It seems these days that almost every show to ever appear on television is popping up on DVD a few months later. While I might wonder how many people are running out to buy entire seasons of Full House, there are certainly a lot of shows I'm glad to see are still with us.
1. Planet Of The Apes – The original Planet Of The Apes movie is a sci-fi classic. Its many spin-offs including four sequels and this ill-fated TV series are not at that level by any means, but are entertaining nonetheless. This show centers around two astronauts who become stranded on the planet while on a mission to search for the missing captain Taylor (Charlton Heston in the original movie). The mention of Taylor’s character is really the only connection between the show and the original movie. This ape planet is quite a bit different. For one thing, the humans are just as intelligent as the apes, but are considered the lowest of the low class and kept segregated for the ape population (in an obvious social commentary). I suppose this is meant to somewhat follow events from the Apes sequels. The best part about the show is the involvement of Roddy McDowell, who brilliantly played Cornelius in the original movies. This time McDowell plays a similarly sympathetic chimpanzee called Galen. Galen joins forces with the two lost astronauts and the show follows their adventures on the planet fighting “racism” and searching for an escape. Sadly the series was canceled before a resolution was found, but this nearly forgotten TV series is still a must for any Apes fan.
2. The X-Files – With the impending release of the second The X-Files movie just around the corner, what better time to get reacquainted with the early adventures of Mulder and Scully? Black oil, clones, bounty hunters, human-alien hybrids, bees, and the infamous cigarette smoking man; it’s all here. Some of the “stand-alone” episodes may be a bit tough to slog through (particularly in the first two seasons), but the mythology of the series is well worth the effort. One of the many shows to start bridging the gap between episodic and serial primetime television, The X-Files was a pioneer in the continuous storyline that has become a standard for dramatic television.
3. Saturday Night Live the First Three Seasons – The early seasons of SNL are an interesting watch. What’s great is you get classic characters like; the Blues Brothers; the “wild and crazy guys;” the Coneheads; the Samurai; and Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute; just to name a few. There are great hosts like Steve Martin, Paul Simon and Elliott Gould, and awesome musical guests like George Harrison, The Band, and, well, Paul Simon. What’s interesting is that even with the memorable musical guests, characters, and sketches the first few seasons brought us, there are almost as many misses as there are hits. Like with the current show, SNL skewers current political events, some still echo with relevancy while others are frozen in their own time. All and all, the early years are an informative and highly entertaining look at the birth of a TV phenomenon.