Clint Eastwood’s sixth season as Rowdy Yates in “Rawhide” comes to DVD this week, along with the penultimate episodes of “Breaking Bad.”
“Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Volume 1” (CBS/Paramount, 1963-64, b/w, four discs, $46.99, 15 episodes, trailer).
“Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Volume 2” (CBS/Paramount, 1964, b/w, four discs, $46.99, 16 episodes, trailers). Clint Eastwood’s first starring movie, the Italian-made spaghetti western “A Fistful of Dollars,” was still a few months away from its European release date when this season ended, so he was not yet a star, although he had developed a following as Rowdy Yates, the ramrod for drovers led by trail boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) in this popular western series.
A sort of anthology in the “Wagon Train” mode, the show sometimes features Eastwood at the center of an episode but more often secondary to Fleming and the week’s guests, which include in these sets James Whitmore, Elizabeth Montgomery, Burgess Meredith, Beau Bridges, Frankie Avalon, Barbara Eden, Broderick Crawford and Mickey Rooney, among others.
“Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season” (Sony, 2012, three discs, $55.99, eight episodes, eight-minute bonus scene, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). (Also on Blu-ray, $65.99) Rough-and-tumble story of a former high school chemistry teacher (Bryan Cranston) who has become a ruthless drug dealer is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, but it’s certainly a critical (and Emmy-winning) darling. This is the first half of Season 5, and the highly touted bonus sequence exclusive to this set reveals a bit of back story to the eighth episode, which in turn leads into the final episodes of the series, which begin Aug. 11.
“The First Churchills” (Acorn, 1969, three discs, $59.99, 12 episodes, featurettes, photo gallery; 10-page booklet). This acclaimed British miniseries is based on Winston Churchill’s biography of his ancestors, a duke and duchess in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. John Neville co-stars with Susan Hampshire, who won an Emmy for her performance. (Debuted on U.S. television in 1971 as the first episode of the PBS anthology series “Masterpiece Theatre.”)
“The Politician’s Wife” (Acorn, 1995, $29.99, three episodes, text essay). Adult miniseries about a British scandal told from the viewpoint of the betrayed wife (Juliet Stevenson) whose husband (Trevor Eve) is a member of the Conservative Party and famous for touting family values. His mistress is played by Minnie Driver the same year as her breakout film role in “Circle of Friends.” (Coarse language, nudity, sexual violence.)
“Vexed: Series 2” (Acorn, 2012, two discs, $49.99, six episodes, photo gallery). Toby Stephens stars as a cocky, slovenly, sexist London copper, driving his new self-reliant, ambitious female partner (Miranda Raison, replacing Season 1’s Lucy Punch) to distraction. Sometimes funny, often puerile comic police procedural. (Coarse language, drugs, sex.)
“Wilfred: The Complete Original Series” (Shout! 2007-10, four discs, $29.93, 16 episodes, featurettes, trailer, bloopers). This is the original Australian version of this oddball comedy series about a slacker whose new girlfriend has a dog that he sees as a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, beer-swilling man dressed in a dogsuit. (And you wondered where the inspiration for “Ted” came from.)
“Journey of the Universe” (Shelter Island, 2011, $24.98). Ambitious documentary, which was shown on PBS, looks at the human connection to Earth and the universe from the Big Bang through today, a discussion led by evolutionary philosopher Brian Thomas Swimme with beautiful cinematography in and around Greece.
“Journey of the Universe: Conversations” (Shelter Island, 2011, four discs, $79.98. 20 episodes). This expansion of the documentary above is a series of conversations led by Yale historian of religions Mary Evelyn Tucker with other historians, scientists and environmentalists talking about the human role in responding to universal challenges.
“Mountain Men: Season 1” (History/Lionsgate, 2012, two discs, $19.98, eight episodes, deleted scenes). Mudslides, falling trees, hungry animals, drastic changes in weather and much more face the rugged title characters in this reality series filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Montana’s Yaak River and the northern range of Alaska.
“Ice Road Truckers: Season 6” (History/Lionsgate, 2012, four discs, $24.98, 16 episodes, deleted scenes). Those daring drivers in one of cable TV’s most harrowing reality series travel through Canada where oil exploration has reached an all-time high and warm weather has left Manitoba highways with very thin ice.
“Dora Rocks!” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013, $14.99, two bonus episodes). Dora the Explorer in an animated, sing-along adventure with Boots.