A blast from the past for baby boomers leads this look at TV shows new to DVD this week.
"The F.B.I.: The First Season, Part One" (Warner Archive, 1965-66, four discs, $39.95). Efrem Zimbalist Jr. stars as FBI agent Lt. Erskine in this popular '60s series, which has him investigating a different federal crime each week. Every script was vetted by the bureau back when J. Edgar Hoover was still in charge, which you may see as a plus or a minus. But the show remains entertaining, if less gritty and more leisurely paced than it would be today.
In this set, Zimbalist pursues a psychopathic prison escapee, a bank embezzler, a pornographer, a check forger, saboteurs and, of course, various murderers. The actor's gravitas and authority do much to give the show a boost — which may serve to remind his fans that Zimbalist's earlier hit, "77 Sunset Strip," has yet to find its way to DVD.
Future stars who guest here include Robert Duvall, Burt Reynolds, Jack Klugman, Dina Merrill, Beau Bridges, Bruce Dern, Robert Blake and in two episodes (as different characters), Dabney Coleman.
This is a Warner Archive burn-on-demand release, available at www.wbshop.com (click on "Warner Archive").
Extras: full frame, 16 episodes
"Southland: Uncensored: The Complete Second Season" (Warner Archive, 2010, two discs, $24.95). Also from Warner Archive is Season 2 of this more recent police procedural. Rookie Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) and his fellow officers all get new partners in the first episode, then fan out to solve crimes in the Southern California area. Among the ensemble, Regina King stands out. Guests include C. Thomas Howell and, in two episodes, Denise Crosby.
Extras: widescreen, six episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurette
"Genius of Britain" (Athena, 2010, three discs, $59.99). This fascinating documentary series looks at the creative inventions and innovations that sprang from a variety of British minds, as modern figures profile those of the past — Stephen Hawking looks at Isaac Newton, David Attenborough investigates Joseph Banks, etc. And the eccentric personalities of these folks are as interesting as what they have accomplished.
Extras: widescreen, five episodes, feature-length documentary: "Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything," text biographies, timeline of scientific advances; 12-page booklet
"Swamp People: Season One" (History, 2010, three discs, $24.95). Alligator season in the deep bayous of the South brings out a breed of Cajun hunter that is foreign to most of us. But the people shown here are personable and the hunts are both fascinating and hair-raising.
Extras: widescreen, 10 episodes, deleted scenes
"Bands on the Run" (NEM, 2011, $14.98). In the spirit of "Toy Story" (which the news release makes no bones about), this animated hour has a group of rubber-band bracelets on a road trip to a toy store where they hope to be found by charitable children.
Extras: widescreen, featurette, storyboards
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