Laurence Cendrowicz, Laurence Cendrowicz
For those who aren't suffering from Titanic overload, the British miniseries that recently aired over two nights on ABC comes to Blu-ray and DVD this week, along with the second season of the vintage favorite "Car 54, Where Are You?"
"Titanic" (eOne/Blu-ray + DVD, 2012, three discs, $34.98). This 'Titanic" takes a unique approach, focusing each of its first three hours on particular personalities aboard the ill-fated ship, then bringing them together for the final chapter. There are soap opera plots and subplots, and several "Upstairs/Downstairs"-style conflicts, until the crash into an iceberg becomes a tragic societal leveler.
Those first three segments each end in a sort of cliffhanger, though the outcome is known, of course. So the question becomes, are you invested enough in the characters to care who survives and who doesn't? And the answer is yes.
This is a very well made miniseries with a fine cast of familiar British actors, including Toby Jones, Geraldine Somerville, David Calder and Linus Roache, who played the lead prosecutor on "Law & Order," a character that still also occasionally shows up on "Law & Order: SVU." (Roache also narrates an interactive tour of Titanic in a bonus feature at titanictvseries.com.)
Extras widescreen, four episodes, featurettes, documentary: "The Curse of the Titanic Sisters" (also on individual two-disc Blu-ray or DVD, $29.98)
"Car 54, Where Are You?" (Schanachie, 1962-63, b/w, four discs, $39.98). A pre-"Munsters" Fred Gwynne and comic Joe E. Ross make a funny team in this street-cop sitcom, and although this is the second and final season, it's as clever as the first, in a broad, vaudeville kind of way.
Included is the season opener as the boys are pegged to drive President Kennedy (an episode pulled from syndication after the assassination). Guests include Dick Powell, Charles Nelson Reilly, Larry Storch, Jack Gilford, Katherine Helmond, and in a recurring role, Ossie Davis.
Extras full frame, 30 episodes, 11-minute standup comedy routine by Ross
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (Acorn/Blu-ray, 1979, two discs, $59.99). The classic original miniseries gets a nice hi-def upgrade. Alec Guinness won the English equivalent of the Emmy for his performance as the retired spy recruited to find a mole in the British secret service. Includes a new interview with director John Irvin.
Extras full frame, six episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, text production notes/glossary, biography/booklist of author John le Carre
"Poirot: Series 4" (Acorn, 1992, three discs, $39.99). Agatha Christie's Belgian detective, who relies on his "little gray cells," returns for three mysteries, including "The ABC Murders."
Extras full frame, three episodes (also on two-disc Blu-ray, $49.99)
"Billy the Exterminator: Season Four" (A&E, 2011, two discs, $19.95). Reality show about a family of unusual pest removers in Louisiana. This season they go after giant pythons in the Florida Everglades, 10-foot gators in Texas, and 30-pound geese in North Carolina.
Extras widescreen, 12 episodes
"That '70s Show: Season Three" (Mill Creek, 2000-01, three discs, $14.98).
"That '70s Show: Season Four" (Mill Creek, 2001-02, three discs, $14.98).
"3rd Rock From the Sun: The Complete Season Three" (Mill Creek, 1997-98, $14.98).
"3rd Rock From the Sun: The Complete Season Four" (Mill Creek, 1998-99, $14.98).
"Roseanne: The Complete Third Season" (Mill Creek, 1990-91, $14.98).
"Roseanne: The Complete Fourth Season" (Mill Creek, 1991-92, $14.98). Inexpensively packaged reissues (you'll find them under $10 each at most sales points) of these very funny sitcoms' respective third and fourth seasons will be appealing for even casual fans. A great deal.
Extras full frame, 25-27 episodes each, bonus features and guest stars galore
"Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour" (Comedy Central/Paramount, 2012, $16.99). More standup comedy from the rotund character actor and comedian (best-known for his regular role on "The King of Queens"), which includes some very "adult" material.
Extras widescreen, deleted scenes
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