Follow us on

DVD Releases for October 10, 2006

October 10th, 2006

The Thanksgiving long weekend signifies the start of the holiday shopping season... Of course, that's the American Thanksgiving, which occurs sometime in November. The Canadian Thanksgiving, which occurred this weekend, is most closely associated with the start of Hockey season. (Have I mentioned how much I hate the New York Rangers? I have. Good.) However, just because shopping season has officially started, doesn't mean it's a slow week. Far from it. This week there was a bumper crop of contenders for the DVD Pick of the Week. I narrowed the list to two TV on DVD releases (Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon) and two limited releases, (Twelve and Holding - Buy from Amazon and A Prairie Home Companion - Buy from Amazon). If I was forced at gunpoint to choose just one, it would be Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon, but I can all but guarantee all four, and a few others, will end up in my DVD collection.

The Andy Milonakis Show - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
With Andy Milonakis's brand of humor you either love him or hate him... probably hate him. On the other hand, even haters will admit the studio did a great job with the DVD as it is packed. Extras include audio commentary tracks on every episode, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. Easily worth picking up for fans, but 99% of the people who are reading this should stay far, far away.

Art School Confidential - Buy from Amazon
I was expecting more, both in terms of critical appeal and in terms of box office numbers. For that matter, I feel the same way with the DVD release. Sure, it stumbled at the box office, but there's not enough here in terms of special features. Sure, there are some deleted / alternate scenes, outtakes, and a pair of short featurettes, but I was expecting an audio commentary track and more substantive featurettes (the combined running time is just over 15 minutes for the two of them). That's just not enough for it to rise past the rental level.

The A-Team - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
The fifth and final season of this 'classic' 80s show. The show only lasted half a season but the studio is charging the same price as the full-season sets? For shame, Universal. For shame.

Bad Santa - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
The is the third version of this movie to come out on DVD, and at a taught 88 minutes, it is the shortest. Because the film is tighter it seems even cruder as well as much funnier. Add in special features that are better the previous release (including an audio commentary), and it is worth the upgrade.

Black Rain - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Another special edition to come out recently that makes you ask, "Did this film really need a special edition?" It's not one of Ridley Scott's biggest or best movies and is in no way a forgotten classic. But it is a solid action film made by a talented group of people on both sides of the camera. The DVD, while much better than the featureless disc that was previously released, is only average for a first run release and even taking into account the age of the film, is stretching the definition of Special a tad. There are only two extras, an audio commentary track and a making of featurette, the latter of which is divided up into four section and clocks at more than an hour in length. Worthy of an upgrade and those who have never seen it should give it a shot.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: 16 Blocks - Syriana
Slow week for the format, and with the numerous delays in the format, I'm not even sure these two are coming out tomorrow. It's like they are trying to lose the format war.

The Butterfly Effect 2 - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD release that is so bad that it will retroactively make you hate the first one. Skip it.

Click - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
This film very nearly became the biggest live action comedy of the summer, but fell to a late charge by Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. It's a high concept comedy that never lives up to it potential, trying to hard to mix Adam Sandler's brand of humor with a sappy storyline. The DVD is similarly mediocre with the ever-present audio commentary, half hour making of featurette that is broken up into seven pieces, and a few deleted scenes. It adds up to a rental, but nothing more.

Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian cartoon about three boys, Ed, Edd, (who is sometime called Double D), and Eddy who are on a never ending quest for jawbreakers. This is a fun show for kids, but the 2-disc is sadly devoid of special features. Even so, the replay value is enough that it is still worth picking up.

Edge of Your Seat Collection - Buy from Amazon
This box set contains three movies that are simply not worth it, even at bargain basement prices.

Everybody Hates Chris - The First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of the best new shows to debut last fall, but it plays on UPN so no one has seen it. The series is about Chris Rock and his early childhood and earned amzing reviews and thankfully this four-disc set lives up to the reviews. Extras include audio commentary tracks on select episodes, deleted scenes, making out featurette, behind the scenes, outtakes, and a lot more. Easily worth picking for fans of the show, and for those who have never seen it, which is about 90% of you, it is worth checking out.

