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January 25, 2005

"God writes the script, sweetie. I just say the lines."

It's that time again...the Oscar nominations are out; check them out here. I'm so far behind on new films that I've only seen one of the Best Picture nominees: The Aviator (highly recommended, BTW). Pretty weak, ain't it?

Tezuka Osamu's Astro Boy: The Complete Series is coming on 3/29 (SLP $49.95). The 5-disc set will include all 50 episodes of the series, 25 of which were never aired here in the States.

Disney has announced National Treasure (ooh, sign me up for THAT!) will street on 5/3 (SRP $29.99). They've also got NBC's Scrubs: The Complete First Season due on 5/17 (SRP $49.99) - look for the set to include 24 episodes, never-before-seen "dream sequences," a retrospective documentary and more on 4 discs. Other titles newly announced by Buena Vista include Felicity: Season Four and The I Inside (for 3/8), The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, The Barefoot Executive, Lt. Robin Crusoe U.S.N., and Million Dollar Duck (for 4/5), plus That Darn Cat! (for 5/3).

Showtime has announced Queer as Folk: The Complete Fourth Season for release on 4/5 (SRP $109.98).

Warner will release The Waltons: The Complete Second Season on 4/26 (SRP $39.98), Ed, Edd 'n Eddy: Season 1, Vol. 1 on 5/10 (SRP $14.97), and the BBC's Benny Hill: The Lost Years on 5/3 (SRP $19.98).

January 24, 2005

"Disguised as what? Mother Theresa and a leper?"

The weekly "crap that's being released" post is a bit late, but I'm sure you'll all survive...

This time I'm going to try just listing the titles on DVD coming out that I'm in the mood to comment on...the complete list can be found here (this link also has prices for many discounters).

Alien Vs. Predator OK, did the world need another bad film based on a video game based on a couple of action movie franchises? Didn't think so...just mentioning it for the benefit of my buddy Dave C.

Dr. Quinn: Season 5...uh, OK...Has anyone ever heard of a human that liked this show? Enough to watch it, let alone BUY it for 5+ seasons?! No really, I really want to hear of someone who is into this show; the whole idea seems just too wacky for words.

The Dukes of Hazzard: Season 2 I know there's a new film version (sick/wrong), but it amazes me that people buy this show on disc.

Saved by the Bell: The New Class Season 1 See my comments about Dr. Quinn...but did you know they made 143 episodes of this show? And that there's a character called, "Meat"?

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow I missed this in the theater, but it seems worth a rent just to look at all the cool CG artwork. If you buy it, be sure to get it in widescreen! OK, I promise not to mention it again today...

Soap: The Complete Third Season Now this is a show that's at least worth watching.

The Warner Gangsters Collection Now this, for me at least is the best thing in the batch. It includes a number of classics that have never been on DVD before including, Public Enemy, White Heat, Angels With Dirty Faces, Little Caesar, Petrified Forest, and The Roaring Twenties.

So much for the new releases...

Amazon is listing News Radio: The Complete First & Second Seasons for release on 5/24. It may be legit, but it isn't official yet. Let's hope the quality of the bonus material was worth the year delay on getting this show to DVD. I can't imagine it was much of a challenge to get the video onto DVD.

And to quote the old Tonight Show title cards when they went to commercial,

"More To Come"....

I seem to remember that, but if not...

January 20, 2005

"Feh! I used to design for GODS!"

Hello kiddies,

After some timely feedback from a certain reader, I figured it's about time to re-evaluate what I do around here (in Blogland, that is). You see, I've been thinking for some time now that plain old DVD news is getting, well plain, if you catch my drift. Now that most of the big titles are out or coming out on DVD, there's not as much suspense (if you want to call it that) about upcoming stuff. Sure, there's still a lot of classic film that didn't even see the light of day on VHS, but much of the core material is out there.

