Show: 5 out of 5 stars

‘Wire’ DVD worth it, if only for the show

Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Wire” – The Complete Fourth Season

HBO Home Video

Season four of “The Wire” might be the most perfect 13 episodes of television drama ever produced. In shifting its eyes to Baltimore’s broken school system, HBO’s visual novel turned in its most challenging and affecting season yet, making a bold statement about the decay of inner-city schools.

To usher in the recent onset of the show’s fifth and final season, HBO packaged season four of “The Wire” in a modest, but fitting, four-disk DVD set. Two half-hour featurettes and commentaries on six episodes make up the bulk of the set’s extras. They complement the season by providing insight into the show’s creative process and broader intentions.

But the real draw here is the show itself, which would be worth its asking price on a worn-out Betamax void of extras. Whether you missed its original run in the fall of 2006 or you’re just looking to revisit a modern-day classic, the fourth season DVD of “The Wire” is required viewing for anyone who’s ever lamented the lack of quality programming on TV.

Michael Passman

European dance artist still won’t cut it in the States

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Kylie Minogue

X

EMI

For an artist with 10 studio releases and an ever-evolving career that has already spanned 20 years, Kylie Minogue is still relatively obscure in the United States. Her 2002 album Fever garnered mild success here while producing two extremely danceable tracks in “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and “Love at First Sight.”

Kylie’s most recent release, X, goes in many directions while aiming generally for the dance floor. There are several moments on the album when Kylie’s voice is too thin or nasal to compete with the pumped-up production (“In My Arms”). For the most part, though, the production wraps infectious rhythms around Kylie’s mid-range croon – Kylie’s sultry, come-hither whisper on “2 Hearts,” is especially powerful.

The production occasionally stretches outside of Kylie’s vocal capabilities, but her energy and charm almost always make up for it. This album probably won’t make her a superstar in the U.S., but “Love at First Sight” should have.

Gabriel Baker

Snoop’s demeanor elevates new reality show

Rating: 3 and a half stars

“Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood”

Sundays at 10:30 p.m.

E!

Do we really need another reality show like “Run’s House” or “Hogan Knows Best”? The answer is, surprisingly, – fo’ shizzle. While E!’s “Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood” shares basic elements with its predecessors, Snoop’s cavalier style of parenting sets “Father Hood” apart from the others.

Snoop Dogg’s relaxed personality ensures that “Father Hood” will not be some dramatic exploration of the emotional struggles associated with being both a parent and entertainer. Appropriately, “Father Hood” is more like a sitcom than a credible reality show. Unlike traditional conflict-filled reality shows, the family is rarely shown fighting. Snoop often avoids confrontation by either giving in to his family’s demands or shrinking to his own private area to watch soccer and eat Roscoe’s fried chicken. Snoop is also placed in obviously planned situations —– like an acupuncture appointment with a blind doctor – that are engineered to create laughs, not pluck at the heartstrings of viewers.

“Father Hood” can survive without the use of conventional reality TV motifs because it offers more than just another celebrity constantly clashing with his family. Instead, Snoop’s family tackles problems together, and the creative oddity of these situations makes it a reality sitcom worth watching.

Dave Reap

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