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DVD Releases for November 21, 2006

November 21st, 2006

The official start of the Christmas shopping season is just ahead and while this week is not as busy as last in terms of quantity, the quality is still very high with several contenders for DVD Pick of the Week. Narrowing it down to the short list gives us three films, An Inconvenient Truth - Buy from Amazon, Seinfeld - Season 7 - Buy from Amazon, and Star Trek The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek - Buy from Amazon. And if I was forced to pick just one, it would have to be An Inconvenient Truth - Buy from Amazon.

Da Ali G Show - Da Compleet Seereez - Buy from Amazon
Now that Borat is a huge success, it's the perfect time to release his HBO series in one box set. On the other hand, it is just a re-release so there's zero reason for an upgrade.

Alias - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
The fifth and final season of this show either continued its decline as seen in season four or was a return to form, depending on who you talk to. However, the latter opinion was somewhat more prevalent among fans. Extras on the final season include audio commentary tracks on a handful of episodes, featurettes on the 100th episode, outtakes, deleted scenes, and much more. Easily worth picking up for those who have been keeping up with the full season sets thus far. For those who haven't, there's the The Complete Collection, which costs about 30% less than buying the full season sets when they first came out.

Another Gay Movie - Unrated Edition - Buy from Amazon
A spoof of all of the gay themed movies that have come out recently. However, while this is a subject ripe for parody, this film fails to hit its target enough to be completely effective. On the other hand, it is amusing enough that its target audience should have a fun time and with a ton of extras it's worth picking up.

Been Rich All My Life - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about the Silver Belles, a dancing troupe from Harlem who have been performing for 70 years. Reviews were great, but the film never found an audience during its theatrical release. The DVD is about average for a limited release, but it will still struggle to find an audience.

Boston Legal - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
The second season of this Emmy winning spin-off hits the home market. For a popular and award-winning show, the 7-disc set is weak with only two featurettes. Like the first season, had this set been fully loaded, it could have been the DVD Pick of the Week.

Charlotte's Web Gift Set - Buy from Amazon
With the upcoming remake, there's no better time to release the original animated version. And it comes with a book.

Classic Comedy Teams Collection - Buy from Amazon
3 disc features 3 comedy teams (Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, and The Three Stooges). These are fun movies and at a really great price, but serious collectors will want more bang for their buck.

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
I think I'm the only one who liked squigglevision. Jonathan Katz plays Dr. Jonathan Katz, a professional therapist, hence the name of the show. Fun show that features a ton of guest shots. Extras are strong with audio commentary tracks on several episodes as well as featurettes on the guest stars. Easily worth picking up for fans of the show, and if you've never seen it, check it out starting with season 1.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - 50th Birthday Deluxe Remastered Edition - Buy from Amazon
The 1966 TV cartoon classic. (For those who have only seen the movie, this version is far superior and don't judge the one by the other.) As for extras, they include several featurettes, Horton Hears a Who (which is also being turned into a movie), and more. Easily worth the upgrade, a contender for DVD Pick of the Week, and will likely be under many, many trees this Christmas.

Family Affair - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
Second of five seasons for this show from the 1960s. This season saw the episodes improve in quality but the extras on the 5-disc set remain weak with just a couple of featurettes.

A Fish Called Wanda - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
An absolutely amazing film that is arguably the best movie for every actor involved in the film. This is not the first time the film has been released on DVD, nor will it be the last. That's not to say this DVD is bad -- it's not. It includes deleted and alternate scenes, trivia track, featurettes on various topics, and more. There are two concerns, firstly, there's no audio commentary track. And secondly, while John Cleese participates heavily on this DVD, the rest of the cast members are sadly absent. Even so, it is still worth picking up.

Get Smart - The Complete Series - Buy Direct
Just a quick note that this release was delayed a week, so you still have a chance to be the first to own the full series on DVD.

Grand Theft Auto - Tricked Out Edition - Buy from Amazon
Ron Howard's directorial debut. Well, it's his feature-length directorial debut. Fans of his work know he directed a lot of short films going back to when he was a child star on the The Andy Griffith Show. Grand Theft Auto is a fun film full of car chases and the like, but is not the triumph of filmmaking that Ron Howard is better known for. As for the DVD, extras are good for a film that is nearly 30 years old (audio commentary track, intro, featurette), but not quite up to the level of a special edition. Still, worth picking up.

