MUST-SEE-TV DVDS OF THE WEEK:
30 Rock – Season Three (Universal Home Entertainment)
Details: Third season, third Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy. Among the highlights of the third season: Guest appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Martin, Rip Torn, Peter Dinklage, Elaine Stritch, Alan Alda and Mad Men hunk Jon Hamm; Liz Lemon’s (Tina Fey) ongoing obsession with having a child; Liz’s doomed flings with Dinklage and Hamm; Liz’s downtime after being suspended from work; Jack’s (Alec Baldwin) affair with Elissa and his search for his dad; Tracy’s (Tracy Morgan) ever-wackier shenanigans; and Kenneth the Page’s (Jack McBrayer) sweet devotion to the TGS gang, including his trip to Queens to retrieve Liz’s cell phone.
Bonus Features: Good stuff, including audio commentary with Fey, Hamm, Alda and McBrayer, deleted scenes, the cast table read for the season finale and a making-of documentary for the “He Needs a Kidney” episode.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: They had me at the lenticular cover. The 14-disc box set featuring the porous Nickelodeon hero in his first 100 Bikini Bottom adventures (which covers the show’s first five seasons and breaks down to more than 200 cartoon segments) is also packed with special features, including audio commentary, the “Kick-Wham-Pow-Bob” music video and two featurettes, Life Lessons from Bikini Bottom and Help Wanted – The Seven Seas Edition.
Bonus Features: The best reason, aside from the original eps, of course, to pick up the box set: the awesome documentary Square Roots – The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants, a 43-minute trek through SS history, featuring interviews with voice talent, writers and the cartoonists, including their take on that infamous controversy about the alleged homosexuality of SpongeBob.
BEST OF THE REST:
The Mentalist: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video)
Details: It was one of the only true breakout hit series of last season, and The Mentalist is already off to another good start in its new, Thursday-night season-two home. The main reason for the show’s success? The supporting cast is fine, the premise – a more dramatic spin on USA’s Psych – is good, too, but it’s really all about leading man Simon Baker, whose charm, good looks and playful approach to using his character’s observational skills to help the California Bureau of Investigation solve its cases makes the show a standout in the crime procedural genre.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, a gag reel, a featurette on whether psychic/mentalists are real and Evidence of a Hit Series, a documentary with the cast and crew discussing the creation of the show and its first-season success.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – The Complete Second Season (Warner Home Video)
Details: Many fans were sad that this TV entry into the Terminator universe was cancelled after two seasons, especially since season two was such a twisty, turn-y, action-packed drama. Giving specifics on the storylines, particularly on the tragic season/series finale, would spoil too much for viewers who plan to check the series out on DVD, and yes, despite the fact that you know this is the end of the road for the show, it is worth watching both Sarah Connor Chronicle seasons on DVD, though the promise of what was to come will definitely bum you out.
Bonus Features: Almost five hours of extras, including cast and crew audio commentaries, an eight-part featurette gallery, unaired scenes, a featurette on storyboarding the show’s action sequences, a Cameron vs. Rosie fight rehearsal featurette and a gag reel (especially welcome given how intense the show is).
Castle: The Complete First Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Details: At last, Firefly and former daytime soap hunk Nathan Fillion gets another series of his, one worthy of his leading man talents. In this, one of the few shows to make it to a sophomore year from last season, Fillion is Rick Castle, a very rich and famous crime novelist who gets mixed up with cops when a real-world killer starts to copycat his books. Castle soon realizes the new relationship has benefits for him, too – cop work provides him with fodder for his future works, especially since he’s battling a case of writer’s block – and the single dad ladies man isn’t unhappy that his new partnership will pair him with the attractive Det. Beckett (Stana Katic), too.
Bonus Features: Bloopers, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, a feature on series guest star and real-life mystery writer/TV legend Stephen J. Cannell, a featurette with the show creators on their inspiration for the often lighthearted tone of the mystery-drama and Write-Along with Nathan Fillion, a featurette in which the funny, charming Castle star shadows a real mystery writer for a day.
