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189 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important - the episodes on the dvd aren't in order
Shaun Cassidy has a hit series on his hands right now with the alien-thriller Invasion, but ten years ago it was a harder row to hoe with his demonically-inspired weekly show American Gothic. At the time, CBS didn't give the series its due - they not only dropped entire episodes out from the middle of the story-line without ever airing them, they often preempted the show...
Published on November 25, 2005 by Staci L. Wilson

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679 of 695 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of TV's best, but one of Universal's worst.
American Gothic is a terrific television series, canceled far too soon, and sadly mishandled by the CBS network during its run (episodes aired out of order, entire episodes unaired, etc). Now Universal has repeated CBS's mistakes with this DVD release. Sure, we should be happy to see American Gothic on DVD at *all*, but this series deserves far better.

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Published on October 26, 2005 by _matta2k


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679 of 695 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of TV's best, but one of Universal's worst., October 26, 2005
By 
American Gothic is a terrific television series, canceled far too soon, and sadly mishandled by the CBS network during its run (episodes aired out of order, entire episodes unaired, etc). Now Universal has repeated CBS's mistakes with this DVD release. Sure, we should be happy to see American Gothic on DVD at *all*, but this series deserves far better.

Most offensive: the episodes on these discs are *completely* out of order. (Shouldn't the series finale be the last episode on the set? It's not. It's episode eighteen on the DVDs. Was anyone at Universal thinking when they put this set together?) American Gothic fans (Gothniks) contacted Universal prior to the release of these DVDs. They said: MAKE SURE YOU GET THE ORDER CORRECT. Universal didn't listen. Now, first time viewers of this brilliant series will likely be left *bewildered* instead of impressed.

Universal also continues to release their television programs on those absurd dual-sided DVD-18 discs, which are quite prone to damage. They easily scratch, then sputter and freeze-up. Compare Universal to Fox's releases of Angel, Millennium, etc. Fox does a far better job with the video/audio transfers, and they put the episodes on single-sided DVD-9 discs with nice artwork. (The American Gothic DVD box cover is UGLY too.) Universal can really take a lesson from companies like Fox and Shout Factory!. Good programs like American Gothic deserve better, *especially* when fans have waited so long to see their favorite programs hit DVD. Sheriff Buck would not tolerate this mess.

INTENDED EPISODE ORDER: 01. Pilot, 02. A Tree Grows in Trinity, 03. Eye of the Beholder, 04. Damned if You Don't, 05. Potato Boy, 06. Dead to the World, 07. Meet the Beetles, 08. Strong Arm of the Law, 09. To Hell and Back, 10. The Beast Within, 11. Rebirth, 12. Ring of Fire, 13. Resurrector, 14. Inhumanitas, 15. The Plague Sower, 16. Doctor Death Takes a Holiday, 17. Learning to Crawl, 18. Echo of Your Last Goodbye, 19. Strangler, 20. Triangle, 21. The Buck Stops Here, 22. Requiem
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189 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important - the episodes on the dvd aren't in order, November 25, 2005
Shaun Cassidy has a hit series on his hands right now with the alien-thriller Invasion, but ten years ago it was a harder row to hoe with his demonically-inspired weekly show American Gothic. At the time, CBS didn't give the series its due - they not only dropped entire episodes out from the middle of the story-line without ever airing them, they often preempted the show for weeks on end. After slapping the viewers' faces time and time again, CBS found that fans turned their TV attentions elsewhere.

When it was airing, American Gothic was one of my favorite shows. And I've never quite forgotten it; it's one of those series like Twin Peaks or Carnivale - it's flawed but so compelling it haunts the memory for years. The story takes place in darkly wooded Trinity, South Carolina and centers on the imposing Sheriff Buck (Gary Cole) and his orphaned, (secret) illegitimate son, Caleb Temple (Lucas Black). The story-line is not especially unique but everything just gelled so perfectly with the actors and their characters, American Gothic qualifies as a classic.

But how does it hold up? Despite some rather dodgy special effects and the occasional heavy-handedness, American Gothic holds up very well. It's much bolder and far more addictive than Cassidy's current Invasion, as a matter of fact. Some of the greatest little signature touches about the show include the catchphrase, "Someone's at the door"; or the way Sheriff Buck always just shows up out of the blue as if dropping from the sky (or maybe coming up from someplace else); and Caleb's ever-furrowed brow and the way he said "Daay-dy".

