Go crazy with the superb second season of Ryan Murphy's FX horror show.
American Horror Story: Asylum
The first season of Ryan Murphy's gonzo horror serial was mostly a lark -- an alternately funny and/or freaky riff on The Amityville Horror with a healthy dash of Rosemary's Baby stirred in. But right out of the gate, the show's second season, Asylum, established itself as something darker, weirder and more ambitious. Taking place largely in the '60s at the titular institution for crazy women (most of whom aren't actually crazy, but that doesn't stop their male captors -- as well as the bitter female nuns that also constitute the staff -- from treating them as so), Asylum nominally told the story of the serial killer Bloody Face and his many and varied victims. But there are also ex-Nazi doctors, grown-up women who believes themselves to be Anne Frank, mutant creatures in the woods, an intrepid female journalist (Sarah Paulson) who goes undercover in the asylum and winds up a longtime patient, an angel of death, a devilish nun, body-snatching aliens and rousing fantasy renditions of "The Name Game" led by a dolled-up Jessica Lange. It's a potpourri of crazy, but running underneath it all are some fascinating and complex ideas about identity, female power in the face of male oppression and the pursuit of truth. The season finale -- written by the whip-smart one-time Angel scribe, Tim Minear -- is quite possibly the finest hour the show has aired to date, somehow tying up all the loose ends in a dramatic and emotionally resonant way. If Asylum is representative of what this show can be when it's firing on all cylinders, consider us super-psyched for its third edition, Coven.
Extras: Deleted scenes and four featurettes.
Click here to read our full recaps of Asylum
Click here to see Asylum's craziest moments
Click here to see our guide to Ryan Murphy's craziest past characters.
Psych: The Complete Seventh Season
White Collar: Season 4
Burn Notice may be gone, but Psych and White Collar don't seem to be going anywhere from USA's schedule. The faux-psychic (James Roday) and his accomplice (Dulé Hill) continue to solve the seriocomic crimes that Adrian Monk is no longer around to crack in Psych's seventh year. Specific cases include a recently paroled rock star whose welcome home party becomes a (PG-rated) bloodbath and a plastic surgeon who dies in the midst of that dangerous activity known as… birdwatching? Meanwhile, over on White Collar, Matt Bomer (a.k.a. the dude that the Internet thinks should have been cast as Christian Grey in the impending movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey) continues to get his con game on, busting out of prison and pulling stunts at Fashion Week and Wall Street amongst other exotic NYC locations. If you don't watch these shows already, don't worry… if USA has their way, they'll be around for decades so you'll have plenty of time to catch up. Extras: Psych comes with featurettes and a gag reel, while White Collar offers a commentary track on one episode, a featurette, a gag reel and deleted scenes.
The Guild: Complete Megaset DVD
Geek goddess Felicia Day became a digital pioneer in 2007 by launching one of the earliest (and funniest) web-based series, The Guild, which revolved around another Internet passion: online gaming. For the next six years, Day wrote, produced, directed and starred in 70 fifteen-minute episodes, which garnered a sizeable (by Internet standards) viewership via YouTube, Xbox Live, Zune and almost everywhere else streaming video was available. (When Joss Whedon was looking for a place to air Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, Day's example provided him with the inspiration to go the online route.) Now in a bit of backward compatibility, the show's entire run is being released in one big DVD box set for those noobs who missed it on their computers the first time around. See it for the authentic geekspeak (like her character, Day knows the world of online gaming backwards and forwards), the surprise cameos (including Stan Lee and Nathan Fillion) and, above all, the sheer "We're-really-getting-away-with-this?" free spirit that came with being one of the first Web shows out of the gate.
The Best of the Original An Evening at the Improv
Premiering on the A&E cable network in the distant past of 1982, the TV series An Evening at the Improv features some of the earliest television appearances of now-familiar comedians and actors, ranging from Bill Maher and Bob Saget to Michael Keaton and Jim Carrey. Filmed at L.A.'s storied Improv club against that famous brick-wall background, Evening hit the airwaves while stand-up comedy was still a big business, right before it plunged into its late '80s lull. This four-disc set offers a mere 720 hours from the show's fourteen-year run, with clips of such performers as Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Wuhl, Paula Poundstone and pretty much everyone else who has ever appeared on Mark Maron's WTF podcast (except for Maron himself, it seems). In fact, if you're a regular listener to that show, expect this set to be a homework packet that Maron assigns you at some point.
Also on DVD:
The CW's Beverly Hills 90210 reboot 90210: The Fifth Season
ends its run with a whimper; we'll wait for the next reboot in another decade's time. ABC's underdog sitcom The Middle: The Complete Third Season seeks to scrounge up more viewers now that the fourth season has kicked off. David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel keep on solving crimes and dealing with personal drama on Bones: The Complete Eighth Season. And don't confuse The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset with Marvel's costumed Avengers. As cool as ScarJo's Black Widow is, Emma Peel would handily kick her ass.
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