- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One of Comedy Central’s earliest — and funniest — animated series makes its overdue digital debut via Paramount Home Entertainment’s six-episode Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season One ($19.99). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Animated in minimalist, budget-friendly “Squigglevision,” the show features the vocal talents of co-creator Jonathan Katz as the eponymous psychiatrist, H. Jon Benjamin as his unemployed slacker son Ben and Laura Silverman as his sullen, extravagantly unhelpful receptionist Laura.

The simple but laughs-enriched premise sees the embattled Dr. Katz treat a succession of neurotic stand-up (or, in this case, lie-down) comics, who fill their sessions with oft-hilarious shtick.

Standouts among the stand-ups include a pre-sitcom star Ray Romano, who contributes some of the show’s most consistently amusing bits; a socially inappropriate (even for a shrink’s office) Dom Irrera; and future “Insomniac” series host Dave Attell. Topics range from standbys like meddlesome moms to more exotic fare, such as Mr. Romano’s ruminations on the dark side of Canada.

Extras include fun and insightful commentaries by Messrs. Katz, Benjamin, Romano, Attell and co-creator Tom Snyder, bonus animated shorts (including “Dr. Katz” ‘s informal pilot episode) and more. “Dr. Katz” lasted six seasons in all and we, for one, eagerly await future DVD installments.


In other fresh cathode comedy developments, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment issues the comedy-drama Boston Legal: Season 1 (five-disc, $49.98), starring James Spader and Julie Bowen, equipped with select audio commentary, interviews, featurette and more; and MASH: Season 10 (three-disc, $39.98).

Universal Studios Home Entertainment assembles two new Saturday Night Live collections — The Best of Commercial Parodies and The Best of Cheri Oteri ($19.98 each) — while Paramount releases Wings: The Complete First and Second Seasons (four-disc, $38.99), with Timothy Daly and Steven Weber as wannabe aviators.

Rhino Video’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 9 (four-disc, $59.95) subjects four vintage camp classics — The Incredibly Strange Creatures, Wild Rebels, Women of the Prehistoric Planet and Ed Wood’s The Sinister Urge — to the satiric scrutiny of hosts Michael J. Nelson and Joel Hodgson and their irreverent robot friends.

From across the pond, BBC Video presents the offbeat comic stylings of Matt Lucas and David Walliams in the imaginative Little Britain: The Complete Second Series (two-disc, $29.98), landing with outtakes, bonus sketches, deleted scenes and more.

Elsewhere, HBO Video revisits the Wild West with Deadwood: The Complete Second Season (six-disc, $99.98), armed with select audio commentaries and a featurette, while Kyra Sedgwick headlines in the L.A.-set police series The Closer: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video, four-disc, $39.98), complemented by previously unaired scenes.

Universal kicks off its Brilliant But Cancelled line, designed to rescue short-lived quality series from oblivion, with the urban crime drama EZ Streets and Crime Dramas ($19.98 each), the latter collecting sample episodes from Delvecchio, Gideon Oliver, Johnny Staccato (with John Cassavetes) and Touching Evil.

The ‘A’ list

Two family-friendly films join the DVD ranks this week. Steve Martin makes a return engagement in the extras-packed comedy sequel Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (20th Century Fox, $29.98), while Walt Disney Home Entertainment debuts the teen musical comedy-drama High School Musical: Encore Edition ($26.99), accompanied by featurettes and bonus music videos.

In the supernatural arena, Visual Entertainment unleashes the vampire video game-based Bloodrayne ($26.99), starring Kristanna Loken and Ben Kingsley, in separate “R” and unrated double-disc editions. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment furnishes the fright-film follow-up Hollow Man 2 ($24.96), with Peter Facinelli and Christian Slater.

An Oscar-nominated Felicity Huffman takes center stage in the gender-bending road comedy-drama TransAmerica (Genius Products, $28.95), arriving with director’s commentary, featurettes and more.

Collectors’ corner

20th Century Fox gathers a quartet of crime movies in its four-disc Classic Crime Collection — Street Justice ($29.98): 1960’s fact-based Murder, Inc. (highlighted by a young Peter Falk’s Oscar-worthy performance as ambitious hood Abe Reles); William Friedkin’s groundbreaking 1971 action thriller The French Connection; Roy Scheider in 1973’s The Seven-Ups; and Roger Corman’s 1967 The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, featuring Jason Robards as Al Capone.

Video verite

First Run Features offers a trio of new documentaries — The Devil’s Miner, set in Bolivia; the Kenneth Branagh-narrated The Goebbels Experiment; and the medical study The New Medicine ($24.95 each).

In a how-to vein, Warner Home Video bows the seasonal Martha Stewart release Martha’s Summer Favorites ($24.98).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I am looking for three movies: “Not of This Earth” (1957, Roger Corman), “From Hell It Came” (1957), “Creation of the Humanoids” (1962).

Vernon Smith, via e-mail

No luck with “Not of This Earth,” but Sinister Cinema carries From Hell It Came ($16.95, sinistercinema.com) and Dark Sky Films unveils Creation ($14.99) next week — stay tuned.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at [email protected]aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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