Author - Thespia

Headsup: The Vietnam War

Vietnam War Ken Burns Blu-RayAn epic documentary a decade in the making, The Vietnam War is the latest work by Ken Burns and Lynn Novik which takes a 360-degree look at the conflict that would cost the lives of millions and create one of the defining periods of the twentieth century.  The film features digitally remastered footage sourced from all over the world (some of which has rarely been seen since it was originally shot)  as well as accounts from over ninety witnesses from both sides, including both political proponents and opponents and combatants from either side of the battle line in Vietnam.  Filling out the picture of the devastating epoch are television broadcasts, pictures from some of the period’s most acclaimed photojournalists, clips of home movies, and audio recordings of conversations from the political administrations of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.

Permanently intertwined with the events of the period was, of course, the music of the day.  The documentary features over one hundred and twenty evocative songs from the era, including music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Otis Redding, Santana, Joni Mitchell, and others.  No work would have Ken Burns’ stamp of approval without an epic score, and this one is no different—-in addition to music from the era of the Vietnam War, the film features original music composed (and recorded) by Academy Award-winning composers Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor along with pieces by David Cieri and Doug Wamble.  It also boasts some new music arranged by Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who also recorded it along with the Silk Road Ensemble.

The Vietnam War is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, which includes all ten parts of the series presented this month on PBS as well as over one hundred minutes of additional footage (adding up to around eighteen hours total across ten discs).  Extras featured on these collections include a 45-minute preview program, a couple of featurettes on the present lives of two of the interview participants, and some additional bonus content.  If you’re a big fan but missed seeing it this time around on PBS, you will have another chance to see the documentary for free starting October 3rd (when the series will re-air on a weekly basis through November 28th).  However, if you don’t want to risk missing one of the ten installments or if you want to be able to take a mental break without sacrificing the opportunity to see it in its entirety (this is really heavy stuff, after all), you may want to consider getting the series in disc form and watching at your leisure.  If you think one of the disc sets might be right for you, you can grab the DVD and Blu-ray on Amazon (for $59.16 and $74.29, respectively).  The Vietnam War: An Intimate History (a companion book to the series authored by the film’s writer Geoffrey C. Ward) is available on Amazon as well.

Headsup: Gut Punches and Belly Laughs

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the first three titles featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Arrow Season 4 Blu-RayArrow (the CW series based on the DC Comics character The Green Arrow) follows Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who has a double life as a masked vigilante protecting the city from criminals. In Season Five, Oliver has the additional responsibility of being the newly appointed mayor, and he must learn to fight his enemies both day and night. In addition, with Team Green Arrow down to just himself and Felicity (and with Damien Darhk’s defeat at the end of Season Four), a new wave of inexperienced vigilantes has come to light. As he tries to maneuver around the would-be-heroes, Oliver must also face a dangerous new adversary, all while trying to reconcile his dual roles as public leader and masked protector of the city.  Out now is Arrow: The Complete Fifth Season, available on DVD and Blu-ray.  The set includes all twenty three episodes of the fifth season along with a fair collection of bonus features.  Included in the extras are the DC superhero crossover event with Supergirl and The Flash along with three featurettes (“The New Team Arrow”, “Allied: The Invasion Complex (Arrow)” and “Returning to the Roots of Arrow: Prometheus”).  Also included are the 2016 Arrow Comic Con panel along with some deleted scenes and a gag reel.  Those who prefer streaming can get the season digitally on both Amazon and iTunes for $29.99 (Amazon includes the Comic Con panel while iTunes offers that as well as the three featurettes).  If you want to hold out for one of the disc formats (along with the complete host of extras), you can snag the DVD and Blu-ray on Amazon (for $32.99 and $36.99, respectively).

Lethal Weapon Season 1 Blu-RayIf you like buddy cop action-comedies, you may be a fan of the new series Lethal Weapon (Warner Brothers’ television reboot of the film franchise of the same name).  The show follows the story of by-the-book veteran LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) who is partnered with impulsive Navy SEAL-turned-police officer Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford), who has joined the LAPD after the death of his wife and their unborn baby. With lots of emotional baggage and clashing styles of operation, Murtaugh and Riggs must learn how to navigate car chases, shootouts, explosions, and other sticky situations, all while figuring out how to avoid killing each other in the process. Available now is Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season, which features all eighteen episodes from the show’s inaugural season along with some extras.  Bonus features include an extended (uncensored) version of the pilot episode, a featurette about reimagining the story of the classic films (“Reloading Lethal Weapon”), some deleted scenes, and a gag reel.  Those who want the digital version can get it on Amazon and on iTunes for $24.99. (Be aware that bonus features are pretty sparse on both of these options, though– iTunes features the extended version of the pilot, a two-minute trailer, and a tw0-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette, and Amazon only has the extended pilot and the trailer).  The hard copy versions are out today on Amazon— as of this writing the DVD is going for $29.24 and the Blu-ray for $28.85 (yes, the Blu-ray is currently lower than the DVD).  Even with the scarcity of bonus features on the streaming options, it’s also good to note that all you get extras-wise by opting for the disc format (apart from the deleted scenes and gag reel) is the “Reloading Lethal Weapon” featurette, so it’s up to you to decide if you think it merits the $4 difference in price.

