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DVD Releases for May 2, 2006

May 1st, 2006

At first glance, there's not a lot coming out this week that seems award worthy. There are a few releases that I'm looking forward to, most notably Red Dwarf - Series 8 and The Red Green Show - 1997 Season, but while I'll be picking them up, I can't recommend them enough to give either of them the DVD Pick of the Week. Nope, that honor goes to The Tennessee Williams Film Collection - Buy from Amazon.

3rd Rock From The Sun - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
We're now more than halfway through the show's run, and it is still in fine form. Season 4 is important since it is the first season with William Shatner as the Big Giant Head, a role that would earn the actor his first Emmy nomination. Extras on this 4-disc set include an interview with Jane Curtain, outtakes, and season 4 highlights featurette. While this is not a lot of special features, and a serious step down from season 3, it is still enough to make the set worth picking up for fans of the show.

Delicatessen - Buy from Amazon
There are a surprisingly large number of films about Cannibalism, and this is one of the best. The film takes place in a Post-Apocalyptic world where food is in short supply. A landlord / butcher hires a ex-clown to do odd jobs around the shop, but really intends to fatten him up and serve him to is tenants. Obviously this film is not for everyone, but those who are interested will be rewarded with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, and behind-the-scenes clips. That's better than most imports, and well worth picking up.

Dinosaurs - The Complete First and Second Seasons - Buy from Amazon
Your typical working-class family sitcom, like Roseanne, for instance, only its set 60 million years in the past and features dinosaurs as the main characters. This was a very enjoyable show while it lasted and the dinosaurs designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop are fantstic, but it probably would have worn out its welcome had it lasted too much longer than 4 seasons. The first season was only five episodes long, so the studio wisely decided to include both the first and second seasons in the first set. Also included are a couple of featurettes as well as a bunch of Easter eggs to find. That's not a great selection, but still enough to make it worth the price.

Don't Trip... He Ain't Through With Me Yet! - Buy from Amazon
Steve Harvey cleans up his act and takes it to a church to perform for a more religious audience. Fans of his stand-up routine should find something to enjoy, but it is not good enough to convert newcomers. Add in a featureless disc and it isn't even worth renting for most people.

Eight Days a Week - Buy from Amazon
This film was A savaged by the critics and ignored by moviegoers. It didn't really deserve that fate, but even most fans of the movie will admit it isn't a great film. It should get a second life on DVD, but the featureless disc will prevent it from being seen by a large audience.

End Game - Buy from Amazon
This film has a great cast for a direct-to-DVD release. But with several tentative release dates and a $20 million budget, it's clear it wasn't made to be a direct-to-DVD release. It's a thoroughly mediocre film that is being released on a featureless DVD. Skip it.

The Family Stone - Buy from Amazon
One of the better first run releases this week, but it is still just okay and not great as it could have been. However, the DVD is great with two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes, outtakes, interviews, featurette of the premiere and more. Those who saw the movie in the theatre and liked it will definitely want to pick this one up. Those who didn't should give it a chance, if you do, chances are you will like it enough to want to watch it more than one.

Flight 93 - Buy from Amazon
This is the made for TV movie and not the theatrical release that came out this past weekend. The studio was obviously trying to take advantage of the publicity surrounding that film, which compounds the perception that they are trying to take advantage of a tragic event. The DVD does have a commentary track and some interviews, but that doesn't lift it past the rental level.

HD-DVD - Double-Shot - Buy from Amazon: Goodfellas and Swordfish
Two more movies are being shoveled onto HD-DVD this week. Goodfellas is one of the best movies every made and my personal choice for best Mafia movie ever. (Yes, I consider it better than The Godfather.) Swordfish, on the other hand, is a terrible movie and there's little reason to have it on DVD and no reason to own it on HD-DVD.

