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DVD Releases for July 18, 2006

July 17th, 2006

Things are finally starting to pick up from the doldrums of the past two weeks and things should continue to speed up as over the next few weeks we start seeing last year's shows start to hit DVD in anticipation of the upcoming season. This week it is a TV on DVD release that takes the DVD Pick of the Week, but it is not a returning show, but a short-lived one. The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. - The Complete Series takes the prize with Film Noir Classic Collection - Volume 3 earning an honorable mention.

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This was a fantastic show that never got the recognition it deserved while it was on the air. However, it developed a very loyal fanbase and they've been hotly anticipating the series release on DVD since it was first rumored. And they won't be disappointed. This 8-disc set is packed with all 27 episodes, include audio commentary on the pilot, a retrospective featurette, featurette on the inventions in the show, another of the more reality-based tools of the trade, roundtable with key cast and crew, and finally, Bruce Campbell reading from his first book, "If Chins Could Kill." I highly recommend both the DVD and the book with the former being one of this week's DVD Pick of the Week.

Amazing Stories - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
An anthology series by Steven Spielberg from the 1980s. I remember when this series first came out there was huge hype surrounding it and Steven Spielberg's involvement. So much hype, in fact, that the show could never really live up to it and it only lasted two seasons. However, looking back, there are several great episode from the show's run including my personal favorite, "Go to the Head of the Class." That episode didn't appear till season 2, but is so good that I'm tempted to pick up the 4-disc set just to make sure season 2 is released on DVD. This 4-disc set does have plenty of good episodes, but with just 20 minutes of deleted scenes, its value it limited. I still recommend purchasing it, but I can't be overly enthusiastic in that recommendation.

ATL - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD
Roller skating and Hip-Hop music powered this urban movie. While it earned better than average reviews and got off to a faster than expected start, it couldn't maintain its early momentum and has to settle for just over $20 million in total. Given its production budget, that should be enough if the DVD can earn a similar total, unfortunately, the studio skimped on the extras and that will likely limited its return on the home market. On the disc are a strong behind-the-scenes featurette, half a dozen deleted scenes, and a music video and that adds up to a rental.

Carnivale - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Too dark for network TV, and too dark for HBO, apparently. Creator, Daniel Knauf, had a six year plan for the show, but while rating were relatively good, the show was just too expensive to continue production. So the release of the second season DVD is bittersweet, fans will be happy to be able to watch it again and again, but there are so many story lines left unresolved that it could be a frustrating experience. However, with plenty of special features, (audio commentary on three episodes and a trio of featurettes), it is definitely worth picking up. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

Clean - Buy from Amazon
The film earned good reviews, especially for Maggie Cheung's performance, but was never able to escape its limited release. The DVD should perform better, but with just some interviews for special features, a rental will suffice for most people.

Don't Move - Buy from Amazon
Penelope Cruz's performance lifts this movie, which would otherwise be unbearable. It's not a bad movie, but there's too much melodrama and the characters range from unsympathetic to downright unlikable. The DVD is better than expected with a couple of featurettes, Penelope Cruz's screen test and some unrated deleted scenes, but it is still worth a rental at most.

Edison Force - Buy from Amazon
Look at the cast for this movie, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, LL Cool J... and Justin Timberlake. Gee, I wonder which of those is most responsible for the film going direct-to-DVD. Not the worst movie on this week's list, no wait, yes it is. It's overloaded with cliches and lacks any credibility. Skip it.

Fatboy Slim - The Greatest Hits - Why Make Videos? - Buy from Amazon
This DVD might be worth the price just to see Christopher Walken strut his stuff in Weapon of Choice. On a side note, I was never as amazed with his dancing in that video as some. Many were shocked to see the man, who is best know for playing scary, psychotic characters in movies dance so well. However, I knew he was a trained dancer before I saw the video, so I wasn't as taken back. Even so, it is an excellent video and along with several others, (The Rockafeller Skank, Praise You, etc.) this is a great collection for hardcore and more casual fans alike.

