Weathering the dog days on disc

Times Staff Writer

August is coming in like a lamb in the realm of DVD, with just a handful of films or TV series making their digital debuts.

Spring’s moderate box office hit “V for Vendetta” arrives in a special edition two-disc set (Warner, $35). Based on the popular graphic novel of the same title, the action-thriller stars Natalie Portman as a young woman who becomes embroiled with a charismatic freedom fighter named V (Hugo Weaving) who wears a Guy Fawkes’ mask. Stephen Rea and John Hurt also star in this near-future tale.

The special-features disc includes better-than-average documentaries on the innovative production design, Fawkes and the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to destroy the British monarchy, and the new wave in comics. This edition would have been more “special” with audio commentary from director James McTeigue.

The bearded collie named Cole that plays “The Shaggy Dog” (Disney, $30) is the only reason to watch this limp remake to the 1959 Disney hit comedy. Tim Allen plays a workaholic attorney who neglects his wife (Kristin Davis) and two children until he turns into a pooch after he is bitten by the mystical collie.


Extras are strictly by-the-book, with a lame gag reel, deleted scenes and perfunctory commentary with director Brian Robbins and producer David Hoberman. The only fun extra isn’t even for humans -- it’s a bark-along music video for man’s best friend.

Although Shirley Booth had been a mainstay on Broadway since the 1930s and won the best actress Academy Award for “Come Back, Little Sheba” (1952), she really didn’t achieve star status until she played the title character in the comedy series “Hazel,” which ran from 1961 to 1966.

Sony is releasing the first season ($30) of the show for which Booth received two Emmys for her performance as the cheerful, endearing maid and housekeeper of George Baxter (Don DeFore), his wife (Whitney Blake) and their young son (Bobby Buntrock).

Based on the comic strip by Ted Key, the series has dated over the decades, but Booth is still a joy.


It lasted only one season on HBO, but the offbeat comedy series “The Comeback” (HBO, $40) received three Emmy nominations last month, including best actress for star Lisa Kudrow and best director for Michael Patrick King (“Sex and the City). The 13-part series, co-created by Kudrow and King, focuses on a terminally perky actress named Valerie Cherish who scored a minor hit on a sitcom that ended a decade ago and is obsessed with reviving her career.

The two-disc DVD set includes droll commentary from King and Kudrow on the pilot episode and a very amusing commentary on another installment with Valerie. Rounding out the set is “Valerie After the Laughter,” a new interview with the actress in which everything that could go wrong does, and a visit with Valerie backstage at “Dancing With the Stars,” right after she fell during her dance on the show.

Also in contention for several Emmys, including best made-for-TV movie, actress (Annette Bening), actor (Ben Kingsley) and director (Phyllis Nagy), is HBO’s “Mrs. Harris” (HBO, $27).

Bening plays Jean Harris, a divorcee with two sons who was accused in 1980 of murdering her lover of 14 years, Dr. Herman Tarnower (Kingsley), author of the bestselling “Scarsdale Diet” book.


Cloris Leachman, also an Emmy nominee, plays Tarnower’s sister.

The digital edition includes a documentary, “Mrs. Harris for the Record: First Hand Accounts,” surprisingly mundane commentary from the two stars and fascinating -- often technical -- commentary from first-time director Nagy.

What’s coming

Aug. 8: “Inside Man,” “Brick,” “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector,” “Don’t Come Knocking,” “The Lost City,” “Cavite,” “The Last Mogul” and “Adam & Steve”


Aug. 15: “Scary Movie 4,” “RV,” “L’Enfant” and “Hoot”

Aug. 22: “Poseidon,” “Silent Hill,” “Lucky Number Slevin,” “Just My Luck,” “Phat Girlz”