Stargate: Atlantis – Sunday Review

  • Series Title: Stargate: Atlantis
  • Episode Title: Sunday
  • Story #: Season 3 Episode # 17
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Complete Third Season” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: Sci-Fi (MGM Productions)
  • Original Air Dates: 6/01/2007
  • Cast: Joe Flanigan, David Hewlett, Jason Momoa, David Nykl, Paul McGillion, Torri Higginson, Rachel Luttrell
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 6/07/2007 (both entries), now hosted on Dreamwidth

This post is a combination of two posts from Live Journal reacting to the Stargate: Atlantis episode “Sunday” which was quite a surprise, to say the least. I’m leaving the content of these entries intact and only correcting spelling mistakes, typos, and the occasional wrong word.

Part 1

Ok, so what the …?

I watched “Sunday” last night, and was it just me or was the episode VERY very weird?

And, I not just talking about the fact the story wasn’t told in order – I’ve seen that before, I get it, heck -the idea of telling a story back-to-front actually goes back to a lot of classic film noirs like Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity.

But the non-linear storytelling aside, uh, huh? The entire episode had an almost dream-like quality to it. I actually almost expected someone to wake up at the end and say, “it’s all just a dream”? Ya’ know what I mean? Especially in the last scene. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

OK – first, who was the guy that was hitting on Dr. Weir? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before, and yet Weir (despite trying to brush him off in one scene) seemed, when talking to Teyla later, to be interested in him. Then she drops him like a rock? What? I mean, really – Weir is not that capricious! And she’s been married before – why the heck was she acting like a teenager on her first date about the entire thing?

Second – MANDATORY REST DAY??? And this is the first we’ve heard about it in three years? I’ve WORKED in 24/7 industries, and it simply doesn’t work that way. You get days off, but everyone does NOT take the SAME day off. Believe me. And that’s in retail/grocery – hospitals, emergency services, etc, heck, even restaurants, all work like that. You are more likely to work Thursday through Sunday and have Monday off. Obviously, on Atlantis – the gate room needs to be manned 24/7, as does the infirmary, and somebody better be watching the long-range scanners (in case the Wraith show up, tho’ we haven’t actually seen the Wraith in a while). So, what’s with the sudden mandatory rest day?

I mean, don’t get me wrong – I actually liked the idea of seeing what everyone does on their day off (who figured John for a golfer or Lorne for an amateur artist?), but in terms of everyone having the same day off, it’s like, huh?

And if it was for dramatic effect – to see a quiet day suddenly going haywire – then they totally lost the dramatic effect by jumping back and forth in time.

OK, about the jumping back and forth in time, to me it almost looked like they were trying to save the episode in the editing – that it had gone waaaaaay too long, or they’d forgotten to film the exposition, or something else disastrous happened (a roll of film went missing?) but it looked like they were trying to salvage something, rather than doing something cool. That’s just my opinion. (For the record, I thought “The Ark” would have worked better dramatically without the time-jump. I mean, you knew John and Rodney would both make it!)

Right, now… CARSON – they killed CARSON???????? What he’d ever do to anybody? Dr. Carson Beckett was always sweet and kind and cute as heck (those eyes!). He, Rodney, Zelenka, were always favorites of mine (as are Weir & Sheppard). But all the way through the episode, it was like everyone was ignoring Carson, paying him no mind. I mean, really, all he wanted was for someone to go fishing with him. (And I had the sneaking suspicion that Rodney, despite what he said to Katie, would have actually enjoyed fishing with Carson).

The scene with Rodney, in a suit & tie in Carson’s rooms, packing the photographs and such was heartbreaking though. And I couldn’t help but notice the number of people in suits (not uniforms) at the funeral. Waaaahhhh! (Update: Those in suits would be Atlantis’ civilians, as opposed to the military officers in uniform.)

Oh – and the bagpipes, um, nice try guys, but – that was some of the worst bagpipe music I’ve ever heard (my local police pipe & drum band sounds better). Also, for a funeral they should have been playing “Amazing Grace”, it’s traditional, especially for someone who’s died in the line of duty. And, if not that, they should have played “Scotland the Brave” which would have worked fine.

Still – no body, so HE’S NOT DEAD!!!! Ever notice on detective stories, especially on TV, if there’s no body, if you didn’t actually see it – the character comes back? And I’ve heard rumors, just like I heard rumors about “Sunday” (ah, the net, couldn’t keep a secret…). And they brought Daniel back on SG1 after a whole season, so there’s hope. (Update: Nope, five seasons of Atlantis and no Carson. Sigh.)

Finally, that last scene between Carson and Rodney? Huh? That was strange! Very strange! I need to watch the episode again, but it almost felt like Rodney was also dead – or dreaming. And that can’t kill off my Rodney!!!

And that brings me back to my original point – the entire episode, and I mean the entire episode felt incredibly strange. It was like, there was something else going on, especially with the weird time-jumps. OK, putting aside extra-“filmic” excuses (the film went missing, the episode ran long, etc.), I almost thought that, in the end, they’d pull back and show the entire episode was from Carson’s point-of-view, that is, his dead pov. How poor Carson never felt appreciated? How he felt everyone was always brushing him off? That would have made sense. As would have the funeral then, with Weir’s speech. Even the bad bagpipe music would fit as Carson’s pov (he’d naturally be in a position to criticize the bagpipe music – he is Scottish!)

Part 2

Well, I re-watched “Sunday” again. I still think the ep. is weird — very weird. It had a whole sense of unreality to it (like the Blake’s 7 episode “Orbit”, strangely enough).

The bagpipe music didn’t seem quite so bad, but it definitely could have been better. Trust me.
And louder. NOTHING is louder than bagpipes in an enclosed space! (I’ll never forget hearing the Muskegon Police Pipes & Drum band playing at the Scottish Festival/Ceille in a very tiny hall. It was loud! Very loud! You might think your average freight train is a bit noisy but that’s peanuts compared to a Bagpipe and Drum marching band in an enclosed space!) “Amazing Grace” or “Scotland the Brave” would have worked better in the Stargate: Atlantis episode than whatever it was the poor fellow in a kilt was trying to play. Unsuccessfully.

OK, the episode, “Sunday”, couldn’t have been from Beckett’s pov, there was just too much going on that he wasn’t privy too. Which makes the last scene even more confusing! In a sense, it was like Rodney was also dead (please no!) and it made me re-watch “Tao of Rodney” again (which must now be one of my all-time favorite eps. of Stargate: Atlantis). I just didn’t get it. Once of the post-Sunday fics I read said that Carson had Ascended, but some reading on the Save Carson website (www.savecarson.com) nixed that idea.

