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DVD Releases for January 25, 2005

January 24th, 2005

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. Speaking of TV on DVD, this week is massive on that front with more than a dozen complete season sets coming out tomorrow. One of these, Married... With Children - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon is my DVD pick of the week, along with Mean Creek - Buy from Amazon

Alien vs. Predator - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Fans of the Alien and Predator franchises have been looking forward to this movie since an Alien head was seen in the Predator's trophy room in the second film. Since then there have been a handful of video games, several novels, countless comic books all whetting the appetites of loyal fans. But when it finally arrived the reaction was, "Meh." For all the potential there, the film was pretty generic and lacked any genuine scares or big thrills. The DVD release is a little strange as well with two versions of the movie and two audio commentaries. However, both commentaries are on the theatrical version with none for the extended version. In addition, there is a making of featurette, deleted scenes and plenty of information on the comic book series. Also being Re-released tomorrow are the first four films from the Aliens Franchise and both films from the Predator franchise.

Anthony Trollope Double Shot - Buy from Amazon: Buy from Amazon and He Knew He Was Right
Two British adaptations of Anthony Trollope novels. The first miniseries also has a documentary about Peterborough Cathedral while the latter has the hour long TV drama of Anthony Trollope's life.

Backbeat - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of several special editions being released this week, however, this one is not that special with very few extras.

Bad Company - 1995 - Buy from Amazon
Bad Company - 2002 - Buy from Amazon
Two movies both named Bad Company re-released on DVD on the same day. What are the odds of that?

Beastmaster - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A cheesy, but fun sword and sorcery movie gets the special edition treatment more than two decades after it was first released. For a film that achieved little more than cult status, this DVD release is impressive with audio commentary track, hour long documentary, outtakes and more.

Benny Hill Complete and Unadulterated - The Naughty Early Years, Set Two 1972-1974 - Buy from Amazon
10 more episodes presented in their original, uncut form, as opposed to the edited version that were shown on American TV. Fans who picked up the first set know what to expect in terms of special features with a documentary and a trivia game.

Cold Feet - Pilot and Complete First Series - Buy from Amazon
One of a handful of British TV series being released on DVD this week. This one deals with the lives of three couples, a chronic womanizer who has finally found the right one, a married couple trying for their first child and a mother dealing with her workaholic husband and child. Like the rest of the Britcoms on this week's list, this one is light on special features with just a short look at each couple as the only real special feature.

Comic Book Cartoons - Various Titles
A handful of cartoons based on comic books are being released on DVD tomorrow.

Coupling - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
I think it is safe to say that this show has Jumped the Shark, although it is still far superior to the American remake. In fact, it is still superior to most shows on TV, it's just not as good as it used to be. Like the previous releases, this one has enough special features that it is not a detriment, but not enough to make it stand out in a crowded week. Can also be purchased with the first three seasons as part of a package deal.

The Crying Game - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Possible the Patron Saint of Surprise Twist movies, the film earned amazing reviews and an impressive box office considering its peak theatre count was less than 1100. The special edition release is good, for a film more than a decade old, and on par with most first run releases.

Dog the Bounty Hunter - The Best of Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
When it comes to TV on DVD, I don't do, "Best of…" Give me full season sets or don’t bother.

Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
Season five of this long running series hits stores tomorrow. And like the previous releases, this one is virtually featureless with just an audio commentary track on a single episode.

The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
With the movie currently in production, there's no better time to release the second season on DVD. (On a side note, expect the third season to come out when the movie does and the fourth when the movie hits DVD.) Even fans of the show will admit it was pretty cheesy with simple plots and stereotypical characters. The four disc set has all 23 episode from the first full season plus extras focusing on the General Lee and Dukesfest, the Dukes of Hazzard festival. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

Father Ted - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
A this Spin-off of Little House on the Prairie, this show had the same sentimentality at its predecessor. Which means you'll either find it uplifting and life-affirming or schmaltzy and overly emotional.

First Daughter - Buy from Amazon
One of two movies released last year involving the daughter of the president, and this one was even worse that the first one was. The special feature are not bad, but not enough to lift this film to even the rental level.

Head in the Clouds - Buy from Amazon
After winning an Oscar for her performance in Monster, Charlize Theron followed up with this film, which was quite frankly a mess. Glitzy and glamorous, but predictable and without and engaging characters. Stick with Monster, which is getting a Special Edition release tomorrow.

