"You know, I think What's Up, Tiger Lily really is my finest achievement..."
Woody Allen: A Documentary
Originally made for PBS, Robert Weide's four-hour documentary covers the life and career of one Allen Stewart Konigsberg, a Brooklyn-born comic who became one of the biggest movie icons of the past forty years... if not of all time. The first half of the film is the strongest, focusing in on Allen's early years working the stand-up scene (the vintage video and audio clips of his early TV and stage appearances are priceless) and his transition into filmmaking. Annie Hall and Manhattan understandably earn the most screen time, but there are also intriguing discussions about The Purple Rose of Cairo and Husbands and Wives. It was during the latter movie, of course, that Allen's epic break-up with Mia Farrow occurred and Weide sort of dances around the fall-out, quickly getting back to his subject's movies rather than his personal life. With Allen poised to win his third screenplay Oscar in two weeks for Midnight in Paris, this wide-ranging, if occasionally superficial film functions as a more in-depth version of a career highlights reel.
Extras: Additional scenes and longer interviews with such Allen friends and collaborators as Letty Aronson (his sister and producer), Marshall Brickman and Dianne Weist.
From the warped mind of David Wain -- previously responsible for the sketch comedy series The State and the cult comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer -- comes the first four seasons of his web series, which premiered in 2007 and just started its fifth season. Featuring an all-star assortment of cameos from such folks as Rashida Jones, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Charles, Paul Rudd and Nick Offerman, the show takes place in a slightly (okay, very) skewed version of reality, where Wain wanders around New York looking for love and more commonly finding trouble. It's weird, crazy, hilarious comedy as only David Wain can do it.
Extras: Sure, you could watch the entire series online for free, but then you wouldn't get outtakes, additional short films, all-new interstitials featuring Wain and other guest stars and footage of Art Garfunkel and John Oates singing "David Wain is Sexy." And you wouldn't want to miss out on all that, would you? Thought not.
Family Matters: The Complete Second Season
Originally intended as a one-shot character, Steve Urkel became the breakout star of the ABC sitcom Family Matters by the show's second year. Thanks to Jaleel White's goofy, but charming performance, the character was an overnight pop-culture sensation, spawning catchphrases (all together now: "Did I do that?") and even his own dance craze. Eventually, the character -- and the show ran itself into the ground, but re-watching these early episodes is like transporting yourself back in time to the era of hypercolor T-shirts and C+C Music Factory.
Extras: None. C'mon, White wasn't available to record a few commentary tracks?
Also on DVD:
Speaking of '90s nostalgia, 2011 saw the belated return of Beavis and Butt-head and the duo's new batch of episodes are collected on Beavis & Butt-head Vol. 4. Or if your tastes run more towards '80s fare, you can grab JEM and the Holograms: Season 2, provided you don't already own that complete series box set that dropped last year. And if you're in the mood for entertainment from across the pond, Robin of Sherwood, Set 2 collects the second season of the '80s British series about Sherwood's legendary outlaw and Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe is a standalone release of The Doctor's most recent Christmas episode.
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