Big Bang Theory Season 10 Blu-RayStarring the highest paid television actors in the U.S., The Big Bang Theory is about to premiere its eleventh season and is still going strong.  Based around a quartet of endearing geniuses and their love interests living and working in Pasadena, CA, the show has garnered huge ratings (and huge profits) for Warner Brothers and CBS over the past decade.  Season Ten sees the characters shifting living situations, rebooting a wedding, and gearing up for the arrival of the show’s first baby.  A love letter to all manifestations of science, comics, fantasy, and general nerd-dom, the explosion of this (aptly-named) show’s popularity is a big part of the reason many now say we live in the Age of the Geeks.  Out now on DVD and Blu-ray is The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Tenth Season, which includes all twenty four episodes of Season Ten along with a handful of extras.  Leading the list of bonus content are four featurettes: “#JustAskBBT”, “Mad Props”, “The Ever-Expanding Universe of the Big Bang Theory”, and “Who’s the Baby Now?”.  Extras also include coverage of the 2016 The Big Bang Theory Comic Con panel (I’m surprised that crowd even let them leave) and a gag reel.  It’s a little sad that on this one they didn’t do some sort of commentary or additional interviews (especially considering the show has featured brilliant guest stars such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and many others).  Even without that, if you’re one of the fans that made up this season’s average nineteen million viewers, you’re probably looking to get the season regardless.  If that’s the case, you can get the season on disc on Amazon (where the DVD is currently $28.99 and the Blu-ray is $32.98).  Things get really interesting when you consider going the streaming route, though– Amazon offers the season digitally for $29.99 (which includes the Comic Con panel), but iTunes is the clear winner, offering all the bonus features except the gag reel for only $9.99.  At basically one-third the price of getting it on DVD with almost no loss of content, I’d say the iTunes option is the way to go.

Best of Carol Burnett ShowOn September 11, 1967, a variety show (created almost solely due to a contractual obligation the network owed its young star) aired for the first time on CBS, and television would never be the same.  Fifty years later, The Carol Burnett Show still enjoys its place as the gold standard of variety shows, earned over an eleven-year run so popular that many joked that “CBS Network” really stood for “Carol Burnett Show Network”.   As a celebration of the show’s fiftieth anniversary, Time Life is releasing The Best of the Carol Burnett Show, which features sixteen episodes (some of which have not been seen since their original airing).  Classic sketches such as “Mrs. Wiggins,” “The Family,” and “The Stomach Turns” are included along with commercial and movie parodies, along with appearances from guest stars such as Rock Hudson, Rita Hayworth, and Liza Minnelli (among many others).  Fans will be glad to know that included in the list of episodes are the series pilot (featuring Jim Nabors) and the double-length series finale (who will ever forget Carol tearing up as she sang I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together in her charwoman rags to close out the show?).  Also included on the disc are some exclusive new bonus features, including never-before-seen bloopers, a new interview with Carol Burnett about her time on the show, and two featurettes created especially for this release (“Eleven Years of Laughter on The Carol Burnett Show” and “The End of Eleven Years: Saying So Long”).

The collection will be available on October 3 with a suggested retail price of $59.95 for the six-disc set.  Releasing at the same time will be two other configurations— a four-disc set (exclusively available through Wal-Mart, priced at $39.95 suggested retail) and a single DVD ($12.95 suggested retail).  Mega fans will also be excited to hear that on December 3rd CBS is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark show with its airing of The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special, featuring some members of the original cast along with guest stars such as Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, and others.

