Wednesday, February 15, 2006

TV DVD News of Note

- Season 2 of "The Rockford Files" comes out on June 13. This was probably the weakest season -- co-creator Roy Huggins gave the younger co-creator, Stephen J. Cannell, more control, and Cannell miscalculated by making Rockford too much of a luckless schlemiel in some episodes. The ratings went down, and, according to the book Thirty Years of the Rockford Files, never quite got back where they'd been in the first season. But Cannell recognized the mistakes and got the show back on track in the third season, with the help of writer-producer Juanita Bartlett and a new addition to the writing staff, David Chase. So while the show really hits its stride in season 3, season 2 is still worth getting for Garner, and some of the better episodes. Incidentally, one thing that's striking about watching Rockford now is the incredible workload that it put on Garner: he's in practically every scene of every episode. Even a show like 24 doesn't ask Keifer Sutherland to work quite that much. Most TV shows now have larger regular casts, and more subplots, to lighten the star's workload; Rockford must have been an exhausting experience for Garner.

- Sitcoms Online reports the possibility of a DVD release for "The Wonder Years," which has been held up due to music-clearance issues. Could this be the sign that the floodgates have opened for music-heavy shows owned by Fox? (coughWKRPcough)

- Season 3 of "Moonlighting" has one of the better bonus features I've encountered on a TV-show set: the episode "The Straight Poop," a self-referential clip show where Rona Barrett interviews the characters about behind-the-scenes tension, has an audio commentary by several fans who run "Moonlighting" websites and fan clubs. They chat about the episode, identify the various clips, share tidbits and gossip about the show, and heap scorn on the cinematographer for photographing Cybill Shepherd through diffusion (though to be fair, he was the cinematographer from "Star Trek" and he always photographed women through gauzy filters). Fun stuff -- like an entertaining version of one of those scholarly commentaries on classic film.

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