Wednesday, July 18, 2007

TV on DVD – July 17, 2007 – The Return

Yeah, I’ve decided to revive my TV on DVD articles. These are TV shows that will be available on July 17. The list is taken from the TV Shows On DVD website, which is an invaluable resource.
So, why did this part of my blogging die and why is it coming back now? Well the first part is easy to answer – I was getting swamped and not getting the pieces out in a timely manner that was satisfactory to me. As to why it’s coming back, there are several reasons. The new computer gave me some new tools to use in doing these pieces so that I can work at them well ahead of time, and Amazon has a couple of interesting new tools for making links on the blog more exciting than plain old text links. Not that I expect to make money on this feature – I didn’t before so why should now be any different – but what I’m adding will give the links “pop”. Mostly though, I just miss doing it. So let’s get started.

Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
I can’t say that I’ve ever seen this show. I know some of the basics about the characters from comic books, but I’ve never seen the show or played the video games. What’s worse of course is that I can’t give an informed opinion about the quality of the animation. Thanks to Wikipedia I can tell you that it is the “lighter” of the two animated versions of the character that debuted in 1993. Both were produced by the same company and both featured Jaleel White as the voice of Sonic, though none of the actors who played other character appeared in both shows. Obviously it’s “Kidvid” but can I really be dismissive of this when some of my fondest memories as a child were of shows which today would be dismissed as “Kidvid” if people like me didn’t regard them as classics (Yogi Bear, Quickdraw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound). Apparently not available at

America's Funniest Home Videos: Guide to Parenting
I’ve never been a fan of America’s Funniest Home Videos, the ever green franchise that has gone through several incarnations and reincarnations – I seem to recall that it’s been cancelled and then revived several times in its 17 year history. Someone called it the world’s first reality show – it may be true if you don’t count something like Candid Camera as a reality show. The show is about people who send in funny home video clips in hopes of making money. Are they or aren’t they staged? I don`t know, but I`d probably be a bit less cynical if there weren`t a $10,000 prize at the end of each episode. This is a compilation disc built around the theme of parenting, and I`m guessing that somewhere in it is the image of dear old dad getting caught in the `nads by a kid swinging a baseball bat.

Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series
Before there was Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law there was Birdman and The Galaxy Trio. A superhero series, this was done with desperate seriousness by Hanna-Barbera. Contrary to the title, Birdman (his secret identity was Ray Randall – not a Harvey to be seen) and the Galaxy Trio – Vapor Man, Meteor Man, and Gravity Girl – didn’t actually interact with each other. Each episode of the show followed the normal Saturday morning cartoon show format of the time with two episodes of Birdman separated by an episode of Galaxy Trio. Among the voice talent was Dick Beals, Don Messick and Ted Cassidy (Lurch from The Addams Family).

Bozo: The World's Most Famous Clown, Vol. 1
Even if you never saw Bozo as a kid – and I never did because I was poor and deprived and living in a place far from the US border – you were aware of the image of Larry Harmon’s character through books, comics, records and any number of other kid friendly things. Harmon did something interesting with the character by licensing him to various local TV stations. They’d find their own actors to play the character – Willard Scott was Bozo in Washington for a time – who tended to have their own variations in look. It’s not clear from the description, but the material on this disc may be from Harmon’s experiment in syndicating the show nationally to stations that didn’t produce their own shows, with Boston’s Bozo Frank Avruch. Thirty episodes, probably aimed more at people who were kids in the 1960s than those who are kids today.

The Business
Canada has an IFC channel but as you might expect it has totally different content from the American IFC and because of the way the network is licensed by the CRTC it carries a low percentage of American programming. As a result The Business doesn’t seem to be seen in Canada. The show is about the attempts of a producer of low budget porn films to enter into legitimate film production. It at least sounds as if it could be interesting.

College Hill Virgin Islands
A reality show from BET, a network which I don’t get. Follows eight students at the University of the Virgin Islands – four locals and four California transfer students – as they share a “tricked out pad.” There are cultural differences and tensions and the usual reality show sex and drama. The local makes it sound exotic but on the whole it sounds like any number of shows that bring people from diverse backgrounds together and forces them to share a living space.

Grafters: Season 1
Actually a mini-series about two brothers forced to work together for economic reasons on a house owned by a London couple. Features the always enjoyable Robson Green. The title comes from British slang for labour – graft or hard graft – and people who works as labourers – grafters.

Gunsmoke: Season 1
Finally they’re doing this show properly. Previously they had released an anniversary package in two volumes – one of half-hour episodes and one of hour-long episodes – a Directors Collection and a collection of the made for TV movies. This doesn’t mention the Columbia House collections that my buddy Ivan Shreve diligently collected until Columbia House stopped doing them. The series was a staple in my house for its entire run, but for a long time – here at least – it has been impossible to see the early black & white episodes, or even the half hour episodes. Definitely worth seeing!!!

The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Second Season
Trust me, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. It became almost a cliché but this is the series that brought it to life. Taking elements from The Fugitive (David Banner travels from town to town taking menial jobs and helping people he meets along the way while being pursued for a murder “The Hulk” didn’t commit – Banner’s own) and Night Stalker (The Hulk is pursued by monster hunting tabloid reporter Jack McGee) and grafting them onto the concept from the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby comic book created a show that was slightly less cheesy than some of the other shows that were coming out of Universal TV at the time – shows like The Bionic Woman and Battlestar Galactica.

