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DVD Releases for October 24, 2006

October 23rd, 2006

It's a disastrous week for DVD releases with more than half a dozen of them that I rated as must have. I just don't know how I'm going to afford to buy them all, but I will. As for the DVD Pick of the Week, I was able to narrow that list down to three, but I wasn't able to decide on just one. They are, in no particular order: Slither - Buy from Amazon, Greg the Bunny- The Best of the Film Parodies - Buy from Amazon, and Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon. And in the better late than never category, we have Her Best Move, which can be purchased directly from the official website. (If I've missed any other releases, don't hesitate to e-mail me and I'll try to correct that oversight as soon as possible.)

The Addams Family - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
I hate double-sided discs and I'm not alone on this opinion. Too often in too many players they just don't work properly. Studios should have realized that by now and stopped using them. Collectors are willing to pay the extra $5 for single sided discs. That said, this is a reasonable set at a good price, but fans should wait and see how many people are having problems with these discs before risking it.

An American Haunting - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Version or Unrated Edition
Terrible movie that had to pretend it was based on real life events to con people to go to the theatres. This particular movie bugs me even more than most that use the same line of false advertising because it actually gives you enough information to figure out what really happened. Spoilers ahoy! Betsy Bell was being sexually abused by her father, which understandably caused emotional distress, including night terrors. Her mom found out about it, and poisoned the fathered. Simple as that. No need to evoke any supernatural garbage. As for the DVD, the Unrated label is more marketing than substance and the special features are merely average. Call it a rental at the absolute most.

Astaire & Rogers Collection - The Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made many, many movies together. This 11-disc set contains all of them. Special features on the movie range from typical for the era (short films, usually a musical and a cartoon), others have audio commentaries, featurettes, and more. There's even a bonus DVD with a full-length documentary on the duo. Easily worth picking up for fans of musicals, especially the extravaganzas from the era, of which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the masters. If you already have the first volume, you can grab just Volume 2 instead.

Batman Beyond - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
Warner Bros. is one of the few studios that realizes adults are the ones who buy cartoons and not kids and they gear the special features in that direction. This set, and Justice League Unlimited, are both worth picking up for collectors as they not only contain great episodes, but better than average special features (two audio commentary tracks and a discussion panel).

Beavis and Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection - Box Set - Buy from Amazon
Re-release of the TV series plus the movie. Not worth the upgrade, but the price is right if you were hesitant to buy the DVD separately.

Bewitched - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The show ran eight seasons, and this is one of them. I admit, I know very little about this show other than there was a change in actors playing Darrin Stephens after the fifth season and that became one of the most famous Jump the Shark moments in TV history. As for the 4-disc set, it contains all 33 episodes, but no special features.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: The Italian Job and Sahara
Just the two Blu-Ray releases this week (not counting the concurrent DVD releases). This week there's no contest as The Italian Job is far superior to the dreck that was Sahara. Even so, neither is worth the upgrade.

Creature Comforts - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
From the folks at Aardman Animations, who brought us Wallace & Gromit. This claymation TV show is basically a series of interviews with a bunch of animals on various topics that really matter to the man on the street... who happens to be a dog. Or a monkey. Excellent show with much more in the way of extras than most imports. My only concern in giving it a glorious recommendation is it might be a little too British for some people. Also coming out tomorrow is Merry Christmas Everybody, which is included in the Season 2 set so there's no reason to get both.

Degrassi The Next Generation - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
The best show for teens continues its impressive run on DVD. This is the season where Kevin Smith makes his first appearance (as himself making Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian), and while that will be the highlight of the season for his fans, there are also several other strong story arcs during the 22 episodes. Special features are just as strong as previous seasons with audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes, auditions and more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week, regardless of which side of the border you are on.

The Facts of Life - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The show ran for nine seasons, however they had major changes after season 1 and season 2 that can best be described as transitional, while many feel that the show peaked during season 3. However, with zero special features and the fact that it is still in syndication lowers the value of the show considerably.

Flavor Of Love - The Complete Second Season - Unrated - Buy from Amazon
Shows like this make me think that as a species, humans no longer deserve to continue.

Freak Out - Buy from Amazon
Two film geeks find a mentally disturbed man and groom him to be a teenage slasher. If you ask why, this is not the movie for you. It's an ultra-low budget horror comedy coming out on a 2-disc set that is absolutely stacked. Two audio commentary tracks, making of featurettes, music video, short film, Easter eggs, and more. Easily worth picking up for fans of the genre, at least those who are not easily offended.

