Tuesday, August 16, 2005

TV On DVD - August 16, 2005

A fairly light list which got a little heavier today with a sudden addition. Just a note on something. I had expected (I was about to write hoped but that's not the right word by a long shot) to review Tommy Lee Goes To College tonight but a situation has come up which means I probably won't be able to. I'm sure you are almost as broken hearted as I am. NOT.

Allo Allo! The Complete Series Three
- Listen very carefully, I will say this only once. If Hogan's Heroes was American television's attempt at a World War II comedy, Allo Allo is the British version, a little further removed from the war, and with that peculiar type of comedy that the British do so well. David Croft, one of the best British comedy writers of the period, crafted a show that is pure farce, filled with stereotypes from which no one, not the Resistance, the British, or of course the Nazis. Even television, and the convention of casting Britisih actors as French people without accents comes into play. There's a hint of truth to the proceedings. Most of the French weren't in the Resistance, nor were they outright collaborators. Like Rene, the lead character, they were people who were just trying to live their lives as ordinarily as they could and maybe make a bit of money. Admittedly, most probably weren't trying to balance a hag of a wife and two mistresses, but that's where the farce part comes in.

The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Third Season
- By the third season the Andy Griffith Show was hitting its stride. The third season saw the arrival on the scene of Helen Crump, Andy's permanent girl friend, although she doesn't show up until late in the season. Jim Nabors' as Gomer Pyle was prominent and it was the start of a run that would lead to his own series two years later. This season also included the debuts of a couple of the most famous recurring characters (or in one case groups of recurring characters - Briscoe Darling (Denver Pyle) and his marvelously musical family (including daughter Darlene who was in love with Andy) and of course Howard Morris's much loved rock thrower Ernest T. Bass.

Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons
- While Johnny Carson headed off in his own direction when he took over The Tonight Show - and what a wonderful direction it was - when Dick Cavett got his own talk show in 1969 he stuck closer to the model of witty and erudite conversation favoured by Jack Paar. This DVD set included nine complete episodes of Cavett's 1969-1974 series focussing on great musical acts of the day including Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby, Steven Stills, Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Paul Simon, David Bowie, and of course Saskatoon's own Joni Mitchell (sorry, we have to say that around here). And because these are complete episodes rather than just the musical appearances, there are some great guest stars present.

I Love Lucy: The Complete Fifth Season
- They didn't have the phrase "jump the shark" back in the 1950s (thank goodness) but if they did, I think they'd say this was the season that I Love Lucy jumped it. Well at least that's my opinion. The show had largely ceased to be about the home life of the Ricardos and Mertzes during the previous season and became about Lucy meeting celebrities but still there was the element of home life, even if home was a Beverly Hills hotel. In the fifth season the Ricardos and Mertzes - with little Ricky present but rarely seen in the safe hands of his grandmother - wind up Ricky's film making career and Lucy's souvenir collecting (with the biggest prize of all in the form of John Wayne's footprints from outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater) - and head home. But no sooner do they get home than everyone, and I mean everyone, except Grandma and Little Ricky head off to Europe so Lucy can meet more famous people and have adventures in foreign climes. I'm not saying there isn't funny stuff there - the grape stomping is classic - but somewhere on the Atlantic a shark was jumped.

Little Britain - The Complete First Series
- I must confess that I haven't seen this BBC offering starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams despite the fact that it's available on BBC Canada and on the Showcase channel here. The commercials I've seen for it just tend to make me think it's not the sort of show I'd enjoy.

The Office: Season One (US/NBC Version)
- This is the American version of The Office, starring Steven Carell. Confession time: I watched the first episode and didn't like it. I didn't review it at the time for precisely that reason; I didn't like the first episode and was given to understand that subsequent episodes had undergone some significant changes. Then some things intervened which kept me from catching any of the other episodes, until the last one. I was right in not reviewing the show based on the first episode because the final episode of the first season was touching and enjoyable. Definitely a series worth catching when it comes back, or catching up with on DVD.

Phil Of The Future: Gadgets And Gizmos
- I haven't seen this Disney Channel series even though it is available on the Family Channel in Canada. In some ways the description makes it sound vaguely like a cross between Alf and the "Coneheads" sketches from Saturday Night Live, but with time travel. A family from the future are trapped in our time and while the kids try to adjust to living in our time the father is a bit paranoid about being discovered by the government. All played for fun for the early teen market of course.

Saved By The Bell: New Class: Season 4
- It's pretty surprising to me that this series lasted for seven years, considering that I never heard of it. Of course I was never the target audience. One gathers that there was a significant turn-over in cast which meant that few made an impression on the audience, and that on the whole the show was not as well thought of as the original version.

The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season
- Funny thing about The Simpsons; for me at least one season just sort of seems to blend into another. This apparently was the season where someone shot J. Montgomery Burns in a mystery which was only slightly less important than who shot J.R. Ewing, but for the most part the whole series blurs together for me. Mind you it is a funny blur.

That's So Raven: Disguise The Limit
- I remember "Raven" back when she was little Raven Symone (no hyphens or accents) who played Olivia on The Cosby Show. Apparently she grew up to do Hangin' With Mister Cooper,star in this Disney series and incidentally become the Favorite Female TV Star at the Kid's Choice Awards. Take that Mary-Kate and Ashley. Of course I've never seen her show, but then I'm probably not the major market for this disc.

Undeclared: The Complete Series
- Okay now this one has me totally flummoxed. Not only have I never seen it, I've never even known of its existence until now, despite the fact that it ran 16 weeks on a major network - well Fox actually (which may explain a great deal). The set apparently includes two never before seen episodes, bringing the total to 18 episodes. There are also plenty of extras.

Will & Grace: The Complete Fourth Season
- I've never gotten Will & Grace. Quite frankly I think that if I were gay I'd feel vaguely insulted by the show and it's portrayal of the two homosexual characters, particularly Jack. Don't get me wrong, from what I've seen Sean Hayes is a very talented actor - I really liked him as Jerry Lewis in the Martin & Lewis biopic - but somehow he seems just too much of a stereotype, and in truth Eric McCormack isn't much better. I like the way that Megan Mulally and Hayes work off of each other but beyond that I don't really care for the series. But that's just me.

I just found out about this today:
SPECIAL: Peter Jennings - Reporter
- The ABC News Store is offering a the ABC News Special on the life of Peter Jennings that aired last Wednesday night on DVD. The price is $29.95 US and profits from the sale of the DVD go to one of five charities that Jennings supported: Veritas Therapeutic Community, Coalition for the Homeless, Women In Need, Teach For America, or Sloan-Kettering Research Fund (purchasers have the choice of where their money will go).

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