So what now? Is it possible for a blog to have a mid-life crisis? Maybe this blog isn't in mid-life, but I couldn't come up with anything better to call it. Obviously a big area of interest for me regaring the film/video realm is the coming of a HD DVD format, whichever wins. However, this isn't going to be as big as DVD was to the public at-large. Many are quite happy with the quality of DVD; the quality difference between most HD and DVD isn't as apparent as the difference between VHS and DVD. Maybe as more people get HDTVs into their homes they'll want something better, but I think regular DVD and HDDVD will probably co-exist for some time to come (any HD disc machine will still play "vanilla" DVDs). After all, I can't imagine that some 1980s sitcom would benefit much from being on HD, aside from being able to squeeze more episodes on one disc.

So if you have some earth-shattering idea about what you'd like to hear me prognosticate about, by all means drop a comment or two. For now, I'll continue to do the usual dreck, but maybe I'll make some changes as I go.

In the meantime...

Disney has put out some details for the upcoming The Incredibles DVD (3/15), a movie I really liked and will not hesitate to buy. I don't know about y'all, but I think this is one of the best Pixar films yet. Here's what will be on the 2 disc set:

Audio commentary with director Brad Bird and producer John Walker, a second commentary with key animators, the all-new Jack-Jack Attack animated short, the Boundin' animated short, the Who is Bud Luckey? featurette, The Making of The Incredibles documentary, More Making of The Incredibles featurettes, the all-new Mr. Incredible and Pals "lost" cartoon (featuring audio commentary with Mr. Incredible and Frozone), character interviews, Vowellet: An Essay by Sarah Vowell, bloopers and outtakes, deleted scenes and an alternate opening, "top secret files" on all the superhero characters and a gallery of theatrical trailers and TV spots for the film.

I and others have groused a bit about the pricing for the Farscape sets. Well, lo and behold, they've begun to reissue them. The new "Starburst" (what, like the candy?!) edition DVDs. Each set will contain 2 DVDs and a whole season will be contained within 3 of these sets, which retail for around $20 each which puts a season in the $50-60 range. The first two seasons are apparently out now and the third coming on 3/15. As a comparison, the first release of this show ran as much as $300 per season. Maybe I'll have to give this one a try someday.

January 18, 2005

"Then perhaps with the finger, you have bought wisdom."

A pretty slow week in DVD country....unless you're into Kung Fu or Farscape.

* Angel of Death
* The Ballad of the Sad Cafe - The Merchant Ivory Collection
* Carrie
* Catwoman
* Cellular
* Cookout
* Criterion Coll: Casque D'Or
* Criterion Coll: Touchez Pas Au Grisbi
* Curb Your Enthusiasm: Complete 3rd Seaon
* Deceivers
* Farscape 2: Starburst Edition 2
* Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars
* Forgotten
* Friday Night Lights
* Kung Fu: Complete Second Season
* Live in Hawaii
* The Matchmaker
* Maya
* New Kind of Love
* Passionate Gay Classics
* The Perfect Murder - The Merchant Ivory Collection
* The Return of Jafar/Aladdin and the King of Thieves
* Siberia
* Who's Your Daddy

So the HD disc format war is brewing and some industry types are already calling one or the other the eventual winner, but it may come down to what format the porn industry chooses. Apparently, they are mulling over which one to back. Don't care? Well, the companies that are pushing the two HD formats certainly do as porn outsells everything else on DVD....still.

Finally, actress Ruth Warrick died over the weekend; she was 89. Many knew her from her years on the soap All My Children which she acted on since 1970. However, her name was familiar to me from her performance in Citizen Kane (playing Kane's first wife). I didn't know she was still around, let alone her fame in the soap world. As far as I know, this leaves Robert Wise (editor) as the only person left who worked on Kane.

January 11, 2005

"This is just like television, only you can see much further."

This morning I find myself hanging out at the Lexus dealer waiting for my car to be finished. Ah, the wonders of technology where I can sit here blogging while I wait for my surely over-priced car repair (air flow sensor anyone?)!

No new DVD news of note today (though DVD Savant has a good review of the new Random Harvest DVD, found here) so I thought I'd veer off into a couple of tangents, somewhat related to TV.

