The DVD debut of "Harry O" and the Blu-ray debut of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" lead these TV shows that arrive on store shelves this week.
"Harry O: The Complete First Season" (Warner Archive, 1974-75, six discs, $49.95, 22 episodes, pilot, available at www.WarnerArchive.com). David Janssen starred in four crime-and-punishment series but only one has been on DVD until now. "The Fugitive" (1963-67) was Janssen's biggest, best-remembered and (at four seasons) longest-running hit, but fans are also fond of "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" (1957-60), "O'Hara, U.S. Treasury" (1971-72) and Janssen's last show, the two-season "Harry O" (1974-76).
This show's brief run may be due to Harry being more enigmatic than Janssen's other characters; he could be abrupt, rude and seemingly uncaring, which put off some viewers. Or perhaps there just wasn't room in primetime for two California private eyes living in low-rent dwellings on the beach ("The Rockford Files" debuted the same year).
But I'm asked a lot about "Harry O," so I'm sure this one will fly off Warner Archive's shelves. And I enjoyed revisiting the program, and found the terse Harry Orwell a fascinating character, with more of an edge than most '70s cop 'n' robbers shows would allow.
Guests this season include Farrah Fawcett (in a recurring role), Kurt Russell, Cab Calloway, Anne Archer, Linda Evans, Juliet Mills, Stefanie Powers, Mike Farrell, Broderick Crawford and Jim Backus.
There were two feature-length pilots for this series. The first, "Such Dust As Dreams Are Made On" (with Martin Sheen, Margot Kidder and Sal Mineo) is included in this set; the second, "Smile, Jenny, You're Dead" (with pre-teen Jodie Foster) is available separately on the Warner Archive site.
"Star Trek: The Next Generation" (Paramount/Blu-ray, 1987-88, six discs, $129.99, 25 episodes, featurettes with new material, promos, bloopers). As a "Star Trek" fan, I have to admit this series is my favorite. And though it took a couple of seasons for the show to find its sea legs, it's still fun to go back and look at the earliest episodes as the regulars were developing and recurring characters like Q and Data's evil twin showed up for the first time. And from the get-go, Patrick Stewart is perfect as Captain Picard.
The high-def reformatting is quite stunning, including the special effects (though some may think them dated), and keep in mind that this show was filmed before widescreen came to television, so it's in that square-ish format of all TV programs at the time (and all pre-1953 movies).
"Touched By an Angel: The Fifth Season" (CBS/Paramount, 1998-99, seven discs, $57.99, 27 episodes). It's been five years since Season 4 was released, so fans are understandably excited to see this one finally arrive. The filmed-in-Utah show ran nine seasons as angels Roma Downey and Della Reese helped humans on earth find their way. Sentimental? Yes, but also quite entertaining and enjoyable. Guests this season include Bill Cosby, Celine Dion, Valerie Harper, John Ritter, Margot Kidder, Richard Thomas, Patty Duke and Wynonna Judd, among others. Lots of local actors, too.
"The Untouchables: Season 4, Volume 1" (CBS/Paramount, 1962-63, b/w, four discs, $39.98, 14 episodes).
"The Untouchables: Season 4, Volume 2" (CBS/Paramount, 1963, b/w, four discs, $39.98, 16 episodes). Robert Stack as Elliot Ness continues to lead his team of FBI agents in a crackdown on crime for one last season of the seminal series, with narration by Walter Winchell. Guests in Volume 1 include Barbara Stanwyck (in two episodes), Edward Asner (in three episodes), Lee Marvin, James Caan, Carroll O'Connor, Harvey Korman, Mike Conners and Telly Savalas. Volume 2 features Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Jack Klugman and Robert Vaughn.
"Leverage: The 4th Season" (Fox, 2011, four discs, $39.98, 18 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers). Timothy Hutton's team of semi-crooks continue to right wrongs by pulling cons for the greater good in this occasionally humorous thrill series. Guests include Danny Glover, Richard Chamberlain, Tom Skerritt and Jeri Ryan.
"Michael Wood's Story of England" (BBC, 2010, two discs, $34.98, six episodes). Highly entertaining look at English history, filtered through the exploration of one English town from the Roman era to the present day. The stories really come alive and are highly entertaining.
"IRT: Deadliest Roads: Season Two — The Andes" (History, 2011, four discs, $29.95, 13 episodes). This spinoff of "Ice Road Truckers" spends its second season in South America, transporting goods on scary roads.
"Storage Wars: Volume Three" (A&E, 2011, two discs, $19.95, 16 episodes, deleted scenes). Auctioneers Dan and Laura Dotson field more bids for storage-unit sales with loads of wacky stuff.
"Hey Arnold! Season Two, Part 2" (Shout! 1997-98, two discs, $19.93, 10 episodes). More adventures with animated Arnold and his friends in the city.