The last episode of the latest “Doctor Who” cycle and a one-season comedy-mystery series lead these new TV shows on DVD this week.
“Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor” (BBC, 2013, $14.98, featurettes). Matt Smith bids farewell to the long-running science-fiction series and hands off the baton to Peter Capaldi as the 12th doctor in this hourlong Christmas special that marked the final episode of the 11th "Doctor" cycle. The plot (which includes a holiday theme) cleverly wraps up loose ends from previous episodes as the doctor confronts the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Angels and the Silence. This is the series’ 800th episode since it began in 1963. (Also on Blu-ray, $19.98)
“Mr. & Mrs. Murder” (Acorn, 2013, four discs, $59.99, 13 episodes, extended scenes, featurettes, photo gallery). Here’s a quirky family business: crime-scene cleaning. Charlie and Nicola (Shaun Micallef, Kat Stewart) are called in to clean up toxic messes when homicide detectives finish going through murder sites — and the couple invariably comes across a few clues the police have missed. Think “Murder, She Wrote” in protective gear. This is an Australian comedy-mystery show, and though the box is labeled “Series 1,” it was canceled after this first season.
“Noah and the Great Ark” (History/Lionsgate, 1996-2007, $14.98, three episodes). As movie theaters gear up for the new epic film “Noah,” opening March 28, here are three History cable channel documentaries on the biblical story: “Noah & the Ark: Voyage to a New Beginning,” “Mega Disasters: Noah’s Great Flood” and “Mysteries of the Bible: Noah and the Flood.”
“Bible Secrets Revealed” (History/Lionsgate, 2013, two discs, $14.98, six episodes). History cable channel documentary series about the Bible, bolstered by location photography, re-enactments and interviews with scholars, archaeologists and religious leaders.
“The Vikings: Dark Warriors” (History/Lionsgate, 2006-08, $14.98, three episodes). Three History cable channel documentaries on the title subject: “The Vikings: Voyage to America,” “Leif Ericson: Voyages of a Viking” and “Viking Underground.”
“Ancient Aliens: Season Five, Volume Two” (History/Lionsgate, 2012-13, two discs, $19.98, eight episodes). The second half of season 5 of this speculative show about alien research stretches the term “documentary” as it equates “divine powers” with “extraterrestrial forces,” but manages to be entertaining. Episodes here explore crystal skulls, emperors and kings, and the healing powers of sacred bones. (Also on Blu-ray, $19.99)
“The Venture Bros: The Fifth Season” (Warner/Blu-ray, 2013, $31.97, Blu-ray and digital versions, eight episodes, two bonus episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries). This adult animated series is an absurdist superhero spoof from the Adult Swim arm of the Cartoon Network cable channel. Included are the specials “A Very Venture Halloween” and “From the Ladle to the Grave: The Shallow Gravy Story.” Note that these episodes are uncensored versions, allowing for more graphic animated violence, nudity and coarse language. (Also on DVD, $24.98)
“Snowflake the White Gorilla” (Lionsgate, 2013, PG, $19.98, featurettes, trailers). Fictionalized Spanish animated film based on the world’s only albino gorilla, Snowflake, a popular attraction at the Barcelona Zoo in Spain until his death in 2003. This cartoon feature has him sneaking out of the zoo with help from a red panda, after which they run into eccentric characters in a circus. This U.S. dubbed version is voiced by David Spade, Christopher Lloyd and Keith David, among others.
“Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation — East Meets West” (Shout!/Saban, 1997, $6.95, seven episodes). This bargain set includes the first seven episodes of the single-season live-action series that ran on the Fox Kids network. Twists on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mythology include a female turtle named Venus de Milo and dragon villains.
“Dora the Explorer: Dora in Wonderland” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2014, $16.99, bonus episode: “Book Explorers”). The title riff on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” is a two-part episode with Dora and Boots meeting up with familiar characters at the Queen’s tea party.
“Thomas & Friends: Spills & Thrills” (Hit/Lionsgate, 2014, $14.98, six episodes, interactive games, music video). Thomas the Tank Engine, the anthropomorphic animated train, along with his friends, get in and out of gentle comic scrapes.
“The Letter Machine Rescue Team” (LeapFrog/Lionsgate, 2014, $14.98). Animated characters based on the educational LeapFrog books are led by Leap, Lily and Tad as they get involved in adventures designed to improve reading and problem-solving skills. (For ages 4-7)
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com
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