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DVD Releases for November 15, 2005

November 14th, 2005

It's another busy week, with several first run releases coming out. But it's a TV on DVD release that tops the list, and is the DVD Pick of the Week: Scrubs - The Complete Second Season. Also, That '70s Show - The Complete Third Season would rank a pretty close second.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Chosen Collection - Buy from Amazon
All seven season of this series in one big 40-disc set for about 40% less than what you would have spent had you been buying them when they came out. And not only that, but there's a bonus disc with several all-new features including interviews, retrospective, and more. But is it worth the $170 if you have all seven seasons already? Not unless you're crazy... OK, I admit it, I'll be picking it up tomorrow, but I have a sickness.

Charmed - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a fun show. Not a great show, but a fun show. However, the DVD releases are completely bare of special features, and that really reduces the value of the 6-disc set. Out of the three season sets released so far, this is the best one, but its only worth picking up for the hardcore fans. Can also be purchased with the first two seasons as part of a package deal.

Cheers - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
One of many long-running series coming out this week. Because it lasted so long there's little that needs to be said. It's a great show, but there are no special features on the 4-disc set and that hurts its value. This set can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Chronicling Narnia - Buy from Amazon
Just a big ad for the upcoming movie. Skip it.

Citizen Verdict - Buy from Amazon
A very interesting concept, but matched by equally poor execution. It might be worth a rental for those who like the premise (a Reality TV show where a trial is conducted on the air and the viewers get to vote guilty or innocent).

Def Leppard - Rock of Ages: Definitive Collection DVD - Buy from Amazon
First of all, this is not the definitive collection, since it contains about half the total videos Def Leppard put out during their career. However, it has what most people would consider the best half, including classics like Photograph, Rock Of Ages, Rocket, Pour Some Sugar On Me, and Let's Get Rocked. Also, there are commentary tracks for every video as well as rehearsal footage from their most recent concert.

The Edukators - Buy from Amazon
The film earned good reviews compared to the average wide release, but not good enough for a limited release to escape the arthouse circuit. The lack of special features on the disc further reduces its value. Even so, it is worth a rental for those interested in the political activism depicted in the movie.

Fantasy Island - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I loved watching this show as a kid, but it really hasn't aged well. Part of the problem is the show, like many shows at the time, relied on gratuitous cameos. And since these guest stars were B- or C-List stars at the time, they are now practically unknown. Even so, there still is some kitsch value seeing these stars. As for special features, the 4-disc set has all 14 episodes from the first season, plus the two TV movies, and a couple of featurettes. It's not a bad set, but the value is mostly for the nostalgia and I can't recommend a set based on that.

The Flintstones - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Fans of this series know what to expect in terms of the quality of the show and the special features, but there are some notes. For instance, this is the first season with Bam-Bam and the last with Bea Benaderet as Betty. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Frasier - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
With long-lasting series like this one, there's not much that needs to be said. Either you know about the show and anything I say is redundant, or you don't know about the show because you don't care. The big storyline of the season was Daphne and Donny's marriage, and the fact that Daphne learns about Niles' feelings towards her. On a side note, Saul Rubinek is one of my favorite character actors but most people probably don't even know his name. Like the past few sets in this series, this 4-disc set has absolutely no special features. Can also be purchased with the previously released seasons as part of a package deal.

Friends - The Complete Tenth Season - Buy from Amazon
The tenth and final season of this long-running series. The show had Jumped the Shark well before this season, but it was a set up from Season 9. Special features are good, but not great, and if you've been collecting the full season sets up to this point there's no reason not to get this 4-disc set. On the other hand, if you really like the show but you haven't been purchasing all the seasons as they came out, the next release is for you.

Friends - The One with All Ten Seasons - Limited Edition - Buy from Amazon
All ten seasons of Friends in a massive 40-disc, limited edition, box set for about a third less than what you paid had you bought each season as it came out. So, for all the loyal viewers who did just that, congratulations, you got screwed. On a related note to studios who are thinking about doing the same thing, if people think there will be a better set coming out once all the season sets are released, they will stop buying the season sets as they come out and sales will drop and you won't know if its because people are waiting for the superset, or they just don't want to buy the TV series.

Happy Endings - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Lots of indie cred was mostly wasted in a story that was too complicated for its own good. There were too many interwoven storylines in the film and dropping one of them probably would have put the film over the top in terms of quality. On the other hand, the DVD is excellent for a limited release with an audio commentary track, making-of featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. It's worth a rental, but not much more than that.

