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article imageReview: New on DVD for September 23 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 23, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a royal mess of national proportions; Marvel’s appropriation of the small screen; an over-the-top comedy with wasted sentiment; and every episode of one of TV history’s most outrageous sitcoms.
The 100: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Warner Home Video
Ninety-seven years after nuclear Armageddon destroyed our planet, humanity’s sole survivors live on an Ark, an aging space station experiencing overpopulation and inadequate resources. Faced with difficult choices, the Ark leaders – Chancellor Thelonious Jaha, Chief Medical Officer Abby Griffin and the pragmatic Councillor Marcus Kane – decide to send 100 juvenile prisoners back to Earth to test its living conditions. Among them are Clarke, Abby’s independent daughter; the daredevil Finn; and illegal siblings Bellamy and Octavia. With the survival of humanity in their untested hands, the 100 exiles must learn to rise above their differences and forge a new path on a wild and dangerous landscape that teems with dangerous radiation, unpredictable conditions and unseen predators – or face the ultimate extinction of the human race.
There's been quite a bit of fictionalized speculation of what we will do when the planet becomes inevitably uninhabitable. In this scenario, the world unites in space to wait until radiation levels on Earth dissipate to non-lethal levels. Then they send their delinquent children back to test the waters – you'd think that if we managed to put a rover on Mars, they could use similar technology to monitor the air quality. Instead it seems the only things to survive a nearly a century have been political treachery and the class system. The first few episodes are very Lord of the Flies as the kids attempt to establish their own power structure and the crueller teens flex their muscles. As local threats are revealed, the narrative becomes more complicated and consequently more interesting.
Special features include: commentary and unaired scenes on the season finale; four “Creating the World of The 100”; and 2013 Comic-Con panel. (Warner Home Video)
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Marvel Entertainment
In the wake of The Battle of New York, the world has changed forever. In response, mysteriously resurrected Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles an elite team of skilled agents and operatives: Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and new recruit/computer hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet). Together, they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary. But every answer unearths even more tantalizing questions that reverberate across the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe: Who is "The Clairvoyant”? What is Hydra’s sinister master plan; what dark secret lies behind Skye’s puzzling origins, and most importantly of all, who can be trusted?
This is one of the best shows on television and the primary reason is audiences are getting Marvel quality entertainment for the regular price of cable. First, Agent Coulson is alive! There's something fishy about his resurrection, but that doesn't make his presence any less awesome. Second, this series is grounded in the Marvel universe that includes Asgardians, Hydra and super-advanced technology – all of which play a significant role in the season's storylines. Third, the narrative is tied to what happens in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was released while the show was airing. In addition, there are guest appearances by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) throughout the season. This show is everything fans could ask for and more, delivering the goods in episode one with the reveal of a possible new super to the ultimate standoff in the season finale. Consistent with the movie formula, there's always one additional scene after it seems everything is wrapped and before the credits roll. Action, excitement and excellent storytelling make this a must- watch.
Special features include: commentaries by filmmakers and cast; deleted scenes; “Journey into S.D.C.C.”; “Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe”; five behind-the-scenes “Field Reports”; VFX breakdowns; and gag reel. (Marvel Entertainment)
Mom: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Warner Home Video
Newly sober single mom Christy (Anna Faris) and her formerly estranged mother Bonnie (Allison Janney) are sharing their lives – and AA meetings – for the first time in ages. Add in Christy’s pregnant daughter, Violet (Sadie Calvano), and you’ve got three generations of moms trying to live under one dysfunctional roof. As the women try to recover from the past, rehabilitate their relationships and reinvent their futures, feathers are ruffled and barbs fly.
