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Friday, March 29, 2013

Acorn DVD/Blu-ray Calendar--Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Broadway Musicals, Lord Peter Wimsey, Shakespeare and More

"Acorn Media, chief curators of the best Brit TV" --TIME Magazine

Acorn has earned the reputation for bringing the best contemporary and classic mysteries and dramas to home video, and the upcoming releases uphold that tradition.

Acorn has the U.S. debuts of several highly entertaining new detective series, including a glamorous 1920s "lady" detective in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a rollicking adaptation of Douglas Adams’ (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) quirky Dirk Gently detective series, and George Gently Series 5, the newest season of the acclaimed BBC mystery series set in 1960s England. The taut and addictive BBC drama The Syndicate (U.S. Debut) follows the fortunes and misfortunes of recent lottery winners, and ABC is currently adapting it for U.S. TV. Also, the classic Emmy®-Award winning drama The Scarlet Pimpernel stars Anthony Andrews (Brideshead Revisited), Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen.

Documentary specialist Athena features the DVD debut of the 2013 PBS hit Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, an engaging, humorous, and star-studded documentary exploring the leading role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical; the U.S. debut of  Shakespeare: The King's Man, a captivating 2012 BBC documentary exploring the dark, complex plays of Shakespeare’s last decade; and Bill Moyers: Beyond Hate, a provocative PBS documentary tackling big questions about hate.

Additionally, Acorn has value-priced collections of two of its bestselling series Doc Martin Special Collection: Series 1-5 + The Movies, last year’s breakout public television hit; and George Gently Collection: Series 1-4, the popular BBC detective drama set 1960s England; as well as two complete collections of classic series, The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries starring Ian Carmichael in the original BBC adaptations, and Judi Dench in the charming romantic Britcom A Fine Romance.

For more info on these releases, please see the detailed April-May 2013 release calendar below.

Acorn (British TV) and Athena (Documentaries) DVD Release Calendar

March 26

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Series 1 (U.S. Debut, DVD/Blu-ray) – “If you’re a Sherlock fan, check out Miss Fisher…(she) is a fashionably beautiful investigator with some definitively wicked ways.” (tellyspotting) – New, glamorous “lady detective” series makes its North American debut. Based on the popular detective novels by Kerry Greenwood, the gorgeously costumed and evocatively shot mystery series features Essie Davis as the Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher, a sly sleuth and thoroughly modern woman of the late 1920s operating in a mostly male-dominated detective world. Miss Fisher was filmed on location in Melbourne with stellar production values. The DVD release coincides with its premiere on select public television stations in April 2013. (Blu-ray 3-Disc set/DVD 4-Disc set, 13 episodes)

Midsomer Murders: Tom Barnaby’s Last Cases – “Simply the most entertaining mystery series in TV history…Absolutely addictive” (ICv2) – Acorn’s top-selling series returns with this fifth value priced collector’s set. Beloved British mystery series stars John Nettles in his final cases (15 stand-alone mysteries, Series 12-13, 2009-2011).

April 2

Dirk Gently (U.S. Debut) – Based on the novels by beloved author Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Stephen Mangan (Episodes opposite Matt LeBlanc) stars as a quirky but endearing detective. Broadcast on BBC in 2010 and 2012 and available to U.S. audiences for the first time with its DVD release, this four-part dramedy follows Dirk Gently, a perpetually insolvent yet uncommonly talented holistic detective. This rollicking adaptation also features Helen Baxendale (Friends) and Bill Paterson (Traffik). (DVD 2-Disc set)

April 16

Shakespeare: The King's Man (U.S. Debut, Athena) – Available to U.S. audiences for the first time, this captivating 2012 BBC documentary explores Shakespeare’s later plays. American scholar James Shapiro examines the dark, complex plays of Shakespeare’s last decade—King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest, among others, which mirrored both royal life and the era’s profound social changes. The DVD 2-disc set includes three episodes, plus a bonus disc with the BBC’s 1983 production of Macbeth (148 min.).

