The highly touted BBC miniseries “The Honorable Woman” makes its way to DVD this week, along with a variety of recent TV series.
“The Honorable Woman” (BBC/DVD, 2014, three discs, eight episodes, featurette). American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in this complex, deliberately paced BBC miniseries (co-produced by the Sundance Channel) as a British-Israeli heiress running a London-based communications company and charitable foundation with her brother. Their big goal is to bring the West Bank into the 21st century via fiber optics, but the show is really about maintaining integrity in a volatile, politically unstable landscape where paranoia and resentment fester.
“The Following: The Complete Second Season” (Warner/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, seven discs/four discs, 15 episodes, deleted scenes/alternate ending, featurettes). This show is way too bloody, but Kevin Bacon is terrific as a former FBI agent who has rebuilt his life after the death of the serial killer he pursued in Season 1. But is that killer really dead? You’ll be forgiven for a sense of déjà vu with this season as Bacon and friends find themselves going after a new cult of killers but find old adversaries surfacing.
“Murdoch Mysteries: Season 7” (Acorn/itv/DVD, 2014, five discs, 18 episodes, featurette, photo gallery). This Canadian period police procedural benefits greatly from its unique viewpoint, following a detective who uses innovative forensic science to solve murders in Toronto at the turn of the 20th century. This season finds Murdoch encountering Thomas Edison and, maybe, a relative of the Loch Ness Monster.
“Penny Dreadful: The Complete First Season” (Showtime/CBS/Paramount/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, three discs, eight episodes, featurettes, two episodes of “Ray Donovan”). Interesting idea of adventurers in Victorian England encountering such horror icons as Frankenstein and Dorian Gray, marred by the usual Showtime cable excesses: over-the-top violence, gore, sex, nudity and profanity. Kicks off with an enigmatic woman (Eva Green) enlisting an American gunslinger (Josh Hartnett) to help find the missing daughter of a British explorer (Timothy Dalton), which leads to a den of vampires.
“A Haunting: The Television Series: Seasons One-Six” (Timeless/DVD, 2005-12, 11 discs, 53 episodes). This Discovery cable channel documentary series explores “true” accounts of possession, exorcism, encounters with the dead, etc., through interviews with those involved and re-enactments. The eight-episode seventh season is now airing. (Available exclusively at Wal-Mart for the first few weeks.)
“In the Flesh: The Complete Season Two” (BBC/DVD, 2014, two disc, six episodes). This offbeat British series is a very dark political satire and follows a teenager who is a recovering zombie, if you will, in a world where former flesh-eaters -- the “partially dead” -- have been rehabilitated. This second season focuses on his tenuous reintegration into society as he plots an eventual escape to Paris while watching the Pro-Living Party take on the Undead Liberation Army.
“Afterlife: Season Two” (BBC/DVD, 2006, two discs, eight episodes, featurette). Psychic Alison (Lesley Sharp) is recovering from the trauma of Season 1’s finale and has accepted that the ghosts she sees have no intention of going away. Meanwhile, Robert (Andrew Lincoln, of TV’s “The Walking Dead”), the once skeptical academic, is trying to make sense of their experiences. Then a scary specter from Alison’s past shows up.
“Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Season 1” (Flatiron/DVD, 2004-05, six discs, 52 episodes). This anime series sprang from the Japanese manga comics and follows the “Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters” series. It’s 10 years later and young Jaden Yuki attends Duel Academy, making new friends and taking on challenges in an attempt to become King of Games.
“Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season Two” (CN/Warner/DVD, 2000-01, two discs, 13 episodes). Wacky animated series about the title character, who lives with his elderly owners on a farm in Nowhere, Kansas. There, the easily spooked canine somehow manages to run into all kinds of strange creatures, this season including a break-dancing robot, an opera-loving sea serpent, the mummy of a Mayan baker, etc.
“Lalaloopsy Babies: First Steps!” (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2014, mini adventures, interactive game). This 45-minute TV special -- a spinoff of the Nick Jr. cable animated series, which in turn was spun off of the plastic doll line -- has the teenage Lalaloopsy girls reminiscing about their nursery days.
“Chuggington: Chuggineers Ready to Build” (Anchor Bay/DVD, 2008-2014, double-episode special, four episodes, featurette, music video, episode of “Badge Quest,” coloring pages; poster). The “Ready to Build” special, comprised of two episodes, introduces a pair of new characters, tunnel-runner Payce and Cormac, a forklift engine.
“The Magic School Bus: Season’s Greetings” (Scholastic/DVD, 1995-2002, six episodes, two bonus episodes). Ms. Frizzle and the kids learn about recycling, electricity and energy, among other topics. Aimed at ages 4-10.