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Alex G

Alex G

Wednesday, 20 April 2016 23:00

Ellery Queen comes to UK DVD

Ellery Queen - out now on UK DVDBack in 1975-76, on some early weekday evenings on BBC1, you were asked to see if you could solve 22 mysteries from the New York vista of 1946-47, with Ellery Queen (Jim Hutton) and his widowed father Inspector Richard Queen (David WayneThe Mad Hatter in the 1960s Batman). It has become something of a short-run classic series from the creators of Columbo and Murder, She Wrote. In America it was called simply Ellery Queen, but when BBC1 first screened it way-back-then, they opted to call it The Ellery Queen Whodunit (in much the same way as they bizarrely decided to rename Ironside as A Man Called Ironside).

Guest stars included Roddy McDowall ( “Planet of the Apes”), Eve Arden (“Grease”), Tom Bosley (Happy Days), Cesar Romero (Joker in the 1960s Batman), Don Ameche ("Cocoon"), Joan Collins, Vincent Price, Milton Berle, Eva Gabor, Betty White, Larry Hagman, and even a cameo by the iconic George Burns! And you had the chance to win one of three copies we had up for grabs in our prize competition.

Monday, 11 April 2016 23:00

Original DOOMWATCH on DVD

The original DOOMWATCH - out now on DVDI was one of those children of the 1960s old enough to just about recall watching Doomwatch in one of its late-night (around 10.00pm) slots, when originally aired on BBC1 from 1970 to 1972. Something of a ‘treat’ given the lateness of the hour for a pre-teen, it was billed as Science Fiction extrapolated from Science Fact, the exploits of the Department of Measurement of Scientific Work, working to the Ministry for National Security, took on the facet of being a ‘forbidden fruit’ – you MUST be mature, as you wanted to watch this series!

My younger self recalled a lot of talking, with one or two action set-pieces each episode, on a good week that is. Now, revisiting what remains of the series (just 24 of 38 made are still in the archives), its premonitions are as jaw-dropping today as they must have been some 45 years ago. The politics in the background is spookily spot-on for a modern audience, and the attitude of authority to being questioned as dismissive as it still remains. The characterisations are strong, the scripts and direction crisp and enthralling. And you had a chance to win a copy of this Doomwatch DVD box set in our prize competition.

Sunday, 13 March 2016 00:00

Rod Serling's Night Gallery on DVD

Night Gallery - The Complete Collection out now on UK DVDThere are some shows which would not be the same in colour. The monochrome production of The Twilight Zone from 1959 to 1964, all 156 episodes, was a case in point. To the modern eye, Rod Serling’s televisual masterpiece is boosted by being black and white, adding to the atmosphere and storytelling in a way which cannot be truly quantified. But rest assured, there has never been talk of colourisation. Its recent Blu-ray restoration simply enhanced the credentials of keeping red, green and blue away from it. However, back at the end of the 1960s, when colour had stormed small screens in the USA, and everything monochrome had effectively been shipped off to the scrap heap, it was almost inevitable that Serling would be tempted to make a series in colour.

And so it was that Night Gallery was born. With Jack Laird as Producer, Serling was a scriptwriter, at least in part, on 27 of the episodes. Out went the hard science fiction of The Twilight Zone era, replaced with predominantly supernatural horror, with the odd jokey segment in an anthology series where the lengths of the stories varied – you never knew whether a story will take over an entire episode or just a couple of minutes. And now, thanks to Fabulous Films, we in the UK get to see the most definitive release of the show anywhere in the world. AND YOU COULD HAVE WON ONE OF FOUR NIGHT GALLERY DVD SETS WE HAD UP FOR GRABS IN OUR COMPETITION.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016 00:00

Dan Aykroyd's Dragnet DVD comedy

Dragnet - the 1987 movie out now on DVD“Dragnet”, an August 1987 comedy spoof movie adaption of the original long-running television series, is back on DVD. Dan Aykroyd plays rule-bound, straight-laced and stiff Joe Friday, nephew of the original series character of the same name. Double Oscar winner Tom Hanks is the more streetwise and relaxed Pep Streebeck, and the pair learn a trick or two from each other as they save the City of Angels from street wars, porn barons and secret societies. Add in a television evangelist and a Police Commissioner working to her own rules, and the stage is set for hilarity! 

