The second season of the critical/fan-favorite sci-fi series “Orphan Black” has been released on Blu-ray and DVD, and Andie MacDowell’s “Cedar Cove” is also out this week.
“Orphan Black: Season Two” (BBC/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, two/three discs, 10 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes). This wild fantasy is based on the implausible idea that a petty thief named Sarah steals the identity of a suicide victim she happens to resemble, only to discover the woman was her clone, and there are many others out there as well. In fact, she may be a clone herself.
But two things keep the show afloat. One is a wry sense of humor in the midst of fast-paced horror and action, and the other is that some very smart casting director stumbled upon Tatiana Maslany and hired her to play the various clones, each with a completely different personality. Maslany is utterly astonishing in her ability to make each character unique.
This season is every bit as gripping as the first as the central character, Sarah, tries to find her missing daughter while working with her clone sisters to uncover the truth about the experiments that have unleashed this madness. Hold on to your hats. (Contains adult material.)
“Cedar Cove: Season One” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2013, three discs, 13 episodes, featurette). Andie MacDowell stars as divorced municipal court judge Olivia Lockhart in this gentle, sweet-natured adaptation of Debbie Macomber’s series of novels set in a Washington coastal town. In the pilot, Olivia is tempted by a federal judgeship but in the end opts to stay in Cedar Cove, where she deals with both family and courtroom issues. MacDowell is perfectly cast and this Hallmark Channel show — the cable channel’s first original series — is a cut above most of its movies. Bruce Boxleitner has a recurring role.
“Case Histories: Series 2” (Acorn/DVD, 2013, three discs, three episodes, featuerttes). Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” movies) stars in this British mystery series as tough, Edinburgh-based private eye Jackson Brodie (based on the novels by Kate Atkinson), who was previously a soldier and a cop. Brodie also has a squishy center, however. Unlike the hourlong episodes of the first series, each episode here is feature-length. (Contains adult material.)
“Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season” (eOne/Blu-ray/DVD/On Demand, 2013, three discs, 10 episodes, featurettes). In this harsh, revisionist Western from the AMC cable channel, Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) is part of the Union Pacific Railroad’s Westward expansion. Sadly, a family of Mormons is introduced in the second episode and proves to be a villainous clique as the season progresses.
“David Suchet: In the Steps of St. Paul” (Athena/DVD, 2012, two discs, two episodes, text biography; 12-page booklet). David Suchet, who has been playing Agatha Christie’s fussy detective Hercule Poirot on the BBC for 15 years, is a devout Christian, and this two-part documentary miniseries is a personal journey as he attempts to trace the life of Paul the Apostle as recorded in the New Testament. This takes Suchet throughout the former Roman Empire as he meets with archaeologists, scholars and clerics.
“Labyrinth” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2012, featurette). This German/South African TV miniseries (based on the Kate Mosse novels) goes back and forth in time as two young women, one in 13th century France and the other at a modern-day French archaeological dig, as they both search for the Holy Grail.
“100 Years of WWI” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2004-14, two discs, seven episodes). This set from the History cable channel includes the documentary miniseries: “The History of WWI: The First Modern War,” along with three specials: “Modern Marvels: World War I Tech,” “Dogfights: The First Dogfighters” and “Man, Moment, Machine: The Red Baron & the Wings of Death.”Comment on this story
“Hercules: Hero, God, Warrior” (Lionsgate/DVD, 1995-2009, three episodes). Also from the History cable channel are three documentary specials about the title character as we run up to the new “Hercules” movie, due in theaters on July 25: “Hercules: Power of the Gods,” “Clash of the Gods: Hercules” and “In Search of History: The Greek Gods.”
“Barney: A Super-Dee-Super Day!” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2014. Interactive game, music video). New feature-length (56 minutes) entry in the franchise has the purple dinosaur leading games of baseball, basketball and other team sports, as well as playing hopscotch and riding bicycles.