Loosely based on the ancient epic poem, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands follows the battle-weary title character as he reintegrates himself back into his home community of Herot, where he has to fight politics, family tension, and the monster Grendel. The series was pitched as ITV's answer to Game of Thrones--it had a budget of £17 million ($23 million US) and was rumored to have offered the actors contracts with options to return for five years. The show's creators didn’t shy away from the comparison--Tim Haines (co-creator and executive producer) described the juxtaposition of the two by saying that "Game of Thrones... is a great series but many people, including younger viewers, can't watch it because of the level of sex and violence. Beowulf is a show that delivers epic fantasy, danger and excitement but that three generations can enjoy and, we hope, find fascinating for many series."
Inspector Lewis (or simply Lewis as it's known in the UK) is the highly successful spinoff from the much-loved Inspector Morse series, which featured Robert "Robbie" Lewis in the sidekick role of Inspector Morse's sergeant. Now promoted to Detective Inspector, Lewis and his sergeant James Hathaway pursue posh criminals against the beautiful backdrop of Oxford, England (which many fans love as much as the characters themselves). The show ran for nine seasons (ending in 2015) and only stopped because the stars, Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox, decided they wanted to go on to other things (especially understandable on Whately's part, as he had been playing Lewis since 1987). Both actors delivered well-executed performances throughout the run of the show, even earning the pair the UK's Crime Thriller Award (how fun is that?) for "Best Detective Duo" in 2012.
Out today is the DVD set of the entire series, which includes all 33 episodes plus an hour of nice bonus material featuring a special on the making of the show along with an interview with Kevin Whately on what it's been like playing Lewis over the past three decades (which sounds like an immense amount of time until you compare it to William Roache and his 56-year run as Ken Barlow on Coronation Street).
Fans of the show who are Amazon Prime members can stream all but the final season for free, and barring that you may be able to catch some episodes on PBS (depending on your local station). If, however, you want to have access [...]
Available tomorrow (October 18th) on DVD is Doctor Thorne, the period miniseries from Julian Fellowes which has widely been described (and even marketed) as emotional methadone for Downton Abbey addicts going through show withdrawal. The drama is based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Trollope and follows the romance between the poor (but kind and beautiful) Mary Thorne and her childhood friend, Frank Gresham, whose elevated social status and snobbish family members complicate what would otherwise be a straight ride off into the sunset.
I would encourage any viewer who has not seen the series to manage expectations if comparing it to Downton Abbey--the two have very different attributes, not the least of which is that while Downton Abbey had fifty-two episodes in which to develop characters and tell its story, Doctor Thorne has four. Also continuing with the "Downton Abbey Lite" theme is the lack of substantial bonus features on the DVD set: there are a few short snippets that talk about the characters and themes, a tiny featurette on the making of the series, a bit from Julian Fellowes about adapting the novel for the screen, and that's it. Considering that the creators obviously want viewers to draw parallels between the two (the trailer and DVD cover for Doctor Thorne both prominently reference Downton Abbey by name), I would have thought they might flush out the bonus features a bit more if they're trying to bridge the divide for fans [...]
NOTE: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD featured in this post. The opinions I share are my own.
Out now from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is the sixth (and final) season of Mike & Molly, the show that (along with Bridesmaids) helped launch Melissa McCarthy into stardom and earned her her Emmy and People's Choice Awards.
If you read our recent feature on The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection and wished there was a more "bite-sized" version, you're in luck! Coming out today from Time Life is The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes -- Classic Carol, available in one, three, and six-disc sets. All three (like the ultimate set) feature episodes from the first five seasons of the series' run (1967-1972), none of which have been available for viewing until now (and that includes re-runs, streaming, etc.). All three sets have the wonderful content the show has become famous for, such as sketches and movie satires (ex: "Once Upon a Water Bed," "Scene Stealers," "Tearjerker Theatre") and caricatures of the wacky commercials from the 60s-70s. And of course rounding out the core cast of Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, and Lyle Waggoner are the multi-talented guest stars (Lana Turner, Bernadette Peters, Robert Goulet, and others top a long list of five-star entertainers that appear...we even get to see Carol's charwoman character do an awesome blues duet with the incomparable Ray Charles). The one-disc set has three episodes, the three-disc has seven, and the six-disc has fourteen.
The three and six-disc sets also have some nice bonus content via interviews with Randy Doney and Edward Villella (two of the show's incredible dancers) and a group conversation with a selection of the writers. On top of that the six-disc set also has a few extra shows from Carol's [...]
Out today on Blu-ray (with DVD thrown in for good measure) is Season Six of The Venture Bros., where we see the newly-rich Dr. Venture and sons situated in their swanky new compound in New York City, a prime location for more (mis)adventures. This season started off with the special All This and Gargantua 2, which features pretty much every character we've ever seen on the show as circumstances clash them together against the backdrop of the epic space station Gargantua 2. If you haven't seen this season yet, do make sure to start with the special as it does affect the rest of the season (and the Ventureverse in general), with important plot points including (seemingly) killing off several characters. It is included among the special features on the DVD and Blu-ray sets along with very amusing creator commentaries for each episode plus some deleted scenes (you can see editors' logic behind cutting them, but they're still an entertaining bonus nonetheless.)
