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BALTIMORE - Duff Goldman already has a plan for Kevin Smith’s birthday cake. The star of the Ace of Cakes dreams of delivering a frosted delight that will put all his baking skills to work. His design will blow away the masterpieces delivered to Roger Moore, Harry Potter and John Waters. What is it? First you’ll devour my chat with Duff before getting to the dessert.

Here’s a shot of his Tequila cake in case you haven’t seen the show.

His series has become a major hit for the Food Channel since it debuted three years ago. The half hour series takes us inside the Charm City Bakery. Unlike the channel’s other shows, he doesn’t teach us how to bake. Instead we marvel as his bohemian staff construct complicated birthday and wedding cakes. What’s the secret of his show still going strong while other reality shows hit fumes at this point?

“When the cameras are not there, we’re the same way,” Duff says. “We still fuck around just as much. We go on vacation. We do synchronized walking. The cameras just catch us doing what we do. I think it’s our honesty. A lot of people try to fool the public. We’ve gotten of criticism over the years for having a lack of drama. The drama is in the cake. We all love each other. We’re family. If there is any staff tension, that’s off camera. The drama is in the fact that we have these crazy cakes to make and a deadline to meet. Things are falling apart and we always fix them. I love it when they show cakes fall apart. What keeps it interesting is that its very real. It’s like The Truman Show. It’s a real reality show.”

Does this means that the upcoming episodes of Ace of Cakes won’t have Heidi and Spencer as his new bakers for season seven?

“Oh God, no!” He protests. He’s already dealt with MTV. “My Super Sweet Sixteen called the bakery and asked if they could film an episode with us. I was like, ‘If you bring one of those kids in here, I’ll throw them out.’ They were like, ‘You can’t do that. You can’t tell them to leave. This is a show about the kids doing what they do’. And I was like, ‘Well that’s fine. I don’t want to do it.’ It’s propagating this culture of disgustingness.”

We joke about how he could have lured the birthday brat into an oven like Hansel and Gretel. That would be great TV. He gets plenty of offers to pop up in other venues. He and the sly sous chef Geof Manthorne will appear in an upcoming episode of King of the Hill. But they don’t say yes to everything.

“There’s been a couple of offers from other type of venues and we’ve just turned them down. ‘We don’t think you’re that cool.’” Duff knows the catty nature of the internet. “People let us know that we’re not very cool. We can take that type of criticism because we like what we do.

“After season one I was really fucked up. I was reading those blogs and thinking, ‘Those people hate me.’” It went further than evil postings on the internet. “I had a death threat one time. This dude called the bakery. He said he was going to kill me. ‘Why’s that?’ He said, ‘You’re pretending to like your job. You and all your friends up there on your stupid little show. You got all this money. I’m going to kill you.’ This guy was really angry. I was trying to talk to him. I was like ‘I’m not loaded.’ The life that I lead is probably not what you think.”

Luckily the guy calmed down. But there’s numerous website threads dedicated to trashing Duff’s reputation. But he’s learning not to take let the haters win.

“We’ve never claimed that we’re the best cake decorators in the world,” Duff says. “I don’t think we are. We’re the most entertaining..” The show depends on Duff, Geof, Mary Alice, Katherine, Sherri and the rest of the staff having fun while working. This isn’t about intense perfectionists quietly tinkering away.

It does bothers Duff when the internet Haters doubt his sincerity when doing nice things on the show. He recently made a cake for Army soldiers stationed in Hawaii.

“Some people were really ripping us up by calling it a publicity stunt,” Duff says. “We got an email from a solider who had just returned from Iraq. He said he was deployed right when our show came out. Him and his family bonded over our show. His kids would write him saying there’s this crazy show on TV.. He didn’t know what show they were talking about. They’d write him every week and tell him what we were up to. When he got back, he watched all the shows. He was like, ‘These guys are really hilarious.’ He sent an email to the bakery saying, ‘If you’re ever in Hawaii, look us up. We’ll take out for shrimp.’

Lost called. They wanted a cake.” They decided to meet their fans while in the land of Jack Lord. “If we’re going to be in Hawaii; instead of going out for shrimp, why don’t we make a cake for this guy and his family? He ran it up to his superiors and they asked if we can make a cake for the whole base.”

