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DVD Releases for February 28, 2006

February 27th, 2006

It's a deceptively slow week; while there are plenty of releases, many of them are totally unnoteworthy and that makes finding the exceptions harder to find. There are some really stellar releases including this week's DVD Pick of the Week, NewsRadio - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon, while both Controversial Classics - Volume 2 - The Power of Media - Buy from Amazon and The Ice Harvest - Buy from Amazon earn honorable mentions.

The Avengers - The Complete Emma Peel Megaset - Buy from Amazon
The previously released Megaset with a bonus disc. Normally I hate it when studios re-release TV on DVD sets with a little extra hoping someone will buy both, but in this case, you can buy the Bonus Disc separately so you are not forced to spend and extra $135.00 for one disc. On the other hand, if you didn't pick up the Mega set when it first came out five years ago, now is the perfect time to correct that mistake.

Beast Machines Transformers: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
All 26 episodes of this series on a 4-disc set, although it could also be described as seasons 4 and 5 of Beast Wars. The show took a more spiritual turn when it became Beast Machines, and that either made it more complex and substantive, or dull and boring, depending on your point of view. Extras include an audio commentary track on one episode and an hour's worth of interviews with the cast and crew.

Bleak House - Buy from Amazon
A British mini-series based on the Charles Dickens' novel starring Gillian Anderson, among others. The adaptation was done by Andrew Davies, who also adapted the Bridget Jones novels as well as many, many others. The mini-series starts out well and this high quality is maintained throughout its 15-episode run, but sadly there are no special features on this 3-disc set.

C.O.P.S. - The Animated Series - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
A perfect advertisement for the line of toys. C.O.P.S., or Central Organization of Police Specialists, was set in the year 2020 and was a quintessential 80s cartoon featuring a wide variety of cyber cops and bad guys, each with a gimmick that made the toy cool and allowed for countless playground arguments over which one was the coolest. As for the show, it lasted only one 65-episode season, but has developed a cult following since then. Special features on the 4-disc set include concept art, storyboard of the opening sequence, and C.O.P.S. for Kids PSAs. Hopefully the next two follows are not far behind.

Charmed - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
While this series started out well, it devolved into silliness quite frequently during its run. Oh well, it's still fun to watch occasionally. Season four is the first season with Rose McGowan, who improved the series despite the awkward nature of her introduction, (the mythology behind the Power of the Three had to be juggled a bit to make her fit). However, while the show was still going strong, the DVDs are as weak as ever with no special features and that really hurts the value of the set.

Controversial Classics - Volume 2 - The Power of Media - Buy from Amazon
As I mentioned last week, this box set contains the new releases of All the President's Men, Network and Dog Day Afternoon as is a must have for anyone interested on the media as the films are even more relevant now then they were when they first came out. You can purchase all three separately, but the box set is the better deal.

The Cutting Edge - Gold Medal Edition - Buy from Amazon
Washed-up hockey player, (D.B. Sweeney) and prima donna figure skater, (Moira Kelly), are forced to team up as doubles partners and compete for Gold at the Olympics. Anyone who has seen a romantic comedy can probably guess everything that happens in the movie, but the end product is still better than expected. The only special features on this 'Special Edition' are a retrospective, and a previews for the upcoming direct-to-DVD sequel. Speaking of which, I mentioned The Cutting Edge - Going for the Gold not too long ago, but it has apparently been pushed back.

Ellen - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This is my favorite season of the series as Jeremy Piven was added to the cast. as Jeremy Piven usually makes any movie he's in better. (Speaking of which, I need to pick up PCU.) However, like the previous releases, the special features on this 3-disc set are light with just some outtakes.

The Ice Harvest - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This movie was all but ignored when it hit theatres barely opening in the top ten and finishing with just $8.8 million domestically. Granted, the reviews were mixed, but even so the film should have done much, much better. The DVD should easily outperform its domestic run, and with a production budget estimated to be around $12 million, it should eventually show a profit. Helping its cause are the special features, which include an audio commentary, alternate endings, (plural), outtake, (singular), and a trio of featurettes on the script, behind-the-scenes, and a look at a pivotal scene. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Kind Hearts and Coronets - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
Alec Guinness plays eight characters in this black comedy about an aristocrat, Dennis Price, whose mother was estranged from his rich relatives, so he decides to murder his way up the inheritance ladder. One of Alec Guinness' best movie, and that's saying a lot when you look at his amazing career. Like most Criterion Collection releases, this 2-disc set is worth the high price with an alternate ending, documentary on the studio that made the movie, rare interview with Alec Guinness, and a booklet with essays from film historians. Easily worth picking up.

Lady and the Tramp - 50th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
A classic is the best way to describe this film and the DVD has plenty of special features including making of featurettes, storyboards, deleted scenes, music video, DVD-Rom games and more. Perfect for those with kids who fondly remember the movie from their childhood.

Love Me Tender - Buy from Amazon
Elvis Presley's first movie role, and it is one of his better movies. On the other hand, that's not saying a whole lot and the DVD has no real special features so it is for hardcore fans of the King only.

Monty Python's Flying Circus - Personal Bests - Buy from Amazon: John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and Graham Chapman
If you already have the 16 Ton Megaset, then you are in for a tough decision. Are the bits and piece of new material on these best of sets worth the price? Only if you are a really hardcore fan of the series. Otherwise stick with the aforementioned 16 Ton Megaset. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too surprised if they releases a 22 Ton Megaset with all 6 best of releases as well as the full Python series at some later date.

