Editor’s Notes: Me Before You, Destiny, Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Twelfth Season, Blunt Talk: The Complete First Season, The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection, and Hee Haw: The Collector’s Edition will be released on their respective formats August 30th
Me Before You
Me Before You (Warner Home Video), based on the novel by Joy Moyes, is about the relationship between a wealthy, sophisticated, disabled man and a beautiful, naive, working-class woman. The handsome Will Traynor (Sam Claflin, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Parts 1 & 2) heads a successful business and lives a privileged life in a spacious, luxurious apartment. He enjoys surfing and rides a motorcycle. A terrible accident leaves him a quadriplegic. Depressed, he withdraws so thoroughly from the world that his parents hire a caretaker and companion to lift his spirits.
They choose Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke, the Mother of Dragons on Game of Thrones), who desperately needs the job. Will isn’t responsive initially, despite Lou’s cheery attitude, but he eventually comes around, forming a friendship with her and even teaching her about his cultural interests and everything else his lifestyle has afforded him. She is endearingly clumsy and awkward as she navigates her fish-out-of-water situation.
As romantic drama goes, Me Before You is derivative of other romantic dramas, particularly those based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels, in which unlikely individuals find their soulmates. The problem in Me Before You might be Will’s affluence. It’s not that easy to empathize with him, and Claflin’s performance fails to engage. These types of films work better when the would-be lovers are from modest backgrounds and audiences can better identify with them. We do, however, witness the embarrassment felt by the previously healthy and independent Will as he depends on others for the smallest tasks.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include the featurette “Me Before You From Page to Screen,” outtakes, and deleted scenes.
Destiny (Kino Lorber) doesn’t quite rank with other Fritz Lang films, particularly Metropolis and Dr. Mabuse. However, it’s notable because it marked a shift in the German expressionist movement away from crime and horror into more epic material.
Based on a dream that Lang had as a child, the film is about a woman (Lil Dagover) who saves the life of her husband (Walter Janssen) by agreeing with Death (Bernhard Goetzke) to go back in time into three different eras and attempt to rescue her husband in each story. Her time travel takes her to ancient Persia, 17th-century Venice, and Imperial China. Death is bored with taking lives, and thus offers to play this game for his own amusement.
Production design is impressive, especially in the sequence in which the young woman locates an entrance through a cryptic wall leading to Death’s realm. She climbs the stairs to encounter Death, who brings her to a candle-filled room. Each candle, he notes, represents a person’s life and each flame is permitted to burn or is extinguished by the will of God. This scene is eerie and suspenseful, but the bulk of the film is static and talky — a major drawback in a silent film. Lil Dagover appears too old to convince as a young bride, but Goetzke as Death turns in a terrific performance.
The structure of Destiny (1921) resembles D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916), with its multiple settings in different periods of history blended with a modern story. The movie doesn’t reflect Lang’s later mastery of tracking shots, and therefore often appears stage-bound. Editing is often sluggish, undermining the build-up of tension. A rumination about love, loyalty, and fate, Destiny eventually settles into a cinematic morality play.
Bonus features on the newly restored Blu-ray release include audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas, restoration demonstration footage, and 2016 re-release trailer. The 98-minute film contains color tinting and a stereo soundtrack with newly composed orchestral score.
Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Twelfth Season
Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Twelfth Season (Walt Disney Studios) is a 6-disc DVD set containing 24 full, uncut episodes. The cast includes Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), Justin Chambers (Alex Karev), Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey), James Pickens, Jr. (Richard Webber), Sara Ramirez (Callie Torres), Kevin McKidd (Owen Hiunt), Jessica Capshaw (Arizona Robbins), Jesse Williams (Jackson Avery), Sarah Drew (April Kepner), and Caterina Scorsone (Amelia Shepherd).
Season twelve episodes involve some of the doctors revisiting the effects of bullying on their pasts, Meredith adjusting to changes at home with her new roommate, Bailey tackling her first day as Chief, Amelia working out her relationship with Owen, Owen suggesting how interns should break bad news to patients’ families, a dinner party gone bad, Miranda forming an advisory committee to recommend disciplinary action against Ben, saving the life of a boy who’s been shot, and Callie and Arizona continuing to struggle with the custody arrangement.
“Grey’s Anatomy” premiered on ABC on March 27, 2005. The series is set in Seattle at the Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital and focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attending physicians as they gradually evolve into experienced doctors, while trying to maintain personal lives and relationships. The show received the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series - Drama and received multiple Emmy nominations. It is the longest running scripted primetime show currently airing on ABC and the second longest scripted primetime show ever on ABC, behind only “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”
Bonus features include deleted scenes and bloopers.
