Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

The interactive Frank Lloyd Wright, 'thirtysomething' on DVD, return of the iconic Spy vs. Spy, and more.

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Opera with a happy ending

The Cinderella story returns in Gioachino Rossini's "La Cenerentola," in PBS's "Great Performances at the Met." This 19th-century retelling may be sans pumpkin, fairy godmother, and even a glass slipper, but it makes up for that and far more with the glorious bel canto of the lush, New York Metropolitan Opera production. Tune in for that and the starmaking performance by mezzo-soprano, Elina Garanca. The show airs Aug. 15 in high definition (check local listings for the time).

Do the Wright thing (interactively)

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Nothing can equal the actual experience of visiting a Frank Lloyd Wright dwelling, but technology has virtually brought Wright's art as close as your computer monitor. "Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio" (in-D Press, $35), a two DVD set, offers a thoughtful, balanced, hour-long documentary, notable for candid remarks from Wright's grandson Eric about his granddad's charming irascibility. It also includes an awe-inspiring interactive tour, spiced with viewer-controlled, panoramic sweeps of Wright's first residence that also served as his first laboratory for refining his distinctive architectural style.

Back to the '80s

Fans of the groundbreaking late-1980s show "thirtysomething" can now finally watch the entire first season of 21 episodes when it arrives on six DVDs from Shout! Factory Aug. 25. Since the show prefigured so much that became routine in later TV dramas – swift, naturalistic dialogue with a far more cinéma vérité style of shooting – it holds up remarkably well after all these years.

'Unity' for free

Vanguard Records and The Hunger Site are working together to give away a song to help others. At www.vanguardrecords.com/hungersite, you can download free of charge Trevor Hall's single "Unity" from his new self-titled album. Every free download will go to feeding an orphan in India through The Hunger Site's Gifts that Give More.

Travel stories

Listening to insightful historical anecdotes is one of the more entertaining ways to discover a new city. With that in mind, Walk Talk Tours, a British company, has put together 45-minute commentaries voiced in plummy tones for four English cities and one Scottish one. You can download each tour along with a map for around $10 at walktalktour.com. Plug it into your iPod and you're ready for a two-hour saunter through London, York, Manchester, Chester, or Edinburgh.

The spies return

MAD Magazine's captivating Spy vs. Spy cartoons by Cuban-born political cartoonist Antonio Prohias are back in circulation after four decades. This month the classic misadventures of the Black Spy and the White Spy are being republished in "Spy vs. Spy! Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity!" "Spy vs. Spy! Masters of Mayhem," and "Spy vs. Spy! Missions of Madness" (Watson Guptill, $11.99 each).

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