- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 17, 2018

Here’s a look at a few classic television series now available in the DVD format.

Duckman: The Complete Series (CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment, not rated, 1,575 minutes, 1.33:1 aspect ratio, $34.99) — Everett Peck’s comic book series starring a cigarette-smoking, sexually aggressive, anthropomorphic duck was perfect fodder for an adult animated series that ran on the USA Network from 1994 to 1997.

This 10-disc DVD set offers the entire four-season run covering the woeful tale of billed widower Duckman (voiced by “Seinfeld’s” Jason Alexander) who is living with his sister-in-law Bernice (Nancy Travis), two-headed son Mombo (E.G. Daily) and Charles (Dana Hill and later Pat Musick), burnout son Ajax (Dweezil Zappa) and flatulent grandmother (Nancy Travis).

Over 70, roughly 22-minute-long episodes cover Duckman trying to make a living as a private investigator with help with his trusted and wise Joe Friday pig Cornfed (Gregg Berger) and saccharin assistant bears Fluffy and Uranus (Ms. Musick) while he battles his archenemy King Chicken (a vocally unrecognizable Tim Curry).

The show was like watching Looney Tunes on acid, crack and heroin — all rolled up into one brain freeze — as the gruff, frenetic pacing delivers parodies on social ills, pop culture and industrialized institutions.

The ranting and ravings of this curmudgeonly idealist were supported by a cavalcade of star celebrity voices every week including Gilbert Gottfried, Shelley Duvall, Ed Asner, Teri Garr, Ben Stiller, Sally Struthers, Burt Reynolds, Leonard Nimoy and even a singing James Brown.

Mr. Peck’s angular and retro illustrative style touching on influences from Max Fleisher to Mad Magazine’ Basil Wolverton carried over brilliantly to the chaotic cartoon series that even boats a Frank Zappa theme song.

Best extras: The first two discs of the first season offer an informative optional commentary track on the pilot episode with Mr. Alexander and Mr. Peck; as well as an almost 30-minute overview of the show with cast and crew piping in, including Mr. Peck, Mr. Alexander, writers Jeff Reno and Ron Osborn, Mr. Berger, Ms. Travis, Ms. Daily and Ms. Musick.

Also, in a 13-minute look, the origins of Duckman and his odd world are explained by Mr. Peck and the writers as they dig into animation mechanics and character designs with help from sketches and models.

Martin & Lewis Gift Set (Mill Creek Entertainment, not rated, 1,758 minutes, 1.33:1 aspect ratio, $29.98) — The legendary entertainment team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis offered 1950s television viewers a chance to appreciate their frenetic comedy style while hosting the immortal “Colgate Comedy Hour.”

Classic TV historians can now appreciate their efforts in this 6-disc DVD set covering most all of the duo’s song and shtick from the Colgate appearances.

That’s 28 episodes from Sept. 17, 1950, to Nov. 13, 1955, with the later broadcast playing roughly a year before the legendary team broke up forever.

Do not expect any restoration or remastering of the shows, just over two-dozen hours of grainy, slightly washed-out nostalgia.

Within the episodes, the boys perform numbers such as “Two Lost Souls” or “You’ll Never Get Away” and dive into occasionally politically incorrect skits such as Lewis playing an exaggerated Japanese interrogator in “Egg Roll is a Many Splendid Dish.”

They also hang out with stars of the day such as Burt Lancaster and George Raft amid plenty of hard-selling commercial interludes for Ajax and Palmolive soap.

Best extras: Viewers get nothing extra for the television shows, but the packages includes three movies starring Mr. Lewis (“Don’t Raise the Bridge Lower the River,” “Hook Line & Sinker,” and “Three on a Couch”); and two movies co-starring Mr. Martin (“Who Was That Lady?” and “How To Save A Marriage & Ruin Your Life”).

Suffice it to report that these are not Academy Award winners, but they feature some classic stars such as Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Stella Stevens and Peter Lawford, and, of course, certainly offer plenty of laughs for the family.

 


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