John Walker's Electronic House

Crazy Goths

by on Oct.28, 2005, under Rants

Sorry for going all sci-fi internet nerd, but… My favourite TV show of all time is American Gothic. It hit when I was just the right age to fully appreciate the dark, cruel stories, and the excellent mix of small-town drama with ghosts and demons. Gary Cole as Sheriff Lucas Buck perfectly executed the character of the most despicably evil man imaginable, a murderer and rapist, possibly the devil incarnate, who you wanted to succeed. The internal conflict generated by the realisation that you were instinctively on the side of this monster – that’s clever TV.

But of course, as is the Law with any decent television, it had to be screwed around by the channels that showed it. American Gothic received the full deal. CBS in the US decided that it was getting too dark for the timeslot they’d put it in (er, one week, since it was rarely ever in the same time slot, let alone on the same day), and so held some episodes back because of their content. The programme was heavily arc-ed, with crucial long-term plots trickling out week by week. Merlyn, the ghost of Caleb’s sister, and somewhat entire family, is banished in one particular episode, then back, then searched for, then recovered, then missing, then back again… Anyone watching had to think in five dimensions to follow the story. It was then pulled from the schedules, and then months later, with no warning, showed at random hours, with the missing five episodes never aired. Channel 4, picking up the show, obviously had no problems with content, and were showing it in their formerly excellent 10pm slot. And yet, for reasons unfathomable, decided to air it in the order CBS had. Investigating this at the time, Channel 4 told me that they were being sent the episodes by the distributors one week at a time, airing them as they received them. I contacted the distributors who told me that Channel 4 were simply lying, and that they’d sent them all 22 at once. Marvellous stuff.

Sci-Fi picked up the show in the States and aired it in completion, in order, but it never received a proper network viewing either in the States or in the UK. So finally, after ten years, it’s this week been released on DVD. My boxset arrived in the post this morning. Nice embossed box, all 22 episodes, a few crappy extras like deleted scenes, even a couple of commentaries. But guess what?! Yes! They’ve put them onto to the DVD18 flipper discs… in the wrong order! The lazy, cheap-ass, cretins at Universal couldn’t be bothered to notice even their own episode descriptions. The back of the box for the episode FIFTH FROM LAST says, “XXXXX and XXXXX face each other in a final, evil battle.” Something of a clue? Even the commentaries by series creator Shaun Cassidy on the episodes describe them as being the end of the series! HOW?

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the correct order of episodes, and where they appear on the discs, kindly stolen from here.

# Pilot (Disc 1, Side A, Episode 1)
# A Tree Grows in Trinity (Disc 1, Side A, Episode 2)
# Eye of the Beholder (Disc 1, Side A, Episode 3)
# Damned If You Don’t (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 1)
# Potato Boy (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 4)
# Dead to the World (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 2)
# Meet the Beetles (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 3)
# Strong Arm of the Law (Disc 1, Side B, Episode 4)
# To Hell and Back (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 3)
# The Beast Within (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 2)
# Rebirth (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 1)
# Ring of Fire (Disc 3, Side B, Episode 1)
# Resurrector (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 2)
# Inhumanitas (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 3)
# The Plague Sower (Disc 2, Side A, Episode 4)
# Doctor Death Takes a Holiday (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 1)
# Learning to Crawl (Disc 2, Side B, Episode 4)
# Echo of Your Last Goodbye (Disc 3, Side B, Episode 2)
# Strangler (Disc 3, Side B, Episode 3)
# Triangle (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 1)
# The Buck Stops Here (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 2)
# Requiem (Disc 3, Side A, Episode 3)

8 Comments for this entry

  • Steve Wilkinson

    You may be interested to know that Shaun Cassidy’s new series, Invasion, can be considered ‘fairly good’. Nowhere close to the greatness of AG, it’s too po-faced for its own good and follows the successful (in ratings terms at least) Lost template far too closely (an almost-painful slow drip-drip of information), but after the unremarkable-yet-solid first couple of episodes, I am genuinely surprised to find myself gripped, and looking forward to each new episode. It might be worth checking out.

  • The Rev

    On the one hand I’ve been wanting this on DVD for years and didn’t hear about this set and so you’ve just made me incredibly happy.

    On the other hand I’m incredibly annoyed at the ordering. Gah. Idiots.

  • pharoahe_monch

    right. can i have a twix now? if you liked ag, maybe you’ll like carnivale, too.

  • admin

    Maybe I did like Carnivale very much.

  • Paul Black - Khan Of All Essex

    Me and my brother loved american gothic when it was on, then it stopped making sense. I declare ii “most abused series in televisual history”

  • MHW

    I’m a little late bringing you my love. Where do you want me to put it?

  • admin

    Just in this small cup.

  • James Lyon

    Why, I do declare yet more belated love for American Gothic. But in these clever split-narrative, po-mo, anachronistic Tarantino times, maybe they all thought it was avant-garde. Or they just hate us / their jobs.