An ongoing attempt to make sense of the onslaught of new swag that people want you to buy. Should you? I’ll try and help.

Hawaii Five-O Season Four DVD Cover Art
The Streets of San Francisco Season 2 Volume 1 DVD Cover Art

Season Four of Hawaii Five-O hits with all of the action, all of the drama, and all of the mad Hawaiian 70s fashion that you’ve come to expect. Jack Lord is here as badass McGarrett. The series’ Moriarty, Wo Fat, returns in this season. And Buddy Ebsen shows up as a villain at one point. Six discs, twenty-four episodes, plus episode promos are what you get here. The set will run you $35 on Amazon as I write this, so it’s about $1.50 an episode. And I can’t tell if it’s airing in reruns at the moment. So if you’re a fan, I’ll tell you: this is probably as good as it gets, friends. So the fan should snag. This is out from Paramount. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Streets of San Francisco, besides being thought of as riddled by hills and trolley cars, was a series in the 70s starring Karl Malden and a rather young Michael Douglas. Malden is the senior cop, Douglas is the green cop (and back then, “green” meant rookie and not “environmentally friendly”) and together–they fight crime! This is part one of the second season and comes with eleven episodes. Again, I don’t know if this is airing anywhere either, so fans will want to snag this because again, unless we can get Malden and Douglas back to do a commentary (and wouldn’t that be cool), this Paramount set is about as good as it gets. Douglas fans will want to snag it just because the youngish ones probably didn’t know this existed. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Red Violin DVD Cover Art
Diva DVD Cover Art
The Andromeda Strain DVD Cover Art

The Red Violin is just a great movie. It tells the story of a violin and its journey through history to the hands of Sam Jackson, playing an appraiser who’s getting the thing ready for auction. The story starts in Italy goes to Austria, then to Oxford then to Shanghai and finally to Canada. And it was one of my favorite films of 1999. I’m sort of puzzled as to why I don’t have a review on the site for it, frankly. Regardless, each story is excellent and well acted–and if I remember correctly, Jackson signed onto the film to help it get funding because he liked the story so much. This special edition is worth renting for everybody, especially if they haven’t seen the film before. Fans will want to own it–as it has better features than last time around, which if I remember correctly, was zilch. A commentary with the writers and director is here as well as two featurettes. This is from Lionsgate and their new Meridian Collection line. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Diva is another release from Lionsgate and their Meridian imprint. In this film a postman gets enthralled by an opera singer–an opera singer who’s never allowed a recording to be made of her singing. The postman, Jules, decides to attend a concert and do just that–record her illegally. Because this was set in 1981 and for you youngsters that was pre-Napster, he pretty much had the tape to himself–except that some hoods from Taiwan want to get the bootleg so they can sell it. If that wasn’t bad enough, another tape that incriminates a police chief comes into his possession as well. All he needed was some bootleg Metallica concerts and he would have been dead meat. From what I can tell, this is a much better release for Region 1–science specific commentary with the director is here, plus an interview with him and one with the cinematographer, the set designer, and more. Worth a rental for anyone who enjoys French cinema. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The A&E remake of The Andromeda Strain is a bit of a puzzler. The cast is capable enough–led by Benjamin Bratt, Andre Braugher and Rick Schroder. It’s just that they’ve done things to the story that are…perplexing. In fact–and I’ll say this because it’s not a spoiler in that I don’t think anyone’s read the same draft I did–they seemed to have nabbed a device from an old draft of the Watchmen movie. But why? We may never know. If you’re curious, then a rental should do you nicely. Universal’s got this out on a two-disc set. It comes with commentary, plus an FX featurette and more. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)