New DVDs: TV Series, Nonfiction and Feature Length Films – December 2009

The Ambassador: Series 1

The Ambassador: Series 2

Harriet Smith forges ahead as Britain’s Ambassador to Ireland, one of the country’s most coveted and potentially explosive Embassy posts. Continually under fire, the Ambassador treads a minefield of Anglo-Irish tensions as she strives to prevent her personal life from clashing with her professional career– and her duty to Britain. Cast: Pauline Collins, Denis Lawson, William Chubb, Tom Connolly, Gina Moxley, Owen Rae, Eve Matheson, Peter Egan. Originally broadcast by BBC1 in 1999. Not Rated

The American Civil War

A presentation of the war that scarred the soul of a nation, uses large-scale reconstruction of key events, dramatized eyewitness accounts, period photographs, and expert commentary to tell the story of the American Civil War. (2001) Not Rated

Another Life

After impulsively jumping into marriage with her stodgy boyfriend (Nick Moran), Edith Graydon (Natasha Little) finds herself rekindling a relationship with a worldly friend (Ioan Gruffudd), which ultimately leads to forbidden passion … and murder. Based on a scandalous true story that grabbed the era’s headlines, this engrossing period drama (set mainly in 1920s England) also stars Imelda Staunton and Tom Wilkinson. (2001) Not Rated

Asteroids: Deadly Impact

This National Geographic program explores the dangers posed by future cosmic collisions of asteroids and comets with planet Earth. Features comments from geologists and astronomers, including the husband-and-wife team of Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker, discoverers of over thirty comets and hundreds of asteroids. (1997) Not Rated

Birth of Civilization

Journey back 15,000 years to trace humankind’s incredible journey through time. Beginning with humanity’s exodus from the Ice Age and chronicling milestones such as hunter-gatherer, farmer, builder, and city organizer. Reveals how humankind managed to survive and conquer the world. Explores the motivation of early humankind and its epic transformation to reveal the inspiring story of he invention of civilization. As seen on National Geographic Channel in 2007. Not Rated

The Bishop’s Wife

Cary Grant stars as an angel who materializes in answer to the prayers of a harried young bishop, David Niven. Niven’s efforts to raise money for a new cathedral have endangered his marriage to beautiful Loretta Young. Grand hopes to end the problems plaguing the family, but instead the bishop’s neglected wife becomes infatuated with him. Based on the novel by Robert Nathan. (1947) Not Rated

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

In this Blake Edwards-directed adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel, fortune hunter Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) finds herself captivated by aspiring writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard), who’s moved into her building on a wealthy woman’s (Patricia Neal) dime. (1961) Not Rated

Cactus Flower

Commitment-phobic Julian Winston (Walter Matthau) has been able to keep his girlfriend, Toni (Goldie Hawn), at bay by pretending to be stuck in a loveless marriage. But when Toni insists on meeting his missus, Julian’s forced to recruit his assistant (Ingrid Bergman) to pose as his wife. Based on the play by Jean-Pierre Grédy. (1969) Rated PG

The Camomile Lawn

Based on the novel by Mary Wesley, this made for TV drama presents the lives and loves of a family of cousins from 1939 to present. Begins with a funeral, and uses the reminiscences of those gathered to fill in details in the lives of several different family members. Cast: Felicity Kendal, Paul Eddington, Jennifer Ehle, Tara Fitzgerald, Rosemary Harris, Claire Bloom, Nicholas le Prevost. (1992) Not Rated


A comedy-mystery set in Paris about a young widow who, with the help of a handsome stranger, is trying to find the fortune her dead husband secreted away while being pursued by a trio of thugs. Cast: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn. (1963) Not Rated

The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns

An epic documentary bringing life to America’s most destructive – and defining – conflict. Here is the saga of celebrated generals and the ordinary soldiers. A heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one again. Originally produced as a television mini-series in 1990.  Not Rated

