It's a British Invasion this week, with two classic Brit TV series getting remastered and reissued, as well as a U.S. series starring a British actress playing an American, back when that wasn't an everyday occurrence. But there are a slew of very American TV shows to counter them, including one starring a famous American road. Yes, the show's star is a strip of asphalt.
Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection Remastered
The venerable comedy troupe Monty Python has been in the news lately in honor of its 40th anniversary, but the fact remains that all of the members went on to create incredibly funny material after the dissolution of the group. Cleese, the first to depart the TV show, was the star of Fawlty Towers, about a married couple who ran an inn in the English countryside. Cleese's Basil Fawlty would regularly lose his temper or take things a bit over the top, leading to such memorable scenes as him goose-stepping around the lobby after going a whole episode without mentioning the war to their German guests. Cleese provides commentary on all 12 episodes, which will probably be fantastic, if he's as self-deprecating (and others-deprecating) as usual.
Top Chef: New York (Season 5)
While you may not be a fan of the canoodling Hosea, you have to love the season that gave us Fabio Viviani, Stefan Richter and Carla Hall, as well as guest judges Martha Stewart, Natasha Richardson and the Foo Fighters, who got an on-the-road Thanksgiving dinner.
Black Adder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition
Yes, Mr. Bean is funny, but before Rowan Atkinson was a mute man-child, he was a raging bastard. Follow him through the years as he plays various members of the venerable and ambitious Blackadder family, with each season focusing on a different era of British history. In the Middle Ages, he was the nephew of King Richard IV (Brian Blessed); In Elizabethan times, he was a Lord under Elizabeth (Miranda Richardson) and a rival to Stephen Fry; in the late 18th century, he was the butler to the idiot Prince of Wales (Hugh Laurie); and in World War I he was on the front line with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. That's a lot of funny in 27 episodes.
Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman: The Complete Series
Come on without, come on within. You'll not see frontier medicine practiced better than by Dr. Quinn (Jane Seymour). Sadly, this set does not come with one of Ms. Seymour's Open Hearts pendants from Kay Jewelers.
It's Garry Shandling's Show: The Complete Series
Before The Larry Sanders Show, where Garry Shandling played a late-night talk-show host, Shandling played himself as a character in a sitcom, albeit one who knew that he was in a sitcom. He talked to the audience, he had his show taken over by Red Buttons... even his theme song ("This is the Theme to Garry's Show") was mostly self-referential. All 72 episodes are here, although that may be a little bit too much meta to watch in one stretch.
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler
Finally! We've been craving more Bronx Beat, for some reason. Which reminds us: hurry up with that Best of Maya Rudolph collection, Michaels!
Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Magical Tales
If you've never watched this star-studded fairy tale program hosted by Shelley Duvall, then we've got a treat for you. The Aladdin tale starring James Earl Jones and Leonard Nimoy. "Beauty and the Beast" starring Susan Sarandon and Klaus Kinski. "Puss in Boots" starring Ben Vereen and Gregory Hines. "Snow White" starring Vanessa Redgrave and Elizabeth McGovern. Magical, indeed.
The L Word: Final Season
Goodbye, lesbians. We'll miss you.
Also out this week:
Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season Watch it now, before the remake ruins it for everybody.
Numbers: The Complete Fifth Season See, kids? Math is useful... for writing implausible television shows.
Route 66: Season 3, Vol. 2 So, it's like The Incredible Hulk, except they don't hitchhike, and nobody ever turns into the Hulk?
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 Sometimes I think about Will Smith's massive box-office draw, and I just laugh and laugh. I do it with Tom Hanks, too.
Homicide: Life on the Street - The Complete Series Originally titled Homicide: Stay in Your House and Don't Go Anywhere.
Vega$: The First Season, Vol. 1 Robert Urich as a private detective and more guest stars than you can shake a stick at? Jackpot, baby.
Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: The Best of Season 2 You've seen them play bit parts in The Informant, now see why that was really, really, weird for some people.
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