New to Blu-ray/DVD: The Wonder Years: Season Five, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, & Major Crimes: The Complete Fourth Season


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Editor’s Notes: The Wonder Years: Season Five, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, & Major Crimes: The Complete Fourth Season will be released on their respective formats May 24th.

The Wonder Years: Season Five

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The Wonder Years: Season Five (Time Life) continues the story of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) growing up in the late 1960s. This season, Kevin enters McKinley High School, tries out for the soccer team, works part time at a hardware store, and gets his driver’s license. He and Winnie (Danica McKellar) are dating other people. Best pal Paul (Josh Saviano) spends an unforgettable evening with a coed, and brother Wayne (Jason Hervey) has a girlfriend who might like Kevin more. Kevin’s parents, Norma (Alley Mills) and Jack (Dan Lauria), have to deal with an accidental mooning by Kevin, a neighborhood Christmas party with unanticipated disappointments, Wayne’s plans to quit school and enlist in the military, and a disastrous birthday dinner with Karen (Olivia d’Abo) and her live-in boyfriend, whom she plans to marry.

In the episode “Day One,” Kevin’s status as cool guy in junior high completely evaporates as he awkwardly makes the transition to senior high. His teacher has pegged him as a troublemaker, and an annoying kid, Stuart (Adam Sneller), is the only person who wants to be his friend. In “Hardware Store,” Kevin must decide whether to quit the hardware store to work in the mall, where lots of girls hang out. “Kodachrome” finds Kevin’s popular English teacher deciding to grade in a non-traditional manner and getting in trouble with the school’s administration. While his parents are away in “The Lost Weekend,” Kevin’s friends convince him to let them come over, but their misbehavior escalates quickly and turns the house into a disaster area. “Broken Hearts and Burgers,” the final episode of the season, chronicles the up-and-down relationship between Kevin and Winnie, as misunderstandings lead to hurt feelings.

The 4-disc DVD set contains all 24 episodes of the 1991-1992 season. Bonus extras include a walk-through of the sets with writer/producer Mark B. Perry; a feature about the women in Kevin’s life; and reminiscences by Olivia d’Abo and David Schwimmer, who played Karen’s boyfriend, Michael. Also featured are close to three dozen songs as they were heard on the original broadcasts. Artists include Frankie Avalon, Joan Baez, Bread, James Brown, The Byrds, Canned Heat, The Archies, Joni Mitchell, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Linda Ronstadt, Sly & The Family Stone, Sonny & Cher, and The Turtles.

The Private Affairs of Bel Ami

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The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (Olive Films), based on a Guy de Maupassant novel, stars George Sanders (“All About Eve”) as the opportunistic journalist Georges Duroy, known to the women who love him as “Bel Ami.” Discharged from his military service into civilian life penniless, he hangs around with the Folies Bergere crowd, living the life of a parasitic, hedonistic wastrel. Using those around him to advance himself in Parisian social circles, Duroy finds in his friend and former fellow soldier, Charles Forestier (John Carradine, The Grapes of Wrath), a benefactor whose kindness he will betray.

The women in Duroy’s life include his wife, Madeleine (Ann Dvorak); beautiful, love-struck Clotilde de Morelle (Angela Lansbury); and young heiress Suzanne Walter (Susan Douglas).

George Sanders had a long film career and contributed first-rate performances to films as diverse as All About Eve, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Lodger, and Ivanhoe. With a distinctive, velvety, upper-class British speaking style that suggested both good breeding and superciliousness, he was best playing men of power or those who aspire to it. His Georges Duroy tosses off clever epigrams as he takes advantage of the women in his life, regarding them as mere stepping stones to increased social status.

Director Albert Lewin had to contend with the Production Code in adapting the de Maupassant story, thus eliminating a lot of the edge to the original story and inserting a “Hollywood ending.” But the Belle Epoque production design and Sanders’ terrific performance make The Private Affairs of Bel Ami well worth watching.

There are no bonus features on the Blu-ray release.

Major Crimes: The Complete Fourth Season

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Major Crimes: The Complete Fourth Season (Warner Home Video) features the elite team of investigators originally introduced on The Closer but with a different lead character. Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell, Dances With Wolves) leads the team, composed of Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Lt. Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), Lt. Mike Tao (Michael Paul Chan), Detective Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), Detective Amy Sykes (Kearran Giovanni), tech expert Buzz Watson (Phillip P. Keene), Dr. Morales (Jonathan Del Arco), and Assistant Chief Russell Taylor (Robert Gusset). Deputy Chief Fritz Howard (recurring guest star Jon Tenney) also helps out as head of the Special Operations Bureau.

Apart from being a well-written police procedural show, Major Crimes strives for diversity in age, race, gender, and ethnicity. The crimes investigated are always interesting, but it’s the interaction among the squad members that is its primary attraction. The writers understand that TV characters have to resonate with viewers as real, flesh-and-blood individuals. Their flaws make them all the more believable and their serious dedication to their job scores points for the good old work ethic. Despite moments of levity, these cops get the job done.

This season, the detective squad investigates a double homicide that’s related to an ongoing string of home invasions on the Hollywood Hills; a dead body that comes out of the trunk of a crashed car at the end of a police chase; the murder of a super model; a viral YouTube video of a bloody, partially naked man walking down a street; the deaths of four wealthy people killed during a high-stakes poker game; a murder that happens during the taping of a reality competition show; the death of a young man who was pushed off the top of a parking garage; and several other intriguing cases.

As the season progresses, Captain Raydor’s adopted son, Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin), becomes increasingly fascinated with investigative journalism as he works to uncover the identity of a murdered runaway.

The 5-disc DVD set contains all 23 episodes of the series’ fourth season in addition to never-before-seen extras including deleted scenes and a gag reel.


About Author

For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.