Medicine Men: The doctor drama series got controversial with Medical Center, the CBS show that ran from 1969 to 1976. James Daley was the head doc and Chad Everett the handsome young surgeon at L.A. University’s medical center. Race, homosexuality and violence were among the dicey subjects touched on by this hour-long show, presented here in the six-disc set Medical Center: The Complete First Season. And if you want to see the pilot for the series that gave Marcus Welby, MD a run for its money, check out Operation Heartbeat with Edward G. Robinson, Richard Bradford and Daley.
Destry Rides Once Again: Destry: The Complete Series, which presents all 13 episodes of the short-lived 1964 ABC series on four discs, offers John Gavin as the son of Max Brand’s pistol-shunning sheriff popularized on the big screen by James Stewart and Audie Murphy. The series found the younger Destry, an ex-lawman and ex-con, trying to clear his name by finding the desperados who framed him, and applying his pop’s pacifistic approach to fixing folks’ problems along the way.
Swords and Sorcerers: Camelot: The Complete First Season offers a stylish and often violent retelling of the Arthurian legend for the Starz Channel. Along with Jamie Campbell Bower as the dashing King Arthur, the cast includes Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green and Claire Forlani. This is not your parents’ Camelot, folks; the opening 2011 season is presented here on a three-disc, ten episode set loaded with extras.
Robber Wagner: Debonair Robert Wagner plays cat burglar Alexander Mundy, who’s pardoned from a prison stretch by the government in order to ply his trade for them, in It Takes A Thief: The Complete Series, which features 66 episodes on 18 discs. The show ran from 1968 through 1970 on ABC and also featured Malachi Throne as Mundy’s agency watchdog, whose duties were assumed by Edward Binns in the series’ third, shortened season. Recurring roles were played by Fred Astaire (as Mundy’s father), Susan Saint James, Joseph Cotten and John Russell, with guest-stars aplenty over the show’s run.
Skip To My Louis: Be it on the club circuit, concert stage, TV talkfest or his earlier HBO series Lucky Louie, comic Louis CK never shied away from taking on provocative subjects, and fans can catch more of the same in his too-close for comfort 2010 FX sitcom Louie: The Complete First Season, in which he plays a divorced New York joke teller trying to raise two daughters while easing back into the dating scene.
Here Comes the Fuzz: One of the most respected shows of the 1970s and one of the most realistic cop shows of all time, Police Story offered a gritty look at life in the force in Los Angeles as envisioned by lawman-turned-novelist Joseph Wambaugh, who wrote The New Centurions, The Blue Knight, The Glitter Dome, The Black Marble and The Onion Field. Each week during its 1973-1977 run, the NBC series took a compelling story, used top-notch directors, writers and actors to bring it to life, and delivered many memorable hours of television. Though an anthology, the drama did feature several recurring characters, played by such performers as Scott Brady, Tony Lo Bianco, Don Meredith, Vic Morrow and James Farentino. The six-disc set Police Story: Season One also includes the pilot film “Slow Boy”, the TV movie Big John Morrison and an interview with Wambaugh.
They Get the Funniest Looks From Everyone They Meet: Hey, hey, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith are heading our way with The Monkees Season 1 and The Monkees Season 2. What started out as a manufactured American Beatles and turned into a full-blown media happening can be seen in the two and only small screen sessions of the band at their goofiest, performing perky pop music on NBC from 1966-1968. The brainchild of filmmaker Bob Rafelson and producer Bert Schneider with musical assistance from Don Kirschner, The Monkees started as a faux band for the TV series, but eventually insisted on playing their own instruments. While TV Monkee-mania may have lasted only a couple of years, they still continue to perform today, sans Nesmith. Season 1 has 32 episodes on six discs; Season 2 has 26 episodes on five discs, plus all sorts of groovy extras.
