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TV DVDs

The latest titles from TV series and TV specials range to hit the shelves and online stores

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Monday, 10 November 2014

Detectorists - out now on DVDMackenzie Crook wrote, directed and co-stars in this BBC comedy series about a pair of metal detectorists. Crook (the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, Almost Human) plays Andy, a wannabe archaeologist who spends his days tending to council lawns and his evenings sweeping fields for buried artefacts. His mate is Lance (Toby Jones - "Captain America: The First Avenger", "The Mist"), a fork-lift driver who dreams of getting back together with his ex-wife.

Together they form two-sevenths of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club (aka the DMDC), a local group who meet up once a week to compare their finds and watch riveting talks about buttons. As the series progresses, the petty rivalry between Danebury and rival group, the Antiqui-searchers, threatens to boil over, all because of rumours of a treasure trove in a loopy farmer's local field.

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Sunday, 09 November 2014

Parks and Recreation - Season 6 out on DVDThe penultimate season of American hit comedy Parks and Recreation begins with Councillor Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live) on the back foot. Everyone seems to be gunning for her in a recall vote, despite her best efforts. The fortunes of her friends and colleagues are more positive: Andy (Chris Pratt – Bright Abbott in Everwood, Peter Quill in “Guardians of the Galaxy”) is offered an amazing temporary job in London, Anne and Chris have a baby on the way and Tom never stops coming up with new business ideas, some of which actually come off.

The Golden Globe-winning series continues to pull in some big guest stars including none-other than Michelle Obama, Mad Men's Jon Hamm, Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess herself), Kristen Bell ("Frozen") and Sam Elliot ("Hulk"). This Season 6 box set includes three discs jam-packed with all 22 episodes and a bundle of special features such as a celebration marking the production of the 100th episode.

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Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Driver - mini-series out now on DVDDavid Morrissey stars in this three-part BBC thriller about a taxi driver who moonlights for dangerous criminals. Cabbie Vince McKee is bored and frustrated with his thankless job and feeling disconnected from his family. Then his mate Col (Ian Hart - "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone") is released from prison and suggests Vince joins him in a life of crime, driving for gang boss The Horse (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: TNG and Deep Space Nine).

Thrilled by his dare-devil secret role, Vince cannot believe his luck: The jobs are easy and the pay is amazing, but then the stakes rise and things start to go disastrously wrong. The mini-series was directed by Jamie Payne (Doctor Who, Call the Midwife), and written by Daniel Brocklehurt and Jim Poyser (Shameless). Claudie Blakley (Lark Rise to Candleford) plays Vince's wife Ros, and Sacha Parkinson (Coronation Street) is his daughter Katie.

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Sunday, 08 June 2014

From There To Here - out now on DVDThis three-part drama series from the BBC begins with the IRA’s 1996 Manchester city centre bombing. The explosion causes ripples that forever change the lives of two families. At the centre of the story is Daniel Cotton (Gene Hunt himself - Philip Glenister of Ashes to Ashes fame), the MD of a family-run sweet company who, despite being happily married, falls in love with fellow victim Joanna (Liz White of Life on Mars fame, working again with Glenister), and has to deal with the consequences.

The series also stars the iconic Bernard Hill (Yosser Hughes of Boys from the Blackstuff) as Daniel’s droll father, Saskia Reeves (Luther) as his loving wife, Steven Mackintosh (“Underworld: Evolution”) as his off-the-rails brother, Daniel Rigby (Big School) as Dan’s business-savvy son and Ben Batt (Shameless) as one of Joanna's sons. The mini-series was written by Peter Bowker, the man responsible for Blackpool and Occupation, and directed by James Strong (Broadchurch, Doctor Who).

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Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Crimson Field - out on DVD and Blu-rayProduced as part of the BBC’s commemoration of 100 years since the beginning of World War One, The Crimson Field is a lavish six-part drama about the experiences of the medical and military staff and patients in a British hospital close to the front line in France. The mini-series was written by Sarah Phelps whose recent work includes the 2011 BBC adaptation of Dickens’ Great Expectations, and 2007's Oliver Twist.

The star-studded cast includes Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones, The Hour), Hermione Norris (Spooks, Kingdom), Kerry Fox (“Shallow Grave”), Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey, Doctor Who), Kevin Doyle (Downton Abbey), Alex Wyndham (Little Dorrit, Rome), Jack Gordon (“Captain America: The First Avenger”, The Great Train Robbery), Marianne Oldham (WPC 56) and Alice St Clair (“Before I Sleep”).

