Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the first two titles featured below. The opinions I share are my own.
Out this month are three titles whose characters must deal with the challenges that come when loyalties and circumstance collide:
First we have Season Four of The 100, the post-apocalyptic drama that tells the story of inhabitants of a space habitat (“The Ark”) who return to Earth after a massive nuclear event (which caused an almost total extinction of the human population) and their interactions with those on Earth who survived. In this season, the characters are reeling from the all-out war in Season Three while at the same time are faced with the discovery that Earth’s atmosphere will soon be set on fire due to the meltdown of the existing nuclear reactors from lack of maintenance. Clarke and others try to find a solution using the Nightbloods’ natural immunity to radiation while the twelve clans are faced with the decision of selecting those among them who will be afforded protection for five years in a newly-discovered bunker. Alliances are tested, relationships strained, and everyone must again fight for their own rights of survival.
Now out on DVD and Blu-ray is The 100: The Complete Fourth Season, which includes all thirteen episodes as well as bonus features, including the featurettes “From Outcasts to Leaders” (which examines the under-fire maturation of The 100), “Creating a Post-Apocalyptic World” (which looks at the construction and simulation of the show’s sets), “The 100: Jasper’s Journey” (where the cast and show creator Jason Rothenberg discuss the life of Jasper Jordan), and “Battle Tested: The 100 Season 4 Stunts”. Other bonus features include the show’s 2016 Comic-Con panel, a gag reel, and some unaired scenes. Fans can get the DVD and Blu-ray on Amazon (for $17.18 and $34.99, respectively) or you can take advantage of the streaming option on Amazon for $19.99 (which includes the Comic-Con panel) or on iTunes for $24.99 (which includes the featurettes on the disc versions plus a 5-minute featurette they don’t have, “A Look at Season Four: From the Ashes”). Bonus features are definitely one of the deciding factors here for those looking to purchase, so make sure to weigh how much they mean to you versus the difference in cost across the disc and streaming options.
Next we have Pretty Little Liars, the teen drama mystery thriller television series (loosely based on the popular book series of the same name written by Sara Shepard) which follows the members of a clique of pretty and fashion-forward girls as they are thrown into turmoil by the disappearance of their friend Alison and the subsequent taunting messages they receive from a mysterious person identified merely as “A” or “A.D.” The show’s quintet of title characters include Troian Bellisario as Spencer Hastings, Ashley Benson as Hanna Marin, Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery, Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields, and Sasha Pieterse as Alison DiLaurentis. Since its premiere in 2010 the show received good viewership ratings, causing ABC’s initial order of ten episodes to grow into a seven-season run (which also prompted the book series to be extended past its original plan of eight novels). The show also received multiple award nominations and wins, including the Teen Choice, People’s Choice, GLAAD Media, Young Hollywood, MTV Movie & TV, and Saturn Awards (among others).
Out tomorrow (July 25) is Pretty Little Liars: The Seventh and Final Season on a four-disc DVD set. After the five-year leap forward in the timeline in Season Six, Season Seven has the Pretty Little Liars dealing with more trauma and drama as they seek to end the deadly game they’ve found themselves in once and for all. The collection includes all 20 episodes from the seventh season and multiple bonus features, including nine featurettes (most between 3-5 minutes): “Inside the PLL Sheets,” “That PLL Boy is Mine,” “A PLL Proposal,” “A Surprising Mary Drake,” “Hot for Haleb,” “Say I Do: A PLL Wedding,” “The Final Send Off From Rosewood,” “A.D.: The Ultimate Suspect,” and “Thank You to Fans”. Bonus content also features the special episode “Pretty Little Liars: A-List Wrap Party” (a 43-minute special with a Q & A with the cast and wrap party footage) and some deleted scenes. Fans can pre-order the DVD set on Amazon for $32.99 or can get the season digitally there for $29.99 (be aware that the only bonus feature included with the digital season option is the 2-minute featurette “That PLL Boy is Mine). iTunes also offers a digital season option which (with the exception of the deleted scenes) includes all the bonus content for $39.99, which means if you’re wanting the season plus all the bonus features for the lowest price, your best bet on this one is to just get the DVD.
On the lighter side of conflicted relationships, we have Arthur: Brothers and Sisters out now from PBS. Based on the best-selling children’s book by Marc Brown, the Arthur television series lets kids join in with 8-year-old aardvark Arthur Read as he navigates the adventures of growing up. Arthur made his book debut (Arthur’s Nose) in 1976 and his television debut (Arthur’s Eyes) twenty years later in 1996. Across the TV and “Living Books” series, Arthur has been voiced by thirteen different voice actors, but the character himself has remained largely (and endearingly) the same.
In Arthur: Brothers and Sisters, kids experience eight stories dealing with the joys and challenges of having a sibling, including “D.W. the Copycat” (where D.W. decides she wants to emulate Arthur in every aspect), “Arthur’s Baby” (Arthur’s visualization of what it will be like to have a noisy new baby in the house), “D.W.’s Baby” (D.W.’s struggle to cope with having to share attention with Baby Kate), “Arthur’s First Sleepover” (Arthur facing his fear of the dark and possibly aliens), “Francine Redecorates” (where Francine and Catherine’s opposing stylistic tastes collide in the room they share), “Sue Ellen’s Little Sister” (Sue Ellen’s exploration of what it might be like to not be an only child), “Two Minutes” (the power struggle that ensues when the Tibble Twins find out that Tommy is the elder by two minutes), and “The Pageant Pickle” (where Arthur’s dreams of a lazy summer are put in jeopardy due to D. W.’s spring pageant).
The DVD set has a total run time of 108 minutes and is available on Amazon for the low price of $3.99—-not bad for a couple of hours of re-playable entertainment for the kiddos (and dare we hope some lessening of sibling rivalries?), especially considering the per-episode cost of around fifty cents. This title isn’t available streaming on Amazon or iTunes, but if you and your kids already like the Arthur series, you can’t really go wrong with this one.