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Capsule Reviews: New TV On DVD from CBS/Paramount

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Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Especially if you fall into any of these categories: a) you see dead people, b) you work with a bunch of weird and smelly cab drivers, c) you hunt down escaped antiquities possessed by evil, or d) you have to put up with your in-laws, who are on opposite sides of the law. Why, just ask any of the heroines from this week’s TV On DVD releases from CBS/Paramount.

Ghost Whisperer: The Fourth Season
The premise of the show is this: Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt, who also co-produces the series) is in-tune with the spirit world, whether she likes it or not. Most of the time, she does not. But, in this season, when she is separated from her hubby Jim (David Conrad), her unusual gift gives them a second chance. Series regular Jay Mohr bids adieu to the show this season, giving a chance for Jamie Kennedy to step in. After Jamie leaves, they’ll probably cast Matthew Lillard — and then Scott Wolf.

Personally, I’m not a fan. I prefer Medium. Ghost Whisperer is far too dreamy for me, especially now that it has added its love-from-beyond-the-grave storyline. But, the show must have something going for it, since it’s still going strong on television and has built up a fan base. On DVD, The Fourth Season is given another solid anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer with English 5.1 and Stereo soundtracks. Special features consist of several webisodes, cast/crew interviews, some behind-the-scenes stuff, and several rather silly interactive games that most people over 30 will probably roll their eyes at.

Taxi: The Fourth Season
Ah, the classic sitcom returns. And it’s about time, too — the entire series was put on hold back in 2004 from CBS/Paramount for reasons unknown (I would guess that it was a rights issue — for instance, Billy Joel’s song from “Vienna Waits” but who knows for sure?). Taxi: The Fourth Season is definitely a highpoint of the series, with all of the show’s familiar characters at their zaniest. We begin with Reverend Jim (Christopher Lloyd) having visions of death — Alex’s death to be precise. But Alex (Judd Hirsch) remains a non-believer in Jim’s less-than-reputable psychic abilities. Meanwhile, Elaine (Marilu Henner) tries to get Latka (Andy Kaufman) to consult a shrink about his multiple personalities. This season resulted in a second Emmy for recurring guest star Carol Kane (as Kaufman’s confused love interest) and features guest appearances by Tom Hanks and Ted Danson (to name a few).

Anyone who has seen any of the previous seasons of Taxi on DVD know what to expect quality-wise here. The show is presented in the standard full frame ratio (1.33:1) with a mono soundtrack. It’s not perfect, but then, there’s not much you can do for a late ‘70s/early ‘80s sitcom, either. The only special features to be found here are some original Episodic Promos.

Friday The 13th: The Series – The Final Season
For those of you who never got into this series (like me), here’s a rundown: it has nothing to do with the cinematic Friday The 13th franchise. Instead, The Series pitted a couple of courageous cousins (Louise Robey and Jack D. LeMay) against the terrors of cursed trinkets from a store that was owned by their uncle — who made a pact with the Devil. In The Final Season, it’s time to close up Uncle Lewis’ infamous Curious Goods shop. But many of the accursed objects from the store aren’t going down without a fight. And so, once more, big-haired antiquity warrior Micki (Robey) is out to vanquish one Satanic item after another, with the help of the wonderfully-named Johnny Ventura (Steve Monarque) and Lewis’ old buddy Jack (Chris Wiggins).

Friday The 13th: The Series was a Canadian-made television series, so the audio/video quality for this release is also understandably lackluster (it took our brothers and sisters to the North a while to get their A/V standards up to code — but at least they usually made up for it with their writing and acting…not to mention big hair). The Final Season is presented in a full frame 1.33:1 ratio with a mono soundtrack accompanying. Once again, the only bonus materials here are a few Episodic Promos.

Brotherhood: The Final Season
Of all the TV On DVD releases this week, none are as dramatic and as serious as Brotherhood. The hard-hitting and critically acclaimed drama from Showtime hits DVD for a final ‘bout, with the brothers Caffee — Tommy (Jason Clarke) and Michael (Jason Isaacs) — once again at odds. Do-gooder Tommy has made it to Capitol Hill, but has promised to leave. Of course, he may not have to turn in his resignation, providing mobster Michael goes on doing the things that things he’s been doing for the last couple of seasons. As is the case with any good story of rivaling brothers, the Caffee boys’ mum (Fionnula Flanagan) is smack dab in the middle of the whole affair — as is the rest of the family.

A dark and gritty series, Brotherhood: The Final Season looks much brighter on DVD, in a very spiffy widescreen (1.78:) presentation. Sound is available in English 5.1, 2.0 Surround, or in Spanish mono. Oddly enough, considering this the final season of Brotherhood, there are no special features to be found. Frown.

Yes, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Hell, it’s not exactly fun and games being a guy, either. Thankfully, we have four entirely different TV shows on DVD to make those hard times enjoyable.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.