The very funny USA cable-channel series "Psych" leads off this collection of new DVDs of TV shows, scheduled in stores on Tuesday.
"Psych: The Complete First Season" (Universal, 2006, four discs, $59.98). This goofy comedy-mystery series is akin in some ways to "Monk" (which it follows on the USA cable channel); the detective is eccentric and has a brilliant mind for noticing clues others have missed.
In this case, however, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) is a young, womanizing layabout, who explains his talent by pretending to be a psychic (a contrived plot device explained in the hilarious pilot). Dule Hill is a great foil as Shawn's longtime, long-suffering best friend, and Corbin Bernsen is also good as Shawn's father, a by-the-book former cop.
And the comedy is some of the best-written on television. Or anywhere. (The second season begins July 13.)
Extras: Widescreen, 15 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentary
"Monk: Season Five" (Universal, 2006, four discs, $59.98). "Monk" is still sharp and funny, with Tony Shalhoub pitch-perfect as the phobia-plagued San Francisco detective. The mysteries are also fun, many played out "Columbo"-style, where arrogant killers underestimate Monk until he trips them up. Traylor Howard, as his assistant Natalie, leads the fine supporting cast — and Dan Hedaya is well-cast as Monk's estranged father in one episode. (The sixth season begins July 13.)
Extras: Widescreen, audio commentary, Webisodes, pilot episode of "Psych"
"This Is Tom Jones" (Time/Life, 1969-70. three discs, $39.99). These episodes from Jones' two-season variety show feature comedy from Peter Sellers, Richard Pryor, Bob Hope — but the emphasis is on music, with such rock legends as The Who, Moody Blues, Janis Joplin, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, Joe Cocker and Aretha Franklin.
This is real time-capsule fun for those of us who were young in the late '60s and early '70s; it seems a bit campy now, but there's a lot to enjoy. Jones sings his biggest hits — "What's New, Pussycat?" "I (Who Have Nothing)" and several renditions of "It's Not Unusual."
Extras: Full frame, new interviews, vintage interviews, promos; 12-page booklet
"Poirot: The Classic Collection 2" (Acorn, 1990-96, 10 discs, $99.99). These episodes (which aired on PBS's "Mystery!") are the feature-length TV movies, starring David Suchet as Agatha Christie's prickly Belgian detective. Among them are "The ABC Murders" and "Hercule Poirot's Christmas."
Extras: Full frame, nine episodes, "Agatha Christie's Garden" show, text biographies/filmographies, trivia
"Porterhouse Blue" (Acorn, 1987, two discs, $39.99). This British miniseries is a scathing social satire that pits a reform-minded new headmaster (Ian Richardson) at a 500-year-old school against the dogged traditions of the aging faculty, led by the particularly devious head porter (David Jason). Edgy and dark, with a fabulous cast; dry wit of the first order.
Extras: Full frame, four episodes, text biographies/filmographies
"Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: The Second Season" (CBS/Paramount, 1965-66, five discs, $42.99). More military comedy with "Andy Griffith Show" alum Gomer (Jim Nabors), as he drives his Marine sergeant (Frank Sutton) — and everyone else — to distraction. Griffith and Ron Howard guest toward the end of the season.
Extras: Full frame, 30 episodes
"Film School" (IFC/Docurama, 2005, three discs, $29.95). Three New York University Film School students make movies they hope will give them a foot in the Hollywood door in this reality series, with guest appearances by Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and Oliver Stone. Most interesting for aspiring filmmakers.
Extras: Full frame, 10 episodes
"Mail Call: S.N.A.F.U." (History, 2004, not rated but R-level language, $12.95). Former Marine sergeant R. Lee Ermey (best-known as the drill sergeant in "Full Metal Jacket") headlines what is essentially a bonus disc for the History Channel "Mail Call" series, in which Ermey goes into all things military. These are bloopers that can be viewed in either a "family-friendly" or an "x-tra salty" version.
Extras: Full frame, two versions
"Reno 911! The Complete Fourth Season Uncensored!" (Comedy Central/Paramount, 2006-07, $26.99). More adventures with the raunchy Reno, Nev., deputy sheriffs.
Extras: Full frame, extended scene, audio commentary, featurette
"Louis C.K.: Shameless" (HBO, 2007, $19.97). The stand-up comic cuts loose in this HBO special.
Extras: Widescreen, 30-minute TV special
"The Spaghetti West" (IFC/Docurama, 2005, $26.95). If, like me, you're a fan of Italian Westerns of the '60s, this is an enjoyable, clip-filled documentary exploring the genre. Clint Eastwood and Ennio Morricone are among on-camera interviewees.
"Nixon: A Presidency Revealed" (History, 2007, $24.95). Interesting look at Nixon's presidency. Not quite as riveting as "The Fog of War," but still attention-grabbing.
Extras: Full frame, bonus documentary: "Inside the Presidency: Eisenhower vs. Nixon"
"Epidemic: Ebola, AIDS, Bird Flu and Typhoid" (WGBH, 1996-2004, four discs, $49.95). Three reissues and one new disc make up this latest "NOVA" box set with "Epidemic" themes: "Ebola: The Plague Fighters," "Bird Flu: How Safe Are We?" (narrated by Brad Pitt), "Typhoid Mary" and, the new disc, "Surviving AIDS." All are first-rate real-life horror stories with wider implications.
Extras: Full frame/widescreen, featurettes ("Bird Flu"), printable materials for educators
"Bozo: The World's Most Famous Clown: Collection 1" (Infinity, 1966, four discs, $39.98). This is, of course, the children's program with red-haired Bozo the Clown, who was played through the years by various actors in cities around the country. These are color half-hours from the nationally syndicated show with Frank Avruch as Bozo, and each episode includes a Bozo cartoon.
Extras: Full frame, 30 episodes
"Arnie the Doughnut ... and other Fantastic Adventure Stories" (Scholastic, 2007, $14.95). More wonderfully animated (in a variety of styles) short stories, including the title tale, "Roberto the Insect Architect," "Hondo & Fabian," "That New Animal" and "Swamp Angel."
Extras: Full frame, five stories
"The New Adventures of Superman" (Warner, 1966, two discs, $26.99).
"The New Adventures of Batman" (Warner, 1977, two discs, $26.99). These are early TV cartoons that preceded the more-famous animated series of the '90s, therefore providing a nostalgia factor for those of a certain age. Adam West and Burt Ward, of the '60s "Batman" TV series, provide the voices for Batman and Robin.
Extras: Full frame, 36 episodes ("Superman"), 16 episodes ("Batman"), audio commentaries ("Batman"), featurettes
"Tokko: Volume Two" (Manga, 2007, $24.98).
"Noein: To Your Other Self" (Manga, 2007, $19.98). These Japanese anime series are fantasies peppered with strange creatures. "Tokko" includes episodes 6-9; "Noein" has episodes 15-19.
Extras: Full frame, five episodes, featurettes, photo gallery