Chris Hicks: 'Hardy Boys,' 'Dr. Who' and other vintage shows lead new DVD releases of television programs this week
“The Hardy Boys” finishes its three-season run and “Doctor Who” reaches back to its first season for a six-part serial, leading these TV shows on DVD this week, which also include “Night Court,” “Bonanza” and “Matlock.”
“The Hardy Boys: Season Three” (Shout! 1978-79, three discs, $24.97, 10 episodes). After alternating with “Nancy Drew” for two seasons, “The Hardy Boys Mysteries” went solo for its final run, shortening its title and finishing off with a scant 10 episodes.
The brothers also leave their amateur status and go to work for the Justice Department, cracking cases with killers, mob informants, pirates and the KGB. Guests include Dana Andrews, Lloyd Nolan, Robert Loggia, June Lockhart, Pernell Roberts, Edd Byrnes and, in a recurring role, former “Maverick” brother Jack Kelly.
“Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror” (BBC, 1964. b/w, $24.98, six episodes, audio commentaries, featurettes, design/photo galleries). “Reign of Terror” was the final serial of the long-running show’s first season and finds the good doctor and friends caught up in the French Revolution.
Two of the six episodes for this serial have long been lost but animated versions have been added to fill out the story. (Some 106 episodes from 27 “Doctor Who” serials are missing, having been erased in the 1960s and ’70s by the BBC to acquire storage space. NBC did the same thing with Johnny Carson’s earliest “Tonight” shows.)
“Night Court: The Complete Eighth Season” (Warner Archive, 1990-91, three discs, $29.95, 24 episodes). The penultimate season of this funny sitcom with Harry Anderson as a night-court judge presiding over an array of goofballs sees Markie Post returning to work after having a baby, but with second thoughts about her marriage, and John Larroquette being as lecherous as ever. With Stephen Root guesting as Death and Mel Torme as an angel, the show continues its descent into off-the-wall slapstick as opposed to the eccentric wit that dominated earlier seasons. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
“The Bill Engvall Show: The Complete Second & Third Seasons” (Warner Archive, 2008-09, three discs, $29.95, 22 episodes). This family sitcom starring the country-fried stand-up comic was a favorite at our house even before Jennifer Lawrence hit it big with “The Hunger Games” and then earned an Oscar nomination. As Engvall and Nancy Travis’ teenage daughter, she’s probably the reason these final two seasons have at last been released five years after the first. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
“Bonanza: The Official Complete Fifth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 1963-64, nine discs, $58.98, 34 episodes, audio commentaries, excerpt from “The Andy Williams Show,” photo galleries). Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene), and sons continue to run the Ponderosa in 19th century Nevada. Guests include Stefanie Powers, Teresa Wright, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Marlo Thomas, Dennis Hopper, Joan Blondell and former “Zorro” and future “Lost in Space” star Guy Williams in six episodes as Cousin Will (poised to replace Pernell Roberts until he decided to stay for Season 6 after all). (Half season sets sold separately as “Volume 1” and “Volume 2,” $46.99 each.)
“Matlock: The Eighth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 1993-94, six discs, $54.99, 20 episodes, teasers). During this penultimate season of Andy Griffith’s light but popular Southern-lawyer courtroom comedy/drama, following a change of networks the year before, there were still more cast changes among supporting characters. Guests include Jeri Ryan, Tony Roberts, Joel Grey and George Peppard.
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