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article imageReview: Complete DVD histories of The Unit, Kings & Life On Mars Special

By Earl Dittman     Oct 3, 2009 in Entertainment
With every episode of 3 great, short-lived series now available on essential DVD collections, you have more than a weekend's worth of entertainment ahead of you. Need more? Try CSI:NY, Toronto Maple Leafs, Lions, Away We Go, Girlfriend Experience & MvA.
If you are already tired of some of the new fall series and sitcoms or you're still biting your nails waiting for the new season of your favorite show to finally hit the airwaves (where's Nip/Tuck when you need it?), there are three great television series that were pulled off the air before they should have been – The Unit (after four explosive, edge-of-your-seat years), Kings and Life On Mars (both after compelling single seasons) – that are now available to watch, from start to finish, on affordable, must-have DVD collections. And if that's not enough for you, this week, you've always got last season's editions of How I Met Your Mother and CSI: NY to assist you in boning up on anything you might have missed last year (just in case you're not understanding what's going this season). Finally, if you are a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Lions or brilliant films such as Soderbergh's ultra-sexy and seductive The Girlfriend Experience, the animated 3D comedy Monsters Vs. Aliens or director Sam Mendes' heartwarming and laugh-filled Away We Go, then you have a great weekend ahead of you.
Untitled
Fox
The Unit: Complete Series Giftset • The Unit: The Fourth & Final Season - The creation and brainchild of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer/director David Mamet, the greatest playwright of our generation, and Shawn Ryan, the sensational filmmaker behind the best television crime drama of the century, the savagely brutal The Shield, The Unit (which sadly completed its final mission last season) was a take-no-prisoners, adrenaline-pumped and shockingly realistic action/adventure series that lifted the veil on a segment of our military we know little about — revealing the inherent danger inside the lives of a top-secret, Special Forces team who risk their life during highly classified missions across the globe in the name of democracy. Covert Warriors. Unsung Heroes. In the Fourth Season of The Unit, which featured the impeccable acting talents of Golden Globe-nominee Dennis Haysbert (24), Scott Foley (Felicity) and Robert Patrick (The X-Files), the Unit finds itself on a quest to determine who ordered the assassination of the President-Elect, battling terrorists and thwarting kidnapping attempts along the way.
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Fox
As danger looms in every corner, the Unit must remain focused on its mission if it is to succeed. The Unit: The Fourth and Final Season is available on five Blu-ray Discs and a six-disc DVD set. Bonus Features: Deleted scenes and the featurettes “Into Hell: A Brotherhood Divided,” “Shadow Riders: A Western Come Undone” and “Snake Doctor: A Leader Among Us.” The Unit: Complete Series Giftset, featuring all four seasons, is contained in an incredible 19-disc DVD collection. Bonus Features: Deleted scenes from Seasons 3 & 4, featurettes and commentary on selected episodes.
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Fox
How I Met Your Mother: Season Four - With a handful of Emmys to its credit, this hilarious sitcom —starring a spectacular ensemble cast including Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Cobie Smulders, Josh Radnor and Neil Patrick Harris, the one-time Doogie Howser — continues on it’s crazy, still unanswered quest to find out how architect Ted (the voice of Bob Saget) met his children’s mom. In Season Four, the gang gets wackier and the antics more outrageous: Ted (Radnor) sets up his own design firm, the oversexed Barney (Harris) actually commemorates the 200th gal he had bedded and Robin (Smulders) heads to Japan. Celebrities joining in on the How I Met Your Mother fun include Sarah Chalke from Scrubs, Six Feet Under mom Frances Conroy, Regis Philbin (as Regis) and the gorgeous Laura Prepon from That 70's Show. All 24 laugh-packed, gut-busting Season Four episodes (on three discs) are on both DVD and Blu-ray. Bonus Features: Audio commentaries, featurettes and gag reels.
