“The Wire”’s Amy Ryan and Idris Elba join the cast of “The Office” for Season 5. Unfortunately the all-star ensemble show is prematurely showing its age. With the Jim/Pam dynamic resolved, the show lacks an emotional core, while relying too heavily on the too-similar goofballs Michael, Dwight, Andy and Holly. The addition of Elba’s overly austere boss drags things further down.
“SNL’”s Amy Poehler gets her first starring role in Parks and Recreation: Season One. While assembling a very workable cast, including Rashida Jones (“The Office”) and Aziz Ansari (“Human Giant”), the show never really finds a dynamic that works.
Everyone’s favorite irascible chef Gordon Ramsay returns for Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare: Complete Series Two. The British entrepreneur and one-man cottage industry swoops in on failing restaurants and gives them a much-needed kick in the ass to turn things around. Ramsay’s profanity-laced tirades are entertaining while watching clueless restaurateurs and egomaniacal managers eat some humble pie is deliciously cathartic.
Equal parts Scream and “Dynasty,” Harper’s Island: The DVD Edition combines family secrets and bitter feuds with a slasher film template. Set on a secluded Pacific Northwest island, the show follows a weeklong wedding celebration, with a host of diverse characters. The show aims for “Twin Peaks” but falls way short with on-the-nose writing and stilted performances.
William Petersen departs with Laurence Fishburne stepping in for the ratings-busting CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Complete Ninth Season.
Also Available: Heroes: Season 3
Funny Business: Cult comedian Demetri Martin is poised to break out with his starring role in Ang Lee’s upcoming Taking Woodstock. Check out his comedy work with the innovative and hilarious “Important Things with Demetri Martin.” Combining stand-up with sketch comedy, each episode focuses on one important thing, such as chairs or coolness, and runs with it. Season One is now available.
The Collector: The Complete Billy Jack Collection contains all four films starring the ’70s grindhouse vigilante. Billy Jack, a half-Native American/half-white ex-Green Beret hapkido expert, takes on motorcycle gangs, protects wild horses and even fights Washington corruption. The DVDs feature commentary tracks by series mastermind and star Tom Laughlin.
Action! Jason Statham returns in the over the top action-fest Crank 2: High Voltage. Along the way he squares off against Chinese and Mexican gangsters, armed strippers and the LAPD. It touches all the requisite bases – gunplay, hot chicks and car chases. Look for the late David Carradine donning Charlie Chan yellowface.
Blu Notes: Darren Aronofsky’s breakout film, the relentless addiction horror tale Requiem for a Dream comes to hi-def. Aronofsky (The Wrestler) uses a hyper-stylized approach to capture the chemically mercurial existence of four characters as they descend into tragedy. Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans make up the excellent cast.
Made in Japan: Anime now available: Devil May Cry: The Complete Series, When They Cry: Complete Box Set, One Piece: Season Two, Second Voyage, Mushi-Shi: The Movie, Pumpkin Scissors: The Complete Series, Welcome to the N-H-K, The Complete Series.
Also available: Fighting