The most-nominated show on television, winner of critical raves and awards (Emmys, Golden Globes, Peabodys), this gripping HBO series redefines family with unforgettable characters, tough-guy patois, and a hip, eclectic soundtrack. Have a sit-down with Tony et al. and recap the first season: 13 episodes, 11-/4 hours on 5 cassettes.
Finally, parents will have something to pop in the VCR when their hopelessly addicted tots ask for a hit of the blue dog during one of the many hours it's not actually playing on television. This 50-minute video contains two segments that touch on several traditional tales, but focus on "The Three Little Pigs" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." There's a little Elvis humor for the adults, but most of the jokes are aimed squarely at the pre-K set, who are asked to help our rugby-shirted friend Steve discover his evasive cartoon dog's favorite stories. With any luck, the video should buy you more than 50 minutes of peace as your child is likely to be inspired to engage his or her dog in porridge-portion comparisons or corner the cat behind the washing machine for a rousing game of "Little pig, little pig, let me come in." --Kimberly Heinrichs
The title alone hints at the intoxicating fun that awaits viewers of this full-length film version of a wildly popular BBC series. At its center is a trio of rascally rogues-Blamire, Compo, and Clegg-whose shenanigans are legendary in the Yorkshire dales. In three related episodes, the lusty lads dash pell-mell from one daft scheme to another. Aiding, abetting, or occasionally trying to thwart them are equally colorful characters, including toothsome Nora Batty and the dearly departed Sam. About 6 hours on 4 cassettes.
Covering the entire 20th century in one video series is an ambitious project, but one that Peter Jennings and ABC News are up to. In The Century: America's Time, a 12-part documentary on six videotapes that is a companion to the book of the same name, Jennings guides us through a century of technology and advancement like no other. As he says in his introduction to episode 1, "Seeds of Change," "Unlike previous centuries where leadership was defined by royalty and other rulers, the 20th century more than any other was shaped by the will and actions of the common man." The series is a sweeping presentation of the United States of the 1900s and tries to encompass a mind-boggling amount of history. And while at moments the videos may leave you longing for more, Jennings does an excellent job of creating smooth segues between disparate pieces.
The first episode, for instance, begins with the influx of immigrants at the turn of the century and touches on Jim Crow laws, moving pictures, planes, Henry Ford, the sinking of the USS Maine, child labor, suffragettes, the Panama Canal, imperialism, and more, right up to the beginning of World War I. The archival footage is stunning and interviews with historians, veterans, journalists, POWs, politicians, authors, celebrities, and common people help bring the past to life again. Mickey Spillane discusses the speakeasies of the 1920s; Dennis Hopper talks about Easy Rider in the '60s; Tom Wolfe reads from The Bonfire of the Vanities for the episode on the '80s. Eudora Welty, E.L. Doctorow, Martin Scorsese, John Updike, Pat Buchanan, Oliver Stone, Stephen E. Ambrose, among many others, lend their voices to this documentary. Yet, despite the great names, at times the pictures and people are allowed to speak for themselves, without intrusive narration--the stark images of the Challenger explosion or the sad words of a political activist mourning the death of his partner to AIDS are more powerful because of it. This chronological tale (with the exception of the last episode, "Then and Now," which is arranged thematically) is an insightful and poignant reminder of all the marvels--and tragedies--of America in the 20th century. --Jenny Brown