Wednesday, July 27, 2005

TV On DVD - July 26, 2005, Part 1

A heavy duty week with a couple of real gems of historical interest. In fact the list was so big this week I've had to split it in two.

Apologies for posting this late. I spent a large portion of last night trying to get a piece of software to do what I wanted it to do and I had a couple of other posts I wanted to get done first. By the way, does anyone know of a good free standalone newsgroup reader? I've just started using Thunderbird as my mail program but as a news reader it's even worse than Outlook Express.

3rd Rock From the Sun: The Complete Season 1
- I wasn't a big fan of 3rd Rock from the Sun but I have to admit that it does work as a series. For me it's largely because of John Lithgow who is of course an amazingly versatile actor and does "Dick's" pomposity amazingly well. The rest of the cast is also first rate, particularly Kristen Johnson and French Stewart. Jane Curtin is, as usual a great straight woman.

All Grown Up!: Dude Wheres My Horse?
- I used to look forward to seeing episodes of Rugrats, which was a tremendously funny show with a baby's eye - and minds - view of the world. There were even a couple of theatrical movies. Apparently a Rugrats episode called "All Grown Up" which showed the babies as school kids got some of the highest ratings in the history of the show. Nickelodeon and the producers took the obvious lesson from this - they dumped the babies and created a series around the kids in school. I don't know why; the episodes that I've seen haven't had the charm that Rugrats had for me.

America's Funniest Home Videos, Vol. 1
- Another show I virtually never watched or watch, but if you want to get really technical this is an early entry into the recent spate of reality TV shows but with real rather than artificial reality. These are shows from 2001, which was Tom Bergeron's first year as host, but whether it's Bob Saget or Bergeron, the show and the videos don't really change. It's basically adult does something funnily stupid or kid (or pet) does something funny. It makes me yawn, but apparently I'm in the minority.

At Last the 1948 Show
- One of two sets of "proto-Python", this British series featured John Cleese and Graham Chapman, as well as Eric Idle in a supporting capacity. There were also some non-Python types of note, including the great Marty Feldman and actor-writer Tim Brooke-Taylor who may be best known in North America as one of the writers on The Two Ronnies and as one of the stars of The Goodies. Very little material from At Last the 1948 Show is known to exist - the original private broadcaster destroyed all but three of the 13 episodes and Swedish TV apparently saved another three episodes. A lot of fragments also exist.

Battlestar Galactica Season 1 (Best Buy Exclusive)
- Okay, I think we all know that this version of Battlestar Galactica is one of the best series out there, and of course like most science fiction series it was nominated for Emmys in those hugely important technical categories, but totally ignored in those minor categories like writing, directing and acting. We're all used to that of course. That said, I'm going to tell you to pass on this Best Buy Exclusive. Here's the thing, the Best Buy set is a four disk British version. I presume that they've converted it to R1 and NTSC. However the general release of the show which is available for preorder on Amazon is described as a five disk set. Apparently it will include the three hour version of the miniseries and the fifth disk will be packed with extras.

Benny Hill - The Naughty Early Years Set 3 (1975-1977)
- Benny Hill was the "anti-Python". He was, by many accounts, an acute embarrassment to the "sophisticated" segment of the British audience. When Hill died in 1992 (he was a workaholic who suddenly found himself without work) he was described rather fondly described as a "end of the pier" style comedian - the sort of bawdy comedian that people loved at the seaside during vacations but wouldn't go to see at home for fear that their neighbours might see them. North Americans didn't care, in a lot of ways this stuff was new to us even though Hill was basically a burlesque comedian. This group of shows is actually from just before the period when the program was first made available in North America, and if anything is probably a bit more bawdy than the stuff they showed in the US.

Beulah Land
- A miniseries about the romance of the antebellum and Civil War period South. Never saw it but for me they all seem to blur together. Lesley Ann Warren and Michael Sarrazin star - enough said.

Blue And The Gray (Recut)
- I'm not sure about what the point of this is. There is a DVD version of the Blue and the Gray already out. The obvious difference is the price, which would seem to indicate that any special features that may have been on the original set isn't on this one, and indeed that some of the show has also been excised. Beware.

The Brady Bunch: The Complete Second Season
- When I was a kid, The Brady Bunch was one of those shows that you watched but you really didn't want to admit that you watched. Later, when you saw it in weekly stripped syndication you wondered why you watched. Now that it's on TVLand or some similar service you have a certain nostalgia for it. The second season featured the kids when they were still kids and Florence Henderson still had that frankly rather ugly hairdo, but also before Robert Reed got his curly perm.

Cold Feet: Season 3
- I mentioned this when Season 2 was released, but I'll say it again - I've never seen this and have no Idea what it's about.

Dark Shadows: Collection 19
- As I mentioned when the previous set of these was released I never had a chance to see Dark Shadows but it's probably the only soap opera with the combination of fairly short run, archival material, and fearsomely obsessed fans necessary to get a daily drama released on DVD.

Do Not Adjust Your Set
- The other set of "proto-Python", this show starred Eric Idle (who also appeared on At Last the 1948 Show) Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Also featured in the last four episodes were animated bits by Terry Gilliam. Happily, about 14 of the 28 episodes produced still survive.

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Complete Season Six
- My mother adored this series, I never watched it and my brother, well my brother had a number of frankly obscene nicknames for the show which he actively despised. Season Six was the last for the series before what was, quite frankly, a rather abrupt cancellation due to a large but aging demographic (not enough 18-40 year old viewers). It was followed by two TV movies with the characters.

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