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maryann johanson | takeaway only

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The Complete Series (review)

On the cult-TV, want-it-now DVD wish list, this one is close to the top for many a fan, myself included, and to hold this glorious, all-inclusive, eight-disc box set in my grasping, greedy, geeky hands is like unto possessing the holy grail itself. An early entry from the nascent Fox network, this criminally short-lived 1993-4 series — a wildly entertaining mélange of Western, comedy, and science fiction — astonished viewers with its “just under over-the-top” blend of knowing winks, clever anachronisms, and geek-god of a star in Bruce Campbell. If Cary Grant met Harrison Ford on the set of a John Wayne movie directed by Roger Corman, they might spontaneously combust into Campbell’s titlular bounty hunter, a Harvard Law grad gone West in the 1890s who’s out to avenge the murder of his father, the legendary lawman Brisco County Sr. (R. Lee Ermey), who turns up as a ghost — yeah, it’s that kind of weird — at the hands of the notorious John Bly gang. Through 27 still-fresh one-hour episodes (well, 45-minute, minus commercials), Brisco cavorts with lawyers, dancehall singers, and mad scientists, chases down mysterious alien objects, gets framed for murder, pulls a con on a card sharp, while all the time in search of “the coming thing,” the great and wondrous new world about to be born with the incipient new century. This set is a geek’s dream, featuring tons of way-cool bonus features, like all-new interviews with Campbell and creator Carlton Cuse (who went on to invent a little show called Lost), commentary on the pilot by Campbell and Cuse, retrospective documentaries, “A Reading from the Book of Bruce” (in which Campbell reads from his hilarious memoir, If Chins Could Kill), and more. Oh, and Campbell even wrote the liner notes, proving he’s as crafty in print as he is onscreen. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

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