Treme: The Complete Third Season (HBO, Blu-ray, DVD) continues the complicated and sophisticated mix of cultural exploration, social drama, and political commentary of the HBO series about life in New Orleans after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.
This season, which opens in the fall of 2007, takes on the rebuilding of the city and the influx of outside money and insider politics to shape the city in a different image against the interests of many of the citizens. It also continues the series-long investigation into the cover-up of police misconduct in the weeks following the hurricane with Melissa Leo’s attorney taking on the police department, which forms the most dramatic story of the season.
But as before, this is a grand quilt of a show embracing all aspects of New Orleans life and culture, and creators David Simon and Eric Overmyer continue to offer a complex, politically-relevant show that explores the city by engaging with the culture and the controversies of New Orleans through the experiences of characters at all levels of society. Music plays a defining role in the series, and along with the rich array of New Orleans music (old-style jazz, R&B, rock and roll, brass brand, traditional chanting, and more) and the stories of musicians trying to sustain careers in difficult times, there are guest appearances by Fats Domino and the Neville Brothers, among others. And New Orleans food and restaurant culture is explored through the story of a chef (played by Kim Dickens), who returns home from New York this season to open a new restaurant with a partner she doesn’t completely trust in a storyline that was developed with Anthony Bourdain, who joined the show as a contributing writer this season. The ensemble also includes Wendell Pierce, Clarke Peters, handi Alexander, Rob Brown, David Morse, Jon Seda, and Steve Zahn, among others. A short fourth and final season will run on HBO at the end of 2013.
Ten episodes on Blu-ray and DVD, plus commentary on five episodes, select music commentary, and three featurettes. The Blu-ray includes two additional interactive features about the music and culture of New Orleans.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 5 (Paramount, Blu-ray) opens with the conclusion of the Season Four cliffhanger that left the Klingon Empire hanging in the balance, brings back Denise Crosby as a cunning Romulan commander, guest stars Leonard Nimoy in the memorable two-part galaxy-threatening “Unification,” and concludes with another cliffhanger, this one involving Data’s decapitated head, Mark Twain, and a visit to 1890. Other highlights include the first appearance of the rebellious and angry loner “Ensign Ro”(Michelle Forbes), “The Game,” in which an addictive toy makes the Enterprise crew mind slaves but for Wesley and a guest starring Ashley Judd, and “I, Borg,” where the crew befriends an orphaned Borg soldier while plotting to infect the entire Borg colony with a virus. On the other hand, Worf’s son Alexander returns in this season (when will they learn: children and starships don’t mix!).
26 episodes on six discs, with all the supplements of the previous DVD release: “Mission Overview: Year Five” (a discussion of major changes in the season, including the death of creator Gene Roddenberry), “Departmental Briefing: Year Five” (the artists discuss key episodes and special effects creators take us behind the scenes of the creation of the show’s look), “Memorable Missions: Year Five” (the cast and crew revisit favorite scenes and memorable episodes), and “A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry.” New to this edition is: commentary on the episodes “Cause and Effect” (with writer Brannon Braga and fan Seth MacFarlane), “The First Duty” (writers Brannon D. Moore with Naren Shankar), “I, Borg” (writer Rene Echervarria with historians Mike and Denise Okuda) and “The Inner Light” (writer Morgan Grendel with the Okudas), the featurettes “In Conversation: The Music of Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation” and a collection of deleted scenes.
Released as a single disc edition is Star Trek: The Next Generation – Unification (Paramount, Blu-ray), the two-part story edited into a single feature-length presentation and featuring exclusive commentary by Jeri Taylor and Mike and Denise Okuda, the new featurette “From One Generation to the Next” and deleted scenes.
The new The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series (RLJ, DVD) is not a repricing of the original, supplements-loaded box set but a stripped down, episodes-only edition. It has none of the bonus commentary tracks, interviews, radios shows, or other archival goodies. In fact, those previous “Definitive Edition” DVD sets (both individual seasons and complete series) will go on moratorium as of December 1, 2013. The Blu-ray “Complete Series” will continue to be available from Image Entertainment, but as far as DVD goes, this will be the only edition available for the foreseeable future (though you can’t count out a new edition launched for a future holiday season). 156 episodes on 25 discs, at about half the price of the “Definitive Edition.”
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Series 9 (Acorn, DVD, Blu-ray)
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 6 (Acorn, DVD, Blu-ray)
Touched By an Angel: The Ninth and Final Season (Lionsgate, DVD)
Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection (MVD, DVD)
Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts Volume 2 (Kultur, DVD)
Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet (BBC, DVD)
American Experience: JFK (PBS, DVD)
Nova: Ground Zero Supertower (PBS, DVD)
The Mod Squad: The Complete Collection (VEI, DVD)
Diagnosis Murder: The Complete Series (VEI, DVD)
Photo: A History From Behind the Lens (Athena, DVD)