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DVD Zone: October 2009

| September 30, 2009 | 0 Comments

Listen. I’m gonna drop a little knowledge on you. It may seem a bit controversial, perhaps even scandalous, but you need to hear it: Summer is overrated.

Sure, you’ve got your nice weather, outdoor festivals, baseball, that sort of thing, but think about it. The good weather doesn’t last long before it starts to swelter, the festivals are always overcrowded, and more often than not your team of choice is out of the playoff race by the All-Star break.

So gimme fall anyday.

The temps are down, football’s back, and most importantly, so is the fall T.V. season. As the industry gears up for new offerings and returning favorites, this is the time the networks flood the market with multi-disc sets of the previous season’s efforts. You may love ’em, you may hate ’em, or you may not even have seen them because you’re watching something else in the same time-slot. Whichever way it is, now is the time to catch up on what’s going on.

On the drama front, there’s one of the breakout shows from last year, Fox’s “Fringe”. Several shows have tried to fill the void left by the departure of “The X-Files,” but none have succeeded. “Fringe” looks like it might be the one to finally take. Centering on an F.B.I. task force assigned to investigate the cases that involve a little too much weird science for the “legitimate” arm of the service, “Fringe” contains all the quirkiness and “What the . . .” moments one would expect from series creator and “Lost” honcho J.J. Abrams. The seven-disc set comes with a wealth of special features, such as segments on the actual science behind what’s seen on screen, how the show was cast, the making of selected episodes, outtakes, and much more.

Another show that bowed last year and got a welcome renewal is ABC’s “Castle”. Ever since “NYPD Blue” hit screens, cop shows and police procedurals have gotten increasingly darker and grittier. That’s not a bad thing. Efforts like HBO’s “The Wire” can provide some of the most gripping storylines on television. Castle, however, is a lightweight throwback to when things didn’t have to be so damn somber. I mean, crime and mayhem is supposed to be fun, right? Set around a novelist shadowing a N.Y.P.D. unit from case to case, “Castle” owes more than a little debt to “Moonlighting” with its strong interplay between leads Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic as the lead detective he’s basing his new book on. The Season One set includes deleted scenes, blooper reels, and a feature on Fillion and Katic’s on-screen chemistry.

As for sitcoms, there’s the sixth (sixth!) season of the inexplicably popular “Two And A Half Men.” I’m sorry, I just don’t see the draw. “Men” is reminiscent of a show like “Laverne & Shirley” – nothing groundbreaking or memorable in the pantheon of sitcom lore, yet always near the top of the ratings. It’s not a bad show, just very generic. The set comes with a feature on Angus T. Young (the half in “Two And A Half”) as well as a segment on the women involved with the show.

For an infinitely more clever and well-written offering, there’s season two of “The Big Bang Theory.” “Bang’s debut season centering on four socially inept scientists and the knockout blonde living next door hit the ground running, and avoided the sophomore slump with a strong second season. Features include a look at the real-life particle physicist who serves as the show’s consultant, a blooper reel, and information about the cast.

Then there are the not-so-lucky ones, such as the mercifully canceled “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” Although it limped through two seasons Chronicles can best be described as the completely action-free action show. I swear on all things holy, this show was chattier than a Charlie Rose interview, and more often than not less interesting. Fans of all things Terminator might want to pick it up, but I can’t imagine much interest outside of that.

And there’s the beauty of fall. You can’t tell what’s going to be a hit, but you’ll never know unless you watch. So you kids get out of that fresh air and into the house!

— Timothy Hiatt

Category: Columns, Monthly

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