TV on Disc Channel Guide: 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' Bids Farewell to Farewell Mike Logan
Plus David Soul in 'Casblanca: The Series,' 'The Best of Foyle's War,' and more
"Damages: The Complete Fourth Season" (Sony), the former FX original series now on DirecTV, finds superstar litigator Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) playing friend and mentor to Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) in a case against a Blackwater-like military contractor (John Goodman). Videodrone's review is here.
"Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Seventh Year" (Shout! Factory) is the final season of this incarnation of the franchise to feature Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan, the character he created on the original "Law & Order" and resurrected in the fifth season of this spin-off to give star Vincent D'Onofrio a break from the schedule. It's also one of the best seasons. Alicia Witt steps in as Noth's "not a people person" partner for five episodes (stepping in for Julianna Nicholson while she was on leave) and Noth goes head-to-head with an unscrupulous, possibly criminal DA (Leslie Hope) who puts her career above justice. And that's not even the season finale; it pits D'Onofrio's Goren against his nemesis Nicole Wallace (Olivia d'Abo) in a case that involves the murder of his brother (Tony Goldwyn) and the machinations of his mentor (John Glover), which nearly drives him over the edge.
Kathryn Erbe is the show's quiet strength as Goren's partner, a sharp investigator who plays counterbalance in social situations, and Eric Bogosian is the unit Captain, who understands the way power works in the department. 22 episodes on five discs. DVD only, no supplements.
"Casablanca: The Complete Series" (Olive) may not have been the best idea for a series. I mean, how do you compete with the iconic characters created by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and the rest in the film considered the high point of Hollywood filmmaking? Bergman has no counterpart here but David Soul takes the Bogart role as Rick Blaine, expatriate American who makes a point of staying out of politics (but manages to further the Allied cause in each episode nonetheless) and Hector Elizondo is marvelous as Captain Renaud, the very politic French cop who cooperates with the Germans while turning a blind eye to Partisan activity. The scripts are pretty conventional and the Germans are like cartoon characters, self-important occupiers constantly made fools of, and let's face it, while Soul is perfectly adequate as the taciturn owner of the most glamorous night spot in Northern Africa, he's no Bogart.
And yet… it's kind of fun, as a bit of nostalgia. Scatman Crothers is criminally underutilized in the Sam role, singing "As Time Goes By" in the credits but all too briefly seen in the show, but it’s a kick to see Ray Liotta in one of his earliest screen roles as Sascha, the excitable Brooklyn waiter. Five episodes on two discs, DVD only, no supplements.
"The Best of Foyle's War" (Acorn) features the six favorite episodes of Michael Kitchen, the star of the Anthony Horowitz-created British mystery series set in South-East Britain during World War II. It's also a fine introduction to series. The episodes include the series debut "The German Woman" (which explores the hysteria of nationalism and fear of foreign nationals early in the war), "Eagle Day" (a conspiracy involving the early use of radar tracking that sweeps up Foyle’s flying son), "Fifty Ships" (about looting by the home guard, from Series Two), "Among the Few" (driver Honeysuckle Weeks goes undercover to crack a black marketer), "The French Drop" (a murder lands Foyle in the middle of a scuffle between the traditional old army and a new covert intelligence unit), and the Series Four mystery "Bad Blood" (a biological warfare experiment goes wrong and spreads among British civilians). These shows are a fascinating look at a period not often plumbed for drama and stir historical events into the fictional stories, which gives the already smartly written shows a further injection of authenticity. Six discs, DVD only.
"Love in a Cold Climate" (Acorn), the original 1980 mini-series based on the novels by Nancy Mitford and set in the world of the British aristocracy between the World Wars, stars Judi Dench, Lucy Gutteridge, and Rosalyn Landor. Not to be confused with the 2001 TV remake. The eight-part series is on three discs on DVD only. No supplements.
"House of Payne: Volume Nine" (Lionsgate) features 20 more episodes of the Tyler Perry-produced sitcom made for TBS. Plus 20 more episodes of its spin-off series, "Meet the Browns: Season 6." Both three discs, DVD only.
"Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories: Deluxe Edition" (Warner) features three Dr. Seuss storybook classics animated for a 1973 TV special: "Green Eggs and Ham," "The Sneetches," and "The Zax." The half-hour program was originally broadcast under the name "Dr. Seuss on the Loose." On DVD and Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack. Despite the "Deluxe Edition" stamp, the supplements are limited to a handful of interactive puzzles.
"Frontline: The Real CSI" (PBS) takes a hard look at the flaws in the way forensic science is utilized in the real world and the inconsistencies in the way it is approached and presented in the courtroom. DVD only.