Giuliani Time - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about Giuliani, who may be the next Republican presidential candidate (that depends heavily on if Rove is still in control). This film, while not exactly unbiased does provide a counter-balance to the deification that has taken place.

Home Alone - Family Fun Edition - Buy from Amazon
I never got why this film is so popular. It's not particularly well received by the critics but it is still one of the highest grossing films of all time. However, while the film was a huge hit, it has never really had the proper treatment on DVD, until now. There's your ever-present audio commentary track, deleted and extended scenes, making of featurette, featurette on the stunts, and more. Fans of the movie will certainly find this DVD worth the upgrade. I'm just not one of them.

How I Met Your Mother - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
One of the two TV series that started last year featuring Buffy alumni. Alyson Hannigan starred in this series and Nicholas Brendon starred in Kitchen Confidential. I preferred Kitchen Confidential and it was therefore cancelled. How I Met Your Mother, on the other hand, not only was renewed but also made it to DVD first. (I was assuming a full series set for Kitchen Confidential would have been announced by now.) Back to this DVD. How I Met Your Mother is a pretty mediocre show but the 3-disc set is good with audio commentary tracks on five episodes, outtakes, and more. Worth picking up for fans of the show.

Ice Age - The Meltdown - Buy from Amazon
One of nearly 20 digitally animated films to come out this year, and pretty much the only one to really beat expectations, at least at the box office. However, the critics were less thrilled with this movie than there were with the predecessor. As for the DVD, it has a great selection of extras including ones aimed at adults and at kids. It's not surprising but the latter category is more represented with a short film featuring Scrat, featurettes of the new characters, how to draw Sid, how to dance like Sid, etc. Overall a very good presentation and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. Can also be purchased with the original as part of a package deal.

An Inconvenient Truth - Buy from Amazon
Short review: The best documentary I've seen this year. Possibly the best documentary I've seen, ever.
Longer review: This film is the most important and powerful film I've seen in a long time, but not the most cinematic. Basically it is a power point presentation featuring Al Gore (best known for his guest appearances on Futurama). The film starts with him detailing the origins of his environmental awakening and how he has fought for decades to make people aware of the growing, and undisputed, findings regarding rising CO2 levels and rising global temperatures. It is also one of the most infuriating films to do research on since nearly every opponent of the science feels the need to pass on the same lies. (For instance, there never was a threat of global cooling in the 1970s. Scientists noticed the temperatures were not acting as predicted and that they were slightly colder than expected. However, they made it clear that this was not proof that we were entering another ice age, it was the media that made that claim.) The DVD does a great job at clearing up most of the misconceptions, showing just how much data was compiled, and what changes have already happened, and the dire consequences that will happen if we don't do anything. And the consequences are huge: sea level rising enough to wipe out most of south Florida, more powerful storms, more flooding, more drought, etc., etc., etc.

While the film does an amazing job at telling us why we must change, it also does a great job at telling us how to avoid this fate. It boils down to three words: be more efficient. Replace your light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs. Buy energy efficient appliances, more fuel-efficient cars, lower the temperature on your thermostat, turn off appliances when they are not in use, etc. Everyone benefits from being more efficient. The environment, the consumers, businesses. Everyone. (Well, everyone except the fossil fuel companies, which are the main suppliers of misinformation on the subject.) New environmental technologies will also create new jobs and new wealth. It's win - win.

Not only is the movie a must see, but the DVD is also very well done with two audio commentary tracks, making of featurette, and music video. The best special feature is the DVD Update, which clocks in at just over 30 minutes and includes updated information as well as some extended scenes from the movie. It is this special feature that makes me wish they put out another version next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Double dipping in this case wouldn't be a bad thing as I would be willing to pay for further updates each year. But for now we just have the one version and it is a must have DVD and a clear contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Miracle on 34th Street - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The vastly superior original from 1947 and not the inferior remake from 1994. (On a side note, this Christmas movie was originally released on May 2nd. Talk about taking Christmas in November to the extreme.) Many consider this film one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, second only to It's A Wonderful Life. I, on the other hand, think it's crap. I can't stand how the movie attacks people who live their lives through rational thought as if that somehow destroys imagination and creativity. These are not mutually exclusive attributes. Too often being rational is looked at as a bad thing, which is a dangerous attitude to have. Anyhoo, for those who like the movie, this is a great 2-disc set with three versions of the film (the original black & white, the Satan inspired colorized version, and the hour long TV movie), audio commentary track, making of featurette, history of the Macy's Thanksgivings parade and more. Easily worth picking up.

