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DVD Releases for May 17, 2005

May 16th, 2005

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases, classics and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. While this week's releases are very deep, there are two very, very strong TV on DVD releases. First we have the greatest sitcom on TV today, Scrubs - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon and second we have possibly the greatest sitcom of all time Seinfeld - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon.

Cheers - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
Paramount has been very reluctant to go heavy in the TV on DVD department because they were wary of piracy, but when they do they generally release featureless DVD sets like this one, which only encourages piracy. It wasn't always that way as there were several features on the first few seasons. A couple notes about season four, it's the first season for Woody Boyd and the last season for Diane Chambers. It's still a great show and worth watching, but it's also still in syndication so you don't need to buy the DVDs to do that. Can also be purchased with the first four seasons as part of a package deal.

Clarissa Explains It All - Season One - Buy from Amazon
One of two Nickelodeon TV shows from the early 90s coming out on DVD, the other is The Adventures of Pete & Pete - Season 1. This show first brought Melissa Joan Hart in to the public eye and she went on to win three Young Artist Awards for her portrayal of the titular character. Special features on the 2-disc set are light with just Melissa Joan Hart's appearance on MTV Cribs and a series of Nickelodeon TV spots from the same time period.

Class of 1984 - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those movies that I felt never got the respect it deserves. It came out during the heyday of cheap, explotiotive Teenage Slashers and is unfairly lumped in with them, but this film has a story to tell and the acting is great, especially Roddy McDowall as a teacher pushed past the breaking point.

The Golden Girls - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a funny show but a really, really bad DVD presentation and in the end it's not worth picking up for all but the most diehard fans of the show.

The Green Butchers - Buy from Amazon
After an accidental death, two butchers decide to cover it up by selling the resulting meat to their regular customers, which is just the boost their struggling business needed. The film earned excellent reviews from the regular critics, but the cream-of-the-crop were less generous. The film is worth a rental but without any special features it not something a lot of people will add to their DVD collection.

The Grudge - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
When judging a special edition DVD one must compare the special features to the previous release and how long ago that release came out. For this movie the previous release came out just 3-and-a-half months ago and it had special features that were strong and not repeated on this release, (specifically the making of featurettes.) This release contains a few minutes of extra footage, which was cut to obtain the PG-13 rating, an excellent audio commentary in Japanese with English subtitles, even more deleted scenes, two short films by the director and video diaries by KaDee Strickland and Sarah Michelle Geller. Bottom line, the film still isn't as good as the original, but new features really add to the viewing experience. Worth a rental? Definitely. Worth picking up? Only if you didn't bother to pick up the original release or are a huge fan of the franchise.

Hoxsey: How Healing Becomes A Crime - Buy from Amazon
Harry Hoxsey ran a chain of successful cancer fighting clinics in the 1950s before the FDA shut him down and he ran to Tijuana and set up shot there. A lot of people claim he was run out of town because the greedy AMA didn't want him selling his folk medicine and cutting into their huge profits with his successful treatment. There are a couple problems with this claim. Firstly, Harry Hoxsey made millions selling an herbal concoction that only cost a few pennies per dose. Secondly, while he claimed an 80% success rate the book the documentary is based on could only site one case study. Of the 149 patients involved only 17 were known to be alive just five years later, which is a slightly worse survival rate than patients who receive no treatment at all. Both of these points are ignored by this movie and this heavily biased reporting makes the DVD worthless.

It's Easier for a Camel - Buy from Amazon
When I first read the title of this movie the following popped into my head, "It's easier for a rich man to pass a camel than it is to find a needle in heaven." It is either a quote from a movie of TV series or a product of my demented imagination, if anyone can tell me which it is I'd be very grateful.

Kinsey - Buy from Amazon: Single Disc or Special Edition
A Biopic on controversial sex researched Dr. Kinsey. This film was clearly made with the Award Season in mind, and while is was powerful enough to a few nominations, it wasn't able to take home any major awards. Special features on the Single Disc is limited to the audio commentary while the Special Edition has a bonus disc with nearly 2 hours of bonus features. The highlight is a practically feature length documentary on the making of the movie but the nearly 30 minutes if deleted scenes are also fascinating to watch. Also being released tomorrow is the PBS documentary, Kinsey.

The Mask - Doubleshot - The Mask and Son of the Mask
Both films in The Mask franchise hit stores tomorrow with Platinum Series releases either as part of a package deal or separately.

