A fine soap opera miniseries with a star-studded cast leads these television programs that are new to DVD.
"A Woman of Substance Trilogy" (Acorn, 1985-92, four discs, $39.99). "Upstairs/Downstairs" meets "Gone With the Wind" in this epic trilogy of miniseries based on Barbara Taylor Bradford's initial three books in the Emma Harte series.
The best is first, the three-part "A Woman of Substance," with Deborah Kerr as 79-year-old Emma, a tycoon whose sons want to sell her business. Flashbacks show us how young Emma (Jenny Seagrove) rose from servant girl to wealthy merchant, driven by a desire for revenge on the family that wronged her. Co-stars include Barry Bostwick, Diane Baker (who also produced), John Mills, and young Liam Neeson and Miranda Richardson.
Second is the two-part "Hold the Dream," with Kerr again as Emma and Seagrove as her granddaughter Paula, destined to take over the business. Neeson and Mills also return, and new co-stars are Stephen Collins, James Brolin and Claire Bloom.
Third is the least of these, the two-part "To Be the Best," with miscast Lindsay Wagner taking over Seagrove's role and Anthony Hopkins co-starring.
Extras full frame, seven episodes, featurettes (interviews with Bradford and Baker), text Bradford biography/booklist, trailers
"Love Is On the Air" (Shout! 1953-70, b/w and color, $12.99). This one seems a more likely candidate for Valentine's Day than Mother's Day, but here it is, a collection of romantic episodes of vintage sitcoms, a nice, gentle little sampler for baby boomers. Episodes are from "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet," "Father Knows Best," "Leave it To Beaver," "Dennis the Menace," "Hazel," "The Patty Duke Show" and "That Girl."
Extras full frame, seven episodes
"Suits: Season One" (Universal/USA, 2011, three discs, $44.98). A college dropout with no law degree but a brilliant mind and photographic memory is hired by an ambitious lawyer to be his associate in an upscale firm in this USA cable channel series. Clever cases and the likable chemistry between newcomers Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams keep this one afloat.
Extras widescreen, deleted scenes/alternate premiere, audio commentaries, featurette, bloopers
"Kojak: Season Four" (Shout! 1976-77, six discs, $44.99). Telly Savalas' Manhattan homicide detective goes after kidnappers, a serial killer, a nun out for vengeance and a murderous wife, among others. Guests include Richard Gere, William Hurt, Christopher Walken, Brian Dennehy, Gloria Grahame, Sharon Gless, Hector Elizondo, Lynn Redgrave, Morgan Fairchild, Geraldine Page, Carol Lynley, etc.
Extras full frame, 25 episodes
"Covert Affairs: Season Two" (Universal, 2011, four discs, $39.98). Piper Perabo stars in this USA cable channel series as a CIA operative who has to stand up to her male superiors as much as the bad guys (really, in 2012?), but she speaks several languages and knows how to take care of business. Fairly typical of this genre but capably produced.
Extras widescreen, 16 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers
"Who Do You Think You Are? Season 2" (Acorn, 2011, two discs, $39.99). Celebrity genealogy documentary series, based on the British program of the same title, tracks down the family lines of Vanessa Williams, Tim McGraw, Rosie O'Donnell, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Steve Buscemi, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd.
Extras widescreen, eight episodes
"Bubble Guppies" (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2011-12, $16.99). Episodes of an educational animated series aimed at preschoolers about fish children living in an undersea community.
Extras full frame, "Bubble Puppy's Fin-Tastic Fairy tale" and two bonus episodes, music videos, interactive game.
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