A major change in the casting of “Midsomer Murders” leads these TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray this week.
“Midsomer Murders: Set 21” (Acorn, 2012, four discs, $49.99, four episodes). Although he’s been introduced in a couple of earlier episodes, with this set Neil Dudgeon officially takes over as Det. Chief Inspector John Barnaby, replacing retired Det. Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, played for 14 years by John Nettles. And against all odds — since Nettles was the heart of this very popular show — it works very well.
John Barnaby is definitely his own man, a highly educated homicide detective with a degree in psychology, easily the smartest guy in the room, but he never flaunts it, in a sort of deceptive “Columbo” way, if you will. He’s married to a teacher and they’re from the city, which makes the locals a bit wary. And Det. Sgt. Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) is still around, still trying to catch up. (It should be noted that at the end of the fourth feature-length episode here, Barry Jackson as pathologist Dr. George Bullard leaves the series.)
Best of all the lush countryside, the offbeat murders and the many eccentric suspects have not changed a bit in terms of tone. It’s very much the same show despite some new twists and remains just as watchable. Dudgeon is so easy to take that we never feel at a loss with Nettles’ absence. So here’s hoping a continued, even longer run is in the offing. (Also on Blu-ray, $59.99)
“Smash: Season One” (Universal/NBC, 2011-12, four discs, $59.98, 15 episodes, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, bloopers). Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee and Anjelica Huston head the ensemble cast of this ambitious series (with Steven Spielberg listed as an executive producer) about the mounting of a Broadway musical based on Marilyn Monroe. Guests include Uma Thurman and Bernadette Peters.
“Tiny Toon Adventures: Crazy Crew Rescues!” (Warner, 1991-92, two discs, $19.97, 17 episodes). Speaking of Spielberg, he was also an executive producer on this animated show, which has a rabid following that will be delighted to see some more episodes finally come to home video. Buster Bunny, Babs Bunny, Plucky Duck and Hamton J. Pig, under the guidance of Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes stalwarts, create their own antic mayhem in the Warner Bros. cartoon world.
“The Goode Family: The Complete Series” (Shout! 2009, two discs, $22.97, 13 episodes, deleted scenes, unaired scripts, audio commentaries, featurettes, promos). This short-lived animated series from Mike Judge (“King of the Hill”) is a satire of society’s overly sensitive reactions to political correctness, focusing on a family that is obsessive about its carbon footprint. Like much of Judge’s work it’s uneven but filled with amusing ideas.
“Superboy: The Complete Second Season” (Warner Archive, 1989-90, three discs, $29.95, 26 episodes). This lower-budget, syndicated, live-action, half-hour series follows the adventures of Superman when he was a lad growing up in Smallville (more than a decade before the “Smallville” series) and it’s a hit-and-miss affair, though fans will enjoy it. This season the character is softened a bit and a new actor, Gerard Christopher, plays the role. (Available at www.warnerarchive.com.)
“George Lopez: It’s Not Me, It’s You” (HBO, 2012, $19.97). Lopez is a funny guy in this stand-up show filmed before a Los Angeles audience. But be warned: As with so many comics today, there’s a lot of foul language and tasteless content.
“Enlightened: The Complete First Season” (HBO/Blu-ray, 2011, two discs, $49.99, 10 episodes, audio commentaries, featurettes). Laura Dern stars in this comedy-drama series, yet another cable show that vacillates, sometimes uncomfortably, between amusing and disturbing. She plays a high-rolling executive who has a meltdown, goes into rehab and returns to a lower-rung life, where she vows to help others, despite plenty of problems of her own. Dern and co-creator Mike White are both quite good. (Also on DVD, $39.98.)
“Anger Management: Season One” (Lionsgate, 2012, two discs, $29.98, 10 episodes, featurettes). Charlie Sheen’s new FX cable sitcom after his real-life meltdown while starring on “Two and a Half Men” is a vulgar, rambling, infrequently funny rant about a therapist specializing in anger management (loosely based on the Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson movie). (Also on Blu-ray, same price.)
“Being Human: The Complete Second Season” (eOne/Blu-ray, 2012, four discs, $39.98, 13 episodes, featurettes). This is the Canadian version of a British supernatural series. Here, a vampire, ghost and werewolf live as roommates in Boston, trying to develop some kind of normal life while attempting to resist their true natures. (Also on DVD, same price.)
“Dance Moms: Season 2, Volume 1” (Lionsgate, 2012, three discs, $24.98, 12 episodes, 14 shorts, episode of “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition”).
“Dance Moms: Season 2, Volume 2” (Lionsgate, 2012, three discs, $24.98, 13 episodes, 10 shorts, reunion shows). This Lifetime cable dance-competition show at the Pittsburgh-based Abby Lee Dance Company focuses on competing children and their stage mothers.
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