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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Crow: Stairway to Heaven
The Complete Series


Starring: Mark Dacascos, Kadeem Hardison and Katie Stuart
Distributor: Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £39.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 06 October 2014

Having been murdered a year before, Eric Draven returns from the dead seeking vengeance for both himself and his dead girlfriend, guided on his quest by a crow. As the Crow he has a number of new abilities, invulnerable to bullets, quick to heal, he is also able to get into people’s minds. In his quest he is helped by Sarah Mohr, a young girl who knew the couple when they were alive and the sympathetic, Detective Darryl Albrecht...

The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (1998. 22 episodes) was a Canadian show, directed by thirteen different people during it run. The show was cancelled after one season.

Taking over from Brandon Lee, Mark Dacascos brings a lot of good physicality to the role and the fight choreography is pretty impressive throughout the show.

The first couple of episodes pretty much cover the same ground as the film and also set up the on-going premise for the rest of the season. In a strange sort of way it turns into Quantum Leap sans all the leaping about time, with Eric stuck on Earth righting wrongs, trying to gain redemption, which is odd as he was the victim. With a less flexible format than that show, The Crow, quickly settles into a ‘villain of the week’ format and all that implies for variable quality. There are some efforts to expand the mythos of the show, with some success, but the single season was not enough to move the show from its constricting premise and having your hero basically invulnerable does sap some of the tension.

Given that this was made for television a number of alterations had to be made to the show. Obviously the levels of violence have been toned down. As a whole it’s not a bad show, it does suffer from some flat acting by the supporting cast, Dacascos (Dravon), Marc Gomes (Albrecht) and Katie Stuart (Sarah) are often the saving graces in the acting department.

The twenty-two episodes are spread across five DVDs. If I’m being honest the picture quality is acceptable, a little grainy. It’s not been restored, plus you get that softness which creeps in when shows are converted from NTSC to PAL. That is not to say that it is not watchable and I’m sure fans of the show who have been waiting many years for its release will forgive these problems. The sound is a little muddied as well, but maybe it’s unfair to compare a show made sixteen years ago to currently acceptable quality.

What the makers haven’t been stingy with is the number of extras. The first two episodes gets a full length commentary from Bryce Zabel, who was the executive producer for the whole of the show's run and Mark Dacascos. There’s enough information about the show, both funny and serious, to satiate any fan's desires.

Disc five is where all the extras are hiding. It kicks off with a Gag Reel (9 min, 37 sec) which has the cast goofing around and fluffing up their lines. Production Dailies, has three smaller sections, Death Wish (16 min, 13 sec), Dead to Rights (4 min, 11 sec) and A Gathering Storm (2 min, 30 sec). They are all a peek behind the curtain of the making of the show. Obviously being dailies, they are the basic set-ups without any music or overdubbing. Original Score has tracks on it and will be of great interest to fans. It was originally put together just for the cast and crew and never commercially released.

Behind the Scenes (5 min, 29 sec) which has the cast and crew discussing the show, yup its one long advert. Like the Dailies this has been taken from a copy so the quality is watchable, but not as clear as the show. You also get a self-running Photo Gallery (4 min, 57 sec), a three page Series Description, I guess for people who didn’t see either the film or the show or even read the comic. There are six pages of a Press Story, and the whole thing finishes off with crew and cast biographies.

If it had been left to develop, rather than becoming a corporate casualty, The Crow may have developed into a really good show, as it is we will never know. What we are left with is a show that’s not bad, but had some way to go to iron out its teething problems.


Charles Packer

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