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DVD Releases for May 9, 2006

May 8th, 2006

It's been a while since there was a DVD release that I was literally counting down the days for. But this week there is such a release: Scrubs - The Complete Third Season. That is not to say that is the only DVD I'll be picking up tomorrow, as my shopping list includes Masters of Horror - Chocolate / Incident on and off a Mountain Road, That '70s Show - The Complete Fourth Season and If Only. (That last one is only worth it if you are a big Jennifer Love Hewitt fan.)

The 400 Blows - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
This is the third time this movie has been released by Criterion Collection, but while the movie is a landmark film of French cinema, the DVD is just not worth the upgrade.

The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
This is the first season of the series that was shot in color. It is also the first season without Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife. Despite these changes, it is still a great show, but it is just not the same. Add in no special features and its value dips further, but for those who have been buying the previous seasons, there's no real reason to stop now. Can also be purchased with said previous seasons as part of a package deal.

The Barbie Diaries - Buy from Amazon: Regular Edition or Gift Set
The latest direct-to-DVD based on the incredibly popular toys. The quality of the show is about the same as previous releases while the special features are better than average. Extras include outtakes, featurette on Skye Sweetnam, music video by the Skye Sweetnam, desktop game, etc. while the Gift Set also comes with a collectable diary. If you are a pre-teen girl, or live with a pre-teen girl, you'll want to pick this one up. Otherwise, run away. Run far. Run fast.

Battle in Heaven - Buy from Amazon
Carlos Reygadas' follow up to Japon failed to connect with moviegoers and critics alike. It's an art house film that tries too hard to prove it's an art house film and because it feels forces, it loses the audience. Special features are also weak with just a couple of interviews and in the end it isn't worth a rental.

Big Momma's House 2 - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst movies ever made, it was also one of the biggest hits of the year so far. Add in special features that are below average for a first run release, and this DVD should be skipped at all costs. Can also be purchased with the original as part of a package deal for those who want two bad movies for the price of one.

The Bullwinkle Show - Buy from Amazon: The Best of Rocky and Bullwinkle - Volume 1 and The Best of Boris & Natasha
Stick with the full season sets, if they keep making them.

Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams - Buy from Amazon
An average effort from Cheech & Chong being released on a featureless DVD. Even fans interested in the movie should wait until Cheech and Chong Get Blunt comes out to see if there will be a special edition / box set releases to coincide with the upcoming release.

Chris Isaak: Best of Chris Isaak - Buy from Amazon
You know what I want? The Chris Isaak Show on DVD, and not best of DVDs either but full season sets. And I know I'm not the only one.

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
The first show using the animation technique called, "Squigglevision." I like Squigglevision, but I understand a lot of people simply hate it, as the constantly wiggling lines can be distracting. The show stars Jonathan Katz as Dr. Katz, a therapist whose clientele includes Ray Romano, Dave Attell, Joy Behar, and a lot of other stand-up comedians. The humor is very low-key and laid-back, and very, very funny. My only complaint is that there were only 5 episodes for season one, but fortunately they compensated with a ton of special features including 6 audio commentary tracks and a few shorts. On a per minute basis, it is a little more expensive than most TV on DVD releases, but not prohibitively so, and it is worth picking up for fans of the show.

Earthquake - Buy from Amazon
With Poseidon coming out next week, there are a lot of disaster flicks hitting the home market tomorrow. Here's the thing; most of these movies are terrible and this one is no exception. Add in no special features and this one isn't even worth renting.

Everybody Loves Raymond - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
For long running shows like this, there's not much that needs to be said that fans won't already know. And if you're not a fan, there's not much that can be said to change your mind. As for the quality of the DVD, there are audio commentary tracks on six episodes, a retrospective, deleted scenes and outtakes. That's a great set for a sixth season release. A lot of times studios start to pare down special features for later releases since people who have been buying the series are not going to stop now because there are no extras. Because that isn't happening here, I can definitely recommend this release. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

The Facts of Life - The Complete First & Second Seasons - Buy from Amazon
The first season of this series was only 13 episodes long, but was spread over 15 months. The second season was barely longer at 16 episodes, but at least it had a more normal release schedule. Because the first two seasons were shorter than usual, the studio has wisely decided to lump them together for the first DVD release. In addition to the 29 episodes, there are two featurettes: a very short look at what some of the cast members have been up to since the show ended and a longer retrospective. That's not a lot, and perhaps not enough for the more casual fans to pick up the show.

Fateless - Buy from Amazon
An amazing film from Hungary, and it should be considering it is the most expensive Hungarian film ever. Unfortunately, despite getting strong reviews, the film never really found an audience here, but that should change on the home market. Helping its cause are the special features, which include an interview and making of featurette. Considering it's a foreign language limited release, that's pretty good.

The Golden Girls - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
So far this series has been plagued by lackluster special features but fans of the show have still rewarded the studio with strong sales. This time around, there are no special features, but it looks likely to crack the top ten on the TV on DVD sales chart regardless.

