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article imageReview: New on DVD for December 9 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 9, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include complete series sets for classic television from the ‘60s and ‘70s; the latest in Marvel’s big screen successes about a group of thieves-turned-heroes; and the first series of post-transformation adventures.
CatDog: Season One, parts 1 and 2 (DVD)
Shout Factory
CatDog is a pair of conjoined twins unlike any ever seen before. Prim and proper, Cat is the very definition of culture, while Dog is the very definition of chasing cars. But in spite of their two very different personalities, CatDog are the best of friends, sticking to one another — literally — through thick and thin, even when it comes to facing off against their devious neighbor Winslow and the rough 'n' tough gang of Greaser Dogs.
The premise of this Nickelodeon show is undoubtedly absurd, but equally sweet. It sort of mimics the argumentative relationship of siblings who sometimes can’t stand each other while also being unwilling to live without the other. Case in point, in one episode Cat demands to have some alone time away from Dog. Dog does his best to stay away, but eventually Cat grows tired of doing everything alone and begins to miss spending time with his best friend. Each 25-minute episode is split evenly between two storylines. The house mouse, Winslow, is a frequent source of trouble for CatDog, as well as the neighbourhood bullies known as the Greaser Dogs; though Dog’s attempt to fit in with them on a full moon has surprising effects.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
Dr. Who: The Complete Eighth Series (Blu-ray)
BBC Home Entertainment
The new Doctor (Peter Capaldi) crash-lands in Victorian London. As Clara (Jenna Coleman) struggles to recognize the man she thought she knew so well, killers are stalking the capital. A slaughterhouse restaurant and a buried spaceship lead the Doctor into a confrontation with a long forgotten foe… but how far is this new man ready to go to protect his friends? The new season sees the Doctor and Clara encounter wonders and horrors. And as Clara falls for handsome fellow teacher, Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), can she keep her two extraordinary lives going?
This is the first full season with the new Doctor and it definitely takes some getting used to. Where David Tennant was a charmer and Matt Smith somewhat childlike, Capaldi is an awkward stranger. It’s not just that the audience doesn’t know him, but that he doesn’t really have a solid grasp of his own identity in the universe. He never truly seems to fit anywhere, making his observations uncomfortable but fascinating. It also causes him to be quite removed from those around him, which is the basis for some interesting decisions and deadpan humour. The regeneration has freed Clara of her affections for the Doctor, which opens the door for her to have a relationship outside of the TARDIS. But even that is adversarial as he doesn’t approve of the Doctor. However, comfort is exchanged for more complex, thought-provoking storylines that delve deeper into the enemy territory of the Daleks, Cybermen, moon monsters and deadly solar flares. The season finale allows for anything to happen, so it will be interesting to see what direction the characters take next.
Special features include: exclusive footage from London post-premiere Q&A with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat; exclusive episode commentaries for “Into the Dalek,” “Robot of Sherwood,” “The Caretaker,” and “Kill the Moon”; 12 behind-the-scenes featurettes; “Doctor Who: The Ultimate Time Lord” and “Doctor Who: The Ultimate Companion” specials with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison; “Doctor Who: Earth Conquest” world tour documentary; “Tour of the TARDIS”; “Doctor Who: Deep Breath Live” Pre-Show & After Who Live hosted by comedian and superfan Chris Hardwick; and FOXES music video for “Don’t Stop Me Now.” (BBC Home Entertainment)
Frank (Blu-ray)
Video Services Corp.
A young musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by a musical genius who hides behind a large fake head (Michael Fassbender) and Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a terrifying band mate.
Though co-written by Jon Ronson, a former band mate of Frank Sidebottom, the film is only loosely based on Chris Sievey's comedic, punk creation and the infamously unconventional recording process of Captain Beefheart. Instead the film focuses on the effects such a bizarre personality can have on the people around him. Clara is assumedly Frank's girlfriend but she doesn't like to share Frank's attention, so she's immediately threatened by his interest in Jon. Though Jon is narrating the story through his blog and Twitter posts, it all comes back to Frank. Everyone feeds off of the enigmatic singer to generate an electronic sound that is actually more coherent than most of their conversations about music. Hidden behind a muffling mask, Fassbender still delivers a compelling performance. His calm and almost soothing demeanor is reflective of the permanent smile on the fake head he dons. Gyllenhaal is fittingly difficult to understand or like, while Gleeson portrays her polar opposite by being friendly and supportive. And don’t worry if you can’t say or spell the band’s name; a bonus features shows most of the cast and crew can’t either.
