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Hal Holbrook as The Senator makes its DVD debut this week
Hal Holbrook won an Emmy for his portrayal of a crusading U.S. senator in the 1970 TV series "The Bold Ones: The Senator," which makes its DVD debut this week. - photo by Chris Hicks
Of the many forgotten TV series that disappeared after an initial run, The Senator stands out as one deserving of a resurrection. And after 45 years, this week its making its DVD debut.

The Bold Ones: The Senator: The Complete Series (Timeless/Universal/DVD, 1970-71, three discs, pilot movie, eight episodes, featurettes). Intelligent and thoughtful, socially conscious TV shows were few and far between in 1970, the year before All in the Family made social issues chic. But they did crop up now and then. And although this one didnt fare very well in the ratings, it pleased both critics and the television industry, the latter awarding the single-season program no less than five Emmys.

Today, The Senator holds up surprisingly well, despite some obviously dated aspects. Think of it as a 70s period piece that owes something to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and anticipates The West Wing. And it should be noted this program aired just a couple of years ahead of the Watergate scandal and the rising tide of national cynicism that came with it.

Hal Holbrook stars as the dignified, idealistic, empathetic junior senator from an unidentified state who tackles important issues and is occasionally a thorn in the side of some of his seniors. And its surprisingly contemporary in its thinking, as exemplified by the pilot episode, which has Holbrook crusading to raise awareness about air pollution. Holbrooks performance was so strong that he earned an Emmy as best actor for the series and a nomination as best actor for the movie, in the same year.

That episode, A Clear and Present Danger, was a successful stand-alone project until it was spun off into the show. But it didnt air every week as it was a rotating series with The New Doctors and The Lawyers under the wheel format or umbrella title of The Bold Ones. Hence, only eight hourlong episodes were produced. Guests include Burgess Meredith, E.G. Marshall and Will Geer.

Bob Hope: Entertaining the Troops (MVD/DVD, 1979, b/w and color, extended sequence). This documentarys first hour is a sort of stand-alone overview of movie and radio stars selling war bonds and entertaining soldiers during World War II, with Dorothy Lamour as the primary interviewee and plentiful clips from the era. Abbott and Costello do their Whos on First? routine, the Andrews Sisters sing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Eddie Rochester Anderson and Lena Horne do a comic duet, etc. The final half hour is a reunion of Bob Hope and Frances Langford reminiscing about their travels for the troops.

The Newsroom: The Complete Third Season (HBO/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, six episodes, audio commentary, featurettes). Aaron Sorkins preachy but always interesting media series ends its run with an abbreviated season that focuses on citizen journalism, using the Boston Marathon bombings as one of its flashpoints. Sorkin is a witty, smart writer of both movies and TV series (The Social Network, A Few Good Men, The West Wing) but he also tends to lecture through his characters. Still, those characters are rich as played by a star cast led by Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda. (As this is HBO, theres also plenty of R-rated language.)

The Driver (Acorn/DVD, 2014, two discs, three episodes, featurette, photo gallery). British miniseries about a taxi driver (David Morrissey) whose encounter with an old friend and ex-con (Ian Hart) leads to his becoming a driver for the mob. Bad idea. Especially when the kingpin is a wild card called The Horse (Colm Meaney). The moneys good, but its not enough to mend the former cabbies estranged relationship with his wife and daughter. And, of course, once youre in, theres no pleasant way out.

Lovejoy: Series 6 (Acorn/DVD, 1994, three discs, 10 episodes). The sixth and final season of this comic caper series has the titular antiques dealer a dodgy but charming character played by Ian McShane (well before his American success in the HBO Western series Deadwood and as Blackbeard in the last Pirates of the Caribbean film) confronting old enemies and heading toward marriage with Charlotte (Caroline Langrishe).

Country Buck$: Season 1 (A&E/Lionsgate/DVD, 2014, eight episodes, featurettes). This reality series strives for a Duck Dynasty vibe (and Willie Robertson makes a cameo appearance). Here, the Busbice family, owners of a high-tech hunting-gear company and a 55,000-acre ranch in Louisiana, create and test new gadgets as they cut-up with one another.

Littlest Pet Shop: Paws for Applause (Shout! Kids/Hasbro/DVD, 2013-14, five episodes). Discovery Family cable-channel animated series has Blythe and her pet-shop friends Zoe the spaniel, Pepper the skunk, Sunil the mongoose, Russell the hedgehog, Penny the panda and Minka the monkey visiting a fashion camp and catching a design thief.

Caillou Helps Out (PBS Kids/DVD, 2010-13, seven episodes, coloring pages, activities). Canadian educational animated series aimed at preschoolers about a 4-year-old boy with a big imagination. Here, he makes a pizza with his dad, learns about tidying up a classroom and discovers his friend Emma has diabetes.

Scholastic Storybook Treasures: 20 Back-to-School Tales (Scholastic/Cinedigm/DVD, 2015, 20 cartoons). Animated stories aimed at children ages 3-8, including How Dinosaurs Go to School, Wheels on the Bus, Splat the Cat, The Librarian From the Black Lagoon, etc.
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