Very much paving the way for Leslie Nielsen’s “The Naked Gun” series of movies in 1988, 1991 and 1994 (itself based on a TV series, 1982’s Police Squad!), it might well have been that the success of “Dragnet” led to Nielsen’s Frank Drebin character getting the ‘big screen’ treatment. Certainly, a failed six-edition half-hour television comedy doesn’t normally become a sure-fire choice for a major long-form adaption, even if the people behind it had been those who engineered the runaway success which was “Airplane!”

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:00

Alfred Hitchcock Hour on DVD

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour - The complete series comes to UK DVDFor the first time, the entire collection of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour is available on DVD in the UK - all 93 stories presented by the ‘Master of Suspense’ himself, thanks to Fabulous Films.  Broadcast in the USA from September 1962 to May 1965 – amidst a golden period for the auteur which included “The Wrong Man”, “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest”, “Psycho” and “The Birds”, this series was voted one of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time by Time Magazine. Hitchcock’s films had a consistently high degree of profitability, but it was the sale of syndication rights to the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and then this, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which made him the third biggest stockholder in MCA (the predecessor to NBC Universal).And we had a complete box set to give away in our prize competition, as well as individual sets of seasons one, two and three.

The series, like its half-hour predecessor, is filled with stars, both those in their twilight of their careers, as well as others on the way up. Leslie Nielsen, he of Police Squad and “Airplane” fame is the star turn in the Season 2 episode 13 classic story “The Magic Shop”. He’s the father of a truly dislikeable child, emphasised by the kid’s desire for a leather biker jacket on his birthday, who has an obsession with going to a magic shop which his parents are adamant does not exist. We also have Martin Landau appear in Season 2 Episode 30 “The Second Verdict” as a lawyer who gets guilty-as-hell Frank Gorshin’s villain off-the-hook in a murder trial. Landau is very much experimenting with the delivery and poise which he will use as John Koenig in Space: 1999, whereas Gorshin is showing the sort of evil he would later crank up several notches as The Riddler in the Adam West Batman series.

Thursday, 31 December 2015 00:00

Cult TV Awards Winners 2015

Filmed In Supermarionation - Cult TV Award WinnerVoted for by appreciators of cult television, Doctor Who has once more in 2015 showed its continuing popularity. The first season of Peter Capaldi’s adventures cruised through this year’s Cult TV Awards by picking up top gongs, as well as many for those associated with the programme. Ratings may appear to tell a different story, but these results show that those looking for a hero rather than a heart-throb can appreciate the quality of what the full 12th incarnation has to offer. And the late Patrick Troughton became the sixth star to play the Time Lord to be added to the ‘Hall of Fame – Actor’ category.

Also of note was that Game of Thrones finally appeared on the Cult TV fandom radar, having never previously won an award, and walking away with the ‘Best Returning Premium Channel Series’ prize for its fifth season. Of the new shows coming out between September 2014 and August 2015, The Flash and Gotham, both based on characters from the DC Comics universe, were those that picked up prizes.

The works of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson also continued to be recognised by the Cult TV Awards, with Steve Zodiac from Fireball XL5 added to the Hall of Fame for ‘Animated Character’, actress Wanda Ventham, one of the female leads in UFO, added to the Actress Hall of Fame, and the documentary “Filmed in Supermarionation” was hailed as the ‘Blu-ray/DVD Presentation of the Year’.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:00

The Professionals MKIII winners

The Professional MkIII - now available on DVD and Blu-rayWhat was your favourite DVD or Blu-ray release of 2015? We’re going to find out soon when the results of this year’s Cult TV Awards, voted for by YOU, are made public. Meanwhile, Network Distributing asked our very own Alex J Geairns to pick which of their releases this year was his favourite.

