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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Action > Comedy > Adventure > Martial Arts > Science Fiction > Monster > Horror > Battles > History > The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series, Part One + Part Two (1966 - 1967/MGM/Warner Archive DVD Sets)/Nikita: The Complete Third Season (2012 - 2013/Warner Blu-rays)/Primeval: New World The C

The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series, Part One + Part Two (1966 - 1967/MGM/Warner Archive DVD Sets)/Nikita: The Complete Third Season (2012 - 2013/Warner Blu-rays)/Primeval: New World - The Complete Series (2012/E1 Blu-rays)/Vikings: The Complete First Season (2013/Fox/MGM Blu-rays)



Picture: C+/B-/B-/B- Sound: C+/B-/B/B- Extras: D/C/C-/C+ Episodes: B-/C/C+/C+



PLEASE NOTE: The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. DVD sets are only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Here are four of the more noteworthy TV series sets we have received lately...



For starters we have an underrated spin-off shows made in an era when this was not as common. In the late second season (1966) episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. entitled The Moonglow Affair, Mary Ann Mobley played a top female spy named April Dancer and the then-serious Norman Fell (later of Three's Company) played Mark Slade, a veteran agent near retiring age at the agency of 40 (!) and it was just before the show started to get more comical and campy, so it was a more serious show.


As the series continued to be a big hit for MGM Television, the producers scrambled for a spin-off and the result was bringing back these two characters. However, to fit the hip, Go-Go/Batman Pop Art turn the main show was taking, recasting took place and the result was recasting the rising star Stephanie Powers in the role of April Dancer and Noel Harrison (Rex Harrison's son) as Mark Slade, so that meant forgetting about total continuity with the original series.


The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series (1966 - 1967) was recently issued by Warner Archive in basic Part One and Part Two DVD sets without any extras that offered the best copies of the show see outside of rare film prints. The original series already was issued as an amazing and loaded-with-extras DVD box set and even the TV reunion movie from the early 1980s got a DVD release.


Girl is a fun show that gets the most out of its cast and ideas, with Leo G. Carroll playing Alexander Waverly on this show as well at the same time. Though Mobley could have continued well in the character (she later showed how again on the original Mission: Impossible) and Fell could have been kept with some good excuse and the show would have worked with them, it would have been a different show.


No doubt Powers was bound to be a big star (which she later proved on Hart To Hart) and the makers got lucky to have two more actors with great chemistry together. So why did the show not last beyond its 26 hour-long single season episodes? One reason is that the Pop trend played itself out quickly, taking down the original series (which tired to get dark and serious for its final season), Batman (despite adding Batgirl) and similarly trendy shows (Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, April Dancer and Marlo Thomas' Ann Marie on That Girl should have opened a hip clothing store in some kind of TV special) took a dive so MGM tried saving Man at the expense of Girl.


Highlight episodes include Thunderball villianess actress Luciana Paluzzi in the debut Dog-Gone Affair episode, Michael Ansara in the Max Hodge-penned Prisoner Of Zalamar Affair, the great Boris Karloff as the particularly gruesome, evil Mother Muffin in The Mother Muffin Affair with Robert Vaughn showing up as Napoleon Solo, the eerie John O'Dea/Arthur Rowe-penned Garden Of Evil Affair where the minds of the dead can be transferred to the living, the great Richard Matheson penned The Atlantis Affair as our duo try to find the lost city and a powerful crystal before their evil counterparts Thrush do, Wally Cox is a riot in The Little John Doe Affair, a great Richard de Roy/Robert Bloch penned The Fountain Of Youth Affair with Gena Rowland (in a fun turn) as a greedy head of a beauty parlor that has a secret to restore youth with her having plans for much more and the last few episodes among the darkest and smartest of the show proving it was on its way to a second great season before MGM and NBC pulled the plug.


I was surprised we got no extras, though Miss Powers announced on the Internet how thrilled she was the show was being issued. There are plenty more surprises on both sets I will not ruin, so I'll quit there, but if you like action TV that's fun and smart, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. is worth going out of your way for.


For more U.N.C.L.E., check out our coverage of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. DVD box set at this link:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/6407/The+Man+From+U.N.C.L.E.+%E2%80%93+The+Co


Single season sets have been released widely since we first posted this review. You can read about the Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Telefilm DVD at this link:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/8526/Return+Of+The+Man+From+U.N.C.L.E.+%E2%80%


You can read about Limited Edition CD soundtracks to both shows at this link:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/1738/Girl+From+U.N.C.L.E.+(Limited+CD


...and since we posted this review, the 2015 feature film remake of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that should have done better and did not feature April or Mark...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/13901/The+Man+From+U.N.C.L.E.+(2015+feature+film+r



Next we have the fourth version of of Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita in Nikita: The Complete Third Season (2012 - 2013) with Maggie Q (Priest, Mission: Impossible III) in the title role. I was not a fan of the first film, John Badham's U.S. remake Point Of No Return (1993) with Bridget Fonda that Warner produced like this current TV version and the 1997 - 2001 Peta Wilson cable series named after the original film and ran for 5 seasons. Maggie is as good as any of her predecessors, but once again, the material is not that good and she is the only reason to watch this how despite some good supporting actors.


