DVD Review – ‘American Gothic: The Complete Series’

     November 2, 2005

Posted by Frosty

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Usually we go right into the review, but today we are going to shake it up. Universal has been kind enough to give us a contest copy, so anyone who wants a free copy please email me at frosty@collider.com

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The header should be American Gothic, and you need to include your name and address. The contest will be open until Monday November 7th at noon. At that point we will randomly se;le;ct a winner and a free copy will be off in the mail. Please enter only once, now onto our review.

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Review by Nicholas Brandt

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It would be a lie to say I haven’t been anxiously awaiting this DVD set since the advent of TV on DVD.; Ten years in the making and I was still a kid in the candy shop putting disc one into my player.; A lot of the time, ten years gives you that rose-colored idea in your head and the reality of the thing, the series in this case, just doesn’t live up to that imagined ideal.; Five minutes into my viewing, I felt like I didn’t even appreciate this show enough when it aired.

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For those of you responsible for its short-lived TV run, you know, those that didn’t partake, “American Gothic” is the story of a small town run by the very sinister Sheriff Lucas Buck (Gary Cole in his meanest role this side of “Office Space”).; Lucas Buck has his hands in everything and everyone’s business and even from the outset you can tell that not just a few of the townsfolk owe some debt to their constable.; Buck’s sights, however, are set on the child Caleb (Lucas Black “Friday Night Lights”, Jarhead”) who by the end of the first episode is in need of a guardian. Helping Caleb and the side of the light are towny newbie Dr. Matt Crower (Jake Weber, “Medium”) and Caleb’s cousin Gail (Paige Turco “The Agency” and April O’Neil in the second and third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies), who returns to the town that stole the lives of her parents.; Also helping Caleb is the spirit of Merlyn (Sarah Paulson “Down With Love”), his newly dead sibling.;; On Lucas Buck’s side are the seductive school teacher Selena (Brenda Bakke “Demon Knight”) and his Deputy Ben Healy (Nick Searcy “Rodney”), though Deputy Ben is constantly in a battle with his conscience over Buck’s activities.; The general idea of this series is that if Buck isn’t the devil, he probably comes over to his house to play cards regularly or as said in the audio commentary “this isn’t Touched By An Angel, this is Touched By Satan”.

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The cinematography and music help to set a creepy vibe throughout, but it is the acting and writing that really sell this series.; Cole plays Lucas Buck as surprisingly likable.; Given a choice, this is the devil that you’re going to make a deal with.; Haunted Caleb is played admirably by the young Lucas Black and watching him, it’s no shock that he’s continued acting and will probably have a long-lived career.; Attention Fan Boys: Bruce Campbell makes an utterly enjoyable, shouldn’t be missed guest appearance.

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Video/Audio/Extras

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The package is comprised of three double-sided DVDs and the set contains the greatest extra you can offer a fan of the series: four never aired episodes.

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In addition to that, there are also de;le;te;d/extended scenes attached to about a third of the 22 episodes.

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I found one of the nicest touches in the set to be the inclusion of an airdate and brief synopsis in the menu screen before every episode.

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The first episode features an audio commentary by creator/producer Shaun Cassidy and producer David Eick.; The audio commentary is a relaxed, friendly and possibly scotch-driven one and most definitely a nice look behind-the-scenes that has you wishing for more of them.

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The sound and picture quality are exactly what you would expect from a professional release of a ten-year-old series and at no time does it detract from the mood and story.

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Final Words

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It should go without saying that anyone who liked this series when it aired absolutely needs to own it now.; Sell blood if you have to or make a pact with Lucas Buck.; For any fans of the horror/suspense genre, for anybody who secretly wished that The X-Files had a Southern cousin and for all Gary Cole fans, this complete series is something you won’t regret checking out.; I know I felt incomplete without it.

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