Maybe the insincerity of shows with Gene Simmons, Hulk Hogan and Tila Tequila have robbed us of thinking people on TV are capable of being nice without it being a media whore moment.

“Remember when Jay and Silent Bob were checking on the internet? I feel that way sometimes,” Duff says. “I really want to lash out. But at the same time, it’s fine. There’s so many that touch us in a positive way.”

Over the years the image of Baltimore has been shaped by the debauchery of John Waters and the seediness of The Wire. Has Ace of Cakes become beloved by the mayor’s office with young kids, gainfully employed and loving their life in the city?
?”Yes. Very much,” Duff said. “We’ve been fighting The Wire stigma. It’s such a good show, but why does it have to be about my town? Everything they showed was totally true from the government corruption to life on the street.” However Duff points out that not every neighborhood is controlled by Marlo’s soldiers. “Fells Point is great. Federal Hill is great.” He recommends visiting Little Italy for the bocce tournament.

Duff could have found himself as an extra on The Wire when he nearly bought a store next to methadone clinic. Luckily he found the location featured on his show. For those curious about the Charm City building; it was constructed in 1889 as a Lutheran Church. The main working space shown on TV is 5,000 sq. ft. They keep the thermostat around 66 degrees. There are two separate basements. One is used for the interviews and a workshop for non-food construction and painting. The other has the washing machines, TV crew’s bathroom and a recording studio for Duff’s band, soihadto. There’s a second floor space that was Duff’s pad. Now it’s where they stash all the t-shirts and other merchandise.

At the end of season five, the show focused on a possible Charm City West. Duff is still in the process of figuring out a location for a Los Angeles space. “We already do so much business out there. We’re flying back and forth. It’s grating. Why don’t we just open up out here? It’d be so much easier than what we’re doing now.” He’s taking his time since rent rates can be very outrageous in SoCal. He was quoted $500,000 key money and $18,000 a month for one empty restaurant. One location had a bar attached to it, but unlike the stars of A&E’s Miami Ink, Duff has no dream of owning a bar. “I’m a baker. This is what I do.”

Speaking of baking, how long can the cakes sit around the shop while being decorated? The show seems to have them on the prep pedestal a week before delivery.

“That’s the magic of television,” Duff says. “We don’t bake the cakes until later in the week - usually Wednesday and Thursday (and sometimes Friday) for a Saturday event. Monday and Tuesday we’re making all the decorations like sugar flowers, templates, all the engineering gets done before the ovens are turned on. The cake is fresh. With us being under the microscope, we have to make sure our cake tastes good.”

Viewers of the show mention that there’s never any focus on baking the cake. “A show about baking is pretty boring,” Duff declares. “The baking part is really monotonous and the same every time. The design of the cake is what appeals to television. What really appeals to our customers is the flavors. We have 50 flavors. We also have our In and Out Burger secret menu where you can call up and ask for anything you want. We’ll figure out how to make it.”

On the show, the gang have made quite a few grotesque cakes especially for area doctors who enjoy severed limbs on their special day. Have there been cakes that the Food Network executives have nixed from airing? Will there be a Pay-Per-View Ace of Cakes: Too Creamy for TV?

“If that’s happened, I’ve never heard of it,” Duff swears. “We really don’t do X-rated cakes. It’s just a waste of time. We’ve seen most of that stuff and it’s really gross. If we did it; we’d do it really well and kinda cool.”

While the show does its best to be real, Duff admits to a moment that had to be toned down for TV. During the episode where they delivered Roger Moore a cake at the United Nations, the hotel housekeeping ate their extra cakes.

“That was one time when people were emailing me saying, “That wasn’t real.” My reaction that was shown on TV wasn’t real,” Duff confesses. “My real reaction? They couldn’t use a word of it. I was screaming at that manager threatening to cut his balls off and blow up his hotel. They don’t want to show me doing that. I don’t do that except maybe once every year.”

Should we fear that any day now TMZ will release Duff’s greatest rants?

“I’m sure there’s a lot of Christian Bale moments that will crop up. Not even of me freaking out. I’m usually really filthy on camera. We’re always dropping innuendoes, but keeping a real straight face when we’re doing it. We hide little tiny fondant dicks all over the bakery, hoping the camera will catch one of these and nobody will see them during editing.”