Laugh-In Season 1 DVDAnother show celebrating its golden anniversary this year is Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, the iconic and groundbreaking show of the late 60s/early 70s that set the stage for decades of comedy television to follow.  Originally airing as a stand-alone special on September 9, 1967, the show was such a success that it was turned into a series, replacing The Man From U.N.C.L.E in the Monday night time slot on NBC.  Hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, the show would start the careers of stars such as Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Dawson (among others).  As part of the celebration of its 50th anniversary, Laugh-In: The Complete First Season is now available on DVD, which showcases the first fourteen episodes of the show’s run (featuring guest stars Pamela Austen, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Gary Owens and others) as well as bonus content including the pilot episode from 1967, highlights from the 25th anniversary cast reunion, bloopers, and a new interview with creator and executive producer George Schlatter.  The set is currently available on Amazon for $14.89.

For those who are super-duper fans, Time Life is also currently offering up the entire series of Laugh-In as a box set, including all 140 episodes (over half of which have never before been released on any format) along with a bonus DVD, which features some of the extras mentioned above as well as interviews with Lily Tomlin, Dick Martin, Gary Owens, Ruth Buzzi, and others.  The set also includes Laugh-In Memories, a 32-page collectible booklet with archival photos, jokes and one-liners from the show, notes from George Schlatter, and other fun tidbits.  The Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series set is currently available through Time Life and retails for $249.95.

Headsup: Ingenious

If you enjoy watching brilliant people do brilliant things, one or both of the releases below may be for you:

Elementary Fifth SeasonFirst we have Elementary, the modern-day telling of the story of Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant but flawed detective.  In this Americanized version, Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) works together with Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) to solve some of the most baffling cases presented to the NYPD.  In the fifth season, Holmes and Watson come up against everything from a dangerous drug gang bent on murder to a serial bomber to a rogue intelligence agency.  (Added to that challenge are the truly bizarre methods used, including snake venom-laced meals, invisible gunshots, and a superbug introduced into the city’s water supply.)  With disparate personalities but a shared love of resolving complicated cases, the partners are on a constant quest to solve the puzzles presented both by criminals and by their own relationship.  Out now on DVD is Elementary: The Fifth Season, which features all twenty four episodes of Season Five along with almost an hour of bonus content.  Three featurettes form the bulk of the special features, including “Flashbacks” (where the production team discusses re-creating props to support the Byzantine story and how it worked into the show’s fictional timeline), “The Fifth Elementary” (a behind-the-scenes look with Lucy Liu and Aidan Quinn as they each take a turn directing), and “Reasoning Backwards” (a discussion with show runner Rob Doherty and the writers about creating the complex crime-based storylines).  In addition to the featurettes are some deleted and extended scenes and a gag reel.  Elementary: The Fifth Season is available on DVD on Amazon (currently priced at $29.87).  You can also get the Season Five streaming option on both Amazon and iTunes for $34.99, but the only bonus feature on these is a 4-minute “Top Moments of Season Four” special.  With a price at $5 less and fifty minutes more content than the streaming option, the DVD is the best choice on this one all the way around, unless you’re simply out of space on the shelf.

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Headsup: Dark and Mysterious

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the titles featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Out now are two titles which tell the stories of those who exhibit otherworldly powers and live in the shadows:

Originals Season Four Blu-rayFirst we have The Originals, the Vampire Diaries spinoff series that follows vampire Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) as he and his family find themselves entangled in the supernatural politics of New Orleans. Season four opens on the fifth anniversary of the epic defeat of the once powerful Mikaelson family, with Marcel Gerard (Charles Michael Davis) holding Klaus captive and Klaus’s half siblings Rebekah (Claire Holt) and Elijah (Elijah Mikaelson) under a sleeping spell. After the family is reunited, they must forge an uneasy alliance with former friends Marcel and Vincent Griffith (Yusuf Gatewood) in order to respond to a destructive force that has come to attack their city and their loved ones. Even with vampires and witches fighting alongside instead of against one another, no one can tell if their combined forces will be enough to combat the power of the malevolent enemy they now face.  Out now on DVD and Blu-ray is The Originals: The Complete Fourth Season, which includes all thirteen episodes of Season Four.  Bonus features on this one are rather light— it’s pretty much just the 2016 The Originals Comic Con panel along with some deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a “Come Visit Georgia” promo (the series is filmed there).  When you consider how much they could have done talking about character development, storylines, costumes, etc., it’s a little sad that there aren’t more special features, especially considering that show creator Julie Plec announced back in July that the upcoming fifth season would be the final one for the show.  Maybe they’re saving up all the good bonus content for the release of the complete series— fans can only hope.  The Originals: The Complete Fourth Season is available on Amazon on DVD (currently $17.18) and on Blu-ray (currently $33.21).  You can also get the season digitally on Amazon or iTunes for $24.99 (both include the Comic Con panel and iTunes also offers the gag reel).  Even though bonus features are comparable across the platforms on this one, when you consider that getting it in streaming form raises the price by 45%, it makes the DVD option look pretty good— but look at the options and see which one works best for you.

