A big box of ’90s, a silent classic, a portrait of a porn star, a study of "Hava Nagila," and more demonstrate how the new options on DVD and Blu-ray were huge Tuesday.
In fact, there is more than one box of ‘90s nostalgia, with new DVD releases including Boy Meets World: The Complete Collection (Lionsgate, $99.98), Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection (Lionsgate, $49.98), and the massive Beverly Hills 90210: The Complete Series (Paramount, $349.99).
These shows are all enduring for the people who grew up with them; the Disney Channel has announced plans for Girl Meets World, a next-generation successor to Boy, and the CW had the numbers-only 90210, a follow-up to the older Fox series.
All these sets include old and new extras, but the most elaborate package belongs to Beverly Hills. The 10-season, 72-disc set consists of a slipcase with two large, yearbook-style albums containing the discs for seasons 1-5 and 6-10, respectively. Each “yearbook” is then decorated with photos and notes alluding to events from the various seasons, along with season overviews and brief descriptions of the individual episodes.
Among the extras are a 20-minute chat with series creator Darren Star, made for the new set; a behind-the-scenes special from 1993, a cast-reunion special from 2003, and a brief selection of Entertainment Tonight reports on the show. Sadly, like previous releases, it continues to contain some different music from that used during the original telecasts.
But all these sets will take many of you back to your youth — possibly for a very long time. The 90210 set estimates the total running time at more than 215 hours. Boy calculates its total as 63 hours, and Bell close to 38.
lthough those sets deal with one generation’s adolescence and young adulthood, others may see echoes of their difficult youth in James Dean: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner, $99.98 Blu-ray), a package containing Dean’s three major film roles — in East of Eden, Giant, and Rebel Without a Cause — plus extras in a big Blu-ray box. The three films are also being sold separately on Blu-ray for $27.98 each.
Dean remains iconic not only in the way he conveyed young angst in Eden and Rebel but also in his no-holds-barred, emotion-baring approach to acting; look at how he plays scenes in contrast to older, more staid actors. The Blu-ray renderings recall the freshness of these movies when first shown. There are also several documentaries about Dean, including an American Masters portrait. And the package includes reproductions of movie posters, photographs, and documents, along with a brief, photo-laden hardcover book about Dean.
Reaching back even further in screen history, Cohen Film offers a remastered version of Intolerance ($24.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray), the ambitious, history-spanning silent epic by D.W. Griffith (Birth of a Nation). The restoration is beautiful, especially in its use of the color tinting Griffith employed to distinguish between the different times in which the film took place — and it has an orchestral accompaniment. Extras include two other Griffith films and essays about Griffith.
Jumping forward in time, we find The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Extended Edition (Warner, $34.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $54.98 for a 3-D Blu-ray / Blu-ray combo). The new release arrives as audiences prepare for Peter Jackson’s second Hobbit movie in December; those who have already bought the film will be lured with an estimated nine hours of new extras and a cut of the movie that is 13 minutes longer than the theatrical version. Which is fine unless, like me, you thought the older cut was already too long.
A less grandiose but still inspired production is Hava Nagila: The Movie (Cinedigm, $29.95), a documentary examining the song we have all heard (and which some of you are probably humming right now). It not only shows how pervasive the song is, but where it came from and its place in Jewish history, all with a nice, often light touch.
Other items of note include Lovelace (Anchor Bay, $24.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray), starring Amanda Seyfried as Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace and Peter Sarsgaard as her husband-manager Chuck Traynor. Lovelace later in life said she had been abused by Traynor and forced into sex acts onscreen and off; although parts of her story have been questioned, the movie takes her point of view — and as a result is a sad, despair-laden tale of a life gone wrong and a seedy business. Still, Seyfried and Sarsgaard are excellent.
Also excellent (and bleak) is the sixth and most recent season of Mad Men (Lionsgate, $49.97 on DVD and Blu-ray). Far less dramatically successful, though a big ratings hit, is Under the Dome (Paramount, $65.99 DVD, $76.99 Blu-ray), although some fans may gravitate toward a special Amazon.com-only Blu-ray edition, which includes special features not included in the other releases, and a dome-shaped package ($99.99).
You may also want to look for Weeds: The Complete Collection (Lionsgate, $119.97 Blu-ray), which has some nifty extras about the life of main character Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), or Clear History (HBO, $19.97 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray), the Larry David comedy that if nothing else gives Curb Your Enthusiasm fans a similar tale while they wait for more new episodes of Curb.