- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Here’s a look at a trio of great televised or streamed shows now available on the Blu-ray format.

Veep: The Final Season (HBO Home Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 226 minutes, $29.98) — Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus concludes her HBO series as a winner even through her self-absorbed presidential candidate Selina Myers character was not quite as lucky over the years as a public servant.

The final politically drenched season arrives via a single Blu-ray disc packed with laughs and hearty extras.

Those most jaded will appreciate the storyline covering abortion, sexual harassment and even mass shootings as candidate Myers uses all to her political advantage whenever possible to ascend to the Oval Office.

After seven seasons of the show, the entire cast — including Tony Hale as personal assistant Gary Walsh, Anna Chlumsky as bumbling campaign manager Amy Brookheimer, Timothy Simons as presidential candidate Jonah Ryan, and Kevin Dunn and Gary Cole as campaign strategist Ben Cafferty and Kent Davison, respectively — are so at home with their characters and the ability to vivisect each other with the most jaw-dropping of visceral insults that it’s an eye-watering experience near every episode.

Best extras: HBO offers an optional commentary track for every episode and a pair of tracks for the season finale.

That translates into viewers often humorously hearing from Miss Louis-Dreyfus, director David Mandel, Mr. Hale, writer Lew Morton, Miss Chlumsky, Mr. Simons and cinematographer David Miller.

Two other featurettes offer brief character retrospectives and a too-brief recap of the final season from Miss Louis-Dreyfus.

Sorely missing is the gag reel for the final season, found on Veep’s YouTube website. How can that 12 minutes of hilarious chaos and a teary-eyed cast farewell not get included on the disc?

Swamp Thing: The Complete Series (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 445 minutes, $59.99) — One of DC Comics’ most famous heroic monsters was given its own critically acclaimed episodic supernatural series last year on the DC Entertainment streaming service produced by horror maestros Mark Verheiden (“Alien vs. Predator”) and James Wan (“Insidious” and “The Conjuring”).

Loosely based on the original sequential art series from the 1970s, the first and only 10 episodes arrive via a pair of Blu-ray discs.

The story takes viewers into Marais, Louisiana, where CDC specialist Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) arrives to investigate a mysterious illness in her hometown. She meets discredited biologist Alec Holland (Andy Bean) on the hunt for an aggressive pathogen and trying to uncover the secrets of the Sunderland Corporation.

After Holland gets mysteriously murdered, his essence and memories intertwine with a massive and mystical plant-based elemental creature that lives in and protects Louisiana’s bayou swamp.

With a plot also tapping into themes of Alan Moore’s 1980s comic book take on the creature, the lore of beauty and the beast and special effects reminiscent of John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” the show is an all-round winner for horror fans.

Highest compliments to the Swamp Thing creature design team, with detail down to every undulating and sprouting plant tendril on its body, that harkens back brilliantly to comics’ co-creator Bernie Wrightson’s original macabre illustrations.

However, equally tragic to the Swamp Thing’s origins was the abrupt cancellation of the series in the middle of its first season, a rotten decision considering the high-quality storytelling and chillingly grotesque production.

Best extras: Considering the abrupt cancellation of the show, I expected to find zero bonus content on the Blu-ray discs. Warner Bros. delivered handsomely on my expectations.

My Life is Murder: Series 1 (Acorn TV, not rated, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 445 minutes, $59.99) — Actress Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess” and famed demon from “Ash vs. The Evil Dead”) takes a break from fighting mythical creatures and exterminating humanity to star as retired Melbourne Police Detective Alexa Crowe turned private investigator in an Australian mystery crime-drama series.

All 10 episodes of the first season, of the normally pay-per-view show, arrives on three Blu-ray discs covering Miss Crowe’s ability to solve murders, bake bread and occasionally fix German kitchen appliances.

She gets help from the fashion-minded, 20-something computer-whiz kid Madison Feliciano (Ebony Vagulans) and her former boss, Detective Inspector Kieran Hussey (Bernard Curry),, as well as a pesky cat named Captain Thunderbolt as she cracks a homicide case every episode.

With the amount of crime-solving episodic shows saturating the home entertainment market, “My Life is Murder” might have a hard time making the queue with audiences.

However, Miss Lawless’ lighthearted charm, her perfected Australian accent and veteran acting chops mix well within a millennial’s version of “Cannon” and “Columbo” meets “Murder She Wrote.”

“My Life is Murder” could become a long-term favorite.

Best extras: Seventeen minutes of behind-the-scenes vignettes has the main cast introduce their characters and also offers thoughts on the cat, Melbourne as a shooting location and production design.

Additionally, and really bizarre, viewers get six animated shorts (17 minutes in total) starring the origins and adventures of private feline detective Captain Thunderbolt as he moves into Alexa’s apartment, learns about his new housemate and her friends and has an encounter with a grumpy dog.

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