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Headsup: From the Bow Street Runners to Reno 911!

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.

City of Vice DVD Cover Art
American Gangster Season 2 DVD Cover Art
High Noon DVD Cover Art

You know the quote on the front of City of Vice touts it as Deadwood meets Inspector Morse but I’m thinking more along the lines of Law & Order except, you know, it’s before there was either. Henry Fielding (yes, the author, played by Ian McDiarmid) and his brother (played by Iain Glen) are magistrates who are dealing with crime before there were police. In fact, the Fieldings created the modern police force. This is their story. (insert sound effect) The complete first season (five episodes) is here on two DVDs with a making-of featurette from Koch Vision. No word on a second season yet. If you’re a police procedural nut (I’m in therapy for it) then this is definitely worth a rental, and you Star Wars nuts will want to check it out just to see McDiarmid in something where he’s given good dialogue. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

The second season of American Gangster is out from BET and Paramount, featuring Ving Rhames as your host and narrator. That would be cool enough right there. But for ten episodes you’ve got a look at African-American criminals–including Frank Lucas, who Denzel played in the movie–and their true stories. None of these stories are what we would characterize as pretty. Also included is an episode focusing on the Washington DC snipers, John Muhammad and Lee Malvo. This is a three-disc set and comes with extended interviews with three of the subjects. This series doesn’t seem to be scheduled to air so if this is your sort of thing, you might want to check it out with a rental. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

[ad#longpost]The new Ultimate Collector’s Edition of High Noon from Lionsgate is a new two-disc release of the classic, in which Gary Cooper is going to face down The Bad Guy simply because that’s what needs to be done. You know the movie, the question here is what to do with this new release? The film is worth owning just on its own–so if you don’t have it, there you go–but we have the previous 2002 collector’s edition on our shelf–what do we do? Well, let’s see. The commentary is from the 2002 release, so is the “Making-of” and “Behind” featurettes. What’s new is a 50-minute making-of docu and some more Tex Ritter (who was responsible for the song) centered info. So I’m thinking if you’ve got the previous release, you’re probably in good shape. Just rent this one if you need to check out the new bits. As for those who don’t have any version go ahead and grab it. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

Stop-Loss DVD Cover Art
The Ruins DVD Cover Art
Reno 911! Fifth Season DVD Cover Art

As we mentioned before, Stop-Loss is a drama for our (very recent) times, directed by Kimberly Peirce. Ryan Philippe plays a guy who’s come home from Iraq only to find that he’s going to be sent back. What do you do when the deal you signed up for has been changed without your input? Also on board for this are Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ciaran Hinds (who’s in everything) and Timothy Olyphant (who isn’t in enough). This Paramount/MTV release comes with a commentary from director Peirce and co-writer Mark Richard, plus deleted scenes with optional commentary, a making-of and a featurette. Those who appreciate dramas such as these or fans of the actors involved will be interested in a rental at least. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

The Ruins isn’t exactly a happy horror movie. You get that impression just from the cover, right? But basically it’s what happens when you go poking around places you shouldn’t be…not a new concept in horror to be sure, but running around Mayan ruins out in the middle of nowhere is just asking for it, right? I desperately want to make a Frank Oz-related joke here but it would be spoiler-related, so I shan’t. This is based on the novel by Scott Smith and is out from Dreamworks. On top of all that it’s Unrated (and we all know what that means, don’t we?) with special bits including a commentary from the director and editor, an alternate ending, three deleted scenes, featurettes and more. Horror fans will want to give it at least a rental. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

Reno 911! still lives and is still funny. I don’t even know if Cops is still airing, is it? Let me see. Yes, it still is. Does anyone still watch that show? There are people who understand the comedy potential of Cops and have never seen an episode. Such is the foundation that this show has to work with. I’m just amazed that they’re improv-ing their way through most of this–which is hard work. Anyway, this set does Paramount and Comedy Central proud: you’ve got sixteen episodes, all uncensored. Six of them come with cast commentary, plus you’ve got a huge slew of extended scenes, plus psychological mini-glimpses into the minds of the characters. As to whether or not you should snag this, I would say the hardcore fan should go ahead. Bear in mind that they’re repeating the show on Comedy Central so if you think you’d be happy renting it for the features, then be my guest. Click here to buy it from Amazon.