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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.

STAR WARS: Clone Wars - Fox

The Clone Wars come to life in this animated adaptation from the creative mind of Director George Lucas. The Clone Wars came out in a two-volume set in 2003 which aired on the Cartoon Network. It was an extreme hit with the fans which segued into the third feature film. I got used to the animation and accepted it as a viable part of the series. Now, in 2008 we get another rendition of what happened in the Clone Wars with this new version endorsed by Lucas himself. The animation is superior in every way including breakthroughs in visual effects and a superior soundtrack by Kevin Kiner with additional themes by John Williams. The film is nothing more that the “pilot” to start the series which airs on Cartoon Network now every week. The cast of voices are very talented and shadow their characters nicely. We also get the voices of Samuel Jackson, Anthony Daniels and Christopher Lee, which help bring a familiarity to the series. The stories are geared mainly for kids with a hint of adult action. I find the show to be moderately entertaining. I just wish that they would have done this in a mega-series of 20 installments leading up to the third film like the previous set. This show could easily drag out the war to a boring conclusion. I guess we just have to wait and see. The DVD presents the film in Widescreen format with superior picture and sound. Extras include commentary by Director Dave Filoni, Producer Catherine Winder and writers Henry Gilroy and Jason Tucker.

STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO: Season Two - Paramount

Two police detectives keep the streets clean of crime in downtown San Francisco. As 1970s cop shows go, this one is quite good. The series ran from 1972 to 1977 and stars Karl Malden as Detective Lt. Mike Stone and Michael Douglas as Inspector Steve Keller. Both actors do justice to their roles on the screen and provide great entertainment from week to week. The stories are your average homicide cases with an occasional special case involving something from their personal past. The scripts are average making the actors embellish to prolong the intensity. We typically regard these shows as “dated” due to their lack of realism, but I enjoy the drama and can appreciate a time when you just had to use your imagination instead of watching it. This season contains the final 12 episodes on three discs. All episodes are in mono Surround with restored picture. There are no extras in this set. An episode synopsis is presented on each volume.

JAG: Season Seven - Paramount

Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie are JAG lawyers work together investigating various cases involving military personnel. These cases sometimes put them in Harm’s Way. Rabb’s extensive fighter pilot background combined with MacKenzie’s resourcefulness makes them the ideal team. We begin season seven with the resolve of the season six “cliffhanger” involving Rabb lost at sea due to an ejection from his fighter plane. The show has taken a turn for the positive with more involved story lines making this a show that is worth watching from week to week. The cast remains stable and becomes more of a family on the screen with each passing episode. A new face this season is attorney Sturgis Turner played by Scott Lawrence. The plot thickens this season with Mac and Brumby with surprise episodes involving Admiral Chegwidden and Commander Turner. Highlights this season include “New Gun in Town” introducing Strugis to the team, “Dog Robber” involving a captured Navy Pilot in occupied China and “Enemy Below” taking the team to the Al-Qaeda and a Russian Sub Commander bent on attacking the United States. The DVD set contains all 24 episodes of season seven on five discs with superior sound and picture. There are no bonus extras in this set. This is a show worth your time.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Season Five - 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 never gets old with me!!! Peter Graves leads a team of specialists including Leonard Nimoy, Greg Morris, Steven Hill, Peter Lupus and newcomer Lesley Warren to the team into impossible situations with obstacles at every junction, Season seven’s newest addition Lesley Warren adds beautiful “eye candy” to the show and more character interaction making the team a complete unit. The interaction of the characters and their strong personalities keeps the show from getting too drab. Every episode is filled with unsuspecting twists and turns. The stories are written well making this show survive each season intact. As with many shows, by the time they get to this season, they are either too boring or they lost their steam. This series broke the mold of the “every-day” spy show. 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 fifth season on six 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.

MY THREE SONS: Season One, Volume One - Paramount

Widower Steve Douglas is left to bring up three boys with this help of his housekeeper “Uncle Charlie”. Who doesn’t like this show? The cast is fun and entertaining and Fred MacMurray is everyone’s favorite dad. Uncle Charlie is played by the famous William Frawley who is best known for his role in “I Love Lucy”. The show is very campy with mediocre scripts and cheesy story lines. This is a great example of 1960’s entertainment which puts this in the “classic” category. I thought the show as ok, but with many of these programs, you can only take so much!!! The theme song is more memorable than the episodes with composer Frank DeVol at the helm. DeVol also wrote the Brady Bunch theme in addition to blockbuster films like “Flight of the Pheonix”. All of these episodes are remastered in picture and sound, giving your HDTV’s a break from the gritty non-mastered prints. This set contains the first 18 episodes of season one on three discs. The insert has a synopsis of each episode. Take home this classic today.

