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Olive Kitteridge leads TV shows on DVD
Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner star in "Hart to Hart." Season Four of the fan-favorite series is on DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
The TV shows newly released on Blu-ray and DVD this week are led by the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge, the fourth season of Hart to Hart, and Greatest Heroes of the Bible.

Olive Kitteridge (HBO/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, two discs, four episodes). To call Olive Kitteridge a misanthrope is to understate, and she is fully embodied by Frances McDormand (who won the Screen Actors Guild award for this role, and nearly 20 years ago earned an Oscar for Fargo). Its a remarkable performance that allows the audience to sympathize with her over the course of the four-hour miniseries, even if we can never warm up to her.

Olive is blunt, rude, rigid in her beliefs and complains about everything. She has no friends, though everyone in their small Maine town knows her as the schoolteacher they want to avoid. But she also has a strong moral center, and its one of the shows ironies that it is Olive, not her cheerful, chipper, ever-patient husband, Henry (Richard Jenkins), who is instrumental in saving a few peoples lives over the course of the storys 25 years.

This is a character-driven show based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, and its filled with dysfunctional people, all played perfectly by a well-cast ensemble, including Bill Murray (in a small but pivotal role in the last half-hour), Zoe Kazan (in the first two episodes), Rosemarie DeWitt, Martha Wainwright and John Gallagher Jr., among others.

If Tennessee Williams had written about New England, it might have looked something like this. It should also be noted that despite this being an HBO production, it doesnt wallow in that networks trademark foul language, explicit sex or graphic violence. There is some coarse language in the third episode when Olive and Henry are in an emergency room that is robbed, and occasionally from the character of their son, but the overall miniseries is quite tame in terms of content.

Hart to Hart: The Complete Fourth Season (Shout!/1982-83, six discs, 22 episodes). Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers are back for another season of high-rolling jet-setting around the world to solve an array of international crimes, along with their man, Lionel Stander. Guests this season include Eva Gabor, Dean Stockwell, Ray Walston, Gloria DeHaven, Billy Barty, David McCallum, Tippi Hedren, Cesar Romero, Julie Newmar and Mimi Rogers.

Greatest Heroes of the Bible, Volume One: Bibles Greatest Stories (CBS/Paramount, 1978-79, four episodes).

Greatest Heroes of the Bible, Volume Two: Gods Chosen Ones (CBS/Paramount, 1978-79, four episodes).

Greatest Heroes of the Bible, Volume Three: Gods Power (CBS/Paramount, 1978-79, four episodes). Lots of familiar actors from the 1970s populate these Schick Sunn Classic productions. Moses, Noah, David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah, Esther, Joshua, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph are among the biblical figures here.

The show is entertaining in a nostalgic way, but it was produced on the cheap, and it shows, especially by todays standards. Stars include Victoria Principal, Dorothy Malone, Anne Francis, Robert Culp, Frank Gorshin, Gene Barry, Lainie Kazan, Ed Ames, June Lockhart, Tanya Roberts and John Larroquette, and episodes are narrated by Victor Jory. (Oddly, creator/producer Charles E. Sellier Jr.s name is misspelled on one episode as Sollier.)

Mamas Family: The Complete Sixth Season (StarVista/DVD, 1989-90, three discs, 20 episodes, featurettes). This sitcom spinoff of The Carol Burnett Show, with Vicki Lawrence as a blue-haired harpy that badgers her family no end, has its final season released in a stand-alone set for the first time. Ken Berry and Dorothy Lyman co-star as Mamas son and daughter-in-law, Vinton and Naomi. Episodes include an attempt to sell Mamas Tonic, a baby monitor being used to eavesdrop, Mamas dream that shes a private eye and, ultimately, Vinton and Naomi moving out on their own.

Nurse Jackie: Season Six (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, two/three discs, 12 episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes). This is a dark half-hour sitcom from the Showtime premium-cable network (with R-level content) about a nurse with a drug habit. She sobered up in season five, but now shes fallen off the wagon, using her supposed sobriety as a cover for her renewed drug use. Edie Falco won an Emmy for her role as the title character.

Quiero Amarte (Loving You Is All I Want) (Cinedigm/DVD, 2013, four discs, 22 episodes, in Spanish with no English subtitles). After his wifes death, Mauro Montesino and his daughter are left with the El Paraiso coffee plantation. Some time later, he is about to remarry when a girlfriend shows up claiming to be pregnant with his child. Will Mauro abandon his new love and do the right thing for the other woman?
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