The Exorcist - The Complete Anthology - Buy from Amazon
All six film from The Exorcist trilogy, including both versions of the first film. However, only that film is truly great while the third film is better than most. The rest are, to be blunt, terrible.

The Fox and the Hound - 25th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is a good movie. Not great, but good. On the other hand, the DVD in no way lives up to its Special Edition label. In fact, the main special feature on this DVD is an ad for The Fox and the Hound 2, which comes out in December.

Garfield's A Tail of Two Kitties - Buy from Amazon
The first film earned terrible reviews but was a surprise hit here and made nearly $200 million worldwide. This film opened with reviews that were nearly identicall, but bombed here. However, it more than made up for that on the international scene where it crossed the $100 million mark. The film should entertain the young kids it is aimed at, but the DVD is weak enough that a rental will suffice. And if you don't have young kids, stay far, far away.

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
One of the best shows on Adult Swim, volume 2 is even better than volume 1. The 2-disc set contain some great episodes including Droopy Botox, a sad story of plastic surgery gone awry. Gary Cole, Stephen Colbert, and the rest are amazing voice actors and the shows are filled with a surrealist humor (and no, you don't have to be a Hanna-Barbara fan to enjoy the show, but it helps). Special features more than live up to the standards set by previous Adult Swim releases and include audio commentary tracks on 9 of the 13 episodes, deleted scenes, making of featurette, music video and two short extras aimed at that segment of the audience that has always wondered was Harvey Birdman would look like naked. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Army of Darkness, Batman Begins, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Polar Express, and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Another mixed batch of HD-DVD releases. The average quality it much higher than most weeks. In fact, all of these are worth having in your DVD collection. However, chances are if you liked these movies you already have them on DVD and it's not really worth the upgrade.

Holiday Inn - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A classic musical from 1942 gets the special edition treatment. Special features on the disc are on par with a first run release, which is better than most movies released from that era. However, with just an audio commentary track, retrospective, and look at the song and dance numbers, the Special Edition label is overstating things somewhat.

Hollywood's Legends of Horror Collection - Buy from Amazon
Six movies crammed onto three discs. Mad Love is the best while The Return of Doctor X is the worst and most in-between are only average. Extras including audio commentary tracks on five of the six films (The Devil Doll is the only one without one), and a few of the original trailers. The price is right, but this box set will only appeal to a limited audience.

Ju-On 2 - Buy from Amazon
This is Ju-On 2, not Ju-On: The Grudge 2, which is a different movie. That latter movie is the inspiration for the upcoming American remake. This film has nothing to do with that film, at least not storywise, so you can watch this one without fear of spoiling The Grudge 2.

The King - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those films that are great in nearly every way, writing, directing, acting, etc. but the end product is just too difficult to watch for most people. The DVD is better than average for limited release with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes and even some rehearsal footage. This is not a movie for everyone, but those who like will likely want to own it. But before then, give it a rental first.

Land of Plenty - Buy from Amazon
Directed by Wim Wenders, whose films include Paris, Texas and Buena Vista Social Club. This film can't live up to those films and is mere average compared to the rest of his career. The DVD is also only average for a limited release with just an audio commentary track.

Magnum P.I. - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
Great show released on a featureless 5-disc set. And no, bonus episodes from a future release don't count as a special feature.

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green - Buy from Amazon
A romantic comedy with a gay twist. Based on an underground comic, the movie had potential but nearly everything that made the comic so charming was missing from the movie leaving a lifeless mess.

Motion Picture Masterpieces Collection - Buy from Amazon
Five films based on literary classics made mostly in the 1930s including Marie Antoinette and Pride and Prejudice. Even the weakest of these movies, arguably Marie Antoinette, is a classic but the sparse special features are troubling. There are no audio commentary tracks and most of the features are vintages shorts from the era. They can also be bought separately, but the box set is by far the better deal.

My Family - Series 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
A BritCom about a dysfunctional family. Americans audience might recognize the mother, who is played by Zoë Wanamaker who also played Madame Hooch in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. While Kris Marshall played the self-proclaimed sex god in Love Actually. Just an excellent series with brilliant writing and acting, and while there appears to be no special features, this is not uncommon for imports and the 2-disc set is still worth picking up.

