Wednesday, October 12, 2005

TV On DVD - October 11, 2005

A fairly slow week in DVDs and a relatively lackluster list at that. Still there are a couple of gems from Britain and a couple of American series worth checking out.

I was trying to buy some DVDs for the past couple of weeks. The local Future Shop sent out a flyer about a week and a half ago offering Firefly for $29.98 in conjunction with the opening of the movie Serenity - I actually went to a theatre to see it; great movie go see it! - so I went to the store the day they advertised it. They didn't have it, the shipment was delayed, check back on Monday. I couldn't make it Monday so I went in on Wednesday (the sale price supposedly ended that Friday); shipment was delayed, check back next Monday. I called back on Tuesday (Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving so naturally I was helping my brother to install a new storm door on his house) and "no we didn't get any in this week, check back next Monday." I am beginning to lose patience with these people since the whole thing sounds like a "bait and switch" operation.

All Grown Up: RV Having Fun Yet?
- Described (on the box) as a double length All Grown Up special with two bonus episodes. I'm going to hazard a guess here and say that the double length part has more than a bit to do with "camping" in an RV. Yawn.

Arrested Development: Season 2
- One of the writers described this as a show that nobody watches. He said it at the Emmy Awards after he and his partner had heard that they had won the Emmy for Best Writing in a Comedy. Here's a confession - I'm one of the people not watching. My excuse is that I've always been watching something else. This season I've even been doing something else - bowling. Still they have to be doing something right for Fox of all networks to keep them on despite the ratings.

Captain and Tennille: Ultimate Collection
- During World War II they had a slogan: "Is this trip really necessary?" This can be adapted to this release: "Is this DVD really necessary?" But then one has to remember that Pink Lady ... and Jeff is out on DVD and we can at least thank our lucky stars that it isn't Shields and Yarnell, and it was nominated for an Emmy.

Dora the Explorer: Dance to the Rescue
- More kidvid I don't get. I feel old.

Duchess of Duke Street: Series 1
- One of the best series to come out of Britain in the 1970s. It is of course the sort of concept that an American producer might take and do horribly badly. The story is about a lower class woman who becomes the hotel keeper to the best of London society thanks to an affair with the Prince of Wales, a supportive lover and her own abilities as a business woman and chef. Gemma Jones is superb in the lead role and the supporting cast is excellent.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Original Animated Series, Vol. 2
Fat Albert's Christmas Special

- Probably intended for children, but there are probably a lot of adults who have fond memories of one of Bill Cosby's greatest comedy creations.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air: The Complete Second Season
- The thing about Will Smith is that he can be a good actor. The problem with Will Smith is that all too often the projects that he chooses are lucrative financially but don't push him as far as he can go in terms of using his acting abilities. In an odd sort of way The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Airfall into the category of roles that push his acting ability if only because up until the time that he did the series no one knew that he had any acting ability. Because of the talent he showed while surrounded by a strong cast which included James Avery, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro he got the part in Six Degrees Of Separation but also Bad Boys and Independence Day; the good roles and the lucrative roles came because of the ability and screen presence - one might even say the charisma - that he exhibited on the sitcom.

The Jeffersons: The Complete Fourth Season
- Another season of The Jeffersons. There's not really that much that stands out about the fourth season of the show in terms of major changes. Still, taken over its run the show was quite entertaining which I suppose is reason enough for wanting it.

Stephen King Presents Kingdom Hospital: Post Mortem
- The only reason I can see for making a three DVD set release of what was a rather poorly rated ABC series, which has already been released in a boxed set containing all 13 episodes is to milk a bit more money from the Stephen King completists out there. Frankly I don't see it, but then I'm waiting for my local Future Shop to get in a shipment of Firefly DVDs so who am I to talk.

Mutant X: The Complete Third Season
- I never actually saw an episode of this series, probably because of the very reason it was made - it tried to imitate The X-Men. In fact Marvel Entertainment, which owns the X-Men characters was one fo the producers of the show. However because 20th Century Fox had the movie rights - and sued when the series debuted - certain elements were ditched, such as "code names" and specific uniforms. This is the final season of the show and sees character Emma de Lauro die while John Shea as Adam Kane is reduced to recurring status.

Only Fools and Horses: The Complete Series 6
- Although I've only seen moments of this show, courtesy of BBC Canada, it is one of the best loved British series of all time. A big part of it is casting. David Jason, who played David "Del Boy" Trotter, is arguably one of the finest actors working in British television, a chameleon like figure who makes the transition between comedy and drama effortlessly. Nicholas Lindhurst is letter perfect as younger brother Rodney who Del Boy has to protect. The Trotters aren't really crooked, although they are a little "bent". The series itself has had an irregular (to say the least) history. Series 6, which features Rodney's wedding to Cassandra, was made two and a half years after Series 5 and in the intervening period there were three 90 minute Christmas specials. There was one further series of six shows about a year and a half later (with two Christmas specials in between) followed by a several more specials before the series ended (apparently) with a Christmas special in 2003 where Rodney and Cassandra's baby is born. However a sequel called Green Green Grass featuring two of the supporting characters - Boycie and his wife Marlene - was being shot in June 2005

Soap: The Complete Fourth Season
- It's hard to remember just how scared Soap made a lot of people feel when it first came out. They didn't like the homosexuality idea, they didn't like the sexuality period (on the other hand the Gay community wasn't exactly comfortable with it either - they were "sure" that the producers would "cure" Jody). By the fourth season most of the controversy had disappeared and along with it the ratings. Still there were some fun elements. There was Roscoe Lee Brown attempting valiantly (and failing miserably) to replace Robert Guillaume's Benson, and there was always the physical comedy of Richard Mulligan working alone or with Ted Wass. Still I think the best thing in the show (and apologies to Katherine Helmond here) is Billy Crystal as Jody. For a gay character, Jody attracted some fine looking women - in this season the ever dependable Barbara Rhoades.

South Park: The Complete Sixth Season
- There are no words to express just how much I loathe South Park. Rather than try to explain why I hate the show (expletives, animation that in appearance sets the form back to the 1920s) I think I'll just go on to the next DVD.

Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season
- I came late to Veronica Mars. Last year's TV Guide Fall Preview liked it, and people I respect on the newsgroup raved about it, but somehow it just seemed too "Nancy Drew" to me. Then I tried it. And yeah there are some elements that remind me of Nancy - substitute Wallace for George just as an example - but the show takes a far different spin than sweet virginal Nancy or her creators ever thought about in their deepest alcoholic stupors (assuming of course they ever had alcoholic stupors). I refuse to say that it's the best thing UPN has ever produced, bit it comes very close.

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