For this week's new DVDs, click here.
Before I begin, I thought I'd mention something I've been watching lately: St. Elsewhere. Fox has released the first season of this 1982 medical drama on DVD (no word yet on the rest of the series). It's cheap enough that I picked it up to see how it held up (I used to watch it when it was in first-run).
All in all, the show holds up well. The writing is great and the ensemble cast mostly excellent. This show, which had relatively poor ratings at the time, covered a lot of controversial ground in its stories. In just the first half of the season, besides various medical/personal problems, they deal with issues such as terrorism (a bit tame compared to today's dramas, but it was something for a network show to even deal with in the early 80s), abortion, racism, the homeless, and transsexuals.
I don't know that they were the first to have their characters grapple with these topics, but I don't believe it was too common at the time. The issue of abortion is dealt with in a sensitive and nonpolitical way. The people dealing with it seem very realistic. Far too often, shows are afraid to deal with topics like this for fear of alienating parts of the audience. They seemed to have little fear of this on this show. It can get a bit preachy once in a while (the episodes I saw about racism were pretty blunt), but usually they assume a certain intelligence in their audience.
The show was done in a serial form, while common today, wasn't so much on American television then. The style and pacing of the show reminds me a bit of The West Wing, particularly the way they do frequent camera follows of characters walking down hallways, with passing of the narrative to another group of people talking in mid-conversation. I'd be shocked if Aaron Sorkin hadn't seen St. Elsewhere.
The hair, clothes, computers (TRS-80!), and other things are fun and 80s-dated, but once you get into the groove of the show, it doesn't distract. The DVDs look just okay. I don't know what sort of film stock they shot this show on, but it looks very flat and grainy. I suspect the DVDs look about as good as this show is capable of. There are a couple of short featurettes on the set and an okay commentary on one episode. But for the cheap price this show goes for, who cares!
So, what do we have this week?
The 11th Hour (2007)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) I've always had a fondness for this film. There's already a new special edition out on DVD; now it's on Blu-Ray. Cool!
Bette Davis Centenary Celebration Collection
Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory, Vol. 3
The Cosby Show: Season 7 Season 8 also comes out this week.
Hell's Kitchen: Season 1 This is the American version. The only reason I could think of to watch this show again would be for the DVD's uncensored track.
Lions for Lambs (2007)
Matlock: Season 1 Yes, fans of this show actually own DVD players: time to release it!
Resurrecting the Champ (2007)
Sense and Sensibility (2008, BBC)
There Will Be Blood
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007)