Forget the hidden Mickeys at Disneyland, now you know that you can play the hidden penis game while watching reruns of Ace of Cakes. He’s been saucy on the show.

“The first episode of the first season Sherri and I were making a non-edible dinosaur with pipe, rope and modeling chocolate,” Duff says. “It was a centerpiece for the Children’s Center in Baltimore. They wanted to keep it for five years. We macramed the legs and tail with rope. As we were doing it, I said, ‘You know this reminds me of the bong I made in college.’ The episode aired and that line was in there. I was like, ‘Oh my God. They got me saying bong on TV. Everybody is going to think I’m a stoner.’”

Did Duff have to beg forgiveness from the people of China like his homeboy Michael Phelps?

“Not at all,” Duff declares. “I think they’re giving Michael a really hard time.” We joke about how Phelps should have stuck to pot brownies. No sponsor would drop him for a photo of baked goods in his mouth.

Does Duff have to be extra careful now that he’s a public figure to avoid getting into trouble like a drunk driving charge? Does he stash plenty of cab fare cash to avoid Ty Pennington headlines?

“I don’t drink. I’m allergic to alcohol,” Duff said. He is still amazed at Thomas Keller’s food magic from his tenure at The French Laundry in Napa Valley. Towards the end, he felt isolated in the area. “The only thing in Napa Valley is wine. You go out to eat and all you do is talk about wine.” Being allergic to wine really doesn’t make it that much fun of a prime topic. He mentions that if you are in Napa Valley, visit Francis Ford Coppola’s winery to check out the second floor museum.

If you see his band soihadto at a local club, don’t feel obligated to buy him a beer. Duff doesn’t hang out by the bar while on the road. “My band makes fun of me because before a show, I’ll sit in the van and read. We’ll get on stage and play. We’ll break down the equipment and I’ll get back in the van and read.” If you’re curious about their sound and upcoming tour dates, visit www.soihadto.com

Unlike Anthony Bourdain, do not think you can get tight with Duff by ragging on Racheal Ray. During one show he had to deal with an loudmouth opening act who realized that the identity of the headliner’s bass player as “That cake guy.”

“They ripped apart the Food Network while they were on stage,” Duff said. “They were saying especially mean stuff about Racheal Ray. They never mentioned me. They were just saying awful things about her. I got up on stage while the talking was going on. I got in their bass player’s face. “Seriously, lay off.’ I wasn’t looking for a fight. We were filming so my camera crew was there.”

The band shut up and played their music. While Duff was setting up his equipment for their set, the opening act bass player stepped up to the stage.

“‘So you got anything else to say?,’” Duff quotes the guy. “He’s got these two huge dudes behind him. ‘I’m not trying to fight. I found what you said offensive and I wanted to put an end to it. I’m not trying to get into a bar fight with you.’ I look up and I see that behind the goons is our entire camera crew. They’re all L.A. nasty camera crew guys not to be fucked with. There’s 11 of them. I said, ‘Actually on second thought, fuck you!’ I pushed the guy. And then his two goon go toward the stage and 11 pairs of hands grab them all and pull them back. The guy turns around and sees his buddies wrapped up in 11 guys and was like ‘Oh shit.’ And that was it.”

Don’t mess with that cake guy.. Unlike stars who use their fame to get a singing career like Joaquin Phoenix and Lindsay Lohan, the band came before the frosting fame.

“The rock and roll was way before the bakery,” Duff said. “I started the bakery out of my apartment just so I could be able to set my own hours and block off dates when I could go on tour.”

His sous chef Geof hooked up with Duff so he can also have a job that allowed him to be in a band. Most of the Charm City crew are in bands. Unlike many jobs where the boss gives you the talk about choosing between your career and your hobby, Duff insists on the opposite. “The way it’s set up is at any point anybody can go and do whatever they do. Be it a synchronized swimming show, a music show or an art show. It makes me happy knowing that from day one that this place is an excuse so we can all live rock star lives. Now it’s even better. Whenever I have a speaking engagement, I take my band with me. We book a show at whatever city we might be in.”

I bring up the nightmare that his show on Food Network might be the longest lead in for an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Does he have this fear that he’s being scammed into thinking he has a show on the channel like the unwitting cooks on that series?

