Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

DVD Zone: February 2008

| January 30, 2008

Strike? What Strike?


What seems to be troublin’ ya, bunkie? Are you bummed because you haven’t seen a new episode of your favorite show in months? Do you feel you’ll projectile vomit if you stumble across another inane “reality” show? Have you gotten a little sick of all those high-falootin’ writers thinking they should get paid for their work? Rest easy, troubled soul. I’m here to help.

So the TV season came to a grinding halt, big deal. There are old shows returning mid-season, and this is the perfect opportunity to discover and catch up with some gems you may not have watched before or even heard of otherwise. And let’s not kid ourselves here: “Heroes” really sucked this year anyway.

First off, there’s BBC America’s “Doctor Who” spinoff, “Torchwood.” Think “X-Files” with a lot more action, a lot more monsters, and a lot more sex. “Torchwood” revolves around a covert team of alien hunters (the outer-space kind, of course, not the illegal ones we’re all supposed to be afraid of) trying to keep tabs on the unwanted visitors to our fair planet. The crew is led by Captain Jack Harkness, played by Joliet-reared John Barrowman. Ya see, Captain Jack can’t die, a trait that gives him a little more insight into the metaphysical nature of the prey they’re hunting.

The “outsider” who comes in to put the whole thing in perspective arrives in the form of Gwen Cooper, played by Eve Myles. She’s a former cop who joins the team to counter balance their sometimes renegade impulses.

The first season of “Torchwood” is available on a seven-disc set that comes packed with special features. Six of the discs contain behind-the-scenes pieces on just about everything in the show, while the seventh disc is dedicated to breaking down all 13 episodes.

Although it’s a “Doctor Who” spinoff, and there are cursory references to it in the show, you really don’t need to be up on “Who” to enjoy “Torchwood.” However, you can’t go wrong by catching up with the original.

The venerable British mainstay was revived in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston assuming the Doctor’s guise. Along with his new partner, Rose (Billie Piper), the new “Doctor Who” maintains the spirit of the ’70s and ’80s version, while updating the effects and making the storylines a bit more relevant. Sure, the Daleks and Cybermen are still around, but they’re a lot cooler now.

Eccleston lasted one season before handing the reins over to David Tennant, and Piper lasted the first two before tagging out of the ring to Freema Agyeman. All three seasons are available on DVD and each, like “Torchwood,” comes loaded with special features.

Of course if your tastes for the bizarre run a little more American, “Lost” returned to the air for eight episodes in late January. The previous three seasons are available on disc, and it’s rumored that if you watch the entire run all at once, you might actually have a chance of figuring out what the hell’s going on. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.

Perhaps after all the alien hunting, time travel, and island hopping, you’re ready for a good old-fashioned, gut-busting comedy. For that, I give you “One Tree Hill,” perhaps the funniest show to come along in a decade.

This is a tough one to figure out. It’s either meant to be played straight, in which case the horrendous dialogue and even worse acting produces more laughs per minute than anything on television, or it’s a brilliant parody of every other “teen-angst” show to come down the pipe.

Here’s what we know: “Hill” revolves around a group of teens whose sole purpose in life is to hang out and brood over everything. One assumes they’re so mopey because, apparently, they go to a school for models in a state with no drinking age.

The cast is led by Chad Michael Murray, who has two expressions — constipated and more constipated. Yet as bad as he is, he’s put to shame by castmate Sophia Bush, quite possibly the worst actress in the history of filmed media, and that includes homemade porn.

The first four seasons of “Hill” are available on disc, and the series returned for its fifth year in mid-January. Parody or a howler — you be the judge.

— Timothy Hiatt

Category: Columns, Monthly

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