Anyway, I stand by what I said, “no body, he’s NOT dead”! And it seemed weird, just strange, the skip from the explosion to Carson’s funeral.

I WANT MY SCOTTISH DOCTOR BACK!

Oh, and if they get rid of a certain Canadian physicist. I just won’t be able to watch the show anymore. And probably ditto for a certain cute-as-a-button Czech physicist/engineer!

Update

These two entries originally published to my Live Journal blog and now hosted on Dreamwidth are my original reactions to a very emotional episode of Stargate: Atlantis. I enjoyed that series very much, though I was not a fan of season four and ended up not getting it on DVD. I do have season 5 though. Rodney remains my favorite character, and I had seen David Hewlett on other series. I also liked Zelenka, and David Nykl ended-up on Arrow. I’ve seen Paul McGillion a few times since Stargate: Atlantis ended. As I noted above in my “update” comments – Dr. Beckett wasn’t brought back, but they did introduce Jewel Staite (Firefly) as the new medical doctor. And yes, that is Jason Momoa of Game of Thrones and Aquaman fame. I saw him first on this show! I miss this show, it had a different vibe than most American SF.

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Doctor Who Turn Left Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: Turn Left
  • Story #: Season 4 Story # 11
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Complete Series 4” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 6/21/2008
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 1/26/2009, now hosted on Dreamwidth

In a word, “Turn Left” was awesome! I loved what I saw of it last summer, and now that I’ve seen the entire episode, I love it even more. It might be one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever made, and not just because of Doctor Who but because of what the episode says about philosophy / life outlook.

The episode begins with Donna being pulled into a fortune teller’s tent – said fortune teller then forces her to go back in time, changing a decision, turning right instead of left (incidentally listening to her overbearing and critical mother). This one decision snowballs, resulting in Donna never meeting the Doctor, and thus the Doctor dying when he meets the Spider Queen in what would have been “The Runaway Bride”. However, without the Doctor, the next year (or so) is a disaster for the UK and the world: London city hospital is taken to the moon – but everyone is killed including Martha, Sarah Jane, and Sarah’s two young wards; the “Christmas Star” – destroys part of London; the spaceship Titanic crashes into Buckingham Palace – vaporising London; the Atmos devices are set-off choking the world and Torchwood agents Owen and Gwen Cooper give their lives fighting the Sontarans; Adipose kills millions in the US. In other words – without the Doctor, the world is in sorry shape. And without Donna – there is no Doctor. Rose, however, returns – coming back from another universe, finds Donna and uses the dying TARDIS to send her back, to get her to change that decision, even though Rose also knows it will cost Donna her life. When Donna sacrifices herself – Other Donna turns left, resulting in her meeting the Doctor, the Doctor not dying, and Doctor Who history continuing on as we know it.

This episode is the best illustration of Chaos Theory I’ve seen since “The Butterfly Effect” and frankly much better done and less violent/spooky/freaky than that movie (I couldn’t handle the animal and child abuse shown in “The Butterfly Effect” – it was SO excessive). However, Doctor Who “Turn Left” illustrates Chaos Theory beautifully. But what I really liked was watching Donna – listening to her saying, “I’m just a temp!” and Rose telling her “You’re the most important person in the universe,” not to mention, when time snaps back, the Doctor telling her “You’re brilliant!”. This was the second incredible philosophical statement in the episode – it shows how interconnected everything is. How one person can actually make a difference and change things. It also shows just how linked or connected everyone is. Donna sees herself as a normal person, and not a very important person at all – “Just a temp” – about the lowly-est job you could have in a technological society. Yet, it’s Donna who saves the Doctor’s life – and by doing that she literally saves millions of people. It’s one of those “you never know how you affect others” moments.

Kudos to Russell T Davies and the Doctor Who team – because “Turn Left” was totally awesome! Donna rules and the Doctor rocks!

Psych Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Psych
  • Season: Season 1
  • Episodes: 16 Episodes (Including international pilot and regular pilot)
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: USA (Universal)
  • Cast: James Roday, Dulé Hill, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Corbin Bernsen
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
  • Previously published on my Live Journal 10/03/2007. Now hosted on Dreamwidth.

This review might be a bit of a mish-mash, but here we go.

Packaging: I love it! The case opens like a book, and one lifts open the plastic piece holding disc 1 or 2 to get to disc 3 or 4. The outside of the case is like a hardback book. Very classy! And the only other DVD I have remotely like it is my 2-disc Special Edition of Double Indemnity (great movie starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. That and Sunset Boulevard are the classic Film Noirs in my DVD collection. Tho’ I also have The Maltese Falcon, but Double Indemnity is better.) Anyway, I loved the packaging, and that’s rare, esp. for a TV DVD (Yep, I tend to complain about TV DVD packaging).

Cost/number of eps.  Well, there’s only 15 eps in the set, 16 if you also include the International pilot. I received my copy as a gift, but from what I remember looking online, the price was a little high, especially considering its only 15 episodes.

Series itself? I loved it! I’d only seen slightly more than half of the episodes, though I had seen the pilot and “Spellingg Bee”. So it was good to catch up. I like the humor of the show. It’s laugh out loud funny, WITHOUT laughing AT the characters or sinking into “stupid sitcom”-land. The characters are GREAT – I liked all of them, especially Henry (we soooo need to see MORE of Henry, and more flashbacks to young Shawn and/or Shawn & Gus). I also like Lassiter – whom I see as a good cop. He’s even willing to take Spencer’s help once Shawn proves himself. (Lassie also will use forensics, technology, computers, whatever to help him solve cases, which is what motivates him).

And I just like that Shawn is off-the-charts smart. He uses his brains as well as his special talent for observation AND deduction to solve cases. In a way, he reminds me of Sherlock Holmes – someone so smart they don’t fit into the average, normal, 9 to 5 world so they create their own job (both as private consultant detectives). Holmes worst enemy is boredom (thus the acceptable at the time drug use for Holmes). Shawn too gives the impression he’d get in an awful lot of trouble if he didn’t have his work as a private “psychic” / police consultant to keep him busy.

Shawn also has a best friend who he could leave in the dust in the smarts dept (Not that Gus is dumb, he’s smart but average smart, not genius-level smart like Shawn) to help him out, not just on cases but in his life. Gus is Shawn’s rock – he’d be lost without him. (Watch Shawn in “Scary Sherry” when Alice asks him what he would do if he lost his best friend – Shawn literally can’t answer her – both times she asks the question). Then there’s Lassiter, who like Holmes’ Lestrade is a competent detective, but again, like Gus, not as giftedly smart as Shawn. If you read the Arthur Conan Doyle books (or watch Granada’s excellent series with Jeremy Brett) Lestrade isn’t stupid – he has average to high intelligence, and he trusts Holmes and works with him as needed. Lestrade doesn’t know anything about forensics, but Sherlock Holmes was written in the late 1900s-early 20th century, and back then even fingerprints were new when it came to criminology. Of course, Psych has characters that don’t have SH parallels (Chief Vick, Juliet, and Henry, by name) but for the ones it does have, it’s an interesting comparison.

