TV on DVD 11/09/10 – Pulp V and Men of a Certain Age

V: The Complete First Season (Warner) – “We are of peace. Always.” The 21st century reboot of the 1980s sci-fi mini-series about first contact and a fleet of aliens who arrive with a promise of benevolence and a plan to conquer Earth arrived last year in an abbreviated but furiously paced season filled with conspiracies, rebels, traitors, family crisis and melodramatic complications, not to mention secret experiments on human subjects, furry creatures devoured and lots of things blowing up. FBI Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost) leads the human resistance against the insidious PR campaign waged by ruthless Visitor queen mother Anna (Morena Baccarin, Firefly) and the players line up accordingly behind these warrior women.

V: The Mothers Meet

Erica, a single mother who discovers that there’s an alien lizard under the human skin of her longtime FBI partner in the first episode, stumbles into the conspiracy and discovers that there are insurgent Visitors rebelling against Anna’s dictatorial rule. And there’s plenty of melodrama too: her teenage son (Logan Huffman) is sucked into the idealistic promise offered by the Visitors, in part out of infatuation with Anna’s daughter (Laura Vandervoort, who played a different alien visitor as Supergirl on Smallville), but even her allegiances are softened as human emotions seep into her lizard brain. Morris Chestnut is one of the deep-cover Visitors who has gone native, married a human woman (Lourdes Benedicto) and about to be the father of an alien/human hybrid, Joel Gretsch is a Catholic priest who sees nothing but false prophets in the Visitors, even as they rid the human race of disease, and Scott Wolf is a network newscaster who makes his name as a champion of the Visitors and ends up being fed exclusives in return for good PR.

Continue reading “TV on DVD 11/09/10 – Pulp V and Men of a Certain Age”

TV on DVD 06/08/10 – Tales of the Gold Monkey, Curb Your Enthusiasm does Seinfeld, Nip/Tuck and Urkel

Tales of the Gold Monkey: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)

Donald P. Bellisario shopped his thirties-era adventure series to the networks for years, but when Raiders of the Lost Ark hit theaters the networks snapped it up and got on the air within a year. Set in the pre-World War II South Pacific of 1938, a hotbed of Nazi spies, Japanese warlords, pirates, mercenaries, native tribes, monkey kingdoms and an exotic dragon lady (Marta DuBois), it’s tongue-in-cheek pulp adventure, all nostalgia fashion and old-Hollywood flavor on a TV series budget.

"Tales of the Gold Monkey"
Tales of the Gold Monkey

Stephen Collins stars as Jake Cutter, a scruffy pilot running a freight business around the islands with a beer-guzzling mechanic (Jeff MacKay), a one-eyed dog and a rattletrap Grumman Goose seaplane, and Caitlin O’Heaney is the American agent posing as a sassy chanteuse. While looks like a Raiders knock-off, it’s more of an amalgam of “Terry and the Pirates,” Only Angels Have Wings, Flying Tigers and any number of exotic south seas, B-movie jungle adventures and adventure serials. Collins has real charm as Jake (not too different from Bellisario’s more famous creation, Magnum P.I.), O’Heaney is all snappy spunk as Sarah and their chemistry is full of sparks and romantic bubbles. The show had good ratings and reviews and won an Emmy for its colorful B-movie art direction, but it only lasted a single season, due as much to network politics and creative conflicts as the high production costs, according to Collins.

Continue reading “TV on DVD 06/08/10 – Tales of the Gold Monkey, Curb Your Enthusiasm does Seinfeld, Nip/Tuck and Urkel”