This week in TV on DVD, check out Luther: Series 2 and The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher (BBC Home Entertainment), as well as Robotech: The Complete Series (A&E Home Entertainment). Read on for my looks at all three new titles!
Luther: Series 2 (BBC Home Entertainment)
Just days after Luther's second series finished airing on BBC America, you can now bring it home. DCI John Luther (Emmy nominee Idris Elba) returns after the disastrous ending of the previous series to tackle two more violent cases. You can check out my episode reviews of Luther, though be advised they do contain spoilers. What I can say about Luther without spoiling is that Elba is still one of the best actors working in television today. While season two isn't quite as outstanding as season one, it's still worth the purchase price to watch him.
I feel compelled to warn that Luther isn't a show for the weak of stomach, though. Season two is less gory than season one, but there are still scenes that are definitely squirm-inducing. It is a show focusing on a character who investigates serial killers, after all.
The transfer here is solid; there are some particularly dark scenes, but that's how the series was shot, with an eye toward nighttime alleys and creepy corners. Sadly, there are no bonus features on the set. After the season one release had the interesting "making-of" featurette, it's a bit disappointing that there's nothing to dig into here. But the show itself is too good to let that stop you from adding it to your collection. If you're a fan of British television, good mysteries or just want to see outstanding acting, Luther will not disappoint. Click here to purchase your own copy.
The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher (BBC Home Entertainment)
This DVD is actually the compilation of three separate productions about the life of the former British prime minister, played by three different actresses (Andrea Riseborough, Patricia Hodge and Doctor Who's Lindsay Duncan). If you enjoyed films like The Queen, The Special Relationship or Frost/Nixon, you'll enjoy this look at Thatcher's rise, prominence and ultimate downfall, even if you might not be up on your British politics or world history.
The three actresses who play Thatcher all turn in some watchable performances - nothing quite as on the nose as Michael Sheen playing Tony Blair, but still well worth a look. It's obvious that a great deal of care went into the production design as well; you really feel like you're back in those particular periods and places. Plus, you get the added bonus of some great British names like Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) and Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean) in the supporting cast.
Transfer here is solid, though like Luther, lacks bonus features. It's a missed opportunity to educate viewers on the real history behind the fiction in my opinion. Still, Anglophiles should definitely give this one a gander and add it to their collection alongside the likes of The Deal or The Damned United. Click here to purchase your own copy.
Robotech: The Complete Series (A&E Home Entertainment)
Robotech fans, your time has come. A&E has given you a box set containing all 85 remastered episodes of the classic anime (that's Macross Saga, Robotech Masters and New Generation included!) plus over ten hours of bonus features. In all seriousness, when I read the extensive list of bonuses, my jaw dropped just a little bit.
Most importantly, I found the episodes themselves to look really good for programs that began in the mid-1980's. I didn't see the original run so I can't judge how much the remastering changed, but as a first-time viewer I'm happy with the transfer (which also includes a Spanish audio track for the foreign-language audience). The colors are plenty bright and the show itself holds up pretty well decades later. Very rarely did I feel like I was watching something dated.
The real joy is the bonuses that will surely delight Robotech's legion of loyal fans. A&E did a fantastic job packing this seventeen-disc set with just about everything that they could have, whether it's a gallery of pre-production art or original animations and pilots. For newbies like me, the gem is Carl Masek's Robotech Universe, which is a new-to-DVD documentary covering the "making of" that you'd expect on a series set - but because Robotech is so much more, it's a lot more fascinating than the usual featurette. I watched it and felt like I had a decent understanding of the universe and a desire to learn more.
Fans should feel like this is a worthwhile investment of their money, and for the curious, this is a set you should feel comfortable buying and diving into. All this and it's only $60?! I'd call it a steal - or a great holiday present, too. Click here to purchase your own copy.
Until next week, enjoy your TV on DVD!
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.