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May 31, 2006

"Sushi. That's what my ex-wife called me - cold fish."

I'm a couple of days late on this one, but it looks like Blade Runner will finally get a proper re-do on DVD; the currently available disc dates from 1997. Ridley Scott has a new Director's Cut in the pipeline (apparently the previous "director's cut" wasn't quite what he wanted) which will be called Blade Runner: Final Cut. This version will get a theatrical release next year with a DVD release that includes the original U.S. theatrical cut, expanded international theatrical cut, and the 1992 Director's Cut; four different versions. In the meantime, this September, a new transfer or the 1992 cut will hit DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD-DVD (the megaset next year should ship in multiple versions as well). More info can be found here.

May 30, 2006

"You have the touch of a love-starved cobra."

Damn, it's Tuesday already; those pesky holiday weekends!

So how about just getting to it with this week's DVDs:

ALF: Season Three Four seasons of this show...ouch.

The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 2 The Warner box sets roll on with five more Davis films. All are available seperately and three of them are new to DVD: Marked Woman (1937), Jezebel (1938), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Old Acquaintance (1943), and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). DVD Savant reviews the whole schmere here.

Date Movie I suppose this is the big "hit" new release this week.

The Doris Day Show Season 3

The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Sixth Season

Freedomland

Joey - The Complete First Season

John Wayne: An American Icon Collection Five new to DVD Wayne films: Seven Sinners (1940), The Shepherd of the Hills (1941), Pittsburgh (1942), The Conqueror (1956)(...hmm, John Wayne playing Genghis Khan...ok...), and Jet Pilot (1957).

Numb3rs : The Complete First Season

Oh! Calcutta! (1972)

Platoon: 20th Anniversary Edition 20 years already? MGM/Sony reissues this one more time before HD.

Queer as Folk: Final Season

Smokey and the Bandit - Special Edition Smokey gets an upgrade this week.

May 26, 2006

"Why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots?"

I just had to do a quick post on this little topic.

So, as you all probably know, DVDs have this annoying thing called region codes. Of course they're pretty easy to get around these days with so many players available that ignore them, but they remain a nuisance. We've all been hoping that those behind the new HD formats would wise up and ditch the practice that is quite clearly anti-consumer. So much for that, it appears that both formats will support region coding. HD-DVD doesn't currently have it, but it probably will quite soon and Blu-Ray is expected to implement it. An article about it can be found here. Thanks a lot numbnuts...

On to better news. Paramount is finally going to release the Leslie Nielsen series, Police Squad this Fall. This is one I've always really liked and am looking forward to picking it up. One of the reasons, IMO that it's so good is its UK-length run of only six episodes. Very amusing and a great piece of satire. Star Trek: The Animated Series should come out around the same time.

As Battlestar Galactica comes back in October for its third season, Universal is expected to release the second half of season 2 in late summer. It'll be interesting to see if they can maintain the quality going into year three.

OK, I'm done now...

May 24, 2006

"I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Here's an update on the Star Wars DVD stuff I was talking about recently.

Yes, Lucasfilm has confirmed that the original theatrical versions of the films will be sourced from the 1993 Laserdisc copies, which will look pretty lackluster on modern widescreen TVs. The spin from Lucas has been that the original versions are being released as "bonus materials" to the Special Edition versions already available, which explains why they're being released together. So if you bought either of the previous DVDs, you get to buy them over again if you want the "bonus" movies, even though George knows that pretty much everyone has already bought them once and will buy them again to get the ones most of them wanted in the first place. But since Lucas considers the original films his bastard children, he doesn't want to spend a dime more than necessary to silence the call for the original films. It's pretty obvious that if he wanted, he could release quality versions of these films on DVD. I think if he did that, most people wouldn't complain so much about re-buying the SE versions (fans should be well used to re-purchases). A good article that explains the situation well can be found here.

So, in the end, this release may get Lucas "off the hook" for answering the call for the original films, but won't really satisfy the fans who want the same basic treatment that even the lowest priority reissue from a major studio does. No one is asking for a full-blown restoration of the old versions, but it wouldn't kill him to at least present them as well as some crappy 1980s film. So, enough already....here are a few more tidbits.

