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article imageReview: Ally McBeal, Lola Falana & Corner Gas debut on DVD Special

By Earl Dittman     Oct 9, 2009 in Entertainment
Although it has taken a few years for several legendary comedy series (Ally McBeal, Corner Gas), iconic performers (Lola Falana) and a digitally enhanced film classic (My Fair Lady) to make their way onto DVD -- it has certainly been worth the wait.
Every single American hooked on the hilarious Canadian-grown comedic antics on the laugh-packed Corner Gas sitcom have a reason to rejoice this week now that Seasons 1 & 2 of the critically acclaimed, long-running Canuck comedy are finally being released on DVD in the U.S. Long available in its native land, Corner Bag crosses the borders with some extra special bonus features (for those of you who already bought the over-priced import versions).Citizens of Planet Earth also have cause for celebration with the long-awaited release of the groundbreaking, courtroom dramedy Ally McBeal. Available in a 32-disc compilation box set (encompassing all five jaw-dropping seasons) and in a Season One starter kit, there's really no reason why you haven't already rushed out to the nearest Best Buy to pick up either collection.
For those of you who recall (and probably miss) the glitzy and glamorous disco days and nights of the mid-1970s have probably been wondering what ever happened to entertainer/diva-extraordinaire Lola Falana. Sadly, she has been living with MS, but her primetime specials from 1976 are finally seeing the light of day (for the first time since their initial '76 broadcasts) with a 2-disc, four hour-long DVD filled with the immense talent and unstoppable energy of the legendary performer (who once held the title of the highest paid female entertainer in Vegas.
The latest seasons of Bones, The Hills, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Nip/Tuck and England's Red Dawrf also hit store shelves this week, as well as the digitally (sound-and-picture) enhanced version of the classic Best Picture My Fair Lady. And, if you want to take off some of those unwanted pounds before Santa shows up, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have a trilogy of entertaining and health-conscious work-out DVDs you will find enjoyable to watch and easy to follow.
Finally, if all those DVDs and Blu-rays are not enough to keep you busy, the DVD/BD release of such recent theatrical releases as My Life In Ruins (starring Nia My Big Fat Greek Wedding Vardalos), the Jack Black/Michael Cera biblical comedy Year One and the martial arts hit Mirageman should pique your interest – as should the terrifyingly funny prank series Scare Tactics, the Aussie docu-drama Not Quite Hollywood and the Animal Planet documentaries Lost Tapes and Besieged Fortress.
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Fox
Ally McBeal: The Complete Series • Ally McBeal: The Complete First Season - Single-handedly revolutionizing and revitalizing the television legal series from serious and staid courtroom dramas to a laugh-filled, thought-provoking dramedy with humor and heart, Ally McBeal, created by writer, director David E. Kelley (The Practice, Boston Legal), would take home seven Emmy Awards and four Golden Globes throughout its five seasons in front of judges, in the offices of Ally’s quirky Boston law firm and inside the bedroom and private lives of the series’ colorful characters. The original comedy follows the trials and tribulations of an eccentric and neurotic single 28-year-old lawyer (Calista Flockhart) fresh out of Harvard Law School, looking for love and fulfillment in life. Working in a Boston law firm with her ex-lover, his new wife, money loving boss and a nosy, gossiping secretary. The show also had so many offbeat running gags and themes, such as Ally's tendency to immediately fall over whenever she met somebody she found attractive, and Richard Fish's wattle fetish and humorous mottos, a.k.a "Fishisms." Sharing the spotlight with Robert Downey Jr., Portia de Rossi, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Lucy Liu, Peter MacNicol and Jane Krakowski, were Ally’s amusing fantasy sequences, flashbacks and voiceovers to revealed her innermost thoughts and feelings -- they were the real stars of the series (remember the dancing baby?)
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Fox
With a soundtrack that spawned a bestselling CD, Ally McBeal is making its DVD debut in Ally McBeal: The Complete Series, a 32-disc collection, featuring every episode from the show’s five-year run; and the six-disc box set Ally McBeal: Season One. Bonus Features – The Complete Collection: The new featurette "Bygone Days: An Ally McBeal Retrospective" with Flockhart, Krakowski, Liu, MacNicol, Gil Bellows, Greg Germann, and David E. Kelley, The Best of Ally McBeal soundtrack with never-before-released songs, Season 2 TV Special "Life and Trials of Ally McBeal," Season 5 "Goodbye, Ally," behind-the-scenes and much more. Ally McBeal: Season One: an insert to download three songs from The Best of Ally McBeal soundtrack.