PVRblog has a link about hooking a certain HDTV cable box to a Mac (via Firewire) to do recording, DVD burning, or whatever, whithout any hacking of hardware or software. This is quite cool for those of us who choose not to do the Windows thing at home as most of the action in the PC/TV area has been centered around the Wintel platform. Yes, I am a Tivo fan, but they don't really have a product to do HD outside of their box for Directv. This solution allows you to actually save HD content via cable to your Mac where you can exercise your fair use rights till the cows come home. Tivo does offer Tivo ToGo, which allows you to transfer shows off the Tivo (over a home network) to a PC where it can be archived to DVD. The problems with this are:

A) It's Windows only; this is probably due to the fact that they use Microsoft DRM to allow the media companies to restrict how you use the content.

B) It can't do HD; the Directv box doesn't work with TivoToGo.

C) You have to buy a commercial DVD burning package to burn discs (it has to do with the DRM again).

Yes, using Tivo is a lot nicer than a computer hooked to a cable box, but it does have advantages as long as the cable companies don't cripple the technology down the line. The actual article can be found here.

I am now going to break one of my own rules and mention politics here, so feel free to tune out now...

As you probably all know, I'm a bit of a leftie (no!) and after the disaster of 2004 (aka the election), I have steered a wide course around TV news, finding it inadequate and biased too much in favor of the Administration. I still keep up with the news, but choose to get if from alternative sources such as public radio, the internet, and leftie talk radio (sorry, I need my bitter, angry leftie talk these days!). Since Shades and I have satellite TV, we have a lot of other things to waste our time....one of the things we've been watching, perhaps taking the place (at least for me) of bad TV political coverage has been stuff on Food Network. Sure, I've been watching staples such as Iron Chef (the original, thank you very much) for a while now, but some of the other stuff has been amusing to watch. Our current favorite is a show called Good Eats. It's a show that centers on a particular dish or ingredient where the host goes into the background...oops, car's ready...back in a few....OK, back at it after forking over a large chunk of change, ouch! So he goes into the background of the food and ways to prepare it, often with really dorky skits, examples, and a good dose of somewhat scientific mini-lessons about why certain food ingredients behave like they do. What I like about the show (it grows on you) is that it aspires to culinary heights without being pretentious. Also, much of the stuff that's prepared could realistically be made by people like me and his advice about kitchen tools/appliances is about as realistic as possible on a cooking show. Even if you're not a cooking fiend, I suggest giving it a try. Another show we like well is America's Test Kitchen. This PBS show is also pretty practical, though not as entertaining as Good Eats, it has great advice and recipes (it goes along with a print magazine). So yes, there's always something to watch if you want to take your mind off current events....oh yes, another very fun time-wasting show we caught over the weekend was VH1's 40 Most Awesomely Bad #1 Songs; the songs are bad and the videos even worse. OK, enough random stuff...next I'm going to try and get my Netflix queue to display like this guy did.

January 10, 2005

"Do those headhunters really collect heads, Professor?"

Here's what went down, box office-wise...

Meet the Fockers $41.7
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events $14.6
The Aviator $11.4
Fat Albert $10.2
Ocean's Twelve $9.4
National Treasure $6.8
Spanglish $6.2
The Polar Express $5.6
Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera $4.8
Darkness $4.6

And more DVDs coming this week:

* 6ixtynin9
* ABC News Presents 25 on 20/20
* After School Specials 1978-1979
* After School Specials 1979-1980
* Alice Through the Looking Glass
* Aquariums
* Brotherhood of Death & One Down Two to Go
* The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan
* Charles Bronson DVD Action Pack
* Confessions of an American Girl
* Fifth Element: SE
* Fighting Elegy - Criterion Collection
* Fudoh: New Generation
* Ghost in the Shell Sonic Edition
* Gilligan's Island: Complete Second Season
* Great White Hope
* Hbo One Night Stand:Vol 1
* Hee Haw Collection
* Hercules: Legendary Journey - Season 5
* Hunter: Season 1
* I Monster
* Ice Station Zebra
* Ivanhoe
* Jimmy Scott - If You Only Knew
* King
* King Solomon's Mines
* The Land Before Time XI - The Invasion of the Tinysauruses
* Leon: The Professional
* Letter
* MI-5, Volume 2
* Monk: Season Two
* Mtv: Til Death Do Us Part - Carmen & Dave
* New Year's Concert 1989
* New Year's Concert 1992
* Oscar and Lucinda
* Overhaulin: Complete First Season
* Paparazzi
* Silver City
* That Man Bolt
* This Girl's Life
* Trick Baby
* Ultimate Poker Babes: Episode One
* Unforgivable Blackness - The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
* Village, The
* What a Way to Go
* Wide Awake Special Edition
* Willie Dynamite
* Without a Paddle
* Youth of the Beast - Criterion Collection

