Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Stephen J. Cannell DVD

If you're a regular reader for my "Under the Influence" columns (which appear in my Image comics), it'll come as no secret to you that I'm a huge fan of Stephen J. Cannell, the TV producer-turned-novelist. Cannell created (or co-created) tons of memorable TV shows from the 70s and 80s, including The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street, Hunter, The Greatest American Hero, Wiseguy, and many, many more.

All of those shows have been released on DVD, but the upcoming release that has me really psyched is Mill Creek Entertainment's Prime Time Crime: The Stephen J. Cannell Collection. It serves as a Cannell primer by featuring one episode each of the following shows: Wiseguy, The Commish, Hunter, Cobra, Tenspeed & Brownshoe, Silk Stalkings, 21 Jump Street, Booker, and The Greatest American Hero. But that's not the kicker. The kicker is that this set includes four complete (albeit short-lived) Cannell series that have never been released on DVD before.

The unreleased series are:

Missing Persons, a procedural drama about the Missing Persons unit of the Chicago PD, starring Daniel J. Travanti (Hill Street Blues) and Jorja Fox (CSI). This show ran for 18 episodes and was really ahead of its time. It's essentially Without a Trace, only, you know, ten years earlier.

UNSUB, a crime drama about the Behavorial Sciences Unit of the FBI. An "UNSUB" is an "Unknown Subject." This one ran for 8 episodes and is kind of a combination of CSI and Criminal Minds, but again, it predates those shows by at least ten years.

Palace Guard, about a reformed thief who goes to work as head of security for the Palace hotel line. Each week he's at a different luxury resort, investating some theft or murder. 9 episodes were produced, but it was cancelled after only 3 aired.

Broken Badges, a comedy about a bunch of police officers with various "quirks" who end up saving the day. This one ran for 7 episodes, although it's not really my cup of tea.

This entire set retails for $29.98 -- an impossibly low price, considering everything you get. I bought Mill Creek's Wiseguy Collector's Edition, which was also shockingly cheap, and much to my surprise, it's a good product. The packaging is pretty cheap, but the DVDs themselves look and sound good, considering how old the source material is.

Anyway -- if you're a Cannell fan, I highly recommend picking this up to see some of his lesser-known shows.