Documentaries and TV series are new to DVD this week
Posted October 30, 2016
Documentaries on Norman Lear, Steve McQueen, Peggy Guggenheim, etc., and several television programs have been released on DVD this week.
“Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” (PBS, 2016, featurettes). A liberal use of historical clips amid contemporary interviews push this respectful and entertaining profile of Norman Lear, the writer/producer behind the explosion of “adult” television in the 1970s, who demonstrated that sitcoms could tackle socially relevant issues in a poignant manner and still be funny, most notably with “All in the Family,” and its spinoffs, “The Jeffersons” and “Maude,” and the “Maude” spinoff “Good Times.”
“Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans” (MVD, 2016). This is a documentary about Steve McQueen, focusing on the superstar’s passion for racing, which led to a costly failed film, “Le Mans” (1971). The use of McQueen being interviewed on audio recordings enhances this look at how the Hollywood star system allows perhaps too much freedom to those at the top and then quickly takes it all away when a major movie flops, even a good one like “Le Mans.” (Parental caution for language.)
“Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict” (Music Box, 2016, featurettes). Like the McQueen documentary, this one is also structured around recovered audio interviews, here with Peggy Guggenheim, famed for her enthusiasm for modern art, her patronage of various artists and a personal collection estimated to be worth billions, which can be seen at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum in Venice, Italy. (Adult material.)
“Gored: A Love Story” (MVD, 2016, in Spanish with English subtitles). This is a documentary chronicling the bullfighting passion, or perhaps obsession, of Spanish matador Antonio Barrera, who holds the dubious honor of 23 incidents of being gored, sometimes near fatally. The film shows plenty of footage in the ring but is more poignant and engaging when his wife and family are interviewed. (Disturbing images.)
“Bruce Lee: Tracking the Dragon” (MVD, 2016). Fans of the late martial artist Bruce Lee are the target audience for this documentary about the authentic locations sought out by Lee for use in his movies, with footage of those sites interspersed with clips from the films.
“Agatha Raisin: Series One” (Acorn, 2014-16, three discs, eight episodes, feature-length pilot, featurettes, photo gallery). Witty, breezy British comedy-mystery series — think “Murder, She Wrote” meets “Midsomer Murders.” After retiring to a small rural village and finding herself involved in a murder, retired London PR exec Agatha Raisin (the very funny Ashley Jensen) attempts to solve the case and discovers a new outlet for her instincts. (No word yet on a second season.)
“Janet King: Series 2: The Invisible Wound” (Acorn, 2016, three discs, eight episodes, featurettes, photo gallery). This is an Australian spinoff of the legal-system series “Crownies,” with Marta Dusseldorp continuing as prosecutor Janet King. This season, as she continues to grieve over her partner’s unsolved murder, Janet leaves the court to head up a Royal Commission on gun crimes. (A third season is confirmed but no date has been set.)
“Preacher: Season One” (Sony, 2016, three-disc Blu-ray/four-disc DVD, 10 episodes, “unfilmable” pilot, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, bloopers). This is a very dark, very graphic satire-thriller based on a comic book about a small-town Texas preacher (Dominic Cooper) with a sordid past whose body is invaded by an angel/demon. Oh, and there’s a vampire. (Season 2 is confirmed for next year on AMC.)
“Guilt: Season One” (Lionsgate, 2016, three discs, 10 episodes, deleted scenes, featurette, bloopers). Sex and violence take center stage as an American student in London becomes the prime suspect after her roommate is murdered, although there are plenty of other seedy possibilites, including members of a notorious sex club. (Canceled after one season.)
“Ancient Aliens: Season 9” (History/Lionsgate, 2014-15, four discs, 15 episodes). Archaeologists and scientists this season explore pyramids beneath the ice of Antarctica, Egyptian hieroglyphs on sandstone walls in Australia that depict flying ships, and other mysteries that suggest extraterrestrials visited Earth long ago.
“Barbie & Her Sisters in a Puppy Chase” (Universal, 2016, music videos, two “Barbie Dreamtopia” shorts). New straight-to-video animated movie with Barbie and sisters, Skipper, Stacie and Chelsea, vacationing in Hawaii when their puppies, Taffy, DJ, Rookie and Honey, are kidnapped.
“Shopkins: Chef Club” (Universal, 2016). Yet another straight-to-video animated film based on a doll franchise/webisode series. Here, the Shopkins kids, who live in Shopville, join Chef Club and whip up recipes with help from anthropomorphic kitchenwares.
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.