Greg the Bunny- The Best of the Film Parodies - Buy from Amazon
Greg the Bunny started out as a series of short films on the IFC channel, then became a TV series on Fox, and then switched back to IFC for a series of film parodies. These movie parodies are not fit for network TV, to be blunt -- just because there are puppets doesn't make it safe for children. However, they are absolutely hilarious for adults, especially the film geeks out there. In addition, there's a ton of special feature on this 2-disc set including audio commentary on all 14 shorts, two bonus shorts (with audio commentary), deleted scenes (with audio commentary), outtakes, and more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Hannah Montana - Volume 1 - Livin' the Rock Star Life - Buy from Amazon
Disney has got to stop putting out these best of DVDs. It kills any chance of full season sets later on. As for the show, it stars Miley Cyrus and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, yes, that Billy Ray Cyrus. The show isn't as good as others made for the Disney channel but should entertain its target audience while the special features are average.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: 12 Monkeys, The Interpreter, Out of Sight, Spartacus, and The Thing
HD-DVD appears to be winning the format war, not because it's the better format, it's not, but because they are putting out far more films on the format. I also like how they are putting out more older movies with The Interpreter being the only recent release featured this week (not counting the concurrent release for Slither).

Her Best Move - Buy Direct
First of all, this movie was released last week, but I missed it. Sorry about that. (On a side note, if I've missed a DVD release, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail and I will try to correct that error.) Back to the movie, Her Best Move is a direct-to-DVD coming-of-age film that deals with a 15-year girl, Sara (played by relative newcomer Leah Pipes), who is trying to juggle her social life with her drive to make the U.S. national soccer team. There are quite a few recognizable faces in the film including Daryl Sabara from Spy Kids, Scott Patterson from Gilmore Girls, and Lalaine from Lizzie McGuire. It's a low budget, Indie film. In fact, it goes beyond Independent and is being self-distributed. I was worried the film would be a bundle of cliches, but while there was a sense of familiarity with the plot, it was better than the trailer indicated and is worth checking out.

Jailbait - Buy from Amazon
The movie is about a petty criminal who lands in a maximum-security prison for life under the three-strikes you're out laws. There's a good story to be told about the issues with this law, but this movie fails at that task.

Justice League Unlimited - Season One - Buy from Amazon
Yet another D.C. Comic cartoon coming out on DVD. These shows have maintained an impressively high level of quality and the extras are better than most such releases. Easily worth picking up for fans of the show.

Krypto the Superdog - Volume 2 - Super Pets Unleashed - Buy from Amazon
And then there's this show, which is proof that not every cartoon D.C. puts out is gold. This show is purely for kids and even completists will want to think twice before picking it up.

Looking for Kitty - Buy from Amazon
It's time for Edward Burns to take a break from making movies and try and figure out what made The Brothers McMullen such a hit. And when he figures it out, maybe he can explain it to me because I always thought that movie was overrated.

The L-Word - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
It's not very common for a show to deal with gay issues, and it's even less common for lesbians to be the focus of a show. (I think that female sexuality is comparatively more taboo than male sexuality, regardless of orientation.) Because the show deals with a subject that is all but ignored, it was able to generate a lot of publicity quite easily. However, it wouldn't have become a major hit if the quality wasn't there to back it up. Add in a strong set of extras and this DVD is worth picking up. It would be a contender for DVD Pick of the Week, but it's price is just a wee bit too high.

MacGyver - The Complete Final Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a good show, but the DVD releases have been terrible. The audio / video quality has been below what you get in syndication at time and the total lack of special features has driven the value down even further. Also coming out tomorrow is the Complete Series, but even at the discounted price it is not really worth it.

Mini's First Time - Buy from Amazon
A Neo Noir with a hint of black comedy. Black comedies are notoriously hard to market, but the film could have used a bit more humor to take the edge of the nastiness of the characters. As for the DVD, it's light on special features with just an audio commentary track. It's still worth checking out, but a rental will do for most people.

Monster House - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
A true horror film, but for kids. One of the better reviewed wide releases of the year, it nonetheless struggled at the box office, earning less than $75 million domestically. That's not a bad total, but well below historical averages for digital animation. The DVD should be a better seller as most kids films are, but I'm disappointed in the special features. Sure, there's the audio commentary track and a making of featurette (broken down into seven parts), but that's about it. Average for a wide release, but I was expecting more.

Nacho Libre - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
The latest Jack Black vehicle had a lot going for it, including its writer and its director. However, the end result was uneven and a disappointment. However, it still made a bundle at the box office, enough to warrant a special edition DVD. Special features are strong for a first run release with an audio commentary track, behind the scenes featurette, featurettes on the wrestling featured in the film, interviews, deleted scenes, outtakes, it even has Jack Black singing. But it can't compensate for the film itself and the overall value is just a rental.

Nightmares & Dreamscapes - From the Stories of Stephen King - Buy from Amazon
An anthology series based on the works of Stephen King. The series is better than most of his movies, but it's still hit and miss. Of the 8 stories, the average Stephen King fan will probably like five or six of them. Not everyone will like the same five or six; that depends too much on personal tastes. The special features are okay, but not great (some deleted scenes, behind the scenes, etc. but no audio commentaries), and the price is a little much for TV on DVD. Still the more hardcore Stephen King fan will still want to pick it up, but for the more casual collector a rental will suffice.

The O.C. - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
I hate the show, but even fans of the show will admit season three was the weakest so far. Add in special features that are only mediocre and you have a 7-disc set that's not worth picking up.

