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Nick's Pics
Nick Nicholson
Film & Home Entertainment Critic
 

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.
 
DVD Reviews  

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Season Four - Paramount

Jim Phelps is the head of a super-secret government agency (“Impossible Missions”), and is often given secret anonymous covert missions to attempt; quite often they are unmasking of criminals or the rescuing of hostages. He picks his team depending on which tasks need to be done. One thing is vital on an Impossible Mission: the mission must be carried out in entire secrecy, often relying on high-tech equipment and elaborate deceptions. This TV series gets better with each season!!! Peter Graves leads a team of specialists including Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Steven Hill and Peter Lupus into impossible situations with little hope of success. This season adds a new member to the team. Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as Mr. Spock, joins the team as master magician Paris. The chemistry of the team keeps the show fueled. Every episode is filled with suspense and intrigue. The stories are excellently written with lots of drama and action keeping you guessing up to the very end. They really broke the mold when they developed this series. Lalo Schifrin’s Main Theme and episode music continues to heat up the action in each episode. Additional music in the series includes the talents of composers such as Jerry Fielding, Gerald Fried, Walter Scharf and Robert Drasnin. The DVD presents the entire fourth season on seven discs presented in Full Screen format with newly restored Digital 5.1 surround. No extras are included with this set. The packaging is attractive with lots of photos from the series and an episode summary on the back of each volume.

SPEED RACER NEXT GENERATION: The Beginning - Lionsgate

An animated TV series centered on the child of the legendary Speed Racer -- a young talent named after his father who enrolls in an academy for the fastest kids on Earth. Go Speed Racer Go! The Mach-5 is back and looking better than ever. The classic shows were wonderful to watch and imaginative with all of the great animation and “cheesy” plotlines and dialogue. Now, the shows are more creative with top-notch CGI and palatable scripts. In this new show, speed finds out that his father is the original speed racer in addition to his brother being his main competition. The story also involves the creation of the Mach-6 in an all-out battle for supremacy. The script is strong and brings back the original characters creating a new look and feel for the franchise. I found the show to be moderately entertaining with a few moments of “wow, that was cool” to boot. The CGI is awesome and the shots of the Mach-5 and Mach-6 are impressive. As animated shows go, this one ranks fairly high. The DVD presents the film in Full Screen format with Dolby 5.1 audio. Extras here include The Making of Speed Racer Feature, Virtual Track Racing Game; Meet the Folks at the Racing Academy short and a Trailer Gallery.

THE MUPPET SHOW: Season Three - BVHE

Jim Henson’s puppets entertain you with their version of an old-style variety show complete with guest stars and live music. Jim Henson was a genius in every sense of the word. Since Sesame Street, Kermit the Frog has entertained millions of kids and adults around the world. Now, Henson creates a show in which the puppets put together a variety show complete with live guest stars. The shows entertained all ages and left you feeling good at the end of each episode. The scripts were fun and the guest stars interacted with the puppets as if they were real people. The third season has some amazing guests including Raquel Welch, Jean Stapleton, Sylvester Stallone, Roger Miller, Danny Kaye and Kris Kristofferson. Whether it’s Miss Piggy hitting on Kermit or Gonzo blowing his horn, you are bound to be entertained. The DVD presents all 24 episodes on four discs in full screen format with restored picture and sound. Extras include a feature “Muppets on Puppets”, “Company of Players” feature looking behind the scenes of the puppeteers and Muppet Commerials. The box is colorful with a fuzzy “Fozzie” cover.

JAG: Season Six - Paramount

Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie are JAG lawyers, who together investigate and litigate crimes committed by Navy and Marine personnel. Occasionally, they engage in adventurous activities in order to solve their cases. With Rabb’s fighter pilot background, and MacKenzie’s good looks, they are a hot team both in and out of the courtroom. The drama of Harmon Rabb, Sarah McKenzie and Admiral Chegwidden continue in season six of J.A.G. Season six opens with a 2-part episode involving a startling discovery for Harm in Moscow. Harriet suffers from a miscarriage and Mac and Brumby get engaged. Some highlights from this season include a two-part episode titled “A Separate Peace” involving a civilian massacre during Vietnam, “Iron Coffin” dealing with a destroyed Russian sub and women serving on submarines. The final episode titled “Adrift” ends the season with Mac and Brumby’s wedding and a shocking discovery. The sixth season DVD box set presents all 24 episodes on six discs. All of the episodes are in Full Screen Format with Dolby Digital sound. The only extra in this set is a very funny gag reel.

GOMER PYLE: Season Four - Paramount

Gomer Pyle was a sweet but not too smart Marine from Mayberry, North Carolina who was stationed at Camp Henderson near Los Angeles, California. Gomer’s innocence, naivete and low-key demeanor often got him into trouble, most frequently at the hands of his loud-mouthed superior, Sgt. Carter. This show never ceases to amaze me in its ability to evoke humor in the presence of stupidity! Jim Nabors continues his role as Gomer Pyle with all of his “country charm” and innocence. Frank Sutton also returns as the “stroke-prone” and intense Sgt. Carter. By this season the characters are completely defined and are expanding on their roles. The scripts are slightly more outlandish with some cameos from Andy Griffith including Francis Bavier as Aunt Bee. Some of this seasons highlights include “A Visit From Aunt Bee”, “Gomer says, “Hey” to the President”, Gomer Goes Home” putting the Marine back in Mayberry and “Gomer, the Privileged Character” where we hear Jim Nabors amazing singing voice. The laughs and humor don’t diminish with this series. The DVD set contains all 30 episodes on five discs presented in Full Screen format with restored picture and sound. The packaging is attractive with lots of funny shots from the show and an episode synopsis on the inside cover.

