I’ll have a full Mother’s Day Gift Guide next week, but take note of the DVDs with three pink asterisks after the title, as they’re definitely good choices for Mom’s Day gifties …
MUST-SEE TV DVDS OF THE MONTH:
Dallas: The Complete Thirteenth Season (Warner Home Video)***
Details: The penultimate season of the classic primetime soap found ol’ J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) up to more shenanigans, though he also had plenty of people plotting against him, including his son James and his old nemesis, Cliff Barnes, who was moving on up in the political world. In fact, James turns out to be a mini-J.R. all the way, as the season’s cliffhanger involves James doing something so dastardly that … well, that his papa would be proud, if he wasn’t the one on the receiving end of James’ doubles dealings.
TV Screener Tidbit: Season 13 also marks the end of Barbara Bel Geddes‘ run as Miss Ellie, J.R. and Bobby’s mama. Ellie and her hubby Clayton head off to the Orient, where they’d be away from the ongoing machinations of power-mad J.R.
Party Down: Season One (Starz/Anchor Bay)***
Details: Season two, with new cast member Megan Mullally, premiered last week, and now the first season (which featured Glee scene stealer Jane Lynch) of the clever Starz comedy about a group of Los Angeles party caterers hits DVD. Filled with lots of jabs at the Hollywood scene (most of the characters are aspiring Hollywood types) and lots of celeb guest stars (Ken Jeong, Ed Begley Jr., Steven Weber and Kristen Bell were among the season one guests). Veronica Mars and Cupid creator Rob Thomas created the series, and Paul Rudd is among the series producers, and the cast includes comedy standouts like Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan and my favorite Freaks and Geeks alum, Martin Starr. Bottom line: Quite the collection of talent, on-screen and behind-the-scenes.
Bonus Features: Outtakes, a gag reel, audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
The Hills: Season Five, Part Two (MTV)***
Details: The new, and final season starts April 27 (10PM ET), so here’s a chance to look back at the last episodes leading up to it, when Kristin Cavallari returned and stirred up trouble for Audrina, Justin Bobby, ex-boyfriend Brody and Brody’s then-girlfriend Jayde. Oh, and it’s the last chance to see Heidi Pratt before she went and plasticized herself.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, The Hills After Show remixes and a featurette: “The Bitch Is Back” (referring, of course, to Kristin)
Mad Men: Season Three (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Details: I don’t want to spoil any storylines, because this is definitely one of the shows people catch up with via DVD. So, suffice it to say that season three is the show’s best yet, and the pace of secrets revealed and plotlines moved forward was so fast that those who complained in the past that “nothing happens” on the show had to eat their words for season three. The satisfying season finale suggested a mini reboot of several characters’ personal and work lives, and, if nothing else, you have to see the infamous “lawnmower scene,” one of the most unforgettable primetime moments of the whole year.
Bonus Features: Cast and crew commentaries and several compelling featurettes, including Mad Men Illustrated, about the artist who creates Men-inspired illustrations; Medgar Evers: An Unsung Hero, about the Civil Rights activist; Clearing the Air: The History of Cigarette Advertising; and We Shall Overcome: The March on Washington, with Martin Luther King‘s “I Have a Dream” speech and a photo gallery of the Washington march.
BEST OF THE REST:
7th Heaven: The Complete Tenth Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: It’s the penultimate season of the longest-running drama in TV history, and this season finds Camden kid Lucy joining her dad as a preacher at his church, the whole family dealing with a teen pregnancy and much of the action revolving around a now teenage Ruthie and her love life.
TV Screener Tidbit: The tenth season was supposed to be the show’s last, partly because of the expense of producing 7th Heaven, but when The CW launched in 2006, execs decided to produce an 11th season to be a part of the new network’s premiere line-up.
Krod Mandoon & the Flaming Sword of Fire Special BBC Edition (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount)
Details: The future of the series remains up in the air, but check out the first season and you’ll see why lots of fans are holding out hope for further adventures with the titular “thin-skinned and under-confident freedom fighter,” as he takes on the evil (and hilarious) ruler Chancellor Dongalor (the scene-stealing Matt Lucas). The silly, fun series spoofs everything from action stories to adventure to fantasy, and if you’re into Monty Python, it’s a safe bet that you’ll chuckle frequently at Krodford J. Mandoon (Sean Maguire) and company.
Bonus Features: Cast interviews, deleted scenes, outtakes, extended scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette with series co-star Kevin Hart.
