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DVD Releases for March 28, 2006

March 27th, 2006

Pretty good list this week with several contenders for the DVD Pick of the Week. The obvious one is King Kong 2-Disc Special Edition, but I think there will be a super-special edition coming out in November, so you might want to hold off. The Masters of Horror - package deal, Robot Chicken - Volume 1, and others were also in contention, but in the end I went with Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 3.

The Andy Milonakis Show - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Mostly a sketch comedy show starring Andy Milonakis, obviously. What isn't obvious is that Andy Milonakis is nearly 30 years old, not the 14 or 15 most people think he is. He uses this misconception a lot in his humor, which is a polite way to say he acts very immature, (or is really immature, I haven't met him so I can't say for sure). This means you will either love his sense of humor, or hate it with a passion and because of that I can't recommend anyone buying this 2-disc set blind. Fans of the show should like the set since there are more than enough special features, (audio commentaries on all 8 episodes, unaired skits, outtakes, interviews and a couple of featurettes).

Astro Boy - Ultra Collector's Edition DVD Set 1 - Buy from Amazon
The first 52 episodes of one of the first Anime series produced hitting the home market in this amazing 11-disc set. This is a great set with lots of special features, but that price-tag will be too much for the more casual fans out there. Perhaps it would have been better to release the full series in 8 volumes of 24 episodes each, that would have put the cost at about $45 each volume and that would of encouraged more people to pick up the first volume.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown - Buy from Amazon
The first, and best, of four theatrical releases from the franchise makes its debut on DVD. In fact, this is the first time the theatrical version has been released on the home market ever, which should be enough for fans of the show to pick up the DVD tomorrow. On the other hand, the video quality is quite poor and the lack of any special features further reduces the value of the DVD. Also coming out tomorrow is the sequel, Snoopy, Come Home.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - Buy from Amazon
This is the 1988 version on not the 2005 version which is coming out next week.

The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold - Buy from Amazon
I mentioned this sequel / remake a while ago but it was then pushed back until now. I don't really have anything to add.

Dark Kingdom - The Dragon King - Buy from Amazon
Based on the Germanic legend, Das Nibelungenlied, which was also the basis for a Richard Wagner's opera and J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece. This is, unfortunately, the U.K. theatrical version and not the original TV version which ran about 50 minutes longer. It's better than most reviews would indicate, although the original cut is better than what you get here. On a side note, it's amazing how many reviewers call it a Lord of the Rings rip-off, which is hardly a fair complaint given Das Nibelungenlied is more than 700 years older than those books.

The Danger Mouse - The Complete Seasons 5 & 6 - Buy from Amazon
An excellent show featuring a mouse named Danger and a hamster named Penfold who are Secret Agents fighting the evil Baron Silas Greenback. This is the season with the episode features hoards of cloned Penfolds, which I remember as being my favorite episode of the entire run, but I can't remember anything else about it. There are no real extras on the 2-disc set, but there is a bonus episode of the Count Duckula spin-off show, but if you are picking these sets up, (and a heartedly recommend doing so), then you will be getting that episode anyway.

Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
The greatest show to deal with high school life ever. This season the show continues to deal with difficult topics in a very serious way including the episode, "Accidents Will Happen," which was not aired in the United States. Special features also continue to be amazing with audio commentary tracks on two episodes, (including the aforementioned , "Accidents Will Happen"), deleted scenes, Rock'n'Roll Karakoke, and more. Definitely worth picking up and one of the DVD Picks of the Week.

Doctor Who - The Beginning Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first three story arcs featured in Doctor Who finally make it to DVD in this great 3-disc set including the first story featuring the Daleks. Like all the recent Dr. Who releases, there are an amazing collection of special features including featurettes on the origins of Dr. Who, the Daleks, a reconstructed look at the four story, (which was lost), and much more.

Friends - The Ones with all the ... - Buy from Amazon: Babies, Birthdays, and Weddings
They put out Full Season Sets, then they put out a Full Series Box Set, and now they are putting out Best of sets! This just crowds and over saturated market and hurts sluggish sales. Can also be purchased together as part of a package deal.

