TV Not on DVD: The Your-Two-Cents Edition (Mania.com)

By:David Michael Wharton
Date: Monday, October 31, 2005

Well, there are weeks where y'all are talkative and weeks where I'm left wondering if anybody even reads this damn thing. Last week was clearly the former, as the subject of TV on DVD seems to have brought you all out of the lurking woodwork. There's a LOT of mail to get through here, so let's just dive right in.


Brian writes: "TV Shows that should be on DVD: MAX HEADROOM. Like VR.5, an early look at cyberpunk. THE TICK (animated). They released the live action version, why not the 100 times better animated version?"

You know, the only memory I have of the MAX HEADROOM series is that one episode featured spontaneous human combustion, and for some reason freaked the crap outta me at the time.

But I do absolutely agree that the animated TICK series is long overdue. We need this show on disk before I get around to having kids, so I can introduce an entire new generation to Chairface Chippendale, El Seed, and The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight. Spoon!

Jeff writes: "The series I've most been waiting for on DVD for years and years is MAX HEADROOM. Definitely, that's the top of my list. (Ideally, the full ABC series *plus* the BBC pilot in one set, but that'll never happen.) Though, my wife and I will be thrilled to finally have AMERICAN GOTHIC, at least."

Again with the MAX HEADROOM. Seriously, if you two are on Matt Frewer's payroll, just admit it. I won't be mad, I swear.

"For curiosity, I also wouldn't mind seeing the obscure series THE PHOENIX, or STARMAN again, but I wouldn't call them must-have classics. I also have a morbid curiosity to see THE STARLOST again, but maybe I shouldn't say that as I wouldn't want to draw the ire of Harlan Ellison. :-) Actually, there are a bunch of obscure series like AUTOMAN, MANIMAL, MANN AND MACHINE, etc. that might fall into that morbid curiosity category, too."

Dude, somewhere in Harlan Ellison's house, your name was just added to a list. And when he comes calling, I never heard of you.

I don't think that society can withstand the effects of having all three of AUTOMAN, MANIMAL, and MANN AND THE MACHINE available for further viewing. So here's what I propose: we gather together all surviving fans of these series (if indeed such a thing exists) and allow them to fight to the death in Pay-per-view gladiatorial combat. The show whose fan base is left standing at the end gets their show released. And t-shirt. (But only one. They have to fight it out amongst themselves to decide who gets to keep it.)

Kevin writes: "In my estimation, the Bruce Campbell comedy gem 'JACK OF ALL TRADES is in dire need of a DVD resurrection. With a bizarre, jaunty sense of humor made even sillier by a prim and proper period setting, JACK was one of the most hilariously wacky shows I've ever had the pleasure of watching. What Bruce Campbell did here was bring a sort of blustery, Bob Hope-ian Everyman sensibility to his role as the dashing yet clumsy 1801 American spy Jack (aka The Daring Dragoon) who blundered around a French island trying to foil the tyrannical rule of a feverishly foppish Napoleon. It truly was a blissful harmony of the B-movie King's manic talents and Sam Raimi's flair for the irreverent (not to mention one of the best theme songs ever). Unfortunately, it was packaged together with the abysmal sci-fi fleshfest CLEOPATRA 2525 (which has mysteriously made it to the DVD promised land already) as the "Universal Action Pack," so it eventually just faded away into syndication obscurity. I wish Universal would do fandom a favor and release this comedic wonder as soon as possible so the entire world can have access to the hysterical exploits of The Daring Dragoon. Bruce deserves it."

JACK OF ALL TRADES was one of a great many 1990s syndicated shows I never caught a single episode of. Still, it's Bruce Campbell, so it should bloody well be on DVD. Preferably with Bruce Campbell commentary on every damn episode. And a Bruce Campbell drinking game packaged along with.

And hey, don't be so hard on CLEOPATRA 2525. It paid the bills for a young, pre-ALIAS, pre-ANGEL, pre-FIREFLY Gina Torres. Also, it…um…no, I've got nothing else, sorry.