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Headsup: Just for Fun

If you’re in need of some lightness and laughter, check out the titles below:

Tonight Show Vault Series Volumes 1-6When it came to late ending your day on a high note, nobody set the stage like Johnny Carson.  For thirty years, Carson hosted The Tonight Show, setting standards for the genre that continue to this day and earning him the title “The Original King of Late Night”.  Now out from Time Life is The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series, Volumes 1-6.  This six-disc set spans two decades of Carson’s history-making tenure at The Tonight Show, including some of the best selections from the show chosen by Carson archivists.  Notable guests featured in The Vault Series, Volumes 1-6 include Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Bob Hope, Dom DeLuise, John Denver, Peter Fonda, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, Michael Landon, Billy Crystal, Paul McCartney, Orson Welles, Muhammad Ali, and many more.  

The collection is comprised of twelve full, unedited shows from the seventies and eighties (including the original commercials, which in and of themselves are pretty awesome entertainment-wise).  Among the shows featured are Carson’s tenth and eleventh anniversary shows and Johnny’s birthday episodes.  Stand-alone bonus content includes interviews with Peaches Jones, Joe Piscopoa, and others, along with a stunt demonstration, a show opening, monologue and desk time with Johnny and Ed McMahon from 1976, and a performance by James Brown.  The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series, Volumes 1-6 has a total run time of fourteen-and-a-half hours and is available on DVD on Amazon for $47.99.  If you’re a mega fan (or know someone who is), you may also want to consider The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends: The Complete Collection, which includes the set above as well as two other sets for a total of ten discs and twenty-seven hours of classic Tonight Show entertainment (two hours of which is special bonus content).  This set spans the entire four-thousand episode run of Carson’s time hosting the show and also includes a collectible 28-Page memory book.  The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends: The Complete Collection is also available on DVD on Amazon for $104.95

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Headsup: Kids’ Corner #3

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the first title featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Out now are two titles to help your kids stir their imaginations and have some fun:

Sesame Street Trick or Treat Sesame Street DVDFirst we have Sesame Street: Trick or Treat on Sesame Street, where Elmo’s excitement over his homemade Galactic Stan costume turns to envy when he sees another boy sporting one bought at the store. However, with some help from Alan and Abby, Elmo discovers that he doesn’t need a fancy store-bought costume; all he needs is his imagination.  Sesame Street: Trick or Treat on Sesame Street is the newest Halloween-themed release from Sesame Street in ten years and includes thirteen minutes of brand new animated content, an extra episode (“The Sesame Street Dress Up Club”) and a bonus themed digital storybook (Which Witch is Which?) to download.

Sesame Street: Trick or Treat on Sesame Street is now out from Warner Brothers on DVD and is available on Amazon for $9.96.  For a sneak peek, just click on the link below.

Rating: Not Rated

Runtime (feature + bonus content): 75 minutes


Daniel Tigers Neighborhood King Daniel Day DVDNext we have Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: King Daniel for the Day.  A spinoff series from the classic children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is centered around 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, son of the original program’s Daniel Striped Tiger, and like the original show relates to children through storytelling and music.  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: King Daniel for the Day is the story of Daniel’s adventures when he is declared “King for the Day” by King Friday and sent on a mission to complete several royal tasks.  In other episodes included in the set, Daniel helps celebrate Prince Wednesday’s birthday, shares a book with O the Owl at the library, takes care of the class pet, and more.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: King Daniel for the Day is out now from PBS Kids on DVD and is available on Amazon for $8.99.  To get a taste of the show, check out the link below.

Rating: TV-Y

Episode length: 11 minutes

Headsup: Chasing Bad Guys

Out now are multiple titles about those who hunt down criminals, all with their own particular style:

