TV on DVD Round-Up: A "Doctor Who" Christmas and "The Fugitive" ends his search
Also: more "Spin City" and "Bill Moyers" specials
"The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume Two" (Paramount) was the end of David Janssen's run as Dr. Richard Kimble, a man convicted of a murder he never committed and fleeing the relentless Lt. Philip Gerad (Barry Morse) while searching for the one-armed man who he saw fleeing the scene of his wife's murder. After four seasons of constantly changing identities and getting involved in the lives of strangers along the way, he finally tracked the elusive one-armed man, aka Fred Johnson (Bill Raisch) to Los Angeles, where Gerard is also waiting… and wondering if maybe Kimble is innocent after all. "How long can a man search before the search destroys him?" begins the two-part finale (voiced by the show's distinctive and uncredited narrator William Conrad), which co-stars Richard Anderson, Joseph Campanella, Michael Constantine, J.D. Cannon and Diane Baker.
The final episode brought closure to the show and set a TV viewership record: the most-watched TV series episode of all time, with 25 million viewers and 72 percent share of the viewing audience. 15 episodes (in color!) on four discs in a standard case with hinged trays.
"Spin City: Season Four" (Shout! Factory) was Michael J. Fox's final season on the hit sitcom (he bowed out as his Parkinson's Disease progressed) and Heather Locklear's first, playing the Mayor's new campaign manager and Fox's foil and then love interest. Barry Bostwick is in prime doofus form as the New York City Mayor running a Senate campaign and Richard Kind, Michael Boatman, Alan Ruck, Alexander Chaplin and Victoria Dillard fill out the often dysfunctional city government staff. Their rapport is a large part of the show's success while Fox is perfect as the charming operator running the show behind the scenes with a quip and a grin. The two-part finale, which negotiates Fox's departure with a scandal and no small amount of emotion, concludes with a curtain call for the actor on the sitcom's office set, saying farewell to the cast and to the live audience. Charlie Sheen joined the cast as the new Deputy Mayor in Season Five.
Two of the intelligently-produced documentary series made by journalist Bill Moyers for PBS in the 1980s debut on home video this week. "Bill Moyers: In Search of the Constitution" (Acorn) is an 11-part program that delves into the origins and legacy of the Constitution and its interpretations over the centuries in the evolving democracy. "Bill Moyers: A World of Ideas: Writers" (Acorn) is a 13-part series featuring interviews with such writers as Carlos Fuentes, E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, Isaac Asimov, Tom Wolfe and August Wilson (among others). This set includes bonus author interviews from other Boll Moyers programs and both come with a study guide. Both four-disc sets come in four thinpak cases in a paperboard box.
Also new this week:
- "Murphy's Law: Series 3" (Acorn) - James Nesbitt is back undercover as the maverick Irish cop in the London underworld in this gritty British crime drama. Six episodes from the 1996 season on two discs in a box set of two thinpak cases.
- "Around the World in 80 Days" (Entertainment One) - Pierce Brosnan is Phileas Fogg and Eric Idle his man-servant Jean Passepartout in this 1989 TV mini-series version of the globetrotting Jules Verne adventure.
- "Jefferson" (History Channel), a documentary on the third American President (and the most quoted of our Founding Fathers), originally made for the History Channel and arriving on DVD just in time for President's Day.