TV shows are the best bets in this week’s DVD releases.
• “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” C-plus: In a world where there is no “Twilight,” “Underworld,” “Stargate” or “Star Wars,” the film would be an interesting look at a magical universe where turmoil is equally divided between a war with demons and the battle for young love. But those films do exist, and that leaves “City of Bones” feeling mundane.
Director Harald Zwart, the man who gave us the abomination of “Pink Panther 2,” shows a lack of talent in blending the big action with emotion. These elements should support each other, but they feel like they are from two different scripts. Even the attempts to add a touch of humor – like suggesting a werewolf would feel more comfortable hanging his head out of a car window – don’t come across as connected to the rest of the film.
The film should please fans of the books. Others should consider one of the other DVD picks that make up this genre.
• “Hot in Cleveland: Season Four,” Grade B: Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White continue to be the funniest comedy ensemble working in TV – network or cable. They show those skills in a series of comedic adventures from this season that includes a work love triangle, landing major movie roles or preparing for a secret wedding.
The DVD set features the live episode and the “Mary Tyler Moore” reunion that brought White back together with Valerie Harper, Cloris Lechman and Georgia Engel.
• “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” Grade A-minus: It’s been 37 years since this syndicate series debuted, and the comedy remains as crisp and funny as ever. That’s because of the wickedly funny writing used to poke fun at the soap opera world through the often foggy eyes of Mary Hartman (Louise Lasser).
This is a series that can go from a police investigation about a flasher to Hartman falling into a funk about how her floors don’t seem to have the proper shine. This send up of daytime television from Norman Lear works on every level because of the strong supporting cast of Mary Kay Place, Greg Mullavey, Debralee Scott and Dody Goodman.
Included in the DVD set are all 325 episodes.
Also new on DVD Dec. 3:
“The Smurfs 2”: Gargamel creates troublesome Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties.
“Drinking Buddies”: Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick star.
“Simpsons: Season 16”: Animated adventures of the wildest family in Springfield.
“The Wolverine”: Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the blade-fisted hero.
“Transformers Prime: Season Three – Beast Hunters”: Contains all 13 episodes of the animated adventure series.
“All the Boys Love Mandy Lane”: Amber Heard stars.
“Galactic Adventures: 3D Sun / Mars 3D”: Double feature that looks at the universe beyond Earth.
“Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series Collector’s Edition”: Includes all six games from the 2013 World Series and the pennant clincher, ALCS Game 6.
“The Perfect Wedding”: Marriage plans get complicated. Eric Aragon stars.
“Casting Me”: Comedy from South Africa.
“Doctor Who – The Doctors Revisited: Ninth-Eleventh”: Features Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith as the Doctor.
“A Christmas Tree Miracle”: A family finds the Christmas spirit they lost.
“Argo Extended Edition”: Includes nine minutes of footage that delves deeper into CIA specialist Tony Mendez’s personal life.
“Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3”: Includes the first three seasons of the series.
“Things Never Said”: Love story centered on the trials and tribulations of life.
“Good Ol’ Freda”: Freda Kelly tells her stories of the Beatles for the first time in 50 years.
“Hawaii Five-O: The Complete Series”: Jack Lord stars in the cop drama that ran 12 seasons.
“The Jack Ryan Collection”: Includes four films featuring the Tom Clancy hero.
“Civil War Double Feature”: History Channel productions about the bloodiest war in American history.
“Power Rangers Legacy: The First 20 Seasons”: DVD collection is limited to only 2,000 copies.
“Thomas & Friends: The Thomas Way”: The TV train and his friends learn to be really useful.
“Tracie Long ‘Focus’ Series”: Three titles have been released in the 30-minute workout series.
“Trail of Blood”: A camping trip turns deadly when a disturbed war veteran starts a killing spree.
“Matilda”: The film based on the Roald Dahl novel is now on Blu-ray.