NewsRadio - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
When there is a delay between releases for a TV on DVD series, it usually means one of three things: 1.) Sales were weak and the studio doesn't want to risk losing any more money. 2.) There is a problem with licensing, usually with regards to a song. And very rarely, 3.) They wanted to make the sets even better than before. In this case, the reason is #3. Among the special features are audio commentary tracks on 10 of the 25 episodes, outtakes, featurettes on the making of my favorite episode, Space, tour of Andy Dick's trailer, and more. The amount of special features is even more impressive when you consider the show was on the brink of cancellation throughout its run. The combination of the quality of the show and the special features makes this the DVD Pick of the Week.

Pride & Prejudice - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This film earned amazing reviews, more than a few Oscar nominations, and was one of the best Jane Austen adaptations ever. However, it is still not as good as the Mini-series starring Colin Firth and I can't see too many people wanting multiple copies of the same story in their DVD collection. Add in special features that are just okay, (the audio commentary is good, but the featurettes are mostly fluff), and the DVD is worth renting, but suffers in comparison to previous releases.

The Real Ghostbusters - Buy from Amazon: Creatures of the Night, Spooky Spirits and Slimefighters
Okay, I want every studio to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say. The target audience for cartoons releases are adult collectors, not little kids, and adult collectors want full season sets and not best of releases. Here, I'll repeat that a couple of times just in case it didn't sink in the first time. The target audience for cartoons releases are adult collectors, not little kids, and adult collectors want full season sets and not best of releases. The target audience for cartoons releases are adult collectors, not little kids, and adult collectors want full season sets and not best of releases. Got it? You put out full season sets and fans will buy them, you put out 4-episode single discs and you will receive complaints.

Rumpole of the Bailey - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
All 7 season of this long-running British show on one 14-disc megaset. Along with all 42 episodes, the set includes the feature-length movie, interviews, featurettes and more.

Television Favorites Compilation - Buy from Amazon: The Drew Carey Show, Night Court, Welcome Back, Kotter
Three best of TV on DVD releases. I think long-time readers know what I think of Best of TV on DVD releases. On the one hand, I can understand the studio wanting to gage the demand for shows like The Drew Carey Show or Welcome Back, Kotter, but even then there are a lot of people who would buy full season sets without touching Best of Releases. On the other hand, there has already been a Full Season release of Night Court, so putting of this best of set is probably the result of disappointing sales and is a really, really bad sign. In the end I'm of two minds when it comes to these releases. If you really want to see full season sets, buying the Best of releases might be the only way to get that to happen. However, the studio might decide that the cheaper Best of sets are what people really want and only put out those.

Three... Extremes - Buy from Amazon
An anthology of three short stories, the film earned critical acclaim but was too... well, extreme for most moviegoers. Special features include a feature-length version of Dumplings and an audio commentary track on Box, but even so I can't fully recommend this DVD unless you are a fan of Asian horror since the film not something most people will want to watch. On a side note, I prefer the art they used on the poster to the art on the DVD case.

The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till - Buy from Amazon
A stunning documentary that needs to be seen by as many people as possible. Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year old boy from Chicago who in 1955 was visiting relatives in Mississippi. One day while he was there, he whistled at a white woman, what happen next shock the nation and help start the civil rights movement. Special features include an audio commentary track and a look at the case's impact on the civil rights movement.

Walk the Line - Buy from Amazon: 2-Disc Collector's Edition or Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the best reviewed wide releases of the year, multiple Oscar Nominee, there're not much that needs to be said about the movie itself. As for the DVD, there are versions: 2-Disc Collector's Edition and Single-Disc Edition. The latter edition has two audio commentary tracks and 10 deleted scenes while the former costs about $10 more and has the same special features as the first, but with 3 extended music numbers, and two featurettes. Normally I'll always pay more to get more and the decision is easy to make, but in this case the extra price makes the 2-Disc Collector's Edition only a marginally better deal. Those that want to pick up this movie will also be interested in The Gospel Road, the story of Christ as told by Johnny Cash.

Werewolves on Wheels - Buy from Amazon
When you see a name like Werewolves on Wheels, it makes you stop and take notice. As you could probably guess by the cover art, the movie is about a motorcycle gang that is attacked and then transformed into werewolves. Unfortunately, despite all the promise of glory in that premise, the movie itself is rather lame. It's too slow and takes way too long before the real Werewolf action takes place, but by then all but the most diehard fans will have lost interest.

Where the Truth Lies - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Theatrical Version or R-Rated Version
Normally when a film is released on an Unrated edition, it is a marketing gimmick trying to get people to buy the DVD in hopes of seeing a nipple or two. But in this case, the Unrated Edition is the Theatrical cut while the R-rated edition was cut to receive a lower rating. The movie, while intriguing, is also uneven and with just a short making of featurette and some deleted scenes as special features, it doesn't rate above a rental for most people.

Yours, Mine and Ours - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the worst reviewed movies of last year, and while there are a lot of special features on the disc, none of them are any better than the movie itself. Skip it.


Filed under: Video Releases, Walk the Line, Yours, Mine and Ours, Pride & Prejudice, The Ice Harvest, Where the Truth Lies, The Untold story of Emmett Till, Three... Extremes