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DVD Releases for June 15, 2004

June 14th, 2004

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. This is the worst week for DVDs since the beginning of February. There's not one, not two, but FIVE DVDs that were in contention for the DVD Pick of the week. And with all but one from the TV on DVD section, this is going to be a very expensive week for me. Even if I don't buy groceries for the week I'll still need to trim the list by a couple. Go with Dead Like Me - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon, Monk - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon and The Thin Blue Line - The Complete Line-Up - Buy from Amazon. Maybe I can sell some blood to pick up The Simpsons - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon and The Station Agent - Buy from Amazon. Maybe if I sell a kidney I can get a whole new home theatre system as well. [Editor's Note: He's joking ... we think.]

50 First Dates - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The first $100 million movie of 2004. Earned better than average reviews for an Adam Sandler movie, but that's not saying much. Too much gross out humor hurt an otherwise strong romantic comedy. The DVD release has plenty of extras, but not enough to make up for the dubious quality of the film itself.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This is another case of good show, practically featureless DVD. This is an excellent show, great cast and this is arguably the best season so far. The show itself is good enough to be in consideration for the pick of the week, however, with the lack extras on this set combined with the impressive selection this week prevented it from being a pick of the week. Can also be purchased with the first season as a package deal.

Dark Fury - The Chronicles of Riddick - Buy from Amazon
Universal is obviously trying to cash in on the success of The Chronicles of Riddick by releasing this animated movie. Even with several special features, the short running time of the cartoon (barely more than half and hour) keeps this DVD from rating anything higher than a rental, and that’s only if you're a big fan of the Pitch Black series.

Dead Like Me - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
George Lass never really did excel at life, but all that change with an encounter with some falling space debris, specifically, a toilet seat from the Mir Space Station. Now she's one of a number of Grim Reapers collecting the souls of the dearly departed. The problem is, she's no better at being a Grim Reaper than she was at being a college student, an office temp, etc. When I first heard about this show I thought, "Interesting premise, but there's no way they're going to pull it off." And I promptly put it out of my mind. Later on I caught the last 10 minutes of an episode from the middle of the season and quickly realized I was mistaken and I've been hooked ever since. This is a great show with some nice extra features, (mostly the usual suspects, deleted scenes, behind the scenes, etc.) and is definitely worth picking up.

Monk - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Another reason why I've almost given up on network TV. This gem of a detective series stars the versatile Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, a former Police Detective who lost his job due to his numerous psychological issues including OCD and a plethora of phobias. The show itself is worth picking up, but the DVDs aren't bare with 5 featurettes on various related subjects.

Nip/Tuck - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This show probably pushes the boundaries of what's acceptable on TV farther than any other show. Now that can be good, because they don't have to worry about censors getting in the way of a good story. But it can be bad, because it might drive away viewers either by being too shocking or by trying too hard to be shocking. And while the show isn't for the weak of heart it a quality show, (it was nominated for best Drama Golden Globe.) There is also an impressive amount of extras to help sway undecided shoppers.

The Simpsons - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Do I really need to tell you about this show? It's been on for 15 years, so chances are you are either very, very familiar with the show or so incredible not interested. Some of the season four highlights include Kamp Krusty, Mr. Plow, Marge Vs. The Monorail, So It's Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show and Krusty Gets Kancelled. (For more details on individual episodes check out TV Tome.) As for the DVD release, it's very similar to the rest of the The Simpsons DVDs, i.e. loaded with extras. You can also get in a package the first three seasons or the first three season of The Simpsons and the first three Volumes of Futurama in a package deal.

The Station Agent - Buy from Amazon
A very small film that despite costing less than $500,000 to make earned not only stellar reviews but 10 times its production budget in the theatres. The film also won a few Independent Spirit Awards, but I thought the film was unjustly overlooked by the major award nomination committees. The DVD release has a couple of extras, (commentary track and deleted scenes), which is pretty good for a limited release. If you never got a chance to see the film in the theatres, and considering it never played in more than 200 theatres that's very likely, you should give it a shot now.

The Stepford Wives - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step is making a remake? Re-releasing the original on DVD of course! With The Stepford Wives opening last Tuesday what better time to re-release the original on DVD. Strangely, this DVD isn't packed with extras, so if you have The Silver Anniversary Edition, stick with that.

The Thin Blue Line - The Complete Line-Up - Buy from Amazon
Although he is probably best known for playing the title character in the TV series Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson has stared in several beloved comedies such as the aforementioned Mr. Bean and Blackadder. In this series he stars as Inspector Raymond Fowler, who is in charge of a group of rather useless cops. As with much of his work, this was written by the superb Ben Elton, in fact, he is so superb that the only extras on the disk deal with him. The only complain I have about this show is that it only lasted two seasons (14 episodes.) It should have been on much longer than that.

Tupac - Resurrection - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The documentary is a little one sided, but was still able to impress the critics. The film opened with one of the single biggest days for a documentary, but quickly dropped from there. In fact, it dropped so much that I don't think people knew it was a documentary going in. The DVD has some good extras and is a good edition for Tupac fans, but not people interested in an in-depth, unbiased look at Tupac's life or career. On a side note, this DVD can alos be purchased with Juice as part of a package deal.

Xena: Warrior Princess - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Very similar to other DVDs in the Xena Series and, for that matter, the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Series as well. The DVD releases from these shows continue to excel with plenty of extras. Anchor Bay Entertainment produces some of the best DVD sets around, kudos to them.


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Filed under: Video Releases, 50 First Dates, The Stepford Wives, The Chronicles of Riddick, Tupac Resurrection, The Station Agent