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The Mission: Impossible TV series on DVD this week
Peter Graves, left, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain star in the fan-favorite TV series from the 1960s and 70s, "Mission: Impossible," now available in a new DVD box set. - photo by Chris Hicks
Mission: Impossible, the original TV series, is available in a new DVD box set this week.

Mission: Impossible: The Original Television Series (CBS, 1966-73, 46 discs, 171 episodes, featurettes, vintage interviews, promos, photo gallery). Modern audiences may quibble about the antiquated technology and special effects in this vintage series but it is, after all, a product of its time. Look at it as a period piece and it holds up as a terrific action series, with Peter Graves heading a team of disparate experts who pull off government-sanctioned swindles, heists, impersonations, etc., to right wrongs on a global level.

Of course, Graves wasnt around for the first season. He came aboard for the second season, replacing Steven Hill (who would earn a place in TV history a couple of decades later on Law & Order). And except for Greg Morris, who was around for all nine seasons, the rest of the team members would come and go: Peter Lupus was in the first seven seasons, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain lasted only three seasons, Leonard Nimoy hung on for two, and Sam Elliott and Lesley Ann Warren for just one.

Planning and teamwork were the hallmarks of the original M:I series, which is why the first Tom Cruise movie was so vilified by fans the team was killed off immediately, Cruises character became a loner, a la James Bond, and the Peter Graves character (played in the film by Jon Voight) turned out to be a villainous double agent. Not at all what fans wanted or expected. (Although, to be fair, Cruises franchise has picked up the teamwork aspect again and the films have markedly improved.)

Ascension (Lionsgate, 2014, six episodes, featurette). This nicely developed Syfy channel murder mystery-in-space is about a covert generation-spaceship being launched in 1963 when the world is paranoid about the possibility of nuclear annihilation. Some 600 men, women and children are aboard, and at the end of their 100-year journey they are to colonize another planet and start over. But 50-some years into the trip a murder occurs, which prompts those in charge to question the mission. (The popularity of this miniseries generated talk of weekly series but it has not materialized.)

Indian Summers: The Complete First Season (PBS, 2015, three Blu-ray discs or four DVD discs, 10 episodes, featurette). This glossy, engaging British-Indian drama is set in Simia at the foothills of the Himalayas during the summer season of 1932, in the final years of British colonization in India. Julie Walters is the most recognizable star, as the operator of the Royal Simia Club, where most of the soap-opera action occurs. The series begins with a murder mystery that reverberates throughout the community. (A second season will air sometime next year.)

Mad Men: The Final Season, Part 2 (Lionsgate, 2015, two Blu-ray discs or three DVD discs, seven episodes, audio commentaries, featurettes). This popular period piece about life among high-flying Madison Avenue advertisers sets its final episodes in 1970 as Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a womanizing bachelor once more and the rise of feminism plays an important role in the shows end game (The complete series is also available in a Blu-ray and DVD box set.)

Grimm: Season Four (Universal, 2014-15, five discs, 22 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). The title character (David Giuntoli) is a descendant of supernatural hunters and as a homicide detective, he takes on monsters both human and inhuman. After the season three finale, Nick remains without his Grimm powers until episode six, Highway of Tears. (On Blu-ray and DVD.) (Season five begins on NBC Oct. 30.)

When Calls the Heart: The Television Movie Collection: Year Two (Shout!, 2015, five TV movies, featurettes). This is a light, romantic soap-opera series about the up-and-down romance between a privileged schoolteacher and a Canadian Mountie in a 19th-century mining town. Collected here are the five extended feature-length episodes from season two that have been released as stand-alone discs throughout the year. (The fifth movie, Follow Your Heart, is also available separately.) (Season three begins on the Hallmark Channel in February 2016.)

Billy Elliot: The Musical Live (Universal, 2014, introduction, featurette). Elton John and Lee Halls multiple Tony-winning Broadway musical comedy, based on the 2000 film and set against the 1984-85 British miners strike, is about an 11-year-old boy whose widowed father pushes him to learn how to box, but he instead chooses to learn ballet dancing, which doesnt sit well with his peers. This is the live performance that was broadcast to movie theaters in 2014.

