clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chris Hicks: Catch old TV shows on DVD

The TV series that made Johnny Depp a star leads off these videos that are new to DVD.

"21 Jump Street: The Complete First Season" (Anchor Bay, 1987, not rated, $39.98, four discs). After making his movie debut in the first "Nightmare on Elm Street" movie, Depp was laboring in TV guest spots and minor pictures. But "21 Jump Street" plucked him from obscurity and made him a star on this hit show — one of the first on the new-in-1987 Fox Network.

In the two-part pilot, Depp is a baby-faced L.A. cop who is taken off the street because no one will take him seriously. So he's transferred to a unit of undercover cops who infiltrate high schools (including private and Catholic schools) to bust drug-dealers, arsonists, car-theft rings, rapists and even solve homicides.

Veteran character actor Frederic Forrest is the unorthodox team leader, a hippie with a badge, and Depp's undercover colleagues are Holly Robinson (who also sings the show's theme song), Peter DeLuise (son of Dom) and Dustin Nguyen. Halfway through the season, Forrest's character was killed off and replaced by Steven Williams.

Some of the dialogue here is arch and there are occasional lapses in logic, but for the most part, the shows are enjoyable, and it really is fun to see young Depp developing his acting chops.

Extras: Full frame, 13 episodes, audio commentary (with actor Peter DeLuise), new interviews (with co-creator Stephen J. Cannell, and actors Robinson, Nguyen and Williams), eight-page booklet, chapters.

"The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (MPI, 1990, not rated, $39.98, three discs). More sterling adventures of Holmes and Watson as epitomized by Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke from a 1990 series of episodes. These are all excellent: "The Three Gables," "The Dying Detective," "The Golden Pince-Nez," "The Red Circle," "The Mazarin Stone" and "The Cardboard Box." More bonus features than usual help give this collection a boost. Holmes fans should be in heaven.

Extras: Full frame, six episodes, audio commentary (screenwriter Jeremy Paul, Holmes expert David Stuart Davies), interview (with Adrian Conan Doyle), text production notes, chapters.

"SCTV: Volume 2" (Shout! 1981-82, not rated, $89.98, five discs). This second volume of skits from the "SCTV Network 90" show that starred John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and Joe Flaherty has some hilarious stuff. The combination skits, which put two disparate shows together, are highlighted by "Benny Hill Street Blues" and "Dr. Tongue's Evil House of Pancakes." Fondly remembered regular bits include the "Farm Film Report" (where things get "blowed up real good"), the "Great White North" routines (with Moranis and Thomas as the beer-swilling McKenzie Brothers) and celebrity impersonations of everyone from Tammy Faye Bakker to Perry Como. Riotous stuff.

Extras: Full frame, nine episodes (60-70 minutes each), audio commentaries, featurettes, interviews, chapters, 24-page booklet.

"In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great" (PBS/Paramount, 1998, not rated, $24.99). The creation of the Greek empire — from the Balkans to India — is the primary event of this four-hour PBS documentary, arriving to coincide with the upcoming epic movie "Alexander." Host Michael Wood manages to capture the amazing adventure while traveling throughout Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan and India. He also probes Alexander using Greek and Roman histories as his guide.

Extras: Full frame, chapters.