The studio executives must think money normally spent on DVDs will go to fireworks this holiday week. Pickings are slim.
_"Last Resort: The Complete Series," Grade B: The crew of a military submarine takes an unusual stand when mysterious forces appear to use the crew to start a major confrontation. Andre Braugher plays the ship's commander who, rather than being the catalyst for unwarranted death and destruction, leads his crew to a remote island to regroup and try to solve the mystery.
The series starts strong but slowly fades as the submarine crew tries to deal with internal and external problems. Even the generally dependable Braugher has trouble keeping this series afloat because of all the holes in the script.
_"The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Fourth Season," Grade A-minus: The 32 episodes in this fourth season from 1964-65 are as funny today as when they originally aired. That's because the humor came out of events that could have happened then, now or in the future.
One of the best episodes is "Never Bathe on a Saturday," where Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) gets her toe caught in a bath spout. It's a simple idea that provides huge laughs. The season also includes the episode "100 Terrible Hours," where a sleep-deprived Rob (Dick Van Dyke) tries to stay awake during his job interview with Alan Brady. It highlights Van Dyke's great skill at physical comedy.
Both are examples of how this series took relatable events and gave them a wonderful comedy spin.
The DVD set is loaded with Blu-ray exclusives, including the TV Academy tribute to Carl Reiner and audio commentaries with Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke and Garry Marshall.
_"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series," Grade B: It's been 54 years since this comedy debuted and yet most of the story lines ring as true today as they did when it originally aired. The never-ending efforts by high school / junior college student Dobie Gillis (Dwayne Hickman) to fall in love are just as funny as any current comedy.
It's the combination of Hickman's All-American performance with the wacky beatnik character portrayed by Bob Denver that makes the show work. These opposite should never have attracted, but they create a very funny comedy pair when together.
The 147 episodes also are fun because of the guest stars, who included Tuesday Weld and Warren Beatty.
Also new on DVD this week:
"Venus and Serena": A look into the lives of the winners of four Olympic Gold Medals, 13 Grand Slam Titles and holds the highest ranking of No. 1 in the world.
"Martha & Friends": A 10-year-old Martha and her friends head to the beach to enjoy the warm sun.
"Nicky Deuce": Nickelodeon film about a sheltered suburban teen who has the vacation of a lifetime when he is forced to spend the summer in Brooklyn.
"The Girl": Before a poor young woman can win back custody of her little boy, she must make amends for a tragic mistake.
"Death By China": Documentary about the history and implications of the imbalanced U.S.-China trade relationship.
"Falcon": Marton Csokas plays an intuitive detective bent on exposing hard truths and corruption.
"North & South": BBC miniseries starring Patrick Stewart that depicts tensions during the Victorian era.
"Wiener Dog Nationals": An underdog and her family ban together to advance through the cutthroat world of wiener dog racing.
"Tai Chi Hero": The original cast is back for the second installment in the "Tai Chi" trilogy.
"Kentucky Fried Movie": The cult classic from David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker is now available on Blu-ray.
"An American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky": A young artists sets out to save her school's art, music programs.
"Bob Saget: That's What I'm Talking About": Comedy special starring Bob Saget.
"6 Souls": After the death of her husband, a forensic psychiatrist's faith in God has been shaken, but not her belief in science.
"Why We Laugh": Documentary featuring interviews with Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Rita Rudner and Kathy Najimy.
"The Producers: Collector's Edition": Along with the Blu-ray version of the comedy is an interview with Mel Brooks.
"Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season Three": Contains 33 episodes of the action TV series.
"Legends of the Old West": History Channel series that looks at Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill.
(c)2013 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)
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