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DVD/Blu-ray Notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2012

As I mentioned in a previous post, another commitment last week kept me from writing a full video column. So here are some observations about several titles arriving today.

The big item, at least for my inner geek, is the Blu-ray debut of "Star Trek: The Next Generation's" first season, along with some new retrospective extras. To start with the obvious question, yes, it looks spectacular. At least, it does in terms of clarity and sharpness of image. But that is a mixed blessing. The HD image shows off details -- a hint of 5 o'clock shadow -- that were perhaps not originally intended, and the modest budgeting of some sets is more evident. Nor has the series itself aged entirely well; the performances especially seem  a bit rigid, as if the cast and writers still are not entirely comfortable with each other, the pacing of the dialogue somewhat slow, the humor corny. (I wonder if some of this stemmed from the show having to contend with the still-alive and demanding Gene Roddenberry; one of extras makes clear that there were plenty of debates with him about the course the show would take.)  But fans of the show have long since forgiven that, and if I am going to watch "TNG" again, the Blu-ray version is the one I will watch.

Also new on DVD and Blu-ray today is "Jiro Dreams of Sushi,: the award-winning documentary about Jiro Ono, considered by some to be the greatest sushi chef in the world. He's an interesting character, operating out of a seemingly modest 10-seat restaurant in a Japanese subway station -- but one where the customers must make reservations a month in advance and expect a bill that starts at about $300.

Then there are the family dynamics; Jiro's older son works directly for him, and at the age of 50 recalls Prince Charles waiting for the Queen to step down, Jiro's younger son runs a separate sushi restaurant, and has made adjustments in it both to appeal to customers who prefer the original restaurant and those who seeking a different atmosphere. But trhough it all there's Jiro, demanding of himself, constantly seeking perfection in his art, and setting an example for anyone committed to creating greatness.

Extras include deleted scenes and a sushi gallery  -- apt considering how lovingly the sushi are photographed in the documentary.

The Starz series "Boss" begins its second season on Aug. 17, and the first season is now on DVD/Blu-ray.  It stars Kelsey Grammer as the mayor of Chicago, Tom Kane,. As I said when the series premiered, Kane knows how to navigate the political complexities of the city, whether it's by speaking ably or strong-arming opponents — and supporters. But, as the series begins, Kane learns he has a degenerative brain disorder. And it's unclear under the circumstances how long he can keep his grip on power.

At the time, I said that what I have seen of the series (which was two or three episodes) is intriguing in many ways, and Grammer impresses in his role. But there are times when the show's attempt at something grand and Shakespearean leads to dialogue which seems too deliberately artificial. And I didn't find it engaging enough to keep up with. Extras include a making-of featurette.

The engaging Israeli movie "Footnote" comes to DVD and Blu-ray today. You can read my review of the film here. Also available is "The Deep Blue Sea," with a wonderful performance by Rachel Weisz; I wrote about the film in an earlier post which you can find here.

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