The Western series “Cimarron Strip” leads TV programs on DVD and Blu-ray this week with a bevy of young guest stars who went on to bigger things — including future Oscar winners Robert Duvall and Jon Voight.
“Cimarron Strip: The Complete Series” (eOne/DVD, 1967-68, eight discs, 23 episodes, featurette). Rugged leading man Stuart Whitman had a steady career in TV and movies for nearly 50 years and is perhaps best remembered for lead roles in “The Comancheros” (with John Wayne), “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” and this color Western TV series, which is actually pretty good but lasted only one season.
This was the third weekly Western to try the 90-minute format (about 70 minutes here) that began with “The Virginian” and a single season of “Wagon Train.” And since “Cimarron Strip” focused on a lone U.S. marshal tracking down bad guys (with occasional support from series regulars Percy Herbert, Randy Boone and Jill Townsend), it had plenty of room for guest stars, both fresh-faced up-and-comers and seasoned character players.
Besides Duvall and Voight, guests include Telly Savalas, David Carradine, Beau Bridges, Suzanne Pleshette, Leslie Nielsen, Tuesday Weld, Tom Skerritt, Mariette Hartley, Joseph Cotton, John Saxon, Darren McGavin, Richard Boone and Broderick Crawford.
“Jack Irish: Set 2” (Acorn/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, featurette, photo gallery). Guy Pearce starred as attorney-turned-detective and occasional debt collector Jack Irish in a pair of Australian TV-movies adapted in 2010 from Peter Temple’s novels. This third adaptation, titled “Dead Point,” has Jack commissioned to locate an incriminating “diary” by a high-profile judge who just happens to be the father of Jack’s late wife. Another gritty, very well-conceived tale set and filmed in Melbourne, filled with rich characters and an explosive, hair-raising finish. Another sterling addition to an all-too-infrequent franchise, though more are promised.
“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” (Acorn/Blu-ray/DVD, 2013, three discs, 13 episodes, featurettes, promos, photo gallery). Another Australian series is set in the 1920s and based on a series of novels by Kerry Greenwood about Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), an improbably glamorous private eye with a razor wit and a feminist bent well ahead of her time. Campy in the extreme but amusing in a highly stylized way.
“The Universe: Season 7: Ancient Mysteries Solved” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, four episodes). Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza, the biblical accounts of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Star of Bethlehem are up for discussion, utilizing vivid computer-animated re-creations for this latest edition of the History Channel cable series.
“Hitler and the Nazis” (Vantage/DVD, 2011, five episodes). Five hourlong documentary episodes inform this series that follows the rise of Adolf Hitler from obscurity to unthinkable power in the years leading up to World War II, including eyewitness accounts and interviews with historians.
“Made in Cartagena, Parte 2” (Televisa/DVD, 2013, seven discs, 18 episodes, in Spanish with English subtitles). Second half of the Televista Mexican soap opera about a plot to rob a treasure ship that has been rescued from the bottom of the ocean.
“Dora & Boots: Best Friends Forever” (Nickelodeon/Paramount/DVD, 2014, eight episodes). These animated “Dora the Explorer” episodes focus on Dora’s friendship with her monkey pal Boots — how they met, a trip down a big river, searching for Boots’ cuddly dinosaur at a park, etc.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." Website: www.hicksflicks.com