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Vintage and new TV shows on DVD
The principle cast of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," a family friendly Hallmark Channel series now available on DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
The family-friendly TV series Signed, Sealed, Delivered and the vintage Western The Dakotas are on DVD this week.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Series (Cinedigm/DVD/Digital, 2014, two discs, 10 episodes, trailers). This engaging mystery-comedy-romance series from the Hallmark Channel is a semi-anthology in the style of Touched By an Angel, and comes from the creator of that popular show, Martha Williamson.

The format follows four postal workers Eric Mabius, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson who act as detectives to track down people for whom snail-mail dead letters were intended. Guests include Valerie Harper, Della Reese, Valerie Bertinelli (each in two episodes) and Marilu Henner as high-ranking postal officials, and Carol Burnett as the long-lost grandmother of one of the team members.

This 10-episode series was preceded by a 2013 TV-movie with the same title and was followed by a Christmas special last December. The show will return to the TV-movie format this year with Signed, Sealed, Delivered From Paris With Love, and at least two more are promised to follow.

The Dakotas (Warner Archive/DVD, 1962-63, b/w, five discs, 20 episodes). This is a largely forgotten but very good, darker-than-usual, single-season Western series from the Warner stable (Maverick, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, etc.), starring four unknowns, two of whom went on to bigger things: Larry Ward, Mike Green, Chad Everett (TVs Medical Center, Centennial) and Jack Elam (villain/comic relief in countless Westerns, notably Once Upon a Time in the West, Support Your Local Sheriff).

Ward is the laconic lawman (with an eye patch in the pilot, though its gone in the first series episode), Green is a gentle giant, Everett plays the hunky son of a killer, and Elam handily steals the show as the most complicated character, a reformed gunslinger learning the difference between revenge and justice. They band together to stop lawlessness in the badlands of the Dakota Territory. Guests include Lee Van Cleef (in two episodes), Dennis Hopper, Telly Savalas and DeForest Kelley. (Available at

Nazi Hunters: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler (BBC/DVD, 2013, two episodes, trailers). This is an interesting two-part British documentary on the use of bulky, intimidating metal tanks as mechanized warfare against the enemy during World War II. Instead of the subtitle above, the episodes onscreen use The Men and the Machines That Beat Hitler.

Monkey Warriors (BBC/DVD, 2000-01, two episodes, trailers). Two informative, amusing documentary episodes about wild monkeys taken from the British series The Natural World, Warriors of the Monkey God and Cheeky Monkey.

Rubys Quest (BBC/DVD, 2015, trailers). Fictionalized semi-documentary feature with a comic narration aimed at children about creatures in the rain forests of Central and South America. The central focus is an injured howler monkey named Ruby that needs to get home, with digressions about other animals in the region.

Naked and Afraid: Season 1 (Discovery/Cinedigm/2013, seven episodes, trailers). Two survivalists, a man and a woman, are set down in remote, rough areas of the world without food, water or clothes, where they must survive for 21 days in this reality competition series. Episodes in this first season place contestants in a Costa Rican jungle, Tanzanias Serengeti, the Maldives, a Panamanian island, Borneo and Louisiana swamps, with a final recap episode. (Frontal nudity is digitally blocked and profanity is bleeped.)