TV on Disc Channel Guide: 'The Incredible Mel Brooks' on TV and elsewhere
Plus a week of oddballs vintage shows, new reality series, and TV on Blu-ray
"Doctor Who: Series Seven, Part One" (BBC) only features five episodes of the new season, but they are The Doctor's (Matt Smith) final adventures with Amy and Rory Pond (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) and their farewell tour includes return visits from the Daleks and the creepy "Weeping Angel" statues. Blu-ray and DVD, with supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
Also new on DVD is the classic "Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos" (story no. 57 in the show's chronology) starring Jon Pertwee at The Doctor. DVD only, with commentary, featurettes and other supplements on two discs.
"The Incredible Mel Brooks" (Shout! Factory) – This five-disc collection is really a grab bag of all things Brooks outside of his feature films: talk show appearances, TV specials, comedy skits, TV shows he wrote, TV shows in which he appeared, TV commercials, animated shorts, and a couple of documentaries about Brooks, a collection spanning sixty years. Which may be too much of a Brooks thing for your average viewer, but let's face it, your isn't made for you average viewer. This is for the dedicated Brooks fan and by that measure, it is marvelous.
For the Brooks comedy completists, it includes the pilot episode to "Get Smart," the spy spoof sitcom he created with Buck Henry, and Brooks' favorite episode of the short-lived "Robin Hood" sitcom "When Things Were Rotten," with guest star Sid Caesar. This is Brooks as writer and creator bringing his brand of comedy to TV and he provides new video introductions to each of these, with Henry joining him for "Get Smart."
But just as funny and entertaining are his many appearances on TV talks shows: "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "The Dick Cavett Show," the British talker "Wogan," plus the 1984 British special "An Audience with… Mel Brooks" (where Helen Mirren wins a bet with him) and the 2010 cable special "Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again" (with guest appearance by Carl Reiner). Brooks is a born improviser and he thrives in these situations no less than he did when doing "The 2000 Year Old Man" with Carl Reiner (and there is some of that here too).
There's plenty more here as well, including the Oscar-winning animated short "The Critic" (1963), with Brooks providing stream of comic improvisational narration, the documentaries "I Thought I Was Taller: A Short History of Mel Brooks," a 1981 episode of the British arts series "Arena" guided entirely by Brooks' comic sensibility, and the 2012 PBS special "Excavating the 2000 Year Old Man," all new interviews on "Mel and His Movies" which cover his entire career in five parts, and a bonus CD with more songs and skits and interviews, all in a 60-page illustrated book with notes and program guide and slipsleeves for each disc.
"Big John, Little John: The Complete Series" (VCI) is another vintage live-action show made for the Saturday morning kids block of programming. This one is from 1976 and stars Herb Edelman as a junior high school science teacher who reverts to a 12-year-old version of himself (played by Robby Rist of "The Brady Bunch") at inopportune times, thanks to a sip from the fountain of youth. 13 episodes on two discs, DVD only.
"The Mysterious Cities of Gold" (VCI) presents the complete 1982 animated series about three gifted children searching the Americas with the help of a magical medallion in the 16th century. The Japanese production ran 39 episodes, collected on six discs, along with documentaries, featurettes, and an episode guide. DVD only.
"Casanova's Love Letters" (BFS), a British mini-series from 2005, stars Patrick Bergin as the legendary lover. The three-disc set also includes the 2007 telefilm "Casanova's Last Stand" with Armand Assante and Patrick Bergin reprising his role. DVD only.
Reality TV Debuts:
"Duck Dynasty: Season One" (A&E) profiles the Louisiana family sports entrepreneurs, who built an empire out of duck hunting great. Part of A&E's reality TV programming. 15 episodes plus bonus footage on three discs, DVD only.
Also from the A&E reality line-up are they debut seasons of two "Storage Wars" spin-offs: "Storage Wars – Texas: Season One" (A&E), which follows five storage unit hunters in Dallas, and "Shipping Wars: Season One" (A&E), which profiles the competitive world of custom transportation in the modern culture of unusual auction house items. Two-discs apiece, DVD only.
"Friends: The Complete Series" (Warner) and "The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series" (Image) both debut on Blu-ray ray in box sets, just in time for the holiday gift season. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
And debuting on Blu-ray 3D are three episodes of the History Channel science series "The Universe in 3D" (History), in a box set of three separate discs. The collection "History in 3D" (History) boxes up three previously-released documentary programs: "WWII in 3D," "Titanic: 100 Years in 3D," and "History of the World in Two Hours."