TV shows on Blu-ray and DVD this week include a remake of 'Roots'
Posted August 27, 2016
A lot of TV series season sets are on DVD and Blu-ray this week, led by the History Channel remake of “Roots.”
“Roots” (History, 2016, three discs, four episodes, documentary). This remake of the beloved 1977 TV miniseries — which follows young Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) from his being kidnapped in West Africa and sold into slavery in America up to the Civil War — is well-acted and, as you might expect of a 21st century reinterpretation, lavishly mounted and a lot more explicitly violent and profane. It’s also rushed and superficial, but does have its gripping moments. The solid cast includes Laurence Fishburne doing narration as Alex Haley and Forest Whitaker who really shines as Fiddler.
“Superstore: Season One” (Universal, 2015-16, two discs, 11 episodes, deleted scenes, bloopers). The charming America Ferrera, formerly of “Ugly Betty,” stars in this workplace sitcom as the most normal person at a big-box store among an array of comically eccentric employees. Occasionally hits the mark in its awkward-comedy style. (Season 2 begins on CBS Sept. 22.)
“Elementary: The Fourth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2015-16, six discs, 24 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu return as a contemporary Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, solving crimes as consultants with the NYPD (led by Aidan Quinn and Jon Michael Hill). Holmes learns his estranged father (John Noble) may be involved in a conspiracy and one episode is adapted from “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Guests include Virginia Madsen. (Season 5 begins on CBS Oct. 2.)
“NCIS: The Thirteenth Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2015-16, six discs, 24 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, crossover episode of “NCIS: New Orleans”). Gibbs (Mark Harmon) recovers from injuries received in Season 12’s finale and rejoins his Naval Criminal Investigative Service team to outwit more bad guys. Michael Weatherly, as DiNozzo, departs the show in this season’s final episode. Recurring guests include Mimi Rogers, Jon Cryer and Robert Wagner. (Season 14 begins on CBS Sept. 20.)
“Castle: The Complete Eighth and Final Season” (ABC, 2015-16, five discs, 22 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurette, bloopers). This comedy-drama about best-selling crime-fiction author Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and homicide detective (now captain) Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) wraps up well after its sell-by date, as the former adversaries are now married and the criminal activity is too often directed at them.
“Inspector Lewis: Series 8” (PBS, 2016, two discs, three feature-length episodes). This is the final season of the British series starring Kevin Whatley as the titular Oxford police detective (spun off of the “Inspector Morse” series), who solves crimes with partner Sgt. James Hathaway (Laurence Fox). Excellent fade-out for this fine show as they clash with a new superior and Lewis contemplates retirement.
“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete First Season” (DC/Warner, 2016, four-disc DVD/two-disc Blu-ray, 16 episodes, featurettes, bloopers). This comic-book saga is a spinoff of “Arrow” and “The Flash” and exists in the same superhero/supervillain universe. Time master Rip Hunter goes back in time to the present day and assembles a team to prevent Vandal Savage from destroying the world and its timeline. Brandon Routh and Victor Garber are among the stars. (Season 2 begins on The CW on Oct. 13.)
“Clean Break” (Acorn, 2015, two discs, four episodes). A car dealer (Adam Fergus) is at the end of his rope after his business fails, his wife leaves him and he fears losing his troubled daughter. So he falls in with a pair of crooks to commit a kidnapping/robbery, but, naturally, things go horribly awry. Coarse, profane, very dark Irish miniseries that owes something to “Fargo.”
“Scandal: The Complete Fifth Season” (ABC, 2015-16, five discs, 21 episodes, extended episodes, bloopers). Kerry Washington returns as Olivia Pope, again involved with President Fitzgerald (Tony Goldwyn), but it won’t last long as Olivia’s power-hungry instincts get the best of her. Portia de Rossi becomes a series regular this season. (An abbreviated sixth season will begin on ABC as a midseason show in early 2017.)
“Lucifer: The Complete First Season” (Warner, 2016, three discs, 13 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). Weird supernatural crime series with Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) abdicating his throne in Hell to run a Los Angeles nightclub (in the “City of Angels" — get it?) and consult with the LAPD. He also takes pleasure in using his otherworldly powers to out sinners. (Season 2 begins on Fox Sept. 19.)
“Narcos: Season One” (Lionsgate, 2015, four-disc DVD/three-disc Blu-ray, 10 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes). Very R-rated Netflix series chronicles the real-life rise of international drug cartels and the attempts by law enforcement to take them down, focusing on Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura). Veteran character actor Luis Guzman co-stars. (Season 2 will begin on Netflix Sept. 2.)
“Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season” (Starz/Anchor Bay, 2015-16, two discs, 10 episodes, audio commentaries, featurettes). This gory, R-level series is a decades-later sequel to the “Evil Dead”/“Army of Darkness” trilogy (ignoring the recent fourth film), with one-handed Ash (Bruce Campbell) inadvertently awakening evil spirits and once again having to suit up to battle demons. Lucy Lawless co-stars. (Season 2 begins on Starz Oct. 2.)
“Wild Kratts: Wild Reptiles” (PBS Kids, 2012-15, four episodes). Animated series follows the ever-curious Kratt brothers as they encounter a variety of animals and help solve problems involving them. The show aims to teach children about biology, zoology and ecology.
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 email@example.com.