The debut of "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." and the finale of "Rescue Me" lead these television programs new to DVD this week.
"The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series, Part One" (Warner Archive, 1966-67, four discs, $39.95).
"The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series, Part Two" (Warner Archive, 1966-67, four discs, $39.95). "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." was, of course, a variation on James Bond just two years after Sean Connery's 007 debut. Hollywood churned out secret agent movies and TV shows by the dozens, but "U.N.C.L.E." was one of the most successful, a phenomenon all its own.
So a spinoff was inevitable, thus, a 1966 episode of "The Man From U..N.C.L.E." served as the pilot for "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E." (Why not "The Woman From U.N.C.L.E."?) Mary Ann Mobley guest-starred as agent April Dancer. (The episode is on the "Man" second-season DVD but for some reason is not included here.)
When "Girl" began as a series later the same year, Stefanie Powers took over the role, with her partner Mark Slate played by Noel Harrison (son of Rex) and Leo G. Carroll repeating his "Man From U.N.C.L.E." role as chief Alexander Waverly.
But "Girl" plays as much like a spoof as a spinoff, with campy stories and even campier performances, with an array of guest stars hamming it up (a reaction to the biggest 1966 TV hit, the campy "Batman"). Robert Vaughn does a crossover episode as Napoleon Solo, helping April square off against Boris Karloff (playing a woman!), and other guests include Edward Asner, Yvonne De Carlo, Dom DeLuise, Stan Freberg, Peggy Lee and Ann Sothern.
This show made a big splash in the 1966 season but faded fast and was canceled after 29 episodes. (Powers' career didn't slow down, however, and she had a major hit in 1979 with "Hart to Hart.")
These sets are available separately or as a two-pack ($59.95) at www.wbshop.com (click on "Warner Archive").
Extras: full frame, 15 episodes ("Part One"), 14 episodes ("Part Two")
"Rescue Me: The Sixth Season and the Final Season" (Sony, 2010-11, five discs, $45.99). Denis Leary's raw, rough, dark series about New York City firefighters battling personal demons after 9/11 fittingly wrapped on the FX channel during the week leading up to the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack. And it did so on a very high note.
As the series winds down the ensemble cast really shines, each character circling Leary's firefighter Tommy Gavin. Season 6 follows up on the previous season's cliffhanger and explores Tommy's near-death experience, and the firehouse finds itself in danger of serious budget cuts. Season 7 builds toward a surprising turn for Tommy's future and a tragedy during a huge fire. All of which is quite satisfying with the excellent writing and performances fans have come to expect.
Extras: widescreen, 19 episodes,
"Grey's Anatomy: Complete Seventh Season: More Heartbeats" (ABC, 2010-11, six discs, $45.99). This is the first Katharine Heigl-free season, as she departed the series in Season 6. More soap opera shenanigans are in play but perhaps the most memorable episode this season is a musical.
"Song Beneath the Song" is episode 18 and Sara Ramirez is the primary vocalist as her character, Callie Torres, is injured in an auto accident and a hallucinatory version sings to the Callie in the hospital bed. Kate Walsh, a former regular and now star of the "Private Practice" spinoff guests in this episode.
Extras: widescreen, 22 episodes, deleted scenes, extended version of the musical episode, webisodes, bloopers
"Private Practice: The Complete Fourth Season" (ABC, 2010-11, five discs, $39.99). This often downbeat spinoff series focuses on Kate Walsh as a doctor in private practice in Los Angeles after leaving the Seattle setting of "Grey's Anatomy."
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