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DVD Review: AMERICAN GOTHIC

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PHOTOGRAPHY

AMERICAN GOTHIC- The Complete Series

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 1002 minutes (22 episodes on three double sided discs), audio commentary/ 15 deleted/extended scenes

STUDIO: Universal

RELEASE DATE: 10-25-2005

DISC 1, SIDE A: PILOT, A TREE GROWS IN TINITY, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

DISC 1, SIDE B: DAMNED IF YOU DON'T, DEAD TO THE WORLD, MEET THE BEETLES, STRONG ARM OF THE LAW

DISC 2, SIDE A: REBIRTH, RESURRECTOR, INHUMANITAS, THE PLAGUE SOWER

DISC 2, SIDE B: DOCTOR DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY, THE BEAST WITHIN, TO HELL AND BACK, LEARNING TO CRAWL

DISC 3, SIDE A: TRIANGLE, THE BUCK STOPS HERE, REQUIEM, POTATO BOY

DISC 3, SIDE B: RING OF FIRE, ECHO OF YOUR LAST GOODBYE, STRANGLER

AMERICAN GOTHIC didn't really pull at me at first. I watched the show on and off. I did catch the final episodes. Now I haven't seen the show for 10 years. AMERICAN GOTHIC is better than I remembered. It is actually an interesting series about family and the nature of good and evil. With Shaun Cassidy's new series on ABC, INVASION, it is a good time to look at AMERICAN GOTHIC again. The show revolves around the residents of a Southern US town called Trinity and the evil plans of Sheriff Lucas Buck (Gary Cole). He has plans for his son, Caleb Temple (Lucas Black), who doesn't want anything to do with Buck. Buck murdered Caleb's sister and his dad (the one who raised him as one of his own). The people who stand in the way of Buck are Caleb's cousin Gale (Paige Turco), Dr. Matt, and the ghost of Caleb's sister. Is Sheriff Buck the Devil and can Caleb resist the plans Buck has for him?

I love the storytelling and the acting on the show. Character development drives the episodes. The show would have been great to view on DVD is Universal didn't follow the order CBS aired them in and place the four unaired episodes as the last episodes on disc 3. CBS aired the show out of order. They did show the final two episodes of the series, but they didn't air four episodes of the 22 episodes made.

Here is how the show should be viewed:

Pilot (Disc 1, Side A, Episode 1)

A Tree Grows in Trinity (Disc 1, Side A, Episode 2)

Eye of the Beholder (Disc 1, Side A, Episode 3)

Damned If You Don't (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 1)

Potato Boy (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 4)

Dead to the World (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 2)

Meet the Beetles (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 3)

Strong Arm of the Law (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 4)

To Hell and Back (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 3)

The Beast Within (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 2)

Rebirth (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 1)

Ring of Fire (Disc 3, Side B, Episode 1)

Resurrector (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 2)

Inhumanitas (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 3)

The Plague Sower (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 4)

Doctor Death Takes a Holiday (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 1)

Learning to Crawl (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 4)

Echo of Your Last Goodbye (Disc 3, Side B, Episode 2)

Strangler (Disc 3, Side B, Episode 3)

Triangle (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 1)

The Buck Stops Here (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 2)

Requiem (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 3)

The story of AMERICAN GOTHIC will flow better if you see the episodes in the above order and not the way they are ordered on the DVDs.

VIDEO: 1.33:1 Full Frame

I haven't been having problems with DVD-18s before, but I have problems with the third episode on side B of disc 1 and Disc 2. The episodes in question start to freeze, sputter, and display artifacts past the 20 minute mark. It's horrible. Gord Lacey (from TVShowsOnDVD.com) even had the same problems with the set. So it is fair to say the discs aren't having problems with just certain players. The discs are the problem as they seem to affect more than a few brands of players. As for the episodes themselves, video noise does rear it's head at times with specks of dirt at other moments.

AUDIO: English 2.0 Dolby Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

On the other hand, the surround sound is fantastic.

SPECIAL FEATURES: An audio commentary for the pilot was recorded with Shaun Cassidy and David Eick. Shaun didn't watch the episode the night before and he seems to be watching it half the time since he hadn't seen the show in 10 years. Some good info is in the commentary, but it would have been nice for Shaun to have watched the episode the night before.

15 deleted and extended episodes are on this set. They are in poor quality with time coding.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Due to the way the set was put together and the problems with the DVD-18s in the same spot, Universal should recall AMERICAN GOTHIC and issue a proper set with the episodes in their intended order on six DVD-9s. I know they can do great theatrical movie DVDs and good TV on DVD sets when done right like the one for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Season One, but AMERICAN GOTHIC is buy at your risk.

this DVD Review is (c)10-30-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com