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A Chance to Reminisce With Old 'Friends'

September 05, 2002|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Within a few weeks, the networks will be unveiling their new fall TV series as well as new episodes of returning favorites. The home entertainment world, though, has already kicked off its season of vintage and cult TV series on video and DVD.

As NBC's top-rated comedy series "Friends" heads into its ninth and supposedly final season, Warner Home Video is releasing the complete second season of the sitcom ($50 for VHS; $70 on DVD) about the lives and loves of buddies Rachel, Joey, Monica, Ross, Chandler and Phoebe.

The four-disc digital edition set includes fact-filled commentary from executive producers Kevin S. Bright, David Crane and Marta Kauffman on two classic episodes from that season ("The One With the List" and "The One With the Prom Video"); a look at Rachel and Monica's apartment with interviews with designers and costumers; a trivia quiz; and clips highlighting each character.

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The great Leo McKern, who died July 23, is best known for his role as the colorful British lawyer Horace Rumpole in John Mortimer's acclaimed series "Rumpole of the Bailey," which aired stateside on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre." HBO Home Video recently released a four-disc set of the first two seasons ($70) of the literate, witty and sophisticated series. The set also includes a Q&A about the British legal system, production notes and a filmography of McKern and Mortimer.

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There is nothing wrong with your DVD player. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling the transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume.... For the next 27 hours, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to ... "The Outer Limits."

MGM is releasing on DVD ($80) all 32 episodes from the first season--1963-64--of the sci-fi anthology that aired on ABC. Among the classic episodes featured on the discs are "The Galaxy Being," starring Cliff Robertson as the owner of a radio station who contacts a being from outer space; "The Architects of Fear," with Robert Culp as a man who undergoes surgery to turn him into an alien creature, and "The Zanti Misfits," about a group of ant-like creatures with human faces who are sent to Earth.

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The Broadway Theater Archives, the New York-based company that is restoring and releasing vintage plays produced for television, has unveiled several new shows on DVD (Kultur, $25 each):

* Richard Chamberlain, Marsha Mason, Edward Asner, Bob Dishy and Lee Grant star in the 1978 PBS adaptation of Neil Simon's "The Good Doctor," based on both comedic and serious short stories of Anton Chekhov.

* James Daly, Kate Reid and Philip Bosco star in a stirring rendition of Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" that was telecast on PBS in 1966. Daly plays an earnest doctor who discovers that the healing springs located in his small Norwegian town are polluted.

* Other titles new on DVD include "The Secret Service" (1977), starring Meryl Streep and John Lithgow; "Eccentricities of a Nightingale" (1976), starring Blythe Danner; and "The Rimers of Eldrich" (1974), with Susan Sarandon.

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In the lackluster new "Mickey's House of Villains" (Disney, $22 for VHS; $30 for DVD), such famous Disney animated movie villains as Jafar, Cruella, Hades, Ursula, Captain Hook and Maleficent try to take over Mickey Mouse's nightclub, the House of Mouse, and turn it into the House of Villains. The DVD extras include a collection of sound effects, the "Escape the House of Villains Adventure Game" and a villains' gallery.

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Columbia TriStar Home Video celebrates the 25th anniversary of the syndicated series "The Muppet Show" with the two volumes of "Best of the Muppet Show" ($25) on DVD.

Each disc contains three episodes of the Jim Henson musical variety series, including installments with Mark Hamill, Paul Simon and Raquel Welch (the latter gets into a bit of a cat fight with Miss Piggy).

Each installment includes an introduction from Brian Henson, Jim Henson's son; very funny screen tests of various Muppet characters auditioning for the role of Yoda; and a funny glimpse into the world of the ultimate diva, Miss Piggy.

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