The History Channel’s documentary ‘Mankind’ leads new TV shows released on DVD and Blu-ray

Published: Saturday, Dec. 22 2012 3:00 p.m. MST

Spartans prepare for the Battle of Plataea.

Joe Alblas

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A new documentary show from the History Channel, described as “the story of all of us,” leads these newly released DVDs and Blu-rays of television series.

“Mankind” (History/Blu-ray, 2012, three discs, $39.95, 12 episodes, deleted scenes). As with many History Channel documentary specials and series, this is an overly ambitious, rapid-fire summation of human history that bites off more than it can chew and comes off as rather superficial, perhaps even simplistic. Yet it remains action-filled and entertaining and could perhaps provoke interest in children to learn more about some of its various areas of focus.

Visually stunning, all the more so in Blu-ray, the re-enactments and eye-candy computer graphics enhance episodes on “Inventors,” “Iron Men,” “Warriors,” “The Plague” and the “New World,” among others. Josh Brolin narrates. (Also on DVD, $29.98)

“Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution: Season 2” (Comedy Central/Paramount, 2012, $19.99, six episodes, animated shorts, music video, outtakes). With his sound effects, voices and clever observations on everyday life, Iglesias is a funny guy, and in this series he introduces a lot of stand-up comics you’ve never head of from all over the world, and some of them are also quite funny in a live stage show recorded in Florida.

“House of Lies: The First Season” (Showtime/CBS, 2012, two discs, $46.99, 12 episodes, audio commentaries, featuerettes, episodes of “The Borgias” and “Dexter”). Very well done political satire with a great cast led by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell about a consulting firm that gets what the client wants by whatever means necessary. It is, however, like much of Showtime’s content, extremely raunchy and foul-mouthed. (Beware of the episode titled “Utah” about a racist Mormon hotelier.)

“Shameless: The Complete Second Season” (Warner/Blu-ray, 2012, two discs, $49.99, 12 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, music video). William H. Macy is the alcoholic head of an unconventional family, to say the least, with the oldest daughter (Emmy Rossum) as the engine that keeps things on track in this very dark Showtime satire. (Also on DVD, $39.98)

“The Life and Times of Tim: The Complete Third Season” (HBO, 2011-12, two discs, $29.98, 10 episodes). This is the third and final season of this animated series about a slacker trying to pull his life together but instead just getting into one awkward situation after another. Celebrity voice guests include Alfred Molina, Elliott Gould, Bob Saget and Melanie Lynskey.

“Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season” (HBO, 2011, two discs, $29.98, 10 episodes). Half-hour series of comedy skits, faux commercials, animated bits, music videos, etc., a sort of dirtier version of “Saturday Night Live.” Conceived by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy as a spinoff of their “Funny or Die” website. A number of “SNL” alum are on hand and some of this is funny, but an awful lot is just out there, as well as being foul-mouthed and/or disgusting.

“Tosh.0: Deep V’s” (Comedy Central/Paramount/Blu-ray, 2010, three discs, $22.98, 16 episodes, extended sequences, uncut 24-minute “Human Centipede” spoof). Very vulgar episodes from Season 2 of comic Daniel Tosh’s lampooning of all phases of popular culture. (Also on DVD, $19.99)

“Tosh.0: Cardigans and Casual Jackets” (Comedy Central/Paramount, 2009-10, two discs, $22.99, 15 episodes, extended interviews, uncut “Orphan” spoof, featurette, outtakes). More raunchy episodes from Seasons 1 and 2. (This one is available exclusively at Walmart)

“The Sarah Silverman Program: Season 3” (Shout!/Comedy Central, 2010, two discs, $19.93, 10 episodes, original pilot, audio commentaries, audition videos, featurettes). This season of Silverman’s absurdist and very vulgar sitcom gets its own release after being a part of the complete series set that came out in June.

E-MAIL: hicks@desnews.com

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