One of the best shows early on in the DVD is "Meet the Beetles" - it's a standalone episode and will remind many of an X-Files episode. The opener of the show is a bone-rattling bang when Caleb and his friend Boone are looking through the charred ruins of what was once Caleb's family home - a skeletal hand seemingly latches onto the boys' ankle and tries to pull him underground. Throughout the episode, Caleb is haunted by visions of his own grave.

It turns out the remains belong to Hack Weller and that, even though he's been reduced to bones, the philandering husband has been dead for only two or three days. Much to the pithy Sheriff Buck's consternation, the State Police send square-jawed Lt. Drey (Bruce Campbell) in to solve the mysterious and potentially deadly case. It's an episode that will keep on "bugging" you even after the final fade.

The actors would later go on to do other remarkable roles - Cole in Office Space; Black in Sling Blade; and Jake Weber in TV's Medium - but it's the genre-blending American Gothic that discerning horror fans will always remember them for.

The DVD features deleted scenes and commentary on pilot episode from Cassidy and producer David Eick. Cassidy admits he hasn't seen the series since it aired 10 years ago, and too often it shows - there are some rather unfortunate long lapses of silence as he watches the show. There are a very interesting tidbits revealed; for example, Cassidy reveals that the "Someone's at the door" scene sold the pilot as he acted it out for CBS execs.

The pair jokes about the prominent Elvis pillowcase shown in the pilot, and they complain about the stock music they were forced to resort to in certain sequences. They also mention wannabe Prez Bob Dole's then-ongoing anti-violence-on-TV campaign a few times, then they never utter a word about Dole during a scene in a which a certain character is found dead with an expensive writing instrument thrust into his windpipe (remember Dole's trademark pen?).

Eick and Cassidy also talk about how producer Sam Raimi came in with a lot of visual ideas, and how he gleefully said that yes, Buck is the Devil (while Eick and Cassidy say they wished to keep the Sheriff's identity more ambiguous - however, one of them does laughingly say during the commentary, "This is not Touched By An Angel - it's Touched By Satan!").

They don't go into too much detail about the show's cancellation, but Eick does say, "We knew we were dead early enough to be able to plan our own funeral," in regards to being able to wrap up the loose ends in the series finale.

It's absolutely wonderful to the have the American Gothic series on DVD, finally. However - be warned that the order of the episodes is not sequential and that there is nothing on the DVD package to indicate this. The four unaired episodes are piled on the last disc, but actually the show should be viewed in this order:

Pilot

A Tree Grows in Trinity

Eye of the Beholder

Damned if You Don't

POTATO BOY

Dead to the World

Meet the Beetles

Strong Arm of the Law

To Hell and Back

The Beast Within

Rebirth

RING OF FIRE

Resurrector

Inhumanitas

The Plague Sower

Dr. Death Takes a Holiday

Learning to Crawl

ECHO OF YOUR LAST GOOD-BYE

STRANGLER

Triangle

The Buck Stops Here

Requiem

[...]
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178 of 185 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Someone's at the door...", August 16, 2005
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This DVD set is long overdue. Loooong overdue. In our recent move from DC to Colorado, I threw out all of our recorded VHS tapes--except for the ones with "American Gothic". Now I can get rid of those as well, but for the right reason.

Like "Firefly", "American Gothic" is a unique, outstanding series never given a chance by its network (CBS, in this case). It was also probably the most chilling and disturbing series ever to air, a stark morality tale with Gary Cole as the Devil incarnate (or a close kin), disguised as Sheriff Lucas Buck of the small town of Trinity, SC. Buck rules over his little kingdom with morbid humor and playfulness, setting up moral pitfalls and dilemmas for the town's inhabitants, and dispensing his own brand of justice or vengance or just plain meanness--which often involves ruin, insanity, dismemberment, or death.

Opposing Buck is young Caleb Temple (played by Lucas Black), an orphan who talks regularly to his dead sister Merlyn and who has powers of his own--and who may or may not be Buck's son. Buck wants Caleb to follow him; Merlyn wants Caleb to resist; and the rest of Trinity gets caught in the crossfire, so to speak.