Clarissa: Part 1 & 2

Based on the 18th century novel by Samuel Richardson, this is the original tale of fatal attraction and dangerous liaisons. A wealthy young heiress, famed for her virtue, is sought by a man wishing to seduce and destroy her reputation. For the first time in his life he becomes genuinely infatuated with his prey, and sows the seeds of his own fate. Cast: Sean Bean, Saskia Wickham, Hermione Norris, Sean Pertwee. A Masterpiece Theatre television broadcast in 1991. Not Rated

Clatterford: The Complete Season Two

Set in a small West Country town, Jennifer Saunders’ enchanting comedy follows the continuing exploits of ex-practice nurse Sal Vine and the memorable, and not a little eccentric, members of the local Guild. Cast: Suzy Aitchison, Patrick Barlow, Rosie Cavaliero, Dawn French, Sue Johnston, Doreen Mantle, Pauline McLynn, David Mitchell, Sally Phillips, Jennifer Saunders, Salima Saxton, Maggie Steed. DVD release of the BBC television series that originally aired in 2008 under the title: Jam and Jerusalem. Not Rated

Diary of a Nobody

In this British comedy classic, Mr. Charles Pooter (Hugh Bonneville), a middle-class, middle-aged city clerk in Victorian England, chronicles his daily domestic and social frustrations in hilarious detail. Based on the novel by George and Weedon Grossmith. (2007) Not Rated

Dinosaurs Unearthed

From the National Geographic Channel, two episodes from the series, Dinosaurs Unearthed. Dino Autopsy: Leading paleontologists unlock the mysteries behind one of the most complete dinosaur mummies ever discovered. This rare specimen with its fossilized skin and tissue intact, is bringing us closer than ever to understanding how dinosaurs lived, looked, and moved. Dino Death Trap: The fossilized remains of Tyrannosaurus rex’s great-grandfather are unearthed in China’s Gobi desert, revealing what the T-rex looked like before they grew so gigantic. State-of-the-art research techniques and amazing new footage of dinosaur mummies reveal fascinating new clues about the lives of the prehistoric giants who once ruled the Earth. Not Rated


Initially mocked and ridiculed at his attempt to rise within British government, Benjamin Disraeli used his fame as a writer of scandalous novels and his charm with influential women to make remarkable strides in Parliament. Eventually, he became the first and only Jewish-born Prime minister to serve in the history of Britain. Cast: Ian McShane, Mary Peach, John Carlisle. (1978) Not Rated

Doc Martin

Doc Martin: Series 2

When the brilliant but socially awkward and neurotic Doc Martin develops an aversion to blood, he abandons his career as a celebrated London surgeon and becomes the only doctor in a sleepy small town where his tactless manner soon has everybody in an uproar. Cast: Martin Clunes, Caroline Catz, Stephanie Cole, Ian McNeice, Lucy Punch, Joe Absolom. Originally broadcast on British television in 2004. Not Rated

Dogtown: Friends in Need

This National Geographic Channel special follows the Best Friends team of experts and volunteers as they struggle to treat some of the most ill and neglected animals they’ve encountered to date, including victims of Hurricane Katrina and a special case from country legend Emmylou Harris’ Tennessee animal rescue.  Not Rated


When the most catastrophic earthquake of all time rips through Southern California, it levels Los Angeles and sends shock waves through the lives of all who live there. Cast: Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Genevieve Bujold, Richard Roundtree. (1974) Rated PG

The English Civil War

This documentary features battle re-enactments, dramatized eyewitness accounts, and period imagery to describe Oliver Cromwell’s war on the English throne. (2001) Not Rated

Fireside Christmas with Chanticleer

This is not your average, every Christmas Yule Log. This Yule Log showcases one of the world’s leading ensembles performing the pure sounds of music from long ago. Chaticleer’s hauntingly beautiful singing captures the true essence and spirit of Christmas past. So forget all that canned Log music, go for the real thing and feel the warmth of your virtual fire throughout the radiant sounds of Grammy award winning Chaticleer.

First Among Equals

Beginning in 1964, this British television drama follows the careers of four members of Parliament from their backbench days through 20-plus years of alliances and betrayals, triumphs and reversals. Each man aims to become prime minister– but only one will succeed. Cast: Jeremy Child, James Faulkner, David Robb, Tom Wilkinson. Based on the novel by Jeffrey Archer. (1986)

Full Metal Corset: Secret Soldiers of the Civil War

The History Channel explores the stories behind the many hundreds of women who disguised themselves as men and secretly enlisted to fight in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War.

