News Column

What do you want as extras on DVD and Blu-ray?

August 19, 2013


As TV shows and movies become ever more available as downloads and streaming video, the question of whether you really need to buy them on DVD or Blu-ray becomes more nagging.

To be sure, not everyone has abandoned hard-disc formats. Indeed, in many cases, distributors assume that shows' fans don't even long for a high-definition Blu-ray of their favorites. But for some fans, especially those enamored of telecasts they have seen a few zillion times, video extras may be the reason to snap up a set.

Only what is offered as extras can vary considerably, as an array of sets being released on Tuesday demonstrate.

DVD sets with a strong commitment to extras include "The Good Wife: The Fourth Season" (Paramount, 22 episodes, $64.99) and "NCIS: The 10th Season" (Paramount, 24 episodes, $64.99). "The Good Wife" includes deleted scenes, an enlightening piece about the fashions on the show (Archie Panjabi as Kalinda became especially influential with young viewers) and, most interesting, a look at how the show does its sex scenes.

As a broadcast network show, "The Good Wife" operates under greater restrictions than non-broadcast programs. Even so, its content has run afoul of network censors, and the segment includes scenes as presented to the censors and the way they finally aired. Even more amusing, Paramount put an adult-content warning on the segment in the DVD menu.

"NCIS," meanwhile, takes you deeper into its show with audio commentaries, deleted scenes, items such as a detailed look at the home of DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), a "10 items or less" piece of odd facts and moments and a discussion of the decision to kill off two significant supporting characters.

I like such presentations because they give audiences a better look at how and why TV shows are made. Turning back to "The Good Wife," there's a deleted scene that not only contains differences in tone from the aired version but a different guest actor than in the final cut. Looking at the two gives you an idea both of what the show wanted, and what it did not.

At the same time, you may not dip that deeply into the sets if you don't care about the shows. (The fourth season of "The Good Wife" had its problems, notably a digressive storyline about Kalinda's ex.) And some sets are content to be minimal about extras, figuring the shows stand on their own.

"Mike & Molly: The Complete Third Season" (Warner, 23 episodes, $44.98 standard DVD) seems to have that attitude, offering only a brief bloopers segment as an extra. Several reality-show repackagings are also minimalist. "The Best of Pawn Stars: The Greatest Stories Ever Told" (Lionsgate, eight episodes, $14.98) adds nothing to a selection of telecasts "chosen by the people who made them." "The Best of American Pickers: Mike & Frank's Picks" (Lionsgate, seven episodes, $14.98) adds new introductions to the episodes: six chosen by stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, one "bonus" chosen by co-star Danielle Colby. The 13-episode "Best of Storage Wars: Life in the Locker" (Lionsgate, $14.98) also adds only new introductions to the picked-by-the-cast set.

Also of note this week: "Amour" (Sony, $30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray), the heart-rending movie about an elderly couple facing the wife's failing health. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, it won the Oscar for best foreign-language film and was nominated for best picture, original screenplay, director and actress (Riva, who at 85 was the oldest nominee in the category ever).

As I said when the movie was in theaters, it is at once realistic and occasionally dream-like, wrenchingly emotional and a bit chilly. Still, in its occasional distance from raw emotion, it is all the more a reminder of what we face as we grow older _ especially with a loved one. Strength diminishes, the power of speech and thought fade, old companionship becomes no more than a memory. And what is amour, love, in the face of all that?

Extras include a making-of piece and a Q&A with writer-director Michael Haneke.

Finally, if you saw the movie "This Is 40," you may remember musical performances by Graham Parker and the reunited Rumour, much loved for songs like "Local Girls," "Discovering Japan," "Stupefaction" and "Passion Is No Ordinary Word." The complete concert used for the film arrives Tuesday as "Graham Parker & The Rumour: This Is Live" (Shout!Factory, $21.98 Blu-ray), with "This Is 40" director Judd Apatow at the helm.

While Parker does not have full snarl of his '70s heyday, he and the band are still compelling performers, the songs are terrific and the Blu-ray should be a joy for old fans and newcomers.

Down video road: "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain" arrives in all formats on Oct. 15. "Unfinished Song" (also known as "Song for Marion") comes to DVD on Sept. 24. "Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga" offers the movies and new extras on DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 5.


Rich Heldenfels:


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