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by Mark Burger

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DVD PICK OF THE WEEKNATIONAL LAMPOON’SCHRISTMAS VACATION (Warner HomeVideo): The third in the big-screen comedyfranchise, the last to boast the NationalLampoon moniker and unquestionablythe best of the sequels celebrates its 20thanniversary in an “ultimate collector’sedition” on DVD ($32.92 retail) and Blu-ray($49.99 retail).As the title implies, it’s the holiday seasonat the Griswolds, with the well-meaningbut ever-bumbling all-American dad Clark(Chevy Chase) and wife Ellen (BeverlyD’Angelo) playing host to a collection ofrelatives and hangers-on, including Clark’sparents (John Randolph and Diane Ladd),Ellen’s parents (EG Marshall and DorisRoberts) and trailer-trash cousins Eddie(Randy Quaid) and Catherine (MiriamFlynn). Johnny Galecki and scrumptiousJuliette Lewis are the Griswold kids, Rustyand Audrey — both well aware that, veryoften, father knows worst.Naturally, everything that can go haywiretends to — and it’s usually poor Clark whobears the brunt of these mishaps. Smoothlywritten by John Hughes and briskly directedby Jeremiah Chechik (his feature debut),the film manages to be both funny andwarm-hearted without compromising eitherattribute. Whether it’s a holiday classic isdebatable, but after 20 years the film holdsup quite nicely. Rated PG-13. ***ALSO ON DVD’“BATMAN: THE BRAVEAND THE BOLD” — VOLUME 2(DC Comics/Warner Home Video): TheDark Knight returns in this compilation offour episodes from the popular CartoonNetwork animated series, featuringUNCSA School of Drama alumnusDiedrich Bader as the voice of the CapedCrusader. This DVD retails for $24.98.For twice the action, DC Comics andWarner Home Video is also releasingthe animated feature Superman/Batman:Public Enemies, which features the voicesof Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tim Dalyas Superman and Clancy Brown as archvillainLex Luthor, now the president ofthe United States. Available as a single-discDVD ($19.98 retail), a two-disc specialedition ($24.98 retail) or a Blu-ray specialedition ($29.99 retail). Rated PG-13.A CHRISTMAS CAROL (VCIEntertainment): The Blu-ray debut($29.99 retail) of director Brian DesmondHurst’s 1951 adaptation of the CharlesDickens classic, starring Alastair Sim asScrooge — arguably the most belovedscreen version of the story.“GREY’S ANATOMY”: THECOMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (WaltDisney Studios Home Entertainment):Ellen Pompeo returns as Meredith Grey,leading her team of doctors as they deal withlife and death on a daily basis at Seattle GraceHospital, in all 23 episodes from the 2008-’09 season of the award-winning, prime-timeABC-TV medical drama, which earned fiveEmmy nominations including OutstandingSupporting Actress in a Drama Series(both Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson) andOutstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series(Sharon Lawrence, for the episode “No Goodat Saying Sorry — One More Chance”). Thisboxed set retails for $59.99.HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (VCIEntertainment): Mickey Rooney playsa homeless man who finds a home forthe holidays with a suburban family inthis unbearably mawkish, CanadianmadeChristmas fable that was originallybroadcast on TV in 1990. *MICKEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (WaltDisney Studios Home Entertainment):Charles Dickens’ holiday classic gets ananimated makeover in this 1983 short,featuring such popular Disney charactersas Mickey Mouse (stepping in for BobCratchit), Scrooge McDuck (guess whichrole he plays?), Donald Duck, Goofy andmore. This earned an Academy Awardnomination as Best Animated Short. TheDVD retails for $19.99. Rated G. For moreholiday hijinks featuring Mickey Mouse,Disney is also releasing the 2001 animatedfeature Mickey’s Magical Christmas:Snowed In at the House of Mouse, basedon the Disney Channel’s popular “House ofMouse” series. This DVD retails for $26.99.“A MUPPETS CHRISTMAS:LETTERS TO SANTA” (Walt DisneyStudios Home Entertainment): JimHenson’s perennially popular Muppets(including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy,Fozzie Bear and Gonzo) are joined bythe likes of Uma Thurman, Nathan Lane,Whoopi Goldberg and Jane Krakowski forthis holiday special, first broadcast on NBCTVin 2008. Paul Williams’ song “I WishI Could Be Santa Claus” earned an Emmynomination as Outstanding Original Musicand Lyrics. This special-edition DVD retailsfor $19.99.’“NFL A TRADITION OF DEFENSE:THE CHICAGO BEARS” (NFL Films/Warner Home Video): The title tells all inthis football documentary ($26.95 retail)that recounts the defensive history of theChicago Bears, featuring such gridirongreats as George Halas, Dick Butkus, MikeSingletary, Red Grange, Doug Atkins andmany more.NIGHTS IN RODANTHE (WarnerHome Video): Richard Gere and DianeLane are (again) an attractive screen couplein this picturesque soap opera based onNicholas Sparks’ best-seller about twolonely souls who find each other at a remoteinn on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Thecast also includes Scott Glenn, Viola Davis,Christopher Meloni and an unbilled JamesFranco, but a third-act detour into tearjerkerterritory severely weighs the film down.Rated PG-13. **“NFL AMERICA’S GAME:PITTSBURGH STEELERS — THESTORY OF SIX CHAMPIONSHIPS”(NFL Films/Warner Home Video): The titletells all in this special-edition DVD ($39.92retail) detailing the history of Pittsburgh’s NFLfranchise and its unprecedented six SuperBowl championships — the most in history.