Special features: Excellent! Though I missed having the “psych outs” for each episode. The deleted scenes and bloopers – fun (as such features usually are). I wish they’d been able to run *Scary Sherry* long and use the extra scenes, they were awesome!

Writer’s table – gets the Best Special Feature award, even if it’s just to hear the writers officially say they were inspired by Remington Steele and Moonlighting (2 of my favorite 80s shows).

I really enjoyed this show when it started on USA Network, and I still remember the show fondly. Psych took the best of the unorthodox detective series of the 1970s and the small team PI series of the 1980s and gave it a modern updating.

British TV Mini-Reviews vol. 3 S – Z

Previously published on my Live Journal on: 06/18/2009

Note: This is an older review (Third of three), previously posted to my Live Journal and now hosted on Dreamwidth. This review consists of a series of mini-reviews of various British TV series I have watched and that are in my personal DVD collection. Some of these may also have complete reviews on BitchwithWiFi. I’ve decided to copy it as is, silly asides and all. I did correct typos and formatting. Enjoy!

British TV on DVD Mini-Reviews

TitleThe Smell of Reeves and Mortimer
Featured Actors: Vic Reeves (Jim Moir), Bob Mortimer
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 12
Total Seasons (Series): 1
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: BBC
General Information: Another of Reeves and Mortimer’s New Wave comedies.

TitleSpace: 1999
Featured Actors: Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Catherine Schell
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6
Total Seasons (Series): 2
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: ITV
General Information: Due to an accident at a nuclear-waste disposal site on the moon, the moon is sent hurling away from Earth. The people working at moonbase are trapped on the moon, and soon find themselves discovering new life and new civilizations as the moon has sort of  become a spaceship. This is a live-action Gerry Anderson series.

TitleThunderbirds
Featured Actors: Peter Dyneley, Shane Rimmer, David Holliday, Jeremy Wilkin, Matt Zimmerman, David Graham, Ray Barrett, Sylvia Anderson, et. al. (All voices only)
Episode Length:  1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6 (sets 1-4), 5 (set 5), 3 (set 6)
Total Seasons (Series): 2
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: ITV
General Information: Gerry Anderson’s most famous and best Supermarionation television series. The series features Jeff Tracy, millionaire, business executive, and former astronaut as the head of International Rescue – a service organization that he started to rescue people anywhere in the world. International Rescue is also a top-secret organization, no one in the world at large knows that Jeff and his sons are the organization. Jeff’s sons are: John Tracy, space monitor aboard Thunderbird 5 a geostationary satellite that can monitor any frequency in the world for distress calls (and communicate back to those in distress); Scott Tracy, the pilot of Thunderbird 1 a super-sonic reconnaissance craft that is normally the first on the scene in the disaster zone; Virgil Tracy, pilot of Thunderbird 2, the organization’s huge transport that carries rescue equipment to the disaster site; Alan Tracy, astronaut and pilot of Thunderbird 3, the organization’s space rocket; and Gordon Tracy, aquanaut and pilot of the organization’s tiny yellow mini-sub. Other regulars include: Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and her driver/butler Parker, the organization’s London agents; Ma Tracy, Jeff’s mother; Kyrano, Jeff’s loyal gardener, chef, and servant as well as friend; and Kyrano’s daughter Tin-Tin. The regular villain is the Hood. Although a bit dated in places (particularly the use of a villain like the Hood), most of this series really stands up well. Set 4 was the first DVD set I ever bought and I was amazed how well the stories stand up. (I probably would have bought Doctor Who first, but Thunderbirds came out earlier). You do get used to the Supermarionation technique – in many ways, it’s like watching something animation, but of course with models. Derek Meddings did the model work on this and Doctor Who and later became one of the world’s most famous and accomplished model makers, having worked on the James Bond films and many other projects.

Torchwood  – See separate entry under Doctor Who

TitleUFO
Featured Actors: Ed Bishop, George Sewell, Michael Billington, Gabrielle Drake, et. al.
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 13
Total Seasons (Series): 2
Format: 1
Region: NTSC
Production Source: ITV
General Information: A Gerry Anderson live action series that is much, much better than Space: 1999. Although the series starts slowly, once it gets going it’s a very good SF series. What I particularly liked is that it gives you the feeling the main characters are always behind the 8-ball. No matter what they find out about the aliens they are fighting, it’s never really enough to help them win, and often information comes too late to help. Like all Gerry Anderson shows, including Space: 1999, the model shots are pure perfection. However, unlike Space: 1999UFO has great characters and good, consistent, plotting. It is, however, a bit of a 1970s program, so many of the main characters drink like fish and smoke like chimneys. (And yes, it is a bit unrealistic that members of a super-secret organization like SHADO would drink so much while on duty, but it’s a sign of the times.) SHADO – Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation, is a secret organization whose purpose is to investigate, research, and ultimately stop the strange UFOs that are suddenly attacking Earth (or at least England) and also kidnapping people. Trust me, it’s fun. And it’s pronounced “you-FOE” as if it’s all one word, not “you-F-oh” like individual letters.

TitleA Very Peculiar Practice
Featured Actors: Peter Davison
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 7
Total Seasons (Series): Unknown (I have series 1)
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: BBC
General Information: Peter Davison plays a doctor for the third time (the others being a vet in All Creatures Great and Small and of course, The Doctor in Doctor Who). This time around he’s a medical doctor at a university campus. This show is also very strange. I bought it because it had Peter Davison in it, and I was never really sure if it worked or not for me.

TitleThe Original Vic Reeves Big Night Out
Featured Actors: Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer
Episode Length: 30
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 7
Total Seasons (Series): 2
Note:  Sold in a single DVD set of all 14 episodes.
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: Channel 4
General Information: The first of  Reeves and Mortimer’s New Wave comedies. This one has a bit of structure, in that it’s designed like a late-night talk show, although it’s actually a complete parody or send-up of that format. It’s really like a parody of David Letterman, even down to the stupid human tricks.

