This week’s DVD releases of television series are a mixed bag, led by the 1960s-’70s procedural “The FBI” and new shows “Siberia” and “Rogue.”
“The FBI: The Complete Seventh Season” (Warner Archive, 1971-72, six discs, $49.95, 26 episodes). In its seventh year, this FBI procedural, using up-to-the-minute (by 1971 standards) science and technology, as well as street-cop smarts, is still highly entertaining, thanks to stoic Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in the lead and a bevy of up-and-coming future stars on the guest list.
The emphasis this season seems to be more domestic than usual, with lots of normal folks going off the rails as the FBI investigates kidnappings, robberies, etc. Among the guest stars are newcomers Martin Sheen, Mark Hamill, Lindsay Wagner, Tom Skeritt, Jessica Walter, Stefanie Powers, Richard Thomas, Dabney Coleman and Wayne Rogers, as well as old-timers John McIntire, Stuart Whitman, Louis Jourdan and Cameron Mitchell, among others. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“Siberia: Season 1” (Lionsgate, 2013, three discs, $24.98, 11 episodes). This riff on competition TV shows is sort of “Survivor” meets “Lost,” as 16 contestants, the usual reality-show suspects, sign on for a survival program in Siberia. But things start to go haywire in the first episode as one contestant is killed and other strange, threatening events begin to occur. Is it the producers testing their mettle or is something more sinister afoot?
Part thriller, horror and very dark satire, the show is uneven, but the pilot certainly grabs you. How you’ll feel about the cliffhanger conclusion is another matter, especially if NBC doesn’t commit to a second season.
“Rogue: The Complete First Season” (eOne, 2013, four discs, $34.98, 10 episodes, featurette, webisodes). This DirecTV crime series stars Thandie Newton as an undercover San Jose, Calif., police detective whose son is killed mysteriously, so she tries to find his killer while maintaining her cover with a mob she has infiltrated. Good performances but it’s very dark and overly complicated. And being that DirecTV wants to compete with HBO and Showtime, there’s also lots of R-rated content. Season 2 is on the way.
“The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: The Renewal” (Timeless, 1978, $9.99). This extended episode (73 minutes here) from the second season stars Dan Haggerty as a loose version of the real-life 19th century mountain man, living in the wilderness with his grizzly bear Ben and his pals Mad Jack (Denver Pyle) and Nakoma (Don Shanks). This episode has an Easter theme and Patrick Wayne (son of John) is a guest. Lovely Utah locations provide the location scenery.
“Eric Clapton: The 1970s Review” (MVD, 2013, $19.95). Unauthorized documentary by the makers of “Eric Clapton: The 1960s Review” follows the musician into that decade as he forms Derek and the Dominos, and joins Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, eventually finding solo success. Interviewed are Bonnie Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock, the Albert Brothers, etc.
“100 Years of Wrigley Field” (MLB/A&E/Lionsgate, 2014, $19.98, featurettes). Feature-length documentary about Chicago’s famed baseball field chronicles the site’s history and includes eye-catching footage and story-spinning talking heads, including Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ferguson Jenkins, etc.
"The Science of Measurement” (Athena, 2013, $34.99, three episodes, text biography; 12-page booklet). Marcus du Sautoy hosts these documentary miniseries about time, length, mass, brightness, current, temperature and moles, among other aspects of the title subject. Very entertaining, despite the potentially dry subject.
“Talks About Nothing” (Athena, 2010-11, three discs, $59.99, 10 episodes; 16-page booklet). Oddly fascinating interviews conducted at the New York Rubin Museum between purposeful “pairings” of such out-of-the-box thinkers as performance artist Laurie Anderson, author Charles Seife, documentarian Ken Burns, Tibetan Buddhist painter Traleg Rinpoche, etc.
“Vikings: The Real Warriors” (BBC, 2012, $24.98, three episodes). This three-part documentary series hosted by Scottish historian Neil Oliver takes the position that Vikings were not merely savage pillagers but that in less than 200 years, while settling Britain, Iceland and Greenland, went from illiterate pagans to Christian farmers, statesmen and kings.
“Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham: Season 1, Part 1” (Warner Archive/Blu-ray, 2013-14, $19.95, 13 episodes). The animated series shown on the Cartoon Network comes to video with the promise of more, though the cable show seems stalled at the moment. This reimagining has Batman aided by his butler Alfred and martial-arts/sword-wielding master Katana. (Also on DVD, $19.97, available at warnerarchive.com)
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013, $14.99, six episodes). This is the third animated TMNT series, which is shown on the Nickelodeon cable channel, and these episodes are the first six of Season 2, from “The Mutation Situation” through “Target: April O’Neil.”
“Barbie: The Pearl Princess” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2014, two discs, $26.98, episode of “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse,” three music videos, trailers). Made-for-video feature (73 minutes) is essentially Barbie as “The Little Mermaid” with magical powers and a yearning to be a princess. (Also on DVD, $19.98)
“Angelina Ballerina: Spring Fling” (Hit/Lionsgate, 2014, $14.98, five episodes, interactive game, music video). The dancing mouse and her friends try different traditions from around the world to fend off the winter blues.
“Bubble Guppies: Animals Everywhere!” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2014, $16.99, six episodes). The Bubble Guppies make new friends of squirrels, ducks, rhinos and elephants, among other animals.
“Drawing With Mark: Something Fishy/A Day at the Aquarium” (Shelter Island, 2014, $14.98, two episodes).
“Drawing With Mark: Good to Grow/Life On the Farm” (Shelter Island, 2014, $14.98, two episodes). Artist/cartoonist Mark Marderosian offers drawing lessons for children, along with bouncy, humorous animation and educational explorations about the title topics. Think Mr. Rogers with a learn-to-draw component.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com