The Glittering Prizes

Frederick Raphael’s tale portrays the hopes and frustrations of an entire generation through the story of a group of friends who meet at Cambridge University in the 1950s. Six 80-min. episodes follow the evolution of these college students through the 1960s and into the 1970s where their lives diverge and they struggle with emotional disillusionment and varying levels of worldly success. Featuring: Tom Conti, Barbara Kellerman. (1976 BBC) Not Rated

A Guide for the Married Man

Paul, a happily married father of one, is nonetheless intrigued by his pal Ed’s many extramarital affairs. In a series of lessons and parables, Ed gives Paul a crash course in how to have the perfect affair while still being considerate of one’s wife. Cast: Walter Matthau, Robert Morse, Inger Stevens, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny. (1967) Rated PG

Hello Dolly

Musical set in the 1890’s about a professional matchmaker who meets her match. Cast: Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford, Louis Armstrong. Based on “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder. (1969) Rated G

House Calls

Middle-aged widower Dr. Charley Nichols (Walter Matthau) treads the scary waters of the dating scene. Charley tries to be a suave swinger but feels like a fish out of water. Things change when he meets divorcee Ann (Glenda Jackson); the two engage in a comical courtship in which neither will commit to a serious relationship. At the same time, Charley butts heads with a head doctor (Art Carney). Richard Benjamin co-stars. (1978) Rated PG

Indian Warriors: The Untold Story of the Civil War

Discover one of the more obscure, yet fascinating aspects of the Civil War era: the contribution of thousands of Native American soldiers. With the help of respected authors Thom Hatch and Lawrence Hauptman, this program reconstructs the stories of some of these forgotten men. Originally broadcast on The History Channel in 2006. Not Rated

Inspector Lewis: Series 2

Oxford’s Inspector Robert Lewis, protégé of the legendary Inspector Morse, works with his brilliant, but brooding partner, Detective Sergeant James Hathaway. The two try to find a link between a murder in Oxford’s Bodleian Library; a burglary gone wrong leads from underground amateur boxing to the now-defunct East German Secret Police; the suicide of Hathaway’s old friend test his relationship with Lewis; a case of rape and murder causes Lewis to lock horns with the town’s elite; a fantasy author finds himself linked to an investigation of murder; the murder of an unpopular student-actor gives many potential suspects and motives; called to investigate a brutal murder, Hathaway’s attention may be drifting elsewhere. Cast: Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman, Rebecca Front. Inspired by the Inspector Morse novels of Colin Dexter. (2008) Not Rated

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns

Ten episodes tracing the history of jazz from its roots in the African-American community of New Orleans to its heights and continuing presence. Narrated by Keith David. (2000) Not Rated

Kavanagh Q.C.: Memento Mori Set

Kavanagh Q.C.: Mute of Malice Set

Kavanagh Q.C.: A Sense of Loss Set

James Kavanagh QC (Queen’s Counsel) is one of the top flight barristers in Britain. Each episode has him handling challenging cases and defendants which put his skills to the test regularly. All the while, his family often encounters rough patches that require much of his free time as well. Cast: John Thaw, Oliver Ford Davies, Nicholas Jones, Valerie Edmond, Rebecca Front.  Not Rated

King Corn

Fueled by curiosity and a dash of naiveté, college buddies Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis return to their ancestral home of Greene, Iowa, to find out how the modest corn kernel conquered America. With the help of real farmers, powerful fertilizer, government aid, and genetically modified seeds, the friends manage to grow one acre of corn. Along the way, they unlock the hidden truths about America’s modern food system.  Originally released as a documentary in 2006. Not Rated

Korean War Stories

In this Emmy Award winning PBS program, veterans share their stories, their memories, thoughts and feelings of the Korean War. Individuals interviewed include: former U.S. Senator John Glenn and U.S. Senator John S. Warner, baseball player Ted Williams, musician Willie Nelson, former U.S Secretary of State James Baker, Rep. Charles Rangel, N.Y., Lt. Colonel Charles B. “Brad” Smith, Gen. Raymond Davis, and many others. (2001) Not Rated