Title: Wire in the Blood
Featured Actors: Robson Green, Hermione Norris
Episode Length: 2 hours
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 3
Total Seasons (Series): 4 or 5 (ongoing – see update)
Format: 1
Region: NTSC
Production Source: ITV
General Information: Based on a popular series of novels, Dr. Tony Hill is a clinical psychologist and university instructor, who is initially called in to help local Bradford police DCI Carol Jordan on a serial murder case. Tony becomes a regular contributor to solving cases for the department while balancing his own work at the university, and growing personal feelings for Carol. I love this show, but I’ve seen it wildly out-of-order and haven’t gotten all the DVDs yet. Still, highly, highly recommended. Please note – besides being creepy, because this series deals with violent serial killers, and sex crimes in a realistic way, it is not for the faint of heart nor for those under 18. BBCA stuck a “mature” warning on it for a reason, folks.
Update: These series has a total of six seasons and a follow-up TV movie. Hermione Norris left after Season 3 and was replaced by Simone Lahbib.

These are all the mini-reviews from my posts on Live Journal (now hosted on Dreamwidth). I have a review of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 to write-up next. But I also plan and posting more mini-reviews of my more recent acquisitions of British TV.

Read my British TV Mini-Reviews vol. 1 A – H.

Read my British TV Mini-Reviews vol. 2 H – S.

British TV Mini-Reviews vol. 2 H – S

Previously published on my Live Journal on: 06/14/2009

Note: This is an older review (Second of three), previously posted to my Live Journal and now hosted on Dreamwidth. This review consists of a series of mini-reviews of various British TV series I have watched and that are in my personal DVD collection. Some of these may also have complete reviews on BitchwithWiFi. I’ve decided to copy it as is, silly asides and all. I did correct typos and formatting. Enjoy!

Again, my TV DVD collection is pretty vast, and of course, includes American shows as well as British ones, but in preparation, for a possible panel next Mediawest (a Midwestern Media fan convention) I’m writing-up and posting these mini-reviews. This takes off from the previous post which ended with The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Enjoy!  And feel free to comment with your own suggestions of favorite British TV on DVD.

Title: Hornblower (AKA The Adventures of  Horatio Hornblower)
Featured Actors: Ioan Gruffudd, Robert Lindsay, Jamie Bamber, David Warner.
Episode Length: 2-hr movies
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 4, 2, 2
Total Seasons (Series): 3
Note: I have the Complete Series boxed sets from A&E which is a total of 8 2-hour movies in 3 boxed sets.
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: ITV
General Information: The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower, a naval officer in 1794, from a wet-behind-the-ears ensign with sea-sickness to a seasoned officer, based on C.S. Forester’s series of books. Beautifully shot, with gorgeous tall ship design British fighting ships, including Horatio’s ship The Indefatigable. Think Master and Commander but with a lower budget, though, honestly, it doesn’t really look like a low budget production. The filming is gorgeous, despite the budget. A bit of trivia, the original C.S. Forester novels were one of Gene Roddenberry’s inspirations for Star Trek.

TitleJeeves and Wooster
Featured Actors: Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 5 or 6
Total Seasons (Series): 4
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: Granada
General Information: Based on PG Wodehouse’s short stories, Jeeves and Wooster is about Bertie Wooster (Laurie) an upper-class twit in 1920s England (although in the last series he spends several episodes “abroad” in the US) and his perfect valet Jeeves (Fry). Jeeves can do anything. He also pulls his charge out of trouble, prevents him from getting in trouble, sees to it that he’s always in style, and basically cares for him like a child. Watch for Laurie’s piano playing – it’s often the highlight of the show.

TitleLife on Mars
Featured Actors: John Simm, Philip Glenister
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 8
Total Seasons (Series): 2
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Note: At least Series 1 of this series is also available in NTSC, Region 1. But, because there is an American series of the same name, make sure you are buying the right one.
Production Source: BBC
General Information: Sam Tyler is a detective in modern London who’s knocked down by a hit-and-run driver. He wakes up in 1973. However, it is very unclear whether he’s in a coma and dreaming, gone totally off the deep end and has created his own world, or he’s really time-traveled to 1973. This intentional ambiguity is what made the show very, very special. The second thread of the program was that it gave the producers the chance to do a 1970s-style cop show, without running into obvious social changes involved. Life on Mars does actually deal with 70s social issues, including those specific to the UK such as football hooliganism, but in a very clever way, since Sam is from 2006 and has modern viewpoints, and he’s confronted with a world that’s very different. Someone once said, “The Past is a Foreign Country,” and this show deals squarely with that concept. Third, it is a fun 70-style cop show. The publicity, press, and special features all mention that the show is like The Sweeney, something I’ve never seen (so I don’t know), but I found it very similar to The Professionals, which was another reason I really liked it.

TitleNeverWhere
Featured Actors: Gary Bakewell, Laura Fraser
Episode Length: 30 Minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6
Total Seasons (Series): 1 (mini-series)
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: BBC
General Information: Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, this fantasy series follows a man, Richard Mayhew, who falls into another world below the London Underground. The plot of the novel is very similar to L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wizard of Oz, in that once he discovers the fantasy world he just wants to go home.

TitleThe Piglet Files
Featured Actors: Nicholas Lyndhurst, Serena Evans, Clive Francis, John Ringham
Episode Length:30 Minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 7
Total Seasons (Series): 3
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: London Weekend Television
General Information: Peter Chapman is a teacher at a small Polytechnic when he is recruited by MI5 to teach the field agents how to use technology. Over time, he also becomes a field agent himself. This is an extremely funny series – smart, clever, intelligent, etc. It also really pokes fun at the British secret services and various programs (The Sandbaggers, James Bond, etc) that celebrate them. However, to call The Piglet Files a British Get Smart would be an over-simplification because the program is not a parody and Peter is not working for his own agency, the way Max works for Control. Rather, Peter really is working for MI5 but in this series, they are very much taking the Mickey out of the British security services, especially MI5.

TitleThe Professionals
Featured Actors: Gordon Jackson, Lewis Collins, Martin Shaw
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 14 or 15
Total Seasons (Series): 5
Note: Packaged as 4 separate boxed sets
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: London Weekend Television (ITV)
General Information: William Andrew Philip Bodie (who goes by just Bodie) and Ray Doyle are the top agents for CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5), a fictional British security agency – somewhere between Scotland Yard, MI5 (internal security) and MI6 (external security). Their “Controller” (or boss) is George Cowley, a principled and dedicated agent of the State. Although this 1970s-era program focuses on anti-terrorism plots for the most part (think about when it was made and what was going on in the UK at the time), the fact that it is a fictional agency with a wide purview allows for a wide plot landscape. There is even a stunning episode that focuses on what happens when an individual representing the State is given too much policing power – that is, citizens may be safe from crime but they also have no freedom (“In the Public Interest”). That’s another focus about “Pros” that makes the show particularly interesting for an American viewer – here’s a show that is willing to criticize the very “agency” it also portrays as heroic. Similarly, the heroes are not perfect – they make mistakes, they mess-up and when they do innocents die. Of course, since it is a 1970s show, there’s plenty of jiggling women who are portrayed as a distraction to Bodie and Doyle, and other attitudes of the 1970s prevail. But it’s still well worth watching, especially in this day and age.

