite a great cast which included Markie Post, John Ritter, Billy Bob Thornton and (in the second and third seasons), Conchata Ferrell. I loved the first season but grew increasingly indifferent once the show moved to its new setting.

Just for Laughs: Stand Up, Vol. 1 - Best of the Uptown Comics
- Just For Laughs aka Juste Pour Rire is the Montreal International Comedy Festival. It's also the title of a series featuring performances from the Festival which airs on CBC and on the Comedy Network in Canada, and probably other places as well. I'm not sure, but what Image Entertainment seems to have done here is to repackage material from the Festival thematically with this DVD featuring "urban" comedians including Dave Chappelle, David Allan Greer, and Wanda Sykes. I love the folks at Image (mainly for their contributions to film restoration, specifically silent films) but something they do seems to make it difficult for their product to be sold in Canada. The US release for this set is November 1, but the Canadian release is December 6.

Just for Laughs: Gags, Vol. 1
- Just For Laughs Gags is another offshoot from the Montreal Comedy Festival. This one is not actual performances from the Festival but rather Candid Camera style practical jokes shot in the streets of Montreal. There's some fun stuff here.

Monster Garage: Season Three
- I've said nice things about American Chopper but for reasons I can't explain, I feel absolutely no love for Monster Garage. I can only surmise that I like the way the Teutuls fight better than I like the people on Monster Garage.

Outer Limits: Season 1
- The 1995 version of The Outer Limits might possibly be criticized for not being as true to the spirit of the original series as purist might have preferred, but it is hard to argue with the show's success. For one thing it outlasted the original series and for another, unlike attempts to revive anthology series like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone it developed its own material. This was the rare case of a revival which, if it didn't do better than the original was at least worthy of standing beside it.

Sex and the City: The Complete Series (Collector's Giftset)
- My usual warning applies here: if you haven't bought the seasons of Sex And The City you might consider this otherwise give it a pass unless you're an absolute completist who has to have everything.

Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Fourth Season
- Excepting the final episode which was written by Berman and Braga, the fourth season of Star Trek Enterprise was the best because of the absence of Breman and Braga. There was finally some movement towards the founding of the Federation, and the stories were generally better than what had been seen in the first two and a half seasons, despite budget cuts and a Friday time slot. Plus several episodes with Jeffrey Combs as Shran, which is always good. It was a shame that UPN decided to cancel the show just as it was getting good.

Tales of Tomorrow, Collection 2
- I want to confess that I've never even heard of this 1951 anthology series before this, but already it fascinates me. It's probably because of the cast list for some of the episodes - there were 45 half hour episodes in the first season from which this set is drawn. Among the actors in that first season (but, I hasten to add not necessarily on this set) were Paul Newman, Darren McGavin, Brian Keith, Jack Warden, James Doohan, and Eva Gabor. If the episodes were anywhere near to being worthy of the people who appeared in them, this series would be a winner, and even if they aren't it's still interesting as a curiosity.

Ultimate Fighter: Season 1
- I don't like Pro Wrestling and I can barely stand Boxing, and this has always seemed like low rent versions of both. If you happen to like Wrestling and Boxing you might like this better than I possibly could.

War of the Worlds: The Complete First Season
- I've been told that the first season of War Of The Worlds is the best, largely because it represents a logical follow-up to the legendary 1953 film version of the H.G. Wells story and was one of the highest rated syndicated programs that Paramount ever made. Worthy of special note are the three appearances by Ann Robinson reprising her role as Sylvia Van Buren from the 1953 movie.

World Poker Tour: The Best of Season 3
- I haven't been able to see as much of the World Poker Tour as I'd like since the show is on a Canadian network, CityTV, which which doesn't broadcast in Saskatchewan and isn't carried by cable here. The series attracts some of the best Poker players in the world and represents both the best and worst of Poker broadcasting. In a previous article I mentioned that I'm not a fan of the show's main commentator Vince Van Patten. As well its easy to learn bad habits by watching play at a tournament final table - players tend to take bigger risks there than they would earlier in the game because there are fewer players and hands which would otherwise be marginal become more powerful with fewer players. You see evidence of this all the time in online tournaments. Of interest is that this four DVD set is labelled "The Best of Season 3" - Season 1 had a four disk release and Season 2 was a six disk set, but both were complete seasons.

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