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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Parks and Recreation - Season 5 out on DVDSeason 5 of Parks and Recreation arrives on DVD with 22 cracking episodes and plenty of special features to keep fans' appetites sated. Newly-elected Pawnee city councillor Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live) continues marching towards her ultimate goal of the White House, all the time coming up against interference from corrupt or absurdly incompetent colleagues, and meddlesome members of the public.

Leslie's friends and co-workers in the Parks department continue to stand by her, all the time wrestling with their own personal issues and career paths. Entrepreneur Tom (Aziz Ansari – “Epic”) dreams up his next wacky business concept, dim-witted Andy (Chris Pratt – “The Lego Movie"” evolves his pretend PI persona into a genuine wish to become a policeman, and Ben (Adam Scott – “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) is in high demand after a successful congressional campaign.

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Complete Brittas Empire out now on DVDChris Barrie of Red Dwarf and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” fame stars in this classic British sitcom about the misguided manager of a leisure centre. Over the course of seven seasons, Gordon Brittas and his team experience every imaginable nightmare that can befall a sports centre, and quite a few inconceivable ones too! If Brittas is not directly responsible for these chaotic events, you can guarantee he is about to add fuel to the fire.

Pippa Haywood (Moonfleet, “Tamara Drewe”) plays Brittas' long-suffering wife Helen. Key members of Gordon's staff include the emotional rollercoaster that is receptionist Carole (Harriet Thorpe – “Calendar Girls”), Colin the ever-sick Deputy Manager of the centre's water-based facilities (Michael Burns - Lovejoy), level-headed Laura, the Deputy Manager of dry sports (Julia St John - Casualty), and Brittas' mischievous secretary Julie (Judy Flynn - The House of Elliot).

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Mysterious Cities of Gold - A Season 2 at long last!It’s thirty-odd years since a children’s adventure cartoon aired on BBC1, fondly remembered by those of a certain age. It was introduced to us by Philip Schofield in the infamous broom cupboard, which also played host to a certain Gordon the Gopher. And incredibly, a brand new series of The Mysterious Cities of Gold has just been released on both DVD and Blu-ray.

The Mysterious Cities Of Gold's second season rejoins the adventures of Esteban, Tau, and Zia as if they had never been away. Indeed, it’s been seen in the UK on the Kix channel (the premiere run from 9th November last year, 2013), which is channel 627 on Sky, or 606 on Freesat. It comprises 26 episodes (the original ‘First Season’ clocked up 39 on its own), and has been brought to fruition by the production team that helmed the original series.

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Monday, 03 February 2014

Banacek - Seasons 1 and 2 on UK DVDJust over a decade before he played Hannibal Smith, The A Team's cigar-chomping mercenary leader, George Peppard wowed audiences in the detective series Banacek. Thomas Banacek is a Polish-American insurance investigator, based in Boston, with a speciality for cracking bizarre, seemingly unsolvable cases of lost property. For his standard fee of 10%, the delightfully smug PI can be counted on to locate missing people, valuables and relics. And now YOU have a chance to win one of three copies of both seasons of Banacek on DVD, thanks to those nice folk at Fabulous Films, and Cult TV.

Although Banacek does most of the legwork himself, his small team of associates includes Jay Drury, his opinionated driver (Ralph Manza – Bud in Newhart) and Felix Mulholland, a debonair Boston antiquarian bookseller and researcher (Murray Matheson – Mr Agee in “Twilight Zone: The Movie”). Like many sleuths, Banacek is constantly underestimated, and he can certainly handle himself when criminals attempt to bring his investigations to a premature and often fatal conclusion.

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Monday, 13 January 2014

Parks and Recreation Season 4 on DVDThe fourth season of the Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated comedy series focuses on Leslie Knope’s campaign to run for office in Pawnee City Council, naively expecting it to be a cakewalk. This being Pawnee, anything and everything will conspire to trip up the go-getting local government employee (Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live), and threaten her relationship with colleague Ben (Adam Scott – “Step Brothers”).

