'Midsomer Murders,' 'Blue Bloods,' 'Madam Secretary' now on DVD
Posted September 28
The latest season sets of popular TV series on DVD include “Midsomer Murders,” “Blue Bloods,” “Madam Secretary” and “The Good Wife.”
“Midsomer Murders: Series 18” (Acorn, 2016, three discs, six episodes, featurettes). A corpse disappears from its deathbed, UFO sightings lead to a suspicion that aliens are committing murders, dead bodies mingle with art works in a sculpture park, an archaeologist is buried alive at the dig site. … Welcome to Midsomer, England, where there are more per-capita murders than Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove, Maine. And they keep DCI Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), Sgt. Nelson (Gwilym Lee) and medical examiner Dr. Karimor (Manjinder Virk) hopping.
Barnaby also has a loving relationship with his family, wife Sarah (Fiona Dolman), their baby daughter and, of course, their dog Sykes. And after six years, Neil Dudgeon has managed to make the show his own, no easy task after the indomitable John Nettles, who had been the face of the series from 1997-2010. This is Lee’s final season, so Barnaby will have to break in a new partner next year.
“Blue Bloods: The Sixth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2015-16, six discs, 22 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). After six seasons, work and family still balance well in this saga of a family of law-enforcement officials — the police commissioner (Tom Selleck), his detective son (Donnie Wahlberg), another son who’s a beat cop (Will Estes), and a daughter who’s a district attorney (Bridget Moynahan). This season touches on such real-life issues as racial tensions in New York and when cop shootings are justified. (Season 7 is now showing on CBS.)
“Madam Secretary: Season 2” (CBS/Paramount, 2015-16, six discs, 23 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes). Téa Leoni is great as the secretary of state in this behind-closed-doors White House melodrama, which includes liberal doses of humor and wit. With an eye to current events, the show navigates Washington politics as she works to calm tensions in Russia and the Middle East, while trying to spend time with her professor-husband (Tim Daly), who also works for the CIA, and their three offspring. Keith Carradine is the president and Željko Ivanek is his Chief of Staff. Guests include Morgan Freeman, Eric Stoltz and Jane Pauley. (Season 3 is now showing on CBS.)
“The Good Wife: The Final Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2015-16, six discs, 22 episodes, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, bloopers). In the wrap-up episodes of this seven-season series, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) discovers that her bid for States Attorney was undermined by husband Peter (Chris Noth), and Peter’s White House bid stumbles when he is investigated by the FBI. Noth, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, Michael J. Fox and Stockard Channing co-star, with guests Amy Irving and Mamie Gummer.
“Empire: The Complete Second Season” (Fox, 2015-16, five discs, 18 episodes, featurettes, uncut music performances, music video). This glossy soap opera about the struggle for control of a hip-hop music company is sort of “Dynasty” set against the music industry. Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson star as ex-marrieds manipulating their sons and each other, and they aren’t above murder to achieve their selfish interests. Guests include Marisa Tomei, Chris Rock, Vivica A. Fox and Naomi Campbell, plus lots of musicians. (Season 3 begins Sept. 21 on Fox.)
“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders: The First Season” (CBS/Paramount, four discs, 13 episodes, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, bloopers). Gary Sinise heads the cast of this “Criminal Minds” spinoff leading a unique team of investigators for the FBI’s International Response Team as they track down serial predators in Mumbai, Thailand and Paris, among other exotic locales. (Season 2 is in production but no air date has yet been set.)
“2 Broke Girls: The Complete Fifth Season” (Warner, 2015-16, three discs, 23 episodes, deleted scenes, bloopers). Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs) are still trying to find success with their cupcake business while reluctantly working at Han’s diner, surrounded by quirky sitcom-stereotypical characters. Dennings and Behrs are bright and funny (even when the scripts get a bit raunchy), as a sort of 21st century “Laverne & Shirley.” (Season 6 begins Oct. 10 on CBS.)
“Gunsmoke: the Twelfth Season: Volume 1” (CBS/Paramount, 1966, four discs, 15 episodes, episode previews).
“Gunsmoke: the Twelfth Season: Volume 2” (CBS/Paramount, 1967, four discs, 14 episodes, episode previews). This season of the durable Western series — starring James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon, Milburn Stone as Doc, Amanda Blake as saloonkeeper Miss Kitty and Ken Curtis as Matt’s deputy, Festus — was the first to be filmed and broadcast in color. One episode has Matt being conscious-stricken when he has to kill a horse thief that was once his friend. Guests include Bette Davis (in what many consider the show’s finest episode), William Shatner, Bruce Dern, Carroll O’Connor, Edward Asner and Jon Voight.
“The Originals: The Complete Third Season” (Warner, 2015-16, five discs, 22 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). This “Vampire Diaries” spinoff focuses on a half vampire/half werewolf and his rivalry with his brother in modern-day New Orleans. This season an interloper arrives, a 1,000-year-old vampire with an agenda. (Season 4 on The CW will be 13 episodes as a mid-season replacement, with the start date to be announced.)
“Twin Peaks: The Original Series, Fire Walk With Me & the Missing Pieces” (CBS/Paramount, 1990-91, nine discs, 30 episodes, U.S. and international versions of the pilot, deleted scenes, featurettes, promos, movie prequel: “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”). This is, of course, David Lynch’s freaky, ultra-weird murder-mystery/soap opera series starring Kyle MacLachlan and a number of actors who went on to bigger fame. Basically, this Blu-ray set is the same as 2014’s “Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery,” except that Disc 10, which had a few extra bonus features, is absent. (A sequel series is scheduled for Showtime next year.)
“Frontline: Policing the Police” (PBS, 2016). Hourlong documentary about the Newark, New Jersey, police force, ordered to reform by the Justice Department after being found to have a pattern of civil rights violations against black residents.
“Thomas & Friends: The Great Race: The Movie” (Universal, 2016, 20 character shorts, four sing-along music videos, interactive puzzles). This hourlong feature cartoon musical has Thomas the train and his pals taking off to help Gordon, who is set to compete in the Great Railway Show but finds himself sidetracked and in danger.
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.