Saturday, March 11, 2006

TV On DVD - March 7, 2006

Well it's late but at least I completed it this week. Between writing the Amazing Race for the newsgroup (good early episode this week although not one of the most exciting), shovelling snow, and trying to qualify to qualify to qualify for the World Series of Poker for free (there are three tournaments I'd have to compete in successfully to make it), I've been a little rundown.

Some extremely good family material out this week, including a couple of major comedies and a new way to look at Star Trek which I hope they continue with. There are also a couple of show where you have to think "why on earth did they release this?" All that plus Angie Dickinson with handcuffs. What more could one possibly want (besides lower prices for these things of course)? As always the list was originally from your source for news and information on TV shows coming to DVD.

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda Season 5, Collection 4
- By the last season of Andromeda I had totally lost interest to the point where I couldn't tell you who at least one of the characters was (Telemachus Rade if you must know). I will say that they are taking a rather unique approach to releasing this series on DVD which I confess I don't fully understand. There are four episodes on this two disk set but the five sets that make up the season will be collected into a single boxed set. Based on the price of this "Volume" I'd say that anyone who is really interested should probably wait until the complete season is released - it will cost a lot less.

Baby Looney Tunes, Vol. 1
Baby Looney Tunes, Vol. 2

- What can I say about this idea? Not much. I'm really not sure what possessed Warner Animation to make a series about Bugs and the other Looney Tunes characters (including Lola Bunny who was created for Space Jam to give Bugs a love interest that wasn't Elmer Fudd) but it was probably the same impulse that led to Loonatics Unleashed. Baby versions of the characters didn't really work for the Muppets so why should they work here.

The Brady Bunch: The Complete Final Season
- The fifth season was the final one for The Brady Bunch and also marked the height of Robert Reed's frustration with the show. It's hard not to feel for him - he was a Shakespearean trained actor who had gained rave reviews in the ground breaking dramatic series The Defenders in the 1960s and yet he was doomed to be known for playing this role which stretched him hardly at all. No wonder he doesn't appear in the final episode. And yet can you imagine Gene Hackman in this part? I was a teenaged boy when this show was on and the fifth season also marked the peak for Maureen McCormick's "hottie" factor (hard to believe that she's the same age as I am). And Eve Plumb wasn't exactly a mud fence either. Oh yeah, and there was Florence Henderson too but then we knew had raging hormones for her from the first season - or maybe the second.

The Cosby Show: Season 2
- The Cosby Show was of course one of the great family series of the 1980s, and possibly of all time. The second season saw the addition of Sabrina LeBeauf as a regular on the show - she had appeared in at least one episode in the first season - and would also see the preparations made for the departure of Lisa Bonet's character Denise. At the time it was said that Bill Cosby thought she was such a major talent that she could support her own show, but apparently Cosby actually urged that she be fired and it was the threat of legal action that led to the spinoff A Different World where ironically she only stayed for one year. The Cosby Show faced a lot of criticism - some of which was heard during the second season for "not being black enough" apparently because the Huxtables were "rich" (a doctor and a lawyer) and for its failure to address "black" issues. It was mostly apolitical, and in later years left the more edgy political material for A Different World.

The Best of the Best of Electric Company
- I was going to say that they meant "More Of The Best Of The Electric Company" since a Best Of The Electric Company set was released last month but I've discovered that that's not it at all. This appears to be a compilation of individual material for a number of episodes of the show on a single disc (based on the price) rather than complete episodes as on Best Of The Electric Company. I don't know which approach is better for the material because I don't believe the show was ever seen on a Canadian station and the show was off the air before cable reached my part of Canada (and PBS was a late addition).

The Flintstones - The Complete Fifth Season
- The Flintstones was the pioneer for such series as The Simpsons, Family Guy, King Of The Hill and American Dad; a primetime, network, animated series. Between the time that The Flintstones left the air and The Simpsons came on there weren't too many people who were willing to try the format. The fifth season continued to mine popular culture for satire. There's a reference to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair and to the Beatles in the episode "The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes" (which used two families introduced in earlier episodes), and the Flintstones meet up with the "Cartrocks" in another episode. Of particular interest is the episode "Indianrockolis 500" in which Fred becomes "Goggles Paisano". Now Ivan can probably correct me on this but the "Goggles" voice sounds pretty close to the voice that Alan Reed (who played Fred) used when he was playing "Pasquale" on the radio show Life With Luigi. It's also worth noting that this season marked the debut of Gerry Johnson as Betty Rubble, replacing Bea Benadaret who was focusing on Petticoat Junction.

Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Third Season
- As in most sitcoms, seasons of Hogan's Heroes are virtually interchangable because nothing much changes. Most episodes involved Hogan putting somatic over on Colonel Klink, and there was usually a pretty girl for Hogan to romance, but you knew that the in the next episode it would be as if she never existed. There was on big change in this season, the addition of the Gestapo officer Major Hochstetter. Most of the regular German characters in the show were in some shape or form caricatures and even vaguely likable, or at least socially redeemable - even Burkhalter. There was nothing likable or redeemable about Hochstetter. He was a mean SOB, and I always thought he had been introduced to remind us that the Nazis weren't really like Klink and the rest. At times he was even competent! Of course the fact that Hochstetter was the way he was made it much more enjoyable when Hogan beat him, an event which usually got him into big trouble with Berlin. Somehow though he always managed to wriggle out. Of the four regular German officer characters, Hochstetter was the only one not played by a German Jew - he was played by Howard Caine who was born in Nashville.

