Chris Hicks: 'Night Court' leads list of TV releases
'Father Dowling,' 'Doctor Who,' 'Icarly' also new to DVD
A wide variety of vintage television programs have been released on DVD this week, along with a few that are more recent.
"Night Court: The Complete Sixth Season" (Warner Archive, 1988-89, three discs, $29.95, 22 episodes). Night-court judge and Mel Torme aficionado Harry T. Stone (Harry Anderson) is still slamming his gavel between wisecracks in this sixth year of the wacky workplace sitcom with an array of quirky defendants and lawyers coming and going.
This season opens with a follow-up to the cliffhanger that ended Season 5, with prosecutor Dan (John Larroquette) thought dead in a plane crash. But it's revealed he was saved by a seal and is on a remote island. In another episode, bailiff Bull (Richard Moll) glues his fingers to his head. Markie Post, Marsha Warfield and Charles Robinson co-star. And yes, Mel Torme shows up for an episode, as do John Astin (for a couple) and Marion Ross.
"Father Dowling Mysteries: The Second Season" (CBS/Paramount, 1990, three discs, $29.99, 13 episodes). Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson return as Father Dowling and Sister Stephanie, aided by James Stephens and the delightful Mary Wickes, as they solve mysteries when not offering absolution. Easy-to-take, soft murder-mystery series in the tenor of "Murder, She Wrote." Guests include Candy Clark, Yaphet Kotto and Roscoe Lee Browne.
"Warehouse 13: Season Three" (Universal/Syfy, 2011, three discs, $49.98, 13 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers, 10-part animated webisode series). Goofy, enjoyable series about recruits working in a mysterious warehouse with strange sci-fi/fantasy objects leading to mysteries galore. Not unlike "The X-Files," albeit more comic and lighter in tone. This season sees a number of "Star Trek" veterans guesting: Kate Mulgrew (in four episodes), Rene Auberjonois (reprising a role from Season 2) and Jeri Ryan.
"Doctor Who: The Krotons" (BBC, 1968-69, b/w, $24.98, four episodes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, PDF materials).
"Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks" (BBC, 1974, $24.98, four episodes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, PDF materials). Two more vintage "Doctor Who" time-travel stories, each told over four episodes, the first from the very early years with Patrick Troughton as the good doctor and the second with Jon Pertwee, and both featuring evil nemeses that are fan favorites, the Krotons and the Daleks.
"Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1992" (BBC, 1992, $34.98, nine episodes, Christmas special). This British comedy, a family-friendly look at the antics of eccentric older folks, is the longest running sitcom ever, and this disc is the 14th season (or "series," as the Brits say). Droll and amusing, focusing primarily on Compo, Clegg and Foggy, whose wild-eyed schemes get them in and out of various fixes.
"Madame Bovary" (BBC, 2000, $29.98, two episodes, featurette). Gustave Flaubert's tale of a young woman who marries an older country doctor to escape her provincial upbringing, then finds herself so bored that she begins having affairs. This miniseries is a very well constructed period piece, and it gets a boost from the excellent cast: Hugh Bonneville, Greg Wise, Hugh Dancy, and especially Frances O'Connor in the title role.
"The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister" (BBC, 2010, $29.98, featurettes). This British TV movie is a true story based on the title diaries of a wealthy woman who defies 19th century conventions to live openly as a lesbian.
"iCarly: The Complete 4th Season" (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2011-12, two discs, $19.99, 11 episodes, five episodes of "How to Rock"). Miranda Cosgrove stars in this adolescent favorite as the host of a teen web show.
"The Best of Caillou: Caillou's Mysteries and Adventures" (PBS Kids/Paramount, 2012, $12.99, four episodes). The animated Caillou plays detective in one episode, and captain of a toy boat in another.
"Wild Kratts: Jungle Animals" (PBS Go!/Paramount, 2012, $12.99, four episodes). Animated stories of Martin and Chris meeting up with creatures from all over the world.
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