- The second season of Who Do You Think You Are? features eight episodes devoted to tracing the family trees of some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Lionel Richie, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Cattrall, Vanessa Williams and Tim McGraw. Steve Buscemi investigates a pattern of suicide in the family, including a farewell note in a bottle. Paltrow looks into both sides of her family tree. One side takes her to Barbados; the other to a famous rabbi in the family. And Richie discovers why his great-grandfather deserted the family. Varied locales and fascinating histories make this an unexpected pleasure, and make you wonder who might be lurking in the branches of your own tree.
- With old-style zoos a thing of the past, and only select families with the means to visit lions and tigers in their natural habitats, today’s up-close-and-personal animal education often comes courtesy of a cinema or home TV screen. Thanks to the extraordinary cinematographers who worked on the BBC earth production of One Life, you can bathe in hot pools with snow monkeys, marvel at the maternal instincts of a poison arrow frog, discover a komodo dragon’s hunting tactics, and see the sacrifice of a giant octopus off the B.C. coast. The special features are equally captivating, as we see what the cameramen risked to get their footage, and how editors whittled down some 3000 hours’ worth of footage into a cohesive narrative. Other extras include film clip highlights, a music extra, behind the scenes bonus shots, and more. Daniel Craig narrates. Many of the stories highlight motherly sacrifices, making it the perfect gift this Mother’s Day.
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a landmark TV series when it aired in 1979. Based on John le Carre’s spy novel, it tells the story of George Smiley (Alec Guinness), coaxed out of retirement and tasked with rooting out a mole within the British Secret Intelligence Service. The BBC television production was ambitious, articulate and impeccably stylish, and it holds up today as among the best in the bunch. If you were stymied by the sheer number of shady characters at “the Circus,” never fear: the Blu-ray includes a pull-out who’s who in order to keep all the characters straight. Also included: deleted scenes, an interview with direction John Irvin, and an interview with author le Carre.