September 17, 2008

Happy Times Are Here Again With Release of DVD Sets


Forget Christmas, summer vacation, your birthday or even Halloween.

This is the happiest time of the year.

Sure, there's that whole new fall season finally shifting into full metal gear next week, post-Emmys.

But let's be honest, and I say this as someone who builds his life around TV, premiere season is like going on 40 blind dates and only 1 in 10 is someone you'd even consider meeting again, much less getting serious with.

In this, the prelude to fall season, comes the release of DVD sets of most returning network shows. The studios release them now to get you psyched for the new season. These sets can rekindle your love for a favorite, and occasionally help you fall you in love with a complete stranger.

In the latest wave, they reveal lost plots. "Heroes: Season 2" (Universal, $39.98) includes several cut scenes from a few partially filmed and ultimately discarded episodes that found the cast quarantined in a plague state.

"The Office: Season Four" (Universal, $49.98) practically bursts with two hours of deleted scenes with such supporting characters as Kelly and Toby.

"House, M.D. - Season Four" (Universal, $59.98) lifts the curtain on its spectacular season-ending bus crash - and how strange it is to hear star Hugh Laurie in his native British accent.

"Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season" (Buena Vista, $59.98) scopes out the divine Vanessa Williams in all her evil glory as Wilhelmina Slater.

"Dirty Sexy Money" (Buena Vista, $39.99) spotlights breakout transsexual star Candis Cayne and her popularity with viewers. Star Donald Sutherland says he'd like his character to have an affair with her. In one bonus here, creator Craig Wright argues that the snarky series tries to answer some meaningful questions: "Am I loved? How can I be useful as a human being?"

Oddly enough, you can tell a lot about a show's work environment from its blooper reel.

"The Office" seems to feature a group of easy-going folks. The cast of "Dirty Sexy Money" should probably wear hard hats while on their sets. On "Chuck: The Complete First Season" (Warner, $39.98), you'll find actors obsessed with picking their noses and disgusting bodily noises.

A DVD set occasionally gives you the luxury of catching up with a series that wasn't well-promoted to begin with. History Channel's "Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire" (A & E Home Video, $39.95, available Tuesday) collects the 13-episode series on four discs and spans hundreds of years of history with exciting re-enactments.

If you're looking for good TV and can't find anything across the dial, program the box yourself. That's the ultimate revenge on the networks.

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Originally published by By MARK A. PERIGARD.

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