Jim Gaffigan is back with a new comedy special on DVD and Blu-ray, leading a variety of TV shows new to video this week ranging from British crime-solver “Father Brown” to the eighth season of “Dynasty.”
“Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed” (Comedy Central/Paramount/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014). Gaffigan, according to the Blu-ray box, is the “King of Clean Comedy.” Sorry, that crown goes to Brian Regan. But Gaffigan is mostly clean, in that he uses only a mild curse word here and there, and his sexual references are oblique as he talks about going into a Victoria’s Secret store, compares his breast-feeding baby to the world’s worst roommate and makes a joke about a crustacean with an unfortunate double-entendre name.
The bulk of his comedy is, as always, his “obsession” with food and his observations are truly hilarious, ranging from eating ice cream to lusting after donuts to trying to figure out seafood. My wife and I laughed out loud a lot without ever feeling the need to be embarrassed — but it can be generally clean and still be off limits for children. (This is a 70-minute extended version of the show that debuted last week on the Comedy Central cable channel.)
“Father Brown: The Complete Collection” (Acorn/DVD, 1974, four discs, 13 episodes, text biography of G.K. Chesterton). Chesterton is the author of the “Father Brown” short stories on which this series is based and British star Kenneth More is quite delightful as the 1920s Catholic priest who solves crimes through intuition and logic. (Father Brown was also played delightfully in a 1954 movie by Alec Guinness, which is sadly unavailable.)
More’s Father Brown is sort of “Columbo”-ish, repeatedly underestimated by his adversaries and quick with a quip. Although Agatha Christie is perhaps a better comparison in terms of tone.
There are the usual technical drawbacks of 1970s shows, especially the distinctly English quirk of videotaping indoors and using 16mm film outdoors so that shifts in viewing quality are sometimes stark. And certainly this program is more leisurely than anything made today. But that’s not a bad thing, and More is so delightful that he elevates the proceedings.
“Dynasty: The Eighth Season, Volumes One and Two” (CBS/Paramount/DVD, 1987-88, seven discs, 22 episodes). The notorious primetime soap opera begins to wind down in this penultimate season as refugees from the canceled “The Colbys” series return and plots and subplots take on a lethal edge. Stars John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins return, along with an array of familiar supporting players.
“Civil War: The Untold Story” (Athena/DVD, 2014, two discs, five episodes, featurette; 12-page booklet). Elizabeth McGovern narrates this documentary miniseries that looks at the battles of Vicksburg, Shiloh and Atlanta, among others, as well as the roles that slaves played in the war, using re-creations, archival imagery and 3D maps, along with the usual talking-head scholars.
“You, Me & Them: Series 1” (Acorn/DVD, 2013, two discs, six episodes, featurette, bloopers). British domestic sitcom about a middle-aged wealthy businessman and his 26-years-younger wife, her disapproving parents, his delusional ex-wife, who buys the house next door, and various other relatives who contribute to the slapstick comedy and expected 21st century sex gags. Stars Anthony Head (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Eve Myles (“Torchwood”).
“Adventure Time: The Suitor” (CN/Warner/DVD, 2013, 16 episodes, featurette). Cartoon Network’s animated series about a young boy and his magical dog in a mystical world includes random episodes from seasons 2-5.
“Chuggington: Explorer Koko” (Anchor Bay/DVD, 2010-13, six episodes, featurette, episode of “Badge Quest”; coloring/activity sheets). Animated anthropomorphic trains teach life lessons to preschoolers in each episode of this British series.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings."
Website: www.hicksflicks.comEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org