Just recently made available on DVD are the remastered versions of the episodes that make up The Professionals MkIII – the third batch of episodes from the classic action series which starred Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson (in a big change from his role in the original Upstairs Downstairs). It’s this title that makes it to the top of Alex’s chart, and to celebrate we had three copies (you could choose whether you wanted a DVD or Blu-ray version) available to give away in a prize competition. It also comes with a hefty book specifically about the production of these stories from renowned archive excavator Andrew Pixley. This was definitely something to help cheer up your festive season!

Monday, 09 November 2015 00:00

The Man from the Future on UK DVD

Man from the Future - out now on UK DVDReleased in its native Brazil as “O Homem do Futuro”, the plot of this neat little tale follows Zero (Wagner Moura), a madcap scientist, whose life changed 20 years ago (in 1991) when he was publicly humiliated by being covered in honey and feathers and hoisted above the 'prom night' audience at his college. He believes the stunt was masterminded by Helena (Alinne Moraes), a then-first-year physics student, who he considered up until that point to be the love of his life. In the present day 2011, he is a top boffin, currently using a very expensive particle converter to try and create a revolutionary free energy source.

In order to prove his theories, and the equipment, he decides to put himself at the centre of the experiment event to show it is safe. However, things don’t go according to plan, and inexplicably he finds himself travelling back in time to the worst day of his life. The dilemma for him is whether he should change the course of history, and indeed his destiny, in order to get a happier life and end up with Helena. However, the result is not what he had hoped for, and in some ways he has made things worse. Against all odds, this ends up as a feel-good foreign language slice of SF which is a credit to Brazilian cinema.

Monday, 09 November 2015 00:00

Warship - Series 2 comes to DVD

Warship - Series 2 comes to DVDIt is with some sense of relief that I can report that Warship is back on DVD with its second series. The first series came out in September 2014, and I have to say I actually pre-ordered my copy of that title, such was my anticipation for seeing the show again. There are certain fictions that stay with you, and the cobwebs of time do nothing to blur your vision of what it was actually like to watch a show. Storylines and characters might fade in your memory, but the feeling of being a viewer of such a format endures. Such is the case with this series, and from viewing that initial release, the memory hadn’t cheated. This was good stuff, well made.

The fictional HMS Hero, F42, featured across all four seasons, clocking up 45 episodes in its run between 1973 and 1977. With some studio-based scenes intermingled with footage filmed in various locations including Gibraltar, Malta, Hong Kong, Singapore and Norway, this was a show that painted on a wide canvas. The episodes were written to reflect the then-contemporary real life in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. There is no doubt that this was one work of fiction which did no harm at all to military recruitment in its era.

Monday, 09 November 2015 00:00

Dr Terror's House of Horrors Blu-ray

Dr Terror's House of Horrors - out now as a limited edition Blu-ray SteelbookIt soon becomes a crowded train carriage in the opening scene of this anthology movie. First we have well-known DJ Alan Freeman sorting himself out, before Neil McCallum joins him. Then Roy Castle (a late substitution for what would have been Acker Bilk), followed by Christopher Lee, and Donald Sutherland. Finalising those in there is Peter Cushing, complete with Doctor’s bag carrying the initials ‘WRS’. He drops it, and it spills open, spreading a deck of Tarot cards across the floor. Not something his fellow passengers are familiar with, but this is Dr Schreck, who offers to foretell the futures of the five other passengers.

This is a 1965 British horror classic from Amicus Productions, who would go on to spearhead the two Dalek movies of the 1960s, both of which followed this one. In charge was Milton Subotsky, and here we have a digitally restored release on Blu-ray from Odeon Entertainment, with a smattering of superior special features to give the full flavour and importance to this star-laden movie. It’s a positive joy to watch, and the ‘star spotting’ on offer here is prolific, even beyond the half a dozen names already mentioned.

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