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MGM Studios DVD presents
Poltergeist, The Legacy: Season 1 (1995)

"When I picked up this letter, I felt something so disturbing."
- Derek Rayne (Derek de Lint)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: February 06, 2006

Stars: Derek de Lint, Martin Cummins, Patrick Fitzgerald, Robbi Chong, Helen Shaver, Jordan Bayne, Alexandra Purvis
Other Stars: William Sadler, Molly Parker, Anthony Heald, David Ogden Stiers, Victor Wong, Zelda Rubinstein
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 16h:10m:00s
Release Date: February 07, 2006
UPC: 027616136138
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-B+B+ D-

DVD Review

The pop culture references "They're heeeeere," and "Carol Anne!" are synonymous with the 1980s horror classic, Poltergeist. A mega-hit feature that spawned a pair of sequels, the original is thoroughly original and may never be bested. Following in the footsteps of fare like the Friday the 13th TV series, Poltergeist: The Legacy premiered in 1995. Like its predecessor it has nothing to do with the films' storylines, but the show gained a reputation for delivering solid scares week in and week out. Now those of you who missed it during its brief run have a second chance thanks to this release

The premise involves Dr. Derek Rayne (Derek de Lint), the rich leader of the Legacy, a secret organization of paranormal investigators that Rayne funds himself, making it much easier to hide the nature of their work from any government agency. He formed the group after being haunted for years by the death of his father, who met his maker in a mine while searching (along with Derek) for a sepulcher that, when joined with five others, would open up the gates of Hell, allowing the underworld's denizens (dubbed "the Darkside") free reign of the planet. Rayne's team consists of psychic Alex Moreau (Robbi Chong), Father Philip Callaghan (Patrick Fitzgerald), Julia Walker (Jordan Bayne), and Nick Boyle (Martin Cummins), an ex-special operations agent.

I wasn't exactly an avid viewer of the show during its TV run, but watching it on DVD left me wishing I hadn't waited this long. This isn't the scariest of shows, but there is enough creepy, supernatural occurrences and strong performances to keep things interesting, especially during Season One.

The two-part pilot sets the perfect tone. Running nearly 90 minutes (as opposed to the standard 45-minute show), the premiere begins with a look at Rayne's history, including the death of his father. We then meet each member of the Legacy, including Rachel (Helen Shaver), a psychiatrist who is seduced by Shamus Bloom (William Sadler). Bloom, it appears, is possessed by a demon and quickly gets in the way of the team, who are not only trying to find the key to the fifth sepulcher, but must keep Rachel and her daughter, Kat (Alexandra Purvis), safe as well.

The rest of the first season's shows are generally non-linear, although a myriad of demons haunt Rayne throughout. Each of the Legacy members get their chance to shine with individual storylines, including Alex's court battle with an evil landlord and Nick's unfortunate reunion with an old asthmatic friend. We also learn that Derek is a museum proprietor as well, and take a trip with Rachel back to her late aunt's home where a spirit still lives. The first season finishes up with Rayne divulging an earth-shattering secret to Rachel, and finding himself on trial for conspiring to demolish the Legacy. This final episode also carries another shocking revelation, that sets up the second season nicely.

Thanks to a wonderful cast and a strong, often hammy turn by de Lint, this series has held up quite well over the last decade. Despite the lack of consistent scares, the surrounding mythology of Rayne's quest is thoroughly engrossing, with the first season's finale difficult to top. The principal cast rarely falters and a fine slate of guest stars (featuring a few names that are staples in genre TV today), help the show as well. Deadwood's Molly Parker and Buffy's Anthony Heald show up, along with David Ogden Stiers, William Sadler, Victor Wong, and Zelda Rubinstein, who, despite not playing the same character, is the lone connection to the Poltergeist films.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame format has been preserved for these DVDs, and the quality of the presentations is surprisingly high. The source material seems to have been in decent shape, but there is still some grain and dirt that is common for decade-old shows. This is a very dark show, and black levels are consistently solid, while shadows and contrast are well-rendered as well.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Portugeseno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also surprisingly impressive, utilizing the rear speakers frequently. The action sequences benefit the most from this active surround usage, benefiting even more from a decent bass presence. The dialogue is never a problem, constantly blending in nicely with the rest of the sound effects and music.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Stargate: SG-1 Seasons 1-8, Stargate: Atlantis Season 1, Horror Compilation, Stephen King Presents Kingdom Hospital
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Sadly, the only extras are four trailers for other DVD releases.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

More than 10 years after it first showed up on cable TV, Poltergeist: The Legacy can finally be revisited on DVD. MGM Home Video's release compiles all 21 episodes of the underrated show, and in grand fashion, at least as far as the audio and video goes.

 


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