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Volumes 1-3 - Buy from Amazon
Before Buster Keaton, before even Charlie Chaplin there was Harold Lloyd, who is considered to be one of Hollywood's first movie stars. This set includes more than two-dozen of his films including his most famous, Safety Last! The 6-disc set also includes commentaries on a handful of films, a few featurettes, photo galleries and more. All three volumes can be purchased separately, but this is the better deal.

The Heavenly Kid - Buy from Amazon
Dead guy helps nerd become cool so he can earn his wings. And yeah, it is as bad has that brief description makes it sound.

Home Movies - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
This series really struggled to find an audience and never really earned the widespread appeal that it deserved. I think part of that has to do with the squiggle-vision animation technique used in the first season. I think it turned views off. Season three started to focus on the three kids more and the quality improved because of that, but it still had the same feel as before. Special features on the 3-disc set include audio commentary tracks on seven episodes, featurettes, a making of one of the featurettes, and an interview. A great set and well worth picking up.

The Huckleberry Hound Show - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
The first 26 episodes of this cartoon hits the home market, and is also one of three Hanna-Barbera cartoons released tomorrow. Special features on the 4-disc set include a featurette on the restoration process and a tribute to Daws Butler, the voice of Huckleberry Hound. Considering the age of the show, that's a pretty good deal.

King Kong - The Animated Series - Buy from Amazon: Volume 1 or Volume 2
With King Kong coming soon, there are a lot of DVD releases coming out trying to capitalize of the franchise's newfound popularity. This is one of them, but nowhere near the best.

Madagascar - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Most people were expecting big things from this movie, and while it did huge business, it didn't live up to last year's Shrek 2, was even weak enough to hurt Dreamworks' stock. Part of the reason the film didn't become a monster hit domestically was its reviews, which were merely average, compared to the overwhelmingly positive reviews that most digitally animated movies have earned. The special features on the disc are good, but not great. There are two audio commentary tracks (one with the crew and the other with the penguins); a few featurettes; an original short; outtakes (real outtakes and not fake ones produced for the DVD); and more. It's a great deal for younger kids, but not for adult collectors.

The Man Show - Complete 4th Season - Buy from Amazon
I could never get into this show. Each episode had maybe a few nuggets of humor buried under juvenile garbage. One last note, this is the final season for Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel as hosts.

Monty Python - And Now For Something Completely Hilarious Collection - Buy from Amazon
Three movies from the Monty Python gang, kind of. I never considered The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be a Monty Python film. Sure, it was directed by Terry Gilliam and it stars Eric Idle, and it does have the same imaginative feel as Monty Python had, but it's still not a Monty Python movie. It is, on the other hand, a movie that is very under-rated and worth having in your collection. But unless you don't have any of the films presented here, it is a better deal to buy them separately (especially Monty Python and the Holy Grail, since you only get the first disc of the Collector's Edition. One last note, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen deserves a Special Edition release of its own.

Murder One - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Unlike Season 1, which followed one case from beginning to end, Season 2 follows three cases. The change was made to help casual viewers who don't watch every single episode in order, but it evidently wasn't enough, since the show was cancelled at the end of the season. Special features on the disc are not as strong as with Season 1 as there is only one featurette.

O.C. and Stiggs - Buy from Amazon
A National Lampoon movie directed by Robert Altman. That strange combination created what some consider a cult classic while others consider it a mess. The disc has a interview with Robert Altman, but that's all the special features you'll find here.

Oklahoma! - 50th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
Classic musical about cowboys in love. This 2-disc collection contains both versions of the film, audio commentaries on both versions, sing-a-long captions, excerpts from the play and more. An excellent deal for fans of the movie or of musicals in general.

Old Yeller 2-Movie Collection - Buy from Amazon
Old Yeller is a classic. Savage Sam, is not. Both movies are on the first disc of this 2-disc set, while the second is filled with special features, all of which were on the previously released DVD, which is the better deal.

The Oprah Winfrey Show - 20th Anniversary DVD Collection - Buy from Amazon
I hate TV on DVD that are not full season sets, but with this show there is simply zero chance that there will ever be full season sets. This 6-disc set is basically one huge clip show broken up into smaller segments, plus interviews with Oprah Winfrey, behind-the-scenes look at the show, and more. It's a great deal for fans of the show and would make an excellent gift.

