Nov 3, 2009

New Spy DVDs Out This Week

Spy season continues! Following hot on the heels of last week's major releases of The Prisoner Blu-Ray and From the Orient With Fury, this week sees several more crucial spy discs. First and foremost, we've got the seventh and final season of the original Mission: Impossible. Season 7 sees the team take on a few more espionage-related threats than they did in the Syndicate-heavy sixth season, but the primary enemy remains organized crime. (Or bad Seventies fashions; it's a tough call.) And Jim's still got some great cons left up his sleeve! This release completes one of the cornerstones of the spy TV genre... although there are still two seasons' worth of a late Eighties revival yet to see release on DVD. Hopefully CBS/Paramount will put those out on the same twice-yearly schedule as the original series. When I first started this blog three years ago, the first season was just about to be released, and that was cause for excitement. Seven years' worth of Missions seemed so far away! And there was no guarantee we'd get them all. Now we have, and it seems appropriate that the seventh coincides with the Double O Section's Third Blogiversary. These DVD sets have been coming out as long as I've been blogging! Honestly, it will be weird not having more of them to look forward to. CBS/Paramount has conditioned me to get a hankering for Peter Graves & Co. every six months or so, quenchable only by tearing through a new season of the show. Then I burn out on it and need a break until that next pang. Hopefully the Eighties version will be in the pipeline by that time...

There is also a bundle available containing all seven seaons, Mission: Impossible: The Complete Series. It appears to be just the original releases shrinkwrapped together, though; there's no special new packaging. Given CBS/Paramount's release history, I'd fully expect a newly-packaged Complete Series boxed set somewhere down the line (as they did for The Wild Wild West), possibly once they've released the two revival seasons. If you really want the whole thing together, I'd hold off for now and wait for that.

Today also sees the long, long-awaited Region 1 debut of Casino Royale director Martin Campbell's 1986 surreal spy TV masterpiece Edge of Darkness: The Complete BBC Series. The late, great Bob Peck plays a dedicated cop (and former intelligence officer) investigating the murder of his environmental activist daughter. The investigation uncovers layer upon layer of nuclear conspiracy involving the CIA, MI5, the Thatcher government and big business. As he peels away these layers, though, he exposes himself to great danger–both physical and mental. Is his daughter's ghost really helping him? Or is he going mad? All six episodes feature music-only tracks, showcasing the score by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton. There's a documentary (originally made for the 2003 Region 2 DVD release) revealing "The Secrets of Edge of Darkness" including new (then, anyway) cast and crew interviews as well as several vintage interviews. Those include the late Bob Peck's appearance on UK chat show Breakfast Time. Rounding out the special features are reviews of the original broadcast and excerpts from various awards shows at which Edge of Darkness cleaned up. Campbell has just remade the series as a theatrical feature starring Mel Gibson. I think it's due out this year.

Last, but certainly not least, we also get the Blu-ray debut–and a new DVD edition–of what's arguably the most influential spy movie of all time, Alfred Hitchcock's classic North by Northwest: The 50th Anniversary Edition. The 50th Anniversary Edition contains all of the features of the previous DVD edition (including a commentary track by screenwriter Ernest Lehman), as well as "Cary Grant: A Class Apart" and the new documentaries "The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style" and "North by Northwest: One for the Ages." The Blu-ray edition comes packaged in 44-page book "full of photos, film facts and insider information."

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