The big news in DVDland right now is that the studios backing HD-DVD have announced some titles for this Fall...some good, some not so good, but a HD disc format is coming soon and the format war with Blu-Ray is on!


New Titles - The Manchurian Candidate, Spongebob Squarepants, Elizabethtown, Coach Carter, The Italian Job, School of Rock, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Catalog Titles - Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Ghost, Grease, Mission Impossible 2, Black Rain, Save the Last Dance, Sleepy Hollow, U2: Rattle and Hum, Vanilla Sky, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Star Trek: First Contact, We Were Soldiers


New Titles - The Bourne Supremacy, The Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing

Catalog Titles - Apollo 13, U-571, 12 Monkeys, Dune, The Thing, End of Days, Backdraft, Waterworld, The Bone Collector, Spy Game, Pitch Black, Conan the Barbarian, Dante's Peak

Warner Bros/HBO/New Line

New & Catalog Titles - Above the Law, Alexander, Angels in America (HBO), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (New Line), Batman Begins, Blade (New Line), Catwoman, Contact, Constantine, Charley and the Chocolate Factory, Dark City (New Line), The Dukes of Hazzard, Eraser, Executive Decision, Final Destination (New Line), Friday (New Line), From the Earth to the Moon (HBO), The Fugitive, Gothika, Hard to Kill, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, House of Wax (2005), The Last Samurai, The Mask (New Line), The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Maverick, Million Dollar Baby, The Music Man, Mystic River, Next of Kin, North by Northwest, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Passenger 57, The Perfect Storm, The Phantom of the Opera (2004), The Player (New Line), The Polar Express, Red Planet, Rush Hour (New Line), Se7en (New Line), Soldier, The Sopranos (HBO), Spawn (New Line), Swordfish, Troy, Under Siege, U.S. Marshals, Wild Wild West

Now let's see how long it takes Sony, Disney, and the rest in the Blu-Ray camp to announce titles.

January 4, 2005

"Hans Bwix? Oh no!"

January...when films that were too weak to be released in the holiday season get released in theaters (like this one) and the prestige films that were released right before the end of the year to qualify for Oscar noms (like this one) make their way into wider release. It's also a good time to see stuff that I didn't have time to catch before Christmas (like this one).

Here's a few DVDs on the way:

Paramount has a bunch of stuff like Team America: World Police on 4/5/05. This will be a single-disc edition of the theatrical version of the film. They also have The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie for DVD release on 3/1. Other titles due in March from the studio include The Brady Bunch: The Complete First Season, Max and Ruby: Springtime for Max & Ruby, and South Park: The Complete Fifth Season (all 3/1), Alfie (2004), Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition (keep soaking the Trek fans!), Hogan's Heroes: The Complete First Season, Strange Frequency 2 and Survivor: The Australian Outback - The Complete Season (all 3/15--who buys reality shows on DVD?!...wait, don't answer that), Dora the Explorer: Big Sister Dora (3/22) and Lady in a Cage (1964), Islands in the Stream (1977), Blue Chips, and Save the Tiger (1973).

Universal has announced Easy for 3/1, with The Ring Collector's Set following on 3/8. The studio also has a number of new "studio selections" (read: cheap, no frills relases) catalog titles set for 3/1, including D.C. Cab (yes, the one with Mr. T), Ghost Dad (a comment from IMDB, "This movie is as empty as the head of George W. Bush."), Paradise Alley, White Palace and Yanks.

