Baseball and Halloween are the dominant themes of these newly released DVDs.
“The World Series: History of the Fall Classic” (MLB/A&E, 2012, four discs, $39.95, featurettes). Bob Costas narrates this terrific documentary about the World Series, taking it from its early beginnings to the present day. Interviewed are more than 100 players, managers, writers and broadcasters commenting on various aspects of play.
The era before television is covered in a perhaps less visually compelling manner, but it’s so well written and Costas is so enthusiastic that it remains engrossing from start to finish. And we’re talking four hours worth of documentary here, plus plenty of bonus features that extend the running time by another three hours or so.
Die-hard baseball buffs will be in heaven, of course, but the documentary should be equally interesting to casual fans. The less expensive two-disc version eschews the extras. (Also in two-disc set, $24.95.)
“Happiness Is Peanuts: Go Snoopy Go!” (Warner, 1996/1983, $14.97, two episodes). And if that’s not enough baseball for you, how about a couple of baseball-themed “Peanuts” TV cartoons? Paired on this disc are the special “It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown,” and from “The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show,” the episode “It’s That Team Spirit, Charlie Brown.”
“The Lucy Show: The Official Sixth and Final Season” (CBS/Paramount, 1967-68, four discs, 24 episodes, deleted scenes, excerpts from “The Carol Burnett Show” and the 1968 Emmy Awards, vintage openings/closings, biographies/production notes, photo galleries, PSAs). More of Lucille Ball’s comic hijinks in the final season of her sitcom that followed “I Love Lucy,” with co-stars Gale Gordon and Mary Jane Croft, as well as guests Joan Crawford, Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, Frankie Avalon, etc.
“Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1993” (BBC, 1993, two discs, $34.98, nine episodes, Christmas special: “Welcome to Earth”). Our wacky trio of intrepid eccentrics throws a barbecue as only they can, and Foggy invents bicycle safety underwear. Those are just two of the plots in this 15th season of the long-running British sitcom. Even the Christmas special has a zany twist as they play host to a possible space alien.
“Kingdom: Season One” (BBC, 2007, two discs, $34.98, six episodes, featurette). Stephen Fry stars in this hourlong charming and amusing British series as an unflappable country lawyer surrounded by eccentrics. Each episode is self-contained except for an arc about his missing brother, sort of resolved in Episode 6, with hints that there is more to come. Fry is in his wry, low-key element here, though he is perhaps best known stateside as Mycroft, the brother of Sherlock Holmes in the second Robert Downey Jr. film.
“Big Top Scooby-Doo!” (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, $24.98, three bonus cartoons). Straight-to-video feature-length cartoon has Scooby and the gang vacationing in Atlantic City when werewolf attacks prompt them to go undercover at a local circus, with Shaggy as ringmaster, Daphne as a clown, Fred as a trapeze artist and Velma as a human rocket. (Also on DVD, $19.98.)
“Care Bears: The Original Series Collection” (Lionsgate, 1985-88, six discs, $29.98, 64 episodes, feature-length movie: “Care Bear Nutcracker”). The cartoon bears that promote a positive message about caring were created as characters for greeting cards and soon became plush dolls before becoming stars of this TV series. Adults may not get it but children are enchanted by these colorful animated teddy bears with belly badges expressing their mission.
“The Adventures of Scooter the Penguin” (eOne, 2012, $14.98). Sweet, gentle feature-length computer-animated cartoon for small fry about a penguin with swimming talent that hatches and grows up in the wrong colony, and later finds he must prove himself when challenged by another speedy swimmer.
“Halloween Cartoon Collection” (Cookie Jar/Mill Creek, 1993-2007, $5.98, 10 cartoons, bonus episode of “Hey Vern, It’s Ernest”). The cartoons collected for this spooky-themed disc include episodes of “Johnny Test,” “Archie’s Weird Mysteries,” “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and “Sabrina: The Animated Series.”
“Roseanne: Tricks & Treats” (Mill Creek, 1989-96, $5.98, eight episodes, audio commentary by Roseanne on episode “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down”). The annual Halloween episodes of “Roseanne” began in the sitcom’s second year and were often highlights of each season. Other studios would do well to pick up on this idea, releasing collections of various sitcoms’ holiday episodes.
“Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters” (Comedy Central/Paramount, 2012, $22.98, “bleeped” and “unbleeped” versions, audio commentary, featurettes). Dunham is a clever ventriloquist and his comic sets with his array of dummies are often very funny, but it’s a shame he can’t keep it clean. The material here is often very adult, despite the puppets on the box that may attract kids. (Also on DVD, $16.99.)
“Whitney: Season One” (Universal, 2011-12, three discs, $39.98, 22 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, bloopers). Whitney Cummings (who also co-created “2 Broke Girls”) stars in this “Friends”-ish sitcom as a photographer living with her boyfriend and surrounded by the usual array of young eccentrics. Occasionally funny, more often just raunchy.