Chris Hicks: The 'Bonanza' boys are on DVD with the fourth season of their venerable Western series
A pair of vintage TV favorites lead these new DVDs in stores this week.
“Bonanza: The Official Fourth Season Value Pack: Season 4, Volumes 1 and 2” (CBS/Paramount, 1962-63, nine discs, $58.98, 34 episodes). Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and his three sons Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon) continue to protect the Ponderosa, their sprawling Nevada ranch, and fight for right in this long-running Western series.
Among these episodes Ben recounts his courtship with Little Joe’s mother, Hoss is accused of murder and bank robbery, Little Joe tries to prove his worth by corralling a timber contract, and in a variation on “Stagecoach,” Adam hunkers down for the night at a way station with a variety of personalities, including an outlaw.
Guests include Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island”), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy on “Star Trek”), Robert Vaughn (Napoleon Solo on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”), Ross Martin (Artemus Gordon in “The Wild Wild West”), and veteran character actors Mary Wickes, Harry Dean Stanton, Slim Pickens, Claude Akins and many more. (Also available in separate volumes, $42.99 each.)
“Medical Center: The Complete Second Season” (Warner Archive, 1970-71, six discs, $49.95, 24 episodes, three variant endings of the episode “Countdown”). Chad Everett stars as Dr. Joe Gannon, surgeon and professor at a university medical center in Los Angeles in this long-running series. Guests this season include James Shigeta, Vera Miles, William Devane, Diane Baker, Roddy McDowall, Stefanie Powers, Jessica Walter, Gena Rowlands and, in a recurring role as a nurse, Jayne Meadows. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.Com.)
“90210: The Fourth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2011-12, six discs, $47.99, 24 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, music video, bloopers). Contemporary version of the iconic 1990s series follows the upscale group post-high school as they find adulthood makes them no more mature.
“Thomas & Sarah” (Acorn, 1979, four discs, $49.99, 13 episodes). John Alderton and Pauline Collins reprise their title characters from the original “Upstairs, Downstairs” series in this amusing spinoff that has them reuniting and essentially becoming con artists as they mix it up to advance their own ambitions.
“Kidnap and Ransom: Complete Series 1 & 2” (Acorn, 2011, two discs, $49.99, featurette). Exciting British thriller series has a hostage negotiator (Trevor Eve) rescuing a kidnap victim, only to have her snatched a second time as he begins to figure out there’s something bigger and more sinister going on.
“Vexed: Series 1” (Acorn, 2010, $29.99, trailers, photo gallery). Offbeat police procedural has a lazy, hard-partying detective (Toby Stephens) paired with a no-nonsense detective (Lucy Punch), which makes for as much bickering as crime-solving. (Contains strong language, sexual content.)
“David Blaine: Decade of Magic” (Virgil, 2002-10, two discs, $24.99, featurettes). Three TV specials starring the magician are collected here — “Vertigo,” “Drowned Alive” and “What Is Magic? — each demonstrating his brand of daredevil antics.
“Whittle: The Jet Pioneer” (Shelter Island, 2012, $24.98). Smart documentary about Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine during World War II in a race with Nazi Germany’s bid for jet propulsion, which was destined to change air travel and essentially make the world a smaller place. Well worth seeking out.
“Beatles Stories” (Cinema Libre, 2012, $19.95). First-hand recollections of the Beatles by witnesses who were there, ranging from such celebrities as Fab Four collaborator George Martin, the Beach Boys, Ben Kingsley, Henry Winkler, Jon Voight, Art Garfunkel, Smokey Robinson and many more, to former girlfriends, business associates and fans. Entertaining stuff for fans.
“Tom & Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse” (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, $24.98, three cartoons). This straight-to-video hourlong cartoon has Tom and Jerry helping Robin Hood out of a jam. Bonus cartoons are a 2007 TV episode and two theatrical shorts from the 1950s.
“Dora’s Royal Rescue” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2012, $14.99, bonus episode). Double episode “Dora the Explorer” cartoon has Lady Knight Dora and Squire Boots on a quest to save Don Quixote.
“Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs A to Z” (PBS Kids, 2012, $12.99, five episodes). More animated adventures mixing trains and dinosaurs to push preschoolers toward scientific thinking.
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