“No,” Duff laughs. “I’ve tried to get on and they won’t let me. I’ve cooked as long as I’ve baked. Let Bobby choose the throwdown and I’ll do it. They’re like, “We can’t. If (Bobby) loses it’s kinda an Iron Chef thing and it makes him look bad because the cake guy beat him at something culinary.” And if Duff wins, Bobby merely beat the cake guy. There’s no justice for a man with fondant stained fingers.

Has he been approached to tag team on a very special episode of Iron Chef? “I’d love to. They’re talking about a lot more of that stuff.” We can only hope that this holiday season Duff joins forces with Michael Symon to create a deep fried pork cake wrapped in bacon.

The seventh season of Ace of Cakes is about to go into production. Duff will soon visit to Alaska to help him research a cake that celebrates the anniversary of its statehood. He’s scheduled to take part in many native sports including dog sledding. “They want me to discover Alaska beyond Northern Exposure.” Will he whip up a baked Alaska while in the 49th state? “I have when I was a pastry chef at a hotel. It’s a weird mom thing. I was in Colorado and they loved the baked Alaska.”

Many recent fans of Ace of Cakes are shocked to see Duff and Geof losing on old episodes of Challenge. But unlike many of the other pastry chefs that looked like they’ll bust a blood vessel if they didn’t get the medal; Duff and Geof were easy going no matter the outcome.

“We always lost, but we never played to win,” Duff says. “We went there to have a good time. The people we were competing against were vastly superior to us. We would always keep an eye on all the other decorators because they were showing us stuff that we would never know about.” The competition became Duff and Geof’s master classes.

Duff has also learned from another master: Kevin Smith.

“I’m a Kevin Smith freak,” Duff declares. “I have all his DVDs of him doing talks. When I do a speaking engagement, I pretty much base them on how Kevin does his.” An Evening with Kevin Smith is better than the Toastmasters Speeches Guide.

What sort of birthday cake would be make the director of Dogma?

“I would do a very realistic life-size bust of Ben Affleck with that shit eating grin on his face. I’d have him saying something really smart ass.”

Write your Senator to make this brilliant project a reality. The world needs to know what’s the flavor of Ben Affleck’s brains.

Towards the end of the conversation, we discuss how Ace of Cakes took over from the numerous tattoo shop reality shows. These are shows about people wanting something close to them turned into an object of art with the help of others. The big difference being the lack needles. What makes Cakes special is the lack of dead weight in the shop. Everybody has talent and does their best to make a cake work.

I feel bad about my sloppy cake making skills. My frosting looks like California mudslides. Instead of running off to the circus, I wanted to flee to Charm City and cover my life in fondant. Maybe Duff has a need for a full-time taste tester?

Unlike HBO’s Cathouse, visitors aren’t welcomed to drop by Charm City Cakes. They’re pretty busy inside. There’s no public tours. We joke about how it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. They do get plenty of tourists taking snapshots of the bakery and sometimes the modern Oompa-Loompas will appear.

“If we’re not busy, I’ll stick my head out and say hi to somebody that’s taking a picture,” Duff said.” If somebody rings the bell and we don’t have an appointment, we won’t answer the door. We don’t do tours because this is where we work.”

FUGITIVE CUES

Plenty of people were upset about the replacement score on The Fugitive: Season 2, Volume 1. The music was a victim for Capitol disbanding their needle drop package. But it seems like the folks at CBS DVD have figured out what original music can by kept on the soundtrack. They sent me over a note for folks who want this new version of the DVDs:

In response to fans of the classic TV series THE FUGITIVE, CBS DVD is offering a new version of Season 2, Volume 1 - with much of the original music restored - free to purchasers of the initial release. We hope they concur that we not only put TV DVD on a pedestal, but also our customers. To obtain the new version, go to www.fugitivedvdreplacement..com and follow the instructions.

You only have to send in the proof of purchases to get the replacement discs.

