Kidnapped: The Complete Series is one for Brilliant But Canceled – fortunately, the DVD set features a complete resolution to the story; Twin Peaks, The Complete Second Season reminds us that elegant and odd can be rewarding, and Highlander: The Ultimate Collection features the fifteen best episodes from the series' six-year run – as selected by the producers, directors, actors and – most importantly – the fans…
Kidnapped: The Complete Series
Kidnapped opens with a look at Virgil [Mykelti Williamson], bodyguard to Leopold Cain [Will Denton] – son of business mover & shaker, Conrad Cain [Timothy Hutton] and his wife, Ellie [Dana Delaney]. On this morning, the Cain family is being interviewed by "the girl from The Times," as Conrad puts it. Before Leopold heads off to school, in the company of Virgil and a driver, we've met the Cains and Leopold's sister, Alice [Grace Jordan] and have actually had a chance to feel like we might know – and like – these people.
We've also met the mastermind behind the kidnapping and one of the kidnappers – an unnerving job interview sequence that effectively foreshadows some later events. The kidnapping, itself, is beautifully set up and is only successful because of a contingency plan…
It's fully eleven minutes before we meet Knapp [Jeremy Sisto, Six Feet Under], the retrieval expert, through the efforts of Conrad's lawyer and long-time friend. He's a scruffy guy who immediately offers two pieces of advice: call the FBI [because he has to] and, "Whatever you do, don't call the F.B.I." apparently, they have so many agendas that it can get distracting, while all he does is retrieve the kidnap victim.
From that auspicious [and unnerving] introduction to the kidnapping of Leo Cain, to the final moments of the thirteen episodes that compose the truncated saga, Kidnapped is one of the best TV series to get cancelled after barely a weeks. The characters are all interesting – and few of them do anything stupid. There are no "idiot plots" here.
The situations, complex and bizarre as they might be, are all based in a reality that is reflected in depth of the performances of a brilliant cast: Timothy Hutton, Dana Delaney, Jeremy Sisto, Mykelti Williamson, Will Denton, Delroy Lindo and more. The eventual trackdown of the mastermind behind the kidnapping [and, especially, the reason for the kidnapping] is beautifully handled: a scene involving a the delivery forty-million dollar ransom is one of the most shocking sequences of the show – and no one got to see it broadcast!
Kidnapped is fast-paced, frantic, and never frivolous. We get to know, and care, for the characters – and appreciate that some are more resourceful than others [Leo is not a helpless victim!]. The direction of each ep is geared to balancing character, exposition and action in a way that makes boredom impossible. The plot twists are both clever and – strictly speaking – possible. Suspense is built through all the best means: writing, pacing, score, contrast and delivery.
This series deserved better.
Features: The sole feature for the set is a thirty-minute featurette entitled Ransom Notes which, though it shouldn't have been placed on disc two [since it contains spoilers for the rest the series], is an enlightening making of documentary that is exceptionally thorough.
Kidnapped: The Complete Series – Grade: A+
Features – Grade: D
Final Grade: B+
Twin Peaks: The Second Season
David Lynch is a genius. His first foray into the realm of television was his version of a primetime soap: Twin Peaks. For almost the equivalent of a full season [six eps as a mid-season replacement, and a dozen eps in season two], the North American continent ground to a halt to watch episode in the saga of Special Agent Dale Cooper's [Kyle McLachlan] hunt for the murderer of Laura Palmer.
Typically [for Lynch, at least], Twin Peaks was a small town in the mountains, where everything looked like a classic fifties family setting: houses with picket fences; the Great Northern Lodge, a simultaneously giant and rustic lodge seemingly hewn from the surrounding forest; a dine with "damn fine coffee" and equally good pie; and a typical high school. Underneath the surface [and also typical for Lynch] the town had its share of weirdness and evil.