Criterion has announced a number of new titles for release in March (street date TBA), including Jean Renoir's The River, Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword of Doom, Volker Schl÷ndorff's Young T÷rless, Michelangelo Antonioni's L' Eclisse, Franšois Truffaut's Jules and Jim and Andrzej Wajda's A Generation, Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds,

And Warner has announced The Band Wagon: Special Edition (1953, 2 discs), Bells are Ringing (1960), Brigadoon (1954 and hopefully with a new film transfer), Easter Parade: Special Edition (1948, 2 discs) and Finian's Rainbow, all for 3/15.

More Trek...rumor has it that Paramount will be releasing Star Trek: The Animated Series on 3/15 and there's more detail on what will be in the upcoing Star Trek: First Contact set: a pair of audio commentary tracks (one with director/actor Jonathan Frakes and a second with screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore), text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, 3 Star Trek Universe featurettes (Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute, The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane and First Contact: The Possibilities), 3 Borg Collective featurettes (Unimatrix One, The Queen and Design Matrix), 6 First Contact Production featurettes (The Story, The Missile Silo, The Deflector Dish, From "A" to "E", Making First Contact and The Art of First Contact), 3 Scene Deconstructions (Borg Queen Assembly, Escape Pod Launch and Borg Queen's Demise), storyboards, a photo gallery and the film's teaser and theatrical trailers.


January 3, 2005

"Sand is overrated. It's just tiny, little rocks."

So happy 2005 everyone...for the two of you who are reading that is!

I was out visiting the homeland last week so I fell a week behind on new DVDs. Oh well, I can tell how disappointed y'all are.

First, this past weekend's box office:

1. Meet the Fockers $42.8M
2. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events $14.7M
3. The Aviator $11.2M
4. Fat Albert $10.7M
5. Ocean's Twelve $9.24M
6. National Treasure $7M
7. Spanglish $6.3M
8. The Polar Express $5.73M
9. The Phantom of the Opera $4.82M
10. Darkness $4.54M

I'm glad to see The Aviator making some money. We saw it last week and it is well worth seeking out; probably a serious Oscar contender this year.

Here's what came out last week on DVD:

* Anchorman - The Legend of Ron Burgundy
* Battlestar Galactica - The Complete Epic Series
(re-packaging of the old set)
* Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries
(the Sci Fi Channel one)
* Benji - Off the Leash
* Best of the Burns and Allen Show
* Charley Varrick
* Code 46
* Darkman 3: Die Darkman Die
* Extreme Makeover Fitness: Weight Loss
* Flesh Eating Mothers
* Flintstones: Season Two
* Garden State
* Gargoyles
* Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
* How to Shoot Better Home Movies
* Iceman
* Izzy & Moe
* King of the Hill: Complete Season 3
* Kiss Before Dying
* Once Around
* Open Water
* Prince & The Surfer
* Raggedy Man
* Ray Harryhausen Legendary Monster Series
* Resident Evil:Apocalypse Se
* Rumpole of the Bailey: Set 1
* Rumpole of the Bailey: Set 2
* Sapphire & Steel: Complete Series
* Sex & The City - The Complete Series
* Sex and the City - Season Six, Part 2
* Skateboard Madness
* Ski School 2
* Tank
* Tour of Duty: Complete Second Season
* Twilight Samurai
* Twilight Zone: 80's Season 1
* Twilight Zone: Season 1
* Venus Rising
* Wicked Park
* Wimbledon

And the DVDs for this week:

* Complete Cadfael Collection
* Csi: Miami - Complete Second Season
* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Collector's Edition
* Forever Knight - The Trilogy, Part 2
* Gene Autry Collection: The Old West
* God the Devil & Bob
* Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle - Extreme Unrated
* Infinite Worlds of H G Wells
* Las Vegas: Season One
* Millenium: Season 2
* Poirot Set 11
* Ride the Wild Surf
* Riding Giants
* Troy
* Twelfth Night/Macbeth

I'll be back later with some more fun...