But hey, lookie here, it's another Bruce Campbell fan in the house…

Leigh writes: "As far as seeing my favorite TV Shows being transformed into DVD format, I'd like to see the early 90's show, DINOSAURS, LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, as well as the short-lived Bruce Campbell series, JACK OF ALL TRADES. If only…Sigh…"

Well, don't sigh too deeply, Leigh, since LOIS AND CLARK already has a first-season set on the shelves, with season two scheduled for January 17. As for DINOSAURS, who knows when/if it will find its way to disc, what with the draconian fees being demanded by parent Wesayso Corporation…

Greg writes: "I just got my hands on a bootleg of the 15 existing episodes of CUPID, starring Jeremy Piven and created by VERONICA MARS mastermind Rob Thomas. Thomas has stated that the rights for this series are tied up in limbo and so there's no plans for a DVD release, but I would definitely prefer to see my rom-com wisecracking in sharpness and clarity, rather than as VHS rips."

CUPID is another show I missed out on, though, to borrow a parlance from Robert DeNiro, I've heard good things. Perhaps if VERONICA MARS continues to survive, whoever holds the rights will decide it's worth trying to cash in on the "from the creator of…" angle.

Speaking of 1998 ABC, I also wouldn't mind seeing all 13 episodes of that network's re-imagining of FANTASY ISLAND, too. It was only a mediocre show, but it was gloriously dark, and Malcolm McDowell was perfect as the new incarnation of Mr. Roarke.

Lars writes in wishing for BRIMSTONE, VENGEANCE UNLIMITED, THE OTHERS, LEVEL 9, RAVEN, TOTAL RECALL 2097, STRANGLE LUCK, and BIG APPLE, fully half of which I've never seen an episode of.

BRIMSTONE was one of those that struck me as doomed from the get-go, so I never got into it. I'd certainly remedy that if there were a DVD release, if only because John Glover is such fun on SMALLVILLE that I'm sure his take on the Devil is bound to be worth the price of admission.

I was a huge fan of THE OTHERS, Glen and Morgan Wong's last foray in television after their runs on X-FILES, MILLENNIUM, and SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND. It is also, if anything, even more obscure than S:AB. Still, that long-shot series has made it to disc, so maybe this tale of quirky psychics and spooky goings-on has a shot. And while we're at it, let's find some excuse to put out Morgan and Wong's truly wonderful but never aired WONDER CABINET pilot.

STRANGE LUCK was another winner, one which has been discussed in this very column several times now, so I won't dwell.

I remember liking RAVEN at the time, but given that the only thing I can remember about it aside from the presence of Lee Majors is the lead character's catchphrase ("See how easy life can be?"), I'm not overly confident that it'd hold up during a return engagement.

Jacob writes: "Of all the television shows I have watched, none of them has stuck in my head the way G VS. E has. I mean, deals with the devil are all well and good, and perhaps other shows might take advantage of this format in a more pedestrian way (but BRIMSTONE was pretty good, I thought--maybe I just have a thing for Faust), but nothing is quite as entertaining as watching two Mexican heroes, dead for quite a while, bitch about their job in the same way as our modern day protagonists ('Relic of Evil'). Or the time when the prison escape scene from STAR WARS is pretty much recapitulated at an elevator bank ('Evilator').

But the polar bears, igloos, and radar have to take the cake ('Cougar Pines').

Being buried alive in a coffin, with only a cell-phone to get help? Check (I wonder if Tarantino saw this…) [Or the writers of ALIAS' fourth season DW]. Chandler Smythe playing Jimmy Stewart from REAR WINDOW? Check. A redux of the famous Odessa steps sequence from Eisenstein's BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN? Check.

This series was just too smart for its own good, and, being lost in the network shuffle (I can't even remember the sequence...) and stuck with a name change (GOOD VS. EVIL to G VS. E or vice versa), this very entertaining show did a great job of surprising the audience and dealing with fairly topical issues but was pretty much doomed to failure. Now, with television as it stands…well I don't think it would do a whole lot better. It's not dramatic enough to be a drama or comedic enough to be a straight comedy, it doesn't have the continuity strength of a LOST or a 24, or even an ALIAS, it's not reality television, but it does have some nice biting satire.