DVD Savant, the one web DVD reviewer who's writing about film I actually respect (I usually read DVD reviews by others for the lowdown on A/V quality), has a really good write up of The Cecil B. DeMille Collection, which came out this week. One of my favorite lines from the review: "Leading off is this 1932 pre-code sizzler, C.B's prime entry in the 'Jesus & Sex' hypocrisy sweepstakes. The pattern is well known: Censors nix nudity, violence, sexual perversion and sadism in normal films, but The Sign of the Cross avoids censorship by framing its salacious content in a melodrama shot through with 'Christian' values." Go read it here.

And finally, our good friends at Tivo, who recently won a patent infringement case against the satellite provider Dish Network, are planning to file for an injunction that calls not only for them to cease selling their PVR boxes, but to turn off the service for those who already have them. Wow...more details here.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

May 22, 2006

"God, how I hate the twentieth century."

Well looky here, it's Memorial Day time again. The easy way to remember it is to watch all the war-themed DVDs they crank out every year. This time we have a few new-to-DVD films and more re-treads. Noticably absent are a lot of new blockbusters. So let's get to it with this week's DVDs:

100 Rifles (1969) A western with Burt Reynolds and Rachel Welch....OK...

The 4400: The Complete Second Season

Back Door to Hell (1964)

BloodRayne Further proof that Ben Kingsly will appear in anything for a check...

Boston Legal: Season One This one's going into the queue.

Brilliant But Cancelled: Crime Dramas The now-defunct Trio cable channel (it has been missed) used to run this series called Brilliant But Cancelled where they ran episodes from shows that didn't make it to a full season, but were considered good. The channel may be gone, but someone managed to get the idea onto DVD. There's another installment available: Brilliant But Cancelled: EZ Streets (created by Paul Haggis, director of Crash).

The Cecil B. DeMille Collection Universal continues its mining of the old Paramount library with four DeMille films new to DVD: The Sign of the Cross (1932), Four Frightened People (1934), Cleopatra (1934), The Crusades (1935), and Union Pacific (1939).

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Oh boy, sign me up for THAT!

The Closer: The Complete First Season

Compulsion (1959) The first time on DVD for the film about the Leopold-Loeb murder case.

Deadwood: The Complete Second Season Now starring Kevin Costner! Oh wait, never mind...

The Dirty Dozen: Two-Disc Special Edition War movie re-dos march on!

Guns at Batasi (1964) More manly films on DVD (not that some of them aren't good, mind you).

Harlan County, U.S.A. Criterion issues the award-winning documentary. DVD Savant reviews it here.

High School Musical Not just direct-to-video, it's direct-to-Disney Channel.

Kingdom of Heaven: 4-Disc Director's Cut Well, like these things usually go, it's either a refreshing improvement over the shorter cut or an excruciating bore, brimming with filler.

The Longest Day: Special Edition The 1962 WW II extravaganza gets the 2 disc treatment.

M*A*S*H: Season Ten Only one season left...

Patton: Special Edition The old single disc version gets upgraded.

The Seven-Ups (1972) This one's new to DVD and DVD Savant takes a look at it here.

Tora! Tora! Tora!: Special Edition I thought this was a bit of a bore, but it's still better than Pearl Harbor.

Transamerica Felicity Huffman's Oscar-nominated performance makes it to DVD.

May 19, 2006

"You have failed me for the last time, Admiral."

So what would a Friday be without a post about Star Wars? As I wrote earlier, the original films are going to be released on DVD on 9/12. What wasn't revealed then was the fact that they're going to use the same video masters used for the old laserdiscs (the very ones I own) as opposed to making new film transfers in 16x9-enhanced widescreen. Lucasfilm claims this is the best they can do, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they are full of it. I can think of two possible reasons for this:

1) They're cheap and lazy. It doesn't take much effort to recycle an old LD master tape and make DVDs (in fact people like me have already done it at home).

2) They want to do it half-assed so it doesn't sell well. Then George can use the excuse that there isn't demand for it and never release them again.