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Universal
Away We Go - In director Sam Mendes' (American Beauty) latest masterwork, Away We Go, John Krasinski (star of The Office) and former Saturday Night Live alumni Maya Rudolph play Burt and Verona, an unmarried, expectant couple that hit the road in search of the perfect the place to raise their offspring. Exploring the comedic twists and turns as the happy couple visit family and friends — played by Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Catherine O’Hara and Jim Gaffigan — to find their dream home, Away We Go is a hysterical, heartfelt and witty comedy that has critics praising Krasinski’s performance as a potential Best Actor Academy Award-winning role. (Also on DVD) Bonus Features – Blu-ray: Feature Commentary with director Sam Mendes and writers Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida, two featurettes and the BD-LIVE! Exclusive – collect movie clips and trailers in the BD-LIVE! Center.
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Magnolia
The Girlfriend Experience - The twentieth film from Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Oceans' 11-13), The Girlfriend Expereince is a sexy, beautifully shot time capsule from the not-too-distant past. Set in the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, the film is five days in the life of Chelsea (adult film star Sasha Grey in her mainstream film debut), an ultra high-end Manhattan call girl who offers more than sex to her clients, but companionship and conversation – “the girlfriend experience.” In The Girlfriend Experience, while Chelsea (Grey), the upscale, New York City prostitute that treats her clients like boyfriends – for $2,000-an-hour -- believes she is in total control, in her line of work, control can be easily manipulated. Shot in an artistic cinema verité style, this is Soderbergh's most ambitious and compelling motion picture to date. Bonus Features: Audio commentary with Soderbergh & Grey, “Honet: A Look at The Girlfriend Experience” featurette and an unrated alternate cut.
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CBS/Paramount
CSI: NY: The Complete Season Five - Legendary screen and stage actor Gary Sinise stars as Mac Taylor, the detective who heads up a team of investigators and criminologists in CSI: NY, the third incarnation of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise and the spin-off of CSI: Miami. Much like its television brethren, CSI: NY (which just began Season Six) is a crime drama about a group of forensic investigators — played by Melina Kanakaredes, Carmine Glovinazzo, Hill Harper, Eddie Cahill and Anna Belknap and A.J. Buckley — who use high-tech science to follow the evidence and solve crimes in New York City. Each day, they must grapple with the “how” and “why” of crime scene investigation, but unlike Las Vegas or Miami, this is The Big Apple, which is filled from stem to core with the routine, the extraordinary and the bizarre, as they probe the fascinating world of criminalistics. Bonus Features: Audio commentary and four featurettes including the commemoration of the show’s 100th episode in “Celebrating 100: Evidence A Hit.”
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WDSHE
Life On Mars: The Complete Series - The majority of American television shows based on English hit series usual end up being nothing more than pale comparisons of the U.K. original or just a complete artistic disaster that embarrasses all involved. Remember American TV's 2003 primetime adaptation of Coupling? Why should you? The sexy English comedy ran for four high-rated seasons in the U.K. while the American version only ran for four episodes — for good reason, it stunk. When the news first broke about a U.S. counterpart of the sci-fi action/adventure series Life On Mars (which was a massive hit in Great Britain) most sceince fiction TV viewers felt nothing but dread and disappoint. How could anyone repeat the originality and brilliance of the Engish series about a present-day cop who gets into a possibly fatal accident only to wake up in the 1970s? Usually, you can’t, so no one expected the Americanized version to surpass the original. But, in many ways, it's even better than the Brit's Life On Mars, utilizing what was great about the original, building on its strengths and adding its own flair, charm and surprises. Without a cell phone, computer, PDA or MP3 player, Detective Sam Tyler (played with perfection by Jason O’Mara) finds himself in the cultural hotbed of New York City in the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War, Watergate, women’s lib and the civil and gay rights movements. While trying to find his way back home, Sam finds out so much about himself, mankind, the universe and…the new ending will blow you away! Too bad that it was a trip back in time that not enough TV-viewers showed up for in order to keep it on the air. However, this spectacular collection will be around for eternity to remind many of you that you missed out on one hell of a great show. Don't make the same mistake twice! Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, audio commentary, three features (including a set visit with Lee Majors) and the “Spaced Out” bloopers reel.
