The past decade's flood of reality programming has brought us more real housewives and paranormal investigators than you can shake an immunity idol at. So when one of these shows demonstrates genuine wit, and the subject family treats each other with (admittedly mocking) affection, you tend to take notice.
Enter Duck Dynasty, A&E Network's improbable hit about the family behind the Duck Commander/Buck Commander line of duck calls and hunting gear. At first, it's tempting to write off the Robertsons (father/DC founder Phil and this three sons) as uncouth rednecks who like to blow away helpless waterfowl. In reality, they're all articulate, intelligent dudes with surprising senses of humor. You can't really argue with the 'blowing away waterfowl' part, however. This DVD set contains all 15 episodes from the first season, which introduces us to Phil, his wife the prodigious cook (and conversationalist) Miss Kay, sons Willie (Duck Commander CEO), Jase and Jep, and their wives. And let's not forget Phil's brother, iced tea guzzling Vietnam veteran and font of deranged wisdom, Uncle Si.
Extras for the first season DVD include a disc's worth of 25 supplemental scenes -- think of them as season one's greatest hits -- including "The World's Largest Deer," in which Jase recalls Uncle Si's stories of almost bagging a world record buck (and his black panther sightings), "The Other White Meat" describes the utility and deliciousness of bullfrogs. and "Hairy Guys," which explains the rationale behind the menfolk's decision to go the entire season without shaving. Amidst these are a couple "Phil-osophies," providing us with the Robertson family patriarch's own particular brand of wisdom, including how women are like Labradors and and/or bees, and his strategy for enduring Miss Kay's chatter. Good stuff, and if you gave us the option of spending the weekend with either the Robertsons or the Kardashians, we'd have to opt for the frog legs.
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Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone and Stephen Colbert lead an all-star cast in the staged concert production of Company. The show, directed by Lonny Price and conducted by Paul Gemignani, was performed live with the New York Philharmonic in April 2011, at the Lincoln Center, and was taped over three days of live performances. It was broadcast to theaters a few months later and now makes its way to DVD/Blu-ray. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, Company follows Bobby (Harris), a single New Yorker who is surrounded by a group of neurotic and opinionated married friends, each happy to give him relationship advice.
A low-key cocktail with party with Sarah (Martha Plimpton in a marvelous performance) and her husband Harry (Colbert), turns into a session of hand-to-hand combat between the couple when Bobby urges her to show off what she's learned in karate class. Patti LuPone stars as Joanne, an older, jaded woman who drinks too much, ignores her loving husband and eventually propositions Bobby. LuPone has one of the show's signature tunes, "Ladies Who Lunch." But even surrounded by a mega-star cast (they've earned a mountain of Tony, Emmy, and Olivier awards between them), Company is Neil Patrick Harris's show. As the directionless Bobby bouncing between three girlfriends and a slew of best friends, Harris is spectacular.
There are no extras on the DVD version (and with this cast, a few rehearsals and backstage extras would have been nice) although Lonny Price provides liner notes on an insert.
Pete Vonder Haar contributed to this post.