Cleopatra 2525 debuted in early 2000 and was a show I immediately grasped,latched onto and savoured,enjoying the subsequent ride;as surprisingly short as it was.And there WAS much to savour.
This half hour series was the first half of an "Action Pack" hour;the latter half consisted of "Jack of All Trades"(available separately on DVD),starring Bruce Campbell and the weakest of the two.From the same team that produced the hit shows Hercules,starring Kevin Sorbo and Xena,starring Lucy Lawless,including many of the same actors,production team and the fabulous stunt teams,came Cleopatra 2525.
The series starred Gina Torres,Jennifer Sky and Victoria Pratt.Its story premise was future Earth circa 2525 where Cleopatra(Sky)is woken from a very long cryo freezing(over 500 years) and forced to start life anew.Her new friends include Sarge/Rose(Pratt) and Hel/Helen(Torres),who are constantly baffled by Cleos many 20th Century colloquialisms.Most of the Earth's population fled underground many,many years before and it is filled with thousands upon thousands of interconnected vertical shafts,going down hundreds to thousands of feet.Sarge and Hel have been given the task of "policing" it and battle many of its' crooked denizens such as their arch enemy Creegan,while trying to defeat the flying machines who control the Earths' surface;the "Bailies".Hel has an implant in her head through which the "Voice" assigns the teams' various tasks and helps them during same,if need be.As the show progresses Cleo gets progressively more confident with her friends and protectors but can never fully shake her insecurities and when the situation gets rough can revert back in a split second to a screaming non-functional,huddling in a corner.
As with Hercules and especially Xena(both filmed in New Zealand),the shows special effects and stunts are absolutely top notch.The scripts run fast,the story lines are smooth,the editing is crisp and the actors hit their marks each and every time.The characters array of armour and weaponry were inspired ideas and the make up department did beautiful work throughout.Of course the main character's obvious feminine pulchritude certainly didn't hurt this show in the least but if it had relied solely on just that and had weak story lines then it would have been an unmitigated disaster.But in fact it is just the opposite which makes me even more perplexed concerning its' short run.
One possible explanation could be the way it was sold.As I stated previously this show was part of an hour long format and joined with another much weaker one.This weaker link may have been enough to deep six both of them.
Technically this show has been transferred wonderfully onto DVD and it is generally quite crisp and clear throughout.The special features are rather sparse however with only a few deleted scenes,outtakes and a short on the great stunt work.The packaging for some reason states there are 30 eps but there are in fact only 28!
This DVD's major flaw is of course its' packaging.Many companies use the double sided disc format but Universal and MGM seem especially enamoured of their usage,much to this reviewers chagrin.It is a CHEAP way of producing and issuing DVDs with a guarantee of maxing the profit margin.It is also the POOREST way from a consumer and practical standpoint as DVDs are notoriously scratch and scuff prone and issuing a double sided DVD is just asking for trouble right out of the starting gate.To top this off is the way this particular three disc set sits in its' case.The third disc sits alone and by itself but the first two are layered,one over the other.The top disc sits half way out and over the bottom one and one false slip of the finger and whammo,either disc can be scratched.I finally found that the only way of lifting the top disc safely is by placing the thumb on the middle spindle while the others are outside of the area.Depressing the spindle releases the disc which you lift slowly until you are able to gingerly grab the outside of the disc.It is VERY tricky and can take awhile to master.I also learned that once you have that first disc out it is best to place it into a separate jewel case until you finish watching both sides.The less you have to go through getting it out each time you want to see it the less are the odds you will damage it.It is totally asinine to have to go through such an ordeal once let alone repeatedly,which shows a total lack of consideration not only for the product but we the buying public.
Furthermore this set is WAY over priced for what you get.I don't usually complain about pricing but for this amount Universal should have released both Cleopatra and its' "Action Hour" brother "Jack of All Trades" together;showing them as they were released with the relevant bumpers and lead ins.It is price gouging at its' ugliest.
In conclusion though we have a big fat zero on the packaging front,we do have a big five stars for the series itself.Edgy,hip and action filled this show was about the fastest and edge of your seat half hour(about 21 1/2 minutes to be exact) that I think have ever seen on television.Created and produced by the same fabulous team that gave us Hercules and Xena and culled with many of the same familiar actors,this series was a revelation and still packs an intense wallop even viewing it after nine years.It may have been prematurely canceled but it still shines brightly and I recommend it highly.