The 1970s sitcom "Alice" makes its DVD debut this week, along with follow-up seasons of a couple of popular TV shows.
"Alice: The Complete First Season" (Warner Archive, 1976-77, three discs, $29.95, full frame, 24 episodes, available at www.WarnerArchive.com). A loose spinoff of the Martin Scorsese comedy-drama "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," which earned Ellen Burstyn the best-actress Oscar, this workplace sitcom stars Linda Lavin in the title role as a recent widow with a young son (Philip McKeon).
They move from New Jersey to Phoenix, Ariz., where she lands a job in a diner and is befriended by the gruff owner/chef Mel (Vic Tayback, reprising his role from the movie) and two waitresses, dynamic, lusty Flo (Polly Holliday) and meek Vera (Beth Howland).
Flo quickly became the breakout character here thanks to Holliday's vibrant comic performance, and she even delivered a new catchphrase to '70s viewers: "Kiss my grits!" The show became so popular it ran for nine seasons, with Holliday eventually getting her own spinoff series, "Flo."
Today it's a bit dated but still fast and funny, with Lavin's anchored performance and refined comic timing leading the way. And the story line of a single mother trying to keep her life afloat still resonates.
"Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Seventh Year" (Shout! 2008-09, five discs, $49.97, widescreen, 22 episodes). As this "Law & Order" program moved to the USA cable channel for Season 7, Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe continued to rotate episodes with Chris Noth and Julianne Nicholson (with Alicia Witt filling in for five shows while Nicholson was on maternity leave). Good writing and solid mysteries keep the series on track, and Noth, reprising his role from the original "Law & Order," is a strong component.
"Love in a Cold Climate" (Acorn, 1980, three discs, $59.99, full frame, eight episodes). This British miniseries is a very sharp social satire starring Judi Dench and a passel of recognizable English character actors, focusing primarily on two young women, one a flighty adventuress (Lucy Gutteridge) and the other more level-headed (Rosalyn Landor) as they navigate romance and an atmosphere of dread when World War II looms. Holds up well as a sincere adaptation of Nancy Mitford's autobiographical novels.
"Louie: The Complete Second Season" (Fox/Blu-ray, 2011, two discs, $39.99, widescreen, 13 episodes, audio commentary, featurette). Comedian Louis C.K. is a very funny guy and this goofball FX-channel sitcom that is based (loosely, but not that loosely) on his life is often a hoot. But be aware that it's yet another profane cable show reveling in awkward situations. (Also on DVD, $29.98.)
"Damages: The Complete Fourth Season" (Sony, 2011, three discs, $45.99, widescreen, 10 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). This show is sort of an annual miniseries, with nasty, self-absorbed attorney Patty Hewes (Emmy-winner Glenn Close) taking down powerful and even nastier high-profile criminals. This time around she's teamed again with estranged prot=E9g=E9 Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) to expose a corrupt security firm in Afghanistan led by its ruthless CEO (John Goodman).
"The Best of Foyle's War" (Acorn, 2002-06, six discs, $49.99, widescreen, six episodes, featurettes). This sampler of the great World War II-era detective series includes six of its best episodes from the first four seasons, including the series premiere, "The German Woman." Set in 1940, this one has Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) investigating the decapitation of the wife of an influential German aristocrat in a town full of anti-German sentiment and no shortage of suspects.
"Wilfred" (Fox/Blu-ray, 2011, two discs, $39.99). Elijah Wood is depressed and suicidal when he takes up with the neighbor's dog, which he sees as a grown man in a dog suit (Jason Gann). Very strange FX sitcom is also extremely profane and raunchy. (Also on DVD, $29.98.)
"Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories" (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD, 1973, $19.97, full frame, interactive puzzles). This 25-minute animated TV special initially aired as "Dr. Seuss on the Loose" and includes three stories, "Green Eggs and Ham," "The Sneetches" and "The Zax." Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) wrote the teleplay and lyrics.
"Dora's Rescue in Mermaid Kingdom" (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2011, $16.99, full frame, three episodes). The title cartoon, plus "Benny the Castaway" and "Dora's Moonlight Adventure."