From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“Sid Caesar: The Works”: Without Sid Caesar, comedy might have been a lot less funny. In 1949, television was an infant technology. No one knew how long or whether it was going to last at all. A 27-year-old Broadway star, along with a team of writers and performers who would become legendary, including Imogene Coca, Nanette Fabray, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen, revolutionized sketch comedy by telling stories rooted in the human condition. They redefined television sketch comedy, and paved the way for generations to follow; Caesar’s influence reverberating throughout “Saturday Night Live” (he hosted the show in 1983 and was named an honorary cast member), Reiner’s inspiration for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Brooksfilms’ “My Favorite Year” and Neal Simon’s Broadway hit “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” to name a few examples. The five-DVD set, spanning 1950 to 2014, contains over 11 hours of fan favorites and previously unreleased material, as well as a 20-page book of history, rare photos, and notes, and many interviews and extras, including the 2014 Paley Center for Media Tribute Program with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Billy Crystal. The set begins with “The Admiral Broadway Review,” through “Your Shows of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour.” It contains the first-time DVD release of the feature film “Ten From Your Show of Shows,” the Emmy-winning 1967 “CBS Reunion Special,” the “Chevy Show” and a rare 1983 episode of “A&E’s Nightcap,” featuring Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin in conversation with Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. From Shout! Factory … “Scenes from a Marriage” (1973, 1974) chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne and Johan (Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson), tracking their relationship through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partnerships. Originally conceived by director Ingmar Bergman as a five-hour, six-part television miniseries, the film is also presented in its three-hour theatrical cut. Shot largely in intense, intimate close-ups by cinematographer Sven Nykvist and featuring flawless performances by Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, Bergman’s emotional X-ray reveals the deep joys and pains of a complex bond. High-definition digital transfers of both the television version and the U.S. theatrical version of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks. From The Criterion Collection … Praised by Japanese film critics and much admired by his contemporaries Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirô Ozu, Tomu Uchida nonetheless remains little-known in the west. His 1955 masterpiece “Bloody Spear At Mount Fuji” is an excellent entry point for the newcomer. Set during the Edo period, the film is a tragicomic road movie of sorts, following a samurai, his two servants — including spear-carrier Genpachi — and the various people they meet on their journey, including a policeman in pursuit of a thief, a young child and a woman who is to be sold into prostitution. Winner of a prestigious Blue Ribbon Award for supporting actor — and Kurosawa regular –Daisuke Katô, “Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji” is a film deserving of much wider international recognition. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to Disc:
“Bull: Season Two” (2017-18) is a six-disc set with all 22 episodes of the courtroom drama inspired by the early career of talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw. The series follows the brilliant, brash and charming Dr. Bull, the ultimate puppet master as he combines psychology, human intuition and high-tech data to learn what makes jurors, attorneys, witnesses and the accused tick. Bull employs an enviable team of experts at Trial Analysis LV Corporation to shape successful narratives down to the very last detail. In high-stakes trials, Bull’s combination of remarkable insight into human nature, three Ph.D.’s and a topnotch staff creates winning strategies that tip the scales of justice in his clients’ favor. From CBS/Paramount … “The Goldbergs: Season 5” (2017-18) is a three-disc set with all 22 episodes. Season 5 continues to focus on the Goldberg family dynamic while also drawing on popular pop culture from the iconic decade. With camera in hand, young Adam continues to capture all of the craziness with hilarious homages to ‘80s favorites like “Flashdance,” “Weird Science,” “The Golden Girls” and QVC. From Sony … “Hawaii Five-0: The Eighth Season” (2017-18) is a six-disc set with all 25 episodes. A contemporary take on the classic series about an elite federalized task force whose mission is to wipe out the crime that washes up on the islands’ sun-drenched beaches. Returning to Hawaii to head up the new team after some persuasion — from Hawaii’s former governor is Detective Steve McGarrett (Alex -O’Loughlin), a decorated Naval officer turned cop. His rules: no red tape and full blanket authority to hunt down the biggest “game” in town. From CBS/Paramount … “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Sixth Season” (1972-73) is a six-disc set with 24 episodes of the final season. By the time “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” signed off the air on March 12, 1973 with 140 trailblazing episodes across six seasons, the show had become a cultural touchstone without peer. Broadcast from beautiful downtown Burbank, “Laugh-In” was hosted by straight man Dan Rowan and wisecracking co-host Dick Martin, who led a gaggle of goofballs through a rapid-fire assault of one-liners, skits, bits and non sequiturs that left viewers in hysterics and disbelief. Anything and anyone in the public eye was a target. Political correctness? Forget it! The series received a makeover in its final season with new cast members including comedian Patti Deutsch, folksy singer-comedian Jud Strunk, ventriloquist act Willie Tyler & Lester and giddy Goldie Hawn look-alike Sarah Kennedy, a new set, a bevy of new Downtown Beauties, and the show’s musical director Ian Bernard and His Band playing live during some of the party scenes. Guests included Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Carol Burnett, James Caan, Johnny Carson, William Conrad, Howard Cosell, Sammy Davis Jr., Dom DeLuise, Angie Dickinson, Phyllis Diller, Sandy Duncan, Nanette Fabray, James Farentino, Robert Goulet, Jack Klugman, Michael Landon, Steve Lawrence, Rich Little, Don Rickles, Vin Scully, Mark Spitz, Sally Struthers, John Wayne and Henny Youngman. From Time Life … “Silicon Valley: The Complete Fifth Season” (2018) is a single-disc set with all eight episodes. Finally on the brink of success, Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) and the Pied Piper team return from the fourth season’s chaos. But with more money, inevitably, comes more problems. While Richard struggles to be a leader and play with the big dogs, the rest of the team adjusts to new faces, new digs and new anxieties. Always looming is Hooli rival Gavin Belson, who has returned to power but finds the threat of Pied Piper, and its boldness, hard to shake. Continuing to mine the over-the-top world of Silicon Valley for humor and poignancy, this season sees Pied Piper facing higher stakes, greater competition and even more opportunities to screw it all up. From HBO … “Supernatural: The Complete Thirteenth Season” (2017-18) includers all 23 episodes. Their universe is in danger!, and the Winchester brothers continue on their journey to save the world. Last season, the Winchesters were reunited with their resurrected mother, Mary, who joined forces with the British Men of Letters. But things turned from bad to worse, with the return of Lucifer and the surprising revelation that the Devil was expecting a child with a human mother. In Season Thirteen, Sam and Dean find themselves facing Lucifer’s offspring, a creature of almost unimaginable power – one that could save the world… or destroy it. On DVD and Blu-ray from Warner … “Young Sheldon: The Complete First Season” (2017-18) is a two-disc set with all 22 episodes of the “Big Bang Theory” prequel. From Warner.