Grandma's Boy - Unrated Edition - Buy from Amazon
When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I assumed it would be one of the worst movies ever made. And I still feel that way. The reviews, however, were slightly better than that, although still in the completely awful range. But unlike most wide releases that have been eviscerated by the critics this year, this one bombed in theatres, missing the top ten during its opening and quickly disappearing after that. The DVD is packed with special features, including both versions of the movie, two audio commentary tracks, a handful of featurettes, and more. But in the end, it is not nearly enough to make up for the horrible movie. Skip it.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Assault on Precinct 13, Cinderella Man, Jarhead, Swordfish and Training Day
The latest batch of HD-DVD movies come out this week. Of the group, Cinderella Man in the best movie while Jarhead takes advantage of the new technology the most. On the other hand, none are really worth the upgrade.

If Only - Buy from Amazon
Jennifer Love Hewitt's career hasn't been as smooth as a lot of people were expecting after her role in Party of Five and then her breakout performance in I Know What You Did Last Summer. Granted, she hasn't made the best choices, but she's also had some bad luck. (When you are making a movie and the FBI comes and arrests your producer, there's not much you can do about it). She had a couple of films that were made and then sunk into limbo, but with Ghost Whisperer becoming a surprise hit, they are being released on DVD. Unfortunately, this one is being released on a featureless DVD. Still, it's worth a rental.

Life Goes On - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A ground breaking show, it was the first to feature a character with Down syndrome played by an actor with Down syndrome. For a show to be groundbreaking is one thing, but it was also a good show in its own right. (Although it does occasionally move into the hooky family sitcom, but overall the show is good enough that those trips are forgivable.) As for special features, there is an audio commentary track on the pilot, outtakes and a couple of screen tests. The show was never a major hit when it first came out, so the this is a great DVD set when you take that into consideration. Heck, it better than some DVD release for shows that are still on the air.

Masters of Horror - Buy from Amazon: Chocolate and Incident on and off a Mountain Road
Two more episodes of the Masters of Horror TV series hit the home market, but unlike last time, the two shows featured this time are more uneven. Incident on and off a Mountain Road is one of the best entries in the while Chocolate is one of the weaker episodes. However, there is nothing weak about the special features. Each DVD has at least one audio commentary track (Incident on and off a Mountain Road has two), making of featurette(s), interviews, and pretty detailed look at the careers of the two directors. These are easily worth picking up separately, but the twin pack is a must have for any serious horror buff.

Munich - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc Edition or 2-Disc Limited Edition
There are a lot of first run releases coming out this week, and of that group, this one is the best. However, that being said, it is still a lot weaker than most people expected it would be. Sure, it earned plenty of positive reviews and even a bunch of Oscar noms, but in the end, it just wasn't able to match high expectations. The Single-Disc Edition contains an intro from Steven Spielberg while the 2-Disc Limited Edition contains a bonus disc with half a dozen featurettes of varying length. However, there is no audio commentary track, but this should surprise nobody as Steven Spielberg has never done an audio commentary track. Lower your expectations and it is still a good movie, but it is not the instant classic that many thought it would be.

Nanny McPhee - Buy from Amazon
Curiously, Nanny McPhee earned nearly the same Tomatometer reading as Munich and also earning nearly the same total box office, but because this film had lot lower expectations put on it, it feels like a much bigger success. Not only is the movie good, but the DVD is great with two audio commentary tracks, deleted and alternate scenes, outtakes, and a handful of featurettes. It might be a bit British for some people, but it is certainly worth picking up for the rest.

The New World - Buy from Amazon
Good news, this film looked like a $60 million movie but it only cost $30 million to make. Bad news, even if it cost $15 million, it still would have lost money during its theatrical release. On the other hand, the film is currently in sixth place on the Amazon Sales Chart, just below Munich - 2-Disc Limited Edition and just above Firefly - The Complete Series. I'm a little surprised that it is selling that well, since the reviews were not great and the DVD is lacking in special features. The only extra on the disc is a making of featurette, and even though it clocks in at close to one hour, this is not enough to lift the film past the rental level in my opinion.

Northern Exposure - The Complete First and Second Seasons - Buy from Amazon
The first two seasons of this quirky show for half the price you would have paid had you bought them when they first came out. Of course, had fans not overpaid for those seasons, then the studio would have probably not put out season 3.

On the Outs - Buy from Amazon
This film had two theatrical releases in the past year, but neither time was it able to find an audience. It seems likely to suffer the same fate on the home market, but that's a real shame since the film earned fantastic reviews and there are loads of special features for a limited release, including an audio commentary track, making of featurette, interviews and more. Easily worth picking up.

The Phil Silvers Show - 50th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
The Phil Silvers Show, a.k.a. Sgt. Bilko, ran for four years starting in 1955. This is the first time the show has been on DVD, but even with plenty of special features it's marginal buy at best. The problem is, it's a Best of set. I'd much rather have full season sets, but if this set doesn't sell, the studio won't put out full season sets.

The Poseidon Adventure - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step in release a remake? Ah yes, the inevitable Special Edition release of the original. Fortunately, both the movie and the DVD are great. (Okay, the movie's a little corny at times, but in a fun way.) Disc one has two audio commentary tracks and a pop-up map of Poseidon, while disc two has more than half a dozen featurettes with a total running time almost as long as the upcoming remake, only twice as interesting. Easily worth the upgrade from the previous edition, but it would be hard not to be.

