Sunday, March 26, 2006

If I were to categorize this week's DVDs I'd have to say a rather week lot on the whole. Of course any week that features both Sally Field (twice!) and Elizabeth Montgomery can't be totally awful, and it's almost salvaged by a couple of Bruce Timm's DC comics inspired series. Almost, but not quite. As always the list comes courtesy of TVShowsOn where you'll always find the latest information on TV shows coming to DVD. Now be sure to vote in my poll.

21 Jump Street: The Complete Fifth Season
- What can I say about 21 Jump Street, bearing in mind that I never saw it? This is the fifth and final season of the Fox series, and by this time most of the original cast was gone, with the exception of Holly Robinson Peete and Steven Williams. The producers did manage to replace Peter DeLuise - who went on to a full time career as a TV director - with his brother Michael playing Peter's character's brother. Clearly however this show definitely seems to have been on its last legs. So how'd I do?

Batman Beyond: The Complete First Season
- Rather an interesting idea really. Bruce Timm, who has been responsible for most of the animated series featuring DC Comics characters since the early 1990s took the idea of Batman in the future and remade him in a way that no one - not even Frank Miller who originally tackled the idea of an aged Batman in Return Of The Dark Knight - had thought of. In this series the elderly Batman has been fighting through the years until he nearly dies in a fight. The role of the Batman falls to another - not to Dick Grayson or any other Robin or Bruce Wayne's son (which was a common theme in the comics of the 1960s) but to a stranger who discovered Batman's identity and is anointed as his successor. Not as dark as Return Of The Dark Knight of course but still a satisfying take on the character and the need for a Batman in the future.

Bewitched: The Complete Third Season
- I won't make any secret of the fact that I've always preferred Bewitched to I Dream Of Jeannie, and not just because I always found Elizabeth Montgomery sexier than Barbara Eden (sacrilege I know but still true). No the thing that made Bewitched the better show was the strength of the supporting cast and the quality of the writing. There isn't a member of the supporting cast on I Dream Of Jeannie who could compare with Agnes Moorhead, Marion Lorne, or David White, not to mention the recurring cast that included the likes of Maurice Evans, Paul Lynde, and Bernard Fox. The third season marks the return of nosy neighbour Gladys Kravitz played by Sandra Gould, replacing Alice Pearce who had died of cancer at the end of the show's first season. The only bad thing about this season is that there was no appearance by Pandora Spocks as Serena. Now she was hot!

Ed Edd N Eddy V2
- Have to admit I've never seen this show which airs on Teletoon in Canada as well as Cartoon Network in the US. Sounds like one of those shows full of quirky characters but neither totally directed at children or directed exclusively at adults.

The Flying Nun: The Complete First Season
- I've known a few nuns over the years and I can tell you that for the most part the notion of the beautiful and even sexy nun is a myth. Sally Field, playing Sister Bertrille wasn't sexy, but she was cute. Unbelievably cute. Even cuter than she was in Smoky & The Bandit and that was damned cute. I know that I'm going on a bit about Sally Field being cute, but let's face it, she's the only reason this show is out on DVD, and the fact that she was cute is probably the only reason this show was made, and as popular as it was. Of all the gimmicks that came out of 1960s sitcoms, I think you'll have to admit that the idea of a girl so light that the aerodynamics of her wimple (nun's headgear) allowed her to fly with the birds has to be one of the dumbest. Inconsequential fluff but fun fluff.

Gidget: The Complete Series
- The first thing that Sally Field did as an actress. Gidget can probably be described as an iconic figure. The character appeared in five or six movies and TV movies over the years as well as this TV series which only lasted one year. I've never seen it, but of course Sally Field was cute, which may have contributed to the cult following that this show developed.

Huff: The Complete First Season
- When Frank Azaria earned his Emmy nomination for Best Actor in a Drama for this series the most common reaction was "What on Earth is Huff?" Since I'm pretty sure that this hasn't appeared on Canadian TV I can't answer that question. It does seem to have a fairly interesting cast and the focus on a psychiatrist's middle aged crisis is at the very least a change from cops and lawyers, so obviously it would never last on network TV.

