Chris Hicks: Vintage TV series ‘Beyond Westworld,’ ‘Bronco’ mark their DVD debuts
The two much sought-after vintage TV series “Beyond Westworld” and “Bronco” have been released on DVD for the first time by the manufacture-on-demand Warner Archive label.
“Beyond Westworld: The Complete Series” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1980, two discs, five episodes). This very brief series (only five episodes were produced and only three aired) is a direct sequel to Michael Crichton’s big-screen “Westworld” and “Futureworld,” in which Delos Corp. created a theme park featuring humanoid robots, which, unfortunately, went berserk and killed the patrons.
Here, one of the park’s scientists (James Wainwright) has reprogrammed the ’bots for his own evil world-conquering purposes, and each episode has Delos officers (Jim McMullan, Connie Selleca) trying to foil his plans by finding the undercover androids that are hiding among humans.
This interesting concept is handled pretty well, though one wonders how a full season could have sustained the premise. But for five episodes, it’s fun. Guests include Robert Alda and Jack Carter, along with “Star Trek” veteran George Takai and future “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” regular Rene Auberjonois. (Available at warnerarchive.com)
“Bronco: The Complete First Season” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1958-59, b/w, five discs, 20 episodes). Ty Hardin stars in the title role as a homeless former Confederate officer with a quick draw, righting wrongs as he crosses Texas after the Civil War. Originally created to replace “Cheyenne” when Clint Walker was in a contract dispute, this season rotated with “Sugarfoot” under the “Cheyenne” umbrella. Guests include James Coburn, Dorothy Provine, Mike Connors, Troy Donahue, Shirley Knight, Robert Vaughn and future TV Western stars James Drury, Pernell Roberts and Lorne Greene.
“William Shatner’s Get a Life!” (eOne/DVD, 2014, featurettes). This hourlong documentary on “Star Trek” fandom is based on William Shatner’s book and takes its title from a well-known skit he did on “Saturday Night Live” in 1986. Enjoyable, humorous, affectionate look at all things “Trek.”
“Blacklist: The Complete First Season” (Sony/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2013-14, five discs, 22 episodes, audio commentary, featurettes). James Spader stars in this popular series as one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives, a sort of broker of criminal activity across the globe. After suddenly surrendering, he begins helping the Feds capture his former clients, but insists on doing so only with an FBI newbie (Megan Boone). Naturally, he has an agenda that unfolds as the season progresses.
“Bitten: The Complete First Season” (eOne/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, four discs, 14 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). This supernatural Canadian series is adapted from Kelly Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld” novels and focuses on the world’s only female werewolf (Laura Vandervoort) who is torn between her “human” life as a photographer with an unaware boyfriend in Toronto and her lupine “family” obligations in upstate New York.
“The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man: Season 1” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2014, two discs, eight episodes, two bonus episodes, featurettes). History cable channel reality show follows Shelby Stanga’s exploits as a logger in the swamps and lakes of southern Louisiana, along with his culture-clash exploits in the “civilized” world.
“Shark Week: Predator of the Deep” (Discovery/Cinedigm/DVD, 2014, five episodes). Five shows from the Discovery cable channel’s annual weeklong specials about sharks, including “Air Jaws Apocalypse,” “Shark Fight” and “Adrift: 47 Days With Sharks.”
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