In addition, whether you love Adventure Time because of its critical acclaim (BAFTA, Emmy, Peabody awards and more), because it's something you can enjoy with your kids, or just because you like saying "The Land of Ooo," you were probably among the 2.5 million people watching last season and following the exploits of Finn, Jake, and all the rest.
Let's take a moment to consider this: there are people today who say "Somebody else used to host The Tonight Show?" When people my age asked that, we were learning about Jack Paar. When people today ask that, they're talking about Johnny Carson. He truly was the King of Late Night, and the standard by which people judged everybody else who hosted a talk show. And yes, while the bits they have on talk shows today are cool and make for great YouTube fodder, Carson was funny just by his own self. Granted, you could always count on an animal handler to make things interesting, but that's been the way of things since the beginning of television.
All of this to say that you, no matter your age, need to check out Time Life's release of The Vault Series. It's from the "Carson Vault," which if memory serves, is stored in a mine for safekeeping. You get twelve complete shows across six DVDs which--and I love this—contain commercials as well. We're looking here at the medium-sized release of this--the six-disc'er--since it also comes in three-disc (appetizer) and twelve-disc (entrée) form. With this edition you get vintage appearances from the likes of David Brenner, Steve Lawrence, Tony Randall and Carl Reiner. I picked the names you'd have to ask your parents about on purpose, kids.
The set also comes with two hours of bonus bits, including bonus [...]
This is the season that wrapped up the iconic series that we all knew and loved--where we said goodbye to Kevin, Winnie, the Arnold family, and all the rest, leaving behind them six Emmy award-winning seasons and a lasting place in television history. This DVD set presents all 22 episodes and does so intact: Time Life did extensive work in clearing the music rights as well, so viewers can enjoy tunes from The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Percy Sledge and others the same way they would have watching back in 1992-1993.
Time Life is quite good at maximizing bonus features wherever possible, so we've got two hours-plus here. First we have "At Last: The Final Episode," in which members of the cast and crew reminisce about making the series finale (did you know that they were unaware it would be the last one as they were taping?). Next is an interview with Executive Producer Bob Brush, in which he covers everything from casting choices to challenges working with child actors to the artistic navigation of Kevin's love life. Also included is "From the Vault: Alley Mills and Bob Brush Letters," in which Alley Mills (Norma) shares a letter she wrote to Bush as the show ended (and what he wrote back).
It is worth noting this is not the only place you can snag these episodes. Does Netflix have them? Yes. If you're [...]
Even if you've never seen it (a feat which I'm not sure how you would accomplish in today's world), you know that The Carol Burnett Show was an epic success in 1960s and 70s television. The show ran for eleven years, collecting twenty-five Emmy awards, eight Golden Globes, and wound up on more than a few Best Show of All Time lists. It also nabbed more People's Choice Awards for Carol Burnett herself than for any other actress in history. Now (yay!) out from Time Life is The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection.
The set includes episodes from the first five seasons (1967-72) that Burnett personally selected, and they haven’t been seen since their original airing over forty years ago. That means no home video, no streaming, and no syndication. In these episodes, we see the origins of what would later become much-loved staples of the show, including “The Oldest Man” with Tim Conway (in which he proved that he could be just as funny in slow motion as in hyper-motion), “Carol and Sis” with Burnett and Vicki Lawrence in the title roles, the soap opera send-up “As the Stomach Turns,” and more. In addition to the core cast, we also see many of the fabulous guest stars the show was known to attract such as Lucille Ball, Jim Nabors, Bing Crosby, Paul Lynde, Bob Newhart, Don Adams, Chita Rivera, Andy Griffith, Jonathan Winters and scads more.
Now out from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is Empire: The Complete Second Season, which navigates all the post-arrest drama as Lucious and Cookie struggle to keep their grip on Empire Entertainment Records amidst personal problems, feuding sons, and threats of an outside takeover.
There are two things fans love most about Empire—the look and the sound. With the 53 minutes of extras added to all 18 episodes of the second season, this DVD set definitely takes those two loves into consideration. Special features include a Freda Gatz music video, four uncut music performances, six studio sessions, and four mini specials that focus on the striking visuals of the show. Also in the mix is a behind-the-scenes look at the USO Tour that members of the cast participated in recently (did you know that Taraji P. Henson worked as a receptionist at the Pentagon years ago?)
This set sells on Amazon for $19.99 (about $1.11 per episode, superior pricing to Amazon’s per-episode price of $1.99 for streaming). Hulu customers also have access to the series as part of their subscription. It is not (nor will it be) available on Netflix. [Read More...]