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How the West was fun

Warner Brothers Pictures/Photofest

You wonder if a business impetus for giving “Blazing Saddles” (1974) a 40th anniversary Blu-ray salute is to capitalize on Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” You can picture the handy marketing hook: “If you like MacFarlane’s freewheeling, anachronistic Western spoofery, then you’ll love Mel Brooks’s classic.” An accidental, less commerce-driven peg might be that the reissue holds up a pop-cultural mirror to the troubling racism controversy now raging around NBA team owner Donald Sterling. As Brooks, Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, and the rest of the cast and crew provocatively remind us, satire can be a powerful tool for examining social wrongs. Brooks sits down for a new half-hour retrospective on the disc, reminiscing at a few points about working with co-writer Richard Pryor, his pick for playing Little’s sheriff until the studio intervened. (Too erratic, they argued.) Still, Brooks says, Pryor left his edgy mark on the humor: “We cut out half [the scripted slurs], and we still had more than enough to cover all the things that [executives] wanted to shut the movie down for.” Brooks doesn’t really talk about Wilder — because of lingering differences of opinion over that “Young Frankenstein” Broadway adaptation, maybe? But he vocally praises Madeline Kahn’s turn as oh-so-tired seductress Lili Von Shtupp, he explains where the blazes that noisy campfire scene came from, and he talks up the movie’s legacy. “I think I may have helped Westerns to be about something instead of good guys and bad guys.” (Warner, $24.98)

CULT

VERONICA MARS (2014)

The party continues on DVD for the fan-worshipped Kristen Bell teen noir series revived as a Kickstarter-financed feature. For the target audience, it’s reunion time, with 20-something Veronica returning to her trouble-plagued hometown when her ex, Logan (Jason Dohring), is accused of murder. For the uninitiated, creator Rob Thomas’s sharp scripting — “sexual sharknado!” — makes this like hitting your spouse’s reunion, and having fun even without all the background. The crowdfunding experiment wasn’t perfect; the movie’s grosses fell short of the $5.7 million budget, for one. But a celebratory hourlong featurette is all about the fan base’s joy, and it’s infectious. (Warner, $28.98; Blu-ray, $29.98)

TELEVISION

I LOVE LUCY: ULTIMATE SEASON ONE (1951-52)

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Has there been a more comedy-packed pitch this side of Vitameatavegamin? Lucy makes her Blu-ray debut as part of an impressive triple shot that also includes the hi-def bows of “The Honeymooners” (specifically, the original “classic 39” episodes) and the premiere season of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Remastered “Lucy” episodes are complemented by previously unavailable extras such as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s makeup and wardrobe tests. “Honeymooners” includes the hourlong musical episode “The Adoption” from the series’ 1966 revival. And “Andy Griffith” offers a look at on-set home movies shot by Ronny (excuse us – Ron) Howard’s dad. (Paramount, $130.00 each)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.

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