Lark Rise to Candleford: The Complete Season One

This 2008 BBC-TV series follows the relationship of two contrasting communities: Lark Rise, a small hamlet gently holding onto the past, and Candleford, a neighboring market town bustling into the future. When young Laura Timmins leaves Lark Rise for a job at the Candleford post office, she discovers an eye-opening, exciting new world. Cast: Olivia Hallinan, Dawn French, Julia Sawalha, Liz Smith, Brendan Coyle, Claudie Blakley, Mark Heap, Ben Miles, Olivia Grant, Linda Bassett, Karl Johnson. Adapted from Flora Thompson’s memoir of her Oxfordshire childhood. Not Rated


This Masterpiece Theatre production portrays the acclaimed British actress and courtesan Lillie Langtry from the blush of youth to the blight of old age. At a time when society expected women to be docile and demure, Lillie posed for celebrity endorsements, conducted her own business affairs, and paid her first husband to keep his distance. Even more scandalously, she openly entertained a string of lovers among Europe’s elite, including the very married Prince of Wales. Cast: Francesca Annis, Anton Rodgers, Denis Lill, Peter Egan, Patrick Holt, John Castle, Joanna David. (1979) Not Rated


In 1947 post-war Britain food is scarce, the servants are gone and Diana Carey-Lewis is mourning the loss of her husband, the long-time master of Nancherrow. The massive family home now passes to their rebellious daughter, Loveday. The cold, damp walls of Nancherrow hold many secrets and demand a high price for all who live in its foreboding shadow. Cast: Joanna Lumley, Christian Kohlund, Katie Ryder Richardson, Senta Berger, Patrick Ryecart, Susan Hampshire, Donald Sinden, George Asprey, Robert Hardy, Lynda Baron, Patrick Macnee. Based on the novel “Coming Home” by Rosamunde Pilcher. (1999) Not Rated

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

This film by Ken Burns, traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid-1800s and follows its evolution for nearly 150 years. Using archival photographs, first-person accounts of historical characters, personal memories and analysis from more than 40 interviews, and what Burns believes is the most stunning cinematography in Florentine Films’ history, the series chronicles the steady addition of new parks through the stories of the people who helped create them and save them from destruction.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency: The Complete First Season

Chronicles the adventures of Precious Ramotste, the cheerful proprietor of Botswana’s first and only female-owned detective agency. Cast: Jill Scott, Anika Noni Rose, Lucian Msamati, Desmond Dube. Based on the novels by Alexander McCall Smith. (2009) Not Rated

North by Northwest

In this classic suspense film from Alfred Hitchcock, Roger Thornhill is a New York advertising executive who is kidnapped by a gang of spies who believes Thornhill is George Kaplan, a CIA agent. Thornhill escapes, but must find Kaplan in order to clear himself of a murder that Kaplan is accused of committing. Following Kaplan to Chicago as a fugitive from justice, Thornhill is helped by beautiful Eve Kendall.  Cast: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis. (1959) Not Rated

The Photographers

Ten National Geographic photographers discuss work experiences. (2000) Not Rated

Pie in the Sky

After 25 years in the force, Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe has lost his appetite for the job. He plans to take early retirement and open his dream restaurant, Pie in the Sky. But his accountant wife, Margaret, doesn’t think the numbers add up. And his boss, ACC Fisher needs him around to handle those delicate cases at which he excels. Although craving retirement, Crabbe discovers that crime solving can be just as hard to resist as his signature steak and kidney pie. Cast: Richard Griffiths, Maggie Steed, Malcolm Sinclair. (1994) Not Rated

Project Runway: The Complete Fifth Season

Features host Heidi Klum, co-host Tim Gunn, and a panel of judges, with celebrity guests including Natalie Portman and Brooke Shields, and never-before-seen footage as the next group of wannabe designers takes the stage. Rating: TV14.

