CopRockCop Rock: The Compete Series (Shout! Factory, DVD), the short-lived mix of gritty cop procedural and musical drama from 1990, was the brainchild of Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law creator Steven Bochco. It’s one of the most unusual TV network shows to play prime time and has been called one of the worst shows of all time. But where so many shows of the era have aged poorly, Cop Rock doesn’t look so strange in the wake of Glee, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Joss Whedon’s musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, shows that have successfully melded the musical drama form with a familiar TV genre.

The show opens a nighttime raid on a drug house, setting the rough and violent world of the show, and then the suspects start rapping “In these streets / we got the power,” a threat in musical form from songwriter Randy Newman. He writes and performs the theme song (one of the best of the past few decades; it won one of the show’s two Emmy Awards) and penned the songs featured in the first episode, which results in the most effective melding of music and drama of the series. The show doesn’t maintain that balance and many of the numbers pull the viewer out of the story instead of drawing them in, but the show is hardly the disaster critics called it. Music aside, it’s a big ensemble with well-drawn characters and the show delves into themes and conflicts the Bochco addresses in his more successful cop dramas: vigilante justice, partner loyalty, race and racism, the struggle between politics and policing, and ethical and personality clashes within the division.

The original songs and production numbers made it an expensive series and the reviews were scathing and the ratings poor, so ABC cancelled the show after 11 episodes and Bochco ended the show with the actors breaking character to comment on the show itself. In song, of course. Cast members James McDaniels and Larry Joshua went on to Bochco’s NYPD Blue and Peter Onorati appeared in Bochco’s Murder One.

11 episodes on DVD, with new video interviews with creator Steven Bochco and actress Anne Bobby.

PrisonersWivesPrisoners’ Wives: Complete Collection (Acorn, DVD) is a British drama focused lives of the women struggling to carry on their lives and sustain relationships with their husbands (and boyfriends and, in one case, a son) as they serve time behind bars.

The series opens with a startling bang: Gemma (Emma Rigby), a young, pregnant woman, is enjoying a tender moment with her boyfriend when a SWAT team charges in and arrests him. In the next scene, she goes through the check-in and body search process of a prison visit which is not exactly dehumanizing but is, despite a sweet, soft-spoken guard walking her through the process, alienating. Gemma becomes our introduction to a routine that is already familiar to Francesca (Polly Walker), the wife of a career criminal (Iain Glen), and Lou (Natalie Gavin), a former drug runner who raises her son while her husband serves time for her crime. Later, the sisterhood is joined by Harriet (Pippa Haywood), a widow whose troubled, emotionally fragile son is a recovering drug addict who blames her for his situation. The first four episodes each focus on a single woman but all of the major characters appear in each episode and the series focuses as much (if not more) on the relationships they form and kindnesses they provide one another as on their relationships with the men inside, who are really just supporting players in their stories. Gemma and Lou leave the show after the first series and the second and final series brings in Aisling (Karla Chrome), who wants to wait for her father’s release before she gets married, and Kim (Sally Carman), a mother of three trying to prove her husband’s innocence.

The well-written show is not a crime drama per se but it does deal with the sometimes violent ramifications of the crimes committed by the men and the pressure on the women to lie, hide evidence, or continue their work. But it also examines the camaraderie of the women as they provide advice, friendship, and emotional support in their difficult times, and many of the episodes feature moving scenes of generosity and solidarity.

All 10 hour-long episodes of series (6 episodes from the first series, 4 episodes of the second) on DVD. No supplements.

AndThenNone15And Then There Were None (2015) (Acorn, Blu-ray, DVD) – The popular and prolific Agatha Christie is remembered for her signature creations, the detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, but her best-selling novel features no detective at the center of the mystery. “And Then There Were None,” originally published in 1939, is a thriller about ten people, most of them strangers to one another, invited for a weekend gathering at a manor home on an isolated island, where they are systematically murdered one by one, some of them quite gruesomely, in the manner suggested by a child’s nursery rhyme (titled “Ten Little Indians” in the U.S. and “Ten Little Niggers” in Britain, which was the original title of the novel). Christie also wrote a stage version, with a rewritten ending that let a couple of the victims survive in the name of a hopeful ending, and it was adapted for the screen numerous times, almost all borrowing the happy ending of the play.

This 2015 TV British TV miniseries makes some minor changes to the crimes but is the first English language adaptation to preserve the grim ending of the novel. The three-hour production slows the pace to build tension between the characters as they become more panicked and suspicious of one another with each killing, and director brings out the hardest edges of these mostly reprehensible characters hiding their guilt under the façade of respectability. It is set in late 1930s with handsome settings and costumes and stars a cast of excellent British and Australian actors (among them Charles Dance, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens, and Aidan Turner). The superior adaptation was produced to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Christie.

On DVD with three substantial featurettes.