The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman
Another IFC series that I don’t get to see, this one a comedy about a magazine writer who wants to be a screenwriter and his friend Tara, who works at a low level job at a video production house.

Most Haunted: Castles of Britain
Most Haunted: London Haunts
Most Haunted: the Collection
A British “paranormal investigations” series that has been on the air since 2002, and which is seen on the Travel Channel in the U.S. A team consisiting of presenter Yvette Fielding, parapsychologist Dr. Ciaran O’Keefe, and a Medium (currently David Wells, previously Derek Acorah) investigate hauntied buildings and paranormal phenomena. The Collection is a six disk set with 20 episodes, apparently all from the show’s first two seasons, while London Haunts and Castles of Britain are single disks with three episodes each. Also be aware that there have been several accusations of fakery (well no kidding!) related to this show, notably the “abilities” of the original psychic medium.

Overhaulin' Season 3 Vol.1
TLC’s answer to Pimp My Ride does surprise upgrades of old and often worn out cars for people who think that their car has been stolen, impounded or otherwise “misplaced.” Family and friends are usually involved in nominating the recipient/victim and getting the car away from them while members of the show’s cast take various roles to explain why the car is gone and keep the owner in the dark about what’s going on until the reveal.

Payback - Volume 1 - DVD
This show from Speed Channel features celebrities who have made it “big” thanking people who have helped them in the past. Since this is a Speed Channel show, the “payback” comes in the form of a heavily customized new car, built by Detroit’s Wheel to Wheel auto shop.

Rising Damp, Vol. 4
The last season or series of one of the classics of British television. The show deals with the lives of quiet desperation of the residents of a rundown “bedsit” owned by a seedy, miserly and bigoted landlord named Rupert Rigsby. Of particular interest is the young medical student, Alan, who is played by Richard Beckinsale, whose daughter Kate has made something of a name for herself as an actress. Sadly her father never saw her success – he died of a heart attack a couple of years after the show ended, at age 31.

The Rookies: Season 1
A classic early ‘70s “realistic” cop show along the lines of Adam-12 and Joseph Wambaugh’s novel The New Centurions, it is probably best known today for being one of the earliest roles for Kate Jackson. She played Nurse Jill Danko who was married to Officer Mike Danko, who was played by Sam Melville (year’s later Melville played Mrs. King’s ex-husband in Scarcrow and Mrs. King opposite Kate Jackson). In the first season the other two rookie cops were played by Georg Stanford Brown and Michael Ontkean, while Gerald S. O’Laughlin played their boss, Lt. Ryker.

Space Ghost and Dino Boy: The Complete Series
Another Hanna-Barbera series from the 1960s that used a similar format to that of Birdman And The Galaxy Trio in that, while two characters were included in the title they didn’t interact. Also like Birdman, Space Ghost spun off into more comedic form, as the “host” of Space Ghost Coast To Coast. Alas, Dino Boy, who like the Galaxy Trio was only seen in one of the three segments in each episode, never made the jump to adult roles. Someone who did make the jump to adult roles was the voice of Jace, Space Ghost’s male sidekick, Tim Matheson.

Vincent - Season 1
An intriguing British series, Vincent follows a team of private investigators led by the eponymous Vincent (played by Ray Winstone) who do the sort of work that real private investigators do, including spying on cheating spouses, as well as looking into murders for various reasons. Episode descriptions for this show make it seen quite hard-boiled, a view that is reinforced by the presence of Winstone as the lead actor.

Voyagers!: The Complete Series
Oddly enough, I have very strong memories of this show, even though it was only on TV for a single season. It certainly wasn’t the acting that was memorable – star Jon-Erik Hexum was never a more than vaguely adequate, even for a show aimed at young viewers as this show most definitely was. Still, for a history geek and a lover of anything to do with time travel fiction this was a natural fit for me. The show had a good sense of humour about itself without being reduced totally to camp, and the ties to the young audience were cemented by having the kid (Jeffrey Jones, played by Meeno Peluce) be the one with the knowledge of history while the adult (Hexum) is effectively his sidekick, doing the work of keeping history on its proper path which he only knows because Jeffrey tells him. Interestingly Meeno Peluce grew up to be a high school history teacher.

Wanted: Dead or Alive: Season Two
This is an absolute must for Steve McQueen fans. This series, which ran from 1958 to 1961, was the launching pad for McQueen’s Hollywood career. McQueen played Josh Randall, a bounty hunter with a surprisingly soft heart in many cases who would sometimes give the bounty he recovered to deserving people and on occasion helped wrongly accused prisoners. Like many characters in westerns in this period he had a signature weapon; in his case it was a sawed-off rifle Randall called a “Mare’s Leg” which he carried in a holster on his leg. McQueen carried the weight of the show on his shoulders – Josh Randall was the only continuing character – and when McQueen’s movie career heated up he deliberately became difficult to work with, to the point where the network eventually cancelled the still successful series.

William and Mary
A British series from ITV featuring the always entertaining Martin Clunes as an undertaker named William who is romantically involved with a midwife named Mary. Needless to say the themes of birth and death are prominent in this series can be described as a romantic comedy-drama. Beyond that, I don’t know much about the series. This set is describes as the “complete series” but the show ran for three 6-episode series, for a total of 18 episodes, but the information on the website indicates that the three disc set only includes 12 episodes.

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