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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Sci Fi Fans Say, ’I Want My DVDs!’

By Kate O’Hare

Sunday 30 November 2003, by Webmaster

Thanks to DVDs, the goal of instant accessibility to any episode of one’s favorite sci-fi TV shows is closer to reality than ever. With the advent of portable DVD players, even the most dedicated couch potato can take his or her favorite shows outdoors. (You know, that big green place with all the trees and birds and dirt.)

Here’s a look at some of the DVD titles out there guaranteed to warm your little space ranger’s heart this holiday season. No, the 1993 series "Space Rangers," starring Jeff Kaake, is not on DVD, VHS or even Sci Fi Channel. Hint, hint.

"The X-Files": Ten Thirteen Productions was an echoing set of near-empty rooms by last year, with "X" creator Chris Carter off surfing, and a skeleton crew left behind to work on putting out the DVDs. Now complete through season eight, with one more to go, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, "The X-Files" may have ended its alien-invasion saga with less than a bang (unless the long-promised second movie someday materializes). However, it landed like a supernova in the 1990s, and helped put FOX network on the map. And since the series was full of inside jokes and "Easter eggs," imagine what is on the DVDs. The truth is in there.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Season five (of seven) comes out Dec. 9 from 20th Century Fox, ending with a variation on creator Joss Whedon’s original series finale. Instead of destroying the evil California burg of Sunnydale, he just killed the Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Fear not, after two more seasons on DVD, Sunnydale will get sucked into a big, dark hole anyway.

"Angel" and "Firefly": Whedon-mania continues. 20th Century Fox has released the second season of the "Buffy" spin-off, "Angel," currently in its fifth season on The WB. On Dec. 9, Whedon’s first "Buffy"-free series, last season’s short-lived FOX space opera "Firefly," is offered in its entirety in a boxed set, which includes three episodes that never aired on FOX. With plans for a "Firefly" movie in the works (from Universal), it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up with the motley denizens of the space freighter Serenity before they hit the big screen.

"Dark Angel": In October, 20th Century Fox released the second — and final — season of another short-lived series, "Dark Angel." Ironically, some believe that James Cameron’s post-apocalyptic drama, starring Jessica Alba, was denied a third season to make room for "Firefly." That worked out, eh?

"Star Trek": Paramount Home Video gives you the entire "Trek" suite, including the original "Star Trek" (released, oddly, in sets of two episodes), followed by full collections of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and all the "Trek" movies. Reportedly, "Star Trek: Voyager" is in progress.

"Stargate SG-1": MGM’s TV version of the 1994 "Stargate" movie was no hit with the filmmakers, but it’s a solid fan favorite, moving seamlessly from Showtime to Sci Fi Channel, while also being broadcast in syndication. Starring Richard Dean Anderson as the leader of planet-hopping adventurers, the series is complete through season four on DVD; season five is due out in January 2004.

"Babylon 5": Creator J. Michael Straczynski said he’d be out in five seasons, and so he was. The full run of the syndicated space opera is available from Warner Home Video, offering a second chance for those who found the dense, layered drama too hard to follow the first time around. There are plenty of Internet crib sheets if you’re still confused.

"Farscape": The first batch of the final season of the Sci Fi Channel original series is due out Tuesday, Dec. 2, from A.D. Vision. This no doubt warms the hearts of the faithful who, as Sci Fi discovered when it canceled the show, are, if not legion, very vocal. Starring Ben Browder as a U.S. astronaut lost in space, the Henson production was not everyone’s taste, but it was one of the most imaginative sci-fi series ever (and there are rumors of a miniseries).

"Battlestar Galactica": Talk about a show that will not die! After airing for one season in 1978-’79, this space opera, which so resembled "Star Wars" that there was a lawsuit, lived on in the hearts of loyal fans and star Richard Hatch, who tried to mount a TV sequel. Sci Fi Channel premieres a revamped miniseries version starting Dec. 8, but if you want to see where it all began, Universal offers the entire series in one set, along with a widescreen version of the two-hour pilot.

"Mystery Science Theater 3000": For those who like to watch — and mock — there are three boxed sets, with four movies each, available from Wea Corp. Airing on Comedy Central and then Sci Fi Channel in the late 1990s, MST3K took sci-fi geeks’ favorite sport of making fun of bad genre movies, and transferred it to a space station, where a human trapped with robots was forced to endlessly watch bad flicks.

"Dark Shadows": Perhaps the cheesiest vampire TV series ever made — certainly the cheapest, with sets that visibly wobbled — this 1966-’71 Gothic afternoon soap opera turned Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins into the hottest vamp since Dracula. The 9th collection on DVD just came out Nov. 25, from MPI Media Group. There’s also a "Dark Shadows" reunion DVD, with series producer Dan Curtis, Frid and other cast members.

"The Night Stalker": Speaking of Curtis, the two films he produced and directed that inspired the 1970s "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" series are out on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. "The Night Stalker" and its sequel, "The Night Strangler," feature Darrin McGavin as rumpled monster hunter and tabloid reporter Carl Kolchak.