Special features include: commentary by director Lenny Abrahamson, actor Domhnall Gleeson and music composer Stephen Rennicks; deleted scenes; “Behind the Sounds”; “Behind the Mask”; “Meet the Band”; “What is the Name of the Band?”; and interview with Abrahamson; AXS TV: A Look at Frank. (Video Services Corp.)
Guardians of the Galaxy (Blu-ray)
Marvel Entertainment
Brash space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) steals a coveted orb and becomes the object of a relentless bounty hunt. To evade his enemies, Quill forges an uneasy truce with Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting raccoon; Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree-like humanoid; the deadly assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana); and the revenge-driven Drax (Dave Bautista). But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb, he must rally his ragtag band of misfits for a desperate battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy.
After all the success with The Avengers franchise and individual vehicles, it was time for Marvel to look to a new direction for the future. It was a bit of a gamble deciding to begin with a hero set with which few people outside of the Marvel-verse would be familiar but it paid off unbelievably well. The key to this movie’s success was not familiarity, but the appeal of the characters. Star-lord is relatable and hilarious as the underdog hero. Groot and Rocket — both played by well-known but indistinguishable actors — are instant favourites. And Gamora is a mysterious femme fatale that captures audience’s curiosity. Combined with an amazing soundtrack, expectedly awesome action sequences and the inclusion of characters seen in previous pictures, the film’s box office triumph becomes a no-brainer. The deleted scenes are a mix of unpolished, not particularly missed shots, which are outshined by the two-minute behind-the-scenes look at the new Avengers movie with Joss Whedon.
Special features include: commentary; deleted scenes; making-of featurettes; exclusive look at Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron; and gag reel. (Marvel Entertainment)
The Jeffersons: The Complete Series (DVD)
Shout Factory
Originally airing from 1975 to 1985, The Jeffersons documented the exploits of an upwardly-mobile family: dry cleaning entrepreneur George (Sherman Hemsley), his wife Louise (Isabel Sanford), and their son Lionel, as they move from the working-class section of Queens to a luxury apartment in Manhattan. George’s brash, arrogant personality always seems to get him in hot water. Lucky for him, he's got the level-headed "Weezy" by his side and their wise-cracking maid Florence (Marla Gibbs) to keep him humble. Together, they overcome the comic challenges and culture clashes that their new way of life brings.
These characters “moved on up” from the prejudices of Archie Bunker on All in the Family to deliver their own brand of sharp wit and contextual racism in the Upper East Side. George is sharp as a whip, never letting the opportunity to get in a zinger pass. Louise is his usual sparring partner, matching his talent for comebacks, and giving as good as she gets. After 11 seasons, the couple remained engaging and clever with the support of the inter-racial couple from upstairs, the goofy Englishman next door and their “tell it like she sees it” maid. The show can also claim one of television’s most popular and catchy theme songs. While some of the language may appear harsh in contemporary society, the insults are used to highlight the deep-seated bigotries of the ‘70s; particularly regarding George’s opinions regarding a black woman married to a white man.
Special features include: “Movin' On Up – The Jeffersons' Featurette”; “The Jeffersons Move Up,” an All In The Family episode in which The Jeffersons depart for Manhattan; “Whose Side Are You On?” a never-before-released episode of Marla Gibbs' spinoff series, Checking In; ER pilot – the first episode of the 1984 TV series, starring Elliot Gould and featuring Sherman Hemsley guest-starring as George Jefferson; and 48-page Book With Essay By Tom Shales. (Shout Factory)
Mister Ed: The Complete Series (DVD)
Shout Factory
Architect Wilbur Post (Alan Young) and his wife Carol (Connie Hines) have settled into a beautiful new home, complete with a barn in the backyard and a very unique tenant. Wilbur finds that the former owner has left his horse behind. He soon discovers that this is no ordinary horse, as the eloquent Mr. Ed can talk — but only to Wilbur. The anxious architect and the pontificating palomino soon become the best of friends, leading to all sorts of comedic misadventures.