Hoodwinked - Buy from Amazon
This is one of the lesser hits in the Digital Animation stable, but not the disaster than some were predicting. In order to trim costs, the animation was not made to be state of the art and suffers in comparison to even some of the older films. Also, the script is just not that good. Overall it adds up to a sub-par movie that is worth checking out once, and if you have younger kids you'll probably want to buy it, but doesn't demand repeat viewing like the best Digital Animation films do. As for the DVD, it is very well done with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, (including full length versions of many songs), making of featurette, music video, and more.

I Love Lucy - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
The sixth and final season of this classic series comes out on a 4-disc set that is just as packed as the previous releases were. There are audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes, the Christmas Special from 1956, five more episodes from the radio show, My Favorite Husband, and more. Obviously if you've been keeping up with the releases over the past couple of years, then you probably already have this one on pre-order. If not, then you might want to pick up the Complete Series set, which is not substantially cheaper than the previous releases.

Kate & Allie - Season One - Buy from Amazon
I remember enjoying this show when it first was on TV, but it's been too long since I've seen it to know if it has aged well. On the other hand, I don't have to rely on a faulty memory to figure out that this DVD is terrible. The show was a midseason replacement so there are only sic episodes on this DVD, but the MRSP is $30.00, which would put the full season sets at more than $100. There are some special features on the disc, (including an interview and that cursed The Great '80s TV Flashback), but that not enough to make up for the price. (Also, there are some indications that at least some of the episode are the syndicated version, and not the original broadcast versions). Skip it.

King of the Hill - Complete Season 6 - Buy from Amazon
Good show, terrible DVDs. I honestly think that creator Mike Judge has something against DVDs because just about everyone he's involved with is crap. These are still great shows, but without special features the value of the 3-disc set is limited.

Last Holiday - Buy from Amazon
One of the better films to come out this year, but even so, it is merely average. The original, which is apparently not available on DVD, was an excellent film with a biting social commentary. This film tries too hard to be a crowd pleaser and results in a less than memorable experience. The DVD is also less than satisfying with no audio commentary, just two deleted scenes, and three featurettes with a total running time of about 30 minutes. It adds up to a rental, at most. On the other hand, the originally should really be released on a special edition DVD... I'm looking at you, Criterion Collection.

Leave It to Beaver - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
A show from the late 50s / early 60s that has not aged well, at least not in my opinion. Add in a 3-disc set that has no special features and this is only worth picking up for the hardcore fans.

The Lucy and Desi Collection - Buy from Amazon
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are both best know for I Love Lucy, but they also starred in a trio of movie, which are being released in this box set. Unfortunately, none of the movie are all that good, but fans of the pair should find something they like here.

Modern Romance - Buy from Amazon
An early film from Albert Brooks, it was only the second film he directed. It was not quite as good as Real Life was, but both films are underrated and deserve to be seen. The lack of special features is a real disappointment, but it is still worth picking up while waiting for a special edition that will likely never come. (One last note, Real Life was released on DVD in 2001 and also needs a special edition.)

The Nanny - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Fran Drescher stars as Fran Fine but while the show improved this season, the 3-disc set is complete devoid of special features. I'm not sure why this is since season 1 has quite a few special features.

Nathalie... - Buy from Amazon
A French film start Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant as a husband as wife. When the she suspects he is cheating on her, she hires a Prostitute, (played by Emmanuelle Beart), to seduce him and report on what he does. It's not a bad movie, but the surprise twist is too obvious to be fully satisfying. And with only a making of featurette for a special feature, the disc only rates as a rental.

The Omega Factor - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Could be described as a British X-Files from 1979. The show only lasted one season and was cancelled after people complained that it was too disturbing for television. (Actually, I don't know it people is the right word. Person it probably more accurate. The complaints originated from The National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, or NAMBLA as it was known. They are like the Parent's Television Council in the United States, who seem to spend all their time watching TV they find offensive so they can complain to the FCC.) Since then it has never been repeated on TV or released to the home market so it has developed a mysterious cult status. Fortunately, it is being released tomorrow on a 3-disc set. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to its legend. Even with an audio commentary track on one episode and a 30-minute retrospective, it's not worth it or curiosity alone.

