Carol Burnett, 'Angie Tribeca,' 'Cop Rock' on DVD this week
Posted May 23
A new DVD with two Carol Burnett specials has been released this week, along with the debut season of the off-the-wall police sitcom “Angie Tribeca” and the 1990 police procedural “Cop Rock,” which has members of the force breaking into song.
“Carol + 2: The Original Queens of Comedy” (Time Life, 1966/1972, two TV specials, 1963 skit). The first special here is the very funny “Carol + 2,” with Burnett’s guest stars Lucille Ball and Zero Mostel singing, dancing and performing comedy skits in what plays almost like a pilot for Burnett’s long-running variety series, which would debut four years later.
The second special is “Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical comedy based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea,” with support from Jack Gilford, Bernadette Peters and Ken Berry. Burnett’s first major success was as the star of this show on Broadway in 1959, and she also starred in a black-and-white TV adaptation in 1964. The show on this disc, however, is the 1972 90-minute color version (complete with commercials, including 30 seconds of dead air for local channels to fill in).
The 10-minute bonus skit is the first appearance by Burnett as the Charwoman, a black-and-white skit from her 1953 special “Carol & Company.”
“Angie Tribeca: The Complete First Season” (TBS/Warner, 2016, two discs, 10 episodes, featurette). The title character (Rashida Jones) is a police detective in Los Angeles where she and her partners investigate crimes amid an array of non sequiturs, puns and silly sight gags. This off-the-wall farce follows the “Airplane!” template (one episode actually parodies that parody) and is every bit as hit-and-miss as you would expect — but when it hits, it’s very funny. Bill Murray guests in one episode, as do James Franco and Lisa Kudrow, and an uncredited Alfred Molina shows up in seven episodes. (Season 2 begins June 6 on TBS.)
“Cop Rock: The Complete Series” (Shout!, 1990, three discs, 11 episodes, featurette). After his success with “Hill Street Blues” but before “NYPD Blue,” Steven Bochco tried this offbeat police procedural with spontaneous musical numbers. The show was canceled after only 11 episodes (in an era when 22 was the norm) and was later voted by TV guide as one of the worst 50 TV programs ever produced (along with “Hee Haw Honeys” and “My Mother the Car”). Does it deserve that reputation? Well, it’s not unwatchable but it’s certainly an unsettling failed experiment that unsuccessfully mixes violence, tragedy, goofball comedy and soap opera with songs that range from sentimental to raucous.
“Mr. Selfridge: Season 4” (PBS, 2016, three discs, 10 episodes, featurettes). Nine years after the end of Season 3, it’s 1928 and Harry Selfridge (Jeremy Piven) is the toast of London, but his gambling and womanizing are taking a toll. As creditors close in and others conspire against him, Selfridge is in danger of losing his grip on the store. This is the final season of this British-American production, based on the rise and fall of a real-life character.
“The Merchant of Venice” (Shout!, 1973). This first-rate videotaped BBC adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic play stars Laurence Olivier as Shylock the moneylender, Joan Plowright (Mrs. Olivier) as Portia, Jeremy Brett (the BBC’s future Sherlock Holmes) as Bassanio and Anthony Nicholls as Antonio. For those unfamiliar with the plot, it has Bassanio desiring to marry Portia but finding himself without funds. So he borrows from Shylock, naming his friend Antonio as guarantor. This turns out to be a possibly fatal mistake when Shylock, who hates Antonio, later demands his “pound of flesh” in court. But Portia saves the day, using her wits.
“NOVA: Memory Hackers” (PBS, 2016). Two recent movies starring Ryan Reynolds, “Self/less” and “Criminal,” are about implanting memories, but as this hourlong “NOVA” episode demonstrates, the notion isn’t just far-fetched science fiction anymore. Memory is not a recorder but rather something flexible that can be rearranged, according to this documentary, and it could lead to new ways to treat mental disorders.
“Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Season One” (Shout! Kids, 2015, four discs, 26 episodes, featurettes, shorts). This animated series from the Cartoon Network is a sequel to “Transformers: Prime” and follows Bumblebee, Strongarm, Sideswipe, Fixit and Grimlock as they join forces to track down Decepticons that have escaped a prison ship that crashed on Earth. (A second season has already been shown and a third is scheduled for this fall.)
“Super Sentai: Ninja Sentai Kakuranger: The Complete Series” (Shout!, 1994-95, 10 discs, 53 episodes, in Japanese with English subtitles). This live-action Japanese series — an inspiration for the Power Rangers franchise — focuses on a war between the Three God Generals and the Youkai, an ancient race of monstrous spirits.
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.