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TV on DVD: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

by Ethan Alter October 25, 2011 6:00 am
TV on DVD: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So a '70s New York cop and a British spy walk into a bar...

Barney Miller: The Complete Series
One of the defining sitcoms of the '70s, Barney Miller joins All in the Family, Soap and The Mary Tyler Moore Show on the short list of series from that era than re-defined what exactly a half-hour comedy could be. Every week, the detectives of New York's fictional 12th Precinct and their long-suffering captain Barney Miller (Hal Linden) solved cases and dealt with bureaucratic red tape, all the while trying to keep their spirits and senses of humor up. The flawed, all-too-human characters and the realistic situations made the show a favorite amongst cops as well as civilians. Shout! Factory's mammoth 25-disc box set offers all 168 episodes of the Emmy and Peabody-award winning series as well as the entire first season of Fish, the never-before-released spin-off based around Abe Vigoda's popular character, Sgt. Philip K. Fish.
Extras: New interviews with cast members Linden and Abe Vigoda; commentary tracks from some of the show's writers; the original pilot and a 40-page booklet with an essay by former LA Times TV critic, Howard Rosenberg.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Smiley's People
Sticking with the '70s theme, these two British-produced miniseries are generally regarded as the finest John le Carré adaptations around and among the best spy stories to grace either the small or the big screen. A post-Star Wars Alec Guinness stars in both as George Smiley, a retired former intelligence officer that is called back into duty for a pair of top-secret missions -- ferreting out a Soviet mole that's infiltrated Her Majesty's secret service in Tinker Tailor and investigating the death of an ex-Russian general in Smiley's People. Gary Oldman is set to play Smiley in the upcoming film version of Tinker Tailor that's been nabbing good notices in England. But as Ewan McGregor discovered in those Star Wars prequels, it's hard to measure up to Guinness.
Extras: An interview with the author, production notes and a handy glossary of important spy terms.

Luther: Season Two
When he's not starring in big-budget Hollywood fare like Thor and 2012's Prometheus, British thespian Idris Elba returns to his native land for this popular BBC police serial that casts him as John Luther, a driven cop that gets a little too close to the cases he investigates. Although the show's seasons are short -- Season 1 ran six episodes, while Season 2 only consists of four -- they're just as addictive, if not more so, than any American procedural.
Extras: None.

Also on DVD:
Before the Avengers assemble on movie screens next May, you can check out there animated exploits with The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Volume Three and Volume Four. And if that's not enough comic-book action for you, Young Justice Season One Vol. 2 offers the back half of Young Justice's freshman year. Seth Green and his crew of stop-motion maniacs are still cranking out more pop-culture laden skits; Robot Chicken: Season Five features spoofs of The Bucket List, Gigli and the Damon Wayan's "classic" Blankman among other things. Finally, re-live (if you dare) one of the worst-ever season of Survivor with the new-to-disc Survivor: Thailand, which was famously won by former soft-core porn star-turned-alleged-puppy shooter, Brian Heidik.

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