Hockey's Greatest Era 1942-1967 - Buy from Amazon
For those of us waiting for the NHL labour dispute to end, I feel your pain.

Homicide: Life on the Street - The Complete Season 6 - Buy from Amazon
While this series lasted seven seasons, it never got the ratings it deserved. Probably because of the multi-show, sometimes even mutli-season story arcs meant you had to be a long time viewer to fully understand what was going on. Shows like this can easily survive now based on strong DVD sales they generate. Arguably the best season, although some of the new cast members were not as strong as they should have been. Special features focus on one episode, Subway, with a making of documentary and audio commentary on the same episode.

The Jamie Kennedy Experiment - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Quite frankly, I'm surprised this show lasted 3 seasons. Hidden camera shows have been around a long, long time, but this show is different because so much of the show focuses on Jamie Kennedy so much. In fact, that's what helped kill the show since it became more and more difficult to find unsuspecting victims. Like the previous releases, this one is light on special features with just a handful of previous seen pranks with all new marks. Can also be purchased with the first two seasons as part of a package deal.

Lewis Black - Black on Broadway - Buy from Amazon
Best known for is Back in Black segments on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Lewis Black is a talented stand-up comic as his HBO debut shows with him ranting on different subject from homeland security to Soy Milk, (or as he calls it, Soy Juice.) Unfortunately, the DVD release is devoid of special features and the price tag is a little high for an hour long special.

MacGuyver - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
MacGuyver, the Secret Agent who could make a bomb with just chewing gum and a paperclip. The show, which ran for seven seasons, was a good mix of action and intellect and just enough real science to ground the more farcical contraptions MacGuyver jury-rigs. Fans of this show have been waiting a long time for it to be released on DVD, but like so many Paramount TV releases, this one is devoid of special features.

Married… With Children - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This was the season that Married… With Children went from being a controversial show to a major hit, mostly thanks to the controversy and the campaign by Terry Rakolta to have it cancelled. This season was amazing with some of the best episodes ever including the season opener, "A Period Piece," which deals with the consequences when all of the women have PMS while camping. (Note: No one ever claimed this was a high-class show.) The special features include 10 Easter Eggs, each containing a short, unaired clip from the reunion show; at first these Easter Eggs were fun, but now they just bug me. I'd much rather have all the clips available in a single menu. One word of warning, the opening and closing themes songs were replaced because the people who held the rights to the original theme song were demanding far too much money. I for one applaud the studio for not paying outrageous amounts of money and telling the consumer right on the DVD box that they are changed the music.

Mean Creek - Buy from Amazon
An amazing film from first time director, Jacob Aaron Estes. Made for under $500,000, the film tells the story of bully, revenge and moral consequences in a way that makes it a must see for kids everywhere. It is, on the other hand, rated R so parents should watch the film with their kids. Special features are on par with other limited releases with an audio commentary track and storyboards.

Men Behaving Badly - Buy from Amazon: Season 1 and Season 2
Like the Coupling DVD set mentioned above, this is the hilarious British original and the pale American imitation. Each season contains all six episodes on a single disc, and unfortunately, precious little else. But even with just outtakes in the special features department, fans of the series should be glad they are finally coming out on region 1 DVD. Both sets are strong, but the cast change in season two hurt the show as the chemistry was never the same. Can also be purchased together as a package deal.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster - Buy from Amazon
One of several Rockumentaries released this year. This one had the most popular success, but even that was limited; the film started off well enough but couldn't maintain its momentum as it expanded. Fans of the band might be interested in this engaging, behind the scenes look at a band that should probably break up for the mental health of their members. Special features are strong for a limited release with two commentary tracks, dozens of deleted scenes, additional interviews, festival screenings and more.

October Sky - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Based on a true story, this film tells the inspirational story of several friends trying to escape their futures as coal-miners through rocketry and the teacher that inspired them. Great movie, but for a Special Edition the extras are rather ordinary with an audio commentary track and a couple of featurettes.

One Tree Hill - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
If there's one thing the Warner Bros. network does well its teenage dramas. Unfortunately they do so many of them they start to blend together and it gets harder to keep track of them. One Tree Hill tells the story of two half-brothers who grew up on opposite sides of the tracks and while very formulaic at times it has built up a loyal following. The DVD release is better than average for a Warner Bros. TV release with audio commentaries on three episodes, making of featurette, behind the scenes featurette and deleted scenes with commentary.