Queer as Folk - The Final Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a great show, the 5-disc set is good, but that price is just unreasonable. The list price is over $100, which is more than it costs to get Showtime for several months. Even after taking off the Amazon discount, it is still too much to ask fans to pay. Maybe in a couple of months they will release a Complete Series box set at a more reasonable price.

Rescue Me - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those very rare shows that I enjoy watching on TV more than I do watching on DVD. It's a great show, well-written, well-acted, but I can only watch one or two episodes at a time. I think it's because Denis Leary's character is such a jerk that after I watched the first season in one sitting I wanted so badly to see him beaten up. But it never happened. Fortunately that problem is rectified early in season two. Unfortunately, even with the well-deserved beating, the rest of the season is a little weaker than the first season. On the other hand, the special features are just as good with a six-part making of documentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, and more. Well worth picking up.

Ronin - Two-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
When I first heard this film was in the works, I have very high hopes given some of the cast members and the director. While it is true, John Frankenheimer had some weak efforts later in his career, he had also director some absolute classics like the original Manchurian Candidate. The film was a massive improvement over The Island of Dr. Moreau, but that's not much of a compliment. As for the 2-disc set, it is a step up from the previous release, which in turn was a step up from the release previous to that one, which was a step up from the release previous to that one. See where I'm going here? If you don't have the movie in your DVD collection, now is a great time to add it. Otherwise, there are just too many versions to reward the studio with more money.

Rumor Has It - Buy from Amazon: DVD - HD-DVD
Rumor Has It is the first movie being release on DVD and HD-DVD at the same time. I can't think of a single reason why it is getting that honor. It's not like the movie is a huge visual feast that would really benefit from the added clarity. It's a simple character driven comedy, and not even a great example of that. But at least they took a full advantage of the extra room to fill the disc full of special features, right? Nope. It's completely featureless. Skip it. Skip it and write an angry letter to the studio. Just don't give them my name.

Scrubs - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
I love this show. It is my favorite show on TV at the moment and one of the few shows I bother to watch on TV. (Most shows I enjoy, I just watch when they come out on DVD.) Not only is this a great show overall, this is arguably the best season as the slapstick was toned done a bit and was replaced by a lot more character development. It was also a banner year for guest stars with Brendan Fraser, Michael J. Fox, Tara Reid, and many more. (On a side note, I consider Tara Reid's 10 episode arc as Danni Sullivan the best work she has ever done.) This 3-Disc set continues the series' tradition of great value for the money with an excellent collection of special features. Extras include audio commentary tracks on two episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, as well as featurettes on the stunts, guest stars, and much more. Without a doubt, it is a must have and the DVD Pick of the Week.

Tamara - Buy from Amazon
There have been plenty of horror films to come out the past few years, but not many of them try the limited release route. And there's a reason for that as the genre is better suited to the pump and dump release strategy. This helps explain why the film never found an audience but the lackluster reviews also played a part. (Although to be fair, it did earn better reviews than many wide releases that came out at the same time and were hits.) All in all, the film is a reasonable revenge story with a supernatural twist, and the DVD (complete with audio commentary track) should do well enough to earn back its $5 million production budget, eventually.

That '70s Show - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
There's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to TV on DVD this week and this is one of the better shows. That '70s Show ends this year on a very low note, but was great for almost all of its run (it started to go downhill when Laura Prepon dyed her hair blonde and it completely went to hell when Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher left). However, during the fourth season the show was still getting better, while this 4-disc set has plenty of special features with audio commentary tracks on 4 episodes, making of featurette, interviews, and more. Easily worth picking up and a must have for fans of the show.

The Towering Inferno - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The second special edition release for a 70s disaster flick coming out tomorrow. This is the weaker of the two movies and has not aged well. On the other hand, fans of the film will love this 2-disc set as it is packed with special features. Extras include two audio commentary tracks (one full-length and the other scene-specific), and a handful of featurettes, mostly on the special effects, and more. It's a great package for fans of the movie. However, I find the film way too corny to recommend.

The West Wing - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
After several great years, the show struggled the during season five and while season six was an improvement, it was still a major step back from the first four seasons. Special features remain constant with audio commentary tracks on three episodes and an interview with Allison Janney on her character, Press Secretary 'C.J.' Cregg. If you've bought the previous seasons, there's no reason to stop now. However, if season five was weak enough that you didn't bother, this one probably won't entice you back. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

The Work and the Glory - American Zion - Buy from Amazon
The latest attempt by Mormon filmmakers to earn mainstream success. While this one did better than most previous attempts, it still failed at that goal. The reason for this is twofold; firstly, it preaches to the choir and that limits its appeal outside the Mormon community and secondly, it's just not a good movie. Add in a lack of special features, and it doesn't even make it to the rental level.


Filed under: Video Releases, Big Momma's House 2, Munich, Nanny McPhee, Rumor Has It, The New World, Grandma’s Boy, The Work and the Glory: American Zion, Tamara, Fateless, Batalla en el cielo, On the Outs