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TV on DVD Review: Seasons of ‘House,’ ‘Californication,’ ‘Brothers and Sisters,’ More

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CHICAGO – Late summer and early fall always produce a wave of TV programs on DVD, as if you’ll see the latest season on a store shelf at the local Best Buy and remember that a show returns to the air soon. It’s both advertising and a way for viewers to catch up before another weekly iteration of one of their favorite shows.

Recent releases include “House: Season Five,” “Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Third Season,” “Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season,” “Californication: The Second Season,” and “Two and a Half Men: The Complete Sixth Season”. They may not get the press of shows like “Mad Men” or “Lost,” but almost all are worth a look for the quality of the show itself, the quality of the DVD release, or both.

House: Season Five was released on DVD on August 25th, 2009.
House: Season Five was released on DVD on August 25th, 2009.
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0

Let’s start with the most popular show in the bunch. “House: Season Five” was released on August 25th, 2009 just in time for fans to catch up with the last controversial 24 episodes before the sixth season of this beloved show starts on Monday, September 21st, 2009 on FOX. Of the seven seasons nominated for Best Drama at this year’s Emmys, this is only the third to be available on the home market (after the second season of “Mad Men” and third season of “Dexter”). Take a look and see what the Academy thought worthy of a Best Drama nod.

Personally, I like “House” but don’t get the overwhelming support for the show. Hugh Laurie is admittedly fantastic, but the show follows a bit too predictable a structure - mystery illness followed by initial cure followed by return of worse version of mystery illness (or revelation that diagnosis & initial cure was wrong) followed by actual cure. Even Laurie’s routine wisecracks grate on me after an episode or two and start to ring false. “House” is nice to have on DVD for an episode now and then, but I could never imagine running a marathon like fans do when they get “24” or “Lost” DVDs. It’s not that kind of show.

The fifth season of “House” includes 24 episodes on five discs, all presented wonderfully by Universal with great transfers and special features. This is an excellent set and the only real complaint can be that the studio should have made it available on Blu-Ray as well. FOX’s HD picture is one of the best out there and if fans are going to buy a season set, shouldn’t they own their show with the same technical quality as when they watched it in its original HD broadcast?

“House: The Complete Fifth Season” is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and runs 17 hours and 40 minutes.

Disc Three includes “House Meets a Milestone: The 100th Episode,” Disc Four includes a commentary on “Locked In” with Writer/Producer David Foster and Writers/Executive Producers Russel Friend & Garret Lerner, and Disc Five includes the following featurettes - “Keeping it Real: Accuracy in Writing,” “Dr. Mom: Cuddy’s Storyline,” “Anatomy of a Teaser,” and “House Guests: Casting the Show”.

“House: The Complete Fifth Season” was released on August 25th, 2009.

Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Third Season was released on DVD on September 1st, 2009.
Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Third Season was released on DVD on September 1st, 2009.
Photo credit: Buena Vista Home Video

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0

Another Emmy-nominated show, “Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Third Season” was released this week in a very good season set from Buena Vista Home Video. Starring Calista Flockhart, Rob Lowe, Rachel Griffiths, and Emmy Award winners Sally Field and Patricia Wettig, “Brothers and Sisters” is an old-fashioned soap opera that certainly has its ups and downs but deserves more credit for being well-made, interesting comfort food television.

On Sunday nights, you can spend time with a family that’s (hopefully) more messed-up than your own before you have to go back to the daily grind. There should always be a timeslot or two reserved for the family drama and “Brothers and Sisters” is a better one than you might think.

Check out the third season and see for yourself with 24 episodes that aired from 2008-2009 on 6 discs. Each episode is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the whole set runs 1032 minutes.

Special features include “The Ojai Experience,” “In-Between Scenes,” “The Mothers of Brothers & Sisters,” Bloopers & Outtakes, Audio Commentaries, and Deleted Scenes.

“Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Third Season” was released on September 1st, 2009.

Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season was released on DVD on September 1st, 2009.
Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season was released on DVD on September 1st, 2009.
Photo credit: Buena Vista Home Video

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0

Another Sunday night ABC show was released by Buena Vista Home Video on the same day as “Brothers & Sisters,” “Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season”. I admit that I gave up on “Desperate Housewives” a few years back and it seemed like the show would simply fade away, but the writers of the ABC soap wisely rebooted their series, flashing forward several years to start over. Newsday claimed that it was the best year of the show. It seems there may still be life on Wisteria Lane.

The 24 episodes of the fifth season of “Desperate Housewives” have been presented on 6 discs. Each episode is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the whole set runs 1032 minutes. Both “Brothers and Sisters” and “Desperate Housewives” look and sound very good for standard DVD. Disney/ABC TV shows always look great. But, and I hate to sound like a broken record here, they should both be on Blu-Ray. Everything should, but especially programs that are regularly viewed in HD in their original broadcast.

“Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season” was released on September 1st, 2009.

Californication: The Second Season was released on DVD on August 25th, 2009.
Californication: The Second Season was released on DVD on August 25th, 2009.
Photo credit: Showtime/Paramount

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0

Showtime’s “Californication” hasn’t really become the water-cooler show that I thought it might during the first season, being overshadowed by the network’s “Dexter,” “Weeds,” and “Nurse Jackie,” all better shows. But there’s reason to take a look at “Californication: The Second Season” and most of it its there in David Duchovny’s excellent lead performance. Fox Mulder has great comic timing.

Duchovny won a Golden Globe for season one as Hank Moody, a New Yorker transplanted to the West Coast who is trying to get his career back on track, dealing with a teen-age daughter, keeping things civil with his ex, and getting some action of his own. “Californication” is very hit-and-miss but each episode usually has enough laughs to keep viewers interested enough to come back for more.

The 12 episodes of the second season of “Californication” have been presented in 16:9 widescreen on two discs. They are all accompanied by an English 5.1 Surround track and the set runs 336 minutes.

Bonus materials include a commentary by actress Pamela Adlon, “Marcie’s Waxing Salon,” interviews with Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Adlon, Madeline Zima, and Evan Handler, and additional bonus features that you can unlock through your PC - the first two episodes of “United States of Tara” and the first two episodes of the third season of “The Tudors”.

“Californication: The Second Season” was released on August 25th, 2009.

Two and a Half Men: The Complete Sixth Season was released on DVD on September 1st, 2009.
Two and a Half Men: The Complete Sixth Season was released on DVD on September 1st, 2009.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0

“Two and a Half Men” is arguably the most popular show recently released on DVD but I saved it for last for one simple reason - no one is starting with the SIXTH season of “Two and a Half Men”. If you already own and love the first five seasons, this box set certainly doesn’t break the mold and I actually think the season itself was stronger than the last few (yes, I watch “Two and a Half Men”…call it a guilty pleasure), but Warner Brothers is definitely not breaking the mold with the sixth set for their massive hit show.

The 24 episodes of the sixth season of “Two and a Half Men” are presented in a matted widescreen presentation on four discs. Each episode is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo track and the whole set runs 513 minutes.

Bonus materials include “Two and a Half Men: Growing Up Harper,” “The Women of Two and a Half Men,” and a gag reel.

“Two and a Half Men: The Complete Sixth Season” was released on September 1st, 2009.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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