It’s been a long time coming, but fan requests have finally been answered with the first season of “Dr. Kildare" arriving on DVD this week.
“Dr. Kildare: The Complete First Season” (Warner Archive, 1961-62, b/w, nine discs, $49.95, 33 episodes, pilot for “The Eleventh Hour”). This medical series made a star/teen idol of Richard Chamberlain in the 1960s as the dedicated young doctor mentored by crusty Dr. Gillespie (Raymond Massey).
But it was an adult show and achieved a level of success that rivaled the hugely popular 1930s and ’40s film series that starred Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore.
Some of the plots may seem a bit overly sentimental by today’s standards but in general the show holds up well against modern doctor/hospital procedurals, and there are plenty of young actors on display who went on to bigger things.
This season’s guests include Lee Marvin, Suzanne Pleshette, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Francis, William Shatner, Harvey Korman, Dorothy Malone and many more familiar faces. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
“The Lincoln Chronicles” (Mill Creek, 1930-2011, b/w and color, 10 discs, $29.98, 31 episodes). Collection of documentaries and dramatic films about Abraham Lincoln contains some solid material, including D.W. Griffith’s 1930 biographical film starring Walter Huston. But the real highlight is the inclusion of the six-part 1973-74 miniseries “Carl Sandburg’s Lincoln,” which earned an Emmy for Hal Holbrook in what many consider the definitive portrayal of our 16th president, Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis notwithstanding.
“Last Summer Won’t Happen” (Icarus, 1968, $29.98, short film: “Time of the Locust,” featurettes). This hourlong time-capsule documentary explores the counterculture of 1968 New York as the previous year’s Summer of Love gave way to an isolated, often divided anti-Vietnam War movement that began small but gradually took on a life of its own despite internal conflict.
“Touched By an Angel: The Seventh Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2000-01, seven discs, $61.99, 25 episodes). Heavenly angel Monica (Roma Downey) is back to offer inspiration to troubled mortals, while occasionally requiring some guidance herself from supervisor Tess (Della Reese). Guests include Faye Dunaway, Richard Chamberlain, Tess Harper, Cathy Lee Crosby, Joel Grey, Patti LuPone, Harry Hamlin and, as Satan, Mandy Patinkin.
“A Haunting: Season Five: 2012 Season” (Timeless, 2012, two discs, $14.97, 10 episodes). Semi-documentary/reality show is an anthology series about supposed real-life paranormal occurrences, recounted by those involved and re-created with actors. This is a revival of the Discovery Channel cable series that was canceled in 2007.
“Flash Gordon: the Complete Series” (Mill Creek, 2007-08, four discs, $14.98, 22 episodes). So-so reboot of the classic science-fiction comic strip, filmed many times before, this time for the Syfy cable channel. Strictly for easy-to-please fans.
“The Syndicate: Series 1” (Acorn, 2012, two discs, $39.99, five episodes). Hourlong British anthology owes something to the 1950s TV series “The Millionaire,” in which each week someone received a $1 million check and the episode focused on how it affected their lives. Here, supermarket workers pool their money and win the lottery. Each episode focuses on how the winnings affect another member of the group, while the other characters float in and out.
“The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries” (Acorn, 1972-75, six discs, $59.99, 21 episodes, featurettes, text production notes/biographies). The five BBC-produced miniseries based on Dorothy L. Sayers’ “Lord Peter Wimsey” mysteries, starring perfectly cast Ian Carmichael as the erudite gentleman detective investigating the upper crust about various murders. Each show is great fun though young audiences may find them a bit slow to build.
“The Scarlet Pimpernel” (Acorn, 1982, $29.99). Rousing British TV adaptation of the popular story of a foppish British aristocrat (Anthony Andrews) whose obtuse demeanor disguises his swashbuckling alter ego as he rescues French aristocrats from execution during the French Revolution. Ian McKellen is the chief villain while Jane Seymour provides the love interest.
“Ben Hur” (Sony, 2010, $26.99, two episodes, featurette). ABC-TV two-part miniseries isn’t bad and tries to focus more on character and less on spectacle but still suffers in comparison to the 1959 big-screen version, leading to the question: Why bother? Joseph Morgan is the title character, a wealthy Jew who becomes a businessman, a slave, a gladiator and a Roman nobleman as his life is tossed on the winds of fate during the time of Jesus’ ministry.
“WWII Diaries: A Day-By-Day Chronicle, Volume 1: September 1939-June 1942” (Mill Creek, 2013, b/w and color, nine discs, $29.98, 34 episodes, bonus documentaries from the “Why We Fight” series). Documentary series chronicles the Second World War through mid-1942 with newsreels, photographs and War Department footage.
“Shelter Me” (Virgil, 2012, $14.99). PBS documentary about homeless pets tells positive stories about adopting shelter animals and encourages viewers to do the same. Sponsored by Ellen DeGeneres’ company Halo: Purely for Pets and narrated by Katherine Heigl.
“Tom and Jerry Kids Show: The Complete Season 1” (Warner, 1990, two discs, $19.97, 13 episodes). Animated series about Tom and Jerry as little ones, though their adult antics couldn’t be much more childish, could they? Young Spike and Droopy also appear.
“Once Upon a Rhyme” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013, $14.99, six episodes). Cartoons from “Bubble Guppies,” “Team Umizoomi,” “Dora the Explorer,” etc.
“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Princess Twilight Sparkle” (Shout! Kids, 2013, $14.97, six episodes, sing-along, coloring sheet). Hub cable channel animated series based on the Hasbro toy.
“Car’s Life 3: The Royal Heist” (eOne, 2013, $12.98). Third in a series of straight-to-DVD animated features about a feisty little car named Sparky, here involved in a whodunit surrounding a jewel heist.