GUNSMOKE: Season Two, Vol. Two - Paramount

This show chronicles the adventures of Marshall Matthew Dillon and the town of Dodge City. The action never diminishes with Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, season 2, volume 2. Continue the adventures in the town of Dodge City with Matt Dillon, Ms, Kitty, Doc and Chester as they struggle every day to keep law and order. James Arness leads an amazing cast of talented actors/actresses including Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver, and Amanda Blake. All of the episodes are in Black & White with restored picture and sound. The stories are all about the same with obvious outcomes, but you still want to watch another episode. I refer to this as “western candy” with the idea that you can’t stop after one show. This second volume set contains the final 19 episodes on three discs. There is an episode synopsis on the inner jacket detailing each episode with airdate postings. Extras include sponsor spots. If you enjoy a good western, this is definitely the set for you.

RAWHIDE: Season Three, Vol. One - Paramount

Gil Favor is trail boss of a continuous cattle drive; he is assisted by Rowdy Yates. The crew runs into characters and adventures along the way. Trail riding never looked like so much fun. Clint Eastwood, Eric Fleming, Paul Brinegar, Steve Raines, James Murdock and Sheb Wooley comprise the cast. There is never a dull moment when a cast like this is assembled. By this season most of the stories are starting to look the same, but you still come back for more adventure. The cast is what propels this show from week to week. Some of these seasons highlights include “Incident at Dragoon Crossing”, “Incident of the Slavemaster” and “Incident of the Broken Word”. Guest stars this season include Mercedes McCambridge, Dick York, Mary Astor, Julie London, Chester Morris and Agnes Moorehead. This has to be one of the best sources of family entertainment. The DVD contains 15 episodes on four discs. The inner jacket has a synopsis of each episode. All the episodes are in Full Screen Format with Dolby Digital sound. Sadly, this season got split up into to volumes, which makes more expensive to buy.

INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE COLLECTION - Paramount

The adventures of a young archeologist in search of priceless artifacts while nearly escaping danger and death all in the name of science. The 1980s spawned all sorts of major films including Superman, Close Encounters and Star Wars. Indiana Jones was a joint project by Directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Both talents created one of the most amazing trilogies in the history of film. Harrison Ford plays the character Dr. Henry Jones. Jones is an archeology professor by day and adventurer by night leaving little time for anything else. The artifacts that he finds and recovers, he sells to the local museum run by Dr. Marcus Brody played by Denholm Elliott. Jones runs into all sorts of obstacles from primitive traps to wild natives all the way to Nazi spies and soldiers. Despite impossible odds, he always manages to get the artifact, the girl and his life. As a trilogy, the first film is the best. They tend to slightly go down from there, but still hold an interest in the watcher through the third installment. Remember, these are “popcorn thrillers” at best and require some imagination conbined with lots of forgiveness on what is real. The supporting cast in each film has been nothing short of outstanding. Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw and Alison Doody are the leading ladies in the three films while Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies and Jonathan Ke Quan are Indy’s side-kicks throughout the films. Sean Connery plays the role of Henry Jones Sr. rounding out the trilogy for a nice finish. John Williams provides the music for all three films. These scores put the films on a higher level and show the amazing talents of John Williams. The overall special effects are nothing short of genius with lavish sets, costumes and great action sequences. With the fourth film pending release, I highly recommend that you purchase this set to re-familiarize yourself with the franchise. This DVD set includes all three films complete with restored picture and sound. New intros with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas start each feature. Extras in each volume include various features on the making of the films, storyboards, photo galleries and special effects features. There are also LEGO Indiana Jones game demos. The artwork on the case and slipcases are excellent in addition to beautiful picture discs.

DARFUR NOW - Warner

Documentarian Ted Braun’s first theatrical work examines the genocide in Darfur through the eyes of six distinct individuals who are doing what they can to combat the situation. Recent UCLA graduate Adam Sterling is the director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, which seeks to get states to divest funds in Sudan. Dr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo is an Argentine native serving as the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, where he is investigating Sudanese leaders as war criminals. Ecuadorian Pablo Recalde is the head of the World Food Program in West Darfur, where he risks his life trying to get food to the sick and starving people in the region. Hejewa Adam has taken up arms in her homeland, joining a rebel group defending the Fur people and battling the Janjaweed and government forces. Ahmed Mohammed Abakar was forced to flee his village and is now the leader at a refugee camp in Hamadea, where some 50,000 displaced people live.

THE WESTERNER - MGM

In 1940, The Westerner was underrated--regarded simply as an amusing diversion from director William Wyler. Time has passed and it emerges in the 2000s looking like one of the great Westerns. It begins with a hanging in Vinegarroon, where the self-styled “Judge” Roy Bean (Walter Brennan) holds sway. Cole Harden (Gary Cooper) rides into town on, what proves to be, a stolen horse. Entering Bean’s saloon, which doubles as a courtroom, Cole is soon on trial--with his horse as a witness. he case is summarily concluded, the jury convenes in the poker room with a bottle of whiskey, and while they drink, Cole has a little time to think of how to save his neck. The judge seems to like him, and maybe likes English actress Lily Langtry even more. Maybe if Cole has seen, or even met, the legendary Lily.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  July 30, 2008