TitleRandall and Hopkirk, Deceased (2000)
Featured Actors: Vic Reeves (Jim Moir), Bob Mortimer, Tom Baker, Emilia Fox
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6 or 7
Total Seasons (Series): 2
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: BBC
General Information: A remake of a 1960s ITV series of the same name, in my personal opinion the 2000 version is better. Jeff  Randall and Marty Hopkirk are best friends and partners in the private detective business. In the premiere episode, Marty is murdered and returns as a ghost to help his friend and partner solve his own murder. When circumstances force Marty to remain past sun-up, he is stuck on Earth as a ghost that only Jeff can see. Tom Baker plays Wyvern, Marty’s “spirit guide”, who teaches him the ins and outs of being a ghost. Jeannie is Marty’s fiancée who ends-up becoming Jeff’s new partner in the detective business. Since she cannot see Marty and doesn’t know that Marty’s ghost visits Jeff, this adds a comic element. Because of Jeff and Marty’s genuine friendship – there is also a bittersweet element to the series since Jeff is in mourning for his friend – yet his friend is still around. This particular version of the series also has a supernatural or paranormal focus. A very, very good program that should have lasted at least one more season.

TitleRobin of Sherwood (AKA Robin Hood)
Featured Actors: Michael Praed (Series 1 & 2), Jason Connery (series 3 only), Clive Mantle, Ray Winstone, Judi Trott, Peter Llewellyn-Williams, Phil Rose, Mark Ryan, Nickolas Grace, Robert Addie, et. al.
Episode Length: 1 hour normally but with several 2-hour episodes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6, 6, 13
Note: I have The Complete Boxed set which consists of 22 episodes on 8 discs (counting each of the many 2-hour or 2-part episodes as a single episode.)
Total Seasons (Series): 3
Format: PAL
Region: 2 (Also available in NTSC, Region 1)
Production Source: ITV
General Information: The single best version of  Robin Hood I’ve ever seen. Robin, in this version, is a follower of Herne the Hunter, a mysterious figure who speaks like Obi-Wan Kenobi or a Vorlon. However, when not possessed by Herne, the very old human male lives in a cave. Robin, as Herne’s son, gets advice from both Herne, the mysterious god, and Herne the guy who gets possessed by the god. It’s a little confusing but it gives this version of Robin Hood it’s lovely mystical quality. Because Michael Praed leaves after the second series and is replaced with Jason Connery, this is also the only version of Robin Hood I’ve seen that deals with the death of  Robin Hood. And, both versions of the legend are used – Praed is the traditional pauper, Robin Hood; whereas Jason Connery is Lord Robert of Huntington, a Peer of the Realm, who turns his back on Society when he sees how the people are being exploited and takes up Robin’s role, gathering Robin’s scattered men and women in the process.

TitleThe Sandbaggers
Featured Actors: Roy Marsden, Richard Vernon, Dennis Burgess, Ray Lonnen, Alan MacNaughton, Bob Sherman, Jerome Willis, Michael Cashman, et. al.
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6
Total Seasons (Series): 3
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: Granada
General Information: A serious fictional portrayal of MI6. Although there are some great funny lines in this series, overall it’s very, very depressing, and regular characters are killed off on a routine basis. But, it’s still very much a “do not miss” show if you like the spy genre.

Title: Sapphire and Steel
Featured Actors: David McCallum, Joanna Lumley, (and David Collins, occasional)
Episode Length: 30-minute episodes, forming multi-part stories
Story Length: 4-8 30 Minute episodes, one story per disc. The boxed set contains all six stories.
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: ITV
General Information: A mysterious, moody, and dark series. Sapphire and Steel are “elements” who act sort of time detectives or police officers, showing up after time has messed-up to fix things and set things right. This is the weirdest TV show I’ve ever seen and still enjoyed. (The Prisoner is weirder, but I don’t like it – it’s too strange.) Needless to say, you really don’t know what is going on. Ever. Though in the individual stories, all of which are very, very different from each other, you can follow what’s going on, it’s just really hard to describe such a strange show, accurately. It’s also very scary and dark. Joanna Lumley is Sapphire, normally dressed in blue, with the powers of telepathic communication with Steel, and the ability to manipulate time to some extent. David McCallum is Steel who is super strong and has the ability to lower his body temp to near absolute zero (though’ it also takes a lot of energy). Because of the 30-minute cliffhanger format (the same as classic Doctor Who), the series is very addictive.

The Sarah Jane Adventures – See separate entry under Doctor Who

Title: Sea of Souls
Featured Actors: Bill Paterson
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6
Total Seasons (Series): 2 (that I know of)
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: BBC
General Information: Set in Scotland, this series follows a university professor and his students as they investigate paranormal mysteries. Each episode is a 2-hour movie, however on the DVD set they are broken into 1-hour parts with a “to be continued” card.

TitleSherlock Holmes (AKA, The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Return of Sherlock HolmesThe Casebook of Sherlock HolmesThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and various movie specials)
Featured Actors: Jeremy Brett, David Burke (Series 1 only), Edward Hardwicke (thereafter)
Episode Length: 1 hour, some 2-hr movies
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): varies
Note: I have the Complete Boxed set, which is 41 episodes on 12 discs. It is sold in the US under the title “Sherlock Holmes the Complete Granada TV Series”.
Total Seasons (Series): 5
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: Granada
General Information: No one can play Holmes like Jeremy Brett, and surprisingly both Watsons work extremely well as well since the changeover is made between “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House” when Watson is supposed to be three years older anyway. What makes this version of Sherlock Holmes so good is that they actually adapted the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories – which are, of course, darn good.  And, it being British, the historical detail is unmatched.

Read my British TV Mini Reviews vol. 1 – A through H

British TV Mini-Reviews vol. 1 A – H

Previously published on my Live Journal on: 06/09/2009

Note: This is an older review (first of three), previously posted to my Live Journal and now hosted on Dreamwidth. This review consists of a series of mini-reviews of various British TV series I have watched and that are in my personal DVD collection. Some of these may also have complete reviews on BitchwithWiFi. I’ve decided to copy it as is, silly asides and all. I did correct typos and formatting. Enjoy!

