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‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ orbits to DVD

Also new: ‘Fever Pitch,’ HBO's ‘Empire Falls’ and ‘Ben-Hur’ four-disc set
/ Source: The Associated Press

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Book one of Douglas Adams’ science fiction romp comes to life in a suitably oddball adaptation that fitfully captures the spirit of his cult tale about the end of the world and what comes next. Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel, Mos Def and Sam Rockwell star in the story of an unassuming Brit befriended by an alien observer who whisks his pal off Earth and into an interstellar adventure moments before the planet is destroyed to clear room for a space bypass. The DVD has three insubstantial deleted scenes, among them a segment from the ubiquitous galactic “hitchhiker’s guide” that reveals a one-word entry on Earth: “Harmless.” There also are two not-very-amusing spoof deleted scenes featuring Freeman in action-hero mode, plus commentary by Freeman, co-star Bill Nighy, director Garth Jennings and some of the late Adams’ colleagues. DVD, $29.99. (Disney) Original theatrical review

“Fever Pitch”

The Farrelly brothers timed their Boston Red Sox romance perfectly, managing to tweak the story as filming progressed to incorporate the team’s drive to its first World Series title after the legendary “Curse of the Bambino” 86-year drought. Jimmy Fallon stars as a fanatic Red Sox follower whose obsession threatens to send his relationship with his new girlfriend (Drew Barrymore) down to the minors. Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly, New Englanders and Red Sox fans themselves, provide commentary, and the DVD has 13 deleted scenes, a gag reel and a making-of featurette. There’s also a segment on breaking the playoff curse that had plagued Boston since the team traded away Babe Ruth to the Yankees. DVD, $29.98. (20th Century Fox) Original theatrical review

“Ben-Hur”The 1959 best-picture Academy Award winner receives a mammoth DVD update in a four-disc set featuring a new digital transfer of the nearly four-hour film. Among the film’s 11 Oscars was the best-actor prize for Charlton Heston as the title character, a nobleman wrongly convicted of a crime and sent into slavery, later returning from exile to face a boyhood pal turned enemy in a showdown at a Roman chariot race. Film historian T. Gene Hatcher provides a commentary track that is punctuated by occasional remarks from Heston. The set has a making-of segment and a new documentary featuring such filmmakers as George Lucas and Ridley Scott, whose “Gladiator” was a modern successor to “Ben-Hur.” Also included is a restored version of the 1925 silent version of “Ben-Hur.” DVD set, $39.92. (Warner Bros.)

“Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Rumble Fish”Two early 1980s films get fresh DVD treatment in new editions. Sissy Spacek won the best-actress Oscar for her portrayal of country-music singer Loretta Lynn in 1980’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which co-stars Tommy Lee Jones. Spacek and director Michael Apted team for commentary on the 25th anniversary DVD, which also has recollections from Jones about the movie. Apted also joins Lynn for an interview segment. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 drama “Rumble Fish,” adapted from S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel, stars Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Nicolas Cage and Diane Lane. Coppola offers commentary, and the DVD has a making-of featurette and background on Stewart Copeland’s percussion score. DVDs, $19.98 each. (Universal)

TV on DVD:

“Empire Falls” — Ed Harris leads a tremendous cast in this miniseries adaptation of Robert Russo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a small-town diner owner dealing with his crusty old dad (Paul Newman, who previously starred in the Russo adaptation “Nobody’s Fool”), an intrusive rich woman (Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward) and a host of quirky townsfolk. The two-disc set has a making-of featurette, and Russo joins director Fred Schepisi for commentary. DVD set, $29.98. (HBO)

“Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Fourth Season” — Ray Romano is back as the sportswriter with a great wife (Patricia Heaton) and kids, a resentful brother (Brad Garrett) and endlessly meddlesome parents (Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts). Year four’s 24 episodes come in a five-disc set, with commentary by Romano, Heaton, Garrett and others on four. DVD set, $44.98. (HBO)

“Smallville: The Complete Fourth Season” — Senior year in high school for young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) brings him closer to his destiny as Superman — and introduces Lois Lane (Erica Durance) into his life. The six-disc set has 22 episodes, with cast and crew commentary on three, and interviews with Margot Kidder, Noel Neill and other actresses who have played Lois. DVD set, $59.98. (Warner Bros.)

“One Tree Hill: The Complete Second Season” — Two teenage half-brothers (Chad Michael Murray and James Lafferty) who were abruptly thrown together begin to leave rivalry behind and form a fraternal bond in year two, which comes in a six-disc set with 23 episodes. Series creator Mark Schwan introduces a lengthy collection of deleted scenes. DVD set, $59.98. (Warner Bros.)

“Da Ali G Show: Da Compleet Second Seazon” — British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen cops three journalistic alter-egos, gangsta wannabe Ali G, a Kazakhstani correspondent and an Austrian fashion maven, in this spoof of modern culture. The two-disc set has six episodes, plus 50 minutes of unaired material. DVD set, $29.95. (HBO)

“Cheers,” “Frasier,” “Taxi” — Season six of “Cheers” marks a major shift after the departure of Shelley Long, with Kirstie Alley joining Ted Danson and his gang of regulars as the new manager of the bar. The four-disc set has 25 episodes. Year six of “Cheers” spinoff “Frasier,” starring Kelsey Grammer, comes in a four-disc set with 23 episodes, while season three of “Taxi,” the cabbie comedy featuring Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito and Marilu Henner, has 20 episodes in a four-disc set. DVD sets, $38.99. (Paramount)

“The Brady Bunch: The Complete Third Season” — The story of a lovely lady, a man named Brady and their merger that forms a family of six mischievous kids continues in a four-disc set with 23 episodes. Among year three’s highlights is middle sister Jan’s “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” plaints about being stuck in her big sister’s shadow. DVD set, $38.99. (Paramount)

“SCTV: Volume 4” — The hilarious late-night sketch comedy series rolls on after the departure of Catherine O’Hara, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. Martin Short joins regulars John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin and Joe Flaherty in the TV parody set at a fourth-rate network. The six-disc set packs 12 episodes, including a guest appearance by Robin Williams. DVD set, $89.98. (Shout)

Other new releases:

“Rock School” — Following Jack Black’s 2003 comedy hit “School of Rock” is this documentary examining the real thing: the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Philadelphia, which teaches teens to rock on. The DVD has commentary with the filmmakers and deleted scenes. DVD, $24.96. (Sony) Original theatrical review

“Winter Solstice” — Anthony LaPaglia stars as a dad coming to terms with the sudden death of his wife, losing his connection with his grief-stricken teenage sons (Aaron Stanford and Mark Webber), and finding a ray of light from a goodhearted new neighbor (Allison Janney). DVD, $29.99. (Paramount) Original theatrical review