Perry Mason - Season 1 - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
The second half of season 1 has 20 episodes on 5 discs, but no special features. Can also be purchased with the previous release as part of a full season set.

Preston Sturges - The Filmmaker Collection - Buy from Amazon
Preston Sturges was a writer turned director in the 1940s and at one time was the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood. This 7-disc set contains seven of the eight films he made for Paramount Pictures. (The eighth, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek has already been released on DVD, in fact, this leaves The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend as his only directorial effort not on DVD.) Of the seven films in this box set, four of them are new to DVD and all are worth checking out. However, there are no special features to help raise the replay value.

The Punisher - Extended Cut - Buy from Amazon
Did this film really need an extended edition? And the DVD is weaker than the previous release. Skip it.

Saint of 9/11 - The True Story of Father Mychal Judge - Buy from Amazon
A moving tribute to one of the victims of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It is moving, but it could have been a little more in-depth, which is something the extra interviews help with.

Scoop - Buy from Amazon
This movie is better than the reviews would indicate, but someone needs to tell Woody Allen that people buy DVDs for the extras. I'm sick and tired of seeing his movies come out on featureless DVDs. Even so, it is still worth a rental for most people, and a purchase for the more hardcore Woody Allen fans out there.

Seinfeld - Season 7 - Buy from Amazon
I was expecting a two-season set that came with some expensive and pointless souvenir. Imagine my disappointment. (On a side note, that was supposed to come of sincere and not sarcastic. I liked the miniature puffy shirt from the last re-gift set.) Moving on, this is season 7 of 9 and includes George's engagement, but there are plenty of other plots running through the season, which also includes one of the best episodes ever, The Soup Nazi. As for extras, those who have been keeping up with the series know what to expect with audio commentary tracks on 10 episodes, deleted scenes for nine, and inside looks for 14. Then there are featurettes on Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Larry David, outtakes, and more. Easily worth picking up and a prime contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

So NoTORIous - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Tori Spelling of 90210 fame stars in this part fact / part fiction series. Unfortunately, while there is a dedicated fanbase, the show never found a wide audience and was cancelled after the first season. The 2-disc set contains all ten episodes (including the last one that was never aired), as well as extras like audio commentary tracks, outtakes, making of featurette, promos and more. Worth picking up for fans of the show.

Star Trek The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek - Buy from Amazon
And with this, everything Star Trek finally comes out on DVD. (I think. Unless there's something hidden in some vault somewhere.) The Show ran for just 22 episodes over 2 seasons but did feature some almost the entire original cast as well as several of the writers. In fact, the writing was excellent for a Saturday morning cartoon and many of the episodes of this series would rank quite high on the overall Star Trek pantheon. As for special features, there are audio commentary tracks on 3 episodes, text based commentary on 3 episodes and featurettes on the making of and the connection to Star Trek cannon. Easily worth picking up for fans of the original series and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Wah-Wah - Buy from Amazon
The directorial debut of Richard E. Grant. The transition from acting to directing is a tough one, and while the film is not perfect, there's enough that works to be worth checking out. Unfortunately, the DVD is weak and it doesn't rate past a rental.

2006 World Series - Tigers vs. Cardinals - Buy from Amazon
Who cares about baseball? The B.C. Lions won the Grey Cup. Wooooooo! Woooo! Woo. ... Moving on.

You, Me, & Dupree - Buy from Amazon
Terrible reviews didn't hurt the box office of this Frat Pack foray into Delayed Adulthood. The DVD is better than average for a first run release with two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, alternate ending, outtakes, and more, but that's not enough to compensate for the quality of the movie.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Ice Age: The Meltdown, You, Me and Dupree, The Punisher, An Inconvenient Truth, Scoop, Another Gay Movie, Wah-Wah, Been Rich All My Life, Giuliani Time, Saint of 9/11