I would love to have it on DVD just to watch the 'Cougar Pines' episode again."


Ah, good old G VS. E. Given the comments from y'all, it seems to be a particularly divisive show. Of course, this is the internet, so every show is a divisive show. I watched a few episodes, found it quirky and amusing, but got sidetracked and never got back into it before the show was cancelled. Given that SURFACE seems to be a moderate hit for NBC, there's a chance that the Pate Brothers' previous TV entry will get a release.

Freeden writes: "I always like discussing tv shows I think should go on dvd because there are so many that should go, and never do. Right now, my primary one was JOHN DOE. I know it got a lot of criticism, but I was a big fan of the show. It was a great genre show with a very intriguing mystery that never even got an official ending. We were just left with a huge cliffhanger, and that was that. I don't understand why the networks insist on doing such things. If you're going to end a show, at least end it right. In fact, after receiving news of cancellation, these shows should write the scripts for the proper endings instead of just letting them end like that. THE PRETENDER got theirs. Heck, even Joss Whedon got his official FIREFLY movie, SERENITY. If they can get theirs, all of these others should get theirs too. Another show that could use some DVD treatment is STRANGE LUCK, a prematurely cancelled show that was too good for people, which was why it was cancelled."

Well, I agree with the sentiment, but I'm not sure the "too good for people, which is why it was cancelled" argument would hold up in TV court, but moving on…

I loved the JOHN DOE premise when it first premiered, but it's another one of those situations where the solid premise didn't seem to be matched by the show's execution as the weeks rolled on. I'm not sure how much resolution the show actually got, but obviously not enough for the fans. I wouldn't hold out for any new projects providing more closure, especially since Dominic Purcell is busy trying to avoid walking the Green Mile over on PRISON BREAK. But you might yet at least get to relive the mysteries at some point.

Mark writes: "I have tons of shows I could put here but my descriptions are kind of long so I'll keep it to my two main Sci Fi geek sets I want badly.

TIME TRAX

I'm sure it will come sooner or later but this is a great show involving the Dad of Gage in PET SEMATARY and his credit card named Selma. I'm not enough of a dork to know the exact dates but a hundred or two years in the future, some guy named Xombi who everyone thought was a scientific god was exposed as a criminal mastermind who invented Time Travel using THC (take that non smokers!). He had been sending criminals back into the early 90's for some time and it's up to our hero Darien Lambert to collect them and send them back. It was done very well, and each criminal had found ways to use their knowledge of the past and the technology and human abilities of the future to turn into rich and important people in past earth. It was a combination of TIMECOP, HIGHLANDER THE SERIES, and (insert your favorite 90's cop show here)."


Ah, syndicated sci-fi. How do I miss thee? Well, not that much actually when it came to stuff like TIME TRAX, but better to have lots and lots of mediocre televised SF than no televised SF at all.

"TEKWAR

The brainchild of Captain Kirk himself, I'm sure this baby is damn close to coming out too, what with him winning an Emmy recently and all. Jake Cardigan (remember MY TWO DADS? Yeah me either) was a cop who got framed for killing his partners and getting high on Tek (a drug which is like a set of VR sunglasses to the brain which allow you to live out your deepest darkest fantasies). There were 5 made for TV movies then a series. The movies were 1000x better than the series but the series was pretty good too. And hey it had the chick who heads up STARGATE ATLANTIS as first an android and then a human who both end up falling for our hero! It is great Sci-Fi and the man Kirk himself makes cameos as a futuristic Bill Gates character who frees Cardigan from the freezer."


Oh yeah, the show based on the series of novels Shatner "wrote."

Trisha writes: "STRANGE LUCK with D.B. Sweeney, the best lead-in to THE X-FILES Fox ever had. It was one of the best shows I've seen, and I wish they
would put it out on DVD. I think there were only 17 episodes, barely a full season, but at least they showed all of them at least once before axing it. This was one I really enjoyed."


Take heart, Trisha, 17 episodes is still four more than a lot of one-season wonders that have found their way to DVD. I've heard rumors that LUCK is being considered for release in 2006, so keep those fingers crossed and hope that luck (strange or otherwise) will be on your side.

