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March 26, 2007

"But they were out of tomato paste, and by the time they got more in, my coupon had expired. And now I have venereal disease."

Ten years ago this week, the DVD format was introduced here in the US. DVD is pretty passe' now, but back in the late 1990s, it was (well, to some of us) all quite interesting. It was by no means certain that the format would take (Circuit City's ill-conceived DIVX "rental" DVD format didn't help). Not all the studios were onboard and the selection of titles was slim. Even though I've bemoaned the small number of good films available on the HD formats (they have been tending to focus on action spectacles or bad sci fi), the number of titles being released is actually higher than it was in the first year of DVD.

I'd say that it's very possible that DVD was the last successful packaged media launch. Even without the HD format war, HD-DVD and Blu Ray (many are now predicting Blu Ray's upcoming victory) may be too little too late. DVD came along at the right time and was a huge improvement over VHS; I was always less than impressed with VHS's picture quality. As interested as I am about the new formats, I observe it with more of a detached interest. You just know it isn't going to catch fire like DVD did. The rollout of DVD was a sea change for the movie business as it set the stage for the huge sell-through video market we have now. Rental is still there, but not as the overwhelming business it was prior to DVD's breakthrough success. Going forward, we see new delivery methods pushing ahead, for better or worse.

Ten years...

So, here we are with another week of new DVDs:

7th Heaven - The Complete Fourth Season See, ten years out and there are still big titles left to release!

The Addams Family - Volume 2

Children of Men

Color Me Kubrick (2005)

The Errol Flynn Signature Collection, Vol. 2 Another Warner classic film box set that I don't have time for! This one includes: The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), Gentleman Jim (1942), The Adventures of Don Juan (1948), The Dawn Patrol (1938), and Dive Bomber (1942).

Family Affair - Season Three

Full House - The Complete Sixth Season

Happy Feet

The Jeffersons - The Complete Sixth Season

The Judi Dench Collection This set contains nine plays and original productions made for the BBC, click here for more details.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - Volume 1 Another Lear show makes it to DVD.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

School For Scoundrels (1960)

The Shield - Season 5

The Tempest (1982)

Whose Line Is It Anyway?: The Original British Series - The Complete Seasons 1 & 2

March 20, 2007

"This scene's supposed to be in a saloon but the censor cut it out."

A bit late this week, but we were out in SD over the weekend enjoying the warm weather, among other things. I'm going to write an entry about some books I've been digging into, but I'm going to hold off until I've finished the one I'm reading right now. For now, here's what we've got on DVD for this week:

Blood Diamond

The Care Bears Movie: 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Yikes, this merits an "anniversary" edition?!

Christy - The Complete Series

Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner - Extended and Uncensored This version supposedly has an extra 20 minutes of Shatner-iffic roasting.


Maude - The Complete First Season Another Lear spinoff series make its way to DVD.

McHale's Navy - Season One

Miami Vice Season 3

The Naked City Criterion releases the noir classic.

The Nativity Story All right, just in time for...Easter?! The entry on Netflix sez,

"Enjoyed By Members Who Enjoyed
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

The Passion of the Christ

Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

Ice Princess

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace"

NewsRadio - The Complete Fifth Season The final season arrives on DVD.

Rocky Balboa

Sleep er Cell - Season 2

The W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Volume 2 This set contains: The Man on the Flying Trapeze, Never Give A Sucker An Even Break, You're Telling Me!, The Old Fashioned Way, and Poppy.

The Wild Wild West - The Complete Second Season

March 12, 2007

"Christ, I miss the Cold War."

I'm thinking of writing an entry on, god help me, books! We'll see if I ever get to it...but for now, let's see what we have coming out this week:

Bosom Buddies - The First Season

The Burmese Harp (1952)

Casino Royale (2006)

Fires on the Plain (1959)

Ghost: Special Collector's Edition All you Patrick Swayze, um, fans, can buy this movie again as a SE.

The Holiday (2006)

I Love Lucy - The Final Seasons: 7, 8 & 9 This set contains all the post-season 6 shows, which were a series of specials, AKA, The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show.

The Man Who Sued God (2001)

Mile High - The Complete First Season

Robin of Sherwood: Set 1 (1984)


Without a Trace - The Complete Second Season

March 5, 2007

"I get a clock radio, he cannot afford. Great success! "

The slate of DVDs this week looks a bit bigger than we've had recently. The HD format war rages on, but we don't care about that right now....do we? In any case, let's see what we have this week:

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Cinderella Liberty (1973)

Commissar (1967)

Confetti (2006)

The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection This box set includes: The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), The Sun Also Rises (1957), A Farewell to Arms (1957), Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962), and Under My Skin (1950).

Fast Food Nation (2006) Mmm, I think it's time for a tasty Shamrock shake!

The Full Monty: The Fully Exposed Edition The 1997 hit gets a new and needed upgrade over the old bare-bones non anamorphic DVD.

Hawaii Five-O - The First Season

Jesse James (1939)

Literary Classics Collection The latest Warner classics set (all available separately): The Prisoner of Zenda (1937 and 1952 versions), The Three Musketeers (1948, Gene Kelly), Madame Bovary (1949), Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), and Billy Budd (1962). DVD Savant reviews the set here.

The Loop: Season 1

Moonlighting: Season 5

Northern Exposure - The Complete Sixth Season

Peter Pan: Platinum Edition (1953) The Disney Pan gets a new DVD release.

Sabrina, The Teenage Witch - The Complete First Season I know we've been waiting so long for this one...

South Park - The Complete Ninth Season

Stargate Atlantis: Season 2

Get on the Bus, Gus

And now it's time for another round of nostalgic navel-gazing fun! If you're not down with the whole navel thing, worry not; there's a DVD-related entry coming later.

This past weekend, the community orchestra I play in did a concert in Marshall, MN. Marshall is several hours drive from here so most of the group got there on chartered buses. I should say that this whole thing was generously paid for (as well as a sizable monetary donation to the orchestra, which does not charge admission for its concerts) by the Schwan Food Company, which is based in Marshall. Of course they're a big corporation, but it was a nice thing to do and the community really turned out to support us. It was a very positive experience.

While we were on the way home the other night, I couldn't help but be reminded of the past; bus tours and trips. I assume that many people have negative associations with passenger bus travel. Since I haven't had to make a long trip on a regular bus with all the stops, I am free to think of your average Greyhound bus in a more positive, rose-colored fashion. Although I haven't traveled by bus on conventional trips