Get Rich or Die Tryin' - Buy from Amazon
Every time I see that title I'm reminded of the Animaniacs. In one episode, the three were going door to door selling cookies when they happened across the home of Albert Einstein, who didn't want any of their cookies. That prompted Yakko to say, "We'll sell that man a box of cookies, or die trying! Or try dying! Or do some tie-dying!" I loved Animaniacs and can't wait till it comes out on DVD, which could be as early as this summer. As for this movie, it was quite terrible and mostly ignored at the box office. The DVD looks even worse with almost no special features and will likely have an even weaker performance.

Godzilla - Monster Edition - Buy from Amazon
This movie isn't nearly as bad as its reputation, but it is a clear example of why you don't mess with a successful franchise. Not only did the filmmakers removed the political message that was in the original and simply made a loud, dumb, popcorn movie, they messed with other aspects that made the movies so popular. This version is better than the previous release, but not by enough to warrant an upgrade. One last note, I really like Maria Pitillo and wish she would get more work. I would also like to see her short-lived TV series, Partners, come out on DVD. Also coming out tomorrow are two more volumes of the animated TV series coming out tomorrow, but at just 3 episodes a disc, it would be better to wait for full season sets.

H.G. Wells' Invisible Man - Season One - Buy from Amazon
This show ran for just two seasons in the late 50s, so the fact that it's coming out on DVD at all is quite impressive. The fact that it appears to have no special features is understandable, disappointing, but understandable.

Highway to Heaven - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
This series ran for five season in the mid-80s and developed quite a following. However, even if you were a fan, looking back the series seems overly sentimental at times... almost all the time, to be honest. It could have been worse, it could have been preachy as well. Special features continue to be light with just some interviews to fill out the 7-disc set, but there's little reason not to pick up this set if you enjoyed the previous ones.

I Love Your Work - Buy from Amazon
Of the numerous recent theatrical releases on this week's list, they are almost all universally terrible. I'm not sure why, but this combination of quantity and nearly total lack of quality is daunting. Even though the DVD is merely average compared to most limited releases, the film should still do better on the home market, but that's only because it is mathematically impossible for it to do worse.

King Kong Buy from Amazon: Single Disc Edition or 2-Disc Special Edition
This is the most expensive movie ever made, and while it hit $200 million domestically and made a profit before its international run was over, it was still considered a box office disappointment. It's another case of the curse of high expectations. (In fact, some were predicting it would make more than $600 million domestically breaking the all-time record.) Given the tiny price difference between the versions and the amount of special features on the 2-Disc Special Edition it is the only version you should be contemplating. Bonus features on the DVD include post-production diaries, a look at Skull Island, and a look at 1930s New York City and their total length is longer than the movie itself, which is scary considering how long the movie was. And while you're waiting for the DVD to come out, check out the game and the contest. Also, don't forget that there is a King Kong prize pack featured in this week's Box Office Prediction contest. My only concern about picking this DVD up tomorrow is the very real chance that there will be a super special edition released this November, and because of that very real possibility, I'll be holding off for at least a little while. One last note, the Single Disc edition of the original King Kong is also coming out tomorrow, but since everyone reading this already has the Collectors Tin, there's no point even talking about this version.

Knots Landing - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
To be honest, I truly despise nighttime soap operas like this show and its predecessor. Obviously others disagree because the show ran for 14 years. The first of those seasons the show was a midseason replacement, which means there are only 13 episodes on this 5-disc set, but there are also audio commentaries on two of them and interviews with two of the cast members. It's a reasonable package for fans, I'm just not one of them.

Left Behind Collection - Buy from Amazon
Based on Revelations, this franchise starts out really poorly and steadily gets worse. To be frank, these are movies aimed squarely at Christians and the only reason buy this box set is if you are a Christian and want to encourage studios to make more Christian oriented movies. I can understand why one would do so, after all, as a Canadian I have bought a few Canadian movies solely because they were Canadian and I wanted to support the industry. However, there are surely some Christian movies out there that have some cinematic value meaning this set should be skipped by everyone.

