TV on Disc Channel Guide: The story of 'Mankind' in under ten hours
Plus more seasons of 'Shameless,' 'Californication,' 'Army Wives,' and more
"House of Lies: The First Season" (Showtime) stars Don Cheadle as the proudly unscrupulous head of a management consultant team, a man who will do anything to land his client, from seduction to sedition, and Kristen Bell as his team leader, not yet as jaded and cynical but learning fast. Videodrone's review is here.
"Mankind: The Story of All of Us" (History), a 12-episode documentary series from the History Channel, hits the major achievement in the rise of civilization in under ten hours. "It’s a quick survey of our species’ high points — walking upright, cultivating seeds, learning more efficient ways to kill one another — delivered in student-friendly fashion with a stay-awake soundtrack and a narrator (Josh Brolin) who intones the important points in imposing, write-this-down fashion," writes New York Times TV critic Neil Genzlinger. "Nothing wrong with that. As a teaching tool, the series has much to recommend it, especially the way it emphasizes how one historical development influences another, a cause and effect often missed in the dry dates-and-places method of some classrooms." Blu-ray and DVD, with bonus footage.
"Shameless: The Complete Second Season" (Warner), Showtime's lively reworking of the British dramedy, offers another season of antics from the Gallagher clan, the most unconventionally functional dysfunctional family in Chicago. Eldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) keeps trying to watch over her five siblings in absence of their perpetually drunk single father (William H. Macy) while hustling for jobs and trying to get herself ahead in the world. There's plenty of drama in this crazy household – the family genius drops out of high school to help his pregnant girlfriend, the younger brother tries to enlist in West Point, and grandma comes to stay after she's released from prison – but things really get complicated when their bi-polar mom (Chloe Sevigny) sweeps in with her brand of reckless chaos. Plus Fiona's boyfriend Steve (Justin Chatwin) is back and he's got a hot new (and unwanted) South American wife. 12 episodes on Blu-ray (two discs) and DVD (three discs), plus three featurettes, five cast interview sessions (paired up to interview each other), and deleted scenes among the supplements.
"Californication: The Fifth Season" (Paramount) finds Hank Moody (David Duchovny) back in L.A. to rewrite a screenplay he has no interest in, where he finds his wife remarried, his daughter with a smug, cheating jerk of a boyfriend (essentially a young Hank), and a somewhat contentious relationship with a rapper-turned-movie star (RZA). He's downright responsible and restrained compared to previous seasons, but still unable to actually commit to anyone, which brings out the vengeance of a New York girlfriend. Otherwise, it's another season of promiscuity, gratuitous nudity, sex, drugs, and reckless endangerment. 12 episodes on two discs on DVD, with bonus episodes of other Showtime series.
"Army Wives: Season Six, Part Two" (ABC) offers the finale of the army-base drama from the Lifetime Network with Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Wendy Davis and Catherine Bell. 13 episodes on three discs.
"Funny or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season" (HBO) presents 10 episodes of the half-hour skit comedy series from producers Will Ferrell and Adam MCkay, who wrangle an impressive cast of guest stars for their bits, including Don Cheadle, Gary Cole, Zooey Deschanel, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Ben Stiller, and Fred Willard. Two discs, DVD only.
"The Life and Times of Tim: The Complete Third Season" (HBO) offers 10 more episodes of the scruffy animated series made for HBO and "Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution: Season 2" (Paramount) presents over two hours of stand-up comedy from the Comedy Cetnral showcase. Both DVD only.
"The Sarah Silverman Program: Season 3" (Shout! Factory) features the ten episodes of the final season of the Comedy Central series, plus supplements, previously available only in the "Complete Series" set. Two discs, DVD only.