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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Magnum P.I., SEAL Team, Gunsmoke Movie Collection, and more

Well, it’s a pretty tiny slate of releases this week, with just a few highlights. Here’s what’s on tap:

Magnum P.I.: Season Two – As a die-hard fan of the Tom Selleck classic TV series, I didn’t see the need for a remake of the show, but I wasn’t opposed to it, either. I get how TV and movies work these days, and I know that everything gets recycled. So I watched this new show and while it’s not bad and I certainly don’t hate it, I do have one major problem with it: it’s so much less Magnum and so much more another typical CBS procedural. Honestly, watching it feels exactly like watching an episode of Hawaii Five-O; there’s almost no difference in the tone of the shows or the story structure or the cinematography. While Jay Hernandez is plenty charming, there’s just nothing special about it to make it live up to the name Magnum. If you like most of CBS’s other shows, you’ll probably like this one, but if you’re looking for something different, you’re in the wrong place. That all said, Season Two comes along and offers up more of what season one gave us: crimes, Ferraris, supporting characters, and no small amount of charm. If you liked the first season, you should like this one as well.

SEAL Team: Season Three – Well, three seasons in and it’s pretty clear: David Boreanaz has found yet another hit show to star in. After Buffy, Angel, and the long-running Bones, taking on an action-adventure role in SEAL Team is a perfect fit for the congenial TV mainstay. I like SEAL Team; it’s not a favorite for me but I find it quite enjoyable. While I would maybe have liked this show more if it was on a cable network like FX or HBO and a little more gritty, it’s perfectly fine CBS-style television. And while the ensemble cast is quite good, there’s no denying that it’s Boreanaz who carries the show, and he does so effortlessly. There’s a reason he’s been a leading man on TV for most of the last two decades. If he wasn’t in the show, I doubt I’d be as interested in it. As it is, it’s perfectly watchable, occasionally exciting network TV. This collection includes the entire third season just in time to catch up for season four!

Gunsmoke Movie Collection – This new collection follows up the massive Gunsmoke Complete Series Box set that came out last year. Sure, maybe you now have every single episode of the show on DVD, but do you have the follow-up movies? Well, if not, here they are. This three-disc collection features the three made-for-TV movies that followed the series’ conclusion: Return to Dodge, The Last Apache, and To The Last Man. Each 90-minute adventure is a stand-alone story that features several of the characters and actors from the long running and beloved series. Now, I’m more of a casual Gunsmoke fan than a die-hard, but I always enjoy the post-TV-series movies that were so popular in the 80s and all three of these are pretty solid. There’s nothing that’s so great that you can’t live without it, but I think if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll want these in your collection to wrap the whole thing up.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • PBS Spotlight – We have a few new PBS releases this week, and it’s a complete mix of titles as we have a documentary, a dramatic TV series, and a kids’ show all making their way to DVD this week. First up, we have Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations, a sobering two-hour documentary that includes interviews with luminaries such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Fareed Zakaria. The film explores the disturbing growth of antisemitism since the 1930s, and it doesn’t make for cheerful viewing, especially in light of all the racial and political unrest in the country in recent months, but it is important viewing. I’d like to see it shown in high schools, as I think it’s important to expose young minds to the dangers of bigotry. The film is narrated by Julianna Margulies, which is a nice bones. Next up is Masterpiece Mystery – Grantchester: Season 5. Grantchester is a popular PBS British mystery show that follows a small-town Vicar in 1950s England who solves crimes. Admittedly, it isn’t particularly groundbreaking – in that it’s another British mystery show, of which there’s no shortage — but it does have its charms and will definitely appeal to people who love the BBCs particular style of mystery storytelling. The fifth season includes six episodes, all contained in this two-disc set. Finally, for the kidlets, we have Arthur: Ultimate Friendship Collection, which will keep your kids busy for hours. Literally hours! The running time on this three-disc set is over 10 hours! You get dozens of adventures of everyone favorite… chipmunk? Hedgehog? What the heck is Arthur, anyway? Well, whatever he is, you get 48 of his stories to keep your kids occupied, so for under $20, it’s hard to argue with the value of this set if your kids are Arthur fans.
  • WB Archive Spotlight – Finally this week, we have a handful of new releases from Warner’s print-on-demand service, The Warner Archive. (As a reminder, you can purchase Warner Archive titles at or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.) This month we have five titles that are all making their Blu-ray debuts. First up is Cannery Row, a 1982 adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel starring Nick Nolte and Deborah Winger. The film is a blend of comedy and drama, and while it’s a bit two long at just over two hours, I found it a really interesting exercise. There are parts of the film I really liked (the frog hunt stands out) and parts where I found myself a little bored, but Nolte and Winger are both terrific and the film is pretty enjoyable overall. Then we have the Blu-ray debut of Michael, the John-Travolta-playing-an-angel movie from 1996. I know this isn’t a movie that has had a long shelf life, but I actually find it a really fun movie. Travolta has a lot of fun playing a foul-mouther, beer-swilling angel, and the movie’s road trip story is a good time. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s a fun way to kill a couple of hours. With our next two titles, we’re going back in time a bit. Pat and Mike is a 1952 team-up between Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, one of their many films together. In this one, Hepburn plays a professional golfer who can’t perform when her fiancee is around. Enter Tracy, her promoter, who just may or may not have feelings for her. You can probably connect the dots from there, but it’s an enjoyable romp with two great stars. Hepburn and Tracy also co-star in the next release, Without Love, a comedy about a woman and the scientist she marries (not for love) and their troubled relationship and, well, again, I’ll leave it to you to figure out what happens, but the ending probably won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone. It’s a fun little film that is one of the few Hepburn/Tracy films I hadn’t seen, so I enjoyed discovering it. Finally, this week, we return to the ‘80s with 1988’s Clara’s Heart, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris. Harris plays a teenager whose family is falling apart, and Goldberg plays the no-nonsense Jamaican woman who becomes the family’s made who ultimately bonds with the young man. Goldberg gives a surprisingly good performance and Neil Patrick Harris is quite good as well, but unfortunately, they are the only bright spots in the film. It’s not a great movie, and most of the other characters are either thinly-drawn caricatures or heartless, unlikable people. Still, Goldberg and Harris are good together, so at least that’s something.

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