New home-video releases include 'Monty Python,' 'The Avengers'

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

TV shows released on DVD this week:

"Ellen: Season 3" -- Bookstore owner Ellen DeGeneres and friends return with such guest stars as Martha Stewart, Carrie Fisher and Mary Tyler Moore. The third season's 25 episodes come in a three-disc set. (A&E)

"The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel" -- All Diana Rigg, all the time. The full 50-episode run of Rigg's cat-suited Emma Peel on the 1960s action series starring Patrick Macnee is packed in a 17-disc set, with extras including a 1970s Emma Peel cameo from an episode of "The New Avengers." (A&E)

"Monty Python's Flying Circus" -- The final four "Personal Best" discs of the six Python boys arrive, featuring favorite sketches and animation chosen by John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, plus the five surviving members' selections of memorable bits featuring the late Graham Chapman. (A&E)

"NewsRadio: The Complete Third Season" -- The weirdoes of the radio are back on the air with a three-disc set containing year three's 25 episodes of the sitcom starring Maura Tierney, Dave Foley and Phil Hartman. (Sony)

"Charmed: The Complete Fourth Season" -- Head witch Shannen Doherty departs, with Rose McGowan joining as a stepsister to charmers Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs. The fourth season's 21 episodes come in a six-disc set. (Paramount)

"Bleak House" -- Charles Dickens often is best done on TV, where miniseries can do his expansive worlds justice. Gillian Anderson and Charles Dance lead the cast in this grand new 8-hour adaptation about intrigue and romance swirling around an endless court case. (BBC)

"The Beverly Hillbillies: Volume 2" -- Buddy Ebsen and his clan of rich hayseeds resume their homespun ways with a four-disc set featuring 27 episodes of the beloved sitcom. (MPI)

"Rumpole of the Bailey: The Complete Series" -- Leo McKern stars as the British barrister in the courtroom drama adapted by John Mortimer from his novel series. A 14-disc set has all 42 episodes that aired from 1978-92. (A&E)


Other new releases:

"Where the Truth Lies" -- Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth star in Atom Egoyan's sexually explicit tale of a musical comedy team and the murder mystery surrounding their breakup. The DVD is available in the unrated theatrical version or an R-rated edition. (Sony)

"The Ice Harvest" -- John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton are partners in crime in Harold Ramis' black comedy about Christmas Eve machinations centered on the heist of $2 million from a mob boss. (Universal)

"Love Me Tender" -- A DVD update marks the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley's film debut in this Civil War melodrama about a love triangle and payroll robbery involving Confederate brothers. (20th Century Fox)

Selected home-video releases:

"Walk the Line"

Johnny and June return just in time for their big night at the Academy Awards. Joaquin Phoenix as country legend Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as his one true love, June Carter, earned Oscar nominations for director James Mangold's portrait of Cash's roots, his early musical success, his drug battle and the long courtship he shared with Carter. The film comes in a single-disc or two-disc edition, both with 10 deleted scenes, accompanied by commentary from Mangold. The two-disc set also has three extended song performances by Phoenix and Witherspoon, plus featurettes on Cash's career, his romance with Carter and the making of the film. Also new to DVD is "The Gospel Road," Cash and Carter's 1973 musical testament to Jesus Christ. (20th Century Fox)


"Yours, Mine & Ours"

Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo star in this dopey update of the Lucille Ball-Henry Fonda comedy about a woman with 10 children and a man with eight kids who get hitched, the union producing 90 minutes of lame slapstick as two very different styles of parenting and 18 mutinous offspring fail to click. The DVD has deleted footage with commentary by director Raja Gosnell, who also offers commentary for the full movie. Other DVD extras include six featurettes examining the movie's casting and script, the lighthouse setting where the family takes up residence and the production's collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, for whom Quaid's character works. (Paramount)


"Pride & Prejudice"

Also arriving in time for your pre-Oscar perusal is director Joe Wright's excellent adaptation of Jane Austen's romantic classic about relations between 18th century Britain's haves and have-nots. Keira Knightley earned a best-actress nomination as Austen's free-thinking heroine, one of a family of impoverished sisters whose mother schemes to marry them for money, not love. DVD featurettes include a glimpse of the modern sensibilities Austen set forth in her fiction nearly two centuries ago. The disc also offers a look at the colorful family at the center of the story and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the film's grand dance ball, along with commentary from Wright. (Universal)


"Lady and the Tramp"

Has it really been half a century since a mutt and a prissy pooch kissed over a shared strand of spaghetti? Walt Disney's animated charmer returns to DVD in a 50th anniversary edition of one of Hollywood's most endearing screen romances, between a rascally canine and his uptown girl, a pampered, pedigreed cocker spaniel. The two-disc set offers storyboard reconstructions of two deleted scenes, including a fantasy sequence in which dogs rule, dragging their puny human pets around on leashes. The set also has a terrific documentary tracing the long development of the 1955 film, whose original concepts date back to the late '30s (Lady once had two suitors, a Russian wolfhound named Boris and a mongrel named Homer; luckily, Walt Disney hated the early concepts and later stumbled on a Cosmopolitan short story about a cynical dog, which he grafted on to the story). (Disney)


"Dog Day Afternoon," "Network"

"Attica, Attica!" "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Two defining epigrams of angry Hollywood of the 1970s appropriately return on the eve of the Oscars, which feature one of the most defiant film lineups in years. Al Pacino bellowed the first line in Sidney Lumet's 1975 bank robbery fiasco "Dog Day Afternoon"; a year later, Lumet's "Network" starred William Holden, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall in a vicious satire of TV news, with Peter Finch winning the best-actor Oscar for his "mad as hell" on-air rants. Earlier bare-bones DVD releases of the films are replaced by two-disc sets, each with extensive making-of background and commentary by Lumet. (Warner Bros.)

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