Fond-farewell seasons of the quirky sitcom “30 Rock” and the spinoff medical series “Private Practice” have been released on DVD this week, as well as the final season of the vintage western “Have Gun — Will Travel.”
“30 Rock: Season 7: The Final Season” (Universal, 2012-13, two discs, $44.98, 13 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette, animated webisode). The Emmy-winning sitcom goes out with a whimper instead of a bang, with just 13 episodes instead of the usual 20-plus (the second season had 15 episodes but was abbreviated due to a writers' strike).
Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and the gang wind down this offbeat inside-TV satire focusing on wrap-up stories for the slightly cracked characters, though the situations continue to be as eccentric as any out-there TV series, comedy or drama. And seven seasons is a good run for this kind of “cult show,” one that never really cultivated a ratings-valued following and was always more of a fan-favorite among show-biz professionals, critics and pop-culture geeks than with a general audience.
“Private Practice: The Complete Sixth and Final Season” (ABC, 2012-13, three discs, $39.99, 13 episodes, deleted scenes, bloopers). The same writers strike that shortened the second season of “30 Rock” also, even more drastically, cut the first season of this medical drama to just nine episodes, so it’s hard to complain about the 13 here. Kate Walsh and friends sign off from this spinoff of “Grey’s Anatomy” with tragedy and joy, as death, a difficult pregnancy with triplets and a marriage lead various characters to new horizons.
“Flashpoint: The Fifth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2012-13, three discs, $42.99, 11 episodes). Canada’s version of SWAT continues to defuse bombs, rescue hostages and in general diffuse all kinds of mayhem on the streets of Toronto in this action-filled police procedural. The most familiar actor for U.S. audiences is Enrico Colantoni (“Just Shoot Me,” “Veronica Mars”). (Because the episodes were packed differently for the United States, this is really part of the fourth season, with the Canadian fifth and final season yet to come.)
“Rookie Blue: The Complete Third Season” (eOne, 2012, four discs, $39.98, 13 episodes, featurettes). This Canadian series has taken some critical heat, but as with any multiple-character police procedural that delves into personal lives, it’s all in how you feel about the players. William Shatner makes a guest appearance in the season opener.
“Gunsmoke: The Eighth Season, Volume One” (CBS/Paramount, 1962-63, b/w, five discs, $44.99, 19 episodes, trailers, ads).
“Gunsmoke: The Eighth Season, Volume Two” (CBS/Paramount, 1963, b/w, five discs, $44.99, 19 episodes, trailers, ads). When this venerable western series expanded to an hour for the seventh season, the show suffered in the ratings but managed to hang in there, and these black-and-white, hour-long shows have been largely out of circulation for years (syndication favoring the color episodes that began in 1966). This season is notable for the arrival of Burt Reynolds as half-Comanche blacksmith Quint Asper, a recurring role he played on the show for three years. Guests include Leonard Nimoy and Mariette Hartley in “Volume One,” and in “Volume Two,” Adam West, Ben Johnson and, playing a different character, Nimoy again.
“Have Gun — Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume One” (CBS/Paramount, 1962, b/w, two discs, $29.99, 16 episodes).
“Have Gun — Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume One” (CBS/Paramount, 1963, b/w, two discs, $29.99, 16 episodes). The sixth and final season of this half-hour western series starring Richard Boone as a West Point-educated gun for hire (but only to help the downtrodden) is still great fun. Guests include William Conrad, Ben Johnson, Doodles Weaver, DeForest Kelley and Lee Van Cleef in “Volume One,” and in “Volume Two,” Charles Bronson, Lon Chaney Jr., George Kennedy, future “M*A*S*H” stars Wayne Rogers and Harry Morgan, and, as a different character, Van Cleef again.
“Felicity: Season Three” (Lionsgate, 2000-01, three discs, $19.98, 17 episodes, audio commentaries, featurettes).
“Felicity: Season Four” (Lionsgate, 2001-02, three discs, $19.98, 22 episodes, audio commentaries, featurettes). These final two seasons of the popular series about a California girl (Keri Russell) attending a fictional New York university are set during her junior and senior years as Felicity Porter works toward graduating and entering post-college life.
“Doc Martin: Special Collection” (Acorn, 2001-11, 13 discs, $124.99, 38 episodes, two TV movies, featurettes, photo galleries, text trivia/filmographies). Here’s a treat for fans of the dark but hilarious British series about the misanthropic surgeon (played perfectly by Martin Clunes) who takes over a general practice clinic in a seaside village populated by eccentrics with all kinds of weird maladies — a set that pulls together all six seasons of the series, as well as the two made-for-TV movies that led to it. (And good news: a seventh season is on the way this fall.)
“A Fine Romance: Complete Collection” (Acorn, 1981-84, four discs, $49.99, 26 episodes, text production notes). Judi Dench and her late husband Michael Williams star in this quirky sitcom about a pair of social misfits who begin a tentative romance and squabble their way into each other’s lives. Some funny material, although some may not translate well to American audiences, depending on your taste for decidedly English humor.
“Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” (Athena, 2013, two discs, $39.99, narrated by Joel Grey, extended interviews/performances, text biography of Grey, 15-page booklet). The focus of this wonderfully entertaining PBS documentary is such Jewish composers and lyricists as Irving Berlin, the Gershwin brothers, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Kern, Lorenz Hart, etc., and is liberally laced with interviews and performances by Barbra Streisand, Zero Mostel, Nathan Lane, Dick Van Dyke, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Chenoweth and many more.
“Citizen Hearst” (Bio/Lionsgate, 2012, $19.98, deleted scenes, “Hearst Castle” episode of “America’s Castles” series). Fascinating documentary on William Randolph Hearst, which goes beyond his years of running the empire himself to the legacy that continues today. Interviewees include Dan Rather, Oprah Winfrey, Leonard Maltin, Ralph Lauren, etc.
“The Great Gatsby: Midnight in Manhattan” (BBC, 2000, $14.98, 1975 TV episode: “A Dream of Living”). This documentary, an episode of “Omnibus,” is more about F. Scott Fitzgerald than his book of the title, and is obviously timed to coincide with the release of Baz Luhrmann’s new “Gatsby” movie. And it does hold interest, with comments from a number of writers, ranging from Hunter Thompson to George Plimpton. The running time is less than an hour, as is the length of the bonus feature “Dream of Living,” a 1975 portrayal of Fitzgerald by David Hemmings.
“WWII: From Space” (History/Lionsgate, 2012, $19.98). This 90-minute documentary relies on razzle-dazzle computer-graphic effects to offer up a new view of familiar material, and while some may complain that an overhead view of the action serves to further distance us from the mayhem, and it does, it’s still an interesting way to make the material seem fresh. (Also on Blu-ray, same price)
“Witness: A World in Conflict Through a Lens” (HBO, 2013, $19.98). Gritty, four-part documentary miniseries focusing on present-day areas of the world that are not at war but nonetheless in constant conflict, specifically Mexico, Libya, South Sudan and Brazil, following war photographers as they chronicle drug trafficking, poverty, gang violence, political corruption, etc.
“The Exorcist in the 21st Century” (Disinformation, 2013, $19.98, featurettes). Catholic exorcism is explored in this documentary as filmmakers accompany a Vatican-approved priest attempting to exorcise demons said to have possessed a Colombian woman for 15 years.
“Doctors of the Dark Side” (Shelter Island, 2011, $24.98, narrated by Mercedes Ruehl, featurettes). Documentary about American physicians and psychologists facilitating torture of detainees in post-911 military prisons.
“K-9: The Complete Series” (Shout!, 2009-10, four discs, $29.97, 26 episodes, featurettes). Comedy-action series for kids about a robot dog in London in the near future that helps humans battle alien invaders. Mix of live action and computer-generated effects.
“Fraggle Rock: Meet the Fraggles” (Vivendi, 1983-84, $14.93, six episodes). This is Jim Henson’s series about the title furry creatures in animated puppet form, a la his Muppets. These episodes from this series’ first two years are sort of a primer for fans who may wish to consider shelling our $129.99 for the complete “Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection,” also out this week.
“TAZ-mania: Taz On the Loose: Season One, Part One” (Warner, 1991, two discs, $1997, 13 episodes). Episodes from the first season of this Fox animated series from the creators of “Animaniacs” and “Tiny Toons.”
“Saban’s Power Rangers Samurai: The Sixth Ranger, Volume 4” (Lionsgate, 2013, $14.98, four episodes, featurette, bloopers, music video). Live-action series has a new ally on board, Antonio the Gold Ranger.
“Team Umizoomi: Animal Heroes” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013, $14.99, four episodes). Four shows from the offbeat animated series for kids, with Milli, Geo and Bot on animal-centric missions.
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