Editor’s Notes: The Hunger, The Middle: Season 6, Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures - The Complete Second Season, & Growing Pains: The Complete Sixth Season are available now on their respective formats.
The Hunger (Warner Archive) is an imaginative, sensual spin on the vampire tale. Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) is a collector of Renaissance art, ancient Egyptian pendants, and lovers. She is also a centuries-old vampire, possibly the last survivor of an ancient race dependent on humans for both sustenance and companionship. Her blood allows her lovers an extended lifetime until they ultimately succumb to rapid deterioration. With her latest consort, John (David Bowie), she checks out New York nightclubs in search of victims. The beautifully shot scenes are the antithesis of traditional movie depictions of the vampire. The term “vampire,” by the way, is never used in the film, though it’s pretty clear that Miriam is not your typical gal next door.
Susan Sarandon plays Dr. Sarah Roberts, a blood specialist studying the effects of aging in primates. In perhaps the most memorable scene of the film, John comes to her office seeking answers to his sudden rapid aging. Believing he’s a crank, she keeps him waiting, and John ages half a lifetime right before our eyes. The scene is shot matter-of-factly, which heightens its impact and draws us into this mysterious occurrence.
The Hunger was director Tony Scott’s first theatrical feature. Combining ultra-modern production design, creepy settings, hazy, dreamlike cinematography, Gothic rock music, and the clash of science of superstition, the movie virtually drips with stylish flourishes and has a look that’s unique in horror films. Scott doles out information gradually, so the viewer never gets ahead of the narrative. It’s a thinking person’s vampire flick with a totally new approach. Extremely erotic and with its share of graphic images, The Hunger may not be everyone’s ideal of the vampire movie. One thing, however, is certain. It is an unforgettable, even haunting picture.
The sole special feature on the Blu-ray release is commentary by Susan Sarandon and director Tony Scott.
The Middle: Season 6
The Middle: Season 6 (Warner Archive) finds Frankie and Mike Heck (Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn) thinking family life is going to get easier with the kids getting older. Of course, a peaceful, drama-free family life never materializes. Bigger kids translate to bigger problems. Brick (Atticus Shaffer) starts seventh grade and a new relationship with a girl. Sue (Eden Sher) is making her way as a high school senior year without thinking a lot about her future. Axl (Charlie McDermott) is still figuring out all the angles in his college experience. Meanwhile, Frankie and Mike muddle their way through middle age in middle-income Middle America.
This sitcom bases its humor on typical working-class family concerns such as tight finances, over-scheduling, communication issues, and balancing work and family. The parents are devoted to their kids and to each other but frequently show their stress over money and other issues, which gives the stories a shot of believability. Language is often a bit salty, with a “hell” or “damn” often tossed in. There is also some name-calling which, though considered inappropriate these days, reflects the way kids really talk and never comes across as mean-spirited. These touches give the show a bit of an edge and convey the impression that these folks live in the real world.
Season 6 episodes involve Sue getting her braces removed, Frankie and Mike seeking second jobs so they can send Sue to a good college, a kitchen cave-in, a Thanksgiving restaurant buffet that goes wrong, an old paycheck that suddenly turns up, a heavy freezer that causes family conflict, and some photos posted on social media that Axl regrets.
All 24 episodes of the sixth season are contained in a 3-disc DVD set. There are no special features.
Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures - The Complete Second Season
Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures - The Complete Second Season (Warner Archive), from William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, is an animated version of a live-action series that aired originally in the 1964-1965 season. The animated science fiction adventure TV series aired from August, 1996 to April, 1997 as a continuation of the live-action series and The New Adventures of Jonny Quest (1986). Created and designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey, the series focuses on a boy who accompanies his scientist father on amazing adventures. Inspired by radio serials and comics in the action/adventure genre, it featured more realistic art, characters, and stories than Hanna-Barbers’s previous cartoon programs. It was the first of numerous Hanna-Barbera action-based adventure shows, which would include Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio.
To save money, the Hanna-Barbera Studio pioneered the technique of limited animation, which does not provide the intricate, smooth animation of classic Disney or Warner Brothers cartoons. Limited animation has the characters move side to side with a sliding background behind them. The characters remain mostly static, with only the crucial moving parts, such as running legs, shifting eyes, or talking mouths, redrawn from frame to frame on a separate layer.
In Season 2, Team Quest spends less time in the sinister cyber environs of Questworld as they jump back to their 60s spy/science fiction/adventure roots. A new voice cast is featured as well as some old faces, like Pasha the peddler, femme fatale Jade, and the deadly Dr. Zin. As Jonny, Hadji Singh, and Jessie Bannon continue to assist Dr. Benton Quest and Race in their global investigations, Team Quest must contend with all sorts of dangerous adversaries, including deadly Zinjas dispatched by the vengeful daughter of Dr. Zin. Meanwhile, Jeremiah Surd is still lurking in the shadows, waiting for the team to let its guard down.
All 26 episodes of the show’s second season are contained on 3 DVDs. There are no special features in this unrated set.
Growing Pains: The Complete Sixth Season
Growing Pains: The Complete Sixth Season (Warner Archive) contains all 24 episodes of the show’s 1990-1991 season. Mike (Kirk Cameron) and Carol (Tracey Gold) move to New York City to be roommates, an arrangement that doesn’t go very well. Ben (Jeremy Miller) struggles with life lessons about the true rewards of high school vanities, and Chrissy (Ashley Johnson) has all she can do just to get noticed by her busy family.
Growing Pains was one of most successful family sit-coms of the 80s-90s era. The father, Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke), was a psychiatrist who had moved his office into his suburban New York home when wife Maggie (Joanna Kerns) went back to work, in order to keep an eye on the kids. When the show began. Mike was a young teenager more interested in having a good time than in responsibility. Carol was his brainy sister, and Ben their young brother who had a knack for getting into innocent trouble. From time to time, the show dealt with serious issues, such as drunk driving, teen suicide, racism, and peer pressure on Mike to use cocaine. Parents Jason and Maggie, like Jim and Margaret Anderson (“Father Knows Best”) before them, saw their kids through crises large and small.
As the series progressed and the characters developed, Mike graduated from high school, enrolled in a local college, worked odd jobs, tried acting for a while, and had one attractive girlfriend after another. He later taught remedial education, for college credit, at an inner-city school. For a time, Cameron was a teen heartthrob, his picture on the covers of countless teen magazines, who received 10,000 letters a month.
The unrated, color Season 6 episodes are available in a 3-DVD set.