Wednesday, June 08, 2005

TV On DVD - June 7, 2005 - Part 2

This is the second part of my look at this week's TV on DVD. As I said in the first part, it was a real bumper crop this week, and next week looks almost as bad. Or good. Now you'll excuse me, I have to do penance for not remembering that Virginia Gregg was not Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke, Georgia Ellis was. Somehow I've always associated Gregg with Gunsmoke.

Maurice Sendak's: Little Bear - Little Bear's Band
Maurice Sendak's: Little Bear - Rainy Day Tales
- Although the label on these DVDs says "Nick Jr." the history on this series is a bit more complicated. It is in fact a Canadian show, made by Toronto's Nelvana Animation which is in turn owned by Corus Entertainment which owns YTV and Treehouse TV. The series originally aired in the United States on Nickelodeon, but appeared on the Canadian channels at the same time. On occasion I've managed to see parts of episodes so I'm not qualified to comment on the quality of the show except to say that the art looks quite good by most standards.

Lois and Clark: The Complete First Season
- Before there was Smallville and Desperate Housewives there was Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman a show which owed its existence to advances in visual effects that made it possible for a man to fly convincingly on TV without a big movie budget. Most fans of the show tend to regard the first season as the show's best. All of the elements are there and the relationship between Terri Hatcher's Lois and Dean Cain's Clark has the right degree of prickliness. The supporting cast is mostly excellent although a little bit of Tracy Scoggins as Cat Grant goes a very long way. Lane Smith exhibited a perfect amount of bluster as Perry White, and John Shea was suitably slimy as big business man Lex Luthor (not fully a supervillain and certainly not bald). Things went off track when series developer Deborah Joy Levine was fired from the series along with Scoggins Shea, and the original actor playing Jimmy Olsen. Still this "love triangle between two people" is definitely worth watching.

MacGyver: The Complete Second Season
- It's not often that the name of a TV series becomes a verb, albeit a rarely used and somewhat geeky one: to MacGyver - to fix, repair, rig, solve, build, invent, or otherwise save the day, as MacGyver did. Or as someone at puts it "Someone who can jump-start a truck with a cactus." The second season takes MacGyver from being an "ordinary" secret agent (as if there was anything ordinary about MacGyver) and turned him into an agent of the Phoenix Foundation. MacGyver was one of the great series, ever taking itself too seriously, and a favourite of every geeky kid who looked at something and wanted to make something different with it.

Newlyweds: Nick And Jessica: Complete Seasons Two and Three
- Never saw it. Never wanted to see it. I have had my fill of Jessica Simpson from that Dominos Pizza ad for the Buffalo Wings.

Power Rangers: S.P.D.: V1 Joining Forces
- I remember seeing the original version of Power Rangers on Fox during the afternoons sometimes (before I had good Internet service). It was an awful blend of cheapo Japanese live action effects from different sources and bits with American actors of exceptionally limited acting ability. It was so bad it frequently gave me a headache after just a few moments exposure. This is apparently another new version of the series but I have little hope of it being any better. Therefore kids will probably love it.

John Callahan's Quads: Freak Parade
- Another Nelvana Animation show, but one that is definitely not for the kids. The humour is sexist, bawdy, and takes nothing seriously particularly disability. The art is the sort of modern animation that makes The Simpsons look like 1940s Disney. So why is that when I come upon it on Teletoon I stop clicking and watch? The answer is that the show is funny.

Quincy M.E.: Seasons 1&2
- With all due respect to Jordan Cavanaugh, and Doc Robbins (Crossing Jordan and CSI) Quincy is my favourite TV medical examiner. This DVD has the complete first and second season, all 16 episodes. 16 episodes? Well yes. Quincy started as one of the components of NBC's Wednesday Mystery Movie block. It soon became clear that unlike most of the series that they were trying in that block, Quincy was something special. Supposedly based on L.A.'s "Coroner to the stars" Dr. Thomas Noguchi, as my blogging buddy Ivan Shreve points out, the show bears a much more obvious connection to the old CBC series Wojeck, which starred John Vernon as a crusading coroner, which in turn was based on the real life Toronto Coroner, Dr Morton Schulman.