Sugartown (U.S. Debut) – Charming BBC comedy pits brother against brother in a battle over love and business. This lighthearted, 2011 BBC comedy stars Miranda Raison (Vexed, MI-5), Shaun Dooley (Red Riding) and Tom Ellis (Miranda). Life isn’t so sweet in Sugartown. Faced with the decision of what to do with the town’s struggling candy company, Jason Burr is determined to keep the factory open and his family’s legacy alive, while his posh brother, Max returns with plans to change Sugartown forever.

April 30

The Syndicate Series 1 (U.S. Debut) – Currently being adapted for U.S. television by ABC, this taut and addictive BBC drama follows the fortunes and misfortunes of recent lottery winners. Broadcast on the BBC in 2012, the series follows five cash-strapped supermarket employees bracing for their store’s imminent shutdown as their lottery pool wins big. It seems like a godsend—but the syndicate soon learns that good fortune can come at a high price. The cast includes Timothy Spall (The King’s Speech), Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter films), Joanna Page (Love Actually), Matthew McNulty (Single-Handed), and Lorraine Bruce (Eden Lake).

The Scarlet Pimpernel – Brimming with romance, action, and period atmosphere, this Emmy®-Award winning drama stars Anthony Andrews (Brideshead Revisited), Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) and Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings, X-Men). The tale follows a dashing young Englishman who masks his identity to save French aristocrats during the chaotic days of the French Revolution. Broadcast on CBS in the 1980s, the miniseries won the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Costume Design and was nominated for Outstanding Drama Special and Art Direction.

The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Complete Collection – “Eternally appealing” (NPR’s Fresh Air) – All five of the classic mysteries from the original BBC series seen on Masterpiece Theatre. Hailed by critics as one of the finest mystery series ever filmed, Ian Carmichael (The Wind in the Willows) stars as the ever aristocratic and always urbane Lord Peter Wimsey. Its success on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre inspired the spin-off Mystery! Running at least three hours each, these dramas do full justice to Dorothy L. Sayers’s vivid characters, trenchant wit, and lavish 1920s settings. (DVD 6-Disc boxed set)

May 7

Doc Martin Special Collection: Series 1-5 + The Movies – “Sweet, stirring, and completely addictive” (Slate) – Last year’s breakout public television hit now available in value-priced collection. Akin to House and Northern Exposure, BAFTA Winner Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly) delivers an uproarious lead performance, aided by outstanding supporting casts, in this award-winning fish-out-of-water comedy about a misanthropic, socially maladjusted doctor forced to relocate to a rustic seaside village. Doc Martin is a huge hit in the U.K. with 10 million viewers and is a huge success in the U.S. on public television as well. The DVD 13-Disc set includes 38 episodes, two TV movies that inspired the series, and 62-minutes of behind-the-scenes segments. Doc Martin Series 1 is also being released on Acorn DVD on May 7th.

A Fine Romance: Complete Collection – “Delightful Dench” (The Washington Post) – Judi Dench stars in this charming romantic comedy alongside her late husband Michael Williams (Educating Rita) as two middle-aged misfits embarking on an unlikely romance. A classic of the genre, the collection features all four series of the affable comedy that earned Dench one of her 10 BAFTA Awards for best actress and aired on public television from 1981-1984. Newly packaged and now with SDH subtitles, the DVD 4-Disc set includes all 26 episodes.

Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (DVD Debut) – Engaging, humorous, and provocative, this 2013 PBS documentary explores Jewish contributions to Broadway and features performances by Barbra Streisand, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, and many more. Bonus disc features three hours of additional performances and interviews not seen on PBS. Narrated by Tony® and Academy Award® winner Joel Grey, the film examines the leading role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical and showcases the work of legends such as Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. Alongside standout performances and archival footage, the film co-mingles cultural history with illuminating perspectives on the origins and meanings of some of Broadway's most beloved songs, stories, and shows.

May 14:

Bill Moyers: Beyond Hate – Provocative PBS documentary tackles big questions about hate through examining the roots of hate and how to cope with it. Legendary journalist Bill Moyers travels across the country and around the world, from Jerusalem to South Central, Los Angeles, from Elie Wiesel’s Anatomy of Hate conference in Oslo, Norway, to a classroom in Brooklyn, New York to tackle critical discussions about racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and sectarianism. Praised for its in-depth reporting on a difficult topic, the DVD Single includes the bonus program, Facing Hate with Elie Wiesel and Bill Moyers (58 min.). Interviews include Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter.