Whatever the reasons, it's a nice slap in the face for fans who have waited for this stuff. I thought we were done with the practice of re-using old LD material years ago (it was done a lot in the 1990s when DVD was new). The Digital Bits website has a lot more information on this here, including a note about the feasability of a full restoration of these films by Robert Harris. The short answer: it's quite possible to bring these back to their original state if Lucas wants it. So will I buy them? I was all ready to go earlier, but I'm starting to reconsider...as have many others I'm sure.

May 15, 2006

"...der F├╝hrer vas descended from a long line of English qveens."

Good Monday everyone. Before I get into the usual nonsense, I'd like to pay a small tribute to my niece Faith.

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Faith, who's about to turn three, is a precocious little girl who, when not scaling fences, chasing my dog, engaging in contests of will with her parents, or just generally being a feisty-but-cute kid, likes to watch DVDs. Sure, a lot of kids like to watch DVDs. Faith and I have a lot in common; we both like the interactive (such as they are) capabilities of DVD. I've watched her walk up to the player, open the drawer, insert the DVD, and navigate the menus. And she knows where the stuff on the DVD is without being able to read. Her little fingers fly across the player cursor controls like a pro (hey, is there such thing as a professional DVD operator?!). Before we know it, she'll be authoring her own DVDs. OK, so I'm sure plenty of other kids do this in this day/age, but I thought I'd throw everyone off this week with a post about a kid...kindred spirit! So, this edition of Bitter Dregs is dedicated to you Faith, a long distance dedication...oh, sorry, that was scary...so on we go to this week's DVDs:

The Big Valley: Season One The main thing I remember about this 1960s show was it being in syndication when I was growing up in the 1970s. I remember whatever station that ran Star Trek replacing it with this show and thinking how lame it was. Of course I've never seen it so what do I know...

Con Air: Unrated Extended Edition This week we get a batch of Jerry Bruckheimer-produced films with extended cuts. A couple of them needed new film transfers so bully for Jerry. A big yawn over here though.

Crimson Tide: Unrated Extended Edition So do we get an even longer speech by Gene Hackman?

Duma (2005)

Enemy of the State: Unrated Extended Edition More Jerry...

Hill Street Blues: Season Two OK, so they're doing this MTM show, how about St. Elsewhere? I know better than to ask about WKRP.

Napoleon Dynamite: Like, the Best Special Edition Ever! A new expanded special edition. Same cut, more bonuses.

The Producers (2005) I can't imagine this will top the 1968 version for me, but I'll have to give this one a rent to get an idea of what Lane/Broderick were like on stage.

The Shaw Collection A BBC collection celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great British playwright George Bernard Shaw. The 6-DVD set includes (available by themselves): Pygmalion (1973), The Devil's Disciple (1987), The Millionairess (1972), Mrs. Warren's Profession (1972), Heartbreak House (1977), and Arms and the Man (1989).

The White Countess (2005)

Winter Passing (2005)

May 8, 2006

"Man, Shelock Holmes does coke!"

I was going to write about my niece, remember? Well, my folks were visiting over the weekend and it didn't happen. Maybe this week. In the meantime, let's do the usual new DVDs of the week thing:


The 400 Blows This classic has been on DVD a couple of times before, once by Criterion in the late 1990s. Criterion gets the rights back and does a new DVD.

The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Sixth Season

Big Momma's House 2 Martin Lawrence sinks...even...lower.

Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams Dude, was this one out of DVD before? Don't know, I was high at the time...

Cinderella Man The Ron Howard boxing pic hits HD-DVD this week.

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season One

Earthquake (1974) Well what do you know, it's 1970s disaster movie week! They're all re-dos with new film transfers and bonuses. Bring on the destruction!

Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Sixth Season

The Facts Of Life: The Complete First And Second Seasons Did you know that this show ran for almost ten years?!

Golden Girls: The Complete Fifth Season Soon my sisters will be swimming in Golden Girls DVDs!

Jarhead Another HD-DVD release.

Late Spring (1949) Criterion releases the Yasujiro Ozu film.

Life Goes On: The Complete First Season Patti LuPone's first TV series. So you do learn something new everyday!

Munich The Spielberg film comes out in one or two DVD versions.

Nanny McPhee

The New World Terrence Malick's version of the John Smith/Pocahontas story. And though I haven't seen it yet, I can tell that like his other films, this one will be a love it or hate it thing.