Pauly Shore is Dead - Buy from Amazon
With a title like that, there's a lot of jokes you could make at Pauly Shore's expense. However, this is possibly his best movie with some genuinely funny moments. On the other hand, is it also filled with Gratuitous Cameos and that is more distracting than anything else. Special features are very strong for a limited release with audio commentary, interviews, making of featurette, deleted scenes and more.

Pink Floyd: The Wall - 25th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
Being released for the 25th anniversary of the CD and not the movie. Special features are a little weak for a Special Edition, even one that's 23 years old and the only real reason to pick up this edition over the previous release is the new packaging.

Renegade - Season One - Buy from Amazon
There are many ways to describe a great show. "Unintentionally funny" is not one of them. Unfortunately, this show took itself too seriously for its caliber and a little more tongue-in-cheek humor would have really helped. However, it must have some fans since it lasted 5 seasons and more than 100 episodes. The first season is being released on a 6 DVD set with no known special features.

Saturday Night Live - The Best of Jimmy Fallon - Buy from Amazon
Jimmy Fallon recently left Saturday Night Live, but considering how poorly the first movie in which he had a starring role was received, this was probably a mistake.

Saved by the Bell - The New Class - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Saved by the Bell was one of those shows that lasted way longer than it should have. And this Spin-off was completely unnecessary.

Seducing Doctor Lewis - Buy from Amazon
A slight but charming film from Canada. The isolated town of St.-Marie-La-Mauderne needs a new factory, but in order to get the factory they need a new doctor. In order to get the new doctor, they pretend to love everything he does. Cricket, beef stroganoff, whatever it takes. Like many limited releases, the DVD is devoid of any real special features.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Imaginative would be the best way to describe this movie, perhaps too imaginative. Despite earning strong reviews the film failed to live up to its potential, (although a lot of that has to do with its move from a Mid-Summer to September release date.) The film will probably do better at the home market, but considering the film was such a visual feast the DVD release won't do it justice. Special features are on par with other first run releases with two audio commentary tracks, couple of featurettes, deleted scenes and outtakes.

Soap - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The third season of this groundbreaking, and very funny, series comes out on DVD tomorrow. I just wish there were more special features as they've only had one featurette for three seasons of releases.

Something the Lord Made - Buy from Amazon
This made for TV movie earned 9 Emmy nominations winning 3 of them. Excellent performances by Alan Rickman and Mos Def highlight this look at medical pioneers Dr. Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas who developed a technique to save, 'Blue Babies.' But the real story is about these two men working together despite racial politics and other barriers. Unfortunately the DVD release is light on special features with just the audio commentary track, documentary featurette and image gallery.

The Story of the Weeping Camel - Buy from Amazon
One of many, many documentaries released during the past year, but one of the few that weren't political. A simple but moving film about a Mongolian family who try and reunite a rejected camel calf with its mother by using a traditional folk music remedy. Special features are light, but on par with other limited releases with a making of featurette, image gallery and educational materials.

The Warner Bros. Pictures Gangsters Collection - Buy from Amazon
Six Gangster flicks, mostly from the 30s, released as part of this box set. Combining gritty realism and social commentary, these DVDs have a surprising amount of special features for films that average nearly 70 years old. Each has a commentary track, usually by a film historian; documentary featurette, newsreel and trailers from the period, comedy short and cartoon and more. An excellent collection, which can also be bought separately, however, I'd stick with the full collection.
When Will I be Loved - Buy from Amazon
One of several limited releases on this week's list that flopped both at the box office and with the critics. Neve Campbell's performance is one of the few highlights of the film, but it's not enough to save the project. Special features include audio commentary and the Scene Sexplorations featurette, which should get the film rented a few more times than it otherwise would.

The Wire - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The second season of this gripping cop drama comes out on DVD and while the second season is even better than the first season, there are some problems. First of all, it's one of those shows that works really well on DVD, but the DVD release is expensive and lacks strong special features. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

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Filed under: Video Releases, AVP: Alien Vs. Predator, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, First Daughter, The Story of the Weeping Camel, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Mean Creek, Seducing Doctor Lewis, Head in the Clouds, When Will I Be Loved