The Little House on the Prairie - Buy from Amazon
A TV mini series adaptation of the same book that spawned the popular TV series. Most agree that this is the most faithful adaptation of the book so far, and fans of the TV series will likely enjoy this show as well.

Love on the Side - Buy from Amazon
Speaking of Canadian movies, this one was released under the name Deluxe Combo Platter up here and Canada and is your typical Romantic Comedy with a slight twist. Like I said when it first released, the film is lighthearted affair that should please fans of the genre, but won't win any awards.

Masters of Horror - Buy from Amazon: Cigarette Burns and Dreams in the Witch House
I know, I know, it's TV on DVD that's not full season sets, and the price on a per minute basis is way too high for TV on DVD. But in this case I think it's better to consider the Masters of Horror as a series of TV movies, in which case this is a good deal. Both films are excellent and the DVDs are packed with extras like audio commentary tracks, making of featurettes, interviews, behind the scenes, and plenty more. Since both are worth picking up, getting the package deal is the way to go, but if you were to pick up only one, I'd go with Dreams in the Witch House since I'm a fan of H.P. Lovecraft. One last note, more installments from this series will be released over the course of the year, and even though the total price in the end will be about $150.00, it will still find its way into my DVD collection.

Memoirs of a Geisha - Buy from Amazon: 2-Disc Special Edition or UMD Mini
Probably one of the most disappointing releases of award season last year. Obvious made to win Oscars, and lots of them, the film was technically great, but emotionally dead. The 2-disc set is very well done with two audio commentary tracks, and a nearly a dozen featurettes on various subject with a total running time of more than 100 minutes. It's worth checking out, but with most people there will be no emotional connection, which means there will be no replay value. Rent it.

Monty Python's Personal Best - Buy from Amazon
All six DVDs from the Personal Best collection in one set, at a significant savings from the individual prices. If you are an hardcore enough fan of the show that you bought the 16 Ton Megaset, then you are probably a hardcore enough fan that you'll want to spend the extra money for what it mostly the same material.

Northern Exposure - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The fourth of six seasons for this series. The price is more inline with other releases than the first two seasons, but the special features are light like season three. This season was again nominated for 16 Emmys, but unlike season three, it didn't win any. However, fans of the franchise will certainly want to pick it up tomorrow as soon as possible.

Not the 9 O'Clock News - The Best of - Buy from Amazon
A British sketch-comedy show featuring the likes of Rowan Atkinson and known for its politically incorrect humor. This 2-disc set includes 8 episodes with a total running time of more than 3 hours, but that's all you'll find as there are no real special features on the set. This is a shame considering how important the TV series was to British satire. A couple of warnings, the humor found within is rather topical and very British, so if you don't know much about the 80s or British culture in general, some of the jokes will lose their effectiveness. Perhaps if this sells well enough, another topical British satire will earn a DVD release. The show I speak of is Spitting Image, which is perhaps my favorite British TV show from the 80s.

Planet of the Apes - The Ultimate DVD Collection - With Ape Head Packaging - Buy from Amazon
a 14-disc set including practically everything Planet of the Apes related including all the original movies, the original movies, the remake from 2001, the TV-series and the animated series. Add in a stunning amount of bonus features spread throughout the box set and it adds up to a must have DVD set for fans of the franchise, if, and this is a big if, they don't already own most of the movies. That price-tag is a little daunting if you are either a casual fan just starting your collection or if you own a significant portion of the movie already. One last note, the original movies are also being released on DVD tomorrow, (Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes). They are about the same value on a per disc basis, but since the - box set has features not available elsewhere, it is the better deal.

Plymptoons - The Complete Early Works of Bill Plympton - Buy from Amazon
A great collection of work from the early years of Bill Plympton including Your Face, How to Kiss, and 25 Ways to Quit Smoking. It also includes some of the commercials he did as well as a couple of featurettes. It's a great collection for fans, but it is too similar to The Complete Works of Bill Plympton to be worth the upgrade.

