- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2019

Gifting alert: Father’s Day arrives this Sunday, and here are a few last-minute suggestions for the dad who loves binge-watching television shows in his home theater.

The Shield: The Complete Series (Mill Creek Entertainment, rated TV-MA, $99.99) — One of the most celebrated as well as controversial crime dramas in the history of television returns in an 18 Blu-ray disc, boxed set boasting new 4K scans from the original 16mm camera negatives on all 88 episodes.

Creator Shawn Ryan’s “The Shield,” was originally seen on the FX Network between 2002 and 2008, drawing in viewers for seven seasons. Michael Chiklis won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his role as antihero Detective Vic Mackey.

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Mackey leads members of the Strike Team, who follow his set of morally ambiguous rules, and together they clean out the complex criminal elements on the streets of Los Angeles.

The gritty and violent show pulled no punches on Mackey’s quest to beat back evil. The show co-starred Walton Goggins (Strike Team member and Mackey’s best friend Shane Vendrell); Catherine Dent (patrol officer Danny Sofer); and Benito Martinez (interfering Capt. David Aceveda), with appearances from Glenn Close (Capt. Monica Rawling) and Forest Whitaker (Internal Affairs Lt. Jon Kavanaugh), to name a few.

Purists will frown on the 1.78:1 aspect ratio applied to all the shows (the first five season were shown in the U.S. with a 1.33:1, 4x3 aspect ratio) but the high definition remaster, supervised by Mr. Ryan, demands the screen-filling presentation and is well worth the price of admission.

Notable extras: The packaging of the set is in itself an extra. A thick cardboard fold-over slipcase with a magnetic lid opens to reveal a sturdy book embossed with a metal shield and a typed introduction page from Mr. Ryan. Each Blu-ray gets housed in a cardboard page and is illustrated with characters from the show.

The bonus content will consume fans. Start with more than 60 optional cast and crew commentary tracks; dozens of deleted scenes; an 80-minute documentary focused on the Season 3 finale; an hourlong dissection of Season 4; and another 90-minute, behind-the-scenes overview of Season 5

Another pair of Blu-ray discs continue the extras assault with goodies that include a nearly hourlong 2018 cast reunion, a 2016 hourlong writers panel, cast audition tapes and a 48-minute director’s roundtable.

The Americans: The Complete Series (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Not Rated, $49.98)Arguably one of the best period spy dramas to ever grace television screens returns in an appealingly priced DVD boxed set compiling all six seasons of the show originally seen on the FX cable network.

Between 2013 and 2018, viewers enjoyed the complex lives of two KGB spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) who exist in an arranged Soviet marriage as they pose as Americans running a travel agency with the task of monitoring and infiltrating the U.S. government and its intelligence agencies in Washington, D.C.

While raising two children (Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati), in a big house in the Virginia suburbs and living across the street and befriending a suspecting but unassuming FBI agent (Noah Emmerich), the pair set out on covert assignments that featured sabotage, seduction, theft and murder.

Owners get the entire 75-episode run of the Emmy- and Golden Globe award-winning show and without a doubt, older dads will love the espionage-soaked, nostalgic glimpse into a time when the Cold War was on its last legs. President Ronald Reagan took office and looked to end Russian Communism and found an unlikely ally in Mikhail Gorbachev as the last season plays out.

The only hiccup is Fox offering the set on the woefully inadequate and antiquated DVD format. Watching the show in high definition would have made for a much better viewing experience on home theaters.

Best extras: Each DVD season set offers just a pinch of supplemental content including an optional commentary on the episode “The Colonel” with creator Joe Weisberg, producer Joel Fields and Mr. Emmerich; deleted and extended scenes; and roughly six featurettes.

The Last Ship: The Complete Series (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated TV-14, $159.99) — Dads in the mood for a military-action drama will not be disappointed with the explosive adventures of the entire crew of the Navy destroyer USS Nathan James in TNT’s 56-episode, post-apocalyptic series.

All five seasons are now bundled together on 11 Blu-ray discs delivering more than 41 hours of high definition entertainment tied to Capt. Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) and his team. They are trying to successfully find and administer a cure for a pandemic that wiped out nearly all of the planet’s population and then go on missions around the globe to battle megalomaniacs and insane scientists trying to take over the world.

The nail-biting, scream-out-loud narrative comes loaded with scenery-munching villains, military strategy combat using destroyers, explosive firefights and, best of all, an appreciative reverence for the men and women who serve this country, no matter the unusual situations.

Notable extras: Besides all of the extras found on the original Blu-rays released in season sets, including the 30-minute historical documentary “From America’s First Fighting Ship to The Last Ship” about U.S. naval destroyers, the set comes with an extra disc containing a roundtable discussion with naval experts and the show’s creators discussing the authenticity of the series combat and military operations.

The Brady-est Brady Bunch: TV and Movie Collection (Paramount and CBS Home Entertainment, Not Rated, $84.98)Dads get an almost too deep dive into one of America’s most-beloved fictional families in this 31-disc DVD set highlighting the lives of parents Mike (Robert Reed) and Carol Ann Brady (Florence Henderson); their six children Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb), Cindy (Susan Olsen), Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight), and Bobby (Mike Lookinland); and their eccentric housekeeper Alice (Ann B. Davis) and dog Tiger.

The collection includes all five seasons of the 1970s classic sitcom “The Brady Bunch” (117 episodes), the 1972/1973 cartoons series ” The Brady Kids” (22 episodes) and the never-before-released-to-disc spinoffs of the 1990s, “The Bradys” (six episodes) and the 1980s” The Brady Brides” (10 episodes).

Paramount also unloads all of the made-for-TV movies — “A Very Brady Christmas” (1988), the biographical drama “Growing Up Brady” and “The Brady Bunch in the White House” (2002).

And, to further overwhelm, it includes the big-screen film reimagining of the family in “The Brady Bunch Movie” (1995) and “A Very Brady Sequel” (1996) that starred Shelley Long as Carol Brady and Gary Cole as Mike Brady.

Conspicuously absent, no doubt due to licensing issues with celebrity guests, are the nine “Brady Bunch” variety shows seen in the late 1970s with the original cast dancing, singing and yucking it up.

Suffice it to report, all of the content should have been remastered and released on the Blu-ray format, but still, serious fans will consider this collection an almost definitive life-defining, massive dose of Brady nirvana.

Best extras: The smattering of bonus materials comes from the releases of the original sets to DVD and includes a trio of optional commentary tracks — creator Sherwood Schwartz on “The Honeymoon” and Mr. Williams, Mr. Knight and Miss Olsen on “A Camping We Go” and “The Hero” — and a 17-minute look at the original show with members of the cast and Schwartz.

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