This week’s releases include two classic and re-mastered Disney Christmas specials as well as a new holiday favourite; a thrilling new TV series with much more to offer; and another year of complications for old school advertisers.
Mad Men – The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray)
This season explores the glamorous and ego-driven “Golden Age” of advertising in late-1960s New York City. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the rest of the cast deal with the aftereffects of adultery, divorce, a merger, and an ever-changing social climate.
As was hinted at the end of season five, Don returns to his old ways and initiates an extended affair with a married woman. In addition, he once again begins drinking excessively and making impulsive decisions at work and home. Haunted by memories of his secret childhood, Don is torn between past and present, which leads to a surprising season conclusion. With the loss of several characters last season, it was necessary to expand the story world beyond the walls of Sterling Cooper Draper Price. Show writers contrived an appropriate plotline to bring in some new blood for more than just a couple of episodes, but a new set of ad writers also means conflicting ambitions and muddy personal rifts.
Special features include: “Recreating an Era,” a virtual tour with the art department; “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out,” close friends of Timothy Leary and journalist Don Lattin shed light on the man known as the guru of the psychedelic drug movement; and “Summer of Love,” an interactive gallery. (Entertainment One)
Magic City – Season 2 (DVD)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) risks everything in a life and death battle to rid his Miramar Playa Hotel of the mob and Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston). Ike’s dangerous plan to defeat Ben takes Ike from Havana’s glamorous casinos to dealings with a new devil – Ben’s boss in the Chicago Outfit. Ike’s wife Vera (Olga Kurylenko) gets a second chance at her former dancing glory, while sons Stevie (Steven Strait) and Danny (Christian Cooke) drift farther from Ike – Stevie toward the power and rewards of Ben’s dark world, Danny into the moral righteousness of State’s Attorney Jack Klein (Matt Ross). Changes in Castro’s Cuba ripple to the shores of Miami Beach, and a new world order begins to tear the Evans family apart.
For a show about such a seedy criminal element, the pace is slower than expected or enjoyed. Ike's battle for supremacy is only made more difficult by his desire to also be a respectable family man. Ben, on the other hand, is all business. His latest venture fits with his amoral antics, preying on another sinful weakness: lust. Stevie is letting his ambition cloud his judgement, while Danny's new calling has him passing judgement. Vera is satisfied to find her own happiness as long as Ike maintains his commitment to being a good husband and father.
Special features include: “The Gamble of Havana”; “The Criminal Element”; “Tales from the Underbelly”; “Magic City Style”; and “The Music that Makes Magic.” (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 30th Anniversary Special Edition (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck) is far too greedy to understand that Christmas is a time for kindness and generosity. But with the guidance of some wise ghosts (Goofy and Jiminy Cricket) and a bunch of newfound friends, Scrooge learns to embrace the spirit of the season.
This is a holiday staple in many homes, having watched it as children and then passing it on in adulthood. Squeezing the two-hour live motion picture into a 30-minute Disney special is no small feat, but they do so successfully. Scrooge is the obvious choice to portray the miser and it wouldn't have seemed right had Jiminy Cricket not played one of the sage ghosts of Christmas. Selecting the key and most simple moments from Charles Dickens' novel, this brief adaptation manages to convey the core elements while maintaining the amusement associated with the generally fun-loving players. This release also includes the traditional cartoon matches Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952), in which the pooch is tormented by the silent versions of Chip 'n’ Dale, and The Hockey Champ (1939), in which the over-confident Donald Duck tries to show his nephews a lesson. New to the collection is the romantic short Yodelberg, starring Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Special features include: Christmas carol sing-along; and bonus animated shorts: all-new “Yodelberg,” “The Hockey Champ,” “Pluto’s Christmas Tree,” “The Art of Skiing,” and “Corn Chips.” (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)
Rise of the Guardians – Holiday Edition (DVD)
DreamWorks Home Entertainment
When the evil Pitch (Jude Law) threatens to take over the world, it’s up to our beloved heroes – legendary guardians Jack Frost (Chris Pine), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and Sandman – to protect the hopes and dreams of children everywhere.
While holiday figures have been featured in many of their own films and television specials, never have they taken the screen together to unite in a common cause. This animated film joins some great voice actors to bring life to these non-conventional depictions of these historical symbols. Jack is traditionally young-looking and playful, but the others are unusual. Santa, a.k.a. North, is tattooed and a skilled swordsmen whose workshop is run by numerous elves and Yetis. Bunny is a six-foot-one Aussie who is handy with a boomerang. Tooth is the lovely and caring leader of an army of tiny fairies. The comparably smaller Sandy doesn’t speak, but his golden sand forms wonderful translations of his thoughts and children’s dreams. This grand tale is epic, memorable and fun, weaving a wonderful story that works at any time of year. And the walking dingle elf that accompanies this edition is as adorable as the previous release’s hopping eggs.
Special features include: “Creating an Epic: Leading the Charge, Story, Character Design, Art Department, Animation, Final Space, and Pixel Magic”; and “Jingle Elves.” (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)
Under the Dome (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
The small town of Chester's Mill is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by a massive transparent barrier. The story of a town in peril unfolds as the residents struggle to maintain control and ultimately figure out the truth about the dome. Staring Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Dean Norris, Natalie Martinez, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch, Colin Ford, Nicholas Strong, Jolene Purdy and Aisha Hinds.
The first episode of this series locks viewers in for the long haul. The appearance of the dome and the consequences of its presence is captivating. It’s indiscriminate in the location of its resurrection and makes no attempt to announce its existence beyond the town's people’s accidental discovery. The town slowly goes through the motions of confinement, first pulling together before fear makes them turn on each other. The character development is excellent, revealing hidden associations and allowing viewers to get to know them as many them get to know each other. In addition, no citizen is safe from the writers' chopping block with a number of surprising deaths occurring in this first season. The final episode may evoke mixed reactions, but it is a convincing hook for the next chapter.
Special features include: additional and deleted scenes; “Filming the Pilot”; “Stephen King Visits Jim’s Car Dealership”; “The Wilmington Pilot Premiere”; “Stephen King and Under the Dome”; “Under the Dome: From Novel to Series”; “Under the Dome: Executing the Finale”; “The World of Under the Dome”; Joe’s blog; bloopers; and CBS launch promos. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but Rabbit will only discover the true spirit of the season after his pals make misguided New Year’s resolutions to change – with hilarious and heartfelt results!
This tale is actually two stories in one. The newer feature, Happy Pooh Year, is used as a framing story for the holiday classic, Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too. In the first story, everyone is encouraged by Rabbit to stop their signature activities – so no more honey for Pooh and no bouncing for Tigger. This is understandably very difficult for them and though they learn the strength of their will power – and in some cases take a walk in each other's shoes – they are generally miserable because they're unable to be themselves. In the Christmas special, Pooh's forgetfulness leaves him off the group's letter to Santa. And while retrieving the letter – originally sent by wind – proves easy enough, finishing the list becomes further delayed as everyone's generosity takes hold. Both stories contain great messages about the holidays and are fun to watch; though Owl fans may be disappointed by his absence.
Special features include: Disney intermission; sing along with the movie; Disney’s song selection; and “Enchanted Environment.” (Disney Pictures Home Entertainment)