New TV on DVD: Scrubs, Sopranos, Cosby, Classic Sitcoms

Granted, Scrubs: The Complete Seventh Season ($29.99) is probably the weirdest season of all, truncated by the strike and the show's leap from NBC to ABC and concluding with the strangest finale this side of The Sopranos: The Complete Series ($399.98), also new this week. But Scrubs is still going to top the charts, and it's still TV's surreal thing, even in an especially wacky season.

On the other hand, you have to buy The Sopranos too. No series since has matched it, and not too many books or movies can beat its enormous achievement. Scrubs will crack you up momentarily; Tony Soprano is for the ages.

Speaking of the ages, it's a banner week for oldies. In My Three Sons: The First Season: Vol. 1 ($38.98) Fred MacMurray reverses his nasty image from the noir Double Indemnity and The Caine Mutiny as a saintly, pipe-chomping widower. The black and white sitcom looks and plays pretty good, though fanboys have kvetched about the DVD's meddling with the period music and the high price. Hey, that's only appropriate, since Fred was about the smartest actor Hollywood ever saw when it came to investing and cutting a sweet deal on his sitcom working hours. William Frawley of I Love Lucy fame hated the way Fred would come in for a few days to shoot his bits, then vanish for weeks to leave the rest of them to shoot everything around him, but he still did immortal work as the three sons' maternal grandpa, channeling a grumpiness that was quite convincing.

Why was I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Series ($174.95) a hit, when it was obviously an imitation of Bewitched, and not as consistently funny? Sex! Some of us never recovered from the prospect of Barbara Eden calling us "Master." Elizabeth Montgomery's twitchy nose was cute, but not the stuff of fantasy. Larry Hagman, son of South Pacific star Mary Martin and future star of Dallas, is a terrific foil for Eden as a NASA guy attempting to cope with the curves the 2,000-year-old Baghdad babe throws him. The set comes in a replica of the bottle that Jeannie came in. It's the next best thing to her being there.

Little House on the Prairie: The Complete Television Series ($279.98) comes in a covered wagon, but you'd never be able to pull it across the plains: it's got 60 discs and scads of interviews and commentary, plus a feature on star/auteur Michael Landon, who had what one writer called "a fine womanly head of hair." Quite a lot like Michael Douglas in The Streets of San Francisco: Season 2, Vol. 2 ($39.98), the good old homicide cop show with potato-nosed genius Karl Malden.

Studio One Anthology ($99.98) is a masterpiece and a brilliant history lesson, a trove from the golden age of television, when it was theater writ large. Classics like Twelve Angry Men, writing by Rod Serling, acting by Jack Lemmon, Sal Mineo, witch-to-be Elizabeth Montgomery, Hitchcock babe Eva Marie Saint -- this is a must-see. The extras excellently put it into historic perspective, and there's a 52-page booklet with contributions by Gore Vidal, who was there (and everywhere important, as he'll readily tell you).

I thought Bill Cosby was a genius as a standup, and as a spy both cooler and funnier than Ilya and Napoleon Solo put together, but he really made history with The Cosby Show: 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition ($139.98). 900 minutes, eight seasons, five of them at Number One. Sitcoms were on the ropes until he proved otherwise. Coz is one of the smartest stars I ever interviewed for print; here, he does a video interview on his legacy.