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VSC
Corner Gas: Season 1 • Season 2 - American TV-viewers are finally getting a healthy dose of the laugh-out-loud comedy that Canadian television viewers have been enjoying for years now — the first two seasons of the Gemini Award-winning comedy series Corner Gas. Often called a hysterical cross between Green Acres and Northern Exposure, Corner Gas is the brilliant brainchild of creator, writer and star Brent Butt, who portrays Brent Leroy, the owner of a gas station that sits smack dab in the middle of Dog River, Saskatchewan. With a cast of wild and crazy characters that hang out at Corner Gas and its eatery neighbor The Ruby Café, the fun and laughter never stops. Overflowing with high-octane laughs, Corner Gas (filled with the most hilarious characters imaginable) pokes fun at just about everything — from Pilates to the silly snobbery of wine drinkers. Featuring a fine ensemble cast, superb writing and directing and solid acting, the slightly off-kilter Corner Gas is easily one of the funniest comedy series in North America. Bonus Features: Season 1 & 2 – Audio commentary, behind-the-scenes featurette, blooper reel, show promos, cast and crew commentaries, outtakes, E-Talk interviews, Thunder Face music video, DVD-ROM content, cast bios & character descriptions and the “Perfect Pump” game.
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Paramount
The Hills: Season 5, Part 1 - Looking for a whole lotta extravagance and drama? Take a ride up to The Hills. In this season, Lauren and Heidi come to the realization that as long as Spencer is in the picture, they may never be the BFFs they once were. And just when Heidi thought Spencer was ready to grow up and act like an adult by throwing Heidi her dream wedding (in lieu of quickie nuptials). But when the evening ends with Spencer hitting up on a hot, female bartender and beating up his sister’s ex-boyfriend, Heidi begins to question her future with Spencer — is he the man of her dreams or the villain in her nightmares? Bonus Features: “Spiedi’s Wedding Unveiled” & “Lauren’s Last After Show” featurettes, deleted scenes, interviews, After Show remixes and Season 5 photoshoot.
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VSC
The Lola Falana Show - The highest-paid female performer of her time in Las Vegas, actress, singer and first-class entertainer Lola Falana represents the glorious glitz and glamour of the 1970’s at its zenith. Over three decades after their initial broadcast airing, fans of the legendary Falana can now relive the disco-dancing glory days with this DVD release of her critically acclaimed variety show. A two-disc set of four one-hour specials from her 1976 variety series, The Lola Falana Show features celebrity guest appearances from Bill Cosby, Muhammad Ali, Sonny and Cher, Billy Dee Williams, Redd Foxx, Dick Van Dyke and many others. The show also includes the original aired performances of Lola singing “Lady Marmalade,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Got You Babe,” “I Wanna Be Where You Are” and “Stop in the Name of Love.” In addition to the great musical numbers, each show would tackle serious issues like stereotypes, sexism and racism — all hidden within cleverly-written comedy sketches. (To honor Ms. Falana, a victim of Multiple Sclerosis, a portion of the DVD’s proceeds will be donated to the MS Society in the U.S. and Canada). Bonus Features: Commentary by Nelson George, a photo gallery and biography.
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Magnolia
Mirageman - Martial arts master Marko Zaror — “The Latin Dragon” — portrays Maco, a simple nightclub security guard in Chile, who becomes a masked national hero after saving the life of television reporter from a gang of vicious attackers. When the reporter praises her unknown savior, Maco decides it time to become a full-time superhero. His life as a good guy not only brings joy to would-be victims, it seems to help his the mental health of his institutionalized brother. Filled with high-octane action, Mirageman is the winner of several prestigious movie stunt awards. Bonus Feature: Behind-the-scenes featurette.
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Warner Bros.
