This Week in DVDs: September 21, 2010

Check out this week’s crop of DVDs, Blu-rays, and collector’s edition ultimate mega sets.

Since we know time is money, here’s a quick handy reference guide to recent DVD releases that should be on your radar and, in many cases, on your shelf. Immediately.

Robin Hood (Blu-ray)

Release Date: September 21

What it is: Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott – The DeNiro/Scorsese of historical epics – reteam to tackle the legend of the good-hearted thief of Sherwood Forest. Naturally, they toss aside green tights and camp in favor of painstaking historical context, seriousness, and grit.

Why you need it: A lot of people were quick to label this a thirteenth-century Gladiator (OK, we did) but that’s unfair. Taken on its own merits, Robin Hood is absolutely successful in achieving its stated goal: To present a possible “true story” behind the cliché-fueling legend. This is no frilly adventure, but the kind of earnest and hefty period epic Scott excels at, and it is impressive and engaging. That said, check out the deleted scenes to see some Merry Men jocularity that didn’t make the final cut. If you missed this the first time around, don’t do so again.

The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray)

Release Date: September 14

What it is: Long before Shaun of the Dead, director Dan O’Bannon (the guy who just happened to write the original Alien) was mixing zombie horror with laughs, and the result was the criminally underrated Return of the Living Dead. Basically, punks vs. zombies, it’s a lost 80s classic and its arrival on Blu-ray is nothing short of a cause for celebration. Take it away, 45 Grave!

Why you need it: Once again: Zombies. Laughs. Nudity (courtesy of scream queen Linnea Quigley as graveyard strip teaser Trash). Gore. Great music. Juwanna Mann (that’s right, one of the punks is Miguel Núñez). It’s all here. The slick new DVD/Blu-ray package is awesome too. We’re talking “zombie subtitles” and “zombie commentary” kinds of awesome. Halloween is right around the corner, and this should take its rightful place as the ultimate Halloween party movie.

30 Rock: Season Four

Release Date: September 21

What it is: The fourth season of the Tiny Fey/Alec Baldwin/Tracy Morgan/Sometimes Jon Hamm/Sometimes Matt Damon comedy series. The joke batting average may dip a little, but this is still one of the funniest shows on TV.

Why you need it: Unlike a lot of disposable TV, 30 Rock actually benefits from repeat viewings, which makes it ripe for DVD. Jokes sometimes fly under the radar, and this way every swallowed line or random aside can be caught and digested. There are also select commentary tracks featuring cast members and writers (like Mystery Team’s Donald Glover) which are almost as funny as the shows. A solid package, and a shelf-worthy addition.