Numb3rs - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
One of nearly 78 billion policy procedural shows on the air currently, this one's hook is Charlie Eppes, the mathematical genius who is recruited by his brother, an FBI agent, to help solve difficult crimes. It's nice to see mathematics used as a tool in real world and the mathematician in question as a real human and not some caricature. On the other hand, I am sad to see Sabrina Lloyd leave the show but Diane Farr is a good replacement. Special features on this 6-disc set are excellent with audio commentary tracks, outtakes, overview, and two interviews / behind-the-scenes featurettes. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

A Prairie Home Companion - Buy from Amazon
Based on the radio show of the same name, this show features an amazing cast, including the writer Garrison Keillor, and was directed by Robert Altman. The result was as good as one could expect and it nearly made it to $20 million at the box office despite never coming close to playing in 1000 or more theatres. The DVD is a little lighter on special features than I would have liked with an audio commentary track, featurette, and extended musical numbers. That's good if you consider it a limited release, but below par for a first-run release. Regardless, the DVD is certainly worth picking up.

Save the Last Dance 2 - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD sequel to Save the Last Dance. It's better than the direct-to-DVD label usually indicates, but even then it is only OK. Add in weak extras and the DVD is worth a rental at the very most.

Scrubs - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Still the funniest shows on TV, it looks like the series is coming to an end this year as Zach Braff is leaving the show to pursue his movie career. Although considering how poorly The Last Kiss did, this might be a mistake. Not only does the show continue to maintain the high quality it has been known for, the 3-disc set continues to impress. Extras include audio commentary tracks on two episodes, featurettes on J.D.'s quest for approval from Dr. Cox, featurette on the women of Sacred Hearts, featurette on the Janitor, outtakes, alternate lines, and more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Simon & Simon - Season One - Buy from Amazon
One of a dozen or more P.I. shows that dominated the airwaves during the 1980s. This one's hook was the two guys in question were brothers and one was a little bit city and the other was a little bit country. The show's not bad, but at 4-disc set is rather weak with no real special features just an 'bonus' episode from season 2 and that awful The Great 80's Flashback that keeps getting released over and over again.

Too Cool for School - The John Hughes Collection - Buy from Amazon
Three not-so-special editions, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful, in one box set. Since these are re-releases, there is zero reason to upgrade, but the price is right for those who were hesitant to buy them separately.

Twelve and Holding - Buy from Amazon
A coming-of-age story in which the death of a young boy affects his twin and their two friends. Excellent performances from the young actors are a major highlight for a film that deserved more exposure during its short limited release. The DVD should go along way in ensuring that even though the extras are only average for a limited release. However, while there is just an audio commentary track and an alternate ending, they quality more than makes up for it. Overall, it is easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Waist Deep - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD Combo
This film missed expectations, both at the box office but especially with critics. And with a DVD that is well below par for a first run release, there's little chance that the film's home market run will change that.

Wonder Showzen - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
Season 1 of this show was great, but something changed in the second season. Audience reaction to the show went from, "I can't believe they did that!" to, "I can't believe they are still doing that." It's a subtle difference in form, but a huge difference in the end result. To give an example, let's look at the pregnant pause. This is when you set up an expectation in the audience but don't deliver on it right away. It is used to build up anticipation, and if done right should get the audience thinking, "Hmm, maybe the won't" BLAM! and that when you hit them. Just when they start to think you won't. However, there's a very fine line between "Hmm, maybe the won't do it" and "I no longer care if they do it or not." And in this season they cross that line too often. On the other hand, fans of the first season will stil find enough laughs on the 2-disc set to be worth checking out and with a ton of extras (audio commentary tracks, a slew of outtakes, featurettes and more), it is worth picking up. Here's hoping season 3 returns to the humor of season 1 and it doesn't continue to go downhill.


Filed under: Video Releases, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Batman Begins, The Polar Express, Click, Bad Santa, The Corpse Bride, Syriana, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, Waist Deep, A Prairie Home Companion, Art School Confidential, The King, The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, Twelve and Holding, 16 Blocks