The fourth season of `Homicide' is out

New on DVD

Movies: on screen, DVD/ Video

April 01, 2004|By Terry Lawson | Terry Lawson,KNIGHT RIDDER / TRIBUNE

The television series Homicide: Life on the Street never actually jumped the shark, though it got close the season that Bayliss (Kyle Secor) decided to explore his repressed gayness. But by "The Complete Season 4," it had dumped the documentary-like everydayness of the original episodes and the great book that inspired it to become one of the best cop shows ever aired.

The fourth season found the show without the disgraced Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin) and the retired Stan Bolander (Ned Beatty). Arson inspector Mike Kellerman (Reed Diamond) was drafted to pair with Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson).

Nevertheless, classic episodes resulted: the searing "A Doll's Eyes," with guest star Marcia Gay Harden brilliantly exploring a crime survivor's anguish, and the two-part "Sniper" in which Jay Leno makes an appearance. All 22 episodes are on six discs, remixed into Surround, with a behind-the-scenes doc narrated by cast member Isabella Hoffmann.

An appreciation written after Jack Paar's death drew a large response, some from longtime fans and some from those who had never seen his influential late-night talk show, asking if it were available on DVD. As fate had it, a set was in the works before he died and arrives as The Jack Paar Collection.

The three-disc compendium is anchored by the PBS documentary Smart Television: The Best of Jack Paar, which mixes clips of Paar's famous interviews with Fidel Castro, John F. Kennedy, Judy Garland and a hilarious Woody Allen with commentary and appreciation by Dick Cavett, Regis Philbin, Hugh Downs and others.

The second disc presents complete, incisive and still entertaining interviews with Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Cassius Clay (yet to become Muhammad Ali) and, perhaps most fascinating of all, the enigmatic Sonny Liston, among others. Disc 3 contains three entire shows, with guests that include Bette Davis, Richard Burton and Bill Cosby performing an early routine that reminds us why he became such a pervasive influence on American comedy. As for Paar, he is, as Cavett allows, the master.

Also boxed up this week is CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Third Season, with 23 episodes on five discs and commentary by directors and cast members on select episodes. There are also five featurettes, the best of which is a look inside the writer's room.

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