Thursday, July 28, 2005

TV On DVD - July 26, 2005, Part 2

Finally got this finished. Was pretty busy this afternoon, and to top it off my mother had to go for X-rays after she tripped and sprained her wrist. Some good stuff in this second half list.

Errol Morris' First Person, The Complete Series
- I haven't seen these (mostly) half-hour documentaries done for the American Bravo Network, but they sound like they could and should be first rate no matter what the people who reviewed this for think. Created by noted documentarian Errol Morris, who did The Thin Blue Line and Fog Of War (the latter won the 2004 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature), he combines stock footage and intense interviews to look at people with interesting stories.

Gilligan's Island: The Complete Third Season
- I'm probably one of the few people who thinks that Gilligan's Island is unfairly maligned. It wasn't brilliant but compared with the shows that the Schwartzes (Sherwood and his sons Lloyd and Elroy) would later create - including The Brady Bunch - I think it's pretty good and a lot of the current shows, for all their post-All In The Family realism, aren't nearly as inventive. The cast has a tremendous chemistry - even Tina Louise who was never happy in her position in the show's pecking order. The third season has a couple of standout episodes. The Producer (directed by Ida Lupino!) featured Phil Silvers as producer Harold Hecuba for whom the castaways put on a musical version of Hamlet - Silver's Gladysya Productions produced Gilligan's Island. In a truly prophetic twist, the episode Take A Dare featured Strother Martin as a player in the "Take A Dare" contest who must spend a week on the island fending for himself in order tow in $10,000. Shades of Survivor which was of course inspired by Gilligan's Island!

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season
- There are a lot of ways in which The Mary Tyler Moore Show was ground breaking. I'm not sure but it was possibly the second or third season in which we learned that Mary was not only not a virgin but occasionally spent the night with a man and took "The Pill". That was big at the time, but so was the fact that while Mary dated (and had sex) she wasn't desperate to get a husband and leave her job. That was pretty ground breaking at the time. Although this season doesn't have Betty White or Georgia Engel, it does introduce Rhoda's mother Ida Morgenstern (Nancy Walker), and had Cloris Leachman - fresh off her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in Last Picture Show - as Phyllis Lindstrom.

Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
- I don't think that any actor has actually done the definitive version of Mickey Spillane's private detective Mike Hammer ... including Mickey Spillane who played the role in 1963's The Girl Hunters. This is actually Stacy Keach's 1997 syndicated attempt to revive his version of Mike Hammer which had a rather chaotic history between 1984 and 1987. One gathers that the aging Keach (56 at the time) wasn't able to recapture the tough gritty nature of the old show (and his old self). Maybe the original was just the right show for it's time.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy 4 Pack
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: Ted's Food and Wine
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: Thom's Home
- The box set contains all four of the two disc individual makeover sets including the Thom and Ted discs released at the same time. Given the prices for the box set versus what you'd have to pay for the individual packages, you are better off buying the box set rather than the individual packages, probably even if you've already bought the first two.

Remington Steele: Season 1
- True story: I once impressed a young woman by doing Remington Steele's film buff thing - she recognised the kindred spirit of someone who also loved that show. The fact is that Pierce Brosnan was almost as cool as Mr. Steele as he would later be as James Bond. The show made him a star, much to the irritation of his co-star Stephanie Zimbalist who (not unlike Tina Louise in Gilligan's Island but for more cause) believed that she was supposed to be the star. Steele was originally intended to be mainly comic relief but Brosnan's charisma soon made him the major figure, although Zimbalist's Laura Holt was always essential to the show. The first season had James Read as Laura's investigator (and previous love interest) Murphy Michaels and Janet DeMay as the agency's secretary Bernice Foxe (who Steele always called "Miss Wolfe"). They were replaced by Doris Roberts in the second season.

Rumpole of the Bailey: Set 3
- I'm not really sure what A&E is doing with the Rumpole disks but if I were intending to buy the series this would discourage me. The set of six disks includes the final three years of the Rumpole Of The Bailey series, with each season containing six hour long shows. The problem in my mind is the price - $103.99 Canadian. If I read the website correctly buying the complete series - which will be available August 9 and priced at $136 - will be cost less than sets 1 and 2 (which cover the first four season and priced at $71 each) combined, meaning that Set 3 would effectively be free. Why they didn't issue the individual six episode seasons for a far lower price is beyond me.

Silk Stalkings: The Complete Third Season
- I believe that I've reviewed an earlier release of this show and as I recall I didn't have too much good to say about it. Since I've never seen it though, my opinion isn't worth that much.

Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Second Season
- Paramount seems intent on pushing the episodes of Star Trek Enterprise (still known simply as Enterprise in the second season) out at a far faster pace than they did with the other Star Trek series. Sadly - under the circumstance - Season Two continued to wallow in the creative miasma of Berman and Braga's leadership. There are a few good episodes but a lot of bad ones.

Wind In The Willows: Comp Second Series
- This is the 1983 Cosgrove Hall version of the stories created by Kenneth Grahame. Done using stop motion animation this series, done for Britain's ITV, features an outstanding set of voice actors including Ian Carmichael, Michael Hordern, and David Jason. Well worth it.

Xena: Warrior Princess - 10th Anniversary Collection
- It's no sin to admit that I liked Xena better than I ever liked Hercules and not just because I enjoyed looking at Lucy Lawless more than I did Kevin Sorbo. She's a better actor than he is - one of her acting teachers was William B, Davis, best known as Cancer Man on The X-Files. This set contains the first and last episodes, plus 14 other fan favourite episodes and one complete disk of extras. Most of the episodes have audio commentaries and many have video commentaries as well. This set contains some of the best episodes with plenty of Joxer The Mighty. Sadly however, Bruce Campbell - who played Autolycus in both Hercules and Xena isn't in the episodes included in the set, although there is a tribute featurette "B Is For Bruce" with the extras on the seventh disk.

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