“PRIVATE PRACTICE”: THECOMPLETE SECOND SEASON (WaltDisney Studios Home Entertainment): Thisspin-off of “Grey’s Anatomy” features KateWalsh as Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery,now working at the Oceanside WellnessGroup in Los Angeles. This boxed set($59.99 retail) includes all 22 episodes fromthe 2008-’09 season of the award-winning,prime-time ABC-TV medical drama.“SABER RIDER AND THE STARSHERIFFS”: THE COMPLETE SERIES(VCI Entertainment): A collector’s editionof all 52 episodes from the animated sci-fi/Western series that ran from 1987-’89 andbased on a Japanese anime series, in whichhi-tech robots battle it out for the future ofthe universe. This six-DVD boxed set retailsfor $29.99.“SCRUBS”: THE COMPLETEEIGHTH SEASON (Walt Disney StudiosHome Entertainment): The doctors ofSacred Heart Hospital continue to dispensegenerous doses of irreverence and mirth inall 19 episodes from the 2009 season of theaward-winning, prime-time sitcom, whichmade the jump from NBC to ABC, andalso marked Zach Braff’s swan song as JDDorian. John C. McGinley, Sarah Chalke,Judy Reyes and Donald Faison will remainto carry on the comedic tradition. Emmynomination for Outstanding Sound Mixingfor a Comedy or Drama Series (half-hour)and Animation (for the episode “My Jerks”).The DVD boxed set retails for $39.99, theBlu-ray boxed set for $54.99.“SMALLVILLE”: THE COMPLETEEIGHTH SEASON (Warner HomeVideo): Tom Welling flies into actiononce more as the young Superman, AKAClark Kent, in all 22 episodes from the2008-’09 season of the award-winningCW Television Network series based onthe popular DC Comics superhero. Thisseason, Clark goes to Metropolis to becomea reporter at The Daily Planet where heworks alongside fellow newshound LoisLane (Erica Durance) and photographerJimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore). Welling,now a co-executive producer of the series,has also directed a few episodes. Emmynomination for Outstanding Sound Editingfor a Series (for the episode “Bloodline”).The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98, theBlu-ray boxed set for $79.98. For thosewho can’t get enough of the Man of Steel,Warner Home Video and DC Comics arealso releasing “Ruby-Spears Superman,”a collection of all 13 episodes from theanimated series broadcast on CBS-TV in1988, produced by noted Hanna-Barberaanimation veterans Joe Ruby and KenSpears. This two-DVD boxed set retailsfor $26.99. And if that’s still not enough,DC Comics/Warner Home Video is alsoreleasing “Superman: The CompleteAnimated Series” ($53.82 retail), acollection featuring all 54 episodes of thepopular WB Television Network series,which aired from 1996-2000 and furtherdepicted the adventures of the Man of Steel,featuring the voices of Tim Daly as ClarkKent/Superman, Dana Delany as LoisLane and Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor. In1997, the series earned a Daytime Emmynomination as Outstanding Special ClassAnimated Program.SUMMER STORM (VCIEntertainment): Director Douglas Sirk’srespectable — and respectful — 1944screen version of Chekhov’s The ShootingParty stars Linda Darnell as a peasant girlwith a tendency to bring those around herto ruin in pre-revolution Russia, includingan ambitious young judge (George Sanders,who actually was born in Russia) whonarrates the story. As befits the Chekhovorigins, there’s much soul-searching,repressed desire and moral disillusionment.The supporting cast includes such stalwartsas Edward Everett Horton, Hugo Haas,Anna Lee and Sig Ruman, and Karl Hajos’score earned an Oscar nomination. ***TINKER BELL AND THE LOSTTREASURE (Walt Disney Studios HomeEntertainment): The latest in an ongoingseries of animated features featuring thediminutive heroine of Peter Pan sees herembarking on a dangerous journey to savePixie Hollow from jeopardy. The voicecast includes Anjelica Huston, KristinChenoweth, Jane Horrocks, Lucy Liu andMae Whitman (as Tinker Bell). The DVDretails for $29.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combopack for $39.99. Rated G.“UGLY BETTY”: THE COMPLETETHIRD SEASON (Walt Disney StudiosHome Entertainment): America Ferrera isback in the title role of the award-winning,prime-time ABC-TV situation comedy, all24 episodes from the 2008-’09 season ofwhich are included in this six-DVD boxedset ($59.99 retail). Emmy nominationsfor Outstanding Supporting Actress in aComedy Series (Vanessa Williams) andOutstanding Costumes for a Series (for theepisode “In the Stars”).Mark Burger can be heard Fridaymornings on the “Two Guys NamedChris” radio show on Rock-92.Copyright 2009, Mark Burger !

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