In prep for a panel I might do at next year’s Mediawest (a Midwestern Media Fan Convention) I wrote up brief summaries for all the British TV in my DVD collection. Keep in mind I also collect US TV and US film on DVD. Actually, I’m guessing I have around 200 films on DVD and all but a couple are American films. I do really like British TV though – so, although I have American stuff, yeah, my collection is heavily weighted to British TV. I might post just a list of my American TV shows (possibly not annotated – as most should be well known.) Because the list is long it will be posted over several days. Doctor Who and it’s spin-offs will be posted separately. (Update: Because of the plethora of DC Comics based TV right now, this is no longer true of my collection as a whole. I probably now have an equal amount of US and British TV.)

Vocabulary Guide:

British-American Usage Chart

Programme – Series
Series – Season
Part – Episode
Serial – Story or Episode (for Doctor Who or Sapphire & Steel)
Double-length – Two-part story or episode
Ep. – Episode, in the American sense of the word.
AKA – Also Known As (Some British series had different titles in the US, or each season (series) had its own title)
MI5 – Military Intelligence 5, the British internal security service, similar to the FBI in the US.
MI6 – Military Intelligence 6, the British external security service, similar to the CIA in the US.
Scotland Yard – the British National Police Force. Somewhat like the FBI in the US, and somewhat like the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in Canada. They are generally invited into cases throughout the country, but may also cover rural areas, like the RCMP.
The Met – Depends on context, but usually short for the London Metropolitan Police.
Oxbridge – Oxford and/or Cambridge – not only refers to the two universities, or to someone who has graduated or attended either one, the term “Oxbridge” also refers to an attitude of intelligence, breeding, cultured-ness, etc. Somewhat like the US terms, “High brow” or “Ivy League” but without the snobbishness that implies (The British universities allow anyone with the intelligence to do so to attend, without the costly fees that would keep poorer students away.)

British TV Recommendation List (AKA my Personal (UK) DVD List in Alphabetical Order)

Title: All Creatures Great and Small
Featured Actors: Robert Hardy, Peter Davison, Christopher Timothy, Carol Drinkwater (Series 1-3), Lynda Bellingham (Later Series)
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 13 or 14, depending on set
Total Seasons (Series): 7
Series in my personal collection: 3, plus Christmas specials
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: BBC
General Information: Based on the series of autobiographical novels by James Herriot, this series is about vets in 1930s England. It’s a really great show about people, surviving in bad times, and dealing with hardship in a blunt, yet accepting way. If you’ve never seen it you are missing something. Also, like many British shows, familiar actors do show up in guest roles, including Patrick Troughton and Nicholas Courtney (not in the same episode).

TitleBang Bang It’s Reeves and Mortimer
Featured Actors (Comedians): Vic Reeves (Jim Moir), Bob Mortimer
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes: Unknown
Total Seasons (Series): Unknown – I have a Complete set
Discs: 1
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: BBC
General Information: A British sketch comedy show. However, this isn’t Oxbridge, it’s a working-class comedy. Reeves and Mortimer were among the first of the New Wave, lower/working class (AKA Blue Collar) comedians, and one of the most successful. (Similar New Wave comedies include: The League of GentlemenLittle Britain, and Absolutely Fabulous). Overall, I wasn’t that impressed, but I had picked up all of the Reeves and Mortimer series after seeing Randall and Hopkirk, Deceased (see latter entry).

Title: Black Adder
Featured Actors: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Miranda Richardson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Tim McInnerny
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6
Total Seasons (Series): 4, plus specials
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: BBC
Note: I have “The Complete Black Adder” boxed set, which includes all four series and the specials. The box set is 27 episodes and 5 discs.
General Information: A Oxbridge comedy that is quite possibly the funniest British show I’ve ever seen. This historical comedy also teaches history (albeit in a twisted way). Blackadder consists of four series (seasons), each with it’s own title, set in different time periods (The Middle Ages; Elizabethan England; The Regency, and World War I. Specials included a Victorian Christmas Special, a special set during the Parliamentary wars, and a futuristic special with time travel to various eras.) The casts were different for each season and some popular guests returned as different characters in other seasons. Notably: Brian Blessed in series I only as  Richard IV; Rik Mayall as Lord Flashheart (Series 2) and Cap’t Flashheart (Series 4); and Gabrielle Glaister as the cross-dressing Bob (a girl pretending to be a guy) in Series 2 and 4. Nicola Bryant is in the Christmas special. Again, if you somehow missed it, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Title: Blake’s 7
Featured Actors: Paul Darrow, Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating, Sally Knyvette, Jan Chappell, Jacqueline Pearce, et. al.
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 13
Total Seasons (Series): 4
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source:  BBC
General Information: A group of criminals escapes from an Earth that is under the control of a tyrannical Federation in an alien spacecraft they re-name The Liberator. An anti-Star Trek science fiction program. Although there are some great funny lines in this series, overall it’s very, very depressing, and regular characters are killed off on a routine basis. Although this was my favorite British SF show after Doctor Who in the 80s when I first saw it, it doesn’t stand up that well. But still worth investigating if you don’t mind the really bad special effects.

TitleBrass
Featured Actors: Timothy West, Caroline Blakiston, Geoffrey Hisliff, Geoffrey Hutchings, James Saxon, Emily Morgan, David Ashton, Shaun Scott, Gary Cady.
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 13
Total Seasons (Series): 1
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source: Granada
General Information: A British version of Soap, in that it parodies soap operas. This series follows the adventures of two families in a Welsh mining village; the poor Fairchilds who work in the mines, and the rich Hardacres, who own the mines. The show also parodies Dallas and other night-time soap operas, but in a very British style. The word “brass” itself is British slang for money (not “upper-echelon military” – that’s American slang). Brass is a very, very funny show.

TitleCatterick
Featured Actors: Vic Reeves (Jim Moir), Bob Mortimer
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6
Total Seasons (Series): 2 (only 1 on DVD so far)
Format: PAL
Region: 2
Production Source:  BBC
General Information: A fantastic British New Wave comedy but with a plot. There is also heavy use of music in this series, so if it ever makes it’s way onto Region 1/NTSC discs be on the lookout for the dreaded music replacement notice. The show involves a man, just out of the military, on his way home, when chaos ensues. This series is very weird, but since it does have a plot and music, and it’s also lots of fun, it’s more approachable than the other Reeves and Mortimer comedies.

