You have to hand it to the writers and producers of the “Saw” franchise — they really know how to keep a good thing going. They logically tie together the subject matter from previous installments while introducing new content and characters to keep things fresh.
“Saw IV: It’s a Trap” shines in its complex contraptions built by Jigsaw and his minions and the nasty result of such evil inventions, leaving gorehounds more than happy. While there isn’t anything really scary here, tension is high and scares aren’t exactly what these films are designed for now, is it?
The extras include some great featurettes, including a detailed look at all of the traps used in the film, a multipart piece on the props (most of which weren’t used or were used differently than originally created), one deleted scene and two audio commentaries with the crew. The Blu-Ray version has additional extras.
There is a lot of good stuff, but it’d still be be best to wait to buy a DVD until a “Saw” four-movie collection is released. Price: Standard definition, $29.95; Blu-Ray, $39.95. Rent or buy: Good rental.
TORCHWOOD — THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
The super dark, super compelling “Doctor Who” spin-off from the BBC comes to DVD. At that you get the chance to see what everyone has been talking about.
While “Who” has a strong sense of humor to go along with its science-fiction adventures, “Torchwood” is a foreboding look at a world changing rapidly due to alien visitors and their remaining technology, deadly ghostly apparitions and the general evil of people. The story is told through the eyes of a top-secret group tasked with saving humanity.
The DVD set contains 13 episodes with audio commentaries from the cast and the crew, a handful of deleted scenes, previews to other BBC programs and the granddaddy of them all — the “Torchwood Declassified” featurette, a 13-part behind-the-scenes look at the content from the “Torchwood” Web site and special effects and character development shorts that ran on the BBC network. Price: $79.98. Rent or buy: Buy!
THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR — THE THIRD UNCENSORED SEASON
While the E! Network’s show about Playboy chief Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends is a guilty pleasure on cable, it is even better on DVD. There are no bleeps, blurring and cover-ups that plague the broadcast versions. The third season contains 14 more episodes of the show — uncensored — as well as optional commentary from the girls, deleted and extended scenes and more. Price: $29.98. Rent or buy: Good rental.
SWAMP THING: THE SERIES
Yes, it is hard to believe they actually made a television show from the fairly lame movie of the same name, but “Swamp Thing: The Series” is out on DVD, with 22 episodes from the first and second seasons. The series chronicles a tortured scientist who, through nefarious means, is transformed into a beast that thrives in the swamps and can regenerate any part of its body. Interviews with the creators of the show, behind-the-scenes content and a handful of deleted scenes round out the four-disc DVD set. Price: $39.99. Rent or buy: Buy, if a fan.
ER — THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON
The hospital drama from NBC keeps on trucking on network television and on DVD in this eighth DVD release, which sees the show saying goodbye to Anthony Edwards (bad career move) and Eriq La Salle (another bad career move), as Sherry Stringfield returns (good career move) for another 22 episodes. Price: $49.98. Rent or buy: Buy, if a fan.
THE GAME PLAN
Poor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He’s now stuck doing fish-out-of-water films instead of living up to his so-called “next action star” billing.
Johnson plays a pro football player boiled down to playing second fiddle to a daughter he never knew existed (a shockingly original plot development) who teaches him there is more to life than football. Please, if this is the best Hollywood’s got, let the writers keep striking. Price: $29.99. Rent or Buy: Rent, if that.
Other DVDs out Tuesday: ‘Thunderbirds — The Complete Series,” “When Evil Calls,” “America — The Series,” “Blond Ambition,” “The Simple Life: Goes to Camp,” “Fatal Contact,” “Missionary Man,” “Barney Miller — The Complete Second Season,” “Sydney White,” “The Hunting Party” and “The John Frankenheimer Collection.”