Wednesday, May 25, 2005

TV on DVD - May 24, 2005

I've been having a couple of delays over the past few days but here is this week's list of TV shows on DVD. A bumper crop as you can see.

Airwolf: Season 1
- An absolute classic. Jan Michael Vincent stars as Stringfellow Hawke, the pilot of the hottest helicopter on TV (because everyone who counts knows that Airvwolf could kick Blue Thunder's ass). Donald Bellisario's casting of supporting roles made this show worth while since I never cared much for Vincent as an actor. Alex Cord was impressive as String's government contact "Archangel" who was always immaculately dressed in white, right down to his eyepatch, and of course there was Ernest Borgnine doing his befuddled sidekick routine. An absolute gem.

Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1
- This is one of the few series that my younger brother was ever totally fanatical over. I never got into it largely for one reason - I could not stand Robert Conrad. Still the show did have a pretty interesting list of supporting cast members including Dan Blocker's son Dirk, Conrad's half brother Larry Manetti, and John Laroquette.

Super Friends: Season 2
- Prime super-hero cheese with Superman, Batman, Robin (voice by Casey Kasem!), Wonder Woman, and that fish guy - oh yeah, Aquaman. This is the season with Wendy and Marvin and Wonder Dog.

The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Second Season
- By the second season of the The Andy Griffith Show, most of the elements were in place and settled, although Andy's girlfriend Helen Crump wouldn't be added for a while, and there was no Gomer Pyle yet. What's really interesting in this season is some of the guest stars, including Jean Hagen (who played Danny Thomas's first wife in Make Room For Daddy from which The Andy Griffith Show had been spun-off), Andy Clyde, Buddy Ebsen, Alan Hale Jr., Barbara Eden, Sterling Holloway, and both Rance and Clint Howard (Ron Howard's father and younger brother - even then getting work because of Ron). No Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass) yet though. They don't make this sort of gentle series - humorous rather than joky - anymore

Batman: Training For Power: V1 Season 1
- This is the current Batman animated feature and includes the voice of the late Frank Gorshin as Hugo Strange. I haven't gotten around to seeing this yet, so I won't comment.

Batman - The Animated Series: Volume 3
- This on the other hand I have seen and enjoyed greatly. Artistically the look they were going for was along the lines of the 1940s Superman cartoons done by Fleischers, but using a cheaper process and more limited animation. The result was not only extremely attractive but as much in keeping with the tone of the comic books as you could get for the audience.

Chappelle's Show: Season Two - Uncensored!
- I've never heard of it, although it has been on the Comedy Network here in Canada. Indeed the first time I heard of Dave Chappelle in any context was in relation to his recent mental health problems.

Everybody Loves Raymond: Series Finale
- In a shameless attempt to wring the last dime out of the fans - or to give the public what it wants, depending how you spin it - Warners and HBO have released the series finale of Everybody Loves Raymond in an affordable one disc set.

Fat Actress
- Haven't seen this show and in all honesty would rather have my wisdom teeth pulled than sit down and watch it, so this is just an observation. Did you ever notice that Kirstie Alley started packing on the pounds after Parker Stevenson stopped giving her "the big one" (and does anyone remember the Emmy speech where that line came from - she thanked her husband Parker for giving her "the big one").

Garfield: Fantasies
- Not sure, but I believe that this is a collection of stand-alone specials featuring Garfield rather than part of the Garfield And Friends TV series.

Law And Order: Third Year
- This third season of Law & Order saw the arrival of Jerry Orbach into the cast, replacing Paul Sorvino (who was embarking on one of his periodic attempts to establish himself as an opera singer) who in turn had replaced George Dzundza from the original cast. It is entirely fitting that Orbach, who was on the series longer than any other actor with the exception of Steven Hill, is honoured on this DVD with a profile and tribute.

M*A*S*H Season 8
- Another case where an item is available from Amazon in the United States but not in Canada. I will be very embarrassed when it shows up at London Drugs, won't I. By this point the series had fallen into its "profound and important" period. The only major alteration in the cast is the departure of Radar, who was the only member of the original movie cast to make the transition to the TV series. (Season 2 of Have Gun Will Travel has finally shown up on their site however).

Nick Jr. Favorites, Vol. 1
- A sampler from a variety of Nickelodeon kids series, including Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues, and Max & Ruby. Probably worth it if you have small kids around the house, although my 2 1/2 year-old nephew prefers his Thomas the Tank Engine videos.

Nick Picks: V1
- Another Nickelodeon sampler, this time for a slightly older audience. Includes episodes of All Grown Up, Fairly Odd Parents, Jimmy Neutron, and of course SpongeBob Squarepants.

NewsRadio: The Complete First & Second Seasons
- Arguably one of the best comedies of the 1990s, NewsRadio featured stand-out performances from Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Khandi Alexander and Maura Tierney, as well as being a major break for Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan and Andy Dick. It was however the presence of Phil Hartman as newsman and colossal ego Bill McNeal that made the show worth watching, and his death that signaled it's end even though the network tried to replace him with Jon Lovitz. The first season was only seven episodes long which is why both the first and second seasons are on this set.

Samurai Jack: Season Two
- A Cartoon Network series that I'm not really familiar with. Okay, a Cartoon Network series that I'm not familiar with at all. There's also a set that includes both Season One and Season Two.

Speed Racer: V3
- I never really watched Speed Racer. Can't remember who much chance I had to see it, but the whole Japanese Anime style of it didn't do it for me. There are two versions of the disc, with the collector's version having the rounded top. Since the prices for both versions are equal, if you can get the collectible version, do so.

Spongebob Squarepants: Fear Of A Krabby Patty
- Eight episodes of SpongeBob - three of them listed as "bonus material." If it's going to be on the disc and it's an episode, why not just say so. (Clearly I've seen so little of SpongeBob that I have to get picky about extras. Sorry.)

Voyage to the Planets and Beyond
- What is apparently a highly detailed and entertaining documentary (with dramatic "imaginings") about a manned voyage around the Solar System aboard the mile-long spaceship Pegasus. Narrated by David Suchet, the program explores the complexity of space flight (such as "slingshot maneuvers) and the qualities of various planets. Among the special features is a documentary on real space probes that are currently exploring the planets. Listed in the IMDB as Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets.

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