Film Noir Classic Collection - Volume 3 - Buy from Amazon
Five more Film Noir released in one box set including His Kind of Woman and On Dangerous Ground, which are the best of the best in this bunch, but all are worthy of repeat viewing. For those that own the previous releases, the movies are maintaining the high quality and the special features are equally good with audio commentary tracks on all movies and a bonus disc with a documentary and a collection of shorts from the era. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

The Incredible Hulk - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This show has divided fans of the comic. On the one hand, they did change the origins of the Hulk and gave the show a completely different feel. On the other hand, taken on its own, the show works. David Banner, (as he was called on the show because Bruce Banner sounded too gay, seriously), is a wandering soul cursed to transform into a monsterous Hulk whenever he becomes angry. Travelling from town to town, he looks for a cure and helping people along the way while avoiding the reporter looking for the big story. The 4-disc set is light on special features with just an audio commentary track on the pilot, (plus an episode from season 2, but I don't consider that a real extra), but the price is right and it is certainly worth picking up. On a side note, there was a webcomic from a few years back called Superstar Carwash that used Bill Bixby as one of its characters, (along with a host of other celebrities). I've been trying to find an archive online, but to no avail. Part of the problem is the Goo Goo Dolls put out an album called Superstar Car Wash, so most Google hits are about that. If you know of an archive, please tell me.

Jack of All Trades - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The second short-lived Bruce Campbell TV series coming out on DVD tomorrow. This was is the weaker of the two as it was decidedly sillier, (for example, Verne Troyer in it as Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte). Over the top just seems completely inadequate to describe the show. However, it is still very funny at times and fans of Bruce Campbell will want to pick it up, even though there are absolutely no special features on the 3-disc set.

The Pee-Wee Herman Show - Live at the Roxy Theater - Buy from Amazon
Originally shot in 1981, this HBO special comes from before Pee Wee Herman became a nationally recognized character, although fans of the TV series it spawned will recognize a lot of characters and situations here. Unfortunately, the only thing on the disc is the hour-long special limiting its value. On the other hand, if you haven't picked up Pee-wee's Playhouse - Seasons 1 and 2, you can buy both and only pay $1 more.

The Pretender - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The fourth and final season of this show hits the home market tomorrow. Season 3 was a bit of a disappointment and while this season things improve, it is clear that the show was running out of steam and would end shortly. The 4-disc set is well done with audio commentary tracks on three episodes and a handful of featurettes with a total running time of just over 40 minutes. I do have a couple of problems; firstly, they used double-sided discs, which I hate. And secondly, the TV movies that aired after this season are not included. Hopefully their DVD release is already in the works.

Queer Duck - The Movie - Buy from Amazon
Creator by one of The Simpsons' writers, Mike Reiss, this series follows Adam Seymour "Queer Duck" Duckstein, voiced by Jim J. Bullock. As you can probably tell from the name of the show, it is gay themed and it uses a lot of homosexual stereotypes in a tongue in check way to defuse them. These short cartoons appeared on Showtime and can now be found on the online. While the shorts are only a few minutes long, the translation to a feature-length movie was a smooth one. Okay, at 75 minutes it's a little short for a feature-length movie, but any longer and it would have felt stretched out. Extras include several features on the making of the movie, the casting, the voice talent and more. Worth picking up.

Ren & Stimpy - The Lost Episodes - Buy from Amazon
The latest run of Ren & Stimpy from Spike TV were a lot more mature... no, that's not the right word. ... Adult? Nope, that doesn't quite cover it either. There was little to no censorship and creator John K was allowed to do just about anything. This is either great news or a terrible shame as without constraints, the creators of the show went wild. So wild, in fact, that it was too much for Spike TV and they were cancelled after just four episodes. This 2-disc set contains all nine episodes as well as extras like intros, interviews, rough stages of some of the episodes, (including unfinished ones). Whether or not it is worth picking up depends on what you think of other adult oriented cartoons. Do you often think South Park is too tame? Then this could be the DVD set for you. But don't for a second think this is a show for kids. Remember, it is a show that was too risque for cable, so don't buy it for your kids. I repeat, not a kids show. Got it?