BLU-RAY HEAVEN

The Boondock Saints Blu-ray is a major step up from what I saw on DVD nearly a decade ago. This tale of two Irish brothers going after the Russian mob in Boston is a comedy dripping in blood and bullets. What saves this over the top film is Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery being so likable as the violent brothers who view themselves as doing the Lord’s work. Willem Dafoe is spectacular as the police detective who channels the crime scene to expose the mayhem. He knows how to chew up a scene like a shark. He goes so over the top that the script appears normal. Ron Jeremy has another one of his legendary cinematic deaths. Will he ever live long enough to make a sequel? The bonus features include outtakes and deleted scenes. Fans of the early days of the Comedy Channel will be in awe of extra minutes of Jimmy Tingle as the confessional priest.

The French Connection Blu-ray brings the 1971 Best Picture Oscar winner to a new color palate. Director William Friedkin has digitally tweaked it by a process demonstrated on a bonus feature. Purists will argue that he defiled the film. The last time I saw a 35mm print, the red shift had taken effect. Friedkin’s given the film an even gritty color chart. I like it. The film has New York cops Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) stumble across a major heroin shipment. The mobsters are hooked up with a Frenchman (Fernando Rey). The highlight of the film involves Popeye chasing after an elevated train. The glory of this chase is only heightened in the bonus features when they confess that they didn’t quite close the streets. This was not a closed course. The Blu-ray will bug people who have grain issues. They didn’t use many lights.. The film is pushed thus really visible grain in these low level moments. There’s a second Blu-ray disc packed with documentaries about the film. Friedkin revisits the scene of the chase. All of the bonus features from the earlier five star edition DVD have been brought over.

French Connection II Blu-ray could be subtitled Popeye Doyle’s Really Bad European Vacation. New York’s best narcotics cop has arrived in France to hunt down Fernando Rey. However Popeye’s got issues on his pursuit since he doesn’t know the language or the streets of Marsailles. He’s not allowed to carry a gun. Things go bad when he’s snagged by Rey’s crew. Instead of killing Popeye, Rey gets him hooked on heroin. Can Popeye escape, survive cold turkey and capture Rey? John Frankenheimer took over the directorial chores from Friedkin. He used plenty of lights so there’s no major grain on this 1080p transfer.. Before his death in 2002, Frankenheimer recorded a commentary track for the film. His career in film and TV is covered in another bonus feature.

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder Blu-ray is the fourth movie featuring the cast of the defunct animated sci-fi series. Amy Wong’s dad plans to take out an arm of the Milky Way in order to expand his miniature golf course. While protesting this, Fry gets into an industrial accident. Instead of being injured, he can now read minds. This leads him to his new career as a pro Poker player. Him and Bender discover that winning doesn’t make you popular. “The League of Mad Fellows” arrive to take the story into another dimension. Folks who’ve collected the first three will be pleased how the final feature turns out. Hopefully Fox will make another batch. They can’t let Bender perish into the hiatus void. There’s plenty of bonus features on the Blu-ray. A deleted scene is called “Dolomite Hill.” There’s a short about Matt Groening experiencing zero gravity. “Zapp Brannigan’s Guide to Making Love At A Woman” has clips from the master of seduction. You might want this on your iPhone to reference during a hot date.

Igor Blu-ray is a cute CGI animated feature. John Cusack voices a hunchbacked Igor who dreams of being a mad scientist. However society demands he merely throws the switch. He gets his chance to create a hideous monster, but finds himself a victim of politics. Steve Buscemi cracks me up as the animated cat. Steve ought to voice a new version of Crusader Rabbit. Jay Leno plays a king who decides his country’s best export is fear. It’s better than an economy based on Beanie Babies. John Cleese and Eddie Izzard voice mad scientists. Those English actors are always criminally insane.

The Pink Panther: Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray brings the sophisticated jewel heist comedy to the next level. This is still the best of the Pink Panther films because David Niven keeps it from turning into a complete farce. No matter how foolish Peter Sellers becomes as Inspector Clouseau, Niven has his suave attitude to cushion the slapstick. There’s also two saucy actresses to keep the action sexy. Capucine is Clouseau’s wife. She’s also Niven’s partner in crime. Claudia Cardinale is the princess with the Pink Panther diamond necklace. She is so tasty while smothering her tiger skin rug. While watching this in 1080p, you should have a bottle of champagne next to the remote control. The bonus features from the movie boxset are included. A new feature is an interview with a real jewel thief. He robbed Phyllis Diller. Now that’s would make a great movie. There’s also a DVD version, but you’ll want the Blu-ray to enjoy the lavish view of the Alps.

