MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
“THE UNTOUCHABLES”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (CBS DVD/Paramount): For four seasons (1959-’63) and 118 episodes, Robert Stack donned the fedora of ace Treasury agent Eliot Ness and barked orders to his incorruptible team of “Untouchables” as they battled the underworld in 1930s Chicago.
The series’ blend of fact and (mostly) fiction, punctuated by Walter Winchell’s staccato narration, taut pacing, tough talk and bursts of action (which aroused considerable controversy at the time) offered punchy crime-drama entertainment that delivered the goods on a weekly basis.
Al Capone (Neville Brand) and Frank Nitti (Bruce Gordon) were recurring characters, and a star-studded line-up of guest stars included Cliff Robertson, Charles Bronson, Peter Falk, Robert Duvall, James Coburn, James Caan, Robert Redford, George Kennedy, Rip Torn, Lee Van Cleef, Barbara Stanwyck, Lee Marvin, Robert Vaughn, Elizabeth Montgomery (who earned an Emmy nomination) and many others.
Stack won the Emmy Award (Lead Actor in a Drama Series) in 1960 and was nominated again in ’61, and both of those seasons was nominated for what would now be classified as Outstanding Drama Series. After its network run, The Untouchables roared like gangbusters in syndication, ultimately leading to the 1987 feature film and subsequent 1993 TV series. The 31-DVD collection retails for $89.99.
“19-2”: SEASON 1 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Based on a French-language series, this award-winning crime series stars Adrian Holmes and Jared Keeso as partners in the Montreal Police Department’s “Station 19,” working to keep the streets clean of crime. The DVD collection ($49.99 retail) includes all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2014 season plus a behind-the-scenes featurette.
BIKES VS. CARS (Alive Mind Cinema/Kino Lorber): Fredrik Gertten’s feature documentary examines the efforts of people around the world who, concerned about pollution, have opted to use bicycles for transportation instead of cars â€“ and the various hurdles they face in their efforts. In English, Portuguese and Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
“BOB HOPE: ENTERTAINING THE TROOPS” (Time Life): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($12.95 retail) of three TV Christmas specials (1951, 1970 and 1971) featuring Bob Hope and a myriad of guest stars (Connie Stevens, Neil Armstrong, Ursula Andress, Lola Falana, the Nicholas Brothers and others) as they perform for military troops overseas.
“THE BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES”: SERIES 2 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Neill Rea and Fern Sutherland are back on the case in all four feature-length episodes from the 2015 season of the popular New Zealand crime series, available on DVD or Blu-ray (each $59.99 retail).
“BUBBLE GUPPIES: FUN ON THE FARM” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The fish hit the farm in this self-explanatory DVD compilation ($15.99 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon children’s series.
THE CHOICE (LionsGate): Attractive leads (Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer), attractive locations (along the North Carolina coast), varying accents, romance tinged with tragedy â€“ the usual components of a Nicholas Sparks melodrama are ever-present in this sudsy soaper that’s neither the best nor the worst of the bunch, although it has moments of humor and an equally attractive supporting cast: Tom Wilkinson, Alexandra Daddario, Maggie Grace and Tom Welling. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.99 â€“ both with bonus features. Rated PG-13. **
A DOG NAMED GUCCI (What Were We Thinking Films/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/producer/editor/director Gorman Bechard’s affecting feature documentary tells the story of Doug James, who in 1994 rescued the titular canine after he was set on fire, then become a symbol for animal rights. The case of Donna Lawrence and “Susie” in Greensboro â€“ which likewise effected changes in legislation â€“ is also covered, as are similar incidents throughout the nation. Some of the imagery is understandably harrowing, but the message of hope comes across loud and clear. ***
DOLLY PARTON’S COAT OF MANY COLORS (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Executive producer Dolly Parton narrates this award-winning, autobiographical drama detailing her hardscrabble upbringing in rural Tennessee, originally aired on NBC, with Alyvia Alyn Lind as young Dolly and singer Jennifer Nettles as her mother Avie Lee Parton. The DVD retails for $19.98.
“INSPECTOR REX” (MHz Networks): Evildoers beware, the new star of law enforcement in Vienna is now on duty â€“ and he’s a German Shepherd! This award-winning German-language crime series (originally titled Kommissar Rex) became an international smash, inspiring spin-offs and a subsequent Italian-language revival. The four-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) includes all 14 episodes from the inaugural 1994-’95 season.
KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn): After being implicated in a heist he didn’t commit, ex-con John Payne methodically tracks down those responsible (a veritable rogues’ gallery including Preston Foster, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam and Neville Brand) in director Phil Karlson’s taut, well-remembered 1952 film noir, now available in a digitally restored Blu-ray ($14.99 retail) that puts previous public-domain releases to shame. ***
“LEGO STAR WARS: DROID TALES” (Disney): The Star Wars saga continues in this DVD collection ($19.99 retail) of all five episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the Disney Channel fantasy series featuring the voices of Eric Bauza as Luke Skywalker, Michael Daingerfield as Han Solo and Anthony Daniels again as C-3PO.