Queen Victoria’s Empire

This PBS Empires series episode looks at  Queen Victoria and the figures who shaped British imperialism. Uses personal accounts and historical reenactments in Britain, India, and Africa to reveal the frequent clash of personality and culture that would mark Queen Victoria’s reign and tells the story of how a small island nation would come to control three-fourths of the world’s trade and one-fifth of its population in one of the greatest empires the world has known. (2000) Not Rated

A Rather English Marriage

From Masterpiece Theater, after Reggie Conyngham-Jervis, a wealthy ex-fighter pilot, and Roy Southgate, a retired milkman, are widowed on the same night, they decide to overlook their differences and move in together. Soon, their unlikely relationship is threatened by the arrival of an alluring woman with a hidden agenda. Cast: Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Joanna Lumley. (1998) Not Rated

Roman Holiday

Audrey Hepburn, the essence of 1950s chic, stars in an Oscar-winning performance as a cosseted European princess who goes AWOL in Rome and is soon taken under the wing of tabloid journalist Gregory Peck and his photographer sidekick, Eddie Albert. She thinks the boys don’t suspect who she really is, but they’re onto her — and sense a sensational story if they can just keep Audrey’s handlers from retrieving her too soon. (1953) Not Rated

San Francisco’s Great Quake

On April 18, 1906, the greatest natural disaster in American history struck without warning. This National Geographic special tells the terrifying and inspiring tale of a pitched battle between man and nature told by the stories of people who lived through it. (2004) Not Rated

Sensitive Skin: The Complete Seasons One and Two

This BBC-TV series looks at life through the eyes of a successful couple living in metropolitan London. Along with their friends, Al and Davina Jackson struggle with sexual temptation and professional jealousy and try to cope with their fear of the future. Cast: Joanna Lumley, Denis Lawson. (2005 and 2007) Not Rated

The Spanish Civil War

The war that changed the course of Spanish history features archival film and location footage, plus dramatized eyewitness accounts to describe the struggle between the supporters and opponents of the Spanish Second Republic between 1936-1939. (2001) Not Rated

They All Laughed

New York’s Odyssey Detective Agency is hired by two different clients to follow two beautiful women suspected of infidelity. Soon the detectives become romantically involved with the women they are trailing. Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Ben Gazzara, John Ritter, Dorothy Stratten, Colleen Camp, Patti Hansen, George Morfogen, Blaine Novak, Sean Ferrer, Linda MacEwen. (1981) Rated PG

The Three Tenors Christmas

The world’s three most famous operatic tenors — Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti — met in Vienna for a special Christmas-themed concert, and this DVD features highlights from their holiday show. (2000)

Trial & Retribution: Set 3

The grueling work of Det. Chief Supt. Michael Walker (David Hayman) and his squad continues as they investigate a variety of baffling crimes in this collection of feature-length episodes from the British police procedural series. In these installments, Walker’s department attempts to find a newlywed who vanishes on his honeymoon, probes the suspicious death of a young girl and tries to solve a disturbing rape-and-murder case. Created and written by Lynda La Plante.  (2005) Not Rated

Wallis & Edward

Edward, Prince of Wales, has a string of mistresses until he falls for American divorcee Wallis Simpson. When he becomes King of England, he must give her up, which divides him between the love for a woman and his duty to his country. Cast: Joely Richardson, Stephen Campbell Moore, Miriam Margolyes, Margaret Tyzack. (2005) Not Rated

We’re No Angels

Three convicts escape from Devil’s Island and arrive at a nearby French colonial town. Their plan to steal supplies and clothing from the local store is ruined after they take a liking to the store’s owner, especially his attractive daughter. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov, Joan Bennett, Basil Rathbone, and  Leo G. Carroll. (1955) Not Rated

Wycliffe: Series 2

The wild, craggy Cornish coast seems ideal for hiding serious crimes, but forthright and observant Detective Superintendent Wycliffe leads an investigative team charged with solving each baffling case. Cast: Jack Shepherd, Jimmy Yuill, Helen Masters, Tim Wylton, Aaron Harris, Adam Barker. Based on the novels by W. J. Burley. Not Rated