Saturday, December 10, 2005
Top 10 Missing DVD Releases (or 156 Episodes To Go)
There are lots of shows cancelled during, or at the end of, their first season on the air. The production companies are slowly coming around to releasing such shows and making a bit of money off of a property that isn't likely to bring in a lot in syndication. But my top list of shows is still missing a whole bunch that I'd pay good money for - hell, I'd pay for a fair few more than these, but I've whittled it down to 10 that I must own.
10 - The toughest decision, as I had three shows left over, but The Others just edged out Birds Of Prey and The Burning Zone as my number 10 most wanted DVD release. Through 13 episodes, we follow the college student Marian, struggling to come to terms with her psychic abilities, guided by the experience of the elderly Elmer Greentree and his circle of misfits. With ER's John Aylward, Star Trek: Enterprise's John Billingsley (as the decidedly non-psychic Miles Ballard), and the lovely Missy Crider (who's determined to put in guest appearances in everything I watch at the moment), there's plenty to draw in the punters. And I still have the image of demonic wallpaper in my head!
9 - VR.5 sees Lori Singer as the misfit with the cobbled together virtual reality gear. Apparently her father was big in the field, and she accidentally stumbles on the secrets of how to tap into other people's subconscious and get useful answers out of them. Of course, she's got a missing twin sister, a mother in a catatonic state since getting lost in VR, and a mysterious organisation interested in her work. Of course, it only managed 13 episodes, but between best friend Michael Easton, mysterious agency guys Will Patton and Anthony Head, and the reappearance of her father, ably played by David McCallum, there's plenty here to keep the attention, and the subterfuge is labyrinthine.
8 - A new species has been discovered, only this one's a new species of human, and they're clearly dominant to the general population. Unfortunately, the last time that happened, we wiped out the neanderthal. That's the premise of Prey, a 13 episode series about a bunch of scientists trying to discover the real extent of the new species, and what their plans are to eliminate their inferiors. The show is mostly carried by hottie Debra Messing, and Vincent Ventresca. Although Adam Storke is supposed to be the second person carrying this show, he's required to be unemotional and distant, so it's difficult to tell he's actually acting half the time...
7 - Mia Kirshner, recurring 24 villain and simulated lesbian in the L Word, had a prior starring role in short lived show Wolf Lake. Considering it was a werewolf show, and therefore expected to be really goofy, it was suprisingly well scripted during it's 9 episode run. The transformation scenes were kept off camera, and the budget was never extravagent, but it had a stellar cast of characters - from lead actor Lou Diamond Philips, to town sheriff Tim Matheson, medicine man Graham Greene, clan chief Bruce McGill, and town bad element Scott Bairstow, you couldn't ask for better talent.
6 - Before Prison Break, and a dumb film choice, Dominic Purcell made his name in a 21 episode cliffhanger-ending show about a man with no memory of his personal history, but a knowledge of absolutely everything else. He doesn't even know his name, but he could tell you how many paperclips there are in the state of Texas. Great concept, really annoying cliffhanger, release this along with a featurette by the creator explaining what the hell was going on (or, maybe, make a made-for-tv feature concluding the story) and it's an immediate must buy.
5 - Being the sole survivor of a plane crash, D.B. Sweeney is the man on an unusual luck streak in Strange Luck. 17 episodes of crazy coincidences, amusingly lucky events, a subtle X-Files crossover, and that final lightning strike, sees Chance Harper on a search for his family, and the reason why he has the luck he does. Of course, eye candy Pamela Gidley as Chance's boss doesn't harm the show either!
4 - Unfortunate comparisons to the X-Files harmed a 20 episode show from 1996 which explained that many of the historical events of the 20th Century were actually influenced by aliens. Dark Skies premise, that each season would take a decade and retell famous or not so famous historical events with an alien invasion twist. Eric Close, currently of Without A Trace, Megan Ward, and the late, lamented J.T. Walsh carried this show, although a late in the season introduction of Jeri Ryan could pull in some Star Trek interest. Want to know the real truth behind the New York blackout or the JFK assassination?
3 - These 13 episodes tell the tale of a policeman who took revenge on his wife's rapist before being killed. Sentenced to Hell, he's subsequently given a second chance by the Devil, who wants him to recover 113 souls who escaped. If he succeeds, he gets a new life (and possibly another chance with his wife), but these 113 aren't exactly the nicest souls on the block, and the longer they've been in Hell, the more demonic powers they've acquired that they now exhibit back on Earth. Brimstone worked due to the banter between detective Peter Horton and the Devil, ably played by John Glover, and the detective's obvious love for his wife and desire to see her again.
