email@example.comDVD PICK OF THE WEEK: GRAND HOTEL (Warner Home Video)
This glossy, opulent, 1932 soap opera, detailing the comings and goings at the Grand Hotel in Berlin, certainly lives up to its title, thanks to Edmund Goulding’s smooth direction and especially a star-studded cast of some of the biggest stars in the world at that time, all savoring the ripe richness of their roles.Some 80 years later, the story — which set the blueprint for any number of successors — might seem creaky or melodramatic, but there’s no denying the appeal of its glamorous cast: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Jean Hersholt and Lewis Stone, all in fine form. It’s an iconic cast in an iconic movie, and holds the distinction of being the only film whose only Oscar nomination was for Best Picture — it won.To further commemorate the Oscar season, Warner Home Video is also releasing on Blu-ray the Best Picture winners Mrs. Miniver (1942), which retails for $19.98; and Driving Miss Daisy (1989), which retails for $27.98 and is rated PG. The Grand Hotel Blu-ray retails for $19.98. ***½
“AIM HIGH”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): Jackson Rathbone plays an undercover, teenaged CIA agent in all six webisodes of the inaugural 2011 season of the award-winning online adventure series, co-starring Aimee Teegarden as Rathbone’s love interest. The DVD boxed set retails for $14.97.
THE ANGEL WHO PAWNED HER HARP (VCI Entertainment): Diane Cilento stars in this pleasant 1954 fable in the title role, who comes to Earth “to do good” but must pawn her harp to do so. Veteran Felix Aylmer dodders agreeably as the pawnbroker she deals with. **½
THE ARISTOCATS (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A new special edition of the award-winning, animated 1970 Disney feature focusing on a family of French felines, featuring the voices of Eva Gabor, Phil Harris, Sterling Holloway, Ruth Buzzi and Scatman Crothers, with Maurice Chevalier crooning the title tune. Available as a single DVD ($29.99 retail) or a DVD/ Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail). Rated G.
“CASTLE”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Buena Vista Home Entertainment): Nathan Fillion returns in the title role of the mystery-novelist-turned-sleuth in all 23 episodes from the 2011 season of the award-winning ABC mystery series. The regular cast includes Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Molly C. Quinn and Tamala Jones. The DVD boxed set retails for $45.99.
“CATDOG”: SEASON 2, PART 1 (Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory): The craziest set of conjoined twins returns in the last 10 episodes from the 1999-2000 season of the animated Nickelodeon comedy series. The two-DVD boxed set retails for $19.93.
“DALLAS”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): Southfork Ranch is back in business in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the TNT series, a 21st century follow-up to the original primetime CBS ’70s series. The cast includes Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster, Jesse Metcalfe, Julie Gonzalo, Brenda Strong and original series stars Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and the late Larry Hagman, in his swan song as the devilish J.R. Ewing. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98.
DETROPIA (Docurama Films/Cinedigm Entertainment Group): Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s absorbing, award-winning documentary examines the economic woes that have battered the city of Detroit in recent years. It’s not a pretty picture but it is a perceptive one. ***
“FUNNY OR DIE PRESENTS…”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): A DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) of all 10 episodes from the 2011 season of the popular HBO sketch comedy “hosted” by Funny Or Die Network president Ed Halligan (Steve Tom), who introduces never-before-seen — usually with good reason! — original programming that runs the gamut of irreverence. Guest stars include Will Ferrell (also an executive producer), John C Reilly, Gary Cole, Rachel Dratch, Deepak Chopra, Kristen Wiig, Adam West, Fred Willard, Elijah Wood and others.
“THE GAME”: THE FIFTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): It’s another season for the San Diego Sabers and the ladies in their lives, in all 22 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of award-winning BET comedy series (spun off from “Girlfriends”). The cast includes Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Pooch Hall, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Coby Bell. The three- DVD boxed set retails for $39.99.
THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN (Tribeca Film/New Video): An aimless woman (producer Jenna Fischer) and a street performer (Chris Messina) find romance in this slight, low-key comedy penned by Fischer’s husband Lee Kirk, who also makes his directorial debut. A likable cast includes Malin Akerman as Fischer’s overbearing sister and a shaggy-maned Topher Grace, very funny as a self-help author. Remember: “Don’t poke the monkey!” Rated PG-13. **
JOFFREY: MAVERICKS OF AMERICAN DANCE (Docurama Films): Mandy Patinkin narrates this self-explanatory documentary ($29.95 retail) that chronicles the history of the Joffrey Ballet from its 1956 founding to the present day.
“LEGO NINJAGO MASTERS OF SPINJITSU: RISE OF THE GREEN NINJA” (The Lego Group/Warner Home Video): A DVD collection ($14.98 retail) of the first seven episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the award-winning, animated Cartoon Network adventure series featuring Lego superheroes.
“LET’S LEARN” (Nickelodeon/ Paramount Home Entertainment): Each retailing for $14.99, these educational DVDs — “Let’s Learn ABCs” and “Let’s Learn 123s” — feature episodes from such popular Nickelodeon children’s programs as “Dora the Explorer,” “Team Umizoomi,” “Blue’s Clues,” etc., that focus on teaching spelling and math to children.
“LIFE’S TOO SHORT”: THE COM- PLETE FIRST SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): Warwick Davis, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant created and star as fictionalized versions of themselves in this HBO comedy series, a mock documentary that follows actor Davis as he tries to jump-start his career in a reality-TV series. Guest stars include Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Liam Neeson, Steve Carell, Sting and others. This DVD boxed set ($29.98 retail) includes all seven episodes from the inaugural 2011 season plus bonus features.
”THE LUCY SHOW”: THE OFFICIAL SIXTH & FINAL SEASON (CBS DVD/ Paramount Home Entertainment): All 24 episodes from the 1967-’68 season of the award-winning CBS sitcom with (who else?) Lucille Ball as a raucous redhead, Gale Gordon as her flustered boss and (occasionally) Vivian Vance as her best friend. Ball won the Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, with three additional nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Gordon). The DVD boxed set, which includes bonus features, retails for $42.99.
“PERRY MASON”: THE EIGHTH SEASON, VOLUME TWO (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): He can’t be beat … Raymond Burr returns in the title role of the long-running, award-winning CBS courtroom drama based on Earle Stanley Gardner’s character, in the remaining 15 episodes from the 1964-’65 season.
“SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: EX- TREME KAH-RAH-TAY!” (Nickelodeon/ Paramount Home Entertainment): A DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of eight episodes from the long-running, award-winning animated Nickelodeon children’s series about the (mis)adventures of the title character, as voiced by Tom Kenny.
“WE CAN BE HEROES” (HBO Home Entertainment): Chris Lilley created and stars in multiple roles in all six episodes from the award-winning 2005 comedy series, a mock documentary following the lives of five people vying for the title of Australian of the Year. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.98.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.