Season 4 features 22 episodes of disorderly fun and endearing interaction between the show's whacky cast of characters. Take for example Tom (Aziz Ansari – “Epic”) and his business partner's absurd efforts to run a promotional business by hosting luxurious parties but not actually selling anything. This happy-go-lucky attitude is common amongst Parks' characters and is partly what makes it so uplifting.

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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

L A LAW - Season 6 comes to DVDThe hit American legal drama returns for a sixth season, originally broadcast in the early 1990s and out now on DVD for the very first time. Fallout from the bitter internal conflict at McKenzie Brackman last time resulted in the resignations of Michael, Victor, Grace and Abby, and a sizeable deficit in the company's workforce. The firm's financial and employment woes mean that it needs to act fast or go under forever.

Bossy entertainment lawyer Susan Bloom (Conchata Ferrell - Two and a Half Men, “Edward Scissorhands”) is given office space in a deal to help bolster the finances, and with her comes smug Englishman Frank Kittredge (Michael Cumpsty – “The Ice Storm”). Senior Partner Leyland (Richard Dysart – “Being There”) also manages to persuade Grace to come back if only for a while to boost the firm's profile. Perhaps now the company has a fighting chance at survival.

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Wonderfalls comes to UK DVDQuirky, kookie and very surreal describes Wonderfalls perfectly. This is a series that will confuse some, bore other and bring laughter to the rest. I can easily see some people watching the first episode and just not getting it. But really you should stick with this slow burner, once it gets under your skin you will be eager to watch the next episode and follow Jaye and her friends and family going from one impossible situation to the next.

Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas – Hannibal) is a store clerk at a Niagara Falls gift shop. She drifts about with seemingly no idea where she wants her life to take her. When a wax lion begins talking to her she does not know if she is going insane or has become picked by some divine power to do their bidding. The wax lion tells Jaye to help a customer who has had her handbag stolen. Against her better judgement and to hopefully shut the lion up she does as it suggests. There follows a series of events that seem unconnected but all come together by the end of the episode to see Jayes sister Sharon (Katie Finneran) meet a women who becomes her girlfriend.

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Andromeda - Season 2 on Blu-ray and DVDSeason 2 of Andromeda kicks off in style; Season 1’s action-packed cliff-hanger saw the starship Andromeda Ascendant crippled by a massive fleet of Magog swarm ships. The crew were incapacitated, and Harper and Tyr were captured to become hosts for Magog larvae. Things could not get much more desperate until the new season opener introduces the Magog World Ship, a Borg-like array of hollowed-out planets filled with millions of ravenous Magog.

To top it all, the mysterious demon-like being ruling the feral Magog is back and intent on spreading chaos throughout the galaxy. Can Captain Dylan Hunt (Kevin Sorbo - Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) rally his crew in the face of these overwhelming odds? Assuming he can, he then has the further challenge of revisiting his mission to form a new alliance of worlds, in a universe of warring factions and isolationist civilisations.

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Sunday, 06 October 2013

Malcolm in the Middle - Season 7 is the final in the seriesAs we enter this final season of Malcolm in the Middle, first screened in 2005, it is worth reflecting on how is all began back in 2000 when 12 year old Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) was just discovering that he was a genius. Reece (Justin Berfield) was 13 and the then youngest brother Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) was eight. Francis (Christopher Kennedy Masterson) was 16 and at military school.

The years have changed the brothers and their parents Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) and Hal (Bryan Cranston). All have grown, except perhaps Hal who is just as childlike. Malcolm is now 17 and Reece is 18 but has been held back a year and is in the same class at school as Malcolm. Dewey is just starting to get interested in girls and Francis is unemployed and looking for work.

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Sunday, 06 October 2013

What Remains - out now on DVDWhat Remains is a four-part murder mystery from the BBC, starring Shameless actor David Threlfall. The heavily decomposed corpse of a young woman is discovered in the attic of a small tenement building. DI Len Harper (Threlfall) suspects foul play despite a lack of evidence. He retires soon afterwards but refuses to let the case go cold, in the process stirring up some very unpleasant secrets amongst the remaining inhabitants.

The serial also stars Russell Tovey (Being Human) and Amber Rose Revah (The Bible) as Michael and Vidya, a young, expectant couple who have just moved in, Steven Mackintosh (Luther) and Claudie Blakley (Lark Rise to Candleford) as Kieron, a recent divorcé with a dysfunctional son and Kieron’s new girlfriend Patricia, David Bamber (“Valkyrie”) as Joe, a callous teacher, and Denise Gough as Liz Fletcher, an ex-pupil he keeps secreted away in his ground-floor flat.

