“Dear John,” starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. Typically schmaltzy offering from writer Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook”) is lent credibility via the skill of director Lasse Hallstrom (“My Life as a Dog”) and a surprisingly vulnerable performance from the normally thuggish Tatum (“A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”) as a soldier who falls for a college student (Seyfried, “Jennifer’s Body”) while on leave. When the terrorist attacks of 9/11 threaten to extend Tatum’s duty, the windswept romance is threatened. As is generally the case with Sparks, subtlety is in short supply, but “John” manages to avoid a fair number of the usual melodramatic trappings inherent in the popular writer’s work. Special features include deleted scenes and outtakes. Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence. Running time: 1:48      

Suggested retail price: DVD $28.95; Blu-ray $34.95.

“The Road,” starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Literal adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s runaway bestseller finds father and son Mortensen and Smit-McPhee (“Monarch Cove”) wandering the most compellingly dismal post-apocalyptic landscape in recent film memory. McCarthy’s formidable prose can never hope to be fully captured via any medium other than the written word, but director John Hillcoat (“The Proposition”) creates a vivid atmosphere of dread and decay, and the peerless Mortensen proves the ideal choice for the lead. Special features include a commentary from Hillcoat and deleted scenes. Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language. Running time: 1:51.

Suggested retail price: DVD $27.96; Blu-ray $34.95.

“True Blood: The Complete Second Season,” starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. Creator Alan Ball’s (“Six Feet Under”) contribution to the neverending vampire craze stands head and shoulders above the rest of the pack, injecting wit, satire and pathos into the otherwise over-the-top (and often quite gory) proceedings. A perfect tonic for bloodsucker aficionados who can’t stomach the mopey monsters of “Twilight.” Special features include seven audio commentaries from cast and crew. Not rated, contains language, sexual content, nudity and graphic violence/gore.  Running time: 12:00.

Suggested retail price: DVD $59.99; Blu-ray $79.98.


“Leverage: The Complete Second Season,” starring Timothy Hutton and Gina Bellman. Breezily satisfying heist series pits a band of high-tech con men (led by the always likable Hutton) against a world of millionaire criminals and corrupt businessmen, in a modern twist on the Robin Hood theme. Escapist fun with a great cast. Not rated, contains language and violence. Running time: 11:47.
Suggested retail price: $39.98.

“Royal Pains: Season One,” starring Mark Feuerstein and Paulo Costanzo. A hotshot doctor (Feuerstein, “In Her Shoes”) is blackballed when he loses a patient, only to have his credit revitalized after a fashion when he moves to the Hamptons with his garrulous brother (Costanzo, “Road Trip”) and saves the life of a partygoer, thereby becoming a traveling doctor for hire. Sort of a “Burn Notice” for fans of medical shows, “Pains” has yet to hit its stride but has plenty of potential. Not rated, contains violence, sexual content and language. Running time: 12:00.

Suggested retail price: $59.98.


“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion. Joss Whedon’s celebrated “online miniseries event” is a comedy/romance/musical that stands among his best work. Harris runs with a rare starring role as the title’s would-be supervillain, whose attempts to take over the world are derailed when he falls head over heels for a comely lass (Felicia Day, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) he meets at his local laundry mat. Making matters worse is supposed superhero Captain Hammer (a hilarious Fillion), who lives to thwart Horrible’s evil plans and blooming romance. Special features include making-of featurettes. Not rated, contains mild violence and language. Running time: 42.

Suggested retail price: $19.95.

“Spartacus,” starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier. The gladiator movie to end all gladiator movies, Stanley Kubrick’s beloved sword-and-sandal epic looks gorgeous in high-def in this 50th anniversary edition, which includes deleted scenes, vintage newsreels and interviews with Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons. Rated PG-13 for violence and sexual content. Running time: 3:17.

Suggested retail price: $26.98.


“Mystery Team,” starring Donald Glover and D.C. Pierson. For better or worse, it’s never been easier for a virtual unknown to make it in the world of comedy, thanks to the immediate and worldwide reach of websites like YouTube. Homemade, low-budget comedy videos can be wildly hit-or-miss, but when they work, the results are often transcendent, and that’s certainly the case with DIY comedy troupe Derrick Comedy, whose fearless (and, yes, often disgusting) approach to merrymaking pays off in spades with this laugh-a-minute sendup. The team, former small-town, “Encyclopedia Brown”-type crime fighters, reconvenes to fight injustice in your average modern-day city, a place in sharp contrast to their gee-whiz demeanor and wholesome approach to their trade. The dudes in Derrick Comedy strive to no higher purpose than to crack you up by any means necessary, an achievement they pull off and then some. Rated R for crude sexual content, language, nudity and some drug material. Running time: 1:45.

Suggested retail price: DVD $27.98.

“Stagecoach,” starring John Wayne and Claire Trevor. The turning point for director John Ford, John “The Duke” Wayne and westerns in general, “Stagecoach” breathed new life into a genre long thought to be a simple diversion for unsophisticated audiences. And as is their wont, the good people at the Criterion Collection have brought an underseen classic to the fore with a beautiful transfer and a score of special features, including a commentary by western authority Jim Kitses, interviews with film experts such as director Peter Bogdanovich, as well as an interview from 1968 with Ford himself. It can be difficult to pitch the idea of watching a western, the stigma being that they’re boring or one-note, but “Stagecoach” is a can’t-miss classic that could easily convince even the most oater-averse viewer to saddle up. Not rated, contains mild violence. Running time: 1:36.

Suggested retail price: DVD $39.95; Blu-ray $39.95.

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