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September 18, 2014

TV DVDS: 'The Office,' '30 Rock,' 'The Mentalist' and More

by AOL TV Staff, posted Sep 10th 2009 5:30PM
We've got the scoop on September's choice TV-to-DVD releases: We'll let you know when you should dole out your hard-earned dollars, and when a simple addition to your Netflix queue will suffice. -- By Janine LoGelfo

'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' (The Complete First Season) - HBO's series about a strong Botswana woman based on the popular Alexander McCall books has yet to be renewed for a second season -- while that mystery is being solved, familiarize yourself with this gem of a show. Jill Scott's portrayal of the iconic character Mma Ramostwe is like a breath of fresh air, and the show is surprisingly clean for HBO's sensibilities, featuring no profanity, explicit violence or sex throughout the whole season.
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 1)

New TV Shows on DVD: Our Picks for August


We've got the scoop on September's choice TV-to-DVD releases: We'll let you know when you should dole out your hard-earned dollars, and when a simple addition to your Netflix queue will suffice. -- By Janine LoGelfo

'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' (The Complete First Season) - HBO's series about a strong Botswana woman based on the popular Alexander McCall books has yet to be renewed for a second season -- while that mystery is being solved, familiarize yourself with this gem of a show. Jill Scott's portrayal of the iconic character Mma Ramostwe is like a breath of fresh air, and the show is surprisingly clean for HBO's sensibilities, featuring no profanity, explicit violence or sex throughout the whole season.
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 1)

'Two and a Half Men' (The Complete 6th Season) - As TV's most popular comedy heads into its seventh season, rent it to see what all the fuss is about (and to watch the opening credits, which get creepier every time Angus T. Jones grows an inch).
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 1)

'The Office' (Season 5) - Rent this season before the new one premieres on Sept. 17. Although the series has received criticism for being a bit slow at times, the fifth season redeems this great comedy and ends on an amazing note. We don't want to ruin anything, but we shed a happy tear during the season finale.
Buy or Netflix? Buy (available Sept. 8)

'Grey's Anatomy' (The Complete 5th Season) - The fifth season of 'Grey's' is easily the most awkward. While most of us were screaming, "Die already!" as the lingering tumor slowly messed with Izzy's (Katherine Heigl) already neurotic brain, writers threw a monkey wrench at us when they hit George (T.R. Knight) with a bus.
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 15)

'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' (Season 4) - Each season of this FX show gets better and more offensive. Season 4 features the most iconic (and possibly the best) episode in the show's history, 'The Nightman Cometh.' Buy this and watch it all before the fifth season premieres on Sept. 17, you won't regret it.
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 15)

'30 Rock' (Season 3) - This season was jam-packed with celebrity guest stars, including Oprah Winfrey(!), Steve Martin, Jennifer Aniston, Salma Hayek, Alan Alda and a ton more. Highlights include the 'Mamma Mia!' episode; Slankets, a play on the infomercial sensation the Snuggie; and "Kidney Now!" Jack Donaghy's (Alec Baldwin) all-star telethon to get his father a kidney.
Buy or Netflix? Buy (available Sept. 22)

'The Mentalist' (Season 1) - NBC's drama has made a star out of Simon Baker, whose cuteness factor accounts for much of the show's appeal. The Emmy-nominated crime series is a must-watch -- and if you haven't, catch up with this DVD before the second season airs on Sept. 24.
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 22)

'How I Met Your Mother' (Season 4) - The fourth season of CBS' stellar comedy series was one of smoke and mirrors ... make that billowy shirts and well-placed handbags. The two female stars of the show were pregnant, which forced the writers to be clever with their storylines. While this wasn't the show's strongest season, it did boast a guest spot by Laura Prepon and teased us with the prospect (yet again) of Ted's wife being revealed -- season 5, we're looking at you.
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 29)

Kings (The Complete Series) - This canceled series had so much promise. The amazing Ian McShane stars as King Silas, ruler of the fictional kingdom of Gilboa who accepts the help of a young, idealistic soldier named David, in a series modeled after biblical tales. This drama won our vote for most interesting premise last fall but failed to find its audience. Buy it and get a taste of a show that could have been great.
Buy or Netflix? Buy (available Sept. 29)

'SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes' - Fans of the giant yellow cartoon can celebrate the series' 10th anniversary by reliving their favorite undersea moments with this 14-disc collection that includes every episode from seasons 1 - 5.
Buy or Netflix? Buy (available Sept. 22)

'Doctor Who: The Next Doctor' - In this fresh installment from the BBC's longest-running sci-fi series, David Tennant teams up with David Morrissey to stop the rise of the CyberKing and save the world. Fans of the show should definitely check it out.
Buy or Netflix? Netflix (available Sept. 15)




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Recent DVD Recommendations
Check out previous weeks' DVD releases that get our seal of approval, including 'I Love You, Man' and 'Coraline.'
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New DVD Recommendations

    'Watchmen'

    Release Date: July 21

    What It's About: Alan Moore's widely celebrated graphic novel about supremely tortured superheroes gets the big screen treatment from '300' director Zack Snyder, complete with a so-not-funny Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), scene-chewing Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Skinemax-like sex scene and giant blue member.

    What We Say: It's flawed and indulgent, sure, but it's also one of the most original and compelling superhero movies ever made. Long called "unfilmable" because of its complex mythology and alternate time setting, Snyder pulls it off with style, sticking admirably close to the material. It is recommended you read the graphic novel first, though. Otherwise you might be a little perplexed by the giant "Blue Man Group dude" (Dr. Manhattan, whose back story doesn't come until about 30 minutes in).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Warner Bros.