DVD Shelf

The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection is a 9 DVD set that contains all the Pink Panther, The Inspector, The Ant & The Aardvark and Roland & Ratfink shorts. This is a megaload with 192 cartoons. The Pink Panther is always cool with his silent and sly ways. The fact that he refuses to talk makes these cartoons perfect for watching while people are being noisy in the room. The Inspector was a semi-spin off of Inspector Clouseau. They don’t draw him to look like Peter Sellers or even the animated Inspector that pops up in the title sequences for the Pink Panther movies. Pat Harrington (One Day At A Time) voiced the character. The Ant & The Aardvark was a chase cartoon. Warner animation legend lifted a few Tweety and Sylvester scripts on a few of these cartoons. John Byner did both voices. He made the Ant sound like Dean Martin while the Aardvark comes off as Jackie Mason. Roland and Ratfink spoofs the old flickers with the hero and villain characters. Lennie Weinrib vocalized both characters. He’s best known for mouthing H.R. Pufnstuf. This one cartoon that I still don’t think was that great. I wished they’d given us Misterjaw instead. The Pink Panther cartoons alone are worth it. There’s also a coupon for 2 tickets to Pink Panther 2 that’s good until the end of March.

What Just Happened lets us in on two weeks of Art Linson’s life. He’s the producer that brought us Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Fight Club. In this semi-fictionalized account (Robert DeNiro plays Linson), he’s stuck between two difficult films. Michael Wincott is deep into post-production of a Sean Penn film The test screening audience was revolted at the ending that involves a dog being shot. The studio wants it pulled. The director refuses to budge. A second project is not going to get off the ground if Bruce Willis doesn’t shave his beard. This is an inside the studio account of what it takes for even a big time producer to appease the system. DeNiro also gets to juggle two ex-wives and a naughty new friend (Moon Bloodgood). The film is enjoyable, but it comes off as a pilot for an HBO series. It’s like Entourage for grown ups. The commentary track with Barry Levinson and Linson is better than any talk you’ll get in film school from the schmuck who directed an episode of Charles In Charge. The Blu-ray makes the dog killing look exceptionally disturbing.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People alienated me with its title and trailer. This film promoted itself as Simon Pegg is the world’s biggest jerk. Why would I pay to see Toby Young’s lifestory? You might know Young as the prick English judge on this season of Bravo’s Top Chef. I find the guy another worthless import who is all hype and no pipe. Did you see when he talked about Tom Cruise’s cameo in Tropic Thunder? Cameo? A cameo is when Hitchcock pops up on the screen for a few seconds. Tom Cruise was a supporting actor. He might have been in disguise, but he was on the screen for critical scenes. Guess you don’t have to answer movie trivia to get though customs. However Pegg’s character has more personality than the real Toby. They really needed to change the name of this film to let us know the real story. How about Simon Pegg Wants to Hump Megan Fox? That’s the basic story. Pegg writes for a Vanity Fair magazine. He meets the up and coming actress and wants to nail her. Of course there are things in the way like Gillian Anderson (X-Files) and her little yappy dog. There’s also a jerk editor and a sweet co-working girl (Kirsten Dunst) that take him off his game. Who cares about the book title in America? What guy couldn’t relate to what is it going to take to shag along with Ms. Fox? Toby Young being a movie moron relates his tale with La Dolce Vita. That’s so wrong. His lifestory is a retread of The Apartment. Except he’s no Jack Lemmon. He’s not even Fred MacMurray.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley has a high schooler discover that her parents made a deal with the devil over her birth. Maternity hospitals are rather expensive and Satan does offer attractive rates to cover the deductible. Molly starts having problems at her privates school. The film is so goofy that it deserves a drinking game. That Chace Crawford guy from Gossip Girl is the school hunk. What deal has he made with Satan? The stand out performer is Nina Siemaszko. How delightful to witness the star of Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue playing such a convincing school counselor.

Dead Like Me: Life After Death is a movie follow up to the Showtime series that ended in 2004. George Lass (Ellen Muth) died when a toilet seat fell from space and hit her on the head. Instead of going to heaven, she works as a reaper. She helps the recently departed make the transition. She finds herself working for a new handler. It’s Desmond from Lost (Henry Ian Cusick). She doesn’t trust the guy, but the rest of the crew are in lust over him. The new boss wants them to boost up the numbers even if it means bending the rules. Is George willing to compromise? It’s one of the better movie continuations of a defunct series. You can also get this movie as part of Dead Like Me: The Complete Collection that includes its two seasons.

Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E..: The Fifteen Years Later Affair is another TV movie continuation of a canceled series. This one originally aired back in 1983. That it makes it the 25th anniversary of the 15 years later. Or 40 years since Man From U.N.C.L.E. was canceled. Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) are called back into the spy game when Thrush strikes. Geoffrey Lewis (the man who isn’t Robert Pine) captures a nuclear warhead. Patrick Macnee (The Avengers) is now in charge of U.N.C.L.E. George Lazenby semi-revives his James Bond role. Anyone who bought last year’s Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series needs this to truly complete their briefcase.

Family Ties: The Fifth Season brings us the genius of Nick! “Mrs. Wrong” has Mallory rushing off to New Jersey to marry Nick. Who knew the Garden State is also for elopers? Only two more seasons to wrap up the series. “My Brother’s Keeper” has Alex choosing between his frat and Skippy. The Greeks want to make Skippy their “Big Stooge.” As if being on the show didn’t make Skippy already a mega-dork. “It’s My Party” has Tina Yothers learns to be cool as a Valley Girl. Those were the days when it was cool to be Moon Unit Zappa. There’s 30 episodes here. Only two more seasons to go before the series is wrapped up.

Caroline and The City: The Second Season should be dedicated for all the single ladies who love their kitties. The season has Caroline dating her vet. Is that the dream marriage of these women? The big cat highlight involves David Hyde Pierce (Fraizer) in “Caroline and the Cat Dancer.” He’s an IRS auditor assigned to investigate Annie. He dreams of making the Broadway stage. He promises to give Annie a clean bill if she can get him an audition for Cats. She’s in that show. He’s hilarious when they slap on the fur. This is a nice gift for your cousin who always sends Christmas cards telling you everything her cats did over the last year.

Nash Bridges: The Second Season reminds us that Cheech Marin was the real star of this show. Sure Don Johnson plays the title character, but it’s all about Cheech in the completely strange role as the law. Who could have imagined the star of Up In Smoke would be wearing a badge in a semi-serious TV drama? After an extremely short first season that had only 8 episode, there’s 23 caseloads in this boxset. “Internal Affairs” has Danny Trejo in a really short role.. He survives long enough to show off his massive senorita in the sombrero tattoo. “25 Hours of Christmas” is a very special episode since Tracey Walter (Repo Man) plays an angel. Madonna’s original sperm donor, Carlos Leon is a auto mechanic. The big ending has Cheech performing with a band featuring Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen) and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge). The show doesn’t try to be as intense as Miami Vice even though they have Eddie Jobson (Prog Rock Vet) composing the score. Nash Bridges is a cop show that Jimmy Buffet would produce.

Whale Wars is an Animal Planet series about people putting themselves between the Japanese harpoons and whales. Sometimes you forget that these giant water mammals are still hunted. The crew of the Steve Irwin are passionate about their mission. They’re willing to get shot and rammed if it means distracting the hunters. What’s disgusting is how a Japanese whaling ship has “Research” painted on the side. The captain was thrown out of Green Peace for being too aggressive. He formed Sea Shepherd to keep up the fight. These guys know they might be killed on the high seas around Antarctica by whalers.

7th Heaven: The Eighth Season brings us more troubles from a Reverend’s family. For this outing we have Stephen Collins (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) deal with his son being in a terrible auto accident. There’s babysitting issues. The big startling things is somebody gets to become grandparents.. This show was so squeaky clean that the DVDs are pine scented.

GIVEAWAY TIME

The fine folks at CBS DVD have given us 5 copies of Nash Bridges: The Second Season. In order to win a copy of you have to answer the following question: What type of tires did Cheech have to buy for Don Johnson’s car? And what’s my favorite guest star of this season? Would you like a hint? She released an album. Send the two answers in an email to mokaha@aol.com by March 2. Have “Nash Bridges Giveaway Rocks My World” in the subject title. Employees of Party Favors, Tommy Chong and Philip Michael Thomas are not eligible.

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