Monday, June 26, 2006

TV: My List of DVDemands

According to TV Shows on DVD, the entire run of Bridget Loves Bernie will soon be available on video. Let songs of rejoicing ring out across the nation. Nay, the world.

Actually, this development gives me hope. If BLB has reached the promised land of home video, then maybe other obscure shows can, too. Here are five I’d pay money to see again.

Eyes. A smart, sly take on the private eye show from last summer. Good-looking people doing very bad things. ABC didn’t even air all the episodes that were shot.

Vengeance Unlimited. Another winner from John McNamara, the twisted genius behind Eyes. Who else would have known that the thorazine deadpan of Michael Madsen would translate perfectly to series TV? Madsen played the mysterious Mr. Chapel, who every week set up a complex scam to mete out justice to those who evaded the law. He did so with help from a seemingly endless list of “associates” who owed him favors. A funny, nasty, truly subversive show – so naturally it aired at 8PM.

Shannon’s Deal. John Sayles’ lone foray into series TV, about a high-flying Philadelphia lawyer forced to start over after his life falls apart. Shannon’s mantra – “Only losers go to court” – was the reason why I loved the show, and why it was doomed to fail. Jamey Sheridan lead a top-flight cast that included Elizabeth Pena, Miguel Ferrer and Richard Edson.

The above links are all to the indispensable Thrilling Detective. The site’s on a well-deserved hiatus now, but I want to show it some love.

And, for variety, some comedies:

The High Life. Perhaps the least successful series in HBO’s history. Even 1st & Ten gets more respect. A tribute to 1950s sitcoms, shot in glorious black-and-white, that addressed all the issues (McCarthyism, the KKK) those sitcoms wouldn’t touch. Executive produced by David Letterman.

Morton & Hayes. Every week, Rob Reiner introduced a newly-discovered two-reeler from the forgotten team of Chick Morton and Eddie Hayes. What followed was a note-perfect recreation of an Abbott & Costello-style comedy with a title like “The Bride of Mummula.” Kevin Pollak and Bob Amaral were backed up by guest stars like Catherine O’Hara, Allison Janney and Hamilton Camp.

But it’s the level of talent behind the scenes that has me amazed this series isn’t on video. Not just Reiner but his Spinal Tap cohorts Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, plus SCTV vets Dick Blasucci and Joe Flaherty. Lines from this show are still heard around Chez K, such as “I’m sure we can find a splendid repast at that quaint inn.” Or the boys’ immortal theme song:

We’re Morton & Hayes
We’re buddies and chums
When one of us is whistling
The other one hums!

I’d give up the other four for this one. But I’m not holding my breath. I’ll set my sights on something attainable, like Hawaii Five-O’s debut on DVD. When’s that coming?