'The Passion Live,' 'Perry Mason' are new to DVD this week
Posted October 9
The live TV production of “The Passion” that aired earlier this year and the complete 1950s-’60s “Perry Mason” series are on DVD this week.
“The Passion Live” (Shout!, 2016). This is the pop music retelling of the final days in the life of Jesus Christ set against modern-day New Orleans that aired as a live production on Fox TV last March on Palm Sunday, hosted and narrated by Tyler Perry.
Jencarlos Canela plays Jesus, with Trisha Yearwood as Mary, Seal as Pontius Pilate, Prince Royce as Peter and Chris Daughtry as Judas, recycling hit songs by Katy Perry, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Jewel, Imagine Dragons and more.
“Perry Mason: The Complete Series” (CBS/Paramount, 1957-66, b/w with one Season 9 episode in color, 72 discs, 271 episodes, promo, introduction). After playing hulking villains in movies for nearly 20 years (most famously in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”), Raymond Burr was cast in this TV series as criminal defense attorney Perry Mason, a fictional character made famous in more than 80 published stories by lawyer-novelist Erle Stanley Gardner. The role fit Burr like a glove and the series ran for nine seasons.
A number of Gardner’s stories were used during the show’s run and there was a distinct formula to each episode, as Mason, with his secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and his investigator Paul Drake (William Hopper), solved the mysteries surrounding his clients’ cases, ending with a courtroom showdown and someone confessing or being revealed as the culprit. Guest stars over the series’ nine seasons include Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds, Burt Reynolds, Angie Dickinson, Valerie Harper, Gordon Jump, Cloris Leachman and many more.
“I Love Lucy: Superstar Special #1” (CBS/Paramount, 1954/1956, b/w and color, two episodes). This collection features the episodes “L.A. at Last,” with Lucy wreaking havoc in the famed Brown Derby restaurant after spotting William Holden, and “Lucy and Superman,” in which she tries to get George Reeves, the star of the 1950s TV series “The Adventures of Superman,” to don his red cape and blue tights for Little Ricky’s birthday party, can be watched colorized or in the original black-and-white. Both are hilarious episodes.
“Charlie Brown’s All Stars!: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” (Warner, 1966, 1982 TV special: “A Charlie Brown Celebration”). This includes a cute “Peanuts” half-hour TV special about Charlie Brown’s “all-star” baseball players blaming him for past losses, until a sponsor offers him a place in a league, complete with uniforms. Also included is “Celebration,” an hourlong “Peanuts” overview with 11 segments, including recycled portions of “There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown” and “Play It Again, Charlie Brown.”
“Hee Haw: Salute!” (Time Life, 1969-73, three discs, six episodes). This set brings more country Western music and country-fried comedy in episodes of this cornpone TV series hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark, with song performances and blackout comedy skits (a la “Laugh-In”) featuring Minnie Pearl and Grandpa Jones, and such guests as Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, etc.
“Welcome to Monster High” (Universal, 2016, “Ever After High” special: “Dragon Games”). Fans of the “Monster High” cartoon franchise (a spinoff of the popular American doll) should enjoy this 74-minute origin story about Draculaura (Dracula’s daughter) and her friends traveling the world to recruit young monsters to attend a high school where they can feel accepted.
“We Bare Bears: Viral Video” (Cartoon Network/Warner, 2015, 12 episodes). This is an animated children’s series with anthropomorphic young bears Grizz, Panda and Ice Bear attempting to intermingle with humans as they open a food truck, try to become internet stars, etc.
“Winter: The Complete Series” (Acorn, 2015, two discs, TV movie: “The Killing Field,” six episodes). This is a police-procedural series set in Sydney, Australia, as Detective Sergeant Eve Winter (Rebecca Gibney) investigates a six-episode case about the killing of a young mother in a small fishing village whose death resembles a years-earlier homicide. “The Killing Field,” an Australian TV movie in 2014 that evolved into this series a year later, has Eve searching for a missing girl, a case that leads to five homicides. (With coarse language, nudity, sex.)
“The President’s Collection” (History/Lionsgate, 2016, two discs, eight episodes). This eight-part documentary miniseries explores what it means to hold the office of U.S. president, from George Washington to Barack Obama, using rare photos and footage, and interviews with Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, former President Jimmy Carter and others.
“The Venture Bros.: Season 6” (Warner, 2016, two discs, eight episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurette). The dim-bulb twin Venture brothers, their wacky super-scientist father and tough-guy bodyguard Brock relocate to a ritzy compound in Manhattan where they butt heads with a variety of superheroes and super villains. This long-running Adult Swim series on Cartoon Network is animated but it’s not for kids. (Season 7 will begin early next year.)
“Penny Dreadful: The Final Season” (Showtime/CBS, 2016, three discs, nine episodes, featurettes). The third and final season of this horror series features Frankenstein calling on Dr. Jekyll for help, Frankenstein’s creature leaving the Arctic and heading for London — and Dracula showing up. Eva Green, Josh Hartnett and Timothy Dalton star in this graphic pay cable Showtime series that brings together fictional monsters in Victorian England.
“Banshee: The Final Season” (Cinemax, 2016, three discs, eight episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes). Banshee is a fictional town in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, and this season the show jumps forward two years from the end of Season 3. As Hood is no longer sheriff, the search goes on for missing Job and a serial killer is on the loose. Very graphic Cinemax pay cable series.
“Dexter: The Complete Series” (Showtime/CBS, 2006-13, 24 discs, 96 episodes, audio commentaries, two documentaries, featurettes, promos). Michael C. Hall plays Dexter Morgan, a forensic technician for Miami police by day and a killer of serial killers by night, taking out those who’ve slipped through the justice system. This Blu-ray release of the very graphic Showtime pay cable series collects all eight seasons and includes more than four hours of bonus features.
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.