Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blast From the Past #01: The Bruce Campbell Edition - Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. & Jack of All Trades

This post is the first in the "Blast From the Past" series, which highlights series that have long departed the airwaves but are worth a second look.  Particularly, BFP will feature series that have since been released on DVD or made otherwise available for those looking for a bit of nostalgia or catching up on something good that they missed the first time around.  Going back to rediscover a cancelled series on DVD is how I came across Joss Whedon's inimitable Firefly (also on Blu-Ray), currently at the top of my list of best TV series of all time, so it's my hope that Blast From the Past may direct my readers toward finding some new-old favorites of their own.


The impetus behind this installment's selection is some Bruce Campbell nostalgia.  Currently one of the stars of the USA hit series Burn Notice, Bruce Campbell is a celebrated B movie actor who's known for his snarky quips and prominent chin.  (Case in point, his memoir: If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor.) My earliest encounter with his work was on the wacky Jack of All Trades action-comedy series, which Wikipedia considers noteworthy for "being the first American non-animated action series to be produced in the half-hour format since the 1970s."  Set in a post-Colonial-War-era on the fictional French colonial island of Pulau-Pulau, it features Campbell as U.S. secret agent Jack Stiles, who uses his alter ego "The Daring Dragoon" to foil Napoleon's interests and help the people of Pulau-Pulau.  The series features an insanely catchy opening theme which was nominated for an Emmy back in 2000.  Hear it once, and you'll find yourself humming it for days.

On the other hand, while I remember seeing ads for The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. when it first aired in the mid-90s, I never caught an episode while it was on the air.  Brisco County was Campbell's break-in television role and features a variety of appearances from other well-known TV actors, like Christian Clemenson (famous for playing Jerry "Hands" Espenson in Boston Legal) as Socrates Poole and John Astin (of The Addams Family fame) as Prof. Wickwire.  Both Brisco and Jack of All Trades are excellent examples of the sharp-tongued hero roles that Bruce Campbell has carved his niche out of, and if you like one you're almost certain to like the other.