Lily the Witch V1 Ep.1-5
Lily the Witch V2 Ep.6-9

- An Irish-German series which, for the life of me, I've never heard of, to the point where all I can tell you is that its an animated series and that's only thanks to IMDB.

Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg
- In the wake of the X-Files: Mythology collections, Paramount has released Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg featuring the biggest baddest villains of the "modern" Star Trek universe. It's hard to believe that the original main enemy of the Federation in Star Trek: The Next Generation were meant to be the Ferengi, but it's true. It rapidly became apparent how absurd that was and in season two of the series The Borg were introduced in the episode "Q-Who". This set includes most of the episodes of the various series where the Borg were seen in chronological order (so the first episode on the first disc is the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Regeneration" which was actually the last "Borg" episode produced. There are some truly great episodes in this set including "The Best of Both Worlds", "Scorpion", "Unimatrix Zero" and "End Game". There are some gaps however. The episode that introduced the Borg Children is missing as is "Raven" which tells the story of Seven's assimilation. Still worth it of course.

Police Woman: The Complete First Season
- I've always wondered about this series. In the 1960s and '70s there was a clearly defined gap between movie actors and TV actors. TV was "beneath" movie actors and if a TV actor could crack into the movies he left TV behind. So why did Angie Dickinson - who had worked with Frank Sinatra and John Wayne (and if some of the stories are true had affairs with a selection of famous men including John F Kennedy - reportedly on the night of his inauguration) - do TV? Whatever the reason, it worked. Dickinson took a character from an episode of Police Story and made it one of the iconic series of the period. It was episodic, with little or no continuity as was common in that period, and didn't have what we came to know as the gritty realism of a Hill Street Blues, but Angie was tough (but for some reason I don't doubt that there were more than a few men who wanted to be handcuffed by her) and it worked.

The Scooby-Doo / Dynomutt Hour - The Complete Series
- Just what the world needs, more Scooby-Doo. Oh Joy. No Scrappy-Doo (thank heaven for small mercies) but there is Scooby-Dum. Add to this the Blue Falcon and his blundering robotic canine sidekick Dynomutt. Mix it all together and what do you get? Something I wouldn't be too anxious to pay good money for, but that's just me.

Three's Company - Season 6
- The first season after the final departure of Suzanne Somers also saw the gradual phasing out of Jennilee Harrison who played Cindy Snow. She had left the apartment but still showed up occasionally. Added to the cast was Priscilla Barnes as nurse Terri Alden. Terri wasn't the wide eyed innocent that Chrissy was or particularly blundering like Cindy. At times in fact she seemed downright perplexed by the whole situation. The backstage atmosphere didn't seem to have improved with the firing of Somers - in the past Barnes has said that she considers here years on Three's Company as the unhappiest period in her professional career and she nearly quite soon after being hired because of the backstage atmosphere.

The Best of Go-Go Gophers
Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales

- I have a confession to make (yeah, I know, another one). As much as I love and admire the late Don Adams and even his portrayal of Tennessee Tuxedo, I was a bigger fan of the Go-Go Gophers. The things they did to poor Colonel Kit Coyote (voiced by radio legend Kenny Delmar) were your typical "little guy out smarts big guy" material but there was just something about them. Tennessee Tuxedo and his friends Chumley the Walrus and Phineas J. Whoopee (voiced by Larry Storch) just didn't have the same resonance with me. They were funny but somehow not as funny. Even the Gophers theme song was better ("Here come the Colonel with his Sergeant, both come a roarin' and a chargin. Go-Go Gophers watch them go go go.''). It is nice to note that the Tennessee Tuxedo DVD box includes the words "15 sort of educational adventures". It fits somehow.

Walking Tall - The Complete Series
- I vaguely remember this being a series but not for too long. Bo Svenson, who replace Joe Don Baker in the Walking Tall movies attempts to bring the character - who was in fact a real Tennessee sheriff who fought a personal war on moonshiners until his death in 1974 - to TV in 1983. The series was set in 1981 which presents logical problems but setting those aside while it may have seemed like an ideal project for the Reagan era it never seemed to work. Who thought this needed to be released, or did it escape?

Nick Cannon Presents: Wild 'N Out - Season One
- If this show has appeared on a Canadian channel it's not one I've watched (I suspect it appeared on the now defunct MTV Canada which is not to be confused with the soon to appear MTV Canada which used to be Talk TV). The premise sound interesting: host Nick Cannon and an "A-List" Celebrity each lead a team in an improv comedy competition. I've never heard of most of the "A-List Celebrities - in the first season I recognise the names Orlando Jones and Kanye West (I'm feeling so old) but as I say it sounds like an idea with a lot of potential.

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