    'Coraline'

    Release Date: July 21

    What It's About: When her family moves into an old house, the eponymous young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) discovers a portal to a parallel universe that at first seems perfect (her parents are more attentive, there's bacon sizzling on the stove, etc), but in truth is far more sinister (everyone has buttons for eyes, for one).

    It's Kind of Like: 'Pan's Labyrinth' meets 'Nightmare Before Christmas'

    What We Say: The first must-see movie of 2009, this eye-popping whirl through stop-motion animation is a meeting of two brilliant minds (writer Neil Gaiman and director Henry Selick) and remains one of the year's best. Following in the tradition of 'Nightmare' and 'Corpse Bride,' it's a gothic, trippy, oftentimes creepy (see aforementioned buttons for eyes) film that should thrill older kids and adults in equal measure.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Focus Features

    'Two Lovers'

    Release Date: June 30

    What It's About: Joaquin Phoenix is a troubled Brooklyn man who, despite a current residence in his parents house, is blessed/cursed with the difficult decision of choosing between two beautiful women (Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw). And yes, he raps.

    What Critics Say: Reviewers showed a lot of love for 'Two Lovers,' with the romantic drama earning an 84 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Hollywood Reporter called it "The best American drama of the year."

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Magnolia

    'Waltz With Bashir'

    Release Date: June 23

    What It's About: Having strange memory blockage surrounding his experience in the 1982 Lebanon War, an Israeli Army vet-turned-documentarian (Ari Folman) tracks down several men he served with to fill in the pieces, and then animates the results.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Persepolis' meets 'Jacob's Ladder' minus the humor and horned creatures

    What We Say: Somber and admittedly slow-paced, the film -- an Oscar favorite that lost Best Foreign Film to 'Departures' in one of the 2009 ceremony's only upsets -- is a thought-provoking examination of war and the human psyche's response to it.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Sony Classics

    'The International'

    Release Date: June 9

    What It's About: It's Clive Owen against the world as an Interpol agent who, along with the help of a US assistant district attorney (Naomi Watts), attempts to bring down a arms-dealing, globe-ruling, omnipresent network of villains otherwise known as -- you guessed it? -- bankers.

    It's Kind of Like: Clive Owen finally playing James Bond

    What We Say: Talk about a topical thriller. Who's not ready to root against bankers right now? Of course here they're not just execs taking fat bonuses while driving the economy into a recession, but murderous corporate thugs bent on global domination. So yes, 'The International' takes a bit of suspension of belief, but it's still a riveting and high-voltage thriller worth the watch.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Sony

    'Defiance'

    Release Date: June 2

    What It's About: When the Nazis invade town and kill their parents, the Bielski brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell) escape to the Belarussian forest, where they exact some brief revenge before forming a safe camp for other Jewish escapees.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Schindler's List' meets 'The Dirty Dozen'

    What We Say: Nobody does war like director Ed Zwick ('Glory,' 'Courage Under Fire,' 'Blood Diamond'). Despite its conventions, 'Defiance' is a powerful and moving epic that deserved more love when it opened last December (the film scored a modest 56 percent approval rating from critics on RottenTomatoes).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Paramount Vantage

    'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'

    Release Date: May 5

    What It's About: A New Orleans man (Brad Pitt) who miraculously ages in reverse, growing from naïve elder into relatively normal "middle-aged" period into a senile little boy. Sad as it may be, hey, at least he's got the impossibly handsome looks of Brad Pitt.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Forrest Gump' meets 'Cocoon'

    What We Say: So long as you don't mind the epic 166-minute runtime (easily the biggest audience knock against 'Button'), this is a fascinating and heartbreaking story done due justice with captivating, eye-catching effects by a brighter-than-ever David Fincher ('Seven').

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Paramount

    'Frost/Nixon'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About:The true story of David Frost (Michael Sheen), a British TV personality who ponied up a cool $600,000 for the exclusive first interview with disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) ... and somehow got his money worth.

    What We Say: It takes some serious directorial skill to condense 12 days of interviews into two hours of tense and gripping entertainment, but that's exactly what Ron Howard does in crafting this exciting battle of wits. It also helps that Langella's humanizing portrayal of Tricky Dick is phenomenal.

    Special Features? The DVD offers a making-of doc, footage from the actual interviews and a feature on additional recordings of the ex-prez (perfect for the Nixon completist).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Universal

    'The Wrestler'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a former pro wrestling sensation, is a shell of his former self. He now lives in a trailer park, wrestles for pennies at local New Jersey holes where using a staple gun (yes, a staple gun) in the ring is perfectly acceptable, and obsesses over a friendly neighborhood stripper (Marisa Tomei).

    It's Kind of Like: The anti-'Hogan Knows Best'

    What We Say: Darren Aronofsky's superb indie made the most noise for Rourke's triumphant comeback as a gentle giant, but the film itself was one of the year's best: It's a powerful, brutal and grueling yet still inspiring human drama.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight

    'Notorious'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Just 12 years after his death comes this biopic about legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard), aka Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa, Frank White and Christopher Wallace; also appearing are Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur and Derek Luke as P. Diddy (aka the man with too many aka's to list).

    It's Kind of Like:

    What We Say: The fact that Woolard raps over B.I.G. instrumentals is distracting (and we're not as wowed as we should be) but otherwise the actor delivers a strong, confident performance, and the fresh, stylish 'Notorious' builds up to a surprisingly potent peak.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight

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