Treat for those who hunger for British humor

A DVD

Critics' Picks: New DVDs

June 24, 2007|By Mary Carole McCauley

PORTERHOUSE BLUE -- Acorn Media / $39.99

Just in time for the summer barbecuing season, we have a delectable Porterhouse, grilled medium rare and served with sauce.

Porterhouse Blue, that is, a DVD made from the very funny British television series that ran in 1987 and collected one international Emmy and two BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards.

The two-disc box set, which is being released Tuesday, makes a shish-kebab of such familiar, Ivory Tower inhabitants as senile dons, brilliant but clueless graduate students and feminist reformers whose preferred reading material at breakfast is The Menopause Daily.

One dreamy denizen can't figure out how to negotiate a narrow doorway while carrying an open umbrella. (A servant offers this succinct tip: "Try closing it first, sir.")

And a history major is utterly convinced that a rival has filched his copy of that sizzling periodical The Medieval Peasants Review.

Porterhouse Blue is based on a novel by Tom Sharpe, and the plot involves the appointment of a reform-minded new master (the British equivalent of a university president) at an institution cloaked -- or is it soaked? -- in 500 years of tradition.

Unfortunately, the Porterhouse College traditions often entail public drunkenness, the selling of degrees and the slaughtering of endangered species for banquets -- and the school's professors and staff fervently resist any attempts to modernize.

In one telling moment, the new master, played by Ian Richardson, is presented with a roast swan for inspection.

As Richardson looks down his long, beak-like nose, we see him wondering which of the two is really being served up for consumption on a platter.

But as good as Richardson is, the show's true star is actor David Jason, who plays the master's chief nemesis, a head porter named Skullion.

Special features

Special features include a biography of Sharpe and cast filmographies.

ALSO ANTICIPATED

SHOOTER --Paramount Home Video / $29.99.

Yep, it departs from the book -- Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for The Washington Post.

But the film, starring Mark Wahlberg as former Marine sniper and mountain man Bob Lee Swagger, is mostly on target.

It's got an international conspiracy involving the CIA, a gun-toting babe, a high-speed car chase and a spectacular explosion.

What's not to like?

Special features include seven deleted scenes, audio commentary by director Antoine Fuqua and a featurette on the making of the film.

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

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