Characters like the heroic Cooper, the stalwart Sheriff Harry S. Truman [Michael Ontkean], weepy Deputy Andy [Harry Goaz], mentally shaky hotel tycoon Benjamin Horne [Richard Beymer], and lawyer with a secret Leland Palmer [Ray Wise] grabbed our attention immediately. Add to them the members of the younger generation – Audrey Horne, [Sherilyn Fenn] adventurous in her plaid skirts and saddle shoes; Donna Hayward [Lara Flynn Boyle], Laura's best friend and good girl about to go bad; Shelly Johnson [Madchen Amick], waitress at the diner, and married to the abusive Leo [Eric Da Re]; James Hurley [James Marshall], the Lynchian version of a young James Dean – and the town's complexities definitely delivered primetime soap possibilities [and I haven't even mentioned another dozen regular and/or recurring characters…].
Other cast members included Peggy Lipton, Chris Mulkey, Edward McGill, Kenneth Welsh, Piper Laurie, Russ Tamblyn, Joan Chen, Don S. Davis and Jack Nance [and that's still not everybody…] Between the mix of veterans and relative newcomers, Lynch and series co-creator Mark Frost populated their fictitious town with as peculiar a group of citizens as one could ever imagine. The multi-layered epic introduced TV's first transvestite DEA agent [David Duchovny's Dennis/Denise Bryson; the first killer demon named Bob; the first instance of a murder being solved through a combination of detection, supernatural beings [like Bob's mortal enemy – a demon named Mike] and possible extraterrestrials; and the first primetime soap that not only didn't insult its audience's intelligence, but played to it!
Delivered in a deliberately paced manner – with an almost languid theme and score – Twin Peaks was so well constructed that, long before Agent Cooper solved the Palmer murder, the seeds were being sown for the events that would keep him in town after its resolution. Between the dancing little person in the room with red curtains and the fading giant; between the hints of UFOs and something called The White Lodge [and its antithesis, The Black Lodge], the attention to detail made the series something as wonderful as it was peculiar.
Features on the second season DVD set include: the complete set of Season Two Log Lady Introductions [made exclusively for the series' run on Bravo]; Insights – a series of interviews with several series directors and the writer of Laura Palmer's Diary, Jennifer Lynch, and an Interactive Interview Grid – a collection of cast and crew interviews arranged on a grid and set up by topic.
Twin Peaks: The Second Season – Grade: A+
Features – Grade: C
Final Grade: A-
Highlander: The Ultimate Collection
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Highlander franchise, anchor Bay entertainment has released Highlander: The Ultimate Collection – a collection of the fifteen best episodes of Highlander: The Series as selected by the show's producers, directors, actors and fans.
The episodes come from all six seasons of the series: two from season one [The Gathering and The Lady and the Tiger]; two from season two [The Return of Amanda and Legacy]; two from season three [The Samurai and Methos]; three from season four [Homeland, Timeless and Deliverance]; three from season five [Comes A Horseman, Revelation 6:8, and Duende], and three from season six [Indiscretion, To Be and Not to Be]. [The set has the episode Methos incorrectly listed as being in season five…]
Thus, we have highlights ranging from the introduction of Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod [The Gathering], and the first appearance of Immortal thief/rogue Amanda [The Lady and the Tiger] to the introduction of the "oldest Immortal" [Methos], the first meeting with Kronos [Comes A Horseman], and the two-part series finale [To Be and Not To Be] in which MacLeod has to deal with an Immortal terrorist who blames him for his mortal wife's death.
The fifteen episodes are spread over five DVDs and a sixth contains five special features: Highlander in Paris with Bill and Dennis [William S. Panzer and Dennis Berry take a bit of a Parisian walkabout and reminisce]; The Cutting Edge [Swordmaster F. Braun McCash and actor/fight coordinator Anthony De Longis demonstrate various swords and choreography from the series]; Highlander Worldwide [highlights from the 2006 Highlander Convention in Leeds, England – includes interviews with Panzer, showrunner David Abramoff, and attending fans]; Gameplay [a twenty-minute look at the development of the upcoming Highlander video game], and Marto [a look behind-the-scenes at the Marto sword factory in Toledo, Spain – which manufactured all the swords for Highlander from the first film to the final ep of the TV series]. There are no audio commentaries, or other features on the remaining five discs.
One complaint – the packaging for Highlander: The Ultimate Collection is the clunky, unwieldy old foldout format that has been dropped by virtually every other major DVD distributor.
Highlander: The Ultimate Collection – Grade: B+
Features – Grade: B-
Final Grade: B
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