JeffersonsCompleteThe Jeffersons: The Complete Series – The Deee-luxe Edition (Shout Factory, DVD) – After five seasons as recurring characters on Norman Lear’s groundbreaking sitcom All In the Family, George and Louise “Weezie” Jefferson moved on up from the suburban home next door to the Bunkers to a deee-luxe apartment in the sky on Manhattan’s East Side. Sherman Hemsley is the insufferable dry cleaning mogul George and Isabel Sanford the even-tempered Weezie, his wife, who live in a high-rise surrounded by a very liberal group of neighbors.

Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover broke TV barriers as the interracial married couple Helen and Tom Willis, Paul Benedict the British Harry Bentley, and Marla Gibbs was their very sarcastic maid Florence, who became a regular member of the cast by the third season. Damon Evans is their son Lionel, who literally marries the girl next door—the daughter of Helen and Tom—in the fourth season, and the fifth season includes a classic episode where George receives an award as a small business owner and then discovers it’s due to his stature. Zara Cully has a recurring role as the opinionated Mother Jefferson, who can make even Weezy lose her cool.

The show isn’t as aggressively topical or political as All in the Family but it does spotlight race and prejudice and it was the first American TV show with a black-and-white interracial couple as a part of the cast. And George can match anyone when it comes to cultural and social insensitivity. The series lasted eleven seasons, longer than even All in the Family, and six seasons have been previously released on DVD. This set features the debut of the final five seasons and collects the entire series—253 episodes—on 32 discs on DVD. Also includes a bonus disc with a featurette, the All in the Family episode that sends the Jeffersons to Manhattan, and episodes of two spin-off shows, plus a booklet with an episode guide and essay by TV critic and historian Tom Shales.

MisterEdCompleteMister Ed: The Complete Series (Shout Factory, DVD) – “Hey Wiiiilbur!” Yes, a horse is a horse, of course, and in this nonsensical sitcom a horse can talk… or at least wiggle his lips while Allan Lane croaks out insults and smart remarks. Alan Young stars as Wilbur Post, an architect who moves into suburbia with his wife (Connie Hines) and meets Mister Ed, the talking horse (voiced by an uncredited Allan Lane) living in the barn of his new home. Of course, will only talk to Wilbur, who leads to the usual absurd sitcom confusion and complications.

This isn’t the most ridiculous premise for a sitcom—this was the era of The Munsters, My Favorite Martian, Gilligan’s Island, and My Mother, The Car—and it recalls the Francis the Talking Mule movies that series producer and frequent director Arthur Lubin made in the 1950s. The humor is pretty familiar but at heart it’s a buddy comedy between a man and his talking horse and the series, which ran for six seasons, built episodes around such guest stars as Clint Eastwood (his horse develops a crush Mister Ed), Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mae West, George Burns, baseball greats Leo Durocher and Sandy Koufax, and Abigail Van Buren (aka Dear Abby). This collection features the DVD debut of the sixth and final season to present the entire run of the show—143 episodes—on 22 discs in six cases (one for each season) in a box set. There are only a couple of supplements: an interview with and commentary by stars Alan Young and Connie Hines on the pilot episode and additional audio interviews with Young.

SecretAgentCompleteSecret Agent (aka Danger Man): The Complete Series (Timeless, DVD) – Before Patrick McGoohan was The Prisoner, he was John Drake, the maverick agent of Britain’s top secret M9 security force, in the series Danger Man. The show began in 1960, before the first Bond feature was released, in a 30-minute format, with the cool, clever undercover operative Drake sneaking into Eastern bloc regimes and Latin American dictatorships to flush out traitors and assassins, recover stolen secrets, and dabble in a little espionage himself.

That incarnation lasted a single season and was cancelled after the American networks failed to renew it, but a few years later it was reworked as an hour-long show in the wake of the renewed interest in spy shows and Cold War conflicts and it was picked in the U.S. under the title Secret Agent and a new theme, “Secret Agent Man,” sung by Johnny Rivers. (This set features the original British version of the series, with the Danger Man title and a harpsichord theme song.) Where he was once the loyal agent who follows faithfully orders, even when he seems to be on the side of status quo in some very repressive countries, the realpolitik shenanigans are played out with less assuredness and a creeping sense of futility, as if anticipating the disillusionment of McGoohan’s later series The Prisoner, in the second edition. Episodes played with the ambivalence of cold war politics (“Whatever Happened To George Foster,” “That’s Two of Us Sorry”), and two of them even anticipate The Prisoner: in “Colony Three,” a spy school in a manufactured village that could be the inspiration for The Prisoner’s village, and “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove” features a mind game worthy of the new Number 2. Both of the latter episodes were directed by Don Chaffey, who helmed his share of The Prisoner.

Still, it was, like the U.S. series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a cleverly-constructed show built of elaborate espionage shell games and diplomatic chicanery, with McGoohan as the ingenious con man behind the bluffs and feints. The series ends with the only two episodes made in color: “Koroshi” and “Shinda Shima,” both set in Japan and later combined and turned into the TV movie Koroshi. This set features the original episodic versions.

The series has been on DVD before but the original release is long out of print and had been going for high prices. This set features the original British broadcast versions of all 86 episodes with the same transfers as the A&E release but compacts it in a smaller box set of three cases, organized by season (as broadcast in the U.S.), and is quite reasonably priced. It features commentary on three episodes and bonus interview with Catherin McGoohan. All that’s missing is the alternate American version of the credits with the rocking theme song.

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