Take This Job: A common problem is contemporary America is turned into a timely sitcom with Outsourced: The Complete Series. The 2010 NBC show stars Ben Rappaport as an order processor for a Kansas City novelties company that’s relocated its call center across the globe to Mumbai, and now must add assimilation and culture clashes with his new staff to the workplace challenges. Diedrich Bader and Rebecca Hazlewood also star; all 22 episodes are available on a three-disc set.
What? Me Worry?: Mad: Season One, Part One offers the opening episodes of the 2010 Cartoon Network series that puts an animated spin on some of the beloved sections of the ever-irreverent Mad Magazine. There are movie and TV spoofs galore, along with such regular segments as Spy vs. Spy, Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, Ask the Celebrity and adaptations of the great cartoons by Don Martin. All this and Alfred E. Neuman, too, in a measly single disc set. Cheap!
Motown Crime: In Detroit 1-8-7: The Complete First Season, GoodFellas and Sopranos vet Michael Imperioli plays Det. Lewis Fitch, a man with a haunted past who was forced to leave New York for the Motor City. He’s joined on the city’s homicide squad by lieutenant Natalie Martinez, sergeant James McDaniel and rookie detective John Michael Hill. Along with a no-nonsense depiction of police work, the show offers a terrific soundtrack that mixes Motown greats with contemporary tunes. Eight episodes of the 2010 ABC series are available on a five disc set.
They’ve Got a Secret?: While searching for his girlfriend who disappeared during a Caribbean cruise, software engineer Jason Ritter uncovers a secret world inhabited by conspiracies, internecine government projects and the possibility of aliens existing on Earth. Sarah Roemer, D.B. Sweeney, Laura Inness, Hal Holbrook and Clea DuVall also star in The Event: The Complete Series, the much-ballyhooed 2010 mix of adventure, suspense and sci-fi that aired on NBC. All of the show’s 22 episodes are offered on five discs.
Arrested Redevelopment: The 2010 Fox sitcom Running Wilde reunited some of the principals of the gone-but-hardly forgotten Arrested Development. Will Arnett headlined as a depressed millionaire who attempts to lure environmentalist/high school girlfriend Keri Russell and her daughter away from her South American rain forest and current physician boyfriend David Cross. The answer? Have Russell and her daughter move into a tree house on Arnett’s estate. Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz is behind the offbeat laughs on the show, with 13 episodes on two discs available on Running Wilde: Season One.
Richer Jackal: It’s taken a while for it to come to DVD and Blu-ray, but we have a feeling the release of the 2010 European mini-series Carlos will be worth the wait. That’s because it’s being issued in all of its five-and-a-half hour director-stamped grandeur by the Criterion Collection in a four-disc, totally loaded set. Released in American theaters, Carlos centers on the life of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, who’d been one of the world’s most feared terrorists for decades. Edgar Ramirez gives a tour-de-force performance as the swaggering global mobster involved in kidnapping, bombings and hijackings around the globe. This is riveting stuff with politics, action and indelible characters coming to life courtesy of director Olivier Assayas, and Ramirez bringing the colorful and monstrous real-life character to life in all of his gory.
Femme Again: The Luc Besson-created female assassin known as Nikita just won’t retire. She’s been featured in the French filmmaker’s original 1989 film, the 1993 American remake Point of No Return and the 1997-2001 Canadian TV series. She’s back in lethal business, courtesy of the 2010 CW series Nikita. Stepping into the heels worn by Anne Parillaud, Bridget Fonda and Peta Wilson, respectively, is Hawaiian actress Maggie Q (Rush Hour 2, Mission Impossible III). She’s been trained by a secret government organization called Division to be a lethal assassin, but when the organization kills her fiancé, she goes rogue and disappears. Years later, she resurfaces with the destruction of Division her goal. Shane West is her mentor who trained her, and Melinda Clarke is a psychologist who has manipulated Nikita and others to do the agency’s dirty work for its leader (Xander Berkeley). Nikita: The Complete First Season is a loaded four-disc set loaded with great extras.