- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

Absolutely Everything (BBC, $129.98) - With the feature-film version of “Sex and the City” the top-grossing movie in America right now, the storied HBO series is getting a lot of attention. It wasn’t the first show, however, to chronicle the crazy adventures of big-city women obsessed with fashion and status. The Britcom “Absolutely Fabulous” aired on the BBC from 1992 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2005 - and every episode is available in a suitably flashy DVD box set, complete with a leopard-print bookmark. All 36 episodes and three specials are offered on nine discs along with a generous collection of extras.

The ladies of “Ab Fab” - Jennifer Saunders, the series creator and one-half of the always-hilarious comedy duo French & Saunders, was Eddy, and Joanna Lumley (whose character in “Sensitive Skin” will be played by “SATC” alum Kim Cattrall in the American remake of the series for HBO) was Patsy - were never as confident as the ladies of “SATC.” That’s what made this series so spit-out-your-Bollinger funny. The four-hours-plus of extras include the original French & Saunders sketch that led to the creation of “Ab Fab,” a behind-the-scenes look at the show, commentaries, outtakes and more.

Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner, $74.98 for DVD, $129.95 for Blu-ray) - This might make your day: All five “Dirty Harry” films are available in a deluxe set on DVD and Blu-ray. For some fans, this will be reason enough finally to pick up a high-definition player: Clint Eastwood looks darn good in high-def playing one of filmdom’s most iconic roles. (The American Film Institute named the tough inspector the 17th greatest movie hero ever.)

The five films - “Dirty Harry,” “Magnum Force,” “The Enforcer,” “Sudden Impact” and “The Dead Pool” - are all here, along with a stellar assortment of extras that includes new interviews, commentaries and featurettes. “A Moral Right: The Politics of Dirty Harry,” examines the ethical dilemmas of the films, while “The Business End: Violence in Cinema” looks like a debate that shows no signs of abating after decades.

You can buy the films separately, but only the set includes such bonuses as a feature-length documentary, “Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows,” a 40-page hardcover book, and a replica Harry Callahan wallet complete with his ID card inspector’s badge.


The Bucket List (Warner, $28.98 DVD or $35.99 for Blue-ray) - In this gutsy (because who wants to watch two geezers - albeit Academy Award-winning ones - play predictable, trite roles for 97 minutes?) and barely entertaining movie, Carter (Morgan Freeman) and Edward (Jack Nicholson) play terminally ill cancer patients who live it up in their last few months on this planet by fulfilling what’s on their “bucket list” (the things you should do before you kick the bucket).

Not surprisingly, sky diving and visiting places like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China are on the list. It’s a bit like “The Odd Couple” (but not as funny) meets National Geographic. Edward - monetarily rich and relationship poor - transforms into a humbler, better man with the help of Carter, the sage. Carter gets a free trip around the world. We, the audience, are left none the wiser.

You might wonder who came up with this stale story line. In a special feature, youngish screenwriter Justin Zackham, donning a New York Yankees hat, gives this deep and unique insight: It’s important to find joy in one’s life. The other two special features (Blu-ray is more extensive): John Mayer performing “Say” and a CD-ROM link that don’t fire up - much like the movie itself.

Army Wives: The Complete First Season, (Disney, $39.99) - Lifetime’s juicy hit series feels like a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and an Army recruiting ad. It’s heavy on patriotism and muscular soldiers as well as catty, glamorous women who do everything from hosting tea parties to tending bar (while lightly clad, of course).

The story line revolves around deployment, fiscal hardship, strained family life and the tight friendships among four Army wives and one Army husband - a psychiatrist who acts as if he’s never heard of post-traumatic stress disorder when his wife shows signs of it. He’s also, it seems, clueless about childbirth. (Don’t they teach that in medical school?) At times, the dialogue is quick and witty. At other times, the pacing is off and the acting overdramatic (a la telenovelas, the Spanish-language soap operas).

Yet all in all, “Army Wives” is still pretty entertaining.

The question is, what happens next? In the last scene, the gal pals are about to be blown up by a suicide bomber. Is it the end? No worries, “Army Wives” is created by the producers of “Grey’s Anatomy,” who know exactly how to prolong a series indefinitely without having anything happen after season one.




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