The writing, acting, and directing are all outstanding. You'll never look at Gary Cole the same way again. Or, for that matter, Shaun Cassidy--yes, the "Hardy Boys" teen heart-throb [thanks for the corrections, everyone!]--who conceived and produced the show, along with Sam Raimi ("Evil Dead", "Army of Darkness", "Spider-Man").
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Correct viewing order, October 26, 2005
By 
One of my favourite shows ever but as stated earlier a flawed DVD release. To fully enjoy this series watch in the following order...

Episodes 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 19, 06, 07, 14, 13, 08, 20, 09, 10, 11, 12, 15, 21, 16, 22, 17, 18
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great show, pathetic DVD set, December 29, 2005
Just one more person chiming in here that I have gone through many of these sets, so I did my share of having defective sets returned back to Universal. I had two defective sets thru Amazon, then Amazon said this problem is widespread, that they will not replace another set but will just refund me, which they did. Then I went through Best Buy and bought two more sets. Best Buy is not supposed to refund but replace, but after two bad sets, I went up the ranks of management until one agreed to give me a full cash refund. She agreed that this must be a bad batch and was understanding. Even the people I spoke to before her at least offered a store credit, which would be good too, and you can buy working DVDs put out by another company. As another poster said, I agree that we should demand our money back and let Univeral feel the hurt in their bank books. Yes, I appreciate that this show was even released at all. It is a brilliant show with brilliant acting, yet a very unknown show, so I was thrilled to see it would be released. You can't find a bigger fan than me of this show. But these defective skipping and freezing discs are a total insult. It makes me sick that Universal, as people have posted, continuously has this problem yet continues to take our money for poor product. I think it's a good idea for us to post a complaint to the Better Business Bureau about Universal, and I will do so online as soon as I post this review. It's sad that every review here states how much they loved the show, yet most complain about this defective release. If we complain, maybe there's a chance Universal will shape up. At least demand your money back after viewing your defective disks...

I also recommend buying this set, viewing it the best you can (to at least be able to see this great show), and then return it for your cash. That way you can see it (annoying as it can get with the freezing up in certain episodes), and also when it's returned due to being defective, Universal will get one more set returned back to them. Why should defective product be out there? And if you're truly lucky, maybe you'll happen upon a good set.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great eerie show, but many DVD freeze problems, November 27, 2005
By 
I had to knock a couple stars off because of the DVD skip/freeze problems, though it should have been knocked down to 1 star since this problem is so inexcusable with the good money we pay. But the show itself is a definite 5 stars. This show has haunted me for years, and I'm happy to see my teenage taste was great, and now with being ten years older, I enjoy the show even more. I would say American Gothic would appeal to those 13+ years that have an interest in well-written, well-acted shows with eerie plots with the forces of good vs. evil (though sometimes I wondered if anyone in this show is 100% good or evil) especially because of the young boy Caleb. But adults will benefit even more from the complexity of the characters, and the interesting dynamics. Lucas Buck, the small town's evil and controlling sheriff, makes the show as great as it is. I cannot imagine anyone matching Gary Cole's job. He was amazing as the calm and collect yet evil sheriff whose ego occationally needed to be reminded who he was when someone didn't show him respect. The main story thoughout the series was if Buck was ever going to get Caleb, who was really his son, to be on his side. It is sickly unfortunate that such a great show was cancelled, but at least the final two episodes were made into a conclusion so we were left with a full story. But believe me, I cannot help but wonder what would have become of the characters in this brilliant show that was way ahead of its time.

This show is so good that I'd be tempted to recommend it even to strangers in the street except for the fact that I cannot recommend people spend their money on a DVD set that is likely to be so flawed as this one with the dual-sided DVDs and all the skip/freeze problems. Too bad for us fans, and too bad for the people who wanted to put this great show out there for us to enjoy, and even too bad for those who just wanted to make money off this. Because we all lose with this poor release. Oh, and on top of dual-sided DVDs that skip/freeze, the episodes aren't in order. And because of all of these problems, I know not many other than the hardcore fan would have the patience to view this brilliant series. But you will know from reading what this show is about if you will be one of the hardcore fans. You know who you are who likes shows like this, so buy it and hopefully you'll get a good set-- but regardless, you'll love the show.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and fascinating TV series, typically shoddy Universal DVDs - Beware!, December 28, 2005
By 
Just Bill (Grand Rapids, MI United States) - See all my reviews
I agree with nearly all other reviewers: American Gothic is brilliant. I remember when the show debuted on TV. I was hooked from the first few episodes. But then I lost track of it (now I know why -- the network kept switching the airing days). So I was very pleased to see that it was released on DVD.

