The Telefile

TV on DVD: Tuesday, September 4, 2012

by Ethan Alter September 4, 2012 6:00 am
TV on DVD: Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Go ahead and treat yo self to Parks and Recreation on DVD. It's what Tom and Donna would do.

Parks and Recreation: Season Four
The Office: Season Eight
2 Broke Girls: The Complete First Season
As much as we love Community, if you want to see the current king queen of network TV comedy, look no further than Parks and Recreation, which once again proved itself the most consistently hilarious and heartwarming series around during its fourth year. Expertly balancing the season-long arc chronicling Pawnee, Indiana deputy parks director Lesley Knope's (the indispensible Amy Poehler, who had better win that Outstanding Actress Emmy she's perennially nominated for, but has yet to take home) run for City Council with great material for its incredible ensemble cast (the awkward romance between Rashida Jones's Ann and Aziz Ansari's Tom excluded) as well as memorable guest star turns (special shout-outs to Paul Rudd and Kathryn Hahn as Lesley's nemeses for her Council run). Season 4 of Parks offers the kind of sustained brilliance we wish all network comedies would aspire to. It's certainly a better model to emulate that the eight season of The Office, in which the show officially went from being a shadow of its former self to being actively unwatchable. With Steve Carell's Michael Scott gone for good, poor Ed Helms was left to try and fill his shoes, but got little help from the writers or incoming boss James Spader (who mercifully won't be back for the show's ninth and final season). While we can't imagine anyone wanting to revisit this season anytime soon, it may be instructive to have this DVD set around so you can see just how far a TV series can fall when it tries to live on despite having run its course. Somewhere in between Parks and Recreation and The Office lies the new CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, which has two very funny stars -- Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs -- and some of the most mediocre writing (not to mention offensive ethnic stereotypes) around. There's a good series somewhere in here if only showrunner Michael Patrick King seemed the least bit interested in finding it.
Extras: Parks offers four extended episodes (plus bonus webisodes starring Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt), deleted scenes and outtakes and a collection of Lesley's campaign ads. The Office boasts 100 minutes of deleted scenes (which are about as funny as everything else from this season), extended episodes, webisodes and a blooper reel. And 2 Broke Girls comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette and unaired scenes.

Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season
Going into Season 4 uncertain whether they'd be back or not, the minds behind Fox's beloved, if perpetually low-rated sci-fi series went all-in on their elaborate mythology, believing that if new viewers weren't going to tune it, at least they could give their impassioned fanbase a last call to remember. We're so glad they did. From the parallel Earth we know and love to a glimpse of a dark, troubling future in the year 2036, Fringe took us to some memorable places all season long, capping the twists and turns with a great two-part finale that leaves us primed for the fifth and final season of 13 episodes, set to kick off on September 28. Kudos to Fox for letting the show go out on its own terms and good luck to the writers as they craft a finale that'll leave viewers satisfied. (Hint: Look at the Lost finale and then do the exact opposite.)
Extras: An exploration of the scientific and ethical questions raised by the show, a reel of classic Walter Bishop moments, three additional featurettes and a DigiComic excerpt from the tie-in comic book, Beyond the Fringe: Peter and the Machine.
Click here to read our Fringe recaps

Person of Interest: Season One
The combination of Michael Emerson, J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) had us psyched enough to include Person of Interest on our list of must-see new shows for the 2011 TV season. Sadly, the show lost us after about four boring, convoluted episodes. But the ratings were solid enough for CBS to keep it around, so if you want to get caught up before the show returns on September 27, here's your chance. Honestly, if the series were just about Michael Emerson being creepy, we'd probably have stuck with it, but his dead-eyed co-star Jim Caviezel, he of the perpetually dour expression, kept putting us to sleep. But hey, if you like this sort of thing, here you go. Personally, we'll stick with Fringe.
Extras: Original broadcast pilot and the extended pilot episode with optional audio commentary, a gag reel and a featurette.
Click here to read our short-lived Person of Interest weecaps

Bored to Death: The Complete Third Season
How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season
Hung: The Complete Third Season
Just like the recent Boston Red Sox bloodbath, HBO dumped a lot of dead weight from their roster at the end of last year, cancelling a trio of low-rated shows that were still in their relative infancy. The most high-profile of the bunch was probably the offbeat comedy/mystery hybrid Bored to Death, due to its Brooklyn locations, involvement of noted author Jonathan Ames and cast that included Ted Danson, Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman. With Danson busy on CSI, Galifianakis earning bigger paychecks trading barbs with the likes of Will Ferrell and Schwartzman... doing something (probably with Wes Anderson), the logistics of another season were probably too difficult to work out. How to Make It in America seemed to be a case of a series that was kept around to make its producers -- who were the same team behind Entourage, by the way -- happy. With that show gone, there was no reason to keep America around, especially since it never clicked with viewers. And finally, there was Hung, which seemed to last three seasons simply because the network forgot it was on. Thomas Jane will just have to go and brag about his enormous member somewhere else now.
Extras: Bored to Death comes with four audio commentaries with the three stars, plus Ames and John Hodgeman, inside the episode featurettes, deleted scenes and outtakes. How to Make It also include cast commentary tracks on three episodes, a making-of featurette and a real-life tale of entrepreneurs trying to make it in America. And Hung makes room for four commentary tracks, deleted scenes, an alternate ending to the season (now series) finale and four featurettes.

Also on DVD:
The Childrens Hospital writers will be thrilled to hear that Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Eight Season is now on DVD as it'll give them plenty of hospital soap opera-related material to spoof in their next season. Not that, Grey's Anatomy isn't essentially a spoof of itself these days. More people die gruesomely in Criminal Minds: The Seventh Season, but at least their sacrifice keeps the crew in business and gives CBS procedural fans something to watch besides NCIS and CSI. We're more excited about The Good Wife: The Third Season, yet another good season for the Eye's best drama. And finally, the mostly forgotten Syfy series Haven: The Complete Second Season arrives on disc to the delight of its fans... all four of them.

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