Chris Hicks: Harry Nilsson’s animated TV special ‘The Point’ arrives on DVD this week
The song-filled animated ’70s special “The Point” leads these TV shows that are new to DVD this week.
“The Point: Definitive Collector’s Edition” (MVD, 1971, $14.95. featurette). The late Harry Nilsson’s abstract feature-length cartoon about ostracism and tolerance gets a new release for a new generation of family viewing, and it holds up pretty well.
With zany animation that at times brings to mind “Yellow Submarine” and a story that may help children think about how they treat each other, the early 1970s film was the first animated special made for prime-time television.
The story focuses on young Oblio, a round-headed boy born in a land where everything is pointy — including people’s heads. This puts him at odds with a schoolyard bully, whose prosecutor father successfully banishes Oblio to the Pointless Forest, where he and his dog Arrow have a series of eccentric adventures.
Backed by Nilsson’s songs (the most famous being “Me and My Arrow”) and with narration by Ringo Starr, the 75-minute film remains quite enjoyable, if a bit talky, and it does have a “point” that should make for valuable discussion after family viewing. (The featurette is new, with comments by Nilsson’s friends, co-workers and family members.)
“Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Ninth Year” (Shout!/NBC, 2010, four discs, $44.99, 16 episodes). This was a transitional season for the venerable spinoff of “Law & Order,” as Detectives Eames (Kathryn Erbe) and Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) investigate the death of their captain and then find themselves on thin ice as they discover the truth about what happened.
After the opening two-episode storyline, Eames and Goren depart the NYPD and the rest of the season belongs to Jeff Goldblum as Det. Nichols and his new partner, played by Saffron Burroughs.
Fans weren’t crazy about the departure of Erbe and D’Onofrio, but it must be said that Goldblum’s eccentric character maintains interest and he makes the rest of the season worthwhile. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio also lends some heft as their new captain.
This was the show’s penultimate season, and since all that remains is a brief eight-episode finale that marks the return of Erbe and D’Onofrio as the show’s stars, one wonders why that season couldn’t have been a part of this set.
“Hazel: The Complete Fourth Season” (Shout! 1964-65, four discs, $34.93, 26 episodes, promotional materials). Shirley Booth reprises her Emmy-winning role for Season 4 of this ’60s sitcom about a feisty maid who as much a member of the family as an employee. Based on Ted Key’s Saturday Evening Post panel strip, the show co-stars Don DeFore and Whitney Blake. It induces broad nostalgia from a more innocent time. Guests include Hugh Marlowe, Ken Berry, Michael Callan, Harold Gould and Utah native Parley Baer.
“Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season, Volume 1” (CBS/Paramount, 1961-62, b/w, five discs, $39.99, 17 episodes, preview spots, sponsor materials). U.S. marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) tries to help an ex-con stay straight, Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) is kidnapped by a mountain man and Chester (Dennis Weaver) becomes engaged. Guests include Leonard Nimoy, Buddy Ebsen, Wayne Rogers, Strother Martin, Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton.
“41” (HBO, 2012, $19.98). Very personal documentary film about former president George H. W. Bush is told from his viewpoint with interviews and personal reminiscences about his youth, his military service in World War II and many other aspects of his life up to and including his presidency.
“San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series Collector’s Edition” (MLB/A&E/Blu-ray, 2012, eight discs, $99.95, featurettes, alternate audio track from Giants Radio Network). Giants fans know this was a remarkable World Series for San Francisco and this high-definition set includes all four Fall Classic games, as well as two postseason games and Matt Cain’s perfect game, the first ever in Giants history.
“Girls: The Complete First Season” (HBO/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, three discs, $49.99, 10 episodes, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers). Lena Dunham’s critically praised but extremely raunchy series about a group of 20-something post-college women navigating life and love in Manhattan is a younger take on themes explored in that other HBO series, “Sex and the City.” (Also on DVD, $39.98)
“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Adventures in the Crystal Empire” (Shout Kids, 2012, $14.97, five episodes). This is the current animated TV series for children based on the toys, which is broadcast on the Hub cable channel. The title two-parter is from Season 3 with other episodes from earlier seasons.
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