Nip/Tuck: The Complete Fifth Season Part 2 - With Season Six set to begin airing next week (check local listings), it’s time to refresh your memory about the murders, knife attacks, cheating, Sean’s (Dylan Walsh) relationship with his outrageous new gal-pal (Battlestar's Katee Sackhoff) and the outcome of Christian’s (Julian McMahon) fight with cancer that occurred during the last cutting-edge episodes from last season of Nip/Tuck. However, their move from Miami to Los Angeles continued to be a financially rewarding one for the relocated plastic surgeons of McNamara/Troy. The guest stars only get bigger and brighter — from Bradley Cooper, Portia de Rossi, Katie Sackhoff, Morgan Fairchild, John Schneider, Sharon Gless and Jennifer Coolidge — and, the surgeries just get more bizarre: from a white rapper wants more booty to shake, to repairing a vampire bite to an 18-year-old man who wants to look older after he marries his former elementary school teacher. Bonus Feature: The featurette “Skin Deep? The Science of Beauty.”
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Magnolia
Not Quite Hollywood - Featuring narrative interviews from such Hollywood legends as Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Lee Curtis And Dennis Hopper, Not Quite Hollywood is a fast-paced documentary that chronicles the growth of the Australian genre cinema of the 70s and 80s. A docu-drama packed with gratuitous nudity, senseless violence, car crashes and a bit of kung fu, Not Quite Hollywood highlights footage from such infamous Aussie films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, My Brilliant Career, Alvin Purple, The Man from Hong Kong, Patrick, Turkey Shoot and Mad Max. Not Quite Hollywood explains how this artistically rich, but unjustly forgotten cinematic era with outrageous anecdotes, stars from around the world and the filmmakers’ heartfelt, infectious love of Australian movies. Not Quite Hollywood commemorates the cultural explosion that gave birth to a group of talented, trail-blazing cinematic mavericks who snubbed their nose at mainstream cinema, made their own rules and introduced the car chase, karate kick, BMX bikes and the water-bed to audiences Down Under.
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Sony
Year One - Jack Black (Tropic Thunder) and Michael Cera (Juno) star as Zed and Oh, an unlikely duo of primitive men who, after being exiled from their tribe, set out on a hilarious journey through the ancient world. Along the way, the duo encounter a host of famous historical figures played by a tribe of film comedians including Hank Azaria, David Cross, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Oliver Platt, Paul Rudd and Horatio Sanz. In Year One, history has never been so crude, rude or historically funny. Bonus Features – Blu-ray: Includes both the original theatrical version of the film and an all-new Extended Version, deleted scenes, extended and alternate scenes, an alternate ending, Line-o-Rama, gag reel, audio commentary with director Harold Ramis, Jack Black and Micheal Cera, three making-of featurettes, BD-LIVE! – “Year One Cutting Room,” MovieIQ, Cinechat and a Digital Copy. (Also on DVD)
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Warner Bros.
Scare Tactics: Season Three, Part One - Forget the juvenile pranks on such so-called reality shows as Jackass and Punk’d, there’s only one true series that features the most outrageous and outlandish pranks ever caught on camera — terrifying scenarios constructed to scare the holy daylights out of you. Hosted by 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan, this check-your-underwear 2-disc DVD set of the 13 episodes from the SyFy Channel’s third scream-packed season I filled with such wildly zany pranks ranging from genuine horror to laugh-out-loud hysterics. From a psycho invading the home of a unsuspecting babysitter and a mutant creature bursting from a eerie cocoon to a horror film director who kills his critics, get ready for one fright, thrill and laugh after another. Bonus Features: Never-before-seen footage on 4 episodes and Tracy Morgan’s funny bloopers and outtake.
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Animal Planet/Genius
Besieged Fortress - A jaw-dropping nature documentary, Besieged Fortress, narrated by actor John Cusack, uses cutting-edge close-up cinematography to follow the collision of two insect empires on an African savanna. Besieged Fortress trails a colony of termites as it battles for survival against a catastrophic flood and an invading ant army out to take over their fortress and to kill them. An unbelievably rare look inside the insect kingdom, Besieged Fortress examines one of the most savage and thrilling conflicts that goes on in a part of the world that is foreign to us all.
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Animal Planet/Genius
Lost Tapes - Are most urban legends concerning animals simply false or made up? Do massive, maneating snakes truly exists? What about a death raptor or a skinwalker? Lost Tapes enters the mysterious realm where fact meet fiction and science meets legend. This set of fourteen episodes dares to follow the truth and lies behind the bizarre creatures of urban legend. Lost Tapes takes you to the most mysterious, scary and skin-crawling places on the earth. Most scientist are reluctant to admit these chilling beasts of lore (like the megaconda) exists, but once you see the footage collected on the Lost Tapes, you will, once and for all, believe.
