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‘The Andy Griffith Show’ is in a new DVD box set this week

Posted: February 21, 2016 8:59 a.m.
Updated: February 21, 2016 8:59 a.m.
Chris Hicks/

A complete-series set of the animated version of "The Brady Bunch," titled "The Brady Kids" (1972-73), is on DVD this week.

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“The Andy Griffith Show” has been released in a complete-series DVD box set this week, and Brian Regan’s stand-up comedy performance at Radio City Music Hall is also available.

“The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series” (CBS/Paramount, 1960-68, b/w and color, 39 discs, 249 episodes, original sponsor spots). One of the great sitcoms, this rural comedy is as warm and charming as it funny. Some of its sentiments may seem dated but beneath the surface it’s all about human behavior, and when that’s done right, it never gets old.

Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) is a single father, the sheriff of the small Southern town of Mayberry, and he plays straight man to the locals, goofballs of every stripe. And no one is zanier than his deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts).

Andy’s young son Opie is played by future Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron (Ronny) Howard, and another stabilizing force is Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier). And besides the array of quirky regulars (including Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, introduced in Season 3), guests include future TV stars Barbara Eden, Buddy Ebsen, Bill Bixby and Don Rickles.

For baby boomers like me, watching this show again is as nostalgic as it gets, but funny is funny and wise is wise, and this show bubbles over with both. (Unfortunately, this DVD set does not include the 40th disc that was in the 2007 series box set, with Sheriff Andy Taylor’s introduction on an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show,” and the 1986 reunion movie, “Return to Mayberry.”)

“Brian Regan: Live From Radio City Music Hall” (Comedy Central/Paramount, 2016). Brian Regan is a hilarious stand-up comic who makes pointed observations about little things in life we can all relate to, here from fancy restaurants to uncomfortable socializing at parties to modern (and weird) substitutes for shaking hands to people who say “cinema” instead of “movies.”

And unlike so many of his peers, Regan works clean. So it’s curious that the standard Comedy Central warning goes up on the screen before this hourlong 2014 concert begins: “This program is recommended for mature audiences only. It contains adult language and situations.”

Say what? Don’t believe it. This one is very clean and hysterically funny all the way.

“The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series” (CBS/Paramount, 1972-73, three discs, 22 episodes). This two-season Saturday-morning cartoon show (the second season was comprised of just five episodes) ran concurrent with “The Brady Bunch,” going on the air as the original show went into its fourth season. Obviously aimed at an even younger audience, this animated series has the six child “Brady Bunch” actors doing their own voices and lots of animals used as plot devices.

“Blaze and the Monster Machines” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2015, four episodes, video storybook). In addition to being enjoyable entertainment for preschoolers, this computer-animated gem is also educational and interactive, covering science, technology, engineering and math in entertaining ways as they follow an 8-year-old boy who races the title truck.

“Saints & Strangers” (Sony, 2015, two episodes). This historical miniseries (shown on the National Geographic Channel) chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Pilgrims’ first year in America, from the harrowing voyage aboard the Mayflower to the struggles with the land and local inhabitants of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Ron Livingston, Anna Camp, Natascha McElhone and Ray Stevenson head the ensemble cast.

“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (PBS, 2015). Billed as the first feature-length (two hours) documentary to explore the Black Panther Party — the 1960s nationalist/socialist group — this serious film includes archival footage and interviews with people who were there, from party members to police to the FBI to journalists.

“American Experience: Bonnie & Clyde: ‘Till Death Do Us Part” (PBS, 2016). You just can’t have too many Bonnie & Clyde documentaries. This hourlong show puts the famed criminal couple in the context of the Depression, as their gang evolved from petty thieves to bank robbers and killers.

“The Hudson River School: Artistic Pioneers” (PBS, 2014). The first American school of landscape painting emerged in mountainous regions near New York’s Hudson River Valley between 1825 and 1880, as revealed in this 70-minute documentary that focuses on founder Thomas Cole and such other influential artists as Asher Durand, Jasper Cropsey, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Church.

“The Trials of Jimmy Rose” (Acorn/itv, 2015, three episodes). British thriller miniseries about the titular ex-con (Ray Winstone) who returns home after 12 years in the pen to a warm welcome from his daughter and grandson, but a decidedly cooler one from his wife and son. Jimmy vows to go straight, but all bets are off when he discovers his granddaughter is a runaway drug addict. (This program gets pretty rough with violence, coarse language, nudity and sex.)

“Girls” (HBO, 2014, two discs, 10 episodes, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentaries, featurette, bloopers). Judd Apatow is one of the producers of this series created by star Lena Dunham (whose very names should alert viewers to beware of the usual HBO R-rated excesses). Dunham plays one of a group of 20-somethings looking for love and professional success in all the wrong places.

“Togetherness: The Complete First Season” (HBO, 2015, two discs, eight episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes). Sitcom about parents with kids, this one putting an emphasis on their sex lives, starring Mark Duplass, Melanie Lynskey and Amanda Peet. Another raunchy HBO show with all the requisite excesses.

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