Road House Double-shot - Buy from Amazon: Road House - Deluxe Edition and Road House 2 - Last Call
First of all, Road House was a pretty bad movie that could be described as a guilty pleasure, at best, but it did feature some good fight scenes and some great music by The Jeff Healy Band. The film hardly deserved a Deluxe Edition DVD but at least the studio put some effort into it with two audio commentary tracks, (including one by Kevin Smith and Scott Moiser), as well as a couple of featurettes and a trivia track. On the other hand, the direct-to-DVD sequel, which is an even worse movie, comes on a featureless DVD. I can't recommend buying either of these, but Road House - Deluxe Edition might be worth a rental for those that like over-the-top action films.

The Second Chance - Buy from Amazon
A message movie that preaches to the choir and won't convince anyone who doesn't already accept its basic message. The DVD is better than average for a limited release and should pick up strong sales from its target demographic.

Shakespeare Behind Bars - Buy from Amazon
An amazing documentary about Shakespeare being performed in prison by some inmates, who cast themselves in accordance with the crimes they committed. All but ignored during its theatrical run, the film should prove a bigger hit on the home market, especially with the wealth of special features including three audio commentary tracks, extra performance footage, and deleted scenes.

She's the Man - Buy from Amazon
A modern re-telling of Shakespeare's The Twelve Night has Amanda Bynes pretending to be her twin brother at his new prep school. In between the typical cross dressing hi-jinx and soccer, there are some great performances that lift the film above the typical teen fare. Add in special features that include and audio commentary track, making of featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes and more, and it is worth picking up.

She-Ra - Princess of Power - The Best of - Buy from Amazon
I hate Best Of releases for TV on DVD, and this week we have four of them. What drives me up the wall with this release, is it is so good. There are only 5 episodes on 2 discs, but the amount of special features would be good for a full season release, (audio commentary, making of featurette, music video and more). Hopefully the studio is just testing the waters with this release and are planning full season sets if the sales are strong. And if they do, it would be really nice if they gave a rebate to those who purchased this set, but I wouldn't count on it.

Some Like it Hot - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Some Like it Hot was recently named the Funniest American Movie by the AFI and for good reason. This 2-disc set is a serious step up from the previous special edition with a commentary track created from interviews with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and others, two new documentaries on the making off and the legacy off the film as well as the three extras from the previous release. Easily worth the upgrade, especially for Marilyn Monroe fans, who are having a banner year for DVD releases with her 80th birthday happening in June.

SpongeBob SquarePants - Karate Island - Buy from Amazon
Stick with the Full Season Sets.

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody - Taking Over the Tipton - Buy from Amazon
Another Disney show coming out on a Best of DVD. I'd say wait till a full season set comes out, but they probably never will.

Sybil - 30th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
For the first time ever on the home market, the complete and uncut version of this groundbreaking TV movie featuring an award-winning performance by Sally Field as the titular character. It's still harrowing to watch after all those years, but the impact has been lessened somewhat due to the fact that Multiple Personality Disorder has been all but discredited since then. (Part of the claim was that individual personalities didn't share the same memory, but this has been experimentally proven as false.) Just having the full, 3-hour movie should be enough for most people, but the 2-disc set also contains extras like interviews, artwork by the real Sybil, and more. Well worth picking up.

That's So Raven - Raven's Makeover Madness - Buy from Amazon
See The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

Tsotsi - Buy from Amazon
Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language film, the film was able to translate that publicity into a solid run in limited release. The film's home market run should be even better with special features that include audio commentary, deleted scenes, (including an alternate ending), making of featurette, and a short film. Good, but not great. On a side note, while the film is good, I don't think it was the best Foreign Language of the year as I would be fellow nominees Paradise Now, Sophie Scholl, and Joyeux Noel ahead of it.

Warner Bros. Pictures Tough Guys Collection - Buy from Amazon
Six gangster film from the 1930s together in one set, or sold separately. If you are at all interested, but the box set as it is half as expensive than buying the movies individually. If I were forced to choose individual DVDs, I would pick A Slight Case of Murder as the best, although it is more of a parody of the typical gangster film from the era rather than a serious example of the genre. If you are looking for one of those, go with either City of Conquest or "G" Men while San Quentin is the worst, despite an early starring role for Humphrey Bogart. Each disc comes with a commentary track, vintage short and cartoon, featurette, and more. An excellent collection and easily worth picking up.


Filed under: Video Releases, She's the Man, ATL, Tsotsi, The Second Chance, Clean, Don't Move, Shakespeare Behind Bars, Edison Force