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New on Disc: 'Dragnet 1968' and more …

12 Jul, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Dragnet 1968: Season 2

Shout! Factory, Drama, $44.99 six-DVD set, NR.
Stars Jack Webb, Harry Morgan.
The successful 1960s revival of the classic cop drama packed in some camp value during the counter-culture heyday. The jokiness began to seem more forced when juxtaposed against more adult subject matter like sex predators, LSD and racial turmoil. Even so, these episodes do give a hint of where the country was at the time.
Extras: The set includes the 1966 pilot episode, a sit-around with longtime associates of Jack Webb and informative essays by Webb’s daughter (Stacy) and Webb’s official biographers.
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Jason and the Argonauts (Blu-ray)

Sony Pictures, Adventure, $24.95 Blu-ray, ‘G.’
Stars Todd Armstrong, Honor Blackman, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond.
Generally, the colors on the darker Jason Blu-ray aren’t as bright as those on my old and generally brighter DVD copy, though I noticed certain reds on the Blu-ray that carried the day. Overall, the grainier Blu-ray is sharper, though there’s visual inconsistency in both versions. The result is kind of a litmus test for how much or little Blu-ray can do for a movie shot on a limited budget.
Extras: The Blu-ray offers a pair of commentaries, one of which is with stop-motion special effects guru Ray Harryhausen (who just turned 90) and film historian Tony Dalton. The other discussion features visual effects artist Randall William Cook (The Lord of the Rings) and Peter Jackson.
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Obama’s Deal: Inside the Battle for Health Care Reform

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
April’s “Frontline” special from its top creative gun (Michael Kirk) is about the grimy hands that resulted from presidentially mandated arm-twisting on the long road to getting a bill passed. Expect the usual array of Washington characters and confrontations, though here, of course, the stakes were upped. You get a great sense of how arduous the process is and how many unsavory things one has to do even to win a squeaker, which Kirk gives us in just under an hour.
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Five Star Final (Remastered)

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $14.95 Download, NR.
Stars Edward G. Robinson, Marian Marsh, Boris Karloff.
Though a couple of its supporting performances have their overwrought moments, this pioneer best picture Oscar nominee is still the real deal when it comes to the screen’s most acidic portrayals of the tabloid press. And there’s nothing overwrought about Edward G. Robinson, who proved to audiences that his range went well beyond playing iconic hood “Rico” in Little Caesar, which had made an overnight star of the Broadway import earlier in the year. Said to be based on the experiences of a vengeful former newshound, this play-to-film casts Robinson as the managing editor of a rag called the New York Evening Gazette. With the sales force wanting more sensationalism, Robinson reluctantly gives it to them by dredging up a society shooting from 20 years before. What follows is escalating tragedy that turns the stomach of Robinson — who, in an effective symbolic gesture, is always seen sudsing up his hands with hot water, as if to excise layers of Gazette dirt.
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