Red Dwarf - Series 8 - Buy from Amazon: With Skutter Toy or Without
Long time readers know how much I love this series, in fact, every previous release has won the DVD Pick of the Week. But while this 3-disc set continues the streak of amazing special features, (audio commentary on all episodes, extended version of two of them, hour and a half making of documentary, outtakes, and much, much more). However, the quality of the episodes takes a serious turn for the worse. I would rate the average quality for Season 1 as 8 out of 10. Season 2 would earn 9 out of 10, seasons 3 though 6 would rate nearly 10 out of 10 while Season 7 would drop back to 8 out of 10. Using that as comparison, I would have to rate Season 8 as 5 out of 10. Out of all the episodes, only Cassandra has what it takes to be considered among the best that Red Dwarf has to offer. Even so, I will be getting the 3-disc set, with the Skutter toy, obviously, but it is out of a desire to complete my set more than for the quality of the show.

The Red Green Show - 1997 Season - Buy from Amazon
This is the first full season DVD release for this long, long running Canadian series, but it's the seventh season of its run. Why they didn't start with season one like practically every other TV series is a complete mystery to me. Must be something wrong with the water up at Possum Lodge. As for the 3-disc set, it contains all 17 episodes from the seventh season, but no real special features. That's a shame, but the set is still worth picking up. One last note, the show is finally ended this year after 15 years and 300 episodes, and hopefully every single one of those will be released on DVD before too long.

Second in Command - Buy from Amazon
Jean-Claude Van Damme + Direct-to-DVD = Skip it.

A Streetcar Named Desire - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Easily the best movie on this week's list. Not only is the movie impeccable, the DVD is outstanding with audio commentary track, feature-length documentary, outtakes, several featurettes, outtakes, screens tests and more. This would be an obvious choice for DVD Pick of the Week, if it wasn't for the The Tennessee Williams Film Collection, but more on that in a second.

Tales from the Crypt - Ritual - Buy from Amazon
I'll admit, I thought Demon Knight was a good movie and thought it should have done better at the theatres. On the other hand, Bordello of Blood was crap and deserved to be ignored. This film is so bad it makes Bordello of Blood look like Hamlet. Skip it seems just so inadequate for movies like this, but that's the lowest rating I have.

The Tennessee Williams Film Collection - Buy from Amazon
Six movies adapted from Tennessee Williams' plays, most of which are making their DVD debut. Included in this box set are his two most famous films, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The other films are Sweet Bird of Youth, The Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll while the weakest of the group is The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, but in this case weakest is a relative term. In total these six films earned 30 Oscar nominations winning 6 of them, so there's no filler here. The amount of extras varies from the 2-disc set for A Streetcar Named Desire to an audio commentary track, featurette, and screen tests on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, to just a featurette on Baby Doll and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Given the age of these films, even the ones will little in the way of special features are better than most films from the same era receive. One final note, the films can also be purchased separately, but this would be foolish as the box set costs half as much and you get a bonus documentary, Tennessee Williams' South. Easily the DVD Pick of the Week.

The Ultimate Film Noir Collection - Buy from Amazon
This 5-disc box set some great examples of film noir, too many in fact. Cramming two movies on a disc is never a good idea as compression could hurt the video quality. Also, double-sided discs tend to have problems in a lot of DVD players. I'd rather spend more for single-sided DVDs. However, having said that, I will admit that the price is hard to beat.

The Warrior - Buy from Amazon
The film earned great reviews but never managed to find an audience. With plenty of special features for a limited release, (audio commentary, deleted scene with audio commentary, making of featurette), it should find one on the home market.


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Filed under: Video Releases, The Family Stone, Hoodwinked, Last Holiday, Don't Trip, He Ain't Through With Me Yet, The Warrior, Nathalie..., End Game