This week’s top DVD picks, out Aug. 11, are full seasons of TV shows that are well worth owning.
“Hell on Wheels: Season 4,” Grade ☆☆☆1/2: “Hell on Wheels” has all the trappings of a typical Western from six-shooters to horses.
But it’s not about the guys who wear white or black hats. Instead, it’s an examination of the racism, greed and politics that drove people during that period and continue today. How those topics will be broached can be seen as this season of “Hell on Wheels” that originally aired on AMC.
At the center of this historical tempest is Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a Civil War soldier who initially joined the crew building the railroad as a way of finding revenge against the men who killed his wife. Mount brings the heat to “Hell.”
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“Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” Grade ☆☆☆1/2: Leave it to the BBC to be able to combine the period stories they do so well with fantasy.
The series looks at what happens in 19th century England if magic really existed. Strange powers have faded away over the years but there’s a rebirth when Mr. Norrell (Eddie Marsan ) reveals some astonishing abilities.
He comes to London to offer the government his services as a magician — but rising politician Sir Walter Pole (Samuel West) refuses to align himself with such a dark art.
Works both as a character study and fantasy story.
“Scandal,” Grade ☆☆☆: Granted, this ABC series is little more than a fancy soap opera. But, the familiar elements are done so well and with such passion that it’s worth your time.
Kerry Washington is amazing as the woman in the middle of numerous mysteries and secrets.
There have been attempts to make clones of the series, but this show is too original when it comes to guilty pleasure fun to copy.
“Unfriended,” Grade ☆☆☆: A computer hacker threatens people online to find the truth about a suicide. Not since “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999 has a horror film taken such a creative approach to conjure scares as “Unfriended.”
It’s a cautionary tale of a group of friends who become the target of an unseen cyberentity starving for revenge.
Also new on DVD Aug. 11
▪ “Person of Interest: Season 4”: Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson continue to keep an eye on the world.
▪ “The Knick: Season 1”: Look at the staff of New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital at the start of the 20th century.
▪ “2 Broke Girls: Season 4”: Waitresses and roommates continue to chase cupcake dreams.
▪ “Dig: Season 1”: FBI agent uncovers 2,000-year-old mystery. Jason Isaacs stars.
▪ “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - The 16th Season”: Mariska Hargitay stars in the long running NBC crime drama.
▪ “Power Rangers Super Megaforce: Legendary Battle”: Costumed heroes continue to battle evil.
▪ “Cleveland Abduction”: True story of a group of women who were kidnapped and held captive.
▪ “Frontline: Secrets, Politics and Torture”: Examination of tactics used in fighting war on terrorism.
▪ “Power Rangers: Lightspeed”: The group battles the evil Biabolico.
▪ “Blaze and the Monster Machines: High-Speed Adventures”: Blaze and his driver use scientific principles to solve problems.
▪ “Operation Wild”: Three-part series on advancements in the use of human medicine to treat wildlife.
▪ “MAX Steel: Go Turbo!”: Teen uses Turbo Energy to become superhero.
▪ “The People Under the Stairs”: The Wes Craven film is now available on Blu-ray.
▪ “I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story”: Look at the person who helped bring Big Bird to life.
▪ “Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Tales”: Focus is on the importance of being true to yourself.
▪ “Hunting Elephants”: Young boy conspires with three senior citizens to rob a bank.
▪ “The Dovekeepers”: Based on the true events at Masada in 70 C.E.
▪ “Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures”: Super Readers help Cinderella.
▪ “Northmen: A Viking Saga”: Tom Harper stars in this story of a group of Vikings who sail to Britain.
▪ “i’Lived”: Self-help app becomes an evil phone companion.