Brotherhood: The Final Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: Part Sopranos, part The Wire, the drama unfolded the story of Irish-American brothers Michael (Jason Isaacs) and Tommy Caffee (Jason Clarke), a mobster and a politician, respectively, whose morals don’t always match up to their positions. The Showtime series never got the love it deserves, always taking a back seat to shows like Dexter and Weeds, but if you’re looking for a good drama to sink your teeth into on DVD, Brotherhood won’t disappoint.
TV Screener Tidbit: Among the series’ great supporting cast: Kevin Chapman (a scene stealer as Garrity’s brother Terrance on Rescue Me) as Michael’s gangster boss Freddie; Annabeth Gish as Tommy’s wife; and Fionnula Flanagan (who Lost fans know as Eloise Hawking) as the Caffee brothers’ manipulative mama, Rose.
Ghost Whisperer: The Complete Fourth Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: Again, to go into specifics would be to spoil the season for those who plan to watch it, but suffice it to say that the series went in a direction that included a different path for one of its main characters, and that “path” was so extreme that it excites some fans and provided a bit of rejuvenation for the show in its fourth season, while others called the storyline the show’s jump-the-shark moment.
Bonus Features: Webisodes, featurettes on the season and three interactive featurettes: Grave Mistakes (show trivia), Interactive Haunted Dollhouse (you have to help the disembodied spirit of Melinda’s Jim) and Interactive Fashion Style Guide (a look at the show’s costuming department, and your chance to whip up your own ghost duds).
Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Details: Betty Suarez (America Ferrera) moves to the big city just as the show’s production moved to New York City, which made for a nice bit of symmetry with the show’s third season, when change was a major theme: Betty’s move for independence and to see if she really had the chops to make it in Manhattan, MODE mag’s future up in the air with financial dramas, the Meades vs. Wilhelmina, Ignacio’s heart attack, guest appearances by Lindsay Lohan … and, as always, the Betty crew manages it all with humor, sometimes over-the-top drama and well-placed doses of heartfelt sweetness.
Bonus Features: “Betty bloops” bloopers, deleted scenes, a featurette on the Ugly Betty production move from Los Angeles to NYC, Webisodes, audio commentary, a primer on the first two seasons and a great pop-up video commentary feature with series stars Michael Urie and Becki Newton.
AND THE REST …
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – The 10th Year (Universal Home Entertainment)
Taxi: The Complete Fourth Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Star Trek The Original Series: Season Two (Blu-ray) (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Friday the 13th: The Series – The Final Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The best TV DVDs of the last two weeks …
MUST-SEE-TV DVDS OF THE WEEK:
One Foot in the Grave: The Complete Series (BBC Video)
Details: This 12-disc set encompasses the entirety of a darkly hilarious series widely considered a British national treasure. Victor Meldrew (Richard Scott), involuntarily retired from his security job by a “box,” spends six delightful seasons delivering a bravura performance as a modern day Job. Victor’s every attempt to fill his days with useful pursuits are invariably thwarted by unthinking bureaucracies, idiot neighbors, and random chance, provoking side-splitting tirades at the unfairness of it all. Each of these is inevitably punctuated by Victor’s redeeming catchphrase “I don’t believe it!” Victor, you see, remains undeterred. It is that universally appealing quality which so endeared the show to the British public (the railway station site of Victor’s series-finale hit-and-run death was swarmed with actual floral tributes).
TV Screener Tidbit: Bill Cosby modeled his series Cosby on One Foot in the Grave, but, despite One Foot creator David Renwick‘s involvement, the sharp comedic edges were sanded down for the considerably less funny Cosby.
Fringe: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray (Warner Home Video)
Details: Twists, weird science, terrorism, family drama, hook-ups … this latest sci-fi drama from Lost/Alias/Felicity creator J.J. Abrams has got it all, and with its second season just kicking off on Fox, there’s still plenty of time to catch up with season one via this visually awesome Blu-ray version of the show’s first season.
Bonus Features: Phew, there’s a bundle, including audio commentaries, unaired scenes, a gag reel, Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe featurette, Behind the Real Science of Fringe featurette, A Massive Undertaking: The Making of Fringe (on select episodes), The Casting of Fringe featurette, Fringe visual effects featurette, producer Roberto Orci‘s production diary and a Gene the Cow montage.
