Once again there’s not much in the way of family-friendly new releases: just a ‘60s TV series about a veterinarian in Africa, an off-brand animated dinosaur adventure, and, for families with older children that have a more sophisticated range, and a 1939 classic Ernst Lubitsch comedy.

Daktari3Daktari means “doctor” in Swahili, and for four seasons this TV drama-adventure aimed at children entertained the target audience on CBS. Marshall Thompson played Dr. Tracy, a vet working in East Africa to study animals and also protect them from poachers and politicians. Cheryl Miller played his daughter, Paula, but the real stars were compound “pets” like Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion and Judy the Chimpanzee. Season 4 comes out on DVD this week, and it was this season that introduced Erin Moran (who struck sitcom gold as Joannie in Happy Days five years later) as a young orphan. The series was created by Ivan Tors, who gave TV audiences Sea Hunt a decade earlier and Gentle Ben a decade later. Tors was also the man behind the Flipper movies. If you have children who are wildlife experts, they might cringe to see tigers and Indian elephants and possibly suspect that real footage of Africa was intercut with footage shot in California—which was the case. But these 15 episodes (755 min. runtime) are still entertaining.

BacktotheJurassicFor young children there’s Back to the Jurassic, a 2015 follow-up to the off-brand Dino Time (2012) featuring the voices of Rob Schneider, Melanie Griffith, William Baldwin, and Jane Lynch. The animated adventure follows three young friends who accidentally start a time machine and end up in the Jurassic Period, “adopted” by a dinosaur mom who has a rough-and-playful son of her own. Will they survive before their parents can work in present time to save them? This one comes with the Dove seal of approval. Look for it on 3D Blu-ray (+ Blu-ray + DVD) combo pack or DVD.

NinotchkaIt’s the American Film Institute that approves of Ninotchka, rating it #40 on their list of 100 Top Romances and #52 on their list of 100 Top Comedies. Ernst Lubitsch’s 1939 film concerns a Stalin-era Soviet official who is sent to Paris to bring back three Russians who were supposed to sell jewelry that the State confiscated during the Russian Revolution . . . but never returned. The government suspects they’ve been corrupted by Western decedance, and they trust a harsh special envoy named Nina Ivanova “Ninotchka” Yakushova (Greta Garbo) to set things right. But the Count (Melvyn Douglas) who wooed the three Russians into staying in the West can be quite persuasive. Ninotchka is a different kind of romantic comedy, and the first film to portray Stalin’s Russia as the all-gray, severe country that would become a cliché in later Hollywood films. It’s out on Blu-ray this week for the very first time.

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