Here’s a quick look at some fun DVD sets that have recently crossed my desk:
This two-disc set collects a couple dozen or so. “Best of” may be overstating things in some cases (“Desperate Houseplants” falls pretty flat), but there are some gems from past and current seasons.
Among my favorites: “Dirtiest Jobs” with Mike Rowe and Oscar the Grouch, recent viral video hit “Smell Like a Monster” with Grover, “Six Dollar Man” with Kermit (one I remember from my childhood) and “Twin Beaks,” which features a Cookie Monster two-fer: agent and “Monsterpiece Theatre” host Alistair Cookie.
And not all involve the Muppet cast. “The O Show” is animated, and “The Braid-y Bunch” features a sextet of live-action girls in a diversity-encouraging spoof of “The Brady Bunch” opening credits.
All in all, it’s a quick bit of fluff to sit through for some good laughs. My personal favorite Muppet, Grover, appears in a bunch of the shorts, so that was just a bonus for me.
“The Cape: The Complete Series” (Universal) – I hate watching stuff on NBC’s online media player, so when “The Cape” was prematurely canceled, I held off for the inevitable DVD set. If I had paid attention and realized there was only one unaired episode, I may have bit the bullet.
But that’s in the past, and now I have the full series for my DVD shelf. It was the story of a good cop done wrong. As corporate megalomaniac Peter Fleming (James Frain) privatizes “security” and basically takes over a city (shades of Michigan’s emergency financial manager law?), his alternate personality Chess frames Vince Faraday (David Lyons) and thinks Faraday’s killed. But Faraday escapes and joins up with a band of thieving carnies, where he becomes the superhero the Cape.
His first order of business is to take down Fleming and clear his name so he can tell his wife and kid that he’s still alive. So with the help of the carnies and uber-crime-blogger Orwell (Summer Glau), he goes about doing just that.
Sure, the show stretched credibility a lot (Can a cape really be bulletproof? Are smoke bombs really that concealing? Could Fleming really get away with so much without state or federal intervention? Can Faraday’s wife really not recognize his voice and handsome chin?), but it had the most important thing for this kind of show. It was fun.
The characters believed in their world, so the viewer did, too (mostly). It was a series cut down as it was fully finding its groove. So now all we have is this reminder of what could have been.
“Warehouse 13: Season Two” (Universal) – Just before Season Three started airing on Syfy, Season Two came out on DVD to remind me (as if I’d forgotten) why I enjoy this show so much.
The sophomore season did a great job of building on the relationships of the main characters, while throwing in some new ones to stir the pot and keep things moving. The new spin on H.G. Wells (Jaime Kennedy) kept us guessing — was she good, evil or just misunderstood?
The heart of the show, of course, is the relationship between agents Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly). I love that his show only barely touches on a sexual tension between the two. If they became romantic, it would be so cliche. They’re so much better and more interesting as friends.
But there’s also the increasingly touching rapport between neophyte Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) and old-timer Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek). Their playfulness and affection for each other despite their sometimes gruff exteriors is great to watch.
But a bit lost in the crowd is Leena (Genelle Williams), the B&B owner who helps out at the Warehouse. I hope she gets better play this season.
But I’m always impressed with the interesting ways the writers come up with to imbue historical artifacts with the power of their owners: Man Ray’s camera, which can steal the youth of its subject; Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, which emits electricity; Mata Hari’s stockings, which make men obsessed with the woman wearing them; Harriet Tubman’s thimble, which can alter the appearance of a person. The list goes on and on (and is handily collected by the folks at Wikipedia).
The show’s not too hard to follow if you’d like to start with this set. It also includes the crossover episode from “Eureka” but doesn’t have the “Secret Santa” episode, for some reason.