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Top Picks: 'Agent 6,' alien diplomacy, and more

Gillian Anderson plays a tragic bride in a new 'Great Expectations,' 'American Masters' explores the lives of authors Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell, master spy George Smiley is brought to life by actor Gary Oldman, and more top picks.

March 23, 2012

Gary Oldman in ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ is out on DVD March 20.

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A tormented Miss Havisham

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Gillian Anderson is back in another adaptation of a classic. As part of the Charles Dickens bicentennial, "Masterpiece Classic" will première Great Expectations as a two-part, three-hour miniseries on PBS, April 1 and 8.

When aliens attack

Earth is under attack. Commander Shepard (aka you) must rally the galaxy to its defense. But convincing the bickering aliens of Mass Effect 3 to unite requires a balance of diplomacy and gunplay. This video game deftly pivots between science-fiction fables and action-movie spectacles. Conversations can drastically sway the story line, so saving the galaxy requires both careful aim and careful wording. Available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Riveting Russian intrigue

Packed with enough moral ambiguity to satisfy John le Carré, Agent 6 marks the final book in Tom Rob Smith's wonderful trilogy about former secret police agent Leo Demidov. Leo moves from being a young believer in the authoritarian cruelty of Stalinist Russia to feeling disillusioned ambivalence as the cold war nears its end and his own family lies in tatters. Like le Carré, Smith succeeds because of an expert combination of thriller heroics, deft atmospherics, and, above all, troubled characters who defy stereotypes. This is top-notch popular fiction, comrades.

Backstories of two beloved classics

"American Masters" presents a double-header April 2 on PBS with specials on two iconic American women – Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, about the author of "Gone with the Wind," and Harper Lee: Hey, Boo, about the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird." This year is the 75th anniversary of Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize win for "Gone with the Wind" and the 50th anniversary of the 1962 film adaptation of "To Kill a Mockingbird," starring Gregory Peck.

We'll always have ... 'Casablanca'

"You Must Remember This" – a three-disc commemorative Blu-ray plus DVD set marking the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Oscar-winning film Casablanca. This limited and numbered gift set edition includes more than 14 hours of original material, including the documentaries, "Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic," "Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of," "The Brothers Warner," "You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story," and "Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul."

Our favorite spy

Gary Oldman stars in the latest adaptation of John le Carré's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" as agent George Smiley, brought back from retirement to find out the identity of a mole in the British Secret Service. A uniformly great supporting cast fills out the gallery of suspects, and the many twists and turns of the plot all come out right in the end. Out on DVD March 20.

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