“LET’S LEARN: S.T.E.M.” â€“ VOL. 2 (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of six episodes from popular animated Nickelodeon programs (including “PAW Patrol,” “Team Umizoomi,” “Dora and Friends” and “Blaze and the Monster Machines”) designed to teach children science, technology, engineering and math â€“ hence “S.T.E.M.”
THE MESSENGER (Kino Lorber): Su Rynard’s award-winning documentary features examines the depletion of the world’s songbird population and the efforts of scientists, activists and enthusiasts to preserve it. Like the song says: “Bird is the word!” The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95 â€“ both replete with special features.
“MIRACULOUS: TALES OF LADYBUG AND CAT NOIR” (ZAG Heroez/Shout! Kids Factory): A DVD collection ($14.98 retail) of six episodes from the popular animated fantasy series about the titular superheroes, which aired first in France then became an international smash when aired in the US in Nickelodeon.
“MY LITTLE PONY â€“ FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC: FRIENDS ACROSS EQUESTRIA” (Hasbro Studios/Shout! Kids Factory): The title tells all in this DVD compilation ($14.98 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning animated children’s series, broadcast on Discovery Family Channel, inspired by the Hasbro toy line introduced in the 1980s.
MY SUMMER STORY (Olive Films): Director/screenwriter Bob Clark and tries, with only limited success, to recapture the spark and spirit of Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story (1983) with this 1994 follow-up (originally titled It Runs in the Family) starring Kieran Culkin as Ralphie and Charles Grodin and Mary Steenburgen as his parents. The DVD retails for $14.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG. **
“NEWHART”: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Shout! Factory): There’s always room â€“ for laughs â€“ at the Stratford Inn, in all 24 episodes from the 1986-’87 season of the award-winning CBS sitcom starring Bob Newhart (perennially befuddled), along with Mary Frann, Julia Duffy, Peter Scolari, Tom Poston, and William Sanderson as Larry and Tony Papenfass and John Voldstad as his brothers â€“ both named Darryl. Five Emmy nominations: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Poston and Scolari), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Duffy) and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. The three-DVD collection retails for $29.93.
NORM OF THE NORTH (LionsGate): Rob Schneider voices the titular character, a polar bear come to New York City to save his Arctic home, in this PG-rated animated feature boasting the additional voice-over talents of Heather Graham, Colm Meaney, Bill Nighy, Loretta Devine, Gabriel Iglesias and Greensboro favorite son Ken Jeong (as the villainous Mr. Greene), available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.99 retail)
“PAW PATROL: BRAVE HEROES, BIG RESCUES” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of six episodes from the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon children’s series about a pack of heroic pups.
“POUND PUPPIES: SHOWSTOPPING PUPS” (Hasbro Studios/Shout! Kids Factory): A DVD selection ($12.99 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning, animated children’s series based on the popular toy line and featuring the voice talents of Eric McCormack, Alanna Ubach, Michael Rapaport, John DiMaggio, Rene Auberjonois, Yvette Nicole Brown and M. Emmet Walsh (hey, I’ve interviewed him!). Hasbro/Shout! Kids also released “Pound Puppies: A Rare Pair” (also $12.99 retail), which includes five episodes as well.
“POWER RANGERS DINO CHARGE: RESURGENCE” (LionsGate): A DVD collection ($14.98 retail) of four episodes from the popular adventure/fantasy series, airing on Nickelodeon, which represents the latest offshoot of the durable “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” franchise.
“POWER RANGERS WILD FORCE”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Saban Brands/Shout! Factory): A five-DVD collection ($19.97 retail) of all 40 episodes from the 2002 season of the popular adventure/fantasy series, which marked the 10th anniversary of the ongoing “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” franchise.
THE PRAIRIE (Alpha Home Entertainment): Lenore Aubert, Alan Baxter, and Robert’s brother John “Jack” Mitchum (in his screen debut) star in this 1947 adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel about Western expansion following the Louisiana Purchase. Director Frank Wisbar, who learned his trade during the German Expressionist period before fleeing the Nazis, incorporates interesting stylistic touches to offset the low budget. **Â½
SIBLING RIVALRY (Olive Films): Carl Reiner’s 1990 comedy stars Kirstie Alley as a bored wife whose adulterous tryst with Sam Elliott goes wrong when he drops dead. Standard-issue fluff given a boost by an enthusiastic cast that includes Bill Pullman, Ed O’Neill, Carrie Fisher, Jami Gertz, Scott Bakula, John Randolph and Frances Sternhagen. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG-13. **
TAKE THE STAND (Alpha Home Entertainment): Pretty snappy 1934 whodunit, “suggested” by an Earl Derr Biggers novel, with Jack La Rue as a muckraking radio reporter whose on-air murder yields plenty of suspects for assistant DA Russell Hopton to choose from. **Â½
TWINKLE TOES LIGHTS UP NEW YORK (Skechers Entertainment/Cinedigm): The title tells all in this animated adventure based on the popular Skechers Girls’ footwear collection, with Joey Singer providing the voice for the title character as she takes the Great White Way by storm, available on DVD ($14.93 retail).
UNLIKELY HEROES (Olive Films): Peter Luisi’s award-winning comedy/drama (originally titled Schweizer Helden) stars Esther Gemsch as a middle-aged divorcee who finds purpose teaching immigrants to speak German. In German and Swiss-German with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com