The Following: The Third and Final Season (Warner, 2015, three discs on Blu-ray or four discs on DVD, 15 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). Kevin Bacon stars as an FBI agent in pursuit of serial-killing cultists. In this conclusion to the series, Bacons character is shown to be moving on after capturing his main prey, but his former partner pulls him back into the game.

Dexter: The Complete Series (Showtime, 2006-13, 32 discs, 96 episodes, audio commentaries, featurettes, photo gallery). This is the very R-rated cable series about a Miami blood-spatter analyst who lives a double life as a serial killer but he kills only heinous criminals. The advantage to this new DVD set over the previously released Blu-ray and DVD collections is shelf-friendly packaging, a tradeoff being that the 33rd disc of special features in the previous edition is absent.

James Bond Gadgets (Lionsgate, 2002-04, two episodes). A pair of episodes from the History Channels Modern Marvels documentary series focus on the gadgetry used by 007 in the 23 films of the series that have preceded Spectre, the latest Bond film that opens in theaters Nov. 6. Included are the rocket belt, the Acrostar jet, the tricked-out cars, etc.

Chasing Pluto (PBS, 2015). This hourlong documentary is about the nine-year mission of the New Horizons spacecraft as it traveled 3 billion miles to capture the first detailed images of the dwarf planet Pluto.

Drug Lord: The Legend of Shorty (PBS, 2015). This 90-minute documentary tells the story of El Chapo, aka Joaquin Shorty Guzman, the head of one of the largest and bloodiest Mexican drug cartels in history.

Planet Matzah Ball: Chanukah and Passover (SISU, 2015, two discs, two episodes, sing-alongs, trailers; two four-page parent/teacher guides). This cute, educational entertainment with puppets for children ages 4 to 10 about Chanukah and the Seder is set on Planet Matzah Ball where 9-year-old alien Oogy learns about Jewish traditions. It's aimed at Jewish families but is a nice way to help non-Jewish children (and adults) learn more about their Jewish neighbors.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games (Shout!Kids, 2015, deleted scenes, audio commentary, cartoons shorts, sing-alongs). This new animated feature (72 minutes) in the Pony franchise has Canterlot High School being challenged by rival Crystal Prep Academy to a Friendship Games competition. (Blu-ray, DVD.)

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Three Movie Gift Set (Shout! Kids, 2013-15, three discs, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurette, cartoon shorts, sing-alongs). This DVD three-pack repackages the straight-to-video Pony animated features: Equestria Girls, Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games.

Chuggington: The Big Freeze (Anchor Bay, 2011-15, six episodes, Badge Quest episode, featurette). The anthropomorphic trains of Chuggington hit the rails to get fuel for frozen diesel engines when temperatures dip in the new title episode of this animated British series for children ages 3-6.

Caillous Halloween (PBS Kids, 1997-2005, 13 stories). The 13 stories here are spooky in nature, gleaned from various episodes of the Canadian animated program about a 4-year-old boy with a big imagination. Charming educational series aimed at preschoolers.

Peg + Cat: A Totally Awesome Halloween (PBS Kids, 2013, four episodes). Young Peg and her cat solve lots of big problems in this animated series, with two of these episodes related to Halloween. It's another sweet Canadian show for children ages 3-5.

Dinosaur Train: Buddys Halloween Adventure (PBS Kids, 2009-11, four episodes, interactive game, coloring pages, featurettes). This animated show for preschoolers focuses on the curiosity of a young Tyrannosaurus Rex named Buddy, here visiting a haunted house and learning about nocturnal animals.

WordWorld: Halloween Fun (PBS Kids, 2007-08, five stories). This cartoon series has Pig, Sheep, Duck and Dog breaking into letters to represent words that apply to their various adventures. It's another educational show for preschoolers.