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The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season

that the third season has started, I guess we'll know soon enough, but
The Walking Dead must figure out a way to deliver a
consistent season. It delivers awesome season openers and closers, but the
ones in between can be maddening; they can take several episodes to go
from Point A to Point B.

In the AMC series' initial, six-hour
season, it wasn't as troublesome, but with season two being the double
the length (yet not double the storytelling), it's a real detriment.
Here, the gang getting to the farmhouse is exciting; the gang leaving
the farmhouse is exciting; the gang staying put at said farmhouse for a
dozen episodes? Not so exciting, especially how few zombies they offer.

is a show I want so badly to love, yet can only like; millions
disagree, and they'll eat up (no pun intended) this four-disc set, heavy
on how-we-did-it featurettes. And I admit, the zombie effects do look
outstanding on Blu-ray.

Holliston: The Complete First Season

real life, Adam Green and Joe Lynch are directors of horror and
thrillers, like Frozen, Hatchet and segments of
Chillerama. In Holliston, a
FEARnet sitcom which Green created, they play barely employed versions
of themselves. Here's the thing: The two are not really actors.

the other thing: Once I realized it's partly an anti-sitcom, I didn't
care about the two being so rough around the edges. Besides, as their
girlfriends, actresses Corri English and Laura Ortiz are much more
natural. All four tackle the material with such earnestness,
Holliston floats on an odd charm. With all of its
splatter-film references, the six-episode season is geared straight
toward that audience; I can't imagine any other viewer segment getting

This is, after all, a show where blood and guts are played
for laughs, in which Adam's imaginary friend is played by a GWAR band
member in full costume, and in which Adam's cat is mentally handicapped.

Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season

now, year four, Fringe no longer resembles the Fox
sci-fi puzzler that debuted in 2008 amid more hype than it could handle.
That's great news if you're a sci-fi obsessive who relishes in the most
minute details that call back from one episode to another.

Or you can be like me, who just doesn't have the time to get eyebrow-deep in mythology.

the shape shifters and time travelers and the ever-more-rare monsters
still appear as per the original, X-Files-esque “freak of
the week” format, but now the focus is on the baffling alternate
timeline introduced in its junior year. The downside of this is that all
but the most dedicated viewers may require a flowchart; the upside is
that star Anna Torv is allowed to give a richer performance.

suspect that when once the fifth and final season ends,
Fringe will make for a fascinating start-to-finish
marathon. For now, it’s definitely an investment — one sometimes too
enigmatic for its own good.  

Spartacus: Vengeance The Complete Second Season

Spartacus' first two seasons' mix of swords and sex
and sweaty talk? Then odds are you'll like its third. (I always refer to
the prequel, Gods of the Arena, as season two,
because, c'mon, it essentially is.) It continues to be a show with
enough redeeming factors to merit a curious peek every now and again,
but retains the same problems that have dogged it from the start:
namely, that the scripts draw out about 30 minutes of material into 60.

comic-book action sequences are still the big draw for me — yes, even
over the copious (and Lawless) nudity. (That said, viva la Viva
Bianca!) However, I increasingly tire of the dialogue, which says a lot
without saying much of anything; the writers continue to aim for a level
of highbrow dramatics that just doesn't jive with executive producer
Sam Raimi's pulp-soap model of a Skinemax-ready
Gladiator rip-off.

Stepping into
Spartacus' sandals is Liam McIntyre, and while he
gives it his all, I'm afraid he doesn't have half the charm of the late
Andy Whitfield. They probably should've called it quits with his
untimely passing, but there's one more season to go, War of the
, a tease of which is the highlight of the three-disc
set's promo-leaning extras.

Hung: The Complete Third Season

going to miss Hung. No, I'm going to
really miss Hung. The unsung hero
of HBO's lineup, it was canceled before it could wrap its story up, so
episode 10's last scene is written as a season finale, but does not work
as a series finale. (And the DVD's alternate ending is even less
satisfying.) That's the only negative thing I have to say about the
two-disc set.

