Tuesday, July 19, 2005

TV On DVD - July 19, 2005

Moderate length list this time around including a personal favourite of mine. Next week looks like a two parter though.

All Creatures Great and Small: The Complete Series 5 Collection
- All Creatures Great and Small was one of those series which somehow managed to strike a cord with people around the world. Based on the stories of country veterinarian "James Herriot" (real name Alf White - professional ethics kept him from writing under his real name) covering his 40 or so years as veterinarian in the Yorkshire dales, the show doesn't seem to have the qualities that usually make hits. Still it worked. The show's broadcast history is a bit odd, with a period of eight years separating the third and fourth full seasons although in that period there were also two Christmas specials. There were changes in this period, notably the replacement of Carol Drinkwater with Linda Bellingham as James Herriot's wife Helen (oddly Drinkwater and Bellingham were born in 1948 - a month apart in fact - but Bellingham looks older). Also Peter Davison, who played Tristan Farnon, is less prominently featured in the later batch of shows - he was also doing the Campion TV series at the time and in the books the Tristan Farnon character was working for the Ministry of Agriculture. Still, the stories are enjoyable no matter which series they're in.

Andromeda: Season 4
- There are some series that you watch devotedly, some series that you watch an episode or two of, and some series that you start to drift away from after a year or two. In the case of Andromeda it took me three years to not really think it was important enough for me to worry about. As a result I don't know the dynamics of how Tyr Anasazi was replaced by Telemachus Rhade - oh I know that Keith Hamilton Cobb left the series to be on The Young and The Restless but I don't know how they got rid of him on the show. And I'm not really certain that I care all that much. I might catch some of the fourth season if I see it on (in fact I saw the fourth season finale when Space did an Andromeda Canada Day marathon, but it doesn't interest me enough to actively seek it out. How's that for damning with faint praise!

Cleopatra 2525: The Complete Series
- In a misguided attempt to replace Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Studios USA came up with two half hour "dramas" - well one really since Jack Of All Trades featured Bruce Campbell and you really can't call anything he's in a drama - and Cleopatra 2525 was one of them. I don't think I ever managed to make it through a complete episode of this. On the other hand it does have Jennifer Skye, Victoria Pratt and of course Gina Torres so it can't be all terrible, but I wouldn't know, because in fact I didn't make it through a full episode.

Dead Like Me: The Complete Second Season
- One of the things about reviewing TV in Canada and not being willing to pay for the premium movie channels is that I don't get to see shows like Dead Like Me until much later. Showcase will be showing the complete series starting this fall but that's not much help given that the Showtime network in the States decided that two seasons of the series was all that they wanted to make, much to the sorrow of the show's apparently devoted fan base. I managed to see the pilot episode (while I was house sitting for someone who does have the movie networks) and thought it was pretty witty in a bizarre sort of way. If I'd been able to see it regularly I probably would have been one of the devoted fan base.

Def Poetry: Season 3
- Absolutely not a clue from me.

Dora The Explorer: Super Babies
- Okay, don't know much about this except that apparently they are releasing the Dora The Explorer, and there are a lot of adults who don't like the show. As we said when I was a kid, "tough toenails". This show isn't for adults, or even kids who are old enough to say "tough toenails" - deal with it.

Earth 2 - The Complete Series (1994)
- What has always amazed me is not that I liked Earth 2. It had an interesting concept that was almost like the story of the Mayflower - nonconformists escaping an oppressive to find a new world as a home for themselves - mixed with a sort of new age environmentalism and feeling for the being who were already there. The series had a good regular cast and some very good guest appearances including the always enjoyable Tim Curry. No, what amazes me is that this show was cancelled after only one year and the absolute awful Seaquest DSV survived for three. There just ain't no justice.

Michael Palin - Himalaya
- Somehow Michael Palin has gone from being a very talented writer, comedian (Monty Python's Flying Circus), actor (A Fish Called Wanda and the TV mini-series GBH which shows his talent as a dramatic actor - see it if you ever get the chance) and become "Adventure Man". It started with Around The World In 80 Days where he successfully replicated Phineas' Fogg's feat of going around the world in 80 days without resorting to airplanes. This was followed by Pole To Pole, where he goes from the North Pole through Europe and Africa to the South Pole; Full Circle where he goes around the Pacific Rim; Hemingway Adventure where he follows in the tracks of Ernest Hemingway; and Sahara where he travels through Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Mauretania. In his most recent travel adventure Himalaya he journeys 2,000 miles through Afghanistan, India and Bhutan meeting a host of people, famous and ordinary. As always, Palin's documentary is itself a fascinating journey.

Wildcats: Season 1
- At one time Jim Lee was one of the hottest comic book creators out there. WildC.A.T.s was Lee's pet project, a series about a superheroes fighting an interplanetary war while based on Earth. Actually there's a lot more too it than that but those are the basic elements that come together in the animated series produced by Nelvana. On TV it was generally mishandled by both Nelvana and originating network CBS. Never even knew it existed, which of course was part of the problem.

Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season
- Never heard of it and unless it's been on some digital service I don't have - a distinct possibility since the show is on MTV in the States and may have been on one of the recently eliminated MTV Canada networks - I don't believe it's been seen in Canada. Obviously an MTV version of The O.C. (a series I've never seen just on general principle) given that the full title of the series is Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, it is apparently a reality series, although some people have difficulty believing that anyone could be as shallow and spoiled as these kids appear to be.

Lost In Space: Season 3, Volume 2
- I've always wondered if the Robinson family were ever worried about Will always hanging around with Dr. Smith. Well that and whether or not Judy and Major Don West ever got their freak on behind a sand dune somewhere (and if not why not). Of course, with respect to Guy Williams and June Lockhart, and the rest of the cast the best reasons for watching the show were the trio of Bill Mumy as Will Robinson, Jonathon Harris as Dr. Smith and Bob May as the Robot. The third season was the only one in colour and in all honesty I think that doing it in colour hurt the series as did the fact that the Robinsons had almost become more conventional explorers - travelling in most episodes instead of being forced to stay on one planet for a full season. This DVD contains the notorious Great Vegetable Rebellion episode. Reportedly Guy Williams and June Lockhart were written out of two episodes of the show because they couldn't keep a straight face during this episode which featured Stanley Adams as a rebellious carrot.

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: V1
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: V2

- Did you ever notice that once the Hanna-Barbera had an idea that worked they'd ride it until they exhausted every possibility. As Exhibit A I give you A Pup Called Scooby Doo. I mean after all, once you had a success with the cowardly dog and his stoner pal Shaggy what could be more natural than to show them and the rest of those "meddling kids" as, well, meddling kids. Of course, just so no one forgets who they're supposed to be, Casey Kasem and Don Messick as Shaggy and Scooby respectively. And I suppose it works for the intended audience. Of course I was never a Scooby Doo fan which does have an effect on how I look at it.

Saved By the Bell: Season 5
- Oddly enough there seems to be some sort of oddity in the numbering here. Most sources including the TV.com episode guide for the show only lists four seasons. It doesn't matter to me really - I never watched the show since I was out of the targeted demographic - but it does tend to irritate a bit.

Sliders: The Third Season
- Sliders was another one of those shows that I found couldn't hold my interest after a while. I probably dropped it in the second season and thus missed the departure of John Rhys Davies as Professor Arturo. It's probably a small mercy since Davies and Sabrina Lloyd were the only members of the cast I really liked and by the end of the third season they were both gone. The concept of ravelling to alternate realities with alternate histories is a standard in Science Fiction, but I always thought that the execution in this series was never as good as it could have been.

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