Everyone enjoys talking animals, which is probably part of the reason why this series lasted six seasons. Mr. Ed is a bit of a troublemaker and often acts like a self-centred jerk – but since pets are frequently the centre of their owner’s world, it’s likely not entirely his fault. First Wilbur makes a fool of himself trying to convince people the horse can speak, then the horse makes a fool of him by forcing him to explain things for which Mr. Ed is responsible. It’s typically quite amusing and a running gag that surprisingly doesn’t get tiresome. Of course it helps that Wilbur never really learns his lesson and continues to attribute events to Mr. Ed that wouldn’t otherwise people, such as the horse’s amnesia and his findings as a secret agent. True to the show’s silliness, the final episode is titled, “Mr. Ed Goes to College,” and it’s just as it sounds — he wants a PhD.
Special features include: commentary on the pilot episode with Alan Young and Connie Hines; interviews with Alan Young and Connie Hines; audio interview with Alan Young and Connie Hines from Shokus Internet Radio's “Stu's Show”; Studebaker car commercials; and Mister Ed U.S. Bonds promo. (Shout Factory)
Secret Agent (aka Danger Man): The Complete Series (DVD)
Shout Factory
“Every government has its secret service branch. America, CIA; France, Deuxième Bureau; England, MI5. NATO also has its own. A messy job? Well that's when they usually call on me or someone like me. Oh yes, my name is Drake, John Drake.” Traveling the world to capture international criminals, John Drake (Patrick McGoohan) rarely solved problems with a gun, preferring to use charm and wit over violence to bring in the bad guys.
This collection contains all 86 episodes from both runs of the series which aired a few years apart between 1960 and 1962, and 1964 and 1968. The first series consisted of 25-minute episodes in which Drake worked for a Washington-based intelligence organization. The second series was expanded to 45 minutes, in which Drake became a British agent working for a secret government agency called M9. The former resembles a film noir in which the gumshoe detective narrates his investigation and saves the damsel in distress. They’re not as engagingly mysterious as current crime shows, but provide enough entertainment. Conversely, the latter is similar to a James Bond serial with more of a flair for espionage and undercover operations. McGoohan is adept in both styles, though fans are likely to have a preference for one or the other.
Special features include: commentaries with writer Brian Clemens and director Peter Graham Scott; and interview with Catherine McGoohan. (Shout Factory)
Under the Dome: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
The people of Chester’s Mill struggle to break free of their nightmare, as a mysterious strange and diminishing food supply threaten their very survival. Big Jim, driven by his lust for power, assumes the role of town sheriff. Meanwhile, someone has discovered a way out of the dome, but will the others escape as well?
One of the most remarkable elements of this show is the condensed timelines in which it operates. While one season on other shows may cover a period of a year, both seasons of this series have spanned less than three weeks. Everything is accelerated due to their unique situation and its narrative limitations. While much of the first season was about interacting with the dome, this season the townspeople must deal with its whims and tantrums. Teased by the possibility of escape, they are led down a rabbit hole — but what they find on the other side isn’t necessarily what they expected. New characters have unusual connections to established ones and the past begins to play an important role in what is currently happening in Chester’s Mill. However, the first episode demonstrates no one is safe this season. Furthermore, the higher budget really shows in this chapter as environmental anomalies plague the town.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Inside Chester’s Mill”; “Readings from the Dome”; “Filming the Season Premiere”; “Stephen King and Season 2”; “Welcome Back to Chester’s Mill”; A Journey through Season 2”; “The Transmedia World of Under the Dome”; “The Visual Effects of Season 2”; ‘Ready for Action: Tales from Under the Dome”; “Paintings from Jack Bender and Creating Chester’s Mill”; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
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