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Monday, 19 August 2013

LA LAW - Season 5 out on DVD nowAs LA Law enters the second half of its celebrated eight-year run, Season 5 injects more new blood into the show and keeps the regulars on their toes. Amanda Donohue Natasha Wylde in Emmerdale) is welcomed onboard as CJ (full name Cara Jean Lamb), a mischievous English lawyer who gets offered a job by McKenzie Brackman after humbling them, and John Spencer (Leo McGarry in The West Wing) plays Tommy Mullaney, a working-class attorney who occasionally uses unconventional but equally effective methods to win his cases.

The Emmy award-winning legal drama picks up from last season: prickly Rosalind (Diana Muldaur – Dr Pulaski in Star Trek: The Next Generation) has been ousted as senior partner but then takes the firm to court for wrongful dismissal. The repercussions of that law suit ripple through this season, as do decisions on who becomes a new partner,  the faithfulness of Arnie (Corbin Bernsen) to his new wife and renewed friction between Stuart (Michael Tucker) and Ann (Jill Eikenberry) over Stuart’s ability to work following a dramatic health scare.

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Monday, 22 July 2013

Spitting Image - Series 9 out on DVD nowThe close of 1990 was not only a turning point for the UK, it was also a turning point for Spitting Image.  The Sunday night satire had started out in February 1984, and as a consequence had never been produced at a time when a certain Margaret Thatcher was NOT the Prime Minister of the country. In fact, she was well into her second term when the show began. With the timing of this series being what it was, screened from 11 November to 16 December 1990, the show was witness to Thatcher being overthrown, and a certain John Major taking over the reins.

Spitting Image briefly touches on why Thatcher was removed from office, by the shadow people who control such agendas, in a single sketch in this ninth series. She had realised what the European Economic Community was really all about, a little late in the day, admittedly. However, one has to raise questions about anyone’s judgement of whom would have Jimmy Savile as a ‘house guest’ for 11 Christmases in a row.

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Tuesday, 09 July 2013

The The Invisible Man - The McCallum version out on DVDBased loosely on the novel by HG Wells, this take on The Invisible Man stars David McCallum (NCIS, Sapphire & Steel, The Man from UNCLE) as Dr Daniel Westin, a scientist working on top secret laser technology. Dan stumbles on a way to make objects become invisible for a short period of time, and – under pressure to deliver results before his funding dries up – subjects himself to the process, only to discover he turns invisible indefinitely.

Along with his co-worker and wife Kate (Melinda Fee – “A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge”), Dan is forced to come to an agreement with his employer, The KLAE Corporation. In return for not turning the technology over to the military, he will engage in missions that utilise his unique new ability, with Kate acting as a partner. If all other avenues have failed and stealth is required, Daniel Westin is your man.

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Monday, 08 July 2013

Parks and Recreation - Season 3 out on DVDIn Parks and Recreation Season 3, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler – “Blades of Glory”) and her zany local government colleagues get into plenty of new and utterly absurd situations in and around the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. This box set features another 16 quality episodes of the hit fly-on-the-wall comedy series, as well as some excellent special features. Laughter is not optional, it is inevitable!

The focus this season is much less on the infamous pit-cum-park from the first two years, and more about the wider work and relationships of the team. The topical, cost-cutting measures brought in by City Manager Chris (Rob Lowe – The West Wing) force Leslie and co to be more creative than ever in their efforts to provide quality services and fun experiences for their customers, the people of Pawnee. Needless to say, more often than not they get as much wrong as they get right.

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Wednesday, 03 July 2013

Doctor Who - Regeneration in a DVD premium setThis is going to be an expensive year for Doctor Who fans.  In this, the occasion of its 50th anniversary, merchandise of all descriptions, and in particular at the premium end of the market, is going to cascade into every outlet possible. In terms of the releases so far this year, we have seen episodes that don’t exist in colour restored from B&W (check out "The Ambassadors of Death" and “The Mind of Evil”), second bites at restorations (“Inferno”), and now, in the spirit of the 2006 release of Troughton’s “The Invasion”, we have a set which includes the most prized of missing episodes, “The Tenth Planet – Part Four” in an animated form next to the existing soundtrack.

