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).
“Dance Academy: Season 1, Volume 2” (Flatiron, 2010, two discs, $19.95, 13 episodes, featurette, photo gallery). These two sets comprise Season 1 of this Australian dramatic series aimed at teens and preteens. Episodes follow Tara Webster, a country girl whose life changes radically when she’s accepted into National Academy of Dance.
“The Aquabats! Super Show: Season One!” (Shout!, 2012, two discs, $19.93, 13 episodes, original pilot, audio commentaries, featurette, bloopers). Amusing children’s series has the Aquabats! band members as amateur superheroes in live-action and animated form.
“Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s Classics, Vol. 1” (Warner Archive, 1960, two discs, $29.95, 72 cartoons). These are shorts from the TV series that began in 1960 and ran for two more years, for a total of 220 cartoons. The animation is, of course, TV-style, as opposed to the more fluid theatrical cartoons, and these shorts are aimed squarely at kids. (Available at WarnerArchive.com.)
“Monsuno: Power” (Shout! Kids, 2012, $14.97, five episodes, text bios). Anime series (showing domestically on the cable Nicktoons channel) about young Chase Suno in search of his father, creator of the Monsuno (monster DNA) that protects the boy.
“Bink & Gollie and more stories about friendship” (Scholastic, 2013, $14.95, four stories, featurettes, read-along). Animated stories for children ages 4-9.
“Pound Puppies: Mission: Adoption” (Shout! Kids, 2013, $9.99, five episodes, printable adoption certificate). Animated series about the title characters looking for adoptive homes.
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