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The Telefile

TV on DVD: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

by Ethan Alter February 11, 2014 6:00 am
TV on DVD: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The games afoot once again as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman team up for more irresistible sleuthing and flirting... with each other.

Sherlock: Season 3
The long-delayed third year of the BBC's blockbuster modern-day Sherlock Holmes series offered up some of the show's most entertaining outings, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that the show's creator Steven Moffat emphasized the characters and the Tumblr-ready humor over the mysteries they were supposed to be solving. That approach did rankle a certain segment of viewers, who didn't care for some of the wild leaps in logic or convenient narrative shortcuts that Moffat often took, especially in the season finale. On the other hand, that finale -- like the episodes that precede it, especially the hilarious wedding installment -- is just so much damn fun to watch, thanks to the potent combination of the show's zippy house style and the delightful chemistry of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who are well on their way to becoming the definitive Sherlock and Watson for an entire generation of viewers, just as Jeremy Brett and David Burke were for the previous crop of Holmes-addicted PBS viewers.
Extras: Three making-of featurettes.
Click here to read our full Sherlock recaps

The Americans: Season 1
FX's strongest freshman series in some time transported viewers back to early '80s America, when the Cold War was still hot enough for a pair of undercover Russian operatives to get in repeated scrapes with American law enforcement. Paired off by their government, young KGB enlistees Nadezhda and Mischa are rechristened as Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and sent to live in wedded bliss in the suburbs of DC, where they raise two children who aren't aware (at least, not yet) about their parents' extracurricular activities. The duo's already complicated lives grow even more complicated when FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) moves in next door. Truth be told, the hype surrounding The Americans oversold the series, which suffered from some of the usual first season growing pains including dead-end sub-plots and tinkering with established characterizations in order to arrive at certain ends. Still, the writing and acting (particularly from Russell, who went overlooked at Emmy time) was consistently strong enough to keep us coming back and the show rewarded us with a slam-bang finale that sets up some great fodder for Season 2, which kicks off on February 26.
Extras: A commentary track on one episode, deleted scenes, a gag reel and three featurettes.
Click here to read our full Americans recaps
Click here to see our grades for the show's spies

The Returned: The Complete First Season
Sundance Channel kicked off 2013 by bringing Jane Campion's Top of the Lake to American audiences and then closed out the year with this French import, which promised -- and delivered -- a unique take on the current zombie craze. In a small village in the Alps, ordinary life is upset when the dead start coming back. But wait! They're not showing up to eat brains. What they want, and what their families and friends want from them, is the mystery that drives this tense, chilling series over the course of eight stellar episodes. A second season has already been commissioned in its native land for later this year; any chance Sundance could simulcast those episodes on our shores so we don't have to wait until 2015?
Extras: A collector's booklet with an introduction by the series producer, a Q&A with its director and an appreciative essay by critic Scott Tobias.

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth
Hey, remember that time that Mike Tyson of all people got his own one-man Broadway show? Well, if you don't, Spike Lee went ahead and recorded it for your viewing pleasure. Covering much of the same ground traversed by James Toback's Tyson, Undisputed Truth finds the ex-boxer, ex-con and ex-ear biter reflecting on his life and career, from his Brooklyn upbringing (the most personal and compelling material) to his stint as champ (the most familiar material) to his post-boxing life (the most condensed material). He also takes the opportunity to settle a few old scores against such folks as Don King and, in a particularly ugly section, Robin Givens. As for his rape conviction, it's dealt with quickly, with Tyson not so much protesting his innocence as blanketly stating it as fact. Tyson insists that Undisputed Truth is his truth, but whether it's the whole truth is an open question.
Extras: Post-show conversations with Lee and Tyson.

Dallas: The Complete Second Season
Television lost one its most iconic characters when J.R. Ewing was shot (for a second time) and died for real this time midway through the sophomore year of TNT's Dallas sequel, a plot development that preceded the passing of his real-life counterpart, actor Larry Hagman. His death has crucial ramifications going forward, both for the surviving characters and the future of the series itself, which placed much of its weight on J.R.'s shoulders and ten gallon hat. Now it'll be up to the rest of the Ewings -- both returning favorites like Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray and newbies like Jesse Metcalfe and Josh Henderson -- to carry on the show's oil-soaked flame in the third season, which kicks off on February 24.
Extras: A commentary track on the episode "J.R.'s Masterpiece," deleted scenes, three featurettes and footage from the cast's appearance at PaleyFest 2013.

Also on DVD:
Minnie Mouse tries on Cinderella's ballroom gown and accompanying glass slippers in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie-rella, which also comes with three bonus episodes of the Disney Channel's toddler favorite. In a nomination that surprised almost everyone, Rob Lowe nabbed a SAG Award nomination for playing JFK in the TV movie Killing Kennedy. Bob Newhart: Season 2 offers the second season of Bob Newhart's second long-running sitcom. Spend some time in the bayou courtesy of the History Channel's version of Duck Dynasty, Swamp People: Season 4.

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