2 - A similar pattern to Brimstone, shows a guy given a second chance at life, but again, prevented from reuniting with the wife he loves. This time, Eric Close plays the absent husband in Now And Again, a show about a man who died and whose brain was transplanted into a superhuman body. Now, the scientist who's created him wants him to play secret agent for the government, but in 22 episodes, he only goes on a couple of missions. The rest of the episodes see various events play out that throw him back in to close proximity to his wife and daughter (Margaret Colin and Heather Matarazzo), much to the chagrin of the scientist (Dennis Haysbert).
1 - My most desired show, 15 episodes of comedy romance by the creator of current hit Veronica Mars, Cupid, sees crazy man Trevor Hale, released into the care of his psychiatrist, Dr Claire Allen, when he believes he's the greek god Cupid, sentenced to life as a mortal until he can unite 100 couples, without the help of his bow and arrow. Between Dr Allen's scientific approach to relationship therapy, and Trevor's madcap, go-with-your-gut style, the two help a number of couples to true love. Of course, the show wouldn't work without the will-they-won't-they relationship between the two leads, charmingly played by Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall. There's also the ongoing question of whether Trevor really is a greek god, or just a deluded do-gooder... and whether sex as a mortal will really confine him to Earth forever...
One Hit And One Miss
I'm amazed. Of 11 shows, we've only lost two. Either the networks have seriously lowered their expectations, or something strange is going on.
Of course, I managed to successfully predict the first loss - The Night Stalker - which was so horribly bad I'd given up on it even before it was cancelled! I've not bothered to follow up on whether it was network meddling or whether it really was supposed to be this bad, but unless it gets a DVD release, I'm going to do my best to forget the show ever existed. Perhaps now Stuart Townsend is now free to make Tale Of The Body Thief. I mean, Paul McGann is hugely busy making three or four Doctor Who audio plays a year so I'm sure he's got time to reprise his role from the terrible Lestat film, and Stuart Townsend needs to come back and actually act in the role to redeem his lack of acting in the prior entry in the series. Was Pandora in Body Thief? In which case they need to find a suitable beauty to play her (and conveniently forget that they killed her off - or an identically named character played by Claudia Black - in Queen Of The Damned)...
Meanwhile, show two, should have been higher on my list considering its production staff - leave Brannon Braga in charge of a show, and he'll run it in to the ground (see Star Trek - Voyager, Enterprise (at least the final episode that I'm desperately trying to forget), or the film franchise). But I pegged Threshold in at number 7, and hadn't considered the possibility that they'd swap its timeslot with another show. It was clearly the weakest element of the Friday shows, and considering CBS are cleaning up this season, it's vaguely understandable that they'd have looked for a better fit between the extremely saccharine Ghost Whisperer and the lightweight procedural Numb3rs (not that I'm watching Close To Home). So Threshold dies a death, but considering the likely cost per episode, I'm guessing this'll see a DVD release fairly rapidly.
Meanwhile, the other shows haven't really stood out - Supernatural is still pretty so-so, Surface is still pretty rubbish, Invasion is sooooooooooooooooo slow, the Ghost Whisperer is too twee, Charmed needs to get its act together, Bones continues to dance around the Deschanel-Boreanaz love interest and the procedural is only so-so, and Numb3rs is only a so-so procedural - if I weren't a huge geek fascinated by the math in the show, I'd have dropped it by now.
The only standout is still my least likely cancellation out of the 11 - Prison Break. It keeps going from strength to strength, and the mid-season climax with the escape foiled by a new pipe was electric. This'll almost certainly make a DVD release, and assuming they can maintain the show through the rest of the season, it'll probably get a renewal... but I've still got no idea where they'd go with a second season...
Of the 11, the only show I haven't mentioned here is Criminal Minds - and it's the one I'm most undecided on. On the one hand, the cast is really good, and the stories continue to give us varied storylines, but they're pretty much covering new ground with each episode at the moment. How will the show manage when they've run through the deck and have to keep revisiting the psychological archetypes? I'm sure they've got material for a complete season, but if it's renewed (big if) it may well die very swiftly in the second season. Which is a pretty big upgrade in my estimation from where I originally called it my numer 2 most likely cancellation. Wasn't everyone supposed to be watching Lost?!