TitleDangerMouse
Featured Actors: Animated
Episode Length: 10 minutes or 30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): Varies
Total Seasons (Series): 7
Note: A&E bundled two Series in each set originally, and subsequently has issued a Complete boxed set. I have the Series 1 & 2, Series 3 & 4, and Series 5 & 6 boxed sets.
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source:  Thames
General Information: “He’s terrific, he’s magnific, he’s the greatest super agent in the world – Danger Mouse! Danger Mouse, our Mouse, he’s terrific, he’s magnific, he’s the best! Danger Mouse!” Danger Mouse, the world’s smallest secret agent is a small white mouse known for his white turtlenecks and black eye patch. Aided by his hamster assistant, Penfold, he reports to Colonel K (a Badger) and fights evil and chaos (usually in the form of Baron Greenback, a frog, and his assistants Nero, a caterpillar, and his other assistant a crow). Danger Mouse lives in the top flat of a normal red pillar-box style post box. Full of puns, silly situations, parodies of just about everything, and witty dialog – Danger Mouse is enjoyable for both children and adults. The Narrator gets some of the funniest lines, like the Narrator in the US-series Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Note: in some areas in the US, when episodes of Danger Mouse were aired they were joined together and the narration stripped out – this destroyed an awful lot of the humor of the show. The DVDs faithfully restore all the narration. Also, the voices are the original ones, not the dubs (apparently, again, only when shown on TV in certain areas, some of the characters were over-dubbed for unknown reasons).

Doctor Who – See Separate Entry There’s an awful lot and I have just about all of it. (Update: See Doctor Who Category on this blog, it is a major interest of mine.)

TitleFawlty Towers
Featured Actors: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth
Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 12 – in the Complete Set
Note: I have the complete collection boxed set – 12 eps, on 3 discs.
Total Seasons (Series): 3
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: BBC
General Information: John Cleese as exactly the wrong man to run a hotel. Nuff said. Actually, this Oxbridge comedy is a true classic. The episodes often started with one small thing that then snowballed with hilarious results.

TitleThe Grand
Featured Actors:
Episode Length:  1
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 8
Total Seasons (Series): 2
Format: 1
Region: NTSC
Production Source: Granada
General Information: Russell T. Davies’ historical drama set in a hotel in the 1920s. I bought this because it is Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who) producing, and I wanted to like it. But, to me, it came off a cheap imitation of Upstairs, Downstairs.

TitleHamish MacBeth
Featured Actors: Robert Carlyle, David Ashton, et. al.
Episode Length: 1 hour
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 5 to 7
Total Seasons (Series): 3
Format: PAL
Region: 2 (Note: This series also available in NTSC, Region 1)
Production Source: BBC
General Information: A small town constable in the Scottish Highlands solves mysteries (with his Highland White Scottish Terrier) while sorting out his love-life and figuring out his destiny. A bit strange, but very good. PC MacBeth’s goal in life is to solve crime in his beloved Lochdubh, without getting promoted, since that would mean leaving the village. Avoiding promotion is an issue because he’s very good at his job.

TitleHeat of the Sun
Featured Actors: Trevor Eve, Susannah Harker, Michael Byrne
Episode Length: 2-hr movies that aired on PBS’s Mystery!
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 3
Total Seasons (Series): 1 (that I know of)
Format:   NTSC  Region: 1
Production Source: Unknown
General Information: Trevor Eve, whom I’ve long admired as an actor, plays a Scotland Yard Detective sent to Kenya, partially as punishment, and partially to “clean up the town” as the saying goes. Det. Albert Tyburn is an honest cop, who is thrown into a situation where the super-rich ex-pat “locals” do whatever they want and the police have stopped caring. Tyburn wishes to do something about this. An excellent mystery series, I wish there was more. Besides, Trevor Eve, in khakis, running around, looking hot, and boy does he – what’s not to love?

TitleHitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Featured Actors: Simon Jones, David Dixon, Peter Jones (as the voice of  the book), Mark Wing-Davey, Sandra Dickinson
Episode Length:  30 minutes
Number of episodes per series (DVD set): 6
Total Seasons (Series): 1 (mini-series)
Format: NTSC
Region: 1
Production Source: BBC
General Information: The original British television mini-series, based on the books by Douglas Adams, which was in turn based on the radio series. Although the effects are not good, the mini-series is far superior to the American movie by the same name. The plot goes like this: Arthur Dent is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect shortly before the Earth is destroyed by a Vogon Destructor Fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass. In a bit of irony, Arthur’s house had been slated for destruction for precisely the same reasons. Ford introduces Arthur to the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the galaxy’s most useful and popular book. Again, an Oxbridge comedy filled with biting wit and sarcasm, very funny asides, interesting, useless, and possibly untrue trivia, iconic characters, outright silliness, the works. Even though it has some truly awful effects (Just ignore Zaphod Beeblebrox’s second head), the “computer-generated” drawings by the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy were actually all hand-drawn animation which is pretty incredible. It’s a must-see!

And we’re only up to “H”.  And there will be two more posts to come.

The Complete Man from U.N.C.L.E. Boxed Set Extras Review

The Complete Man from U.N.C.L.E. DVD Review Special Features and General Review
Previously published on my Live Journal (now hosted on Dreamwidth) on: 05/20/2008

The U.N.C.L.E. DVD set is very nice. If you order the complete set from Time/Life, it comes packed in an (albeit cardboard) silver-colored attaché case, with the U.N.C.L.E. logo on the front. The handle moves and the metal locks work. However, the inner liner is cardboard and can’t be taken out, so you’re stuck with it being set to hold the four season sets and the two bonus discs. The bonus discs are in simple cardboard sleeves (CD size). I took mine out of the sleeves and put them in a plastic DVD case, then slid the empty sleeve into the plastic case front.

NOTE:  You only get the two bonus special features disks and the attaché case if you purchase The Complete Man from U.N.C.L.E. as a set from Time-Life. Yes, it’s worth it, to get the extra discs.

Each season set is boxed separately, and the cases are glued on the left and each page (which holds two DVDs) opens like a book. There’s also an annoying clear plastic sleeve that you have to pull up towards the top (or towards the bottom) and remove completely before you can open the DVD set. Unfortunately, the discs overlap, which is bad for long-term storage. I’m going to have to re-package my sets into the same thin-line plastic DVD cases I put the bonus discs in. (Update: I did leave the discs in the Season Set boxes on my DVD shelves, because they do look nice, but I worry about scratches on the discs due to the overlapping nature of the discs in the cases.

Restoration: The Time-Life website claims the entire set is digitally restored. The problem is the restoration seems really hit and miss. Season 1 (which was filmed in black and white) actually looks really, really good, with the only problems being with the ubiquitous stock footage. And even then, the stock footage shots look cleaner in black-and-white. However, in the color seasons, for the most part, the actual U.N.C.L.E. shots look either really good or OK, but again the stock footage looks awful (at the very least having a lot of white “dust”, or vertical scratches). By the third season, some episodes even suffer from scratches, dust, etc. For example, “The Hot Number Affair”, with Sonny and Cher (one of my personal favorites from season 3) has long vertical black scratches on several scenes – and these are on scenes shot for the episode, not re-used footage or stock footage lifted from the MGM library. Season 4 though looks a tad better. Overall, I’d give the restoration effort 3 out of 4 maybe 5 stars.