PERRY MASON: Season Three, Volume One - Paramount

Perry Mason is an attorney who specializes in defending seemingly indefensible cases. With the aid of his secretary Della Street and investigator Paul Drake, he often finds that by digging deeply into the facts, startling facts can be revealed. Perry Mason aired from 1957 to 1966 and stars Raymond Burr as an attorney that has never lost a case. Season three is just like season two, which is just like season one. Get the picture? I enjoy good courtroom drama and this show is among my favorites, but if you have seen one season, you have seen them all. The stories are recycled to the minutest detail and the scripts are mediocre at best. The magic of “winning the case” all of the time is getting old. Why can’t he lose a few for variety? I got bored with this show at the conclusion of season two. Save your money and buy Law and Order or JAG. The DVD presents 12 episodes in season three. All the episodes are presented in Full Screen Format with Dolby Digital sound.


When military-owned time travel technology falls into the wrong hands, an airplane seems to disappear into thin air. As experts scramble to assess the potentially devastating ramifications of such a drastic ripple in the space-time continuum, special agent Caleb Smith (Jason Priestley) sets out to retrieve the terrifyingly powerful technology from the wayward Dr. Winter (Lou Diamond Phillips), who will stop at nothing to keep time travel capabilities away from the military. A terrific cast and loads of edge-of-your-seat suspense makes this taut sci-fi thriller a keeper.


The provocative Vincent Gallo heads an eccentric cast as Owen, an American priest in Moscow who hires a team to help him locate the underworld when his friend goes missing in the middle of research on the occult. But Owen unleashes more than he may have realized after striking a deal with hell’s gatekeeper (Val Kilmer). Sage Stallone, Joaquim de Almeida, Rade Serbedzija, Joss Ackland, and Oksana Akinshina co-star in this grim and terrifying supernatural action tale.

THE WILD, WILD WEST - The Complete Series - Paramount

While following in the tradition of conventional Westerns like Gunsmoke or Have Gun Will Travel, the innovative 1960s television series The Wild Wild West tweaked the genre by infusing science-fiction elements and James Bond-like espionage plotlines. As dashingly handsome secret agent James T. West (Robert Conrad) and his master-of-disguise sidekick, Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), investigated crimes in the late-1800s Wild West, the series distinguished itself with anachronistically high-tech gadgetry (a pioneering style that would later be come to known as “steampunk”) and an odd assemblage of villains that included the delightfully demented dwarf, Miguelito Loveless (Michael Dunn). Eccentric and visionary, the complete series is resurrected in this collection of all four seasons.

M SQUAD - The Complete Series - Timeless Media

“M Squad” ran from 1957-60, and all 117 episodes are included on 15 discs in this boxed set. Lee Marvin played hard-boiled Chicago detective Frank Ballinger in the 1957 half-hour crime drama “M Squad,” which was partially shot in the Windy City. It’s Marvin at his classic crime-fighting best, and a loving snapshot of Chicago in the late Fifties. The show had frequent guest stars, among them Charles Bronson, Angie Dickinson, Leonard Nimoy, and Burt Reynolds. The noir-style crime show still packs plenty of drama, with interesting camera shots supporting the action. Included is a CD of “The Music from M Squad,” which includes the theme introduced at the start of Season 2 by none other than Count Basie.

WAGON TRAIN - The Complete Series - Timeless Media

“Wagon Train” had a little longer run, from 1957-65, and this 16 disc set features 32 90-minute episodes from the show’s final color season, which starred John McIntire as wagonmaster Chris Hale, Michael Burns as orphan Barnaby West, and Robert Fuller as Cooper Smith. Each episode often featured guest stars, with the continuing premise being that people left and got on this wagon train which was en route from St. Joe, Missouri to California.


Operation Valkyrie tells the amazing true story of German resistance fighter Claus von Stauffenberg and his plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Using eyewitness accounts, remarkable archival footage, and very detailed dramatizations, this powerful documentary transports viewers back to the tumultuous depths of World War II, and chronicles one man’s courageous attempt to change the course of history.


Nick be reached at Filmlords@gmail.com

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   Last Update:  November 12, 2008