Accidentally on Purpose: Season One (Paramount) – Thirtysomething movie critic and single woman Billie (Jenna Elfman) rebounds from rejection with a one-night-stand turned four-week-run with twentysomething boy-toy Zack (Jon Foster) and ends up pregnant and determined to keep it. Based on the book by veteran film critic (and fellow MSN contributor) Mary Pols, Accidentally on Purpose is a sitcom of unplanned pregnancy, planned single motherhood and the romantic complications involved in both when the mother-to-be is Jenna Elfman and the father-to-be, a junior chef who is immature though quite generous of character, moves in as a platonic roommate.
I can’t imagine that May Pols’ real life experience was this tangled up in the shenanigans of a live-in boyfriend, stoner roommates and post-pregnancy action (seriously, there are more cougar jokes here than in Cougar Town), but then this is a sitcom, not a reality show, and Elfman is funny and sexy even when she’s going into labor. The season begins in conception and ends in birth (in a two-part finale involving a fake labor, a police escort and… well, I don’t want to spoil everything), and sadly ends in a state of potential: this sitcom didn’t survive beyond its one and only season. Ashley Jensen (of Ugly Betty and Ricky Gervais’ Extras) co-stars as Billie’s best friend and Nicolas Wright is the slovenly ex-roomie and best friend of Zack.
All 18 episodes on two discs in a standard case. Along with “An Uncoventional Behind-The-Scenes Documentary” (which, title aside, is pretty conventional) is the ten-minute “May Pols: The ‘Real’ Billie Chase,” where the author compares notes between her memoir and the kooky sitcom version, and a profile of the web series “Lunch With Nic and Jon” (which is hosted by Jon Foster and Nicolas Wright on their lunch breaks from the show). Also includes a survey of “The Bro-partment” and a gag reel.
War of the Worlds: The Final Season (Paramount) – This late-eighties syndicated sci-fi conspiracy series, inspired by the 1953 feature film, came from the era before off-network shows had earned any credibility and it looks it, shot on the cheap in Toronto with a second-rate cast and slapdash scripts. Regardless, the low-rated show earned a small but intent following for the conspiratorial sci-fi storyline, a following that turned when the second season of the show arrived with a new producer who killed off major players from the first season and brought in future Highlander star Adrian Paul as the new heroic lead. It didn’t save this series and the second season became The Final Season. 20 episodes on five discs in a standard case with hinged trays, no supplements.
Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show (Amazon Exclusive) (Mahalo Studios) – The talk show from comedian turned host Kevin Pollak isn’t technically a TV series—it’s an online exclusive—but otherwise it’s an old-school talk show. Pollak spends practically the entire 90-to-120-minute show (minus his version of a monologue and banter with his producer Jaime Fox and “kick in the side” Samm Levine) with his guest every episode and the result is a laid-back conversation interspersed with low-key humor. Really laid back, in fact, which allows for conversations to play out for as long as they merit. The shows are now available on DVD-R through Amazon’s CreateSpace DVD on Demand, preserving the low-definition production values of streaming video (complete with motion stutter that looks like you’re seeing tracers whenever some moves their arm suddenly). Guests in the first 72 shows include Neil Patrick Harris, Henry Winkler (complete with spontaneous earthquake), Jason Reitman, Paul Rudd, Kevin Smith, Hank Azaria and Jane Campion, among others. No supplements.
The Commish: The Complete Series (Mill Creek) – Before he was the fearsome Vic Mackey in The Shield, Michael Chiklis was the cuddly Commish, a former Brooklyn cop and loving family man now running the department of a small upstate city. Of course, some crime follows him to the suburbs (see Telly Savalas guest star as a “retired” New York mobster who moves to town in the second season and vows revenge) so he brings big-city methods to the small town department. The mix of crime show and family drama was created by Stephen J. Cannel with Stephen Kronish and co-stars Theresa Saldana as his supportive wife, who gives birth to a baby girl in the second season. This bargain collection features all 94 episodes of the five seasons (including three seasons previously unavailable on DVD) on 17 discs in Mill Creek’s unique keep case that holds the discs in separate paper sleeves stacked in a snug tray. Supplements include interviews with Cannell, Chiklis and others.
The HBO original film You Don’t Know Jack (HBO), starring Al Pacino as Jack Kervorkian, won Emmy Awards for the screenplay and Pacino’s performance. It arrived too late for me to review it but I note the release this week.
Also new this week: The Ghost Whisperer: The Fifth Season (Paramount), which is also its final season, CSI: Miami: The Eighth Season (Paramount), On the Road with Charles Kuralt: Set 3 (Acorn), Poldark: Series 2 (Acorn), the box set WWII: The Essential Collection (The World at War / Victory at Sea / The Century of Warfare) (A&E) and the British telefilm Albert’s Memorial (BFS) with David Jason.