Doggone-Good Cult TV

Few networks have birthed as many beloved cult TV shows as Fox. Unfortunately, as has been documented in this column numerous times, no other network has canceled as many, either. For every X-Files and Simpsons with a long (if not seemingly eternal) shelf life, there are five more eccentric nuggets of brilliance that are axed before staking their claim. That said, some get extra bang for their buck—as did The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., the short-lived but much-beloved sci-fi/western that had itself bona-fide cult cred in Evil Dead star/chisel-chinned B-movie idol Bruce Campbell. A hefty 27 episodes made up Brisco's first and only season, which at long last hits DVD shelves on Tuesday.

Developed by creator Carlton Cuse (himself now a bigwig on Lost) as a throwback to the Saturday-morning serials of yore, the series follows Brisco County Jr.–Harvard law grad, rough rambler, ladies' man and wiseacre–in his quests to bring the forces of lawlessness to justice following the murder of his marshall father at the hands of the nefarious John Bly (the über-creepy Billy Drago). Along the way, he does his share of getting dragged by wagons and ducking punches and riding out of harm's way on his intensely loyal steed, Comet; trading cocky barbs with sidekick Socrates Poole (Christian Clemenson) and rival bounty hunter Lord Bowler (Julius Carry); engaging in Olympic bouts of sexual tension with showgirl Dixie Cousins (Kelly Rutherford); and crossing paths numerous times with The Orb, a mysterious object of great power that may or may not be an advanced alien technology. If it sounds busy, it is, but things remain engaging thanks to witty and assured writing, a certain low-budget charm, cool guest stars (John Astin as kooky Professor Wickwire, R. Lee Ermey as hard-assed Brisco Sr.), and the effortless charisma of Campbell. Bonus feature highlights in the handsome eight-disc set are select episode commentaries with Cuse and Campbell, a looking-back featurette, and a lively roundtable discussion with the writing team.

Also recommended this week: Amazing Stories: Season 1; Carnivale: Season 2; The Incredible Hulk: Season 1; Meet the Feebles; The Pee-Wee Herman Show–Live at the Roxy Theater; Some Like It Hot: Collector's Edition; Sybil: Special Edition.


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