Quantum Leap - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
This series continues its trend of great shows, mediocre DVDs. The 3-disc set has no real special features with the closest thing being an episode from the fifth season, but if you've bought this season, chances are you own the previous ones and will buy the final season as well. And finally, that stupid "The Great 80's TV Flashback" 30-minute long ad again makes an appearance on this set.

Robot Chicken - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
A demented little show that's a perfect companion to other Adult Swim series like Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law and Sealab 2021. The show is basically a series of 30-second skits done in with stop-motion animation using toys. Because the skits are so short the show relies on a shotgun approach to humor, no matter how scattered the jokes are, at least some are bound to make you laugh. For instance, if anyone saw Seth Green's interview on The Daily Show when he plugged this show will probably remember the clip that was shown, The World's Most One-Sided Fights Caught on Tape. You have a robot beating up a mad scientist and the like, but the one that stuck in my head was the man stealing candy from a baby, then punching the baby. It's sick, it's wrong, but I laughed really hard. Add in plenty of special features like audio commentaries on all 20 episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, animatics, behind-the-scenes, and more and you have a must has set, even if the price is a little high on a per minute basis when compared to most TV on DVD releases.

Six Feet Under - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
The fifth and final season of this award winning series comes out on DVD tomorrow. Like most TV on DVD releases for HBO shows, this one is way too expensive on a per minute basis compared to other such releases. However, this is also an amazing TV series that during its five-year run was nominated for roughly four-dozen Emmys winning seven of them. Also, the series finale was one of the best series ending episodes ever. Add in special features that include audio commentaries on 6 of the 12 episodes and 2 30-minute featurettes on the show and you have a 5-disc set that is a must have for fans of the show. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Sliver - Unrated Edition - Buy from Amazon
In an effort to take advantage of the publicity from the upcoming Basic Instinct 2 they are releasing Sliver on an Unrated DVD. There's a couple of problems with that, first of all, Basic Instinct 2 isn't generating any publicity, and secondly, Sliver was a terrible movie. And with absolutely no special features on this DVD, there is absolutely no reason to pick it up. Skip it.

A Sound of Thunder - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst movies ever made and also one of the biggest bombs of all time as well. There's only one reason to watch this featureless DVD, and that's morbid curiosity. And in that case, wait till you can watch it for free on TV.

Stay - Buy from Amazon
Ewan McGregor starred in five movies last year and while the earned an average of more than $100 million, only one was a real hit with both moviegoers and critics alike. This film, on the other hand, was the weakest in both categories. And with the DVD being well below average there's little reason to even rent it.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
Wow, this was a bad show. Horrible writing, horrible animation, horrible acting. Add in a weak set of special features and this 4-disc set is worth skipping.

The Triangle - Buy from Amazon
A TV mini-series about the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle. It's not as bad as some TV mini-series, but it certainly isn't good enough to warrant buying it on DVD. If there were some serious special features this 2-disc set might have been worth renting, but as it is, if you saw it on TV that should be enough.

Triumph of the Will - Buy from Amazon
Triumph of the Will is, simply put, Nazi Propaganda. However, it is such nearly flawless in its execution and possibly the most historically important film of its day, or any day. As an example of propaganda, as an example of filmmaking, as an historical document it's importance can't be underestimated. More importantly, the message the film conveys is pure evil. As a whole, it is a film everyone should see, lest we forget.

Wonder Showzen - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Disturbing is probably the best way to describe this TV series, but disturbing in a funny way. The show is like Sesame Street complete with puppets, kids and cartoons segments. It's the cartoon segments I like the best as they are instantly recognizable for anyone who grew up in the 70s / 80s but twisted in just the right way. Add in an amazing collection of special features and this is a great 2-disc set, but not one you can pick up blind since the humor is out there for most people.

X-Files - Buy from Amazon: The Complete Fourth Season or The Complete Fifth Season or The Complete Sixth Season
Just a quick word of warning, these are 6-discs sets and not the full 7-disc sets as the show was originally released.

- C.S.Strowbridge

Filed under: Video Releases