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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.