Fernando writes: "Maybe it is not considered as a "classic tv show", but I would love to see FREAKYLINKS on DVD some time soon. I really loved that show, it was cool and entertaining, and it only lasted like half a season, so getting it on a DVD-set might be an easy task."

I actually quite enjoyed FREAKYLINKS in a guilty pleasure kind of way, even though I don't think it was objectively that good a show. However, I think a DVD release would still miss out on the element that made the show as enjoyable as it was, which was the tie-in website. Even before the show premiered, it was retroactively constructed to appear as if the show's lead, played by Ethan Embry, had been maintaining his website for months before the show picked up the storyline. The sheer depth of content on that old website was staggering, and it was a lot of fun to check the site each week and see how events on the show had affected it. Sure, it was mainly just a bit of post-BLAIR WITCH experimentation, but it was an early attempt to cash in on the multimedia storytelling that shows like LOST have since capitalized on.

Jorge writes: "I can't wait for two of the finest comedy shows ever
to come out on DVD: ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE and THE STATE. If only ANDY RICHTER had been given the same kind of fighting chance ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT was given Fox could have a really outstanding original comedy lineup. As for THE STATE, sure there is a 60 minute highlight tape, but so much is missing: Where James Dixon: Guidance Counselor? Where is the boy with bologna sandwiches for feet? Where are The Nutcracker in a Very Small Room and Dan, the Very Popular Openly Gay High School Student?"


I can't tell you how much I loved ANDY RICHTER. Still very, very bitter about that one. Come, DVD gods, grant me respite.

Kyle writes: "When I was a kid I kind of liked SPACE RANGERS on CBS, but it was on and off the air so fast that nobody knew what happened. Even though it was a little corny I would have liked to have seen what the producers could have done with the show, had they been given a decent amount of time to develop the show. I was also a big fan of TIME TAX. It was also kind of corny, but for some reason I thought the show had a decent hero and a half way interesting plot. It was mindless fun."

I remember SPACE RANGERS well, and "mindless" is precisely the right word for it. Still, I can't totally dismiss a show that actually had the balls to have its tough-as-nails female lead utter the line "Hang onto your jockstraps, boys."

"p.s. I would also like to see the pilot for the failed JUSTICE LEAGUE T.V. show on DVD. I have never seen it and it would interesting to see CBS's take on the super hero squad."

Having seen said pilot myself, I can safely say: no. No you wouldn't.

If I get anymore emails on this subject from you fine folks, it will only result in yet another reader mail column such as this one, so for God's sake don't email tvwasteland@cinescape.com with your comments. Keep your head and hands inside the television, folks…


* * * * *



MONDAY, OCTOBER 31


POLTERGEIST (7 PM CST, TCM) By showing us a family haunted by terrible things emanating from their television, this movie prefigured the reality television craze by almost two decades.

HOUDINI: UNLOCKING THE MYSTERY (7 PM CST, History Channel) Featuring looks at some of the magician's personal artifacts, many of which were used in his most famous tricks.

PRISON BREAK (8 PM CST, Fox) "Tweener." Abruzzi finds himself knocked several rungs down the power ladder, and Dr. Sara continues to snoop about in Michael's past.

GHOST HUNTERS HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (9 PM CST, Sci-Fi) TAPS snoops about in Savannah, Georgia.

RUSSIAN ROSWELL (9 PM CST, History Channel) Wherein a bunch of overly attractive teens with Tabasco fixations crash land in Moscow and pout angstily.


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1


BONES (7 PM CST, Fox) "The Man in the Bear." A human arm found inside a bear leads to a case involving cannibalism. As arms found inside bears often do.

HOUSE (8 PM CST, Fox) "TB or Not TB." A humanitarian doctor collapses and believes he has contracted TB. House, of course, doesn't think it's that easy.

MY NAME IS EARL (8 PM CST, NBC) "Broke Joy's Fancy Figurine." Earl attempts to repay a debt to Joy, but she's more interested in his filthy lucre. And no, that's not as dirty as it sounds.

