Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The Complete Series
DVD | Box Set
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Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The Complete Series (DVD)
The world's favorite western/sci-fi/comedy/action cult hit rides again! Here on 8 discs is the complete series about Brisco (Bruce Campbell), a tough-as-rawhide cowpoke, debonair ladies' man and Harvard-educated smarty-britches who roams from Frisco to Jalisco in pursuit of outlaws who killed his father...and in search of a mysterious orb possessing out-of-this world powers. Hot lead and cool anachronisms await Brisco as he and his sidekicks - including Comet, the intellectual equine who doesn't know he's a horse - fight for justice in the way, way, way-out West. Put your boots in your stirrups, your tongue in your cheek and join the fun. Let's play cowboys and aliens.]]>
A science fiction-Western and comedy-drama with echoes of The Wild Wild West and Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.: The Complete Series is uniquely entertaining. Anchored by the comically heroic style of likable B-movie actor Bruce Campbell, Adventures lasted one television season in 1993-94. But it left behind a full 27 episodes (including two two-part stories) full of classic TV Western production values and a running storyline that resembles The X-Files after awhile.
Campbell plays Brisco County Jr., a bounty hunter and son of a legendary U.S. marshal (R. Lee Ermey) gunned down by the villainous John Bly (Billy Drago) and his band of misfits. The younger Brisco is hired by a consortium of businessmen to protect their interests from the likes of Bly, and while he's dedicated to that cause, Brisco is also determined to avenge his father's murder. Helping him do a little of both is a fussy attorney, Socrates Poole (Christian Clemenson); a rival bounty hunter, Lord Bowler (Julius Carry); a wacky inventor, Professor Wickwire (John Astin); and a sultry saloon singer, Dixie (Kelly Rutherford). Rockets, mysterious orbs, and superhuman strength are some of the delightfully out-of-their-element phenomena that find themselves alongside more conventional cowpoke ingredients, including a horse so smart he can chew the ropes binding Brisco's hands. For the most part, the stories stand alone. But as the season progresses, a lot of things get weirder, albeit in a good way: the truth about Bly and his connection to a golden orb everyone wants, for example, are certainly unexpected. But the show is always dazzling, often satiric ("Oy!" Dixie exclaims when Brisco outlines the steps involved in stopping a runaway wagon they're trapped within), yet heartening in an old-fashioned way. Special features include Campbell's reading of a chapter about the series in his autobiography. --Tom Keogh
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I don't expect them to produce DVDs as a public service, or anything, but this is ridiculous! Any season of Star Trek, Farscape, (until recently) Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and now Brisco County Junior are obscenely overpriced.
A hundred bucks is a lot to ask, but the studios will keep asking it because they know desperate geeks like myself will pay it.
Well, to [bad word] with that. I refuse to buy any season of Star Trek, Farscape or Brisco County Junior until the studios treat geek fans with the same respect they give fans of non-geek shows like Friends, The Simpsons and Monk.
Just when you thought they had run out of ideas, they'd come up with a wild character like the sexy Miss Dixie Cousins (the incredibly beautiful Kelly Rutherford), the amazing Whip Morgan, the Professor (John Astin), Crystal Hawks (Sheena Easton), or a naked female time-traveler (really, no kidding!!) to send the series spinning off in a new direction. And hanging over the entire series was a supremely nasty bad guy named Bly played wonderfully by Billy Drago and a funny metallic object (sorry, this is a spoiler), a wonderfully funny but smart wonder horse named Comet, and always... "The Coming Thing". The adventurous theme music of this show went on to become one of the themes of an Olympic Games telecast. SIX HUGE Stars for this amazing TV series.
* Trivia: Executive producer Carlton Cuse played Owen in the pilot.
*When the greedy Fox TV Network decided they wanted better ratings than Brisco was delivering (which were very decent), they unwittingly created the "Black Hole of Friday Night TV", show after show (and millions of dollars) disappeared into the 'Brisco County Jr Black Hole': remember M.A.N.T.I.S? VR.5? Brimstone? Millennium (moved it to save it)? Strange Luck? John Doe (moved it to save it)? Sliders (3 Fox Seasons, jumping the shark twice)? And more recently in the 21 Century: Doll House and Sarah Connor Chronicles. Yes, that's a good example of shows that crashed and burned usually within a year or two. Over a decade later, they finally replaced Brisco with another SciFi winner called "FireFly", which promptly got the same disgusting treatment from Fox TV and disappeared in less than a complete year, only to re-appear as a successful multi-million dollar theatrical movie called "Serenity" and a 500,000 unit selling "Firefly" DVD set and, thankfully, Fox got not a dime since they stupidly gave the complete rights to Joss Whedon. As of this review, a rerun of "24" occupies the old Brisco time slot.
