DVD quick takes

The little recent media viewing has been dominated by the 22 episodes of the first entry.

American Gothic (2005) 4/5

This set contains all the episodes of this genre-bending and all too short-lived series that aired on CBS during the 1995-96 television season. Put simply, Sheriff Lucas Buck (played magnificently by Gary Cole) runs the town of Trinity, SC, by manipulation and apparently supernatural powers. This is a generally well written and acted series addressing the timeless story of the struggle between good and evil. A content-only rating would be higher as the packaging brings down the overall rating. For example, four unaired episodes that are included are simply tacked on to the end of the last disc and, thus, after the series finale. Oddly, the only way to find the original production order is to go to the official web site for the DVD.

For All Mankind (1989) 3.5/5

This documentary about the Apollo program is unique in that it consists entirely of NASA footage and narration that is exclusively interviews with or statements by astronauts. While nominated for an Oscar and the winner of two awards at Sundance, the documentary is not without flaws. For example, unless you make a particular choice on the DVD (which I did not discover until after watching it), you have no idea who is talking. More disturbing, the film footage doesn’t necessarily match the mission or astronauts being discussed. Thus, you see film from crew in the command capsule during other missions while the documentary is discussing Apollo 11’s transit to the Moon. Similarly, at one point a Gemini spacewalk is shown even though the documentary is about the Apollo program. That said, the unique characteristics of the documentary and the stunning footage make this of interest to people like me who grew up during the space race.

‘Round Midnight (1986) 2.5/5

Real-life jazz man Dexter Gordon plays a jazz saxophonist in Paris in 1959 who is befriended by a French man who seeks to rescue him from his demons. The music performances by Gordon with such notables as Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter make this worthwhile for jazz fans. Hancock won a well-deserved Oscar for best original score for the film and Gordon received a best actor nomination. The film certainly gets five stars for its soundtrack and musicians but the story and acting are much lesser caliber.

Conscience is just the fear of getting caught.

Sheriff Lucas Buck (Gary Cole), American Gothic

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