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I have to admit something up front. Dr. Who is my favorite show on TV. Since it began in the early sixties, I’ve been hooked. The show received a BBC overhaul in 2005 and returned to the small screen better than ever. This week, the second half of Series 7 is released, and it’s a great one. Matt Smith plays the time traveling doctor, and in this series he has a new companion to aid him on his various weekly adventures, the spunky Jenna-Louise Coleman. Each episode is like a mini-movie, crammed with sci-fi ideas that fly at you faster than the doctor’s time-traveling machine can take off. Plus, the benefit of watching a Dr. Who episode on DVD is this… no commercial breaks. A BBC program doesn’t have breaks, so the rhythm of the story is halted somewhat when shown on BBC America. A break has to be shoe-horned in. However, watching each episode on DVD allows you to enjoy the manic, sometimes chaotic style of the show without interruption, the way it was written, filmed and meant to be presented. The Dr. Who series comes with extras and interviews. Available in both DVD and Blu-Ray.
Here’s something interesting. This Dr. Who Christmas Special called The Snowman is actually included in the above Series 7 collection everywhere else in the world except here in America. For some reason, the distributors have separated this one-off and released it on its own. It’s an odd marketing move considering that all the previous series releases have contained that year’s Christmas edition in the collection, but for some reason this year they’re separate. No worries. If you’re a Dr. Who fan, you’ll buy it, and like most Christmas editions, the one hour episode is a standout. The doctor travels back to Victorian times and comes face to face with an old enemy, the Great Intelligence, voiced by Sir Ian McKellen. Available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.
Despicable Me has been available on DVD for some time, but now with the soon-to-be-released sequel on the horizon, the first outing has been given a new special Blu-Ray presentation. The thing about the animated comedy Despicable Me is no matter what your reservations may be going in, after about ten minutes it wins you over. The film does anything for a quick laugh, and it works. But it’s not just the visual gags of over-sized machines going wrong, or the sight of the little minions that succeed. There are times when the dialog works so well in such a casual, off-handed manner that you may find yourself still laughing long after the joke has been and gone. There are some famous voices behind the colorful characters, though you wouldn’t know who they were without the help of the credits. Besides Steve Carell, who employs a kind of generic European accent for the lead character, Gru, there’s Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Kristen Wiig and Jason Segel. This new edition is loaded with extras.
Based on a Dutch TV drama series called Penoza, Red Widow is an ABC television series now available on DVD. The collection consists of all 8 episodes of the drama. As the show has been cancelled, what you’ll see in this collection is all you’ll get, but what is here is an entertaining ride. Radha Mitchell is a housewife who is forced into continuing her murdered husband’s work with organized crime in order to protect her family. In many respects, watching a TV series on DVD is better than watching the original broadcast. Not only does each episode play without breaks but there are no identifying station icons permanently plastered on the TV screen throughout, no ads in the other corner of the screen telling you what’s coming up next, and no breaking news ticker-tape scroll running at the bottom of the screen. Thank goodness. The Complete First (and evidently only) season comes with deleted scenes, bloopers and a behind-the-scenes- look at the making of the show.