Vintage TV Series Make Debut on Rental Shelves


The new fall television season is upon us. But if you find the latest shows a bore, why not check out the several TV series and small-screen movies that are making their video debuts this month?

For Anglophiles, there's "Absolutely Fabulous Moments" (BBC, $20), a compilation of fun moments from the ribald British comedy. Sadly, it's pretty much a snooze. The new wraparound footage with Eddy (Jennifer Saunders) and her mother in a thrift shop is pretty witless. The outtakes near the end, though, are pretty amusing.

Dawn French supplies hearty laughs in the Britcom "The Vicar of Dibley" (BBC, $20). French plays a vicar who disrupts a quiet rural village community with her unconventional ways. Not great, but the robust French is a hoot.

On Sept. 29, Acorn Video will release the fourth volume of episodes from the popular PBS "Mystery!" series, "Brother Cadafel" ($20 each, $60 for the set). Derek Jacobi stars. To order the mysteries, call (800) 474-2277.

Also set for unveiling on that date is the third boxed set of "The Avengers '67" (A&E;, $13 each; $30 for the set). Each video features two delicious episodes of the cult British series from the show's first season on ABC. Patrick Macnee is the dashing John Steed; Diana Rigg is the sophisticated Emma Peel.

Everyone's favorite Catholic nun-turned-art-critic, Sister Wendy, is back in two new videos (BBC, $20 each). In "Sister Wendy's Pain of Glass," she explores the Easter passion stories depicted in the 16th century stained glass windows of King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England.

"Sister Wendy's Grand Tour" finds the nun exploring her favorite masterpieces and museums in 10 European cities.

Re-tv is offering two new collector's editions of the classic family sitcoms "My Three Sons" and "Family Ties."

"My Three Sons," which starred Fred MacMurray, was second only to "Ozzie and Harriet" as TV's longest-running comedy series, airing from 1960 to 1972. Each tape ($5 for the first, $20 for each subsequent tape) features four remastered episodes.

"Family Ties," which aired on NBC from 1982 to '89, was President Reagan's favorite series. Each volume (same prices as "My Three Sons") features four episodes from the Emmy Award-winning series.

To order either Re-tv collection, call (800) 638-2922.

New from Columbia TriStar are three more episodes ($10) of the classic sitcom "All in the Family." The episodes featured on the tape include "Gloria's Pregnancy."

New Video's latest offering is the three-video "WKRP in Cincinnati Collection" ($30), due Sept. 29. The set features eight episodes of the Emmy-winning comedy series set in the lowest-rated radio station in Cincinnati.

The popular WB series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" makes its video debut this week on Fox ($15 each, $40 for the set). Included among the six episodes is the acclaimed pilot.

Kids and the young at heart can check out "The Best of Kermit on Sesame Street" (Sony Wonder, $13), a 30-minute tape of Kermie's best moments from "Sesame Street" over the last 30 years.

Jack Paar was one of the biggest names in television in the '50s and '60s, and the three-volume "Jack Paar: As I Was Saying . . . and More" (White Star, $50) is a must for any of his fans. To order the set call (800) 458-5887.

On Tuesday, Warner Home Video and FoxVideo will premiere made-for-video movies based on TV series.

Daryl Hannah and Tim Curry are the only reason to watch Warner's "Addams Family Reunion" ($20), a silly bit of nonsense that's strictly for the small fry. Veterans Kevin McCarthy, Ray Walston, Alice Ghostly and Estelle Harris also star. (PG)

Slightly better is Fox's "Casper Meets Wendy" ($20). This time around, the friendly ghost befriends a young good witch called Wendy (Hilary Duff). Cathy Moriarty, Shelley Duvall, Teri Garr and George Hamilton, who steals the movie as an evil warlock after Wendy, also star. (PG)

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