  • The Mask is the film that made Jim Carrey a star and remains one of his best films. The film has already been released as part of the Platinum Series, but that disc only had an audio commentary and 2 deleted scenes. The new release has those special features plus an additional audio commentary and more than a hours worth of featurettes on everything from the production, cartoon inspirations and the introduction of Cameron Diaz and more. Even if you own the previous release this DVD is worth picking up.
  • Son of the Mask is one of those rare sequels that made less during its entire run than the original made during its opening weekend. The reason for this is simple, in a year that has given us some really, really bad movies, this one stands out as one that really shouldn't have been made. Not only is the film of dubious quality, it is also one of the most expensive bombs in recent memory. The DVD release is well done, but I doubt any amount of special features would compensate for the quality of the film.

Return to the Batcave - Buy from Amazon
An incredibly cheesy reunion of the original Batman TV series; it's cheesy even when compared to that show. The show is fun romp for fans, but without any special features it's hard to justify the price.

Scrubs - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Easily the best sitcom on the air today, and only one of two shows on network TV that I will take time out of my schedule to watch. Arriving in stores just after the fourth season finale, so us Scrubs fans won't go into withdrawal over the summer, this 3-disc set includes all 24 episodes, (six of them have audio commentaries) and nearly an hour and a half of bonus features including the usual deleted and alternate scenes, outtakes, behind the scenes, interviews and more. There's also a bit of trivia for season one that you might want to be on the lookout for, but it's a bit of a spoiler so I'll write it in white: The character of the demented Janitor, played to perfection by Neil Flynn, was originally supposed to be merely a figment of J.D.'s imagination. It was going to be revealed during the season 1 finale, as the creators were certain it would be the series finale. But when the show was picked up for a second season they dropped this idea. This is why J.D. is the only one to talk to the Janitor throughout the first season. Overall the quality of the quality of the show and the effort put into the release make this the DVD pick of the week.

The Sea Inside - Buy from Amazon
The Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language film, and it's easy to see why. Unlike most limited releases, this DVD presentation is packed with special features including the ever-present audio commentary and a feature-length documentary, (which like the movie is in Spanish with English Subtitles.) Rounding out the special features are three deleted scenes and several image galleries.

Seinfeld - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the greatest sitcom of all time, the fourth season is the season that pushed the series from hit to cultural phenomenon. Fan favorites from this season include the episodes, The Contest, The Implant, (with Teri Hatcher), The Outing and more. This 4-disc set contains all 24 episodes from season 4, 10 audio commentaries, and hours of interviews, deleted scenes, behind the scenes and more. The only hesitation I have about buying this set is the Re-Gift Set melted my old DVD player. Of course I tried to watch all 40 episodes in a row, which could explain things.

The Simpsons - Bart Wars - Buy from Amazon
Great show, but stick with the full season sets.

Six Feet Under - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This HBO show continued its stellar run into its third season with the Fishers in a state of flux. All 13 episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen with audio commentaries on 5 of those episodes plus an in-depth featurette on the making of season three. Also coming out tomorrow is the first three seasons in a package deal.

Steve McQueen Collection Buy from Amazon
Box Sets like this are a great way to expand your DVD collection on the cheep, however you must keep an eye out for two pitfalls: Filler and the dreaded double-dip. Filler are films of dubious quality meant to increase the disc count while double-dips are films that have already been released on DVD. This set is entirely double-dips, but there's no filler here and includes two absolute classics, The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. So the really question in deciding if the DVD set is worth it is how many of these movies do you already own, for me it's too many.

Tarnation - Buy from Amazon
A film made by the director by combining old 8 mm film clips, still photos and even answering machine messages. And while the result isn't exactly polished, it certainly is a compelling look at an unhappy childhood brought on by a mother's mental instability. Special features include audio commentary, deleted scenes and additional photographs.

Team America: World Police - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan or Uncensored and Unrated
One of the most controversial releases of last year, which is saying a lot given the number of politically motivated releases last year. But even with all the free publicity and reviews. As for the Uncensored and Unrated Edition, it contains just a few seconds of extra film, but it is so memorable that it is unlikely you could miss it. But it doesn't cost anything extra there's no reason not to purchase that version over the others.

White Noise - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
E.V.P., or Electronic Voice Phenomenon isn't some link to the supernatural, it's merely an example of pareidolia, that is to say the brains tendency to create patterns from random stimulus. Seeing faces in a oil stain or hearing voices in static. This needs to be made clear since this makers of this film insist on marketing the film on the sole basis that E.V.P. is real, (but given the quality of the movie, this might be their only option.) Special features include deleted scenes and three featurettes that treat E.V.P. as real, which for me is a huge turn off. Had they simply marketed the film as a thriller I would have been a lot most likely to enjoy the movie.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Grudge, White Noise, Team America: World Police, Son of the Mask, Kinsey, Mar adentro, Tarnation, Ju-On: The Grudge, It's Easier for a Camel, The Green Butchers