The new DVD releases this week are mid-range in quality.
New Year's Eve, Grade C: Veteran director Garry Marshall has dusted off the bland formula he used in Valentine's Day - multiple story lines played out by a gaggle of big stars - to make New Year's Eve. It's a different day, but Marshall makes the same mistakes. The film plods along because of lackluster directing, a banal script, and wooden acting.
It's not only Katherine Fugate's uninspired script that makes this such a bland offering. Consider that Ryan Seacrest and Jon Bon Jovi turn in the best acting performances. The sitcom camera angles and pauses in dialogue for laughs make it feel like paint-by-numbers filmmaking.
The only thing good: It's perfect for those in search of mindless entertainment.
Three Rivers: The Complete First Season, Grade C-minus: A certain amount of sentimentality is expected with medical dramas. Three Rivers is more sentimental than a Hallmark card featuring a picture of puppies and delivered by a kid wearing an "I Love Mama" T-shirt.
Alex O'Loughlin, who was so good in the canceled Moonlight, is the workaholic leader of an elite organ-transplant team based in Pittsburgh. Nothing - not a hurricane or a painfully tight wardrobe - will stop the team from getting the parts they need to save a patient. O'Loughlin's charm is missing here. He's trying to make the character a humanitarian, but he fails and the character comes across as smug and arrogant.
The only good thing is the show lasted only one year and now O'Loughlin's on a better program - Hawaii Five-O.
Haywire, Grade B-minus: Gina Carano is the latest athlete to cross over into the world of acting. The mixed-martial-arts fighter turns in a convincing performance - with both the punches and the lines of dialogue she delivers - in this story of a government operative who gets double-crossed.
Director Steven Soderbergh not only stages some high-powered fight scenes but also understands how to build tension in the simplest of moments. There's no wasted energy in either. He also was smart enough to surround his novice actor with veterans such as Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, and Michael Douglas to help lift up her acting moments.
Except for one silly bit of hairstyling, Haywire is solid action-film fun.
Also new on DVD this week:
Covert Affairs: Season Two: Christopher Gorham stars in the spy series.
The Invisible Man: The Complete Series: Now you see David McCallum, now you don't.
Joyful Noise: A small-town choir tries to win a national singing competition.
Moesha: The Complete First Season: Brandy Norwood stars.
Kojak: Season Four: Telly Savalas stars in the TV detective series.
Suits: Season One: Cable legal drama starring Gabriel Macht.
Tom & Jerry: Around the World: Includes 22 cartoons featuring adventures from around the globe.
Road Trip: Breckin Meyer comedy now on Blu-ray.
Peanuts: Happiness Is Peanuts . . . Team Snoopy: Includes the TV special "Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown."
Singing With the Stars: Sesame Street The gang is joined by Alicia Keys and the Dixie Chicks.
A Woman of Substance Trilogy: The series from the mid-'80s stars Deborah Kerr and Anthony Hopkins.
Who Do You Think You Are? Season 2: Features a look at Gwyneth Paltrow's heritage.
Love Is on the Air: A collection of episodes from seven series, including That Girl.
Some Days Are Better Than Others: Stars indie rockers James Mercer and Carrie Brownstein.
Men in Black and Men in Black 2: Both available on Blu-ray for the first time.
American Experience: Jesse Owens: A look at the Olympian who infuriated the Nazis.
Clueless: Alicia Silverstone film now available on Blu-ray.