Father Knows Best: Season Four (Shout! Factory)
Details: The classic family sitcom won a pair of episodes for this season, which includes guest appearances by Barbara Eden and Oscar winner Greer Garson, and charming episodes in which Kathy feeds jelly beans to a horse that follows her home; Bud decides to raise his younger sister when he determines his parents aren’t doing it the right way; and Margaret tries to learn how to go fly-fishing to add a prize to the family’s trophy case.
Bonus Features: Father Knows Best radio shows.
The Prisoner miniseries (Warner Home Video)
Details: AMC’s miniseries reimagining of the ’60s cult fave British drama stars Sir Ian McKellen and The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel as Two and Six, the power players in the mysterious story of The Village, why its residents are addressed by numbers instead of names and how/if they can escape.
Bonus Features: Unaired scenes, audio commentary, the miniseries’ panel at Comic Con, an interview with Ian McKellen, a diary of the miniseries’ production and the featurette Beautiful Prison: The World of The Prisoner.
AND THE REST …
The Lair – The Complete Third Season (E1 Entertainment)
Life With Derek: The Complete Third Season (Koch Vision)
Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The Complete Sixth Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The Best of Soul Train (Time Life)
Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Details: Just in time to catch up with the AMC drama before its third season premiere on March 21 (10PM ET), season two hits DVD with the performances that won star Bryan Cranston a well-deserved best actor Emmy, and co-star Aaron Paul an equally well-deserved best supporting actor nomination. Cranston plays Walt White, the schlubby high school chemistry teacher whose entire life spins out of control when he finds out he has cancer and decides to cook up drugs to sell and secure his family’s financial future, with former student (and current drug user/dealer) Jesse (Paul) assisting him.
Without spoiling it for those who haven’t watched yet, season two is filled with danger, action, dark humor, tragedy and drama after drama, as Walt gets deeper and deeper into the drug world, all while trying to keep his side business a secret from wife Skyler and battle his cancer. Jesse also has personal problems, namely his growing addiction and his estranged family, and the drug partners’ problems combine and lead to crushing consequences for those around them.
Consider Breaking Bad in the top five of shows worth marathon-ing on DVD if you haven’t already (especially since the Blu-ray version of season one was also released this week).
Bonus Features: An interactive “writers lab” guide that’s exclusive to the Blu-ray release, a photo gallery from series creator Vince Gilligan, deleted scenes, cast and crew audio commentaries, a gag reel, Breaking Bad Webisodes, the “Better Call Saul” commercial for Bob Odenkirk‘s slimy attorney character, featurettes on each of season two’s 13 episodes and a sneak peek at season three.
Ruth Rendell Mysteries Collection (Acorn Media)
Details: This massive collection – 11 discs, with 17 stories – is chock-full of British TV adaptations of crime author Rendell‘s stories, starring celebs like George Baker as Inspector Wexford, Battlestar Galactica‘s James Callis and recent Oscar nominee Colin Firth. I said, Colin Firth … need more reasons to sample the sharply-written, well-acted mysteries? The set includes the following gems: Master of the Moor, Vanity Dies Hard, The Secret House of Death, The Double, Bribery & Corruption, Front Seat, A Case of Coincidence, A Dark Blue Perfume, May & June, The Orchard Walls, Going Wrong, Harm Done, The Fallen Curtain, The Lake of Darkness, You Can’t Be Too Careful, Simisola and Road Rage.
Bonus Features: Super Sleuths: Inspector Wexford, a Rendell Mysteries documentary starring George Baker; a biography of Rendell and filmographies of the cast.
BEST OF THE REST:
South Park: The Complete 13th Season on Blu-ray (Comedy Central)
Details: From poking fun at the Jonas Bros. in “The Ring” and poking fun at Kanye West and Carlos “Menstealia” in “Fishsticks” to Cartman’s love of Chipotlaway and Butters accidentally becoming a pimp, season 13 included several classics from the South Park fellas. Oh, and, “Dancing With Smurfs”! They were totally right about Avatar.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes and the featurette “Inside Xbox: A Behind-the-Scene Tour of South Park Studios.”
Mystery Science Theater 3000 XVII (Shout! Factory)
Details: Episodes in which Joel, Mike, Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy riff on The Crawling Eye, The Beatniks, The Final Sacrifice and Blood Waters of Dr. Z make their DVD debuts in another great Shout! Factory set.
Bonus Features: A new Q+A with The Final Sacrifice star Bruce J. Mitchell, original trailers and promos, photo gallery for Blood Waters of Dr. Z and a featurette on Crow vs. Crow from Dragon*Con 2009.
Clash of the Gods: The Complete Season One on Blu-ray (A&E Home Video)
Details: All 10 episodes from the History Channel show’s premiere season on ancient gods and monsters includes installments on Zeus, Hercules, Medusa, Minotaur, Thor and Odysseus.