Rescue Me: The Complete First Season
- Dennis Leary is an acquired taste that I have clearly never acquired. Still this series has had good reviews and unlike his previous series The Job this series about New York firemen has been on the proper venue for Leary's talent - cable. The series has been on the Showcase cable channel here in Canada but for some reason I have never been able to connect with it.

Sanford And Son: Sixth Season
- An Americanised version of the British series Steptoe and Son this show rapidly became much more than what the British series ever was and the reason is that it became the Redd Foxx show in all but name with Demond Wilson as his straight man. That said there was a terrific supporting cast including Whitman Mayo and Lawanda Page. Norman Lear got most of his best ideas from British series, but he was smart enough to develop them for American audiences and that is clearly what he did in this case.

Saturday Night Live The Best Of Jon Lovitz Saturday Night Live: Best Of Jon Lovitz
Saturday Night Live The Best Of Tom Hanks Saturday Night Live: Best Of Tom Hanks
- Sorry, never been a fan of the show, and while I like Tom Hanks I tend to prefer him as an actor in dramas (but I hate Forrest Gump which I find to be a mile wide and an inch deep).

The Sopranos: The Complete Fifth Season
- The thing about The Sopranos is that if you simply think of it as a show about a mobster you are missing so much. It is a compelling family drama which doesn't sugar coat things. In the way that he treats people, Tony is a pig, but somehow he can be an endearing pig. The strength of the series has always been the writing and the acting.

Spider-Man: Venom Saga
- Sorry, I haven't seen whichever version of Spiderman that this comes from. I go back to the days when Paul Soles was doing Peter Parker's voice and Paul Kligman was taking time off from working with Wayne & Shuster to do J. Jonah Jameson.

Stargate Atlantis: Rising (Pilot Episode)
- Haven't seen it. The show airs on one of the premium movie channels here in Canada and I just can't justify the cost. Eventually it will air on Space and I might catch it then.

Thorn Birds: Missing Years
- It says something that of the original cast of The Thorn Birds only Richard Chamberlain returned to do this unneeded sequel, and that something is not very good. And I didn't like the first one.

The Best of Tokyo Pig
- Okay, I'm not even going to pretend to have a clue about this. HELP!

Too Close for Comfort: The Complete Second Season
- I used to love this show. Ted Knight managed to successfully shed the "stupid" image of Ted Baxter by playing the sometimes befuddled, sometimes blustering father of two sisters who move out of their parents' house... sort of. Another series based on a British original this one actually ran longer and developed in slightly different ways. A fine send off for a good actor.

Wanted Dead Or Alive: Season One
- won't ship until June 21. This series has been airing on the Lonestar Channel here in Canada but typically they bought the colorized version which features the absolute worst colorizing I've ever see - yes worse than Gilligan's Island. Fortunately the shows on this DVD aren't colorized so you can see the young Steve McQueen as he was, the post James Dean epitome of cool.

Wonder Woman: The Complete Third Season
- Prime superhero camp...and I watched every episode. The third season is the second with the modern story lines which were adopted when the show went from ABC to CBS. Apparently tensions on the set between Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner were so great by the third season that there were fewer and fewer scenes between the two. If the show had continued for another season, Wagoner would have been dumped. He had previously left the Carol Burnett Show under "mutual agreement with the producer."

X-Files: Mythology, Vol. 1 Abduction
- This is an interesting concept. This four disc set contains 15 episodes from the first three seasons of The X-Files follows the so-called mega-arc which flowed through the entire series, specifically the Conspiracy and proof of the existence of aliens on earth. A second set of discs in the X-Files: Mythology series will follow in August. It's an interesting way to follow a specific concept that wends its way through the entire series, and there are some outstanding episodes in the set, although I can't help but wonder whether understanding of the characters will be as great for first time viewers as it would be if they had seen the episodes that come between the ones on these discs.

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