Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Monty Python at 40, Mark Knopfler's 'Get Lucky' CD, Ally McBeal on DVD, and more.

Courtesy of Fox
L.A. Philharmonic
Barry Schultz/ Sunshine/ Zuma Press/ Newscom

We can go for that

Now the bestselling pop duo of all time has a boxed set, "Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall and John Oates." While happily immersed in the four CDs, we were struck by how many catchy big hits they had and what a soulful and appealing singer Daryl Hall was, and still is. Disc 4 is the stunner, with old-school soul coming full circle for the Philly natives on tracks like "So Close" and their live showstopper "Me and Mrs. Jones."

Python marathon

It's Monty Python week on IFC, where the cable film channel marks the 40th anniversary of the cheeky, British comedy troupe. Events will include a six-episode interview/documentary, "Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)," featuring all of the remaining group members discussing the ensemble's cultural impact and legacy. The week will also include, of course, the classic Python films.

Trouble is his business

"Plans go wrong, bad things happen, people die," magazine publisher Tom Kristoll sums up the mysteries he publishes in Harry Dolan's sly sendup of the genre, "Bad Things Happen." Then he gets pushed from a sixth-floor window. This is just a few days after asking his editor, David Loogan, for a favor: Kristoll needed help burying a body. Kristoll lied about how the body got in his study (twice), and David Loogan isn't the editor's real name. You don't have to be a Raymond Chandler fan to enjoy this delightfully smart debut novel, but it sure helps.

Maestro's debut

On Thursday, Oct. 8, Venezuelan wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel officially debuts as conductor on the stage of the Walt Disney Concert hall at the head of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. PBS will tape the gala evening for a broadcast later in October, but fans can tune in online as local public radio station KUSC simulcasts the event live at 7:30 PDT. Check out the Monitor's story about Mr. Dudamel, "Conducting with electricity."

Knopfler comes knocking

When anything new is released by onetime Dire Straits frontman and longtime guitar genius Mark Knopfler, we buy the CD – not just the downloads – and we wear the thing out. We're getting to know "Get Lucky," and it's as ear-worthy as "Kill to Get Crimson," his last CD, or "All the Roadrunning," his dulcet duets with Emmylou Harris. This one soars, too, all soulful ballads and Celtic-tinged folk.

Ally's back, on DVD

The quirky, postfeminist "Ally McBeal" may not have been everyone's favorite TV heroine, but the show did represent a cultural milestone, primarily for its whimsical yet powerful look at the 20-something psyche of a conflicted yuppie law school graduate on her way to an unclear future. Now, the entire series is out in a 32-disc set, along with featurettes such as soundtrack compilations and interviews. Available Oct. 6. A six-disc, Season 1 set comes out at the same time.

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