This month's TV on DVD fare is long on comedy - old and new. Many think of 1977's debut of Soap as the first prime-time spoof of "Å“daytime dramas" , mostly because of breakout stars Billy Crystal, Robert Guillaume ,Richard Mulligan and Katherine Helmond. But the year before, Norman Lear's Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman actually broke the ice, with Louise Lasser's highly dysfunctional family and friends (notably Mary Kay Place's Emmy-winning, endearing country-western aspirant, Loretta) starting the salvos of silliness.
This set of films on DVD release starts with one of those rare slam-dunk Oscar performances. When I screened The Queen, I knew instantly Helen Mirren would wind up with the Best Actress statue, or there was an even more amazing performance yet to come from somewhere. Her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in the trying period of dealing with the shocking death of Princess Di, and a new England and world around her, demanding more emotional engagement from their monarch than she'd been bred for, after eons of stiff-upper-lip dignity as the template, not only fascinated Anglophiles, but made a memorable fictionalized journey into their inner circle for everyone.