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DreamWorks/Paramount
Monsters Vs. Aliens - Monsters Vs. Aliens is a hilarious 3D animated comedy epic inhabited by a laugh-filled universe filled with the funniest and most witty group of monsters and aliens you’ll ever encounter. When Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a meteor full of space gunk on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall. The military captures Susan and puts her into a secret government compound led by General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland). There, she is renamed Ginormica and held along with a ragtag group of Monsters: the gelantinous B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), The Missing Link (Will Arnett); the brilliant, insect-headed Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. and Insectosaurus. When a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth with plans to invade, the President (Stephen Colbert) is persuaded to enlist the motley crew of Monsters to combat the alien robot — and Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), the out-of-this-world leader behind it the alien invasion — and save the world from imminent destruction. (Also on DVD) Bonus Features - Blu-ray: Four featurettes, deleted scenes, 3D glasses, Music Video Juke Box, filmmaker commentary, Top Secret Sneak Peek Files (HD), Activision Game trailer Karaoke Music Party, Animators’ Corner - Picture-In-Picture and Trivia Track.
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Universal
Kings: The Complete Series - With a cast headed by Golden Globe winner Ian McShane (Deadwood)as the fictional King Silas Benjamin, Kings (which was also unjustifiably pulled off the primetime schedule in its inaugural season) tells the fascinating and thought-provoking story of the country of Gilboa (that has a capital city that resembles Toronto or New York) that is ruled by a modern-day monarchy and not a democracy. At war with a neighboring country, when David Shephard (Chris Egan), an idealistic young soldier, crosses enemy lines and unknowingly rescues the king’s kidnapped, prisoner of war son, his life changes forever. Made a member of the royal family’s court, David falls in love with the princess, which not only angers King Silas, but it throws David right in the middle of an unwanted life filled with greed, war, romance, forbidden love and secret alliances. However, David, could single-handedly tear apart the entire kingdom (although he doesn't realize it). Bonus Features: Deleted scenes and audio commentary with creator, director and star.
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Warner Bros.
NHL Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Great Leafs and Their Most Memorable Games - With a history that dates back to the beginning of the National Hockey League, the Toronto Maple Leafs (an Original Six club), is a NHL flagship institution. And this eye-popping 10-disc DVD collection takes us back into time to remind us of the Maple Leafs’ ten greatest moments — all the way back to Bobby Baun beating Detroit in 1964 while nursing a broken leg to Curtis Joseph’s unforgettable 2002 game against Ottawa in Game 6 of the Conference Semi-Final. All the heroes of the Maple Leafs — from Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Mats Sundin to Gary Roberts, Ken Wregget and Nik Borchevsky — make an appearance on NHL Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Great Leafs and Their Most Memorable Games. Finally, all of the Maple Leafs’ finest moments and greatest games are brought together for in an essential set for fans of this team of hockey-playing masters.
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Animal Planet/Genius
Lions - Spanning the African continent from barren plains to lush jungles, Lions features four kid-friendly programs -- A Lion Called Christian, The Lion's Share, White Lions and Rogue Lions. Traveling to various locales, each show tells a different, dynamic story about the noble "king of beasts." Long regarded as a popular symbol of royalty and bravery, the revered animal commands respects and invokes awe -- a far cry from the typical housecat. Witness the internet sensation Christian the Lion and his touching reunion with his former caretakers; journey into the heart of the Serengeti as drought threatens the survival of a close-knit pride; explore the regal realm of the majestic white lion; and venture into Kruger National Park where lions are changing their hunting behaviors and are slowly becoming more of a threat to humans. First shown on Animal Planet, Lions provides a striking look at these stunning animals and their behaviors.
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