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DVD Releases for July 3, 2007

July 2nd, 2007

Wow. One of the slowest weeks for DVDs I can remember. First-run releases are led by... well... there are no first run releases. There's very little in the way of limited or classic releases either leaving TV on DVD to dominate. The best of the best include two Canadian shows, Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 5 and Slings & Arrows - Season 3, and another series that is filmed in Canada, Eureka - Season One. Any of them could be the DVD Pick of the Week and not too long ago I would have given them all but I'm trying to keep to the singular these days. (It is DVD Pick of the Week and not DVD Picks of the Week, after all). It was a very close call as Slings & Arrows - Season 3 is the best show and Eureka - Season One has the best special features, while Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 5 fits nicely in the middle of both of those shows. The tiebreaker came in the form of Kevin Smith, who did two guest shots in Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 5 and that pushed it over the top making it the DVD Pick of the Week.

Baa Baa Black Sheep - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
It has been a while since Volume 1 was released (you can read my review here). In fact, it has been so long that I assumed sales were poor and the studio decided to discontinue releases. Fortunately that is not the case, but if you are a fan of the show and want to see the final episodes released on a third volume, you better pick the DVD up, a.s.a.p.

Batfink - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A series of animated shorts from the late 60s that parodied the super hero TV shows that were popular at the time (especially Batman). All 100 shorts are on this 4-disc set, but that's it. Granted, for many fans that will be enough; if you remember it fondly as a kid and just want to share it with your kids. On the other hand, the hardcore adult collector wants more. They want extras that talk about the actors who voiced the characters, the studio where it was made, the directors' other works, etc. I hate to bring it up again, but The Looney Tunes Golden Collection Series is the template all other studios should use when releasing animated shorts on DVD.

The Bells Of Death - Shaw Bros Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Not one of the Shaw Brothers' best known or most beloved films, it is still an entertaining East-meets-Western. That said, the lack of special features limits its value to a rental.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Flatliners, The Patriot, The Untouchables, and The Warriors
An eclectic mix of older releases and all of them are worth adding to your DVD collection. Well, almost all of them. I can't stand The Patriot. The character Mel Gibson plays used to hunt Indians for sport. Also, that scene where the British burn down the church, that never happened in real life. That said, none really jump out and demand the upgrade to High Definition.

Chancer - Series 1 - Buy from Amazon
The British series that arguably made Clive Owen a star. However, while the show is great, this DVD is not. It was filmed in 1990, but the audio / video makes it look like it was from the 1970s and there's a total lack of real extras on the 4-disc set as well. I would say its worth picking up, but rent first to check out the quality. Many readers with larger TV screens will demand better than this can offer.

Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the greatest show aimed at and depicting teenagers. The show, in all of its incarnations, has lasted 25 years now starting with The Kids of Degrassi Street and because of that there's little to say about the show that fans won't already know. Speaking of fans, this Canadian show has lots of them on both sides of the border and this 4-disc set should please almost all of them. Included are all 19 episodes in the director's cut, outtakes, deleted scenes, interviews, and more. Easily worth picking up, and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Driving Lessons - Buy from Amazon
A small British film that probably would have been completely ignored here expect its star is Rupert Gint of Harry Potter fame. It's not a terrible film, but a merely average coming of age story. It's worth checking out, but there's nothing in the story that demands anything more than a rental and the light extras (deleted scenes and outtakes), reinforce that ranking.

Eureka - Season One - Buy from Amazon
A TV series starring Colin Ferguson as a man who was stumbles onto a top secret government facility in a small, rural town. A town of super geniuses who work for the government designing all the cutting edge technology. When one of the new devices screws up (an event that happens on a (nearly) weekly basis), his cool thinking saves the day and the people in charge decide to make him the mayor. Like similar shows, (Smallville, Supernatural, The X-Files), the show could slip into the 'Freak-of-the-Week' rut, but as long as the show continues to develop, it should have a fun run. As for the DVD, it is excellent, featuring audio commentary tracks on most episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, and more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Filmation's Ghostbusters - The Animated Series - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
Why can't the Real Ghostbusters get more DVD releases? I want full season sets. Arg.

George Lopez - America's Mexican - Buy from Amazon
I like George Lopez, but only in smaller doses. Seeing him do stand-up on late night shows is fine, a whole set is too much. (On the other hand, I can't wait to see him in Balls of Fury.) But, I admit he has a loyal fanbase and they should be satisfied with this set. It's not his best, but good enough to be worth checking out.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Blood Diamond, The Untouchables, and The Warriors
Small list of HD-DVD releases this week, all but one of which is also coming out on Blu-Ray. The lone exception is Blood Diamond, which has been released on Blu-Ray previously.

Neverwas - Buy from Amazon
Filmed in 2005, pushed back to 2007, then released direct-to-DVD. Unfortunately, the reviews back up the studio's decision. It wouldn't have taken too much to turn the idea into a great movie, which makes the experience even more frustrating.

Puccini for Beginners - Buy from Amazon
A romantic comedy with a lesbian flavor. Unfortunately, it is still just a romantic comedy with very little to set it apart and like most such films; it is mired in mediocrity. Extras on the DVD are better than expected given the film's short, short theatrical run and include an audio commentary track and some deleted scenes. Worth checking out for fans of romantic comedies, but a rental will do.

Slings & Arrows - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
The second Canadian TV show on this week's list. It is also one of the best releases coming out tomorrow as well. The third and final season detailing the behind-the-scenes drama of a Shakespeare festival is just as strong as the previous seasons, if not the strongest. Anyone who has seen the first two seasons will want to add this one to his or her DVD collection as well. In fact, if you've never seen a single episode, I would recommend picking up all three, sight unseen; the quality of the show is just that high. And even with extras that are on the light side (interview, outtakes, extended scenes), it is still worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Welcome to the Grindhouse - Buy from Amazon: Black Candles and Evil Eye and The Teacher and Pickup
I bet when these two DVD releases were first discussed, the studio was sure that Grindhouse would be a major hit and interest in these types of movies would be at an all time high. That didn't happen.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Blood Diamond, Driving Lessons, Puccini for Beginners, Neverwas