Hawaii Five-0 Season Seven DVDFirst up is Hawaii Five-0, a new spin on the vintage series about an elite task force charged with solving crimes that take place on the idyllic sunny islands.  Former navy man Detective Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) leads the team, following only his own rules and operating with full authority to hunt down the islands’ worst criminals and bring them to justice.  Working alongside McGarrett are Detective Danny (“Danno”) Williams, Chin Ho Kelly, coroner Dr. Max Bergman, beautiful Hawaiian native Kono Kalakaua, and former SWAT team leader Captain Lou Grover.  In Season Seven, the team must deal with some of their most dangerous cases yet as they hunt down the chess-piece killer, attempt to protect a witness in a coma from being assassinated, rescue Chin’s niece from a cartel, breaking down a sex trafficking ring, and more.  Guest stars on the season include Hawaii Five-0 veteran Jack Lord along with Claire Forlani, Darius Rucker, Julie Benz, Jimmy Buffett, and Christine Lahti.  Out now is Hawaii Five-0: The Seventh Season, which includes all twenty-five episodes of Season Seven along with some bonus content.  Featurettes on the set include “Shorelines: Season Seven” (action sequences and season highlights with the cast and crew), “The Chun Family Legacy” (actor Dennis Chun talks about continuing his father Kam Fong Chun’s Hawaii Five-o legacy), and “Tailor Grubbs Video Diary” (a peek at the video diary of youngest cast member Tailor Grubbs).  Along with the featurettes are coverage of a magazine photo shoot with star Alex O’Louhlin, some deleted and extended scenes, and a gag reel.  The complete season is available on Amazon on DVD for $29.99, or you can get the season digitally on Amazon or iTunes for $34.99. It’s important to note that not only do the streaming options cost $5 more, but bonus content on those is limited to one 2-minute featurette (“You Ask, They Tell: Grace Park”), so if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, getting the DVD is definitely the way to go on this one.

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Headsup: The World of the Dark Knight

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the titles featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Out now are two titles for Batman fans:

Gotham Season Three Blu-rayFirst is Gotham, the crime drama television series that follows a young James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) in his early days in the Gotham Police Department. Also woven into the plot lines are the origin stories of Bruce Wayne and multiple DC villains. In the third season, Gordon becomes a self-made bounty hunter as he tracks the Indian Hill fugitives in an attempt to protect Gotham. While Gordon is chasing Hugo Strange and Fish Mooney, Bullock and Barnes are left to deal with the rise of additional supervillains, Poison Ivy and Mad Hatter, who along with Penguin and Riddler are wreaking havoc on the city. Amidst the chaos, young Bruce Wayne learns more about the Court of Owls criminal organization and begins to discover that there are even more secrets surrounding his parents’ murder. With the stakes rising ever higher, good and evil clash together like never before, and only time will tell which side will ultimately win power over the city and citizens of Gotham.

Out now on DVD and Blu-ray is Gotham: The Complete Third Season, which includes all twenty-one episodes of the third season along with some extras.  Heading the bonus features are three featurettes— one on the infamous Court of Owls (12 minutes), one on the new villains introduced in Season Three (10 minutes), and one on Ben McKenzie’s directorial debut (2 minutes).  Also included are the Gotham 2016 Comic Con panel and some deleted scenes.  Streaming options are available on iTunes (with all bonus features) and on Amazon (with only the Comic Con panel), both priced at $29.99. The DVD and Blu-ray are available on Amazon for $36.99 and $39.99, respectively. Pricing is pretty close on all of these options, so do your own calculations on pricing / features / format and see which one feels like a good fit.

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Headsup: Superpowers

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the titles featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Out just in time to get you ready for their fall premieres are four titles whose characters have super abilities—- some aimed at doing good, some at evil, and some who struggle in between.

DCs Legends of Tomorrow Season Two Blu-rayFirst up is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the story of Time Master Rip Hunter who seeks to avenge his murdered family and stop the machinations of their killer, Vandal Savage, along with the corrupt Time Masters who support him.  Helping Hunter in his quest are superheroes The Atom, White Canary, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave.  In Season Two, following the successful destruction of the Time Masters, the team (now including new members Citizen Steel and Vixen) must not only guard the timeline from aberrations but also face a new enemy in the form of the Legion of Doom.  This team of time-traveling super villains (which includes the Reverse Flash along with past versions of Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darkh, and Captain Cold) seek the Spear of Destiny so that they may re-write their own fates.  With the prospect of facing their own alternates, the Legends will have to fight harder than ever before to protect Time itself and ensure their own survival.

Now out on Blu-ray and DVD is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Second Season.  Bonus features include a ten-minute featurette (“Allied: The Invasion Complex – DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”), the 2016 DC’s Legends of TomorrowComic Con Panel, a few deleted scenes, and a gag reel.  On Amazon, you can snag the DVD for $29.99 and the Blu-ray for $33.39.  Amazon and iTunes both offer streaming options for a season price of $24.99 and both include the Comic Con panel as an extra (iTunes also includes the “Invasion Complex” featurette).  Since iTunes includes the bulk of the bonus content, it might be worth considering if purchasing the season in disc form (which features-wise just gets you the addition of the deleted scenes and the gag reel) is worth paying $5 – $8 more, or if it’s better on this one to just go for the streaming option and save some coin.

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