Wednesday, April 05, 2006

TV On DVD - April 4, 2006

I missed last week's TV On DVD feature for which I'm sorry. It was a truly huge list, all of which leads me to question why DVD producers insist on releasing things on schedules that bunch stuff in specific weeks and occasionally months. I mean take a look at this week's list - it's not exactly huge. And it's pretty close to being the longest list for the entire month. I guess it just doesn't make sense to me. (P.S.: I was going to have this out last night, but Blogger vomited it back at me - in other words while everything else was working like a Swiss watch or at the very least an old fashioned Timex, I was unable to even get a Blogger screen that told me I couldn't reach Blogger.)

Speaking of stuff that doesn't make much sense to me, this week's list - provided by and embellished by myself - is a veritable flood of stuff from the 1980s. I think the only shows on the list that didn't start, end or exist entirely in the 1980s are Dawson's Creek, 3rd Rock From The Sun and Tripping The Rift. Not that there's anything wrong with the 1980s, but it was an era when a lot of TV lept headlong into gimmickry - and those were the dramas.

3rd Rock from the Sun: The Best Episodes in the Universe, Really
- This DVD release purports to answer the question of what the best episodes of 3rd Rock From The Sun are. Well actually no it doesn't. What in fact you have is a package of four episodes, three of which are already out on DVD in the season sets, or will be in about a month. Are they the best episodes in the Universe, really? Well since I never watched the show you aren't going to be able to prove it by me, but I suspect studio hype.

The Adventures of the Little Prince: The Perfect Planet
The Adventures of the Little Prince: The Star Gazer

- I'm really not sure how you turn Antoine de Saint-Exupery's charming tale of life and love and human foibles into a cartoon series, but apparently the Japanese were able to and were able to sell it internationally including to Nickelodeon in the US. Something else I don't understand is why, having released the complete series last year, Koch Entertainment has chosen to episodes in single disc packages with three episodes each. Maybe that's the bigger puzzle. If you're really interested by the complete series set.

The A-Team: Season Four
- More excitement and non-fatal machine gun fire from the world's favourite band of troubleshooters on the run. I mean in the first four seasons every episode seems to blend together with the only differences being whether there's a fifth - female - team member. Someone needs help and somehow finds out about the Colonel Smith and his friends. The Team confronts the bad guy minions and defeats them, the bad guys themselves come back and forces Hannibal to come up with a plan which involves BA building stuff, all while Face romances pretty girls, and Murdoch behaves in a manner that would be classified as insane except that he probably isn't really. Scenes of BA being tricked into flying are optional. It's fun, but it's also cookie cutter stuff. About the only thing of note here is the presence of Tia Carrere in the final episode of the season. The plan was that she would be a series regular in Season 5 but various contract difficulties meant that she wasn't able to be on the show and her character was never mentioned again. At least her credentials as an action star were earned early on.

Dawson's Creek: The Complete Sixth Season
- I never saw this show (on the other hand I have been to the real Dawson's Creek - or at least the town in British Columbia by that name; just thought I'd share). I didn't have The WB until the end of 2001 and by that time it was too late for me to inject myself into the habit of watching this show. I probably wasn't in the right demographic anyway. For what it's worth, I can tell you that this is the final season.

Full House: The Complete Third Season
- What to say about this show? I'm tempted to use the standard advice given to kids "If you can't say something nice about something say nothing at all" and end this review right now with a hearty "Nothing at all." The trouble is that for all of its sugary sweetness and tendency to deal with complex problems in thirty minutes minus commercials, a cast that included Bob Saget John Stamos and four of the most annoying kids you can think of including the Olsen Twins, it still had redeeming qualities. Dave Coulier could be funny in his goofy way, and there was always Lori Loughlin. I've lusted after her since she was on my longtime favourite soap opera The Edge Of Night. But that's about all I can think of now and for the foreseeable future.

Garbage Pail Kids: The Complete Series
- This show is an obscure bit of TV history. CBS ordered the series in 1989 but the mere mention of the concept set waves of soccer mom protests into action spearheaded by the group "Action for Children's Television". This despite the fact that the only thing they ever saw was an early teaser ad. It did air in Europe and I've even heard of an Icelandic DVD set (and I'm sure there are others of course - Iceland isn't the world's biggest market) but has only been seen in America in bootleg tapes and R2 DVDs - until now.

Knight Rider: Season Four
- Glenn Larson has said that with Knight Rider he wanted "to do The Lone Ranger with a car. Kind of a sci-fi thing, with the soul of a western." On the other hand I've read that the real origins of the show came from an NBC executive who was so exasperated with the pretty boy actors with no talent that kept being given shows that he came up with a concept called "The Man With Six Lines." The actor would have six lines per week - the same six lines - and the car would do the real acting. Either way it's an interesting concept and whether you see "Michael Knight" as sci-fi Lone Ranger, a modern day knight errant or as a man with six lines, I think you 'll have to admit that the show may have been a lot of fun but it was scarcely great art.

Magnum P.I.: The Complete Fourth Season
- Of the series from the 1980s that came out this week, my obvious favourite was Magnum P.I.? I mean what's not to love. The characters are well rounded, there's a sense of humour that doesn't get in the way of either the action or the drama. It's a neat balancing act, one which makes this show one of the classics of the genre. There are some real gems in this season including Home From The Sea an episode which focuses almost exclusively on Magnum's memories of his father and his life while treading water for almost 24 hours. This season also features Carol Burnett's first of two episodes on the show and the first two shows featuring broken down private eye Luther Gillis. What more could you hope for?

Star Trek: Fan Collective - Time Travel
- A few weeks ago Paramount released a themed Star Trek collection dealing with the Borg. This time around the new theme is Time Travel. Most of the Star Trek series have done it and most are covered in this set. There are two Original Series stories including "The City on the Edge of Forever", four Next Generation episodes with "Time's Arrow" being a two parter, two DS9 episodes including both "Trials and Tribble-ations" and the hilarious "Little Green Men", and three Voyager shows including the series finale. The only series missing (besides the animated series of course) is Enterprise and their time travel story "Carpenter Street".

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 4
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles confuses me, or more accurately the packaging of the series confuses me. These episodes are from the "original" series which was in production from 1987 to 1996. There's also a series that began production in 2003 and is also being released on DVD. This set is Volume 4 but is actually made up of a dozen episodes from Season 3. I guess you could describe this series as the more "kid friendly" version than either the original comic books, although after the series debuted the original comics would become less prominent as the "kid friendly" Archie Comics version - based on the TV series - began circulating widely. For many kids, the only version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles they knew was the sanitized version created for the first TV series.

Tripping the Rift: Season Two
- I've heard of this show but never seen it for more than a couple of seconds. As a result I can't really say much about it except that if the concept of a perpetually horny three-eyed multi-armed space ship captain and his crew of misfits in a universe that parodies just about everything sounds intriguing, this is the show for you.

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