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Three Highlander DVDs

In a trio of DVDs, some of Duncan MacLeod's most memorable enemies come back to haunt him

*Highlander DVDs—Unholy Alliance, Counterfeit, Finale
*Starring Adrian Paul, Stan Kirsch, Jim Byrnes, Peter Wingfield and Elizabeth Gracen
*Based on characters created by Gregory Widen
*Anchor Bay Entertainment
*Three single-disc DVDs
*MSRP: $14.98 each

By Kathie Huddleston

P ackaged separately as films, Unholy Alliance, Counterfeit and Finale were originally two-part episodes from the second and third seasons. While there's no specific connection among the three, they all offer heavy Watcher mythology, as well as appearances by many of the series' major players and some significant bad guys. The DVDs feature audio commentary, interviews with members of the cast and crew, alternate scenes and the Watcher Chronicles, and are presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound.

Our Pick: B

First up is Unholy Alliance, which aired in the middle of the second season. Xavier St. Cloud is back, and he's after Duncan's head. Unfortunately for him, Duncan took his hand during their last meeting, so St. Cloud has figured out a way to even the odds. Using mortal mercenaries with machine guns, St. Cloud has been attacking immortals and then taking their heads before they can recover from being shot. Now it's Duncan's turn, and with a little help from his new partner, the supposedly dead James Horton, he just might succeed.

Counterfeit served as the second season finale, and it brought back Tessa Noel (Alexandra Vandernoot), or at least a dead ringer for her. Richie's new best friend, Pete Wilder, just saved his life from a dangerous gang of fake Watchers. However, Duncan's not so sure about Richie's convenient new friend. As the rift between the two immortals widens, Duncan spots a woman who looks just like his longtime girlfriend, Tessa, who died several months earlier. Suddenly Richie is the suspicious one. The Highlander soon learns that nothing is as it seems and that a familiar enemy, Peter Horton, is pulling the strings.

In Finale, the third-season finale, Amanda helps Kalas escape prison with plans to kill him. However, when Kalas gets away, she has a far more dangerous task ahead when she has to tell Duncan what she did. It doesn't take Kalas long to start making trouble and to go after Duncan. Meanwhile, the widow of a Watcher that Kalas killed is out for revenge on all immortals and plans to expose them to the world.

A substitute for the full season

There's no denying Anchor Bay Entertainment's Highlander DVD "movies" pale in comparison to the full season DVD sets. Fans with enough cash in their pocket will certainly prefer having the entire season with loads of extras. Still, for those without deep pockets, these DVDs offer a nice sampling from seasons two and three. While the two-parters are presented as films with different opening titles and different music from the series, the episodes are otherwise unchanged.

As has become standard for Highlander DVDs, the interviews and audio commentaries provide plenty of enlightenment as to what was going on the behind the scenes. All the major players are involved, including actors Adrian Paul, Jim Byrnes, Stan Kirsch, Elizabeth Gracen, Peter Wingfield and Alexandra Vandernoot; and the behind-the-scenes talent Don Paonessa, Bill Panzer, David Abramowitz and Peter Ellis. The passage of time has given those being interviewed a perspective and insight into the work they did. When Gracen talks about her dance scene with Paul on the Eiffel Tower in Finale being her favorite scene ever, it's fascinating.

As for the three stories selected, the Watcher mythology is nicely mixed with the immortal goings-on, as a trio of marvelous bad guys revisit Duncan with murder on their minds. Horton's silly plots to get Duncan, first joining with St. Cloud and later using plastic surgery to turn a criminal into a Tessa look-alike, make little sense, but they're fun to watch. He's kidnapping people and using elaborate plans when a sniper, a pretty girl with a gun or one of St. Cloud's gas bombs could do the trick to immobilize Mac long enough for Horton to take a sword to him. And as for St. Cloud and Kalas, you'd think these immortals would know enough to run in the other direction when they saw Mac. But again, there's no reason to let logic get in the way of a good story.

Beyond that, a visit from Tessa in Counterfeit, even an evil Tessa look-alike, is a welcome nod to a significant character from the first season, and it gave our boy Duncan a moment or two to reflect on his recent lost love. And Finale has both Amanda and Methos to kick around, along with the most interesting storyline in the three films: what might happen if the Immortals were to get exposed to the media.

The power of these DVDs comes not in getting a chance to see the episodes again so much as in having the opportunity to see them with the people who created them. The interviews and audio commentary let us peek behind the curtain for a fond look at a series that the people who created it loved almost as much as we did. — Kathie

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Also in this issue: The Incredibles and Alias Season-Three DVD




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