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TV on DVD: Tuesday, October 23, 2012

by admin October 23, 2012 6:00 am
TV on DVD: Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spend some time getting to know one of TV's most underrated comedy ensembles.

Happy Endings: The Complete Second Season
If any contemporary sitcom deserved the label of being "the next Friends," this ABC series probably comes the closest to fitting the bill. (A few seasons ago, How I Met Your Mother was the leading contender, but that series is now a pale shadow of its former self.) A spirited, funny ensemble comedy about a group of good pals that's big on laughs, if not on ratings, Happy Endings became more confident and consistent during its second season, which convinced the network to bring it back for a third year that kicks off tonight, followed by another season of Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23. We're especially pleased that the show has provided career second acts for cut-too-soon SNL player Casey Wilson and former kidnapping/cougar victim, Elisha Cuthbert. If Kim Bauer can make a comeback, how long until Chloe finally gets her own show?
Extras: Deleted scenes and outtakes.

The Fugitive: The Complete Series
Shazam! The Complete Series
Time Trax: The Complete First Season
Time for a trio of classic (both of the mainstream and cult variety) TV on DVD releases. The Fugitive, of course, is the 1963-1967 ABC adventure series that gave us a plethora of jokes about the evil intentions of one-armed men, as well as one of Harrison Ford's best movies. Groundbreaking at the time for its mixture of ongoing storylines and standalone episodes, The Fugitive holds up very nicely today, thanks to David Janssen's sympathetic performance as wronged man Richard Kimble and Barry Morse as his chief pursuer, Philip Gerard. All 120 episodes, which have been transferred from the original film elements, are spread across 32-discs, plus an extras-laden bonus disc. It's an appropriately respectful treatment of an still-influential TV landmark. Considerably less groundbreaking -- but enjoyable in that campy retro way -- is Shazam!, the Filmation-backed live-action adventures of Captain Marvel that ran from 1974 to 1977. Jackson Bostwick wears the hero's red-and-yellow outfit, while Michael Gray plays his alter ego, young Bill Batson, who utters the titular word to access his super-powered self. Partnered with a grey-haired mentor, the series found Billy tooling around the state of California in an RV (shades of The Incredible Hulk's hard travelling hero, although he walked or hitchhiked everywhere) righting wrongs and, in general, being a buttinsky. Don't expect much in the way of complex storytelling or state-of-the-art special effects, but at least Shazam! isn't quite as embarrassing as those legendarily awful Legends of the Superheroes specials. From '70s cult TV to '90s cult TV, Time Trax was a syndicated American/Australian series that took place in the far-off year of 2193 where escaped criminals seek refuge in the past, specifically 1993. It's up to time cop Darien Lambert to venture back to the era of grunge and flannel and return these convicts to future jail, with the aid of his computer pal SELMA. (Fun fact: The series inspired its own video game for the then-relatively new Super Nintendo.) The kind of solid, if unexceptional sci-fi serial that would be guaranteed a lengthy stint on Syfy today, Time Trax only lasted two seasons in syndication and hasn't been available in any other format since its initial run. At least this new DVD release will keep the show's fans from having to purchase bootleg discs at Comic-Con.
Extras: The Fugitive comes with an extended cut of the pilot with commentary from series director Walter Grauman, as well as archival talk show appearances from the show's star, an epilogue to the series finale, a vintage promo for the show's original run, and a handful of additional featurettes. Both Shazam! and Time Trax are MOD titles from Warner Archive, which means zilch in the way of bonus features.

The Flintstones Prime-Time Specials Collection, Vol. 1
The Flintstones Prime-Time Specials Collection, Vol. 2
I Yabba-Dabba Do!
Continuing our nostalgia tour, Warner Archive has also gifted the world with three-discs of vintage Flintstones primetime specials that aired throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s. Volume 1 includes the Halloween-appropriate hour-long cartoon The Flintstones Meet Rocula and Frankenstone, as well as the baseball-themed Flintstones Little Big League, which finds Fred and Barney coaching their kids on competing Little League teams. (Who knew that the game of baseball dated back to prehistoric times?) Volume 2, meanwhile, comes with four specials, including Fred's Final Fling, in which Papa Flintstone mistakenly believes he's arrived at his last day on Earth and proceeds to live like he was dying (was this really appropriate viewing for kids?) and Wind-Up Wilma, which found Fred's long-suffering wife getting in some baseball action by becoming a star major league pitcher. But the standout of the bunch has to be the 1993 TV movie I Yabba-Dabba Do!, in which an all-grown up Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm finally tied the knot and made the union between the Flintstones and Rubble families official. In the annals of fictional marriage of cartoon characters, this one ranks right up there with Mary Jane and Spider-Man and Lois Lane and Superman. And, unlike those weddings, this one has yet to be written out of continuity.
Extras: Nada.

Also on DVD:
Speaking of unexceptional sci-fi serials that run forever on Syfy, the Canadian-produced Lost Girl: Season One is now on disc. Meanwhile, those blasted Clone Wars continue to drag on via Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season Four. Good thing we already know how they end. And finally, Upstairs, Downstairs: Season 2 marks the second and last series of the revival of the classic British drama. In this age of Downton Abbey, the maids and masters of Upstairs, Downstairs just couldn't compete.

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

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