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DVD UPDATE: 'T.A.M.I. Show,' 'Mad Men,' 'The Prisoner' reboot
March 22, 2010  | By Diane Werts

tami show dvd.jpgMad music, mad design, mad remake -- this is one mad week on TV DVD.

Forty-six years later, we finally get The T.A.M.I. Show beautifully restored and annotated. It's a disc done right to honor this once-in-a-lifetime concert lineup of rock legends-to-be, ranging from The Rolling Stones to James Brown to The Supremes and Marvin Gaye to The Beach Boys (yes, indeed, their long-lost footage is here!).

We also get two of the most anticipated series of last year, both from AMC -- its miniseries "reboot" of the '60s classic The Prisoner, bringing the tale into the 21st century; and the retro drama Mad Men: Season Three, with its gorgeous visuals, moody atmosphere and wide-ranging bounty of extras.

First thing first is The T.A.M.I. Show release, from precisely the right folks, the pop culture devotees at Shout! Factory. They're masters at clearing music rights where others can't or won't (Freaks and Geeks, thirtysomething, et al). And they're experts at explaining the whys and hows behind their programs. This disc comes with a 20-page booklet outlining the little-known goals of this celebrated 1964 music event; the acronym is for Teen Age Music International, an intended series of benefit concerts.

The show itself gets put in smart perspective by director Steve Binder, whose other credits include Elvis Presley's 1968 "comeback" special of black leather and casual jamming. Binder knew how to make people look good. And he knows how to talk about it, too. His full-length running commentary is a relaxed give-and-take interview that lends insight into the performers' personalities and the show's technical challenges.

Binder fleshes out decisions like putting all the acts on stage at show's end to prove they were actually together in one landmark show. And he describes the show's "Electronovision" recording system as an early form of HD video, with additional lines of resolution. That means Binder did on-the-fly editing akin to live TV sports -- no do-overs. The black-and-white video was later duped onto 35mm film for distribution. The transfer back to video looks pretty good, but don't expect miracles. Don't even expect stereo. The audio is mono, and it's clean. And it's killer.

Other extras are limited to the original trailer and some radio spots, but the info is there in Binder's commentary and the liner notes. Now we'd like the 1966 follow-up T.N.T. Show, please (Ike and Tina Turner, The Byrds, The Lovin' Spoonful, Ray Charles, Roger Miller, The Ronettes) . . .


mad men season 3 dvd.jpgAlso out this week:

Mad Men: Season Three -- Good thing The T.A.M.I. Show is such a bargain buy ($12 at Amazon). You'll need to pick up this new release, too. Mad Men's third season is considered an improvement by some fans, a disappointment by others, so decide for yourself.

You've got plenty to chew on, that's for sure. Series creator Matthew Weiner always does the discs right, providing at least one and often two commentaries for each episode, as well as a plethora of time-trip extras to put the story's time setting in historical context. This season's DVD set has documentaries about cigarette advertising and, to frame 1963's civil rights unrest, about activist Medgar Evers. There's also that year's March on Washington, highlighted by Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, heard here in its entirety. (No video, since the King Family maintains a tenacious hold on the rights to that.)

The Blu-ray release adds an interactive trivia flashback, where you can learn more via photos and text about 1963's consumer products, inventions, culture and more. If you've got a Blu-ray player, you'd want to go for high-def here anyway -- Mad Men is, if nothing else, a gorgeously textured piece of production design.


the prisoner amc dvd.jpgThe Prisoner -- AMC's miniseries "reboot" looks great on DVD, too, with locations in South Africa serving as The Village that becomes kidnaped agent No. 6's pretty prison. But this update of Patrick McGoohan's cerebral '60s series was a lightning rod of its own, with some critics and fans fiercely defending the original, while others welcomed this more high-tech and character-driven retooling.

In this modernization, Ian McKellen's tortured No. 2 has a wife and son, whose own lives are integral to the story. Jim Caviezel's more laid-back No. 6 is depicted back home in New York pre-kidnap and also building fresh relationships after arriving in The Village. The overall scope is more information age, more corporate, yet more psychological, more humane, more detailed. While there's something to be said for that approach, the mind games that made McGoohan's take such a cult fave are much less compelling here. Caviezel too often seems a blank slate, where McGoohan was a canny counterpuncher whose mental wheels remain fascinating to watch turn. McKellen steals the show. He's the real Prisoner here.

DVD extras include deleted scenes, partial commentary, behind-the scenes featurettes/diaries/panels/interviews.

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