BEST OF THE REST:
The Office: Season Five (Universal Home Entertainment)
Details: While one relationship – the awkwardly sweet Michael and Holly – didn’t work out, Pam and Jim moved ever closer to the altar, and Michael actually managed to turn an unsuccessful venture starting his own company into a win at Dunder Mifflin.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, episode commentaries, Webisodes, promos, a gag reel and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ panel discussion with the cast.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season (Warner Home Entertainment)
Details: One of the rare shows that gets even better in its sophomore season, Big Bang Theory was rewarded with an Emmy nomination for star Jim Parsons for the second season (and co-star Johnny Galecki deserved one, too).
Bonus Features: Gag reel, a featurette on the show’s characters and the featurette Physicist to the Stars, about real-life physicist/UCLA professor David Saltzberg‘s consulting relationship with the show.
The best TV DVDs of the last two weeks (just in time for Labor Day weekend marathon viewing) …
MUST-SEE-TV DVDS OF THE WEEK:
thirtysomething: The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory)
Details: Yuppie angst? And how! But this seminal drama – from the producers who would later give us TV gems like My So-Called Life and Once and Again – was delving deeply into the emotional lives of its Big Chill-ish group of thirtysomething (hey, the title doesn’t lie) friends long before shows like Brothers & Sisters and Grey’s Anatomy were doing it.
The show had a cult following during its four seasons on ABC, as viewers identified with the main characters, who were juggling their personal and professional lives and the changing roles of men and women in both. thirtysomething won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series one time, and it was for this premiere season.
Bonus Features: Plenty, including commentaries by the cast and crew, an interview with show creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, and featurettes on creating the show, the show’s couples and thirtysomething‘s cultural impact
Samantha Who?: The Complete Second Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Details: One of the most disappointing network decisions last spring was ABC’s cancellation of this funny, charming comedy featuring Christina Applegate as nasty Samantha, who was in an accident, slipped into a coma and woke up with a case of amnesia that left her of no memory of just how nasty she had been.
Season two continued to find Sam delving into her past and trying to make sure her future included her being a better person, to her friends, her family and her live-in ex-boyfriend Todd. Applegate was at her best, so good, in fact, that I hope she’s shopping around for another series in which to display her considerable comedic chops. Ditto Jean Smart as her kooky, competitive mom Regina; in fact, dream scenario: the two find another sitcom to co-star in.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, bloopers and a set visit with Applegate
BEST OF THE REST:
Supernatural: The Complete Fourth Season (Warner Home Entertainment)
Details: Sam was dead … then he wasn’t. And both Winchester boys (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) had some, well, issues, with the ladies. Won’t spoil the major season ender for those who somehow have managed to avoid it via recaps, but suffice it to say that this is one of the most action-packed, clever dramas on network TV, and season four is Supernatural‘s best season yet. If you’ve never seen the show at all, go back to season one and catch up. It’s worth it.
Bonus Features: Audio commentaries, a gag reel, deleted scenes, extended scenes and featurettes on the show’s mythologies
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (Disney)
Details: Roo and his new BFF Lumpy are excited about Halloween in the Hundred Acre Woods, because it’s the first time they’re going trick-or-treating. Pure kiddie viewing fun, but even we grown-up types can appreciate the cute story about friendship and the excitement of the holiday.
Bonus Features: Especially if you’re buying this as a gift, spring for the limited edition, which comes with an adorable, soft and cuddly plush Pooh … wearing a Tigger costume! So. Freakin’. Cute.
Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Details: Season seven, especially with that fairy tale episode … not so much. But the show was back in good form in season eight, with episodes that focused on the Sacred Heart doctors’ relationships, always the richest source of Scrubs‘ trademark quirky comedy and heart. And it all wrapped up with a very sweet, heartfelt finale (don’t lie, you cried, too) that closed the door on life at Sacred Heart as we had known it for the show’s first eight years.