Pizza - Buy from Amazon
Not enough of this movie works for the DVD to be worth anything more than a rental (and even that might be too generous). However, Kylie Sparks does show serious potential in her debut performance.

Reservoir Dogs - 15th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
Great movie. Personally, I think it's Quentin Tarantino's best work. This DVD edition is also good, but the only problem is that there's been too many previous releases. There's not enough new here to be worth the upgrade from the 10th Anniversary Edition (and most of what is new relates to the video game), but if you don't already have the DVD in your collection, now is the perfect time to add it.

The Road to Guantanamo - Buy from Amazon
A powerful and important film. The film deals with the Tripton Trio; three men who traveled to Afghanistan for attend a wedding but were captured as enemy combatants and sent to Guantanamo Bay and were held for more than two years while undergoing inhumane treatment, including torture, to force them to sign confessions. There are some who will have problems with the dramatizations in the film, thinking it hurts the film's credibility to reenact certain events; however, it's not like they could have gotten real footage of these torture sessions. Also, there are no special features on the DVD. Even so, it is worth checking out, but it is too difficult to watch to have a serious replay value so a rental will suffice.

Saturday Night Live - The Best of Saturday TV Funhouse - Buy from Amazon
One of the few recurring bits on Saturday Night Live that has been consistently funny. Highlights from this 70-minute DVD include several episodes of the Ambiguously Gay Duo and Fun with Real Audio. While the show has really struggled these past few season... closer to a decade really, this DVD shows that there's still something worth checking out, especially when they are willing to take chances on edgier material. In addition, there's an audio commentary track that adds enough replay value that it is worth picking up despite my dislike for Best Of TV on DVD releases.

Saw II - Buy from Amazon
What's the most import step in releasing the latest installment in a franchise? Re-releasing the previous one on a special edition DVD of course. This version of the movie runs about 2 minutes longer and the DVD has plenty of extras. However, the previous release came out about nine months ago and that's too short of a time frame. I can't recommend buying this DVD because I don't think people should reward studios for doing crap like this.

SCTV - Best of the Early Years - Buy from Amazon
This is the original, Canadian, incarnation of the show which ran for 70+ episodes north of the border. On the one hand, this is a great show and the 3-disc set is packed with extras. On the other hand, I hate Best of releases for TV on DVD. Personally, I'm willing to wait for full season sets.

Slings & Arrows - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
This is a Canadian show about the behind-the-scenes workings of a Shakespearean theatre troupe. One of the best shows on TV, yet 99% of the people reading this have probably never heard of it. The second season, like the first, was only six episodes long, so the price is a little high on a per minute basis compared to most TV on DVD and the 2-disc set only has and average amount of special features to compensate. However, the overall quality of the show more than makes up for this and it is easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Slither - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD / DVD Combo
One of the best wide releases of the year, the movie nonetheless struggled at the box office. In fact, the film struggled so much that there was real concern that the studio would decide to cut its loses and dump the movie on the home market on a (nearly) featureless DVD. Fortunately that was not the case. Extras include an audio commentary track, behind the scenes featurette, making of featurettes that focus heavily on the effects, deleted scenes, outtake, interviews and more. There's almost as much bonus material as there is movie. Simply awesome given the film's pathetic showing at the box office. Easily worth picking up for fans of horror comedies and a contender for DVD Pick of the week. The only minor concern is the prospect of an Unrated DVD coming out sooner rather than later. But odds are that won't happen unless this DVD is a big, big seller.

The Snowman - Buy from Amazon
No Christmas before Halloween.

That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection - Buy from Amazon
From the people who brought us South Park. The series earned good reviews and reasonable ratings, but it was just too expensive to last. This 2-disc set contains all 8 episodes with each one having two audio commentary tracks, sort of. There are full-length tracks featuring the cast and mini-commentary tracks featuring Stone and Parker. Those who have been buying the South Park DVDs know what those are like. Given the show's short run, this is a very impressive amount of extras and even with a price that a touch high for a TV on DVD release, it is still worth picking up.

Voyage to the Bottom of Sea Season 2 - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
Arguably Irwin Allen's best Sci-Fi show and the one that ran the longest, but the camp value of Lost In Space makes it the most memorable. The light amount of special features hurts the value of the 3-disc set, but those wanting a nostalgia hit should be interested in picking it up.

Wendy Wu - Homecoming Warrior - Buy from Amazon
Another Disney channel TV movie aimed at the Tween market. The movie is only average compared to other such films and so is the DVD. But while there's nearly no crossover appeal, the film should still entertain its target audience.

Wings - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a show that lasted longer than most people thought it would. It's still popular today, and the featureless 4-disc set is selling very well. But that's something I can't really explain.


Filed under: Video Releases, The Italian Job, Saw II, Nacho Libre, Monster House, The Interpreter, Sahara, Slither, The Road to Guantanamo, Mini's First Time, Jailbait, Looking for Kitty, Pizza, An American Haunting