Odds and Ends III
November 11, 2010
Last week I goofed briefly on Jean-Luc Godard. Continuing that theme: as the title of this DVD Talk review (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – 11 – Year Eleven – ’09/’10 Season) suggests, the latest season of the long-running Dick Wolf series is actually a belated and unwelcome sequel to Godard’s 1991 film, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero. You larf? Well, one of the guest stars in that batch really is Isabelle Huppert, who starred in Godard’s Every Man For Himself and Passion.
In other news, the Warner Archive – the “manufacture on demand” division of Warner Home Video that has been releasing a flood of obscure Warner-owned films on cheaply-made, overpriced DVD-rs – has finally begun to turn its attention to series television. A number of made-for-TV-movie releases apparently did pretty well last year, and so the episodic floodgates are set to open soon. Most of the titles in contention (such as The F.B.I.) have not been widely circulated, exactly, but they have turned up on cable recently.
However, there is an unexpected and exciting component to this news: Warner Archive will be releasing The Lieutenant (1963-1964) next year. I’ve been hearing rumors about this for months, but it was confirmed on Warner Archive’s Facebook page this week. The Lieutenant, of course, was the first series Gene Roddenberry created for television. It was a show about the peacetime military (although apparently it contained early references to the Vietnam conflict) that defied easy generic classification. Today, The Lieutenant is probably best remembered because it featured appearances by several actors associated with Roddenberry’s Star Trek; Gary Lockwood (guest star in the second Trek pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”) played the title character, and Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, and Ricardo Montalban all guest-starred.
Like Dr. Kildare and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (whose star, Robert Vaughn, was the second lead in The Lieutenant), Roddenberry’s creation was an MGM show produced under the banner of Norman Felton’s Arena Productions, which generally guaranteed high production values and compelling stories. Whether that applies to The Lieutenant, I don’t know. Aside from TNT broadcasts of few episodes in the late eighties, The Lieutenant hasn’t been rerun during my lifetime. Even if it doesn’t live up to the hype, The Lieutenant will be one of the classic TV events of 2011.
(I fully endorse neither the Warner Archive nor Facebook, but take a look if you choose; a tease of “many rare series” has spurred much speculation from commenters. I am, incidentally, also on Facebook, just in case any of you are interested in my favorite YouTube cat videos as well as my television history work.)