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There's not much rhyme or reason to this list, there were so many great releases in 2008 but these tripped my trigger the most.
I want to believe in spirits, I've had some weird experiences but I need cold hard proof before I know definitively. The idea that real kids have the ability to see and communicate with the dead, detect illness, or predict the future is startling and this series chronicles these children's other worldly reality in stark terms.
This documentary series is an amazing, eye opening experience, chilling at times. Of course, you have no way of knowing how and what they edit but investigators do find ample evidence that the dead folks these kids see really did exist.
Every once in a while a DVD comes along that surprises me - something that I wasn't expecting to be all that great turns out to be phenomenal. This is one of those cases.
My first TV memory is of Shari Lewis & Lamb Chop but I hadn't seen anything they'd done since I was a wee tyke. I was impressed by the fact she was still entertaining kids on television in the 1990s but I hadn't given Shari and her sassy puppet pals much thought.
Rocket back to a time when courage wasn't just the stuff of fiction, thrill at true heroes performing extraordinary feats of bravery, celebrate a time when remarkable men and women reached for the heavens and pierced the sky.
Emotionally overwhelming, this is one of the finest documentary series I've ever seen. I sat riveted, transfixed throughout this entire experience, the first episode alone had me in tears by the end.
This American Life is one of my favorite radio programs, produced by PRI, it airs on Public Radio stations on the weekends. I'm pleased to discover the program has been successfully transferred to television with this Showtime series starring Ira Glass.
This intelligent program is a pleasing pastiche of highly entertaining stories built loosely around a theme like 'Reality Check' or 'Growth Spurt.' The format is very similar to the radio version. Poignant, funny, thought provoking, it's like a 60 Minutes for today's sensibilities.
You'll be amazed by a bizarre Chicago restaurant that verbally abuses their customers, a news photographer who's haunted by some photos taken when tragedy struck, an atheist who paints magnificent paintings of Jesus, and other compelling short subjects about unusual people and places.
Shout! Factory has put together a wonderful compendium of seminal Saturday morning TV shows from the 1950s that is a jam packed treat any boomer will enjoy, it's time travel in a box.
The way the collection is arranged is to give you the feel of a 1950's Saturday morning lineup, with the shows meant for younger kids coming first on each disc. Most of this material is from before my time in front of the tube - but not by much.
Oddly, disc one opens with the most intelligent show of the bunch, Kukla, Fran & Ollie. In this episode, the Kuklapolitan Players delve into class structure in the USA, if you can believe it, responding to an article in a then current issue of Life magazine. This would have been way over the heads of preschoolers but episodes of Kukla, Fran & Ollie are rare and this one is a sparkling gem. I'm dreaming of a comprehensive Kukla, Fran & Ollie DVD release some day in the future.
Season four is the year that Rescue Me almost morphs into an hour long sitcom, with extended, laugh out loud, outlandish plotlines - but the show still delivers the kind of emotional gut punch that it's famous for, in addition to pulse-pounding action scenes unmatched on television.
Is season four as good as the first three? Absolutely. Rescue Me is one of the best written TV series of all time and there's no indication of the quality letting up.
Season four is a high octane emotional roller coaster ride as Tommy becomes a father again, the unit loses the Chief, a new probie joins the team and, of course, Tommy gets involved with more looney women.
This is flat out the funniest program around, it may be the most hilarious of all time in my opinion. Yet, people seem to love or hate this show, there's little middle ground when it comes to Curb.
One would think Curb might be running out of steam by year 6 but it ain't so. Larry David shakes things up considerably for this season by separating from his long suffering wife Cheryl and moving in the Blacks, an African-American family who lost their home in a hurricane. It's a scream from start to finish.
This Showtime thriller grabbed the audience and critics from the start of the first year but just because you produced what just about everyone agreed was a brilliant first season doesn't mean you can hit that sweet spot again. Think of Friday Night Lights which imploded under its own weight.
Following what has to be the grossest opening theme of all time you're immersed into the darkly horrific world of a serial killer you'll came to love.
Dexter is undisputedly one of the best dramatic TV series around, star Michael C. Hall has perfect pitch when it comes to subtly delineating the parallel worlds his creepy character inhabits. For season 2 co-worker Sergeant Doakes (Erik King) and Dexter's tense relationship unravels - boy, does it - sending both characters down a path of mutual destruction. Similarly, Dex gets a new psycho girlfriend that proves she can get her freak on with the best of them, further complicating our antagonist's life in delicious ways.
A TV series that can transport you back in time - a drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat - characters that win you over because they are so completely of another time and place, an era as far removed from today as the days of ancient Rome, it seems. It's hard to imagine a more perfect series and this DVD collection has some wonderful peeks behind the scenes and a look at the show's art direction. Melts in your mind!
This superb DVD release is a Paul Brownstein production so you know going in it will be the best possible product; this one's is no exception. You get 11 third season Smothers Brothers Comedy Hours including the one that CBS ever aired, the episode that got them fired in 1969, supposedly because David Steinberg's sermonette routine was deemed offensive.
I can't recommend this amazing collection more highly, it's a fabulous trip back to a time that seems so far away, so long ago, yet so fresh as reflected in this series. Tom Smothers has stated that he doubts these shows will appeal to the modern audiences. I found the experience a rich and highly enjoyable one and can't wait for the best of season 2 collection which is reportedly in production.
HOW COULD I LEAVE OUT: Burn Notice Season 2; The Shield Season 6; The Johnny Cash Show; Get Smart (incredible extras); Robert Kline The HBO Specials; Prison Break Season 3.
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