Friday, September 22, 2006

Mission Impossible and Other Improbablities

Let me first cop to being a Grade A unabashed DVD Nerd. I was absolutely a child of the tv. Of course, I grew up with tv that was great, even when it was bad: Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, The Time Tunnel, and a million "Movie of the Week" treasures. And a butt-load more.

A couple of years ago, I started a list of movies and tv series that I couldn't just Netflix-- I had to own when they came out on DVD. I've tried to be judicious. "From the Earth to the Moon" I needed to own. "UFO", the wonderfully cheesy early 70's sci-fi series, I could Netflix.

Sometimes, there is something that you really didn't think would ever come out on DVD that surprises you, and does. "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," a series that lasted a season and a half, a show my brothers and I never missed, and were devastated at when it was cancelled, came out on DVD last year. I bought it the day it was released. It's as good as I remembered it.

The whole DVD-release thing is strange and inconsistent. Sometimes acquiring the song rights is difficult or prohibitively expensive. The mergers and acquisitions in the media business in the last 15 years or so, have made it so that ownership and rights to some movies and tv series are unclear. Some shows, like "Frank's Place," may never come out because their audiences were so small to begin with. Others, like "The Starlost," will probably never come out because vital people involved (Harlan Ellison, in this case) are embarassed by it and refuse to give it their blessing. And some wildly popular things, like the highly improbable, but enormously entertaining series "Mission: Impossible" haven't come out for reasons unknown.

Until now.

The first season of Mission: Impossible comes out on December 5th of this year. I didn't even start watching it until it's 4th or 5th season, but my brothers and I were hooked on it, like we were on Kolchak: The Night Stalker during its short run.

From the opening sequence-- the burning fuse, with the kickass theme song-- which was rivalled only by the song/visual sequence opening to Hawaii 5-0. And the way the writers, director and actors always took the same ridiculous formula and made it ridiculously entertaining-- it's a DVD set-- from first to last season-- that I'll have to have.

The bonus is that I never got to see the early seasons, with Martin Landau and his then-wife Barbara Bain (they were later teamed up again in the painfully unentertaining Space: 1999). Martin Landau is one of those actors who can enhance or even fix nearly everything. His take as Bela Lugosi took Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" from being a very good to a great movie. His portrayal of a US President trying to defuse a nuclear war made the schlocky "By the Dawn's Early Light" pretty entertaining.

I"m definitely looking forward to rewatching the later seasons as well. It also got me to thinking about some other series I'd love to see that probably will never see the light of day. The aforementioned "Frank's Place," with WKRP's "Venus Flytrap" Tim Reid as a successful lawyer whose late father owned a fabled New Orleans restaurant. Frank comes down from Boston to sell the restaurant. When he meets the people who work there and frequent the place, he decides to stay and keep it open.

Another one is Micheal Mann's series Vega$ (yes, with a dollar sign instead of the "s"), with Robert Ulrich, who seemed to be the kiss of death to every series he was ever involved with, was terrific as Dan Tanna, who drove a '65 Ford Mustang and lived in the back of a seedy Vegas motel. Big plus: The wonderful Gregory Morris, "Barney" from Mission: Impossible, played his best friend, police Lt. David Nelson. I have hopes for this one-- Micheal Mann was able to get both seasons of his underwatched, underappreciated "Crime Story" series released.

Okay, I tag Phil and Dirty Laundry to come up with television shows and movies they are waiting for on DVD.


dirty said...

I don't watch much TV unless countless hours of Sponge Bob Squarepants counts...We have made lists of "must have movies" and it is ever changing yet everything that we want is on DVD already. "Boogie Nights", "Dazed and Confused", "Scarface", Full Metal Jacket", "Band of Brothers", "The Good Girl (this one is mine)", "The Doors", "Labyrinth", "Pulp Fiction", "Stand By Me"...Ummmm...we own all of these and I can't remember the ones that were on our "we have to buy these" list.

We rent a lot of movies...there isn't much else to do on the weekends when you have kids...

Johnny Yen said...

Yeah, my own tv consumption, except for Netflix and my own dvd collection is pretty much limited to the History Channel (or the World War II channel, as my son calls it.)

Dazed and Confused is one of my very favorites. Another of Linklater's movies, School of Rock is a household favorite: the bass player, Rebecca Brown, went to my son's school in Chicago. Her brother was a friend of his.

On the weekends, we do a lot-- my wife has full-time custody of her daughter, and I split custody of my son with my ex-girlfriend. We tend to do a lot of outdoor stuff-- things our ex's don't do with them, like bicycle ride (I finally had to teach my stepdaughter to ride a bike this spring, since her father didn't seem to be in any hurry to do it.) Movies are big, too. We've also been way into the game "Apples to Apples," which is an amazingly entertaining game-- it's failed to bore me.