“Regeneration” is exactly what it says it is. Every Doctor Who story that includes a regeneration scene (made a little incongruous by the troubled metamorphosis between Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy). While some fans of a less profligate disposition will probably wait for “The Tenth Planet” to be released individually, there is no doubt that the presentation of this set will prove very tempting to the majority of hardcore fans.

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Tuesday, 02 July 2013

Whicker's World - a third volume of episodes out now from NetworkAlan Whicker's death on 12 July 2013 makes this release even more poignant. A cultural icon, consummate interviewer and guiding light behind some of the most popular documentaries ever made, Alan Whicker's quiet brand of incisive, insightful television journalism enthralled audiences for the best part of six decades. This third DVD release from Network presents a diverse and memorable selection of films made between 1968 and 1980.

It is only when you see Whicker at work that you can truly comprehend the magnitude of his skills.  His was a disarming, casual approach, a light touch which disguised some very insightful and hard-hitting questions, all of which link together to squeeze answers from his subjects that are not guarded, and strike you as incredibly truthful.

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Tuesday, 02 July 2013

Keep It In The Family - the final series out nowReleased at last is the fifth and final season of this Thames TV comedy starring Robert Gillespie as cartoonist Dudley Rush, with Mixed Doubles’ Sabina Franklyn and The Adventures of Black Beauty’s Stacy Dorning as daughters Jacqui and Susan. The format is thrown into disarray immediately, as Dudley and the girls have to fend for themselves, as matriarch Muriel is apparently ‘in Australia visiting her mother’ (i.e., actress Pauline Yates was unavailable to reprise the role).

Jacqui and Susan still occupy the family home’s basement flat, and for the first couple of episodes Dudley is portrayed as rather pathetic, unable to cope on his own, and becoming terribly unlikable – it’s hard to think this is the same character we had been cheering for in four previous seasons, honing his skills as an unflinching procrastinator, ever-distracted from the job in hand, and the source of inevitable despair for his boss, Duncan Thomas (Glyn Houston).

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Parks and Recreation - Season 2 out on DVDHot on the heels of Season 1’s DVD release, Parks and Recreation Season 2 sees the hit American comedy series really start to hit its stride. Instead of a measly six episodes, this time we get a whopping 24 to really explore the characters in the council’s Parks Department, and witness the absurd situations they manage to get themselves into in the charming, fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. It is adorable incompetence all the way!

The unsightly pit that formed last season’s focal point still has not been converted into a park, and the story occasionally revisits its slow progress whilst covering all the other duties that Deputy Director Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler – Saturday Night Live) and her colleagues have to undertake. Beauty pageants, OAP valentine parties, hunting trips, visits by foreign dignitaries and blind dates are just some of the events waiting to go disastrously wrong.

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Monday, 17 June 2013

The Fall - available now on Blu-ray and DVDThe Fall is a fascinating detailed and decidedly creepy series about a serial killer and the police detective tasked with hunting him down. Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, “The Last King of Scotland”) plays DSI Stella Gibson, whose secondment from the Met to Belfast ruffles a few feathers. Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time) co-stars as Paul Spector, by day a marriage guidance counsellor and married father of two, and by night a chilling murderer.

Gibson quickly realises that the stagnating murder case she has been drafted in to help with is in fact the work of a serial killer with the same modus operandi. The murderer has a penchant for attractive, professional brunettes who typically live on their own. He plans the act meticulously and visits the scene the day before. The victims are strangled in a ritualistic manner, after which the killer is careful to leave the scene spotless.

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Tuesday, 04 June 2013

Malcolm In The Middle - Series 6 out on DVDSo we reach the sixth series of this all American show about a somewhat dysfunctional family. If you have read my reviews of the previous series you will know that Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) is the genius brother to Francis (Christopher Masterson), Reece (Justin Berfield), Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) and baby Jamie. His parents, Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) and Hal (Brian Cranston) struggle to hold the family together, somehow they just about manage to keep the family in check.

This season sees Francis unemployed, which is a shame as it means we don’t get to see the great Otto (Kenneth Mars) anymore. Reece continues to find more inventive ways to get himself into trouble. Malcolm battles with his own morals on several occasions and Dewey continues to astound with his musical brilliance.

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