'IT Crowd,' 'The Lucy Show' new to DVD this week
Posted November 13, 2016
TV shows newly released on DVD this week include “The IT Crowd,” “The Lucy Show” and “Anne of Green Gables.”
“The IT Crowd: The Complete Series” (MPI, 2006-10, five discs, 25 episodes, 2013 special, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, outtakes). This hilarious British sitcom focuses on two socially inept information technology employees, sarcastic slacker Roy and full-blown nerd Moss (Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade), as they labor in the basement of a large corporation, along with their new, technology-clueless manager Jen (Katherine Parkinson). The best recurring character is a Goth employee (Noel Fielding) Jen discovers behind the foreboding “red door.”
There are plenty of memorable lines (“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”) and very funny situations, with Ayoade often stealing the show, as when Moss accidentally starts a fire in the office and tries to alert the fire department via email, or when Jen is trying to avoid a date and tells Moss to lie and say she’s busy, which causes a panic-stricken Moss to tell the guy that she’s dead. (Sadly, the hourlong 2013 special that wrapped up the series is by far the show’s weakest episode.)
“The Lucy Show: The Complete Series” (CBS/Paramount, 1962-68, b/w and color, 24 discs, 156 episodes, featurettes, bloopers, cast commercials/promos, photo galleries, 1964 special: “The Lucille Ball Comedy Hour,” 1966 special: “Lucy in London,” excerpt from 1963 specials “CBS: The Stars’ Address” and “General Foods Opening Night”). Lucille Ball’s second series arrived two years after “I Love Lucy,” and it’s a solid sitcom that earned her two Emmys (the first season is in black and white; the second through the sixth seasons are in color). Lucy is a widowed mother of two and Vivian Vance (Ethel on “I Love Lucy”) is her sidekick for the first three seasons, with Gale Gordon joining the cast in the second season. After the show moves from New York to Los Angeles in the fourth season, many big stars turn in guest appearances: Joan Crawford, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Dean Martin, Jack Benny and many others.
“Anne of Green Gables” (PBS, 2016). This is yet another version of L.M. Montgomery’s oft-filmed tale of young orphan Anne Shirley (Ella Ballentine) being inadvertently sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (Martin Sheen, Sara Botsford), who have asked for a boy to help them with their farm. It's a Canadian TV-movie production of the Canadian author’s 1908 novel.
“The Syndicate: All or Nothing” (Acorn, 2015, two discs, six episodes). This is the third season of this series about working-class lottery winners in England, with each season focusing on a separate group of winners (and a different ensemble cast), and with each episode focusing on a different winner. This time out it’s the servants of a stately home that has gone to seed. The cast includes Anthony Andrews, Alice Krige, Polly Walker and Lenny Henry. (No word yet on a fourth season.)
“Capital” (Acorn, 2015, four episodes, featurette). Homes on a street in south London have risen in value to such a degree that wealthy families (such as a banker and his wife, played by Toby Jones and Rachel Stirling) live in sharp contrast to neighboring longtime residents (Gemma Jones as an elderly widow) who purchased their homes well before the surge in price. This dark satirical miniseries is based on the novel by John Lanchester.
“Wentworth: Season 1” (Acorn, 2013, three discs, 10 episodes, featurettes, photo gallery). Danielle Cormack stars as Bea Smith, a suburban wife and mother in prison after being charged with the attempted murder of her husband. The series follows her learning curve as she adjusts to incarceration. It's a reworking of the Australian 1970s-’80s soap opera “Prisoner.” (The second, third and fourth seasons have already aired in Australia with a fifth season confirmed for 2017.)
“Forces of Nature” (PBS, 2016, four episodes). This documentary series hosted by physicist Brian Cox explores the diversity of Earth and attempts to answer questions about how and why natural development has created certain shapes and colors, such as the creation of hexagonal honeycombs by bees, how certain shapes can defy gravity and why the ocean is blue.
“Heart of the World: Colorado’s National Parks” (PBS, 2016, three episodes). As the title suggests, this documentary miniseries, narrated by country singer Kathy Mattea, is a visual tour that covers the four seasons in the Colorado parks while discussing their geological histories and various people inspired by them.
“BBQ With Franklin” (PBS, two discs, 10 episodes, featurettes). Barbecue “pitmaster” Aaron Franklin (co-owner of Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, Texas) goes on a road trip to visit a variety of barbecue joints, with each episode focusing on a different aspect or cuisine, from “Brisket” and “Sausage” to “The Pits” and “Fire & Smoke.”
“Billions: Season One” (Showtime/CBS/Paramount, 2016, four discs, 12 episodes, featurettes). This drama on the Showtime pay-cable network (which means lots of R-rated content) has Damian Lewis playing a wealthy and charitable hedge-fund operator who has no compunctions about using insider trading and bribery, which pits him against Paul Giamatti as the southern district of New York’s U.S. attorney, a ruthless prosecutor bent on taking him down.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.