The Poseidon Adventure: Special Edition I once saw a documentary on TV about the fans of this film. And that was scarier than the movie was!

Rumor Has It... (2005)

Scrubs: The Complete Third Season

Sgt. Bilko - 50th Anniversary Edition (The Phil Silvers Show)

That 70s Show: Season Four

The Towering Inferno: Special Edition The 1974 disaster movie could be the pinnacle (sorry!) of the 70s disaster genre. It's got everything:

An all star cast, sometimes referred to as a "Grand Hotel on fire". What other film has Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and O.J. Simpson in it!

A huge budget with lots of explosions, people falling out of skyscrapers, and more fake smoke than you can shake a stick at.

A moral commentary on modern life: Yes indeedy, the hero fire chief gets to give a stern finger wagging to the corrupt architects/builders who cut corners to save money. Go Steve!

A collection of has-been celebrities including Fred Astaire (man, he was all over the place in the 1970s, wasn't he), Jennifer Jones, and William Holden. So there you have it...a disaster-fest of flaming fun!

Training Day HD-DVD

The West Wing: The Complete Sixth Season

May 4, 2006

"The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded."

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Some of you already have heard about this, but according to Lucasfilm, the original unaltered theatrical versions of the first Star Wars trilogy are going to be released on 9/12 of this year. Yes, apparently George either changed his mind or decided to wait until everyone had bought the new versions before letting the old ones out. For the actual release explaining the news, click here. So, in spite of the fact that Lucas is once again cashing in on a re-release, this is a welcome thing, regardless of the motive. The films were digitally restored a few years back for use in the digital "enhancements" and should look really nice. I did go to the trouble of transferring my old laserdiscs, thinking he'd never give in. Well, I must say I'm glad to be wrong as it will be nice to have them on DVD with optimal picture...they're even going without a sound re-mix, just the original 2 track versions. So while I was tempted to buy the previous DVDs, I'm glad I waited since the upcoming 2 DVD sets will have both the originals and the 2004 versions. That makes me happy...until he releases them in HD! Anyone want to wager whether or not he releases the Holiday Special?

May 1, 2006

"You don't want to argue with anyone larger than your van."

Well fellow kids, here we are in another week. I just got back from SD where it was actually raining...not as much as it was here in MN, but any rain out there is something these days. For today, I'll do the usual roundup of new DVDs, but I've got to get around to writing about the knob-jockey capabilities of my niece Faith (almost 3 years old); she's quite the phenomenon!

But for now you get this...

3rd Rock From the Sun: Season 4

Broadway's Lost Treasures Collection A PBS collection containing highlights of Tony awards shows between 1967-1986.

Delicatessen (1991) I want to say that this was on DVD before, but I'm not 100%...and if it was it's been out of print for a while.

Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons

The Family Stone (2005)

Flight 93 The TV movie that ran on Fox, not the theatrical film that's opening this week. Quite frankly, I have no desire to see either of them.

Hoodwinked

I Love Lucy: The Complete Sixth Season The final season makes it to disc.

King of the Hill: The Complete Sixth Season It's no Simpsons, but you're going to be buying this one for a while....

Last Holiday (2005)

Leave it to Beaver Season 2 You've gotta love a show with a piece of dialogue like this: "Things would be all right if my daughter could just find a husband. Then we'd always have a man around to give it to Larry when his father's out of town."

The Lucy and Desi Collection The two made three feature films together. Warners has stuck 'em all in a swell box; isn't that keen? You get Too Many Girls (1940), The Long, Long Trailer (1954), and Forever Darling (1956). They're all new to DVD and are available seperately.

Modern Romance (1981) More Albert Brooks makes it to DVD.

The Nanny: The Complete Second Season Damn, this was on for six seasons! Ouch...

The Red Green Show: 1997 Season

The Tennessee Williams Film Collection Another Warner box all featuring films of the playwright. All of the films are either new to DVD or new versions with bonuses/new transfers. You get: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Baby Doll (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Deluxe Edition (1958), The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), and The Night of the Iguana (1964). A pretty big classic release (they're all available by themselves). DVD Savant reviews Iguana here. Streetcar!

The Warrior (2001)