Tuesday, June 07, 2005

TV on DVD - June 7, 2005 - Part 1

A real bumper crop of DVDs this week. In fact there are so many I've decided that the list is too big for one post, so I've split it in half and will run the second part tomorrow.

One thing that I've discovered is that there is on occasion a delay between a series' release on Amazon in Canada and in the United States. Be aware that in some cases, if you order from these links (although none of you have yet) delivery may be delayed because the series hasn't been released in Canada yet.

Home Movies: Season Two
- This series was seen on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim although there were six episodes aired on UPN in the United States. I'm not sure if it ever aired on Teletoon here in Canada...but I'm certain someone will tell me.

Cat House
- This is part of HBO's America Undercover documentary series which is probably best known for the Taxicab Confessions series. In this documentary we meet the ladies of Nevada's Moonlight Bunny Ranch brothel - including the incredibly over the top Air Force Amy - and Doug Hof, who owns the place. I have in fact seen this - and its sequel Cathouse 2, Back in the Saddle and can honestly say that there are some funny moments, like when the street pimp who is trying to get one of Hof's girls to work for him discovers just how much she's making at the Ranch. On the whole howerer it comes off as pretty much a peep show.

Bear In The Big Blue House: Early To Bed Early To Rise
Bear In The Big Blue House: Sense-Sational!
Bear In The Big Blue House: Storytelling With Bear
Bear In The Big Blue House: Visiting The Doctor With Bear
- Bear In The Big Blue House is, I'm duly informed, quite popular with the preschool crowd. Produced by Disney and the Jim Henson organization it's seen in Canada on Treehouse TV. On those rare occasion when I've seen the show it seemed like good clean fun for little kids, like my nephew Brian.

Davey and Goliath Volume 1
- This series is one of the great memories from my childhood. The show was gentle, occasionally humorous but not in a "gutbusting" way and there was usually a moral to every story. I have to admit that I was surprised when I got older and realised that the show was in fact created for a religious group, the Lutheran Church because it never seemed overly preachy. I can't imagine many religious broadcasters today using this sort of approach, more's the pity.

Dead Zone: Complete Third Season
- The Dead Zone is one of those series that I've never watched, mainly because the whole genre is not one of those I particularly enjoy. That said the cast, which includes Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole De Boer and David Ogden Stiers, seems quite solid. The series, which is based on a novel by Stephen King - which has led to it being called Stephen King's Dead Zone in some markets - is a co-production with Canada's Lion's Gate Films.

Degrassi Junior High: Season 2
- The three original Degrassi series - Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High - combined are one of the great stories of Canadian TV. While the series weren't "cause oriented" they did present an unblinking look at the life of a group of Canadian teens in the mid and late 1980s. The second season included such issues as Spikes Pregnancy, and a substitute art teacher who is a little too fond of his young female students.

Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive
Doctor Who: Ghost Light

- Two Doctor Who serials, Leisure Hive from the later Tom Baker period and Ghost Light from Sylvester McCoy's second season. Leisure Hive is notable as John Nathan Turner's first episode as producer, while Ghost Light was one of the major episodes of the 26th and last season of the original run. Of the two I think Ghost Light is probably better simply because the story is edgier, more serious and more mysterious. It ties in with the whole Fenric Arc that was developed for that season but for various reasons was aired out of order.

Dragnet (1967): Season One
- Jack Webb had a great sense of humour about his TV creation Dragnet but one has to wonder what he'd think of the lack of respect that the 1967-1970 version of the show has earned. There are a lot of unintentionally funny moments as well as the usual bits of deliberate humour with Joe Friday's partner - played in this series by Harry Morgan who even then was a film and TV veteran.For me, the big problem that this revival had was that it lacked the gritty, hard hitting quality that the original TV series had, which was also evident in the 2003 remake by Dick Wolf which starred Ed O'Neill. Webb had by this time assembled something of a stock company. Virginian Gregg, probably best known as the voice of Miss Kitty in the radio run of Gunsmoke appeared in a number of episodes during the run of the series, as does Bobby Troup who was married to Webb's ex-wife Julie London and would later star Emergency.

Dragon Tales: Playing Fair Makes Playing Fun
- Apparently this is the Barney for the new millennium. According to reviews in the IMDB, well lets just say that this Children's Television Workshop/PBS series may be a hit with the pre-school set, but has very low adult watchability. Of course that doesn't matter a lot to kids. (My 2 1/2 year-old nephew loves his Thomas the Tank Engine DVDs but only wants to see the one disc, which after the third or fourth time you've seen it in one afternoon is enough to drive a relatively sane person up a wall.)

Father Of The Pride: The Complete Series
- Stupid Question time: WHY?

Footballers' Wives: The Complete First Season
- Let's just label this as what it is - a night time soap from Britain. The series focuses on the players of the Earl's Court Rangers Football (Soccer) team and their wives. There's the expected amount of scheming, and double dealing mixed in with dollops of sex, violence and drugs. Of course the sex does tend to be a bit more graphic than the PTC would allow on US TV, as is the language. It has aired in Canada on Showcase.

Frasier: The Complete Fifth Season
Frasier: Six Season Pack
- I think it can safely be argued that Frasier is likely the most successful spinoff ever created, simply because it lasted 11 seasons, which was as long as the series that spawned it, Cheers. Although the focus is on the pompous Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), some of the best scenes are with show's absolutely perfect supporting cast: John Mahoney, Jane Leeves, Peri Gilpin and of course David Hyde Pierce. The six pack contains the first five seasons and the final season DVDs, all of which are available individually.

Hee Haw, Vol.4
- Hee Haw is probably one of the most maligned TV series ever created. The critics hated it and attacked it with almost shark-like glee, and it was executed along with the rest of the CBS rural lineup in 1971. Everybody hated it...except for the people who watched it in syndication for 22 years after the cancellation. It was a great combination of downright corny humour and solid country music from some of the musicians in the business. I'm not absolutely clear on how they're marketing the DVDs though. This volume features Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, but I'm not sure if it's a single episode or highlights from their appearances on the show.

Home Improvement: Season 2
- I always liked Home Improvement to the point where, towards the end of it's run, it was one of the few sitcoms I watched on a regular basis. The second season is worth seeing if only to see an unaugmented Pam Anderson who was playing Lisa, the original "Tool Time Girl". Lisa was never as integrated into the episodes as much as Debbe Dunning's character Heidi was. Dunning does make an appearance as a guest star as does Bob Vila who makes his second of three quest appearances.

I Love Lucy: The Complete First Season
- This is a rerelease of the first season of I Love Lucy. The season set the premise for the show and of course the chemistry in the cast is perfect. There are six disks with tons of extras including thirteen episodes of Lucy's radio series My Favorite Husband. (Lucy wanted her co-stars from that series, Gale Gordon and Bea Benadaret to play Fred and Ethel Mertz but Gordon was committed to the Our Miss Brooks series while Benadaret was featured on the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show so the parts were eventually given to William Frawley and Vivian Vance.) There's also the original series pilot which was lost for many years until it was found in the state of the Spanish clown Pepito, who appeared in the episode. There are so many classic bits in the set including the Vitameatavegamin episode, and the episode where Lucy goes to ballet class and gets her leg stuck in the bar (which produced the longest sustained laugh in the entire series - so long that the scene had to be cut).

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