News from the frontier, 6/17/2007 (Epstein, Voyagers, The Hulk, TNG)

Upcoming TV on DVD releases
The excellent TVShowsOnDVD.com site has reported several upcoming releases of interest to my fellow nostalgists.

Voyagers! The Complete Series
Before Quantum Leap, there was Voyagers! Jon-Erik Hexum stars as Phineas Bogg, a member of the secret society of Voyagers, tasked with repairing errors in the timeline using his pocket-watch-sized time machine, Omni. (Sounds like they could’ve used this guy on Star Trek: Enterprise.) Meeno Peluce co-stars as Jeffrey Jones, a twelve-year-old who accidentally tags along with Bogg but who often comes in handy since he’s a history expert.

Though this 1982 series was short-lived (20 episodes), I vividly remember watching and enjoying it. It’s been 25 years since I’ve seen it, though, so I’m not sure how it will hold up now. In 1984, at the age of 26, Hexum accidentally shot himself with a prop gun loaded with blanks while on the set of another series. He died one week later. As an organ donor, Hexum saved five other lives.

In a 1987 introduction to The Man of Steel graphic novel, author Ray Bradbury mentioned Hexum:

“Would I dare offer plotlines to Superman for the present and the near future? It is tempting. […] What about Jon-Erik Hexum, that young actor who accidentally shot himself with a blank cartridge, suffered brain damage, died, but whose heart now beats in the body of a young […] man somewhere in the world? If the mother of that actor came to Superman the night before Christmas and said she would like to find that […] man and visit him for one minute on Christmas Eve, to listen to the beating of her son’s heart, would Superman help her find him? A moral dilemma, of course. Would the mother be able to survive such a sad encounter? How would the young (man) feel, having this woman arrive to listen to his pulse on some snowing night?”

Voyagers! hits DVD on July 17.

The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Second Season
Also arriving on July 17 on DVD is the second season of The Incredible Hulk. The 5-DVD set contains all 22 second-season episodes from 1978-1979, plus one third-season episode as a sneak preview and other bonus features. This was a great series. Much better than that awful movie from a few years ago.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-The Complete Series
Hey, hasn’t the complete, seven-season TNG series already been released on DVD? Why, technically, yes, but this doesn’t stop Paramount Home Entertainment from going to the well again for another dip.

This will feature new packaging! [Oooooohhh!] And a new disc of bonus features! [Aaaaaahhh!] And it will retail around $420 to $530 depending on where you buy it. [::even the crickets stop chirping::]

Yeah, that’s more than a little steep for a re-release. And as far as I can tell, this is just a DVD release. Apparently, the twenty-year-old TNG series will require the same sort of Star Trek: Remastered style upgrades before it is ready for HD-DVD or Blu-ray.

Even if I had $420 to blow on DVDs, which I don’t, I’d skip this one. Why? For one thing, the math just doesn’t work out. Even at the low-end price, that’s still $60 a season. And, only five of the seven seasons are worth watching. So, that’s more like $84 per watchable season. There are only two series I’d pay that kind of money for: the original Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. Everything else, $30 a season, max. Sorry, Captain Picard.

This one arrives on DVD October 2, just after TNG’s twentieth anniversary.

[6/18/2007 Update: TVShowsOnDVD.com has now updated pricing for the TNG set to a range of $307 to $439. For the low end, that’s down to about $44 per season or $61 per good season. Still not cheap enough to warrant buying, but at least the price is headed in the right direction.]

Newsarama loses a key contributor
Daniel Robert Epstein of Newsarama passed away unexpectedly last week. He was 31. Epstein tended to cover film and DVD versions of comic books, which meant that I linked to his work a lot here on The Film Frontier. He definitely had some of the best interviews and features in the industry and he will be missed even by fans/readers, such as me, who did not have the opportunity to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Here are links to just a couple of Epstein’s many interviews:

Tom Mankiewicz on Superman II: The Donner Cut
Talking Hollywoodland with Paul Bernbaum

[Update: Here is some information from Newsarama on how to donate to a special cause in memory of Epstein.]