An '80s miniseries starring pre-"Remington Steele" Pierce Brosnan leads these TV programs new to DVD this week.
"The Manions of America" (eOne, 1981, two discs, $29.98). This ABC miniseries follows an Irish family struggling during the Irish Potato Famine of the mid-19th century, then emigrating to America (a quote on the box from the New York Times refers to it as "an Irish version of 'Roots' ").
Brosnan has the lead role (his first American production) as Rory O'Manion, a hot-headed farmer who meets and marries Kate Mulgrew, flees his home country during the famine and builds a gunpowder empire in his newly adopted country.
Fairly typical soap opera "mini" from the early '80s boasts strong production values and location shooting but is notable today primarily for the presence of young Brosnan, whose performance here led to his TV series "Remington Steele," which in turn made him a star. (His turn as James Bond came much later.) Also in the cast are Linda Purl, Simon MacCorkindale and Anthony Quayle.
Extras: full frame, three episodes, featurette
"The FBI: The Second Season, Part One" (Warner Archive, 1966-67, four discs, $39.95).
"The FBI: The Second Season, Part Two" (Warner Archive, 1967, four discs, $39.95). Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is back as Inspector Erskine, leading FBI agents into battle against murderers, kidnappers, extortionists, espionage plots and many other threats of terror. And there are plenty of future and veteran stars are on hand as episode guests.
In "Part One": Robert Duvall, Suzanne Pleshette, Diane Baker, Tom Skerritt, Ralph Bellamy, Jack Lord and Robert Blake.
In "Part Two": Gene Hackman, Louis Jourdan, Peter Graves, Jessica Walter, Charles Grodin, and a two-part episode with Duvall again (as a different character), Walter Pidgeon, Telly Savalas, Susan Strasberg and Celeste Holm.
Extras: full frame, "Part One": 16 episodes, "Part Two": 13 episodes (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Midsomer Murders: Set 19" (Acorn/Blu-ray, 2010, two discs, $59.99). John Nettles is still in fine form as Chief Inspector Barnaby, solving homicides in the otherwise sleepy villages of England's rural Midsomer district.
These are Nettles' penultimate episodes before turning over the reins to his successor, Neil Dudgeon as Barnaby's cousin, who is introduced in one episode here. Still full of wonderful offbeat characterizations and crimes, and the countryside looks great in high-def.
Extras: widescreen, four episodes, photo gallery (also on four-disc DVD, $49.99)
"Mission: Impossible: The '89 TV Season" (CBS/Paramount, 1989-90, four discs, $42.99). Peter Graves was lured back for this reboot of his seminal 1960s action show but this second season was canceled before completing its run. Fans will enjoy these final episodes.
Original "M:I" veteran Greg Morris (whose son Phil is a regular in this series) returns for the two-part season opener as the team takes on an Asian drug gang.
Extras: full frame, 16 episodes
"Here Come the Brides: The Complete Second Season" (Shout! 1969-70, six discs, $44.99). This was also a two-season show, and these final episodes find the Bolt brothers (Robert Brown, Bobby Sherman, David Soul) still cutting down trees in a 19th century Seattle logging camp when they aren't whooping it up. Joan Blondell co-stars in this blend of comedy and drama. Guests include Edward Asner, Jayne Meadows, Cicely Tyson and Robert Cummings.
Extras: full frame, 26 episodes, introductions by author Jonathan Etter
"The Brief: Complete Collection" (Acorn, 2004-05, four discs, $59.99). Smart British courtroom drama follows flawed barrister Henry Farmer (Alan Davies) as he juggles his messy personal life with the equally messy criminal cases he must defend.
Extras: widescreen, eight episodes
"French Fields: Complete Collection" (Acorn, 1989-91, three discs, $59.99). Before she was Miss Marple, Julia McKenzie starred with Anton Rogers in this amusing domestic sitcom about empty nesters, with McKenzie taking up all kinds of hobbies that drive her working husband to distraction.
Extras: full frame, 19 episodes
"Felipe Esparza: They're Not Gonna Laugh at You" (eOne, 2012, $14.98). Mexican-American comic Esparza, the winner of last year's "Last Comic Standing," does his standup act for this Showtime special. He's a funny guy with self-deprecating material, much of it built around his heritage. As with most modern comics, however, there is some language and sexual material.
"Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The Complete First Season" (eOne, 2010, two discs, $19.98). Canadian off-the-wall rock 'n' roll high school comedy has the title character stumbling across the title book, using it to improve his guitar skills so he can impress a girl, but finding that a side effect brings on monsters, zombies, etc. Sometimes amusing, too often sleazy.
Extras: widescreen, 13 episodes, deleted scenes, extended musical sequences, audio commentaries, featurettes, short film, promotional clips, bloopers
"Dance to the Music" (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2006-09, $14.99). Episodes from Nick animated shows "Dora the Explorer," "Go, Diego, Go!" and "Bubble Guppies," among others, all designed to get your pre-schoolers dancing.
Extras: full frame, six episodes, music videos
"My Little Pony: The Friendship Express" (Shout! Kids, 2012, $14.97). Animated series based on the toy.
Extras: full frame, five episodes, sing along, "Pound Puppies" episode