This is all formulaic at this point, but it is a hit and the show has a decent budget, but no room to do more. This Blu-ray set offers all 22 episodes over four Blu-ray discs with extras that include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, Unaired Scenes and a Gag Reel.


For more on the original film from someone who really liked it, try this link:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7946/Luc+Besson+%E2%80%93+La+Femme+Nikita



Primeval: New World - The Complete Series (2012) is a spin-off of the very popular BBC hit Primeval about dinosaurs coming to current-day Britain. This time, the dinos are invading Canada and though I was not a big fan of the original show, I understood its appeal. This new series was a very ambitious attempt to recreate the magic, chemistry and fun of the original and to the credit of all involved, they take the audience's intelligence seriously. Unfortunately, this was only able to run 13 hour-long shows because it just could not pull off the writing and chemistry of its predecessor, though the money and some energy is there.


The original show was shot on Super 16mm film, while this one is an HD shoot, but I was surprised the makers still came up with a good look for the show. At the same time, it was not distinctive enough to stand out from either its predecessor or the many imitators in the wake of the first Jurassic Park a few decades ago, a franchise now returning to theaters with a 3D sequel of its own. However, even the last film in that series did mixed business and this dinosaur cycle is long over. We know it made tons of money, but I don't expect a revival anytime soon and that obviously worked against this revival. Still, fans might enjoy some of this, but it misses the mark too often and gives us most of what we have seen too often before. Nice try though.


Extras behind-the-scenes clips, Meet The Cast and Inside The Tank clips, all of which play like what they likely are, brief commercials/promos to be shown on cable to promote the show. They are all very short though. For more on the original show, check out our DVD coverage of these following seasons:


V.1/Seasons 1 & 2 DVDs

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7918/Primeval+%E2%80%93+Volume+One+(Series+1+&


V.2/Season Three DVDs

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9149/Primeval+%E2%80%93+Volume+Two+(2009/Seaso



The third time is apparently the charm for Australian actor Travis Fimmel (now also of the hit feature film version of the Warcraft videogame). The one-time international model made his acting debut in a misguided Tarzan TV series and co-starring with Patrick Swayze in the underrated The Beast (2009, reviewed elsewhere on this site), ended too soon and before the lead's unfortunate death. Now he is playing the hero lead in the interesting new series Vikings: The Complete First Season (2013) as Ragnar Lothbrok from his beginnings to going into action.


Though we have seen so many of shows in this genre since the overrated 300 hit theaters (some of which are still imitating the visual style of that film, including that director's DC Comics films), this series takes itself more seriously and despite some been-there-done-than moments in each show, it is easily as good as its best counterparts like early Spartacus episodes, Game Of Thrones and Rome. This show takes itself more seriously than most, deals with material that has been the subject of more good documentaries than scripted works, too many spoofs and too many failed dramas. At one point, Director Paul Verhoeven was going to do a film on the subject, but even with a one-time still bankable Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it was cancelled.


As a result, this is one of the few good realistic dramas on the subject including some ambitious feature films with good actors that should have worked, but did not. The result is one of the best representations of the tales ever shot to date. Fimmel is a perfect fit in his role, though the cast of relative unknowns in the states also feature Gabriel Byrne, Donal Logue and Gustaf Skarsgard will be more familiar.


The money is in the show, it is ambitious, could become a big hit [it did later!] and has the potential of being an even bigger hit in its second season. With the material hardly ever having done justice to it, the series has a rare opportunity to really excel and not play it too safe by digging deep into the historical record and taking us places similar shows and feature films have failed to do and go to. I will be curious to see if the show takes off because so few today have this kind of potential and here is a rare chance to do more than just a muscled up soap opera melodrama with corny one-liners, bloody violence and cliches. A nice surprise, even if it is not always successful.


Extras include all the episodes Unrated with Extended & Alternate Scenes, Blu-ray exclusive featurettes The Armory Of The Vikings and Conquest & Discovery: Journeys Of The Vikings, plus Deleted Scenes, audio commentary tracks on select episodes and three more featurettes: A Warrior Society: Viking Culture & Justice, Birth Of The Vikings and Forging The Viking Army: Warfare & Tactics.




The 1.33 X 1 on Girl comes from nice 35mm prints of the show and except for the obvious (and dirty) stock footage common to TV and even feature film production at the time, these are pretty comparable to the prints on the Man From U.N.C.L.E. set and hold up well against the Guy Ritchie remake feature film. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on all three Blu-ray sets are decent HD shoots with slightly darkened images connoting the respective genre styles of each show. In that, they fare just fine, even at the expense of some detail and depth. Vikings is an AVC @ 29 MBPS presentation with the most downstyling, but it works and is not overdone.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Girl is as good as the show is gong to sound, save the music which sounded better on the CD soundtrack. If the new film hits and these shows come to Blu-ray, all the series ought to be upgraded to 5.1 sound. All are very professionally recorded and have the usual fun sound effects of spy shows of the time.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the three newer TV shows on Blu-ray are all well recorded and mixed, but can be a little more towards the front speakers or have some moments where the dialogue falls short, but Primeval manages to be a cut above the rest with the best overall recording, a consistent soundfield and surrounds that really kick in nicely throughout every episode, so it is the sonic winner on this list.


As noted above, you can order The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. DVD sets and much more at:


http://www.warnerarchive.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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