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#627 January 28, 2011
D V D / B L U - R A Y
Dallas The Complete Final Season (Season 14) DVD: BUY THE:Poster!
| DVD! ER The Complete Fourteenth Season DVD: BUY THE:Poster!
Much like the series itself, Dallas finishes its run on DVD in most lackluster fashion, with Warner Bros. thanking the legendary prime time soap's still-loyal fan base with a bare bones edition featuring nothing more than the 22 episodes from the 1990-1991 season. Unlike the releases for the immediately preceding seasons, there really is no excuse for the slim pickings on this set, as I distinctly remember a well-done series retrospective special airing immediately before the series finale's original telecast on May 3, 1991. Alas, there is no sign of that or any other special commemoration of the series' completion here on any of the five discs, leaving viewers to more clearly see how the season devolved as it went on. The producers and creative team begin the season with some optimism, however desperate--recruiting popular All My Children diva Susan Lucci as a villainess for a season-opening arc--only to clearly lose enthusiasm and interest quickly once the ratings did not improve, as evidenced by the uninspired It's a Wonderful Life-aping finale, which brought back many former cast members (including, most notably, the Knots Landing duo of Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark, whose spun-off characters now exist in a continuity paradox due to the parent show's infamous dream season) to little effect or impact and, more tellingly, how Sheree J. Wilson (April) remained in the opening credits the entire season despite leaving the series mere episodes in.
Since the conclusion of ER's 15-year run in 2009, Warner has accelerated the release of the DVD sets, and so it's a surprise that the collection for the celebrated medical drama's 2007-2008 season offers a little bit more than the now-familiar formula of only a gag reel and deleted scenes alongside the episodes (which have an abbreviated count of 19 this cycle due to the season-interrupting Writers Guild of America strike) . "ER at 300" is a nice collection of highlights from the 300th episode tribute held at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, where cast members Maura Tierney, Mekhi Phifer, Parminder Nagra, John Stamos, Linda Cardellini, and Scott Grimes and executive producers John Wells, Christopher Chulack, and David Zabel discuss the milestone and the series as a whole with moderator Stuart Levine. This insightful and entertaining half hour whets the appetite for what hopefully will be a much-deserved supplement-heavy DVD send-off for the series with the upcoming season 15 set.
Dallas DVD specifications: 1.33:1 full frame; English stereo; English and Spanish subtitles. ER DVD specifications: 1.78:1 anamorphic wisecreen; English Dolby Surround; English and French subtitles. (Warner Home Video)
No One Killed Jessica BUY THE:Poster!
The year in Bollywood gets off to a bold start with this gritty docudrama based on the real life murder of--and the years-long fight for justice for--model Jessica Lall, who was gunned down during a dispute in a Delhi club in 1999. The ingredients are in place for something similarly smart and uncompromising, as the two leads are none other than two of the Hindi film industries most gifted pure dramatic actresses, Vidya Balan (as Jessica's sister Sabrina) and Rani Mukerji (as Meera, a television news reporter who takes up the cause), and under the direction of Raj Kumar Gupta, who directed the terrific and unconventional thriller Aamir back in 2008. Unfortunately, these ingredients don't come together as smoothly as they should, the disconnect cutting cleanly between the different perspectives of the two leads. Balan is terrific as Sabrina, making her unbearable anguish over and ever-increasing frustration with the government conspiracy to protect the culprit, who is the son of a prominent politician. Mukerji clearly relishes the chance to play way against type, frequently firing off "fuck" with flagrant fervor as a tough-as-nails, proudly self-proclaimed "bitch" (if there were any lingering doubt, she has grown far from the "Aati Kya Khandala" girl next door of yesteryear), but Meera comes off as too much of an in-your-face, artificial movie construction to feel of a piece with the more subtle emotional authenticity of Sabrina's side. Even when the two finally join forces after the intermission break, they still seem like they are inhabiting two different films, and the increased emphasis on Meera tilts the balance toward the less compelling and more formula one.