Bonus Features: Bloopers, deleted scenes, series creator Bill Lawrence answering fan questions and a featurette on the cast’s trip to the Bahamas for the episode in which The Janitor married Lady
MUST-SEE-TV DVD OF THE WEEK:
Sons of Anarchy – Season One (Fox Home Entertainment)
Details: It’s my favorite new show in several seasons, and it’s one of those shows that’s so good that it only gets better on second viewing. Think The Sopranos as bikers instead of Jersey mobsters, with a definite Hamlet-y undertone, and that only gives you a hint of how good the writing, acting and storytelling is on the show, which was created by Sopranos producer/The Shield writer (really, can you have a better resume?) Kurt Sutter.
At least four cast members were deserving of Emmy nominations (though the show, incredibly, received none) for the premiere season: Undeclared and U.K. Queer as Folk star Charlie Hunnam as Jax, a new father and second-in-command of the SAMCRO motorcycle club, who’s growing suspicious of the intentions of his stepfather, SAMCRO leader Clay; Hellboy star Ron Perlman as Clay, the complicated man who loves Jax and his mom, but doesn’t always have the best intentions; Married … with Children‘s Katey Sagal as Jax’s mom/Clay’s wife Gemma, who’s every bit as smart, tough and conniving as any of the biker dudes; and CSI: Miami‘s Kim Coates as Tig, SAMCRO’s resident psychopath.
In short: Great performances? Check. Action? Check. Drama? Check. Dark humor? Check. Makes good use of its 10PM timeslot with naughty behavior and language? Check. Time to breeze through the season one DVDs before the show’s second season premieres on FX on Sept. 8? Check.
Bonus Features: Featurettes on the making of the show and casting the show, a gag reel, deleted scenes and audio commentary with the cast and Sutter
BEST OF THE REST:
Greek: Chapter 3 (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Details: Casey finally ‘fessed up to her feelings for Cappie, setting up what should be a very interesting next season (which premieres on ABC Family on Aug. 31).
Bonus Features: Audio commentaries, bloopers and a “20 Questions with the Cast of Greek” featurette
Dexter: The Complete Third Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: In season three, serial killer Dexter finally had a best friend (guest Jimmy Smits) … and then he didn’t. Everything in between made for another great season of the show.
Bonus Features: Cast interviews, an excerpt of Dexter by Design, the latest Dexter novel by author Jeff Lindsey, and episodes of other Showtime series, including The Tudors and The United States of Tara
The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season (Fox Home Entertainment)
Details: Among the season’s best episodes: “Insane Clown Poppy,” “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” (where Homer starts his own gossip Website), “HOMR” (where a crayon is found to be the source of Homer’s, uh, Homer-ness), “New Kids on the Blecch” (where Bart and pals form a boy band and ‘N Sync guest stars) and, one of the best episodes ever, “Worst Episode Ever,” in which Comic Book Guy (my all-time fave Simpsons character) has a heart attack and Bart and Milhouse take over The Android Dungeon
Bonus Features: Audio commentary, deleted scenes, sketch gallery and Easter eggs, and, of course, the limited edition Comic Book Guy head packaging
Chris Isaak: Greatest Hits Live (Soundstage) (E1 Entertainment)
Details: Crooner Isaak, with his smooth vocals, catchy songs, groovy suits and playful stage presence, is one of the best live performers touring, and if you haven’t had the chance to see him in concert, this recording of his show from the PBS concert series will give you a good idea of what you’re missing.
TV Screener Tidbit: The concert includes a performance of “American Boy,” the infectious tune that was also the theme song of the funny, but sadly short-lived Showtime sitcom The Chris Isaak Show.
Simon & Simon: Season Three (Shout! Factory)
Details: One of the best detective shows of the ’80s, with odd couple brothers Rick and A.J. Simon (Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker) teaming up to find baddies in San Diego.
TV Screener Tidbit: Look for a pre-teen Mario Lopez guest starring in the season three episode “Corpus Delecti.”
Hannah Montana: The Movie (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Details: When teen star Hannah (Miley Cyrus) starts to get too big for her britches, her dad whisks her away to their Tennessee hometown to remind her of her roots. OK, OK, some of Cyrus’ off-camera shenanigans are super annoying, but my nine-year-old niece Danielle worships her and told me in detail why that undeniably infectious song “The Climb” is “really a great song, Aunt Kim,” so that’s all I need to recommend how fun the movie is, especially through tween eyes.
