January 22, 2022

DVD corner

“Doogie Howser: M.D.: Season Three”: Hormones brewing. Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris), the young doc whose mind can grasp medical science with ease but who nevertheless remains a very young man at heart, at least when it comes to relationships, finds himself faced in this third season with the prospects of sex. What’s a boy to do? Apparently, think long and hard about it, with all of his hopes pinned on girlfriend Wanda Plenn (Lisa Dean Ryan) to see him through to the other side. Disappointments and complications ensue, all lurking around the wealth of easy laughs. No classic, this series. In the 15 years that have passed since it first appeared, the show has become gratingly cute, particularly in the episodes “Doogiesomething,” “Double Doogie with Cheese,” and “Lonesome Doog.” Doog, I’m Dooged out. Grade: C

“The Gospel”: Hallelujah for the hymns! They save “The Gospel,” an otherwise average drama that follows David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), a bishop’s son who becomes a singing superstar much to his evangelical father’s consternation. Years later, when his father becomes ill, Kevin returns to the fold, only to find his father’s church about to crumble thanks to the greed of a former family friend. Overly simplified themes run the gamut, but the soundtrack sells it, with Yolanda Adams and Tamyra Gray, in particular, bringing home the gospel. Rated: PG. Grade: C+

“In Her Shoes”: Good fit. In spite of a handful of funny scenes and undercurrents that recall the “Bridget Jones” movies, Curtis Hanson’s “In Her Shoes” is a sibling-rivalry drama first, with Hanson confidently guiding the story into new rooms with unexpected entrances. Cameron Diaz is Maggie Feller, the loose-living thief with the killer bod whose promiscuous life has been filled with self-induced bunions. Toni Collette is her responsible sister Rose, a Rubenesque lawyer at a top Philadelphia firm whose low self-esteem is consuming. Unlike her tall, toned sister, on whom clothes, hair and makeup seem so natural, Rose has only ever been able to turn to shoes for the right fit. They never have let her down, which she can’t say for her family, the likes of which were smashed apart the day her sketchy mother died in a car wreck. When the girls separate after a fight, in comes the unexpected addition of Ella, a long-lost grandmother played to perfection by Shirley MacLaine. As with Diaz and Collette’s spot-on performances, MacLaine reminds us here how great she can be when Hollywood isn’t serving her a big dish of ham. She is reserved, knowing and cool, gently stitching together a family that was taken from her after her daughter’s death. Rated: PG-13. Grade: A-

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season Three”: Mary on a tear. The third season of Moore’s iconic show finds Mary Richards returning with her backbone a bit firmer than in the previous two seasons. She’s more combative here, more alive, with her added pluck giving the season added zip. As with the best comedic series, what the show does so well is to weave moments of genuine drama within the laughs. This is especially true for the concluding episode, “Remembrance of Things Past,” which reveals insight into poor Mary – she was once devastated by a former love, which answers a few questions about her personality while leaving the door open for a few more. Other shows in this excellent season stand among the best of the series – “Rhoda the Beautiful,” “The Good-Time News” and “Operation: Lou.” A stripped-down collection with no extras, but the 24 episodes prove enough. Grade: A

“Silk Stalkings: Complete Fourth Season”: A little sex, a little murder, a little late-night TV action from Stephen J. Cannell. This fourth season of “Silk Stalkings,” an erotic police procedural set in Palm Beach, is so hot and bothered by its plotlines, it’s a wonder it can focus on the crimes at hand. To an extent, it tries (sort of), but Cannell can’t pull his old Levis over these eyes – his show is skin TV, pure and simple. Episodes such as “Maid Service” and the racy “Champagne on Ice” exist to push the limits, which was the show’s point. Acting by Rob Estes as Sgt. Chris Lorenzo and Mitzi Kapture as his homicide partner, Sgt. Rita Lee Lance, is fine, but who cares? When your series features a show called “The Mud-Queen Murders,” as this season does, one isn’t exactly looking for acting chops or shades of nuance amid the sex and stalkings. Grade: C+

“Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride”: Seventy-six minutes of Tim Burton in his sandbox. He’s playing here, having fun, and mostly his efforts come through. Peppered with outstanding animation and several song-and-dance numbers that could hardly be considered traditional, Burton and co-director Mike Johnson send up death with affection and wit. The ending is the film at its best, eschewing expectations in ways that give these clay creatures the sort of humanity the movie otherwise might have lacked. With fine voice work by Johnny Depp as timid Victor and Helena Bonham Carter as the dead lass who comes to love him, the film is a fun, effective creep-out. Grade: B+

“Titus: Season Three”: Not exactly for tykes, though perfect if you’re well-medicated. In this controversial Fox series, the dysfunction is rampant, the behavior aggressive, the sarcasm a buzz saw that rips through the set. And what a set. Drugs, booze, mental illness, suicide, murder and abuse are the mainstay, with the jokes fueled by the lot of it. There’s a rawness to the show that can be startling. Based on comedian Christopher Titus’ unfortunate home life and his stand-up routine, Titus himself stars and narrates. The rest of the cast are a who’s who of has-beens – Stacy Keach, Connie Stevens, Elizabeth Berkley, even Phyllis Diller as a crazed grandmother. Viewers beware. This third and final season of “Titus” is so dark (and darkly funny), the paint on your living room walls might turn black while you watch it. Grade: B

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