Justice League of America: Season 1
- The WB has collected Justice League (not to be confused with Justice League Unlimited which it morphed into) before in a number of ways, mostly by bringing together episodes that were part of a story arc, but this set brings together the entire first season of the series. The series has a smaller more manageable cast than the later Justice League Unlimited, but also meant that most of the episodes featured all of the characters. Some of my favourite episodes of the series are in this set, including Legends which was essentially an Earth-2 story, and The Savage Time which has the League transported back to World War II to battle Vandal Savage alongside Sergeant Rock and Blackhawk (oh yes and Steve Trevor).

Mind of Mencia with Carlos Mencia: The Complete First Season - Uncensored
- Never heard of it of him. Supposedly a version of Dave Chappelle's show featuring Mexican American comedian Calos Mencia. I've heard that it's not as funny as Chappelle's show but I can't judge of course.

Over There - Season 1
- I don't know that there's ever been a series about a war on the air while the war was going on. I missed seeing the show when it was on the History Channel up here, so I can't tell you how good it was. I say "was" because while the DVD calls it Season 1 it should probably read "Complete Series" since FX, the American cable network that was responsible for the series announced that they would not be renewing it due to low ratings. Maybe people didn't want to be reminded of what they were seeing on the news every night.

Roseanne: The Complete Third Season
- The third season of a series I never watched. And the reason I never watched is summed up in the title. I have never been able to tolerate Roseanne no matter what name she was using at the time, Barr, Arnold or whatever. Too bad because the cast, led by John Goodman, was exceptionally strong and definitely worth watching. Unfortunately the only reason for them to be together was Roseanne.

South Park: The Complete Seventh Season
- People either think this show is brilliant or crap. Put me in the latter category. It doesn't matter how good the scripts may be, the animation simply rubs me the wrong way.

Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Third Season
- More tales from our Animatronic Cryptkeeper in the style of the great EC comics of the early 1950s. The series, which was on HBO and so not nearly as censored as it would have been had it appeared on network or even Basic Cable TV, had an amazing ability to attract top name directors and actors. In the third season directors included Robert Zemeckis, Tobe Hoope, Walter Hill, Tom Mankiewicz and Michael J. Fox, while one episode from this season starred Dan Aykroyd, Lance Hendriksen, Eric Douglas and his father Kirk Douglas. Most of the episodes from this season had actors who would be quite notable for their TV work.

The Best of Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries: The Ultimate Collection

- I used to love Unsolved Mysteries when it was on NBC and hosted by Robert Stack. The series usually focused on real life crimes but in a manner that was different from America's Most Wanted, a show that started at about the same time. From time to time the show would depart from the format of trying to solve real crimes and find real criminals to explore unexplained phenomena and hauntings among other things. It occasionally gave the show a spooky sense. There have been a number of themed DVD boxed sets released in the past and these are collected in the Unsolved Mysteries: The Ultimate Collection. The Best Of Unsolved Mysteries is a less attractive package. Instead of bringing new episodes that really are the best segments from the show this set is a sampler of episodes that are already out on the themed sets. Given the prices for the pre-existing sets, if you haven't bought many of them already the Ultimate Collection might be worth considering. In truth I can't recommend the Best Of Unsolved Mysteries unless you're looking for a sampler or are unsure if you'd be interested in the series.

The White Shadow: The Complete Second Season
- The White Shadow was an unusual series when it debuted in 1978. It was only the second dramatic series from MTM Enterprises which had previously focused on comedies - mostly spinoffs from the highly popular Mary Tyler Moore Show. As the story about a high school basketball team in an inner city school, it quite obviously exhibited something of a social conscience dealing with drugs and racial tensions as major themes. The second season climaxed with the shooting death of the Curtis Jackson, the member of the team with the greatest potential for a career in basketball after high school. An excellent show even though it never really found the right audience in a TV world that even then was dominated by cops, doctors and lawyers.

The Young Riders: The Complete First Season
- I was quite frankly amazed when I read in the IMDB that this series ran for three full seasons. I'm amazed that it ran on a major broadcast network - ABC - because I never even heard of it. I know I never heard of it because I'd have at least watched one episode if I had. I like Westerns, and even if this show was one of those unhistorical, revisionist monstrosities that had women being treated as equals and doing exactly what men did, I think I still would have watched at least one episode, enough to remember it because it would have been so unusual, but no, nothing.

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