- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dedicated followers of director Michael Apted’s extraordinary ongoing project, the “Up” series, will not be disappointed by his latest report, 49 Up ($29.95), out this week via First Run Features. It’s our …DVD pick of the week In the film, documentarian Apted resumes his nearly lifelong association with the same Britishers originally caught on camera, as children, in his 1964 “Seven Up” and who appeared in subsequent updates recorded every seven years.

While some of his subjects, representing Britain’s entire class spectrum, have dropped in and out of the series, most return, if sometimes reluctantly, to review their lives in progress.

“49 Up” finds many of the participants in philosophical middle-aged mode. Some lives have taken surprising twists: Neil, the chirpy 7-year-old-turned-mentally-unstable-adult drifter, shows significant improvement as a local political figure. East Ender Tony still exhibits his trademark exuberance even as he and his wife work killer hours to maintain a middle-class lifestyle that now includes a townhouse in Spain.

Mr. Apted limits the use of recycled footage from earlier editions, but there’s enough on hand to keep newcomers up to speed; those who’ve been monitoring the series from the get-go will need no further urging.

First Run’s disc is slight on extras beyond a worthy Michael Apted interview conducted by Roger Ebert, but this 134-minute portrait supplies entertainment and enlightenment to spare.

Tele-video

A&E Home Video keeps crime buffs busy with its gala 35-disc Homicide: Life on the Street: The Complete Series Megaset ($299.99). Packaged in a cool file case-style box, the set assembles all 122 episodes of the gritty police series, along with three “crossover” Law & Order episodes and Homicide: The Movie. Copious extras include select commentaries, filmmaker interviews, the feature-length documentary Anatomy of a Homicide, featurettes and more.

Elsewhere on the cathode crime scene, Paramount Home Entertainment offers CSI: The Complete Sixth Season (seven-disc, $89.99) and NCIS: The Complete Second Season (six-disc, $64.99), both supported by ample extras, while Peter Falk investigates in Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s Columbo: The Complete 6th & 7th Seasons (three-disc, $39.98).

Comedy is likewise well represented this busy TV-on-DVD week. Warner Home Video offers The Gilmore Girls: The Complete Third Season (six-disc, $59.98), while Buena Vista Home Entertainment contributes Golden Girls: Season 6 and Home Improvement: Season 5 (three-disc, $39.99 each), and Shout! Factory has Marlo Thomas in That Girl: Season Two (four-disc, $39.98).

Also new this week are Northern Exposure: The Complete 5th Season (Universal, three-disc, $59.98) and Reba: The Complete Fourth Season (20th Century Fox, three-disc, $29.98).

Universal goes the sci-fi/fantasy route with Quantum Leap: The Complete Fifth Season (three-disc, $49.98), while Paramount satisfies sagebrush buffs with the 15-episode Gunsmoke: The Directors Collection (three-disc, $39.99).

Collectors’ corner: Bond

James Bond boosters can ditch any alternative weekend plans and settle in with MGM Home Entertainment’s new James Bond: Ultimate Edition Volume 1 and Volume 2 (10-disc, $89.98 each).

• Volume 1 collects Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Living Daylights and The World Is Not Enough.

• Volume 2 gathers Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View to a Kill, Licence to Kill and Die Another Day.

Both sets come fully loaded with bonus features both vintage and new.

More for collectors

20th Century Fox has further intrigue in store with a trio of Cold War spy titles ($19.98 each) — Gregory Peck in The Chairman, John Huston’s The Kremlin Letter (1970) and George Segal in The Quiller Memorandum (1966), all with new film historian commentaries.

The same label services classic musical lovers with lavish, bonus-laden double-disc editions of four Rodgers & Hammerstein screen adaptations: Carousel, The King and I, Oklahoma and South Pacific ($26.98 each). Universal chips in with the digital debut of the same duo’s Flower Drum Song ($26.98).

And speaking of “tunes,” Warner rounds up Bugs, Daffy and the animated gang in the gala Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4 (four-disc, $64.92), with extras galore, and Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection 4 (two-disc, $26.99).

The ‘A’ list

Ron Howard’s extras-enhanced double-disc The Da Vinci Code (Sony Pictures, $29.96) tops the week’s roster of recent theatrical releases. 20th Century Fox and ThinkFilm counter-program with comedies — the teen farce John Tucker Must Die ($29.98) and the Amy Sedaris showcase Strangers With Candy ($27.98), the latter co-starring Stephen Colbert.

On the foreign front, two high-profile French films arrive — the Oscar-nominated Joyeux Noel, set in World War I (Sony Pictures, $26.96), and Claude Sautet’s contemporary Un Coeur en Hiver (Koch Lorber, $29.98).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Trying to find the camp classic The Creeping Terror on DVD.

R. Bell, via e-mail

That gem can currently be found in the Mystery Science Theater Collection Vol. 1 (Rhino Video, $59.98).

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