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Fox
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season 5 - During its legendary, seven-year-run, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which would go on to win 29 Emmy Awards to become one of television's top-rated and critically acclaimed programs, and Mary Richards (Moore) would become one of the most recognizable and beloved characters in primetime history. Mary and her hilariously eccentric friends at WJM-TV — her boss, Lou Grant (Edward Asner), news writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod) and pretentious anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) — would weather a few storms in Season Five, sometimes literally. Mary takes a crack at producing the news, and even has a brush with the law. Things go from funny to hilarious when Lou becomes Mary's neighbor, and Ted starts a rumor that he and Mary are dating. Featuring many of television's most memorable characters and story-lines, The Mary Tyler Moore Show belongs in every DVD collection.
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Paramount
My Fair Lady - The winner of eight Academy Awards in 1964 including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, director George Cukor’s My Fair Lady (with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner) stars such Hollywood legends as Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Gladys Cooper. Based on the Broadway musical, which was adapted from the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady is the fairy-tale story of a cockney flower girl (Hepburn) who falls for an arrogant, misanthropic phonetics expert Henry Higgins (Harrison). Featuring such legendary songs a “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “The Rain in Spain” and “Get Me to the Church on Time,” My Fair Lady remains a classic. Bonus Features: Audio commentary, vintage footage from the production, vintage featurettes, insights on the film from Martin Scorsese and Andrew Lloyd Webber, alternate Audrey Hepburn vocals, trailers, posters and lobby cards and Rex Harrison radio interview.
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Fox
Bones: Season Four - Combining witty, dark humor and crime scene forensics (and a little, sizzling sexual tension thrown in for good measure), Bones and Booth uncover the truth behind gruesome homicides by examining rotting flesh — it is just another day at the office for a prosaic forensic anthropologist and her F.B.I. partner. Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) is a brilliant, but socially slow doctor, and F.B.I. Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) is her protective, crime-solving project. Aided by a group of unlikely colleagues including an insect expert and conspiracy theorist, coroner and psychologist, among others, they always get the killer. Bonus Features – Blu-ray: Three extended episodes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and several featurettes. (Also on DVD).
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BBC
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth – Director’s Cut - It’s been nine years since the BBC gave North American audience new Red Dwarf episodes. That’s all changing with thi incredible 2-disc set of brand new episodes on Blu-ray and DVD — which debut on disc before the episodes will be shown on TV. Written and directed by Doug Naylor, this metaphysical odyssey/sci-fi satire begins as the Red Dwarf crew are thrown through a portal back to Earth during the 21st Century, only to discover they are just characters from a TV series. Having read the last script that reveals their fate, the Red Dwarf crew now know that they will die in the final episode. So, the Dwarfers, in the best Blade Runner tradition, look for the people who created them and the actors who play them so they can at least find out how much time they have left to live. Bonus Features: Cast and director commentary, an all-new exclusive documentary, outtakes, featurettes, deleted scenes, Meg ups – gag reel, trailers, web videos, photo gallery and an Easter egg.
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Paramount
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Body Slimming Yoga • Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Calorie Blasting Dance • Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Boot Camp - There’s tons of work-out DVDs in the marketplace, but few are as entertaining, easy-to-follow and health-enhancing as this new series with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Easy on the eyes and wonderfully charming, on Boot Camp, the Cheerleaders team up with official trainer Jay Johnston for a series of fat-blasting, boot camp-style work-outs. On Body Slimming Yoga, they join official Yoga instructor Kurt Johnsen for a series of Yoga practices inside the heart of Texas Stadium. Finally, the Squad take you to their world famous dance studio for a series of step-by-step routines on Calorie Blasting Dance.
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Fox
My Life In Ruins - After her brilliant acting and writing debut with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos is following up her mega-hit movie with this story of an American tour guide in Greece discovers herself, and possibly love, when she least expects it. The discouraged single woman looking for a way to reconnect with her soul and find her kefi — Greek for "mojo” —takes a motley group of eccentric tourists on a dilapidated tour bus through Ancient Greece, while waiting to land her dream job. It’s during that time that she find much more than her mojo, she finds a new romance in the process. Directed by Donald Petrie (How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days), and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Alexis Georgoulis, Rachel Dratch, Harland Williams, María Adánez, María Bottoand and Alistair McGowan, is a hilarious and charming look at one’s love for themselves and for others. Bonus Features - Blu-ray: Deleted scenes, an alternate ending, commentary by Nia Vardalos and more.
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