TV Screener Tidbit: The official Web site for the series includes video clips from each episode if you want a little preview.
Hawaii Five-O (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: The big remake is set for CBS’ fall schedule, so there’s no better time to catch up with the Jack Lord original Hawaiian cop drama.
TV Screener Tidbit: Season eight guest stars included Bruce Boxleitner, George Takei and Ed Asner.
Monk: Season Eight (Universal Home Entertainment)
Details: The OCD detective sailed off into the sunset at the end of this terrific season, which found him finally solving the mystery of his wife’s murder. The show’s series finale episode last December even set a new record as the most-watched episode of a cable TV drama, with 9.4 million viewers tuning in.
Bonus Features: Set tour, video commentary, cast and crew interviews and a “Mr. Monk Says Goodbye” featurette.
My Two Dads: The Complete Second Season (Shout! Factory)
Details: So much to love about this cheesy, but fun, high-concept sitcom, in which Greg Evigan and Paul Reiser raise a teenager after her mother dies. Season two is most notable for its Night Court crossover, with a guest appearance by Richard “Bull Shannon” Moll, and appearances by then-child star Giovanni Ribisi, who was credited as Vonni Ribisi.
TV Screener Tidbit: Season two also featured a rock-ier redo of the show’s infectious theme song, “You Can Count on Me,” written and performed by series star Evigan.
AND THE REST …
Destination Truth: Season One (Universal Home Entertainment)
The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog – Volume 3 (Shout! Factory)
Mr. Bean’s Most Memorable Moments (A&E Home Video)
My Uncle Silas: Complete Collection (BFS Entertainment)
SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob’s Last Stand (Nickelodeon)
MUST-SEE TV DVD OF THE WEEK
Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video)
Details: Before he was Babylon 5‘s Capt. Sheridan and after she was Sabrina Duncan, one of the original Charlie’s Angels, Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Jackson were Lee Stetson and Amanda King, a spy guy and a divorced housewife, who became unlikely colleagues after he gave her a package while he was being pursued on spy guy duty. High concept, yes, but the lighthearted drama was fun, bolstered by the chemistry between Boxleitner and Jackson, as Mrs. King became more and more embroiled in agency activity (much to “Scarecrow’s” initial chagrin).
TV Screener Tidbit: The show ended after four seasons, when Jackson’s role had to be reduced because she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And since Scarecrow and Mrs. King‘s 1983-87 run, there have been several rumors about a remake … who would you cast in the roles for a redo?
BEST OF THE REST:
Tremors: Complete Series (Universal Home Entertainment)
Details: All 13 episodes of the campy big-screen TV spin-off are included in this collection, in which the citizens of Perfection try to co-exist with the Graboids — especially El Blanco — scientists and the wacky experiments taking place in town, as well as the rubberneckers who float through town and stir up trouble. Among the series’ stars: Family Ties dad Michael Gross and Back to the Future‘s Christopher Lloyd as Cletus Poffenberger, one of the best TV character names of all time.
TV Screener Tidbit: The series followed three Tremors movies, and was followed by a fourth flick. A fifth movie, Tremors: The Thunder From Down Under, is rumored for a straight-to-DVD release in 2010, with Gross returning as Burt Gummer.
Greek: Chapter 4 (Disney Home Entertainment)
Details: Pop singer (and former soap star) Jesse McCartney joined the cast for this chapter of the college drama, playing Andy, the new pledge who stirred up some trouble for Rusty and the gang. Chapter four also finds Casey finally realizing that she’s still in love with Cappie, though it would take a bit longer for them to reunite …
Bonus Features: Bloopers, audio commentaries, a storyline recap, a behind-the-scenes look at the chapter finale and Jesse McCartney’s “How Do You Sleep?” video.
In Plain Sight: Season Two (Universal Home Entertainment)
Details: No spoilers here about how this season ends – except to say it involves a gunshot and a cliffhanger, which will be resolved in the season three premiere on March 31. But if you haven’t yet checked out this entertaining USA series, which stars Mary McCormack as a Federal Witness Protection program agent in Albuquerque, season two is as good a place as any to jump in, with guest stars like Martin Landau, Mitch Pileggi, Laura Prepon and The Office‘s David Denman.
Bonus Features: Audio commentary, a gag reel and deleted scenes.
Hannah Montana: Miley Says Goodbye? (Disney Home Entertainment)
Details: The show’s third season finale doesn’t air on Disney Channel until March 14, so this DVD, which includes six total episodes from the season, gives Hannah fans the chance to see it ahead of time, and find out whether double-life-living teen Hannah decides to stay in Malibu or return to her Tennessee home and her horse, Blue Jeans. PS – The season three finale marks the beginning of the end for the series either way, as the show’s fourth – and final – season begins airing in July.