*Is there any chance Bruce and Co could make a movie of "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr"? Who's up for it? This is so Do-able. I AM!!)
Another unusual element was that the show only lasted one season, yet had a large 27 episode order which meant that at some point Fox, the network where the show aired had a great deal of faith in it, yet that disappeared at some point since they rather quickly renewed another show from that time, "The X Files". Why "Brisco" was cancelled is not very well explained, even in the DVD extras although I would have to figure that the sheer cost of producing a period television show in Hollywood played a role with the ratings not being very good.
As for us, we are left with 27 highly entertaining episodes that feature a wide range of characters, situations, action and adventure along with some good comedic moments as well. The focus of the season was Brisco tracking down the Bly Gang who killed his father (played ably by R. Lee Ermey). Brisco is hired by a group of wealthy men to find the gang and many of the episodes center on his bringing to justice each gang member. However, there are also other run-ins that Brisco has along the way.
Bruce Campbell is simply perfect as Brisco County, Jr., bringing with him his sharp wit, good looks and dry sense of humor. He is ably supported in the series by Christian Clemenson as Socrates Poole, Brisco's go-between with the wealthy group, Julius Carry who plays Lord Bowler, a rival bounty hunter who rather quickly becomes Brisco's friend and partner, and Kelly Rutherford as Dixie Cousins, Brisco's would-be love that manages to heat up the screen quite easily and has a wonderful rapport with Campbell.
Others worthy of mention are Billy Drago who plays Bly, the leader of the gang, John Astin, as crazy as ever playing Dr. Wickwire who invents all sorts of contraptions, John Pyper-Ferguson as Pete, a notorious outlaw whose piece you do not touch and Comet, Brisco's horse who is arguably the smartest character in the series.
Virtually all the episodes are excellently produced, well-written and wonderfully entertaining so much so that it is difficult to choose the "better" ones, although the pilot episode is very good. "No Man's Land" which introduces us to the unforgettable Swill Brothers and the Schwenke Sisters, "Riverboat" which feels like an old episode of "Maverick", and the two-part finale "High Treason" with Terry Bradshaw (yes, that Terry Bradshaw) playing the bad guy.
If I had a bone to pick, it would be about the sci-fi elements surrounding the "Orb" a mysterious object that may or may not be from the future which seemed to have powers of whatever was required from the script that week. However, the show did manage to effectively tweek many of the conventions of today with sly references that are very funny and helped keep the series fresh. If I have a single favorite scene, it would be the freeing of Brisco and others from a large safe by...well, let's just say he's even smarter than you might think...and Campbell's line just after they discover who their benefactor is after their release is one for the ages.
The DVD package itself is really nice, although one of the disc holders had lost a few of the holding pieces which means it slides around inside. Still, this series does come with plenty of good extras including the following;
- A booklet with episode recaps written by none other than Bruce Campbell himself
- "Brisco's Book of Coming Things" which shows off all the "futuristic" inventions of the series
- "The History of Brisco County" with interviews of Campbell, series creator Carlton Cuse, Clemenson, Rutherford and the now sadly departed Julius Carry.
- "Tools of the Trade" which is a short featurette gallery.
- "A Reading from the Book of Bruce" This is Bruce Campbell reading from the chapter from his book, "If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor" that recounts his experiences on Brisco. A really nice extra in the DVD.
- "A Brisco County Writer's Room" This features all the writing staff along with Cuse discussing their time on Brisco County.
All of the extras help make this a wonderful DVD package and one of the better ones on the market today. All of the episodes are wonderfully produced and still hold up very well.
As I was watching the episodes with a couple of friends, they could not believe that such an entertaining show was cancelled. I would have to agree, "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." remains one of the absolute best television series to never make it past a single season. If you enjoy westerns with a light comedic touch, then this is the one for you.
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Money well spent!