New DVD releases on Tuesday cover everything from booze to baseball.
"Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season," Grade A-: The series has the same kind of complicated and damaged characters as "The Sopranos," but this time they're presented against a masterfully detailed background of one of the most volatile times in American history.
Set in Atlantic City in the 1920s at the start of Prohibition, the series follows the lives of a handful of people caught up in the corruption and killings of the era. At the center is Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), a shifty politician and midrange crime boss who, like Tony Soprano, must deal with his own demons while trying to maintain order.
Just as with "The Sopranos," this series draws a harsh contrast between the brutal and benevolent actions of the players. Thompson can go from lamenting over the fate of a preemie baby to issuing an order to end a life without a blink.
The cable series has won eight Emmy awards and two Golden Globes.
"Moneyball," Grade B-: The film by director Bennett Miller follows the real-life efforts by Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) to compete in a major league baseball world where everything is driven by money. He uses computer data to find players that he can afford who can still generate the runs he needs to make it to the World Series.
Although Pitt turns in a solid performance, this movie deals so much with the ins and outs of professional baseball, it gets too complicated for its own good.
"Answer This!" Grade B-: Fresno's Christopher Gorham plays Paul Tarson, a perpetual college student/teaching assistant who rebels against his father's influence to become a member of a bar trivia team. Tarson's being forced to follow a career path he doesn't want and that affects his professional and personal lives.
Director Christopher Farah properly mixes the emotional drama with the fun of the meaningless competition. The film has a message but never gets too preachy.
Also new on DVD Jan. 10
"Hawaii Five-O: The Twelfth and Final Season": The casebook is closed for the series set in Hawaii.
"Dennis the Menace: The Final Season": Jay North stars.
"King Arthur: Medieval Britain": Contains five History Channel specials.
"G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero": Includes 24 episodes.
"A Mile in His Shoes": A young man dealing with autism in the '40s is a pitching sensation. Dean Cain stars.
"1911": Jackie Chan stars in his 100th movie.
"What's Your Number?": A woman (Anna Faris) reflects upon her old romances.
"The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption": A once-powerful king becomes an assassin. Ron Perlman stars.
"An Idiot Abroad: Season One": BBC series that gets humor from Karl Pilkington's wild journeys.
"Killer Elite": Ex-special ops agent comes out of retirement to rescue his mentor.
"Saving Private Perez": A drug lord must save his brother.
"Penguins of Madagascar: Operation Blowhole": Neil Patrick Harris provides the voice of Dr. Blowhole.
"The Garfield Show: Dinosaurs and Other Animal Adventures": Includes six animal themed episodes.
"NOVA: Deadliest Volcanoes": Scientists try to discover how likely volcanoes are to erupt.
"Nature: The Animal House": A look at nature's builders.
"Higher Ground": Vera Farmiga stars in the film based on the memoir "This Dark World" by Carolyn S. Briggs.
"There Be Dragons": Investigative journalist Robert Torres (Dougray Scott) travels to Spain to research a book about Josemaría Escrivá.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at email@example.com
or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.