TV favorites "Foyle's War," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Father Dowling Mysteries," "The FBI" and "Doctor Who" all have new DVD sets in stores this week.
"Foyle's War: The Home Front Files" (Acorn, 2002-2010, 22 discs, $149.99, 22 episodes, featurettes, photo gallery, text notes on production and historical accuracy, text filmographies). Michael Kitchen is absolutely perfect as the beleaguered, close-to-the-vest but courteous and helpful detective chief superintendent Christopher Foyle, laboring in the small English seaside town of Hastings during and just after World War II.
This series of 22 feature-length episodes covers 1940-45 as Foyle, a World War I veteran, seeks work in the War Office but finds his requests repeatedly denied. So, with his driver Samantha "Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and an injured veteran, Sgt. Paul Milner (Anthony Howell), Foyle investigates crimes, solves murders and often finds himself at odds with his superiors, especially when his cases cross over into wartime events.
There are a lot of excellent British TV series that find success on this side of the pond, but few are as completely satisfying as this one, which not only captivatingly captures the period and cleverly weaves history into each episode but also boasts endearing characters you can't wait to catch up with. Kitchen is great, but so are Howell and especially Weeks, whose cockeyed optimism is an utter delight.
A new three-episode season is scheduled for PBS later this year, so if you haven't yet caught up with "Foyle's War," now's the time.
"Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Final Year" (Shout! 2011, two discs, $29.93, eight episodes). Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe are reunited as detectives Goren and Eames in this abbreviated farewell season of the second "Law & Order" spinoff, with Jay O. Sanders as their new chief and Julia Ormond as a therapist Goren is required to see. Guests include Jeri Ryan, Steven Weber, Cynthia Nixon, James Van Der Beek and in her acting debut, rock 'n' roller Patti Smith.
"Father Dowling Mysteries: The Final Season" (CBS/Paramount, 1990-91, five discs, $61.99, 22 episodes, promos). Father Dowling (Tom Bosley) and Sister Steve (Tracy Nelson) continue to solve murders in this third and final season of the light comedy-mystery series. James Stephens co-stars as a young priest, and scene-stealer Mary Wickes plays the housekeeper. Guests include David McCallum, David Warner and John Astin.
"The FBI: The Fourth Season" (Warner Archive, 1968-69, seven discs, $49.95, 26 episodes). This series continues to provide exciting episodes as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and his agents investigate a plane hijacking, a kidnapping, Communist spies, a con artist impersonating an Air Force officer, etc. Guests include Harrison Ford, Hal Holbrook, Diane Baker, Dorothy Provine, Louis Jourdan, Cicely Tyson, Bruce Dern, and 14-year-old Ron Howard, among others. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Doctor Who: The Aztecs: Special Edition" (BBC, 1964, b/w, two discs, $34.98, four episodes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery; PDF materials).
"Doctor Who: The Ark in Space: Special Edition" (BBC, 1975, two discs, $34.98, four episodes, feature-length movie version, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery; PDF materials). "The Aztecs" is a series from the show's first season with William Hartnell as the good doctor, finding 15th-century Mexico a less than friendly place to visit, while "The Ark in Space," with Tom Baker as the doctor, has the crew landing on a space station in the future that has been invaded by a parasitic insect race.
"Ripper Street" (BBC, 2013, three discs, $29.98, eight episodes, featurettes). Set in the late 1880s, several months after the last Jack the Ripper killing, this series follows two British police detectives and an American Army surgeon who investigate homicides in London's Whitechapel district. Well made with an engaging cast but also very dark and occasionally sleazy. (Also on Blu-ray, $34.98)
"Tyler Perry's House of Payne: Volume Ten" (Lionsgate, 2011-12, three discs, $29.98, 20 episodes). Perry's TBS cable sitcom about three generations of a family living under one roof goes into its final phases (two more DVD volumes to come) after airing its final episode last August.
"The Mob Doctor: the Complete Series" (Sony, 2012-13, three discs, $35.99, 13 episodes). Fox network's single-season series is based on Ron Felber's novel, which has Dr. Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) roped into working for a mobster (William Forsythe) after she takes on her brother's debt.
"Jay and Silent Bob Get Irish" (Industrial, 2013, two discs, $19.95, three shows, deleted scenes). More foul-mouthed stage comedy from Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, including shows in Dublin, Ireland, from their British tour and a gig in Las Vegas. Strictly for die-hard fans.
"Curious George Swings Into Spring" (Universal, 2013, $19.98). This animated Curious George cartoon is a new straight-to-video 57-minute feature with George and Hundley exploring nature until Hundley loses his way and George takes to the sky to track him down.
"Max & Ruby: A Bunny for Every Season" (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013, $26.99, 48 stories). This collection of animated shows from Nickelodeon's "Max & Ruby" includes the previously released discs "Springtime for Max & Ruby," "Summertime for Max & Ruby," "Perfect Pumpkin!" and "Everybunny Loves Winter!"
"The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: Vol. 1, Escape From the Kitchen" (Vivendi, 2012, $14.93, 10 episodes). The first 10 episodes of this live-action/animation blend, a Cartoon Network time-traveling show that sprang from a YouTube series by comedian Toby Turner. The magical fruit cart takes the title character and his produce pals to prehistoric and colonial times.