May 28:

George Gently, Series 5 (U.S. Debut) – “Great, bordering on brilliant” (Esquire) – Available to U.S. audiences for the first time with its release on DVD and Blu-ray, the fifth series of the acclaimed BBC mystery series features an upstanding detective in 1960s England. Award-winning actor Martin Shaw returns as Inspector George Gently, a former Scotland Yard detective now tackling crime in the north of England. Shot in stunning high-definition, these powerful dramas boast clever scripts, stylish direction, and distinguished casts, and unfold against the beautiful backdrop of rural Britain. George Gently has run for five series, with a sixth series in production. (Blu-ray 2-disc, DVD 4-disc set)

George Gently Collection: Series 1-4 – The first value-priced collection of the popular BBC detective drama featuring Martin Shaw as an incorruptible cop transplanted from London to Northumberland in the mid-1960s. These 11 feature-length mysteries from Series 1-4 teem with intrigue, wit, and style. (DVD 11-Disc Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray 6-Disc Set)

Coming this June:

Iain Glen in the U.S. debut of Jack Taylor Set 1, Vexed Series 2, The First Churchills, The Politician’s Wife, Springhill Series 1, New Tricks Season 8, and Honest

Earlier 2013 Releases Still Available

From Acorn: Foyle’s War: The Home Front Files, Sets 1-6, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Long-awaited DVD Debut) starring Geraldine McEwan (Agatha Christie’s Marple), Garrow’s Law: The Complete Collection, Maigret Complete Collection starring Michael Gambon, Murdoch Mysteries Collection: Seasons 1-4 (Blu-ray and DVD), Murdoch Mysteries, Season 5 (U.S. Debut, Blu-ray, DVD), Murdoch Mysteries, Season 2 (Blu-ray debut), No Job for a Lady: The Complete Collection (DVD Debut), Chance in a Million Complete Collection, A Mind to Kill Complete Collection, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries, Agatha Christie’s Poirot & Marple Fan Favorites Collection, Wodehouse Playhouse Complete, Above Suspicion Set 2 (U.S. debut) starring Kelly Reilly and Ciaran Hinds, Testimony of Two Men (DVD Debut), Doctor Zhivago starring Keira Knightley, Trial & Retribution, Set 6 (U.S. Debut), Lillie starring Francesca Annis, and Midsomer Murders Set 21 (U.S. Debut, Blu-ray and DVD).

From Athena Documentaries:

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers – 25th Anniversary Edition, Missions That Changed the War: The Doolittle Raid (DVD Debut) narrated by Gary Sinise, She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens (DVD debut), The Story of Math Collection, and Bill Moyers: Becoming American

Best British TV streaming service Acorn TV is featuring a free 30-day trial for complete access to the 18 different series plus marathons. Thereafter, a subscription is just $2.99/mth or $29.99/yr. Each week three new seasons are added and three are removed. Currently streaming are all previous episodes of the universally acclaimed WWII detective drama Foyle’s War, the complete miniseries of Lost Empires starring Colin Firth in one of his early roles, the U.S. debut of The Syndicate, which ABC is currently adapting for U.S. television; the 1980s classic The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Anthony Andrews (Brideshead Revisited), Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), and Ian McKellen; Callan starring Edward Woodward; among many others. Acorn TV is available at

An RLJ Entertainment, Inc. brand (NASDAQ: RLJE), Acorn specializes in the best of British television on DVD and Blu-ray. 2013 releases include: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Dirk Gently, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Maigret, Doc Martin Special Collection, Jack Taylor, and more episodes from Foyle’s War, Case Histories, New Tricks, Murdoch Mysteries, Midsomer Murders, Above Suspicion, George Gently, Vexed and Vera.

Acorn’s and Athena’s DVD sets are available from select retailers, catalog companies, and direct from Acorn Media at (888) 870-8047 or and  Select series are streaming at Acorn TV, the first British TV-focused streaming service, at


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