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The Telefile

TV on DVD: Tuesday, October 29, 2013

by Ethan Alter October 29, 2013 6:00 am
TV on DVD: Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Get to know Christopher Guest's big, crazy family.

Family Tree: The Complete First Season
If you tuned into the first episode of Christopher Guest's first foray into pay cable and opted not to return for Round 2, we can't say we blame you. The Family Tree pilot is pretty weak sauce, especially from a comic genius known for such riotous fare as Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind. But the second episode was a marked improvement and the series only got better from there; by the time it aired its seventh and final episode, Family Tree was a genuine delight… albeit one that was so low-rated, even the prestige of being in the Chris Guest business might not be enough to convince the network to bring it back. While many of the writer/director's usual stable of actors (including Michael McKean, Bob Balaban and Fred Willard) appeared in supporting roles, much of the show's charm was generated by its new-to-Guest performer, Chris O'Dowd -- the rising Irish comic star who previously stole scenes in Bridesmaids and channel-mate Girls -- who played a down-on-his luck lad who bounces back from a bad break-up by exploring his family's rich history of oddballs and eccentrics. Even if it doesn't come back for a second season, the post-pilot episodes of Family Tree qualify as a better "feature" than Guest's last conventional movie, For Your Consideration.
Extras: Bonus scenes, clips from the fake sitcoms-within-the-sitcom, a music-themed featurette.
Click here to see our review of the pilot

Damages: The Complete Series
Hands up all of you out there who kept thinking, "Gee, I should really catch up on Damages," and then never actually did? Well, now the entire five-season, 59-episode run is available in one handy box set, which means no need to figure out whether repeats are airing on FX (its original network) or DirecTV (where it finished out its run). Relive the terrific first season, which pitted Glenn Close's slimy lawyer against Ted Danson's even slimier billionaire as well as Season 3, where Martin Short and Lily Tomlin got the chance to upend their conventional screen images with strong dramatic turns. As for the other seasons? Well, they're mostly okay, mainly for the cast rather than the often too-labyrinthine plotting. Our advice? Catch up on Justified first, then move onto Damages.
Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes and other extras ported over from previous editions.

Degrassi: Season 12
The never-ending Canadian teen soap (and training ground for future hip-hop stars) slaps its 2012-2013 season on disc for those of you who follow along at home after its TeenNick run. Will Katie keep her post-rehab sobriety? Can Drew woo back Bianca? How should Clare deal with her sexual-harassment happy mentor? If all that sounds like Greek to you, clearly you're better off picking up the Damages box set.
Extras: It's a bonus feature bonanza for Degrassi-heads, with blooper reels, short films, table reads, photo shoots, featurettes and footage of the 300th episode celebration.

Line of Duty: Series 1
Yet another superior British cop drama that's finding a sizeable U.S. audience through its streaming run on Hulu, Line of Duty revolves around an anti-corruption unit investigating one of the force's most popular DCI's (that's Detective Chief Inspector in Brit cop speak) at the risk of their own professional reputations. Low Winter Sun star Lennie James plays the potentially crooked cop and, unlike his U.S. series, this one is actually coming back for a second season.
Extras: Behind-the-scenes footage and cast and crew interviews.

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