THE OFFICE (8:30 PM CST, NBC) "The Fight." Dwight karate punches Michael, leading to a lunchtime rematch in which one of them damn well better pull out the Crane Kick.

BOSTON LEGAL (9 PM CST, ABC) "Witches of Mass Destruction." The Iraq War falls into David E. Kelley's crosshairs, setting Denny at odds with Shore.

NIP/TUCK (9 PM CST, FX) "Ben White." Anne Heche stops by as a Mafia princess in search of a change of looks. Also, the Beast known as Joan Rivers returns.


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2


SUNSET BOULEVARD (7 PM CST, TCM) She's ready for her close-up again.

MAKING OF 'JARHEAD' (7:45 PM CST, HBO) Welcome to the Suck.

MASK (9 PM CST, TCM) Jim Carrey slaps on Loki's mask and engages in wacky…no, wait, this is the Eric Stoltz one.


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3


THE O.C. (7 PM CST, Fox) "The Perfect Storm." I'm not sure what THE O.C. has to do with drowning George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, but I'm all for it.

SMALLVILLE (7 PM CST, WB) "Exposed." I could mention Tom Wopat's guest appearance as a state senator, but really, all we're interested in is Lois' going undercover as a stripper. But as a quick aside, regarding last week's episode: holy cow, can Kristen Kreuk not act. I mean, she almost takes the not acting to the level that she deserves an Oscar for it, or at least a Bizarro-Universe Oscar.

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (7 PM CST, UPN) "Everybody Hates the Babysitter." Well, that's not nice. She works hard for her money, and if she occasionally steals food from the fridge or makes long-distance calls, we can't begrudge her that.

BEHIND THE MASK OF ZORRO (7 PM CST, History Channel) Profiling Joaquin Murrieta, a Californian bandit who may have been the inspiration for the man in black.


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4


GHOST WHISPERER (7 PM CST, CBS) "Hope and Mercy." It's bound to be better than WILL AND GRACE, right?

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (7:30 PM CST, Fox) "Jessica Stays Over." Dewey tricks Reese into thinking he's on a jet to China. How, I know not.

THRESHOLD (8 PM CST, CBS) "Revelations." An Indiana minister's sermons of apocalypse may indicate that he is infected, drawing the attention of Molly and her wackyhappyfun crew. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Alien, anyone?

MAKING OF 'WALK THE LINE' (8:45 PM CST, HBO) Joaquin Phoenix pulls a Jamie Foxx and gets his musician biopic on.

NUMBERS (9 PM CST, CBS) "Soft Target." Poison gas is released on an LA subway during an antiterrorism test run, and the guys must determine if it was an accident or an attack.

MASTERS OF HORROR (9 PM CST, Showtime) "Dreams in the Witch-House." Stuart Gordon adapts H.P. Lovecraft.


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5


IDENTITY (7 PM CST, FX) British scribe Michael Cooney puts a new spin on the "Ten Little Indians" concept.

TEEN TITANS (7 PM CST, Cartoon Network) "Kole." The titans clash with Dr. Light in the Arctic, and discover two new allies.


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6


THE SIMPSONS (7 PM CST, Fox) "Treehouse of Horror XVI." Bart falls into a coma and is replaced by a Bart-bot, Mr. Burns hunts humans, and a witch casts a spell over Springfield in Groenig and company's annual Halloween spectacle (although why it didn't air last night is beyond me).

CHARMED (7 PM CST, WB) "The Last Picture Show." The witches tussle with a demon who traps people in photographs. Now that's a Kodak moment.

FAMILY GUY (8 PM CST, Fox) "PTV." A televised "trouser malfunction" leads to an FCC crackdown and spurs Peter to create his own network. Well-timed given the Parents Television Council's recent condemnation of this show as one of TV's vilest.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (8 PM CST, ABC) "I Wish I Could Forget You." Gaby takes a cue from a competing network and tries to spring Carlos from the clink.

AMERICAN DAD (8:30 PM CST, Fox) "Stan of Arabia." Stan insults his boss and finds himself reassigned to the Middle East.


This concludes our broadcast.