My wife and I recently bought and watched the entire set within a couple of week's time -- but only after taking it back to the store twice because of faulty discs. These double sided DVDs are crap. They skip, freeze and have a habit of getting stuck at the most inopportune times. We're now on our third set. So far, so good. It skips less, but still isn't skip-free.

Universal ought to be charged with some kind of crime for releasing such defective merchandise. Shouldn't we be contacting the Better Business Bureau about this? Shouldn't everyone who bought (and re-bought and re-bought) this DVD set lodge complaints against Universal?

Moreover, shouldn't we as consumers stop buying anything released by Universal no matter what it is? If Amazon gets the idea that no one will buy Universal products from them maybe they'll demand higher quality before placing massive orders. That would definitely hit Universal where it hurts: in the pocketbook.

Ultimately, it's not Universal's fault that they release crap. It's ours. We buy it, regardless. Amazon sells it, regardless. If Amazon and all of the consumers stopped buying Universal's defective garbage, they'd have to change its quality to be able to sell it. It's that simple.

The only consolation I can take in all of this is that Universal must have received a flood of returns from all over the U.S. Serves them right.

That said, I have to comment on the show itself. The acting is fantastic. The dialog is witty, often wry. Always very crisp. Although Gary Cole has gone on to bigger and better things in his career, I still like him best as Sheriff Lucas Buck. In this role, he is sublime.

American Gothic is a very strange slice of television. It's spooky, quirky, funny and completely engrossing. Others have described the show in greater detail. I'll let you read their reviews to discover what the show is about.

Even though I love the show, I hesitate to recommend the DVDs. If you do buy them, be prepared to return them endlessly until you chance upon a set that works.

Let's start an anti-Unversal campaign to get them to release better merchandise! (Incidentally, I had the same problems with Universal's Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Double-sided DVDs, like double-sided CDs, simply don't work.)
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars American Gothic, American Tragedy, December 27, 2005
By 
Bat185 (Boston, MA USA) - See all my reviews
Ten years ago CBS aired what would be the pilot for a terrifying new series called American Gothic. The show starred Gary Cole as the sheriff of a small town called Trinity in South Carolina. One might think, at first, this show is just a drama set in a small town but Sheriff Buck is more than meets the eye. Soon, terrible things being happening. What makes this show so intriguing is the mix of drama and horror. The first time I heard "Someone's at the door" I was scared out of my mind. This show was truly terrifying, but nonetheless intriguing. Comparisons of this show could be made to the cancelled FOX series "Point Pleasant". Both shows featured a teen who is the offspring of the devil. Both shows were considered big gambles for their networks due to the supernatural nature of each series. And both series were cancelled far too soon.
Being such a fan of this show as I was when I was younger, I was thrilled when I heard it was being released on DVD. I went to the video store the day it came out and immediately picked up my copy. I loved the embossed, blood-red writing of the title. The brown box was absolutely beautiful. I had high hopes for the DVD set.
My enthusiasm for the release quickly disappeared once I got home and popped this show in my DVD player....Not only were the episodes out of order so it was hard to follow the storyline unless I switched between disks, the episodes also skipped FREQUENTLY. I would expect more in a DVD release for the price I paid.
Universal truly saddened me with this set. How can they expect to please their viewers if they put out sets such as this? I have already contacted them and I would encourage anyone else who reads this and agrees with me to do the same. If enough of us band together we should be able to get the quality DVDs we deserve. As the saying goes, "You get what you paid for". Well, I paid good money for this, I should get GOOD QUALITY.

