Beacon Journal popular culture writer
The parade of collections of TV shows continues on Tuesday. Among them is one of the nuttiest, most addictive, anything-can-happen shows on the air.
That is, of course, Scandal: The Complete Second Season (ABC Video, 22 episodes, $45.99 standard DVD), the ABC drama about politics, love, sex, intrigue, double-dealing, betrayal and expressive lip-curling. Series creator Shonda Rhimes has mainly been known for more realistic shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, but those shows would take crazy plot turns. And watching Scandal is on a par with taking the craziest moment from one of those shows and doing it every week, three to five times an episode. The only appropriate reaction to Scandal is, “Can you believe they went there?”
Of course, it is also immensely entertaining both because of its unpredictability and because it has a cast — led by Kerry Washington but including a lot of TV pros in parts big and small — that can deliver even the most ludicrous lines convincingly. And, as the second season showed, even when it seems to be going crazy, Scandal can veer suddenly into emotionally effective scenes; I am thinking especially of what has been done with Huck, the highly skilled and utterly tormented operative played by Guillermo Diaz. There’s no tongue in cheek in his, or any other, performance.
One of the extras on the new DVD set is, in fact, an extended look at Diaz, Huck and especially the episode Seven Fifty-Two that so touchingly filled in the character’s history. Other, somewhat brief pieces include one on the show’s staging of an assassination attempt on President Grant (Tony Goldwyn), an extended version of the second-season finale, deleted scenes and a blooper reel that, if nothing else, shows how many cast members know their way around f-bombs.
And maybe that will tide you over until the third season begins Oct. 3.
Other TV series coming to disc include The Office: Season Nine (Universal, 23 episodes, $49.98 DVD, $59.98 Blu-ray), the farewell season of the comedy. The last couple of seasons were pretty rocky for the show, and much of the final season was less than satisfying. Still, it recovered nicely with a finale that managed to be warmhearted and still true to its flawed characters. And there are plenty of extras, including deleted scenes, cast auditions and a blooper reel.
I have mixed feelings as well about Revolution: The Complete First Season (Warner, 20 episodes, $59.98 DVD, $69.97 Blu-ray/DVD combo). The post-apocalyptic drama started off well. But the show about people living in the U.S. after all electricity went off just could not resist putting some electricity back on — and heading down narrative paths that seemed less and less compelling and plausible. I kept watching, and will likely check out the second season beginning Sept. 25, but that’s on me.
If you are still intrigued, the first-season package’s extras include making-of pieces, deleted scenes, bloopers and, on Blu-ray only, a panel discussion with the cast and crew at the 2013 PaleyFest.
Also of note are Person of Interest: The Complete Second Season (Warner, 22 episodes, $59.98 DVD, $69.97 Blu-ray/DVD combo), before a new season begins on Sept. 24; Criminal Minds: Season 8 (Paramount, 24 episodes, $64.99 DVD), with a new season on Sept. 25, and Parks and Recreation: Season Five (Universal, 24 episodes, $39.98 DVD), resuming on Sept. 26.
On the movie side, Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz) offers a gripping presentation of her family’s more-than-a-little complicated life in Stories We Tell (Lionsgate, $19.98), Delving into the life of her parents — and especially that of her mother, who died when Polley was 11 — Polley weaves through different accounts of the past, in the process discovering old secrets and one huge surprise.
Using interviews, archival footage and dramatizations, the story Polley tells is one that makes us all ask about truth and lies in the family. And she caps it with a scene that makes you wonder even more about what has gone before. No extras.
Actor Michael Shannon has shown his ability to frighten people in an array of projects, including as General Zod in summer blockbuster Man of Steel. But he is even more unsettling in The Iceman (Millennium, $28.99 DVD and just $1 more for Blu-ray), where he stars as real-life hit man Richard Kuklinski. Kuklinski, believed to have killed about 100 people in a long criminal career, became something of a TV star through a couple of HBO specials. And, while Shannon is not quite a physical match for the real thing, he does convey the chilliness and lack of despair in a man who could end lives so matter-of-factly.
As directed by Ariel Vromen, who also co-wrote the script, the film contrasts Kuklinski’s professional life with his attempt to be a good family man, an attempt that finally falls apart when his crimes catch up with him. But the movie captures the tension not only between the two lives but also in Kuklinski’s craft. And the cast includes, besides the fine Shannon, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, a touching Winona Ryder and Captain America star Chris Evans in a decidedly non-Captain America role.
Extras include a making-of piece.
Down video road: The seventh series of the drama Foyle’s War will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 24; the new episodes air on PBS on Sept, 15, 22 and 29. Glee: The Complete Fourth Season will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Oct. 1. Tyler Perry Presents The Peeples is on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 10, and on demand now; the cast includes — let’s complete the circle — Scandal’s Kerry Washington.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or email@example.com.