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Three Quirky New DVD Sets, All Worth Watching (And Owning)
September 17, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 

alfresco-coltrane-laurie.jpgOne of the best TV series on the air right now, one of the classic children's series of all time, and a super-obscure import from England all have been released on DVD -- and all three qualify as TV WORTH WATCHING.

Pushing Daisies. Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre. Alfresco. Buy them all. Trade with friends...

ABC's Pushing Daisies doesn't begin its second season until Oct. 1, so there's plenty of time to buy this new Warner Bros. set and wallow in its delightful episodes. Especially since, because of the writers' strike, the "Complete First Season" consists of only nine episodes. But they're fabulous.

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Pushing Daisies was the best new show of the 2007-08 TV season. Bryan Fuller of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me created it, Barry Sonnenfeld directed the first two episodes, and such supporting players as Kristin Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene and Chi McBride lend as much sparkle to the series as charismatic leads Lee Pace and Anna Friel.

It's like an adult fairy tale, and looks as delicious as the pies served up by the show's baker hero. Pushing Daisies is about life and love, afterlife and afterdeath... and pie. Lots of pie. And it's perfect. Order it here.

For fairy tales aimed at younger folk, though adults can watch with their own sense of delight, there's Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre, a lavish Koch Vision reissue of the entire 1982-87 Showtime TV series. Long before HBO scored in the weekly series game, Showtime presented this charming anthology series, in which Duvall's friends and colleagues, from Robin Williams to Billy Crystal, popped in to populate retellings of their favorite fairy tales.

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For me, you don't have to go past "Three Little Pigs" to justify the purchase of this entire set. Jeff Goldblum is the Big Bad Wolf; the three pigs are played by Billy Crystal, Fred Willard and Stephen Furst; and other pigs are played by Doris Roberts and Valerie Perrine. But there's also Liza Minnelli in "The Princess and the Pea," Paul Reubens as "Pinocchio," and Joan Collins as the wicked witch in "Hansel and Gretel." And SO many more.

My two kids were weaned on these shows, and adored them. You will, too. Order it here.

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Finally, there's Alfresco, a vintage British series from 1982 and 1984. I'd never even heard of this sketch show before Acorn Video released it, but it's like the British equivalent of SCTV, with one sketch following another in rapid, outrageous fashion.

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What makes it amazing, and worth watching, is the cast. Almost impossibly fresh-faced, the stars here include Hugh Laurie, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry. From Thompson playing a teen punk to Coltrane playing a Bill Murray-type lounge singer, or Laurie as Robin Hood, it's all very, very funny.

"The boys in Section 6 will debrief you," Coltrane tels Laurie's neophyte spy. "Take no notice. It's just their way."

Order it here.

Get one or all three, and enjoy...

 

2 Comments

 

jen said:

i totally want the Pushing Daisies DVD! i love that show and can't wait it to return

Comment posted on September 17, 2008 10:10 PM


Sarcastro said:

...from Robin Williams to Billy Crystal

That really runs the gamut from A to B. (That's a very funny line. But in defense of Faerie Tale Theatre, I should have mentioned others: Susan Sarandon, Malcolm McDowell, Vincent Price, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeff Bridges, Helen Mirren and Matthew Broderick, for starters... -- David B.)

Comment posted on September 18, 2008 10:02 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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