***UPDATE*** I have contacted Universal Studios about these DVDs and they wrote me back apologizing for the sets but they have NO plans of putting out better quality sets at this time. They have just agreed to issue another copy of the DVD-18s to anyone who sends in what they currently have. My advice would be to bring your sets back to the store where you purchased it and demand your money back. Show the people at Universal we will NOT stand for this kind of shotty craftsmanship and DESERVE GOOD QUALITY DVDS. The more money they lose, the more it will show them we will not stand for this.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful TV series, but flawed DVD release, October 24, 2005
Love the show but I'm disappointed by the DVD release. Can't fault the video or audio, nice transfer at the aspect right ratio. Unforutantely Universal have chosen to release the shows on 3 double sided DVD-18s. (think it of 2 dual layered DVDs stuck back to back). What this means is that DVDs have no "printed side" and therefore are more prone to damage when handled. In additon these types of Discs are far more likely to suffer from defects during the manufacturing process. Another problem is that the episodes have been ordered on the DVDs in the same order as they were broadcast....not so strange until you consider that this wasn't the directors intended order and therefore results in the continuing storyline not making a whole lot of sense. At least they got one thing right and there is a great audio commentry by Saun Cassidy on the Pilot episode.

Worth buying but fans will want to do a net search to find out the proper order to watch the episodes and will also need to handle the DVDs with extreme care.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well above average southern horror drama is worthy of any TV series collection, February 9, 2007
By 
OverTheMoon (overthemoonreview@hotmail.com) - See all my reviews
`American Gothic', a TV series, is a supernatural drama consisting of 22 episodes, some of which where not aired during the original run. It ran on CBS for one year between 1995 and 1996. Its creator Sam Raimi had already worked on southern horror projects such as `Evil Dead I & II' and would later go on to direct the southern horror thriller `The Gift' before breaking box office records with his `Spider-man' series success. Southern horror is nothing new as Stephen King attests using some of his best works as an example, such as `The Stand'. We also have the `Children of the Corn' series (nobody said all southern horror was great), the works of David Lynch and `Frailty' to name a few of what is a whole DVD section unto itself. Apart from the modern `Carnivale' TV series it is hard to find southern horror outside of some `X Files' or `Twilight Zone' episodes. The most obvious parallel though is to Lynch and `Twin Peaks', and for those who enjoyed Peaks, then Gothic offers a slightly less satisfying but equally as interesting plot type.

Gothic is about the town of Trinity, Deep South southern Carolina, that is home to what seems to be the devil himself in the guise of Sheriff Lucas Buck, who in the view of his deputies has never done an honest days police work in his life. Buck is creating illegitimate sons in order to sire his successor. Caleb Temple, an orphan, finds himself caught between his murdered sister's ghost pleas for revenge while a plot is hatched by Buck to turn Caleb to the dark side. Caleb's cousin, Gail Emory and local doctor Matt Crower, are determined to ensure that Caleb doesn't fall into the clutches of Buck's psychopathic fatherly lessons. The scene is set for explosive tension between this world and the next.

American Gothic was aired out of the directors intended sequence by the instances of CBS who also refused to air some episodes. The episodes "Echo of Your Last Goodbye" and "Strangler" where not aired. "Potato Boy" and "Ring of Fire" were aired out of sequence. This same inconsistent sequence is presented in the DVD box set. For this reason you need to know the intended viewing order before you watch the DVD. The intended viewing is - "Pilot", "A Tree Grows in Trinity", "Eye of the Beholder", "Damned if You Don't", "Potato Boy", "Dead to the World", "Meet the Beetles", "Strong Arm of the Law", "To Hell and Back", "The Beast Within", "Rebirth", "Ring of Fire", "Resurrector", "Inhumanitas", "The Plague Sower", "Doctor Death Takes a Holiday", "Learning to Crawl", "Echo of Your Last Goodbye", "Strangler", "Triangle", "The Buck Stops Here" and "Requiem".

Compared to Peaks, Gothic is far more supernatural and slowly burned its way to a specific cult following that didn't generate any ground breaking ratings. A second season of Gothic did not appear, however when other stations aired Gothic in its intended order the ratings improved. The DVD series is also very popular. There are many reasons to believe that Gothic could have been made for extra seasons (what produ$er would not?) as there are some loose ends, but that is not to say that American Gothic does not stand alone as this mini-series, it does and it can. The only real onion is that one of the leads Dr. Crow (Jake Weber) left the show, or was written out, only a few episodes from the end. Apart from these minor production drawbacks American Gothic builds slowly but gains a lot of momentum towards the concluding episodes for a mind-blowing supernatural Abrahamic type finale on a staircase. If you like a good supernatural TV series and if you like originality with some of the best wit ever scripted and some serious dead pan sarcasm every split second, then look no further. And for those who boil at `CBS butchery' they can now own all of the Gothic episodes and watch it in the order it was meant to be viewed.
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