Blunt Talk: The Complete First Season
Blunt Talk: The Complete First Season (Anchor Bay) is the STARZ original series starring Patrick Stewart (Star Trek and X-Men franchises), who received a 2016 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy for his role. The ten-episode half-hour series is set in Los Angeles and follows Walter Blunt (Stewart), a British chap intent on conquering the world of cable TV news. As anchorman of his nightly news show, Blunt imparts his wisdom and guidance on how Americans should live, think, and behave. Also starring are Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) as Rosalie, Blunt’s tough producer-manager, Adrian Scarborough (The King’s Speech) as Harry, Blunt’s manservant, and Timm Sharp and Dolly Wells as producers Jim and Celia.
Though the supporting actors are effective, Stewart is clearly the centerpiece of this comedy. Like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, Blunt can be off-putting and contentious, and that’s part of the fun. That he has the platform of a nightly show allows him to put forth his non-news agenda, condescendingly insulting the majority of his audience with audacious comments about their lifestyle. Blunt is the antithesis of propriety and good taste, as he speaks his mind no matter the cost to public relations. His patrician bearing along with his judgmental observations make for some squirm-worthy scenes as Blunt speaks out with little concern for the consequences.
Bonus features on the 2-disc DVD release include the featurettes “Inside the World of Blunt Talk,” “First Look: Meet the Newsroom,” and “Walter & Harry.”
The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection
The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection (Time Life) contains 45 original episodes from the first five seasons of The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1972). Though later seasons have been on DVD for some time, The Lost Episodes haven’t been seen on video, re-runs, streaming video, or any other format since their original broadcasts for legal reasons.
This 22-disc DVD box set features the birth of many classic recurring sketches, including “As the Stomach Turns,” “The Old Folks,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Charwoman,” and “The Oldest Man.” Also included are musical numbers by Chita Rivera, Bing Crosby, Eydie Gorme, Eileen Farrell, Sonny & Cher, Bernadette Peters, Nancy Wilson, and Merl Torme.
Guest stars include Lana Turner, Phyllis Diller, Lucille Ball, Don Rickles, Burt Reynolds, Joan Rivers, Jonathan Winters, Nanette Fabray, Marilyn Horne, Shirley Jones, Ken Berry, Edward Villella, Martha Raye, Diahann Carroll, Mike Douglas, Frank Gorshin, Totie Fields, Imogene Coca, Debbie Reynolds, Cass Elliot, and Robert Goulet.
Enclosed is a 40-page Guest Book with autographs from Carol’s guests, friends, and fans, production photos, and notes from Carol herself. There are four DVDs filled with over 20 hours of bonus features, including a backstage tour of Studio 33, where the show was filmed with Carol, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, and Lyle Waggoner; exclusive interviews with Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, Steve Carell, and Tina Fey; episodes of The Garry Moore Show; and the CBS TV color specials Once Upon a Mattress and Carol + 2 (with Lucille Baill and Zero Mostel).
After leaving The Garry Moore Show, Burnett signed a ten-year contract with CBS requiring her to do two guest appearances per year. After five years, CBS offered her a sitcom, but she held out for a variety show, since that was the format she was comfortable with from her tenure on The Garry Moore Show. The Carol Burnett Show aired a total of 279 episodes in its eleven-year run, won 25 prime-time Emmy awards, was ranked No. 16 on TV Guide’s “ 50 Greatest Shows of All Time,” and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All Time.”
Hee Haw: The Collector’s Edition
Hee Haw: The Collector’s Edition (Time Life) is a 14-disc DVD box set of selected comedy sketches, appearances by Country & Western stars, and musical performances from the show, which premiered on TV in the late 1960s and was known for its one-liners, sometimes corny, other times sharp and incisive. Co-hosts Buck Owens and Roy Clark, on June 15, 1969, introduced a national audience to the show’s fictional setting of Kornfield Kounty, a place populated by hardworking farmers, barbers, banjo players, husbands, and housewives. Hee Haw was canceled after a two-year run on CBS but was picked up in syndication and aired until 1992, making it the longest-running weekly syndicated original series in television history.
The box set collects over 21 hours of the best sketches and stars from the series’ 23-year run, seldom seen since their original broadcasts. Included are the “korny klassics” “PFFT! You Were Gone,” “Gordie’s General Store,” “Board Fence,” “Cornfield,” and “Moonshiners,” along with favorites “Rinercella” and “Trigonometry.”
Also included are classic performances from Hall of Famers at the peaks of their careers, including Tammy Wynette (“Stand By Your Man”), George Jones (“White Lightnin”), Merle Haggard (“Okie From Muskogee”), Waylon Jennings (“Me and Bobby McGee”), Johnny Cash (“I Walk the Line”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On”), Tanya Tucker (“Delta Dawn”), and Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty (“Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man”).
Bonus features include new interviews with show regulars Roy Clark, Lulu Roman, George Lindsey, Charlie McCoy, and Jim and John Hager; and comedy skits from the early years in “Hee Haw Laffs,” featuring “Doctor Spot,” “Old Philosopher,” “Haystack,” and “Schoolhouse.”