The last season of “Matlock” leads a potpourri of TV shows arriving on DVD this week.
“Matlock: The Ninth and Final Season” (CBS/Paramount, 1994-95, five discs, $54.99, 15 episodes, teasers). Between the first season and the last, this venerable series (still popular in reruns) had seen a complete change in the supporting cast. But that never mattered, since Andy Griffith as wily Southern attorney Ben Matlock was always the draw. Who even remembers the supporting players?
This is soft, somewhat bland comfort-food television. Though this season initially aired in the mid-1990s it could easily pass as late-’70s or early ’80s fare, but Griffith remains a pleasure to watch, whether investigating the cases himself or standing up to prosecutors and witnesses in the courtroom. Fans will be more than happy to complete their collections with this final edition.
“Orphan Black: Season one” (BBC, 2013, three discs, $29.98, 10 episodes, featurettes). Offbeat, gritty Canadian sci-fi series stars Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, a British con artist in America who stumbles upon a woman that seems to be her carbon copy and watches as she commits suicide. Assuming the dead woman’s identity to steal her money seems like a cinch, until she becomes too wrapped up in the woman’s life, discovering she was a police detective under investigation for shooting an innocent civilian. Then she finds the cop was her clone, and there are other clones out there, and someone is trying to kill them.
Engaging mystery-thriller benefits greatly from Maslany’s ability to play a variety of characters quite convincingly. The show has been renewed for a second season on BBC America in 2014. (Also on Blu-ray, $34.98)
“Hell on Wheels: The Complete Second Season” (eOne, 2012, three discs, $39.98, 10 episodes, featurettes). This AMC cable show is a dark, brooding Western set against the westward expansion of the first transcontinental railroad. The lead character is a former Civil War soldier (Anson Mount) looking to exact revenge on the Union soldiers that killed his wife, with an uneasy ally in a former slave, a railroad worker played by Common. This season, the Sioux rise up against the “iron horse” and Colm Meaney, as the corrupt construction boss, gets his comeuppance. (Also on Blu-ray, $49.98)
“George Lopez: The Complete 3rd Season” (Warner, 2003-04, three discs, $29.98, 28 episodes). This Latino blue-collar family/work sitcom starring stand-up comic Lopez and a witty supporting cast is pretty funny, and toward the end of the season producer Sandra Bullock makes her third and final appearance as a clumsy co-worker.
“Misfits: Season Three” (BBC, 2011, three discs, $24.98, eight episodes, featurettes). Goofy, raunchy British sci-fi comedy series about youth offenders who are performing community service when an electrical storm somehow gives them superpowers. Season 3 is marked by cast changes and the characters switching up their powers.
“Femme Fatales” (eOne, 2012, three discs, $29.98, 12 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes). Raunchy, campy, sexually explicit Cinemax cable anthology series is a film noir sendup with various women who embody the title setting up dopey men to take the fall for their nefarious activities. Guests include Vivica A. Fox, Eric Roberts, Robert Picardo and Jeff Fahey.
“Bill Moyers: On the Hudson, America’s First River” (Acorn, 2002, two discs, $39.99, two episodes, featurette, text biographies/articles; 12-page booklet). PBS documentary miniseries about the Hudson River, which follows a 315-mile course from the Adirondack Mountains to New York Harbor.
“Joanna Lumley’s Nile” (Acorn, 2009, two discs, $39.99, four episodes; 16-page booklet). PBS documentary look at the Nile River follows comic actress Lumley (“Absolutely Fabulous”) as she travels 4,000 miles from Alexandria to the forests of Rwanda to the Sudanese desert to Ethiopia’s highlands, with commentary on the history of these areas along the way.
“The Definitive Guide to the Mob” (Lionsgate, 2013, $14.98). History cable channel documentary about the American Mafia as related by an insider, former Colombo family captain Michael Franzese.
“Tom and Jerry: No Mice Allowed!” (Warner, 1943-2006, two discs, $19.97, 30 cartoons). Mix of classic theatrical cartoons and lesser TV shorts starring the feisty cat and mouse.
“The Smurfs: Smurfs to the Rescue!” (Warner, 1981-82, $14.97, six cartoons). Episodes from the ’80s animated TV series released to coincide with the release of the live-action/animation film “The Smurfs 2,” which opens in theaters July 31.
“Saban’s Power Rangers Samurai: The Ultimate Duel, Volume 5” (Lionsgate, 2011, $14.98, four episodes, character gallery, music videos). Final four episodes of season 18 have the rangers entering the Tengen Gate to retrieve a powerful samurai weapon.
“Leap Frog: The Complete Scout & Friends Collection” (Lionsgate, 2011-13, four discs, $29.98). Collection of four “Scout & Friends” DVDs designed to make math and reading fun for children ages 2-5: “Phonics Farm,” “Numberland,” “The Magnificent Museum of Opposite Words” and “Adventures in Shapeville Park.”
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parents Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com