Thomas Jane continues to do great against-type
work as the unemployed high school coach turned unlikely gigolo, and
Jane Adams is better than ever as his hippie-dippy pimp, clearly over
her head. Points for not repeating last season's pimp-vs.-pimp arc with
the magnificent Rebecca Creskoff, but escalating it with the addition of
younger competition (Stephen Amell, now starring on The CW's
Arrow) and his greedy GF (Crazy, Stupid,
's Analeigh Tipton, in what deserves to have been a
breakthrough comedic performance).

Hung runs dramatic rings around HBO's current teacher's pet, Boardwalk Empire. Yeah, I said it.

Downton Abbey: Seasons One & Two Limited Edition

this handsome, six-disc collection — OK, OK, and the utter slew of Emmy
nominations — I'd resisted PBS' golden child, assuming it'd be a
plodding British historical costume drama that would be more work than
entertainment. I mean, when you insert the first disc, the menu screen
displays an intimidating 18 characters!

I'm pleased to announce I was wrong. In other words: I get it, world, I get it!

became clear mere minutes into the masterful first hour,
Downton Abbey is glorious stuff, rich in period
detail, character development and committed performances, plus
unexpected humor and intrigue. It's about the two families who reside
under the same royal roof: one, the Earl and Countess of Grantham (Hugh
Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) and their three single daughters; the
other, the unofficial family of maids and butlers and footmen and
valets and chauffeurs who respond to their every need. The ways in which
members from each side cross that uncrossable, invisible line between
them makes for fascinating, addicting viewing.

Haven: The Complete Second Season

we last left Haven, FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily
Rose) was confronted at gunpoint by … FBI agent Audrey Parker. Yes,
based on a Stephen King novel, Syfy’s supernatural series is all about
odd events like that. In this quaint little town, they’re daily
occurrences: sprinkler systems spurting blood, dead heifer, your worst
fears coming to life (be it clowns or zombies), a killer fishing boat, a
wendigo on the loose, etc. Geez, is Charles Fort the mayor?

the first year’s level of mild engagement, the sophomore season burns
brightest in its delightful Christmas episode. Like Warehouse
, the particular festive hour is a standalone ep that can be enjoyed by the newcomer
and hardcore fan alike. It gets you into the Christmas spirit while
also remaining true to the series' supernatural mythology. (And what is
Santa but supernatural?) This one opens with a surfer getting halved to a
music-box soundtrack of "Silent Night," so the adventures of George
Bailey, this is not.

Strike Back: Cinemax Season One

it has yet to score a breakout hit, Cinemax is getting into the cable
game of daring original series, quietly importing the British series
Strike Back to give 'er a go. My entirely crude, but
entirely apt summation of the show is this: It's like
24 with tits.

Instead of one Kiefer
Sutherland, you get two in the gun-totin’, girl-teasin’ male spies who
work for a super-secret counterterrorist organization. Its stories are
full of near-nonsensical dialogue, but the action is plentiful and slick
... both on the field and in the bedroom. Seriously, these guys get
laid all over the globe. It makes one wonder if the
real Strike Back is to arrive when their urine starts
to burn.

The Complete Hammer House of Horror

bless the godless Synapse Films for bringing this long out-of-print 1980 TV series
back to fruition. With the iconic Hammer production company experiencing
a bit of a resurgence both in theaters (The Woman in
) and Synapse’s own Blu-rays (Twins of
), it’s nice to get a taste of Hammer’s upper-crust
televised terror that is the Hammer House of Horror.

anthology series — an appropriate 13 episodes on five discs — is
presented here “fully intact.” To Americans, that means all the nudity
and gore that the Brits can get away with on the regular ol’ telly,
predating the cable boom. (Imagine what Hammer could do nowadays!) They
play like mini-movies, and while I’m not going to pretend each hour is
worth watching, enough of them hit the spot to make the set a
must-purchase for fright fans.

True, the show often takes the
Horror part of its title quite liberally, but that
ones that don’t — in particular, “The House That Bled to Death,”
“Visitor from the Grave” and “The Two Faces of Evil” — are irresistible.
It helps that occupying Hammer’s House were real
actors, such as Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott and UK sex bomb Diana
Dors. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Chillerama Blu-ray review     

Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray review    

Frozen DVD review     
Hatchet Blu-ray review    
Hatchet II Blu-ray review    

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena: The Complete
Blu-ray review    

Twins of Evil Blu-ray review  
• Warehouse 13: Season Two DVD review    

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