For a comparison, try watching some classic Doctor Who episodes on DVD. The first season of Doctor Who originally aired in 1963, and although it was filmed (or done on video) in black and white until 1970, the restoration team’s work is better than the work done on Man from U.N.C.L.E., hands down. We are talking about material that’s the same age or older. Not to mention that videotape is even more fragile than film.

Oh, and while on the topic of restoration, I do realize that U.N.C.L.E. was probably done using Technicolor, and the cameras are huge and the restoration process is difficult because of the four separate rolls of film that must be synced. Also, I will say that the color sparkles in the three color seasons and in the color pilot included as a special feature. The color restoration is perfect, it is flaws in the film itself that I found annoying.

Briefly, here’s what the Complete U.N.C.L.E. set includes:

  • Season 1 (black and white), 29 episodes, 11 discs, 3 episodes per disc plus special features disc.
  • Season 2 (color), 30 episodes, 11 discs, 3 episodes per disc plus special features disc.
  • Season 3 (color), 30 episodes, 11 discs, 3 episodes per disc plus special features disc.
  • Season 4 (color), 16 episodes, 6 discs, 3 episodes per disc plus special features disc. NOTE:  Disc 6 includes the last 2-part episode of the abbreviated season, and the special features.
  • Two bonus discs.

Season 1 Special Features

  • “The Clock and Swagger Affair: The Untold History of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.”
  • “Solo” – Original Color (70 minute) Pilot
  • U.N.C.L.E. VIPs – A Celebration of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (First Season) Guest Stars

Season 2 Special Features

  • “The Spy-Fi Tour:  Archives, Art and Artifacts”
  • Feature Film:  One Spy Too Many, 1966
  • U.N.C.L.E. VIPs — A Celebration of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Second Season) Guest Stars

Season 3 Special Features

  • Interview –  Double Agents: The David McCallum and Robert Vaughn Reunion
  • The Secret Tapes of Illya Kuryakin: (David McCallum’s) Home Movies from the Set of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
  • U.N.C.L.E. VIPs – A Celebration of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Third Season) Guest Stars

Season 4 Special Features

  • MGM’s Secret Operations (overview of what it was like making the show at MGM, such as the studio lots, the access to classic film sets, and the last breath of the Studio System)
  • U.N.C.L.E. VIPs – A Celebration of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Fourth Season) Guest Stars

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Debriefing Bonus Disc 1

Featurettes:

Cold War, Hot Spies: U.N.C.L.E. and the Cold War
Guns, Gizmos, Gadgets, and Garb
Behind the wheel: U.N.C.L.E.’s Piranha (the gull-winged sports car used in Season 3)
Fandemonium (U.N.C.L.E.’s male and female fan base. Including the similarities and differences)
The Music from U.N.C.L.E.
The Girls of U.N.C.L.E.

Promos and Trailers:

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Show Promo – Summer, 1964
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Show Promo – 1966-67
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Show Promo – “The Test Tube Killer Affair” (9/18/67)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Show Promo – Fall, 1967
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Feature Film Trailer – To Trap a Spy, 1964, 1966
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Feature Film Trailer – The Spy with My Face, 1965, 1966
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Feature Film Trailer – One Spy Too Many, 1966
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Feature Film Trailer – One of Our Spies is Missing, 1966

Official Debriefings: Interviews with U.N.C.L.E. Actors and Production Staff

Dean Hargrove, Writer
David McCallum, actor, Illya Kuryakin

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Debriefing Bonus Disc 2

Official Debriefings: Interviews with U.N.C.L.E. Actors and Production Staff (continued)

Richard Donner, Director (yes, THAT, Richard Donner of Lethal Weapon and Superman fame)
George Lehr, Producer
Joseph Sargent, Director
Robert Vaughn, Actor, Napoleon Solo

TV Appearances and Spots

The Golden Globe Awards for 1965, aired live on The Andy Williams Show, 1/31/1966 (Vaughn and McCallum)
1965 Emmy Broadcast 9/12/65 – Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, presenters
David McCallum on The Andy Williams Show 9/20/1965
Tom & Jerry Cartoon – “The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R.” MGM, 1967

Photo and Image Galleries

Behind the scenes designs and Blueprints from the Set of U.N.C.L.E.
Hidden Camera: An U.N.C.L.E. Photo Gallery
Classified Files: Network and Studio Docs
For Collectors Only: U.N.C.L.E. Memorabilia
Top Secret:  U.N.C.L.E. Motion Picture Advertising and Publicity

Needless to say, the extras are extensive and beautifully produced. All of the featurettes are introduced (on audio) by either Robert Vaughn or David McCallum. The featurettes also have tongue-in-cheek credits such as “With special thanks to the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, music division.”

The best, and not to be missed, extras include: the interview of Vaughn and McCallum together – it’s truly marvelous as I remarked in my S. 3 review, as are the separate additional interviews of Vaughn and McCallum. Vaughn’s especially was very touching, and almost made me cry. I knew he was a personal friend of Bobby Kennedy and has worked on Kennedy’s campaign for the Democratic Nomination in 1968, prior to Kennedy’s assignation. But I didn’t know that Vaughn also knew Dr. Martin Luther King. Hearing him remark that he was on a plane when the pilot announced that King had also been assassinated – frankly, it must have been hell. Considering that both assassinations happened in 1968, the year U.N.C.L.E. was canceled. It must have been a very hard year for Vaughn, to say the least, and you could see he was, thinking back and remembering how upsetting it was. That moment in the interview just felt very personal. McCallum, of course, is also fun to watch, especially in interviews, but he’s more career-focused than personal or politically-focused. Other excellent extras include, the Fandemonium featurette, which includes an interview about the female fan base, as well as the more well-known male fans (such as the two hosting various featurettes on collecting U.N.C.L.E. memorabilia and U.N.C.L.E. gadgets and such), and of course all the TV spots, especially the one for the Golden Globes.

Overall, I’m pleased with the Complete set. I got my money’s worth. I’m really happy to finally have gotten to see ALL of U.N.C.L.E., something I missed since I initially saw it in syndication on TNT in the 1980s. Also, no doubt, that in the future, U.N.C.L.E. episodes will be something I pull out of the DVD shelving unit when I want to watch something fun, adventurous, and full of danger, escapes, and really good-looking men!