Bonus Features: A photo frame, an alternate ending for the finale and an interview with Miley Cyrus‘ sister.
The Commish – Season 1 (Anchor Bay)
Details: Michael Chiklis is a former Brooklyn cop who becomes the unorthodox police commissioner of a small town in upstate New York. It’s a fine enough drama, but it makes for much more interesting viewing if you’ve since seen Chiklis in his Emmy-winning role on The Shield … there’s no way anyone could have predicted “The Commish” could become a badass like Vic Mackey.
Bonus Features: New interviews with Chiklis and series co-creator Stephen J. Cannell.
AND THE REST …
Dalziel and Pascoe: Season One (BBC Warner)
Matt Houston: The First Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Silk Stalkings: The Complete First Season (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Tenspeed & Brown Show: The Complete Series (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Walker, Texas Ranger: The Seventh Season (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Wanted: Dead or Alive – Season Two (Mill Creek Entertainment)
MUST-SEE TV DVDs OF THE WEEK:
Dog Whisperer, Season 4: Volume 1 (Screen Media)
Details: The set includes half of the episodes from the National Geographic Channel show’s fourth season, but it’s a fun collection that, as always, finds doggie do-gooder Cesar Millan helping dogs and dog lovers co-exist more happily by providing training for even the most out of control pooches. PS – Did you know Cesar has his own lifestyle magazine?
Bonus Features: The show’s 100th episode (which features a big reunion of dogs and owners who were featured in previous eps), bloopers and unaired segments.
Doctor Who: Dalek War (BBC Warners)
Details: The two-disc set features the third Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee, in Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks, two 1973 gems that find Who arrested as a spy and landing on the unfriendly Spiridon planet. Pertwee, by the way, played Who for five seasons, a relatively long stint in Who-ville.
Bonus Features: Audio commentaries, making-of featurettes, Easter eggs, photo galleries, features on Pertwee and the Daleks and a documentary about the process of re-colorizing the third episode of the Planet of the Daleks series, which had previously only been available in black and white.
Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks: Special Edition (BBC Warners)
Details: The seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, stars in this tale, as Who and his new companion, Ace, battle the Daleks, who are trying to get control of the Hand of Omega device.
Bonus Features: Audio commentary by McCoy and Sophie Aldred (who played Ace), a making-of documentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, trailers and photo galleries.
BEST OF THE REST:
Alice (SyFy 2009 miniseries) on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
Details: Kathy Bates as the Queen of Hearts, Tim Curry, Harry Dean Stanton, Colm Meaney, Zak Santiago, Philip Winchester and Caterina Scorsone as the titular 21-year-old Alice star in this fun and visually incredible SyFy network spin on Alice in Wonderland.
TV Screener Tidbit: Scorsone, who also starred in the Lifetime series 1-800-Missing, will play the little sister of Patrick Dempsey‘s McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy.
Designing Women: Season Three (Shout! Factory)
Details: The original cast was still intact for season three, which included Charlene’s road trip to Graceland, Bernice taking the women on a wilderness survival course outing and Mary Jo considering – gasp! – breast implants!
TV Screener Tidbit: Season three was the first season that earned the show an Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy nomination (DW lost the statue to Cheers).
Have Gun Will Travel: Season Four, Vol. 1 (Paramount)
Details: The 1957-63 drama followed Paladin (Richard Boone), a nattily-attired gunfighter who graduated from West Point, ate gourmet food, wore fancy duds, lived at the Hotel Carlton in San Francisco and hired himself out as a gunfighter with his business card, which featured a graphic of a chess piece and the words “Have Gun, Will Travel … Wire Paladin, San Francisco.”
TV Screener Tidbit: A big-screen movie version of the series has languished in development hell for several years, and at one point, was set to star Eminem – yes, that Eminem – as Paladin.
Poldark, Season 1 (Acorn Media)
Details: The British historical drama was dubbed the British version of Gone With the Wind, as it followed Capt. Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis) when he returned home after the Revolutionary War and found that his whole life had spun out of control in his absence.
TV Screener Tidbit: Ian McShane, our beloved Al Swearengen from Deadwood, was originally offered the part of Ross Poldark, but turned it down.
AND THE REST …
The Beiderbecke Connection (Acorn Media)
Matlock: The Complete Fourth Season (Paramount)
King Arthur and the Knights of Justice: The Complete Animated Series (Image Entertainment)
Poltergeist: The Legacy, Season 2 (MGM Home Entertainment)
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) […]