Broadchurch: The Complete First Season (eOne, Blu-ray, DVD) follows the investigation of a single case – the murder of an 11-year-old boy, whose body is found at foot of a beachside cliff in a small (fictional) vacation on the Dorset coast – through eight episodes. David Tennant is Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, the new boss of the small Broadchurch detective squad who arrives with the shadow of scandal over him, and Olivia Colman is DS Ellie Miller, the local officer who was promised the promotion and arrives at the crime scene with a chip on her shoulder. That’s just the first complication: the victim was a neighbor and her son’s best friend and the suspects are all longtime members of the community.
Alec is brusque and professional in a town where everybody knows everyone else and he calls out Ellie for trying to be everyone’s friend when she should be pressing them for facts. It’s a cozy little community and she can’t fathom that any of them would be under suspicion, but as Alec reminds her, everyone that they interview would be capable of it. Why is another matter.
Broadchurch is a murder mystery in a small town and like other exemplars of the genre, secrets and lies are uncovered in the investigation, like insects hiding under rotting boards suddenly lifted and exposed to the light of day. But this isn’t one of those British mystery cozies of colorful suspects in a picaresque setting. The show, created and written by Chris Chibnall, creates a community of fully-realized characters with long histories and complicated lives. This story is about how the death and the revelations of hidden lives reverberate through the community, complicated by the often mercenary media coverage by reporters who, through the course of the story, have to face the damage of their actions as well. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen in a town like Broadchurch, which just makes the ordeal harder to fathom, and easier for emotions to spiral out of control and suspicions to rush judgment.
The series was designed to be a stand-alone mini-series and the story does indeed come to a very satisfying end, which true to the show has plenty to work through after the arrest of the killer, but it was so popular when it ran in Britain that a second series was announced. (It played stateside on PBS over the summer.) Hard to imagine where it might go from here, as this eight-episode story is so beautifully self-contained. An American remake is also in the works.
Eight episodes on three discs, with the 27-minute featurette “Broadchurch: Behind the Scenes,” which doesn’t have much behind-the-scenes footage but lots of cast and creator interviews. It does reveal, however, that the actors weren’t told who the killer was when they began shooting.
Mayberry R.F.D.: The Complete First Season (Warner, DVD), the spin-off of “The Andy Griffith Show,” opens with the wedding of god ol’ Andy Taylor (Griffith) as a way of passing the torch of the series to gentleman farmer and city councilman Sam Jones (Ken Berry), who joined the ensemble in the final season of “Andy Griffith.” Think of him as a blander version of Griffith, another thoughtful, generous, nice guy who is also a widower with a young son (Buddy Foster), and in the first episode he even inherits Andy’s Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) as his new housekeeper. Griffith slips in and out with a few brief appearances through the first season but his familiar supporting cast – George Lindsey as the good-natured Goober, Jack Dodson as Howard, Paul Hartman as fix-it man Emmett – is there to remind viewers this is the same, laid-back rural comedy of family values and happy endings.
Don Knotts makes a couple of appearances as Barney Fife (the strangest moment of the show is surely a quick shot of Andy and Helen on their honeymoon… with Barney tagging along) and Arlene Golonka joins the cast as Millie Swanson, the baker destined to become Sam’s steady girl, in the second episode. Otherwise it plays like a harmless, rather unmemorable extension of the old homespun sitcom. 26 episodes on four discs.
Psych: The Complete Eighth and Final Season (Universal, DVD) collect the final ten episodes in the USA comic mystery series starring James Roday and Dule Hill as Shawn (the fake psychic detective) and Gus (the best friend and frustrated sidekick), with guest stars Mira Sorvino, Tom Arnold, Loretta Devine and Bruce Campbell.
Lizzie Borden Took an Axe (Sony, DVD, Digital) is the Lifetime TV movie starring Christina Ricci as the young woman accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892. Nick Gomez directs and Billy Campbell, Clea DuVall and Gregg Henry co-star.
Power Rangers: Seasons 13-17 (Shout Factory, DVD) continues the roll-out of the 21st century incarnation of the afterschool actions series for kids. This box set features “S.P.D.,” “Mystic Force,” “Operation Overdrive,” “Jungle Fever” and “RPM.” 166 episodes on 22 discs, plus featurettes, interviews and other supplements.
George Gently: Series 6 (Acorn, Blu-ray, DVD)
Holliston: The Complete Second Season (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray)
The Dick Van Dyke Show: Classic Mary Tyler Moore Episodes (Image, DVD)
The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Fully Roasted (Star Vista, DVD)
Shuffleton’s Barbershop (Cinedigm, DVD)
American Experience: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (PBS, DVD)
Earthlight (BBC, Blu-ray, DVD)
Winged Planet (BBC, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Bear Family & Me (BBC, Blu-ray, DVD)
Extreme Bears (BBC, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Story of Medicine: Pain, Pus & Poison (Athena, DVD)