Combustible Celluloid
 

Digital Watch

TV Box Sets

By Jeffrey M. Anderson


The Apprentice (2004, Universal)
Project Greenlight: The Complete 2nd Series (2003, Buena Vista)
These two reality shows actually involve people who have lives outside of the reality show, so that elevates them to a level just below dog food commercials. "The Apprentice" collects the entire first season on four discs and includes a fifth disc sneak-previewing the next season. "Project Greenlight" includes the entire show, plus the feature film "The Battle of Shaker Heights" that most people didn't bother to see.


Boy Meets World (1993, Buena Vista)
This coming-of age TV show has aged quite poorly. Shot on video, it now has a cheap look to it, and its humor -- though only ten years old -- seems to have aged decades. Precocious sixth-grader Cory (Ben Savage) gets into trouble each episode and learns a lesson at the end, which is promptly forgotten at the beginning of the next episode. Cory's friend/love interest Topanga (Danielle Fishel) eventually grew up to become a pin-up hottie, but in this first box set she's still a child. The box collects 22 episodes on 3 discs, plus a bonus 23rd episode and various commentary tracks.


Garfield and Friends - Vol. 1 (1988, Fox)
I used to love Jim Davis's "Garfield" comic strip in the early 80s, when Garfield the cat was a fat, lazy, arrogant egomaniac with a penchant for lasagna and dialogue like "big fat hairy deal." This Saturday morning cartoon series essentially gutted the strip's edge and presented it with shabby animation, using jokes that -- more often than not -- fell flat. But apparently many people loved it, and it ran for seven seasons and rated highly with both kids and adults. This 3-disc DVD box set comes with 24 half-hour episodes from the 1988-89 seasons.


Knight Rider Season One (1982, Universal)
Growing up in a car-crazy small town, everyone I knew loved this show, but I never really got into it. David Hasselhoff stars as a loose-cannon cop who, after a bust gone bad, gets plastic surgery, a new start and a new car, K.I.T.T., which talks and has all kinds of "futuristic" gizmos. The technology has aged pretty badly, the writing is very simplistic and the acting is atrocious. More than once, I caught the director inserting a needless cutaway if only to draw attention away from the struggling actors. Universal's new box set collects 21 episodes on four discs, including the two-hour pilot. Extras include stills, galleries, a K.I.T.T. "owners manual," featurettes, a commentary track on the pilot episode, and a feature-length sequel, "Knight Rider 2000."


Manchild The Complete First Season (2002, Koch Vision)
Appropriately called "Sex in the City" for men, this funny BBC series looks into the lives of four middle-aged men ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer's" Anthony Stewart Head among them) as they try to re-invent themselves, post-divorce. Their ludicrous problems include getting penis surgery, trying to communicate with their twentysomething lovers and attempting vague relationships with former family members. "Manchild" does a pretty good job of balancing fantasy and reality, but it's probably better not to watch with your girlfriend or wife. Ray Burdis, Don Warrington and Nigel Havers co-star. BBC and Koch Vision have collected all seven episodes onto two discs, plus an extra photo gallery.


The Munsters The Complete First Season (1964, Universal)
An out-of-touch family is unaware that their monster-like appearance makes everyone else uncomfortable. This single idea is the basis for every joke during every minute of this 1964 TV series. The black-and-white film looks great on DVD, but this is one silly, juvenile show, the kiddie version of the far more sophisticated "Addams Family" that hit the airwaves the same year. Universal's box set collects 38 episodes on 3 discs, plus a 15 minute pilot notable for being shot in color. (The makeup is far more garish that one might imagine.)


Significant Others (1998, Columbia/TriStar)
This never-aired series found a second life on DVD thanks to the presence of star Jennifer Garner, but it should have stayed on the shelf. Garner and her two male best friends (Eion Bailey and Scott Bairstow) argue about relationships and move in and out of each other's apartments. Everything is directed to a high pitch and overacted to the point of inducing nausea. My wife and I couldn't even make it through one episode. For the sadistic, this two-disc set comes with six completed episodes, plus an interview with Garner and previews.


Sliders Dual-Dimension Edition: The First and Second Seasons (1995-97, Universal)
Not too far away from "Quantum Leap," this clever sci-fi series has four "sliders" (Jerry O'Connell, Sabrina Lloyd, John Rhys-Davies and Cleavant Derricks) trapped between alternate Earths, and every week suddenly appearing in a new one where some bizarre alternate reality has taken place. In one world, the communists have taken over. In other versions women run the country while men do secretarial work. Penicillin has never been invented, or smart people are treated like star athletes. The series lays on the heavy messages and can get pretty intense, but occasionally it glides along nicely, mostly thanks to the talented cast. The "Sliders" DVD box comes with the best-looking package I've seen since the "Pink Panther" box set. Extras include audio commentary on the two-hour pilot episode, a featurette and a photo gallery.

Date: April 9, 2004

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