The Reception - Buy from Amazon
The lives of four people (a rich woman from France, the gay man who pretends to be her husband, her estranged daughter and her daughter's new husband), become intertwined in this ultra-low budget film. The reviews are good, but not great, and with an audio commentary track it is worth a rental.

Scrubs - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The best sitcom on the air, except it's not actually on the air. Zack Braff took a sabbatical which has delayed the fifth season until the spring. The show improved during the second season (and keeps getting better), and the special features are amazing as well. There are audio commentary tracks on 6 episodes, an interview with John C. McGinley, outtakes, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurette, and featurettes on the music, guest stars, fantasy sequences, and more. It's an amazing set, and easily the DVD Pick of the Week.

The Skeleton Key - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The film earned weak reviews, but still beat expectations at the box office. The special features on the disc are great, with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, making of featurette, featurette on Hoodoo / Voodoo, etc. However, they spend too much time trying to convince me that it's real, which is a pet peeve of mine.

The Sound of Music - 40th Anniversary Eidtion - Buy from Amazon
At one time this was the highest grossing musical in box office history, and there are good reasons why that was. This 2-disc set contains two audio commentary tracks, retrospective, reunion special, a look at the real life family that inspired the movie, karaoke versions of all the songs, and much more. This is the second of three Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals getting Anniversary edition releases this week, and it is the best of the bunch.

Stargate Atlantis - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of Stargate SG1 TV series. The opinions on this show are generally very positive, with a large delegation believing that its better than the original. I don't know if I'd go that far. Let's see if it can keep this pace up for four or five more years. Special features on the 5-disc include commentary tracks on 13 of the 19 episodes, behind-the-scenes featurette and more.

State Fair - 60th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
The last of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Anniversary Edition musical releases coming out this week. This one is the oldest, and arguably the weakest. However, it's not as bad as the 1962 remake, which is also included in this 2-disc set. Special features are good for a film from 1945, but also not as good as the other two Rodgers and Hammerstein releases.

Stealth - 2-Disc Special Edition - Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the worst reviewed movies of the year, and also one of the most expensive bombs, costing $138 million while pulling in a mere $32 million at the domestic box office. It would be make sense if the studio just dumped the movie on the home market on a bare bones disc, but instead they're putting out a 2-disc release packed with special features, although like the movie, these are mediocre at best. There is a making of documentary and three featurettes on the music, special effects, storyboard to screen. On the other hand, there are no audio commentary tracks. It adds up to a marginal release and it isn't even worth a rental.

That '70s Show - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the best season of this long-running series, season 3 includes such episodes as the Alfred Hitchcock inspired, Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die, and of course, Fez's first girlfriend. This 4-disc set has audio commentaries on 6 of the 25 episodes, a look back at the third season and intros to the episodes. That's pretty good for a series still in production, but not a huge amount of special features. Even so, it's more than enough to rank as a must have. On a side note, the show is continuing into its eighth season, but without Topher Grace or Ashton Kutcher, which seems like a huge mistake to me.

Three's Company - Season Five - Buy from Amazon
Another long-running series releasing a full-season set tomorrow. This is the last season for Suzanne Somers who quit / was fired due to a contract dispute. Special features on the 4-disc set include interviews with plenty of people and a montage of highlights. If you've been keeping up with the releases as they have come out, then there's no reason to stop now.

Tru Calling - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The series had a short and tumultuous run. During the first season it earned middling ratings, but it was up against huge competition so that was to be expected. Many thought Fox was going to cancel the show, but when it got a second season the fans breathed a sigh of relief. Then the network cut the second season commitment from 13 episodes to 6. Then it cancelled the show before showing any of the second-season episodes. However, they were eventually shown as a mid-season replacement, but the show was finally killed off before all of them were shown. Now the show is getting its send off on this 2-disc set, but the only special feature is a making of featurette. This is a good show and I was disappointed when it was canceled, hopefully the people involved will get more work in the future.

Wal-Mart - The High Cost of Low Price - Buy from Amazon
A compelling and disturbing look at some of Wal-Mart's less savory business practices. If you like The Corporation - Buy from Amazon, then you will almost certainly love this movie.

The Yogi Bear Show - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
One of Hanna-Barbera's most famous cartoon creations, and one of three such shows to get DVD releases tomorrow. This one also has more special features than a show from that era normally has, with a few featurettes and a collectable animation cel.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Madagascar, The Skeleton Key, Stealth, Happy Endings, The Edukators, The Reception, Citizen Verdict