Wednesday, February 20, 2008

TV Shows On DVD – February 19, 2008

I made a rather conscious decision at the start of the Writers Strike not to promote new DVDs of TV shows on what seemed at the time to be the very sound grounds that if people held off on buying new DVDs until after the strike ended the writers would be paid at an improved residual rate, and besides it would hurt the movie studios. Of course the first part of that idea came a cropper when the WGA dropped the demand for improved DVD residuals just to get AMPTP to the bargaining table, but the principle remains valid and I stuck to it. But now of course the strike is over so...

As always, the source material for the list of DVDs comes from but the comments are all mine.

6teen: Snow Job
6Teen is a Canadian-made animated series about six 16 year-olds working – or slacking off on – part time jobs in the Galleria Mall somewhere in North America. The episode Snow Job was a one hour special to wrap up the show's second season in the same way that the one hour special Dude of the Living Dead wrapped up the first season. The DVD appears to only have a one hour running time – the length of the special – rather than the three half hour episodes that are contained on regular season DVDs from the series. Also, this DVD only appears to be available in Canada at present.

Peanuts: It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown
I've seen the "Easter Beagle" special described as a bit of a let down on the part of the producers in as much as it borrows ideas from the Halloween Special (the Easter Beagle is equivalent to the Great Pumpkin) and the Thanksgiving one (Peppermint Patty and Marcie's kitchen mishaps), but really, who cares? The DVD also contains the Arbor Day special (wait, there was an Arbor Day special) and a featurette called In Full Bloom: Peanuts at Easter. Best of all this is the second in a series of remastered rereleases.

Class of the Titans Chaos
This is another show that I've never seen, which goes to show just how little I watch Canada's Teletoon Network which produces the show. As nearly as I can tell this DVD is only available in Canada. The disk apparently contains the first three episodes of this series about the descendants of various heroes of Greek mythology brought together by the ancient Greek gods to combat the menace of the escaped Titan Chronos.

Coach: The Third Season
I was never a huge fan of Coach. It just never held my interest, although there were members of my family who loved it. Basically, all I can tell you about this season is that by the end Hayden (Craig T. Nelson) and Christine (Shelley Fabares) are engaged even thought the broke up earlier in the year.

Cops: 20th Anniversary Edition
I've seen it argued – quite convincingly – that this is the first real reality show. Another series that has never really done it for me, I suppose because it has a sort of "trailer trash" quality that doesn't really work for me. As the title says though, it's been on the air for twenty years so they must be doing something right for somebody.

Father Ted: The Holy Trilogy
The whole thing. All three seasons of this series which has an almost legendary status among people who've seen it (guess what; I'm not one of the people wh has seen it). There are commentaries for each season (or series as the Brits call them), interviews with the writers/creators, and some other extras.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 1
This will likely come as near sacrilege to a lot of you but I have in fact seen episodes of this series... I just never liked it. When it comes down to it, the series was really one giant animated commercial for the Mattel toys and I don't recall them really selling all that well. Another thing is that the series was produced by Filmation, a studio which frankly produced disappointingly limited animation. The fact is though that for reasons that I readily admit that I don't understand this series resonates with a lot of people, most of whom saw it when they were kids and retain the memories. And after all, childhood memories are the real driving influences behind nostalgia.

This is a rerelease of the thirteen episode 1978 ITV miniseries about the life of Lillie Langtry. Langtry, an actress and singer who was the mistress of Edward VII (among others), captivated society in the late 19th Century with her beauty and wit, and numbered among her admirers Oscar Wilde, James Whistler and Judge Roy Bean. Francesca Annis (who portrayed Lady Macbeth in the Roman Polanski film of Macbeth) is perfectly cast as Lillie Langtry and it is a much commented upon aspect of her performance that she ages from a teenager to near her death at age 76. A truly great performance.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 2, Part 1
There have been several different versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles both produced and released on DVD that it is hard to know which is which. This set is from the first version of the show, which ran from 1987 to 1996. This version of characters is lighter and more fun-loving than the version created for the original black and white comic books but it is probably true that that quality is what made the characters as popular as they became. The presentation in this DVD is different from most in that the episodes are presented in the correct order and on a season by season basis. This is something that I wish was true of far more releases of animated series.

Walker, Texas Ranger: Season 4
Another admission – I was a regular watcher of Walker, Texas Ranger. Now admittedly, when I watched the show it was frequently a case of ridiculing Chuck Norris for his repeated use of his spin kick, a move which by this time seemed to be the one martial arts move that he could still do (which may be the reason why it was used so often). It was a revelation later to see Sammo Hung's speed and inventiveness on the Martial Law series – Sammo would have kicked Walker's ass in a fair fight. I also commented on the fact that Walker's truck was repeatedly shot by hundreds of rounds of automatic weapons fire and not only didn't have anything vital (like the radiator) hit but never even had a bullet hole. I did all that, but I have to confess that I frequently got caught up in the action. Of course I can't tell you the details of season 4 because quite frankly seasons of Walker are pretty much indistinguishable from each other with the only differentiating features usually being the arrival and departure of supporting characters, and quite frankly that didn't happen all that often.

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