Bonus Features: Music videos, cast bloopers, audio commentary and a featurette on how to do the “Hoedown Throwdown” dance
Gossip Girl: The Complete Second Season (Warner Home Video)
Details: It was slow-going in some parts of the show’s second season, but well worth it to see (finally) the Blair and Chuck hook-up at the end of the season.
Bonus Features: A tour of Gossip Girl haunts in NYC, an audiobook download for one of the novels on which the show is based, a gag reel, unaired scenes, a featurette on the show’s fashions and the “Chasing Dorota” Webisodes
Everybody Hates Chris: The Complete Series (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: All four seasons of the charming sitcom narrated by – and based on the teen years of – comedian Chris Rock
TV Screener Tidbit: The final scene of the show’s series finale cleverly spoofs the finale scene from The Sopranos series finale.
The Beast: Season One (Sony)
Details: Includes all 13 episodes of the Patrick Swayze FBI series, which won’t be returning for a second season.
Bonus Features: 13 behind-the-scenes featurettes
AND THE REST …
Dirty Sexy Money: The Complete and Final Second Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Eli Stone: The Complete Second and Final Season (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Everybody Hates Chris: The Final Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Man vs. Wild: Season Three (Discovery Channel)
Total Drama Island: The Complete Series (Warner Home Video)
Welcome to TVScreener.com‘s new weekly TV DVD round-up. Lots of great boob tube hitting DVD recently, so for our inaugural Must-See-TV DVD column, we’ll include this week’s releases, as well as highlights from the last couple of weeks …
MUST-SEE-TV DVD OF THE WEEK:
Designing Women: The Complete 2nd Season (Shout! Factory)
Details: The best part of season two: Anthony Bouvier (Meshach Taylor) and delightfully kooky Bernice Clifton (Alice Ghostley) were a regular part of the action. Guest stars included Scott Bakula, Gerald McRaney as Suzanne’s (Delta Burke) ex-hubby (McRaney and Burke would eventually marry) and Billy Baldwin.
TV Screener Tidbit: Surprisingly, though the show was frequently nominated for Emmys, it won only one: Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series for the season two episode “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
BEST OF THE REST:
90210: The Complete 1st Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: Didn’t love the first season as much as I hoped to, but it was cool to get an update on the original Beverly Hills 90210 gang, especially the news of Kelly’s offspring with babydaddy Dylan McKay. Plus, you have to give it up for any show that brings Shannen Doherty back to the tube.
Bonus Features: Commentaries, a set tour and featurettes on the music and fashion of The CW series
Adam-12: Season 3 (Shout! Factory)
Details: Season three of the Dragnet spin-off features the further adventures of senior LAPD officer Malloy (Martin Milner) and his protégé Jim Reed (Kent McCord). The series, created by Jack Webb, was also the first full-time writing gig for future A-Team creator Stephen J. Cannell.
TV Screener Tidbit: McCord later appeared as the father of Johnny Depp‘s Tom Hanson on 21 Jump Street. Seen in flashbacks, we learn that Hanson’s dad was also a policeman, who had been killed in the line of duty.
AND THE REST …
The City: Season 1 (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle – Season 1 (BBC Video)
Life With Derek: The Complete 2nd Season (E1 Entertainment)
The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science – Season 4 (Timeless Media Group)
Pulling: The Complete 2nd Season (MPI Home Video)
The World’s Greatest Super Friends – The Lost Episodes (Warner Home Video)
THE BEST OF RECENT MUST-SEE-TV DVD RELEASES:
Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Second Season (HBO Home Entertainment)
Details: Jemaine as a prostitute, the guys performing to shopping bags and guest turns by Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kristen Wiig, Art Garfunkel (?!) and Patton Oswalt … just a few slices of the fun of season two (the Emmy-nominated season two!) and the reason why we’re all hoping there will be a season three!
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, outtakes, a documentary feature and Dave’s pawn shop commercials
Charlie Sheen, Russell Brand and Louis C.K. are getting most of the attention, but I’m most excited that one of the best new shows of last TV season — Wilfred — returns for its second season on FX tonight (10PM ET). Season one of the series ended with a cliffhanger — had Ryan (Elijah Wood) […]