As TV shows like 2 Broke Girls proved a slightly crasser brand of comedy (delivered by women) could do well on the small screen, producers began to green light them. This series is one of the products of that realization. As recovering alcoholics, Bonnie and Christy have a boatload of unresolved issues that they air each episode in between standing up for each other and Christy's kids. Justin Long has a cameo as one of Christy’s love interests while French Stewart is revived as a snarky tomcat. Though it would seem Christy’s pregnant daughter would have a larger role in the show since she’s the soon-to-be mom, but it focuses primarily on the more senior mother-daughter relationship and their tendency to still mess things up sober. Nonetheless, this is a funny new addition to the primetime lineup.
Special features include: gag reel. (Warner Home Video)
Motivational Growth (DVD)
Indiecan Entertainment
Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni), a depressed and reclusive 30-something, finds himself taking advice from a growth in his bathroom after a failed suicide-attempt. The Mold (voiced by Jeffrey Combs), a smooth-talking fungus, works to win Ian’s trust by helping him clean himself up and remodel his lifestyle. With The Mold’s help, Ian attracts the attention of a neighbour he’s been ogling through his peephole, Leah (Danielle Doetsch), and manages to find a slice of happiness despite his unnatural circumstances. When Ian starts to receive strange messages from his broken-down TV set, he realized The Mold may not be as helpful as it seems. Strange characters combine with stranger events to cast Ian’s life in the shadow of an epic battle between good and evil that he is only partially aware of.
Grown men with imaginary companions are not a new concept. In most cases though, these creative friends have been of the more likeable furry variety. It's nearly impossible for this movie not to be gross sometimes, so writer/director Don Thacker does not shy away from the more disgusting parts of being a mold's protégé. The key to making this film a success is it balances the ick with a very clever narrative. Ian’s conversations with The Mold are intelligent and nearly inspirational, and his improvement is unbelievable. In spite of questioning The Mold’s advice, Ian continues to follow it because it’s actually enhancing his life. The existence of the repulsive motivator also comes into question more than once, but ultimately the most compelling question involves Ian’s state of being. These existential concerns are seamlessly incorporated into the bizarre narrative.
Special features include: commentary by director Don Thacker and actors Jeffrey Combs, Adrian DiGiovanni; photo gallery; and trailers. (Indiecan Entertainment)
Neighbors (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures
By all appearances, new parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are living the American Dream – complete with an adorable baby girl and a beautiful new starter home in the suburbs. Still, the early-thirtysomethings want to believe they have a modicum of coolness left within them. So when they discover that their new next-door neighbors are none other than dozens of Delta Psi Beta fraternity brothers led by charismatic president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), they try to make the best of an awkward situation. But when the frat’s parties grow increasingly more epic, both sides of the property line begin to fend for their turf.
In some ways, this is a more confrontational and modernized version of The 'Burbs. The upset couple sneak around with walkie-talkies and encouraging further infractions against municipal and college law. Conversely, the young men retaliate in the style of movie fraternities before them — with immature but hilarious pranks and solutions. Obviously the premise of taking this fight to the mat, especially with the welfare of a child at stake, is ridiculous, but it's these extremes that deliver laugh-out-loud entertainment. Even the alternate opening is consistent with the outlandishness. The secondary, more sombre story about life after college and two friends drifting apart is fairly negligible. Efron is becoming quite adept at playing the charismatic jerk in movies. His second most important contribution to the film is as eye candy, playing scenes shirtless and simply looking buff throughout. Rogen's perpetual man-child is once again given free reign as he seamlessly toes the line between responsible father and vengeful adolescent. In spite of the testosterone, Byrne doesn’t get pushed to the sidelines, acting as a full and entertaining participant.
Special features include: deleted and alternate scenes; alternate opening; “On the Set with…”; “An Unlikely Pair”; “Partying with the Neighbors”; “The Frat”; “Line-o-Rama”; and gag reel. (Universal Pictures)
Reign: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Warner Home Video
Ever since Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, was a little girl, the English have wanted her country and her crown. As a teenager, Mary (Adelaide Kane) is sent to France to wed its next king to save herself and her people. Waiting at the French Court, is the gorgeous Prince Francis (Toby Regbo), his illegitimate half-brother Sebastian (Torrance Coombs), a king on the brink of madness, a scheming queen and seer Nostradamus with a devastating prophecy. While royal conspiracies, sexual intrigue and mysterious dark forces lurk around every castle corner, Mary struggles to rule her heart’s conflicting passions and make the right decisions as she prepares to become queen.
Violence and sex seem to be the rulers in this TV series genre. Mary Queen of Scots transforms from a playful girl, unpracticed in living among men to a savvy woman willing to put state and country ahead of her own happiness. She verbally and strategically spars with France's Queen Katherine, earns the hearts of two brothers while only truly desiring one and endangers everyone close to her by the sheer nature of her power. The inclusion of Druids who engage in human sacrifice adds an unusual element to the story far beyond the typical presence of alchemists and seers. If audiences are able to keep track of who is sleeping with who and who is trying to kill who, they become wrapped up in a salacious and complex tale of royals against royals.
Special features include: deleted scenes; a making-of featurette; and “The Authenticity of Reign: Recreating the 16th Century.” (Warner Home Video)
Scandal: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
ABC Entertainment
Now, seemingly invincible “fixer” Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) must confront the ultimate challenge: fixing herself. After sifting through her mysterious father’s labyrinth of lies, Olivia’s search for answers about her mother threatens not just national security, but the entire world. Meanwhile, the lives of her “gladiators” – as well as those of the president, his wife and key White House staffers – take sinister, unexpected turns. And when the major power brokers are themselves broken, who will be left to clean up the mess?
This season was slightly condensed (18 instead of 22 episodes) due to Washington’s pregnancy, but that may have been a blessing in disguise. The two main focuses of this season are the election and covert government agency B6-13. The former concludes in the season finale with increased tension due to a bomb threat, which could ultimately play a role in the results. The latter reveals strong connections to the Pope family and turns the series into an espionage extravaganza that you expect Jack Bauer to enter at any moment. The excellent character building of the previous two seasons takes a backseat this year, and will likely be overshadowed next season by the continued interference of B6-13.
Special features include: deleted scenes; extended finale; ‘Jerry Perry: In the Moment”; “Creating D.C. in L.A.”; and bloopers. (ABC Entertainment)
Three’s Company: The Complete Series (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
This was a ground-breaking comedy series that tripped and jiggled through a world of slapstick pratfalls and some of the most scandalously titillating comedy America had ever seen, and hasn’t seen since. Racy and daring for its time, this breakthrough bedroom farce ran for 8 seasons on ABC. Thirty years after it came to an end, it remains one of the best-loved TV series of all time. This complete series set is a celebration of the exploits of Jack, Janet, Chrissy, Larry, Terri, The Ropers, and Mr. Furley and offers fans a chance to relive every episode and continue to laugh for years to come.
Based on the British comedy series, Man About the House, the American version was mostly a success due to John Ritter’s Jack. He was a handsome, nice guy with culinary skills – any girl would have been happy to take him home to mom and dad. Yet, one of the repeated themes throughout the series involved doubting Jack’s integrity and assuming the worst of him in most situations. Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) was similarly treated as a “dumb blonde” even though more often than not she would be right in the end. Janet (Joyce DeWitt) was the comedy’s “straight” character, always getting mad and trying to keep everyone on track. The Ropers (Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) were far more entertaining landlords than Mr. Furley (Don Knotts), though he eventually grew on viewers. Somers got out before the show became too stale, but it went on much longer than it should have. Still, the first seasons with the original cast are gold, and the ones that follow are still a polished silver.
Special features include: commentaries on select episodes; the first and second pilot shot before Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers were cast; never-aired bloopers; A very special John Ritter remembrance tribute; “Casting Don Knotts and Suzanne Somers”; cast and crew interviews; and “Don Knotts: A Tribute.” (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
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