Pamela Barkentin Blackburn
A riotous biography of Mel Brooks leads TV shows that are new to DVD this week.
“Mel Brooks: Make a Noise” (Shout!, 2013, $19.97, deleted scenes). This is the “American Masters” biography that was shown on PBS earlier this week, a fascinating and frequently hilarious profile of the comic filmmaker famous for “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers,” “Spaceballs” and many more off-the-wall farcical favorites.
Brooks’ pals and co-workers, through both new and archival interviews — Gene Wilder, Carl Reiner, Nathan Lane, Brooks’ late wife Anne Bancroft and many more — tell wacky Brooks stories and sing his praises. But it’s Brooks himself who gets the biggest laughs, along with the plentiful clips, ranging from his early TV appearances as the 2,000-Year-Old Man through his many films.
“The Royal Collection” (BBC, 2003-11, four discs, $24.99; replica of booklet for the queen’s coronation). This set collects four BBC documentaries, shows and miniseries: “The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II,” “King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy,” “Queen Victoria’s Children” and “How to Be a Prince.” The first three are self-explanatory and the fourth centers on Prince William. A nice set for fans of the royals.
“Bill Moyers: Beyond Hate” (Athena, 1991, $34.99, documentary: “Facing Hate,” text biography, participant updates; 123-page booklet). Another excellent Moyers documentary, this 90-minute exploration of hate — from Cain and Abel to modern-day racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and even domestic violence — is as challenging as it is riveting. Interviewees include Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and many more.
“Texas” (aka “James A. Michener’s Texas,” CBS/Paramount, 1994, $19.99, two episodes, featurette, trailer, promos). This three-hour ABC network miniseries is a sprawling mix of history and fiction and a lot of overly familiar material, with only a relatively small portion devoted to the battle at the Alamo. But if you’re interested purely for entertainment value, or because you like the stars (Patrick Duffy, Benjamin Bratt, Stacy Keach, Rick Schroder, Maria Conchita Alonso, etc.), it’s not a bad western epic to enjoy on a lazy summer evening.
“Laverne & Shirley: The Sixth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 1980-81, three discs, $39.98, 22 episodes, promos, bloopers). Lucy and Ethel updated for the ’70s and ’80s, with Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall in the very broad sitcom spinoff of “Happy Days.”
“True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season” (HBO/Blu-ray, 2013, seven discs, $79.98, 12 episodes; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; audio commentaries, featurettes, trailers). Bloody, profane and very sexual pay-cable series about vampires (along with fairies, werewolves, witches, etc.), living among humans in the deep South. (Also on DVD, $59.99)
“Saving Hope: The Complete First Season” (eOne, 2012, four discs, $39.98, 13 episodes, featurettes). Supernatural and very sentimental medical drama from Canada focuses on two surgeons, one in a coma who wanders the halls of his hospital in spirit form and the other his fiancee who is trying to save his life and keep the hospital going. (Includes two episodes not shown on U.S. television.)
“Perception: The Complete First Season” (ABC, 2012, two discs, $29.99, 10 episodes). Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”) stars in this crime series as a schizophrenic neuroscience professor who consults with the FBI, assisted by a former student who is now an agent (Rachael Leigh Cook).
“Dance Academy: Season 1, Volume 1” (Flatiron, 2010, two discs, $19.95, 13 episodes, photo gallery).