Chris Hicks: 'Grizzly Adams' makes his DVD debut, as does the werewolf series 'Wolf Lake'
Fans of vintage television will be happy to see the DVD debut of "Grizzly Adams" this week, along with "Wolf Lake" and follow-up seasons of "Cheyenne" and "Alice."
"The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Season One" (CBS/Timeless, 1974-75, four discs, $29.93, 13 episodes). Based loosely on a real-life California trapper, "Grizzly Adams" began as a novel, and then it became a hugely profitable theatrical film, followed by this TV series, which was also a big hit.
Dan Haggerty stars as the mountain man who heads for the hills when falsely accused of a crime and discovers he has an affinity for communing with nature, especially relating to a grizzly cub that grows up to become his huge companion Ben.
Filmed primarily in Utah, the show co-stars veteran character actor Denver Pyle as trader Mad Jack and Utah stunt man/actor Don Shanks as Adams' Native American pal Nakoma. Guests this season include Ken Berry, Slim Pickens, Ronny Cox and, as Teddy Roosevelt, Charles Martin Smith.
Arguably the most popular of the spate of "wilderness" adventures of the mid-1970s, "Grizzly Adams" lasted only two seasons and today seems rather quaint, although the stunning outdoor cinematography helps. But the show still has a nostalgic fanbase that will no doubt gobble up this release.
"Wolf Lake: The Complete Series" (eOne/CBS, 2001, three discs, $39.98, 10 episodes, never-aired pilot with audio commentary, featurette). Lou Diamond Phillips stars in this short-lived fantasy-horror series as a Seattle police detective in the title town searching for his missing girlfriend only to learn werewolves populate it.
Owing something to "The X-Files" and "Twin Peaks" and foreshadowing "Grimm" and the "Twilight" films, this is actually a pretty clever show with a solid cast that includes Graham Greene, Tim Matheson, Paul Wesley, Mia Kirshner and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
"Cheyenne: The Complete Fourth Season" (Warner Archive, 1959-60, b/w, four discs, 39.95, 13 episodes, crossover episode of "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues"). After a contract dispute, Clint Walker was allowed to make theatrical films and the show was scaled back from 20 to 13 episodes to accommodate his schedule, still rotating week to week with other series. But the show remains compelling for western fans. Guests include Connie Stevens, Lorne Greene, Julie Adams, Adam West, Mala Powers and Tim Considine. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Alice: The Complete Second Season" (Warner Archive, 1977-78, three discs, $29.95, 24 episodes). Funny blue-collar sitcom loosely based on the movie "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," with Linda Lavin solid in the title role as a single mother working in a small Arizona diner, and scene-stealers Polly Holliday and Vic Tayback as her best friend and boss, respectively. Guests include George Burns, Morey Amsterdam, Desi Arnaz and Jerry Reed. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Narrow Escapes of World War II" (Athena, 2012, four discs, $79.99, 13 episodes, timeline, text articles; 16-page booklet). British documentary series that aired on the Military Channel outlines daring escapes during the war. These are the British TV episodes, which include additional footage.
"Vera: Set 2" (Acorn, 2012, four discs, $59.99, four episodes). More gripping feature-length mysteries investigated by disheveled, irreverent Northumberland police detective Vera Stanhope, played wonderfully by Brenda Blethyn.
"American Restoration: Volume Two" (History, 2011, two discs, $19.95, 17 episodes). More beat-up relics are restored by the Rick's Restorations crew in Las Vegas, including a 1950s Hopalong Cassidy bicycle and a 1940s gas pump. Enjoyable show undercut by herky-jerky camera work.
"Top Shot: Season Four" (History, 2012, four discs, $29.95, 12 episodes). A 21-year-old world-champion marksman, a high school custodian that makes his own ammo and an IT specialist are among the shooters hoping to win the $100,000 prize.
"Cornwall With Caroline Quentin" (Athena, 2012, two discs, $39.99, eight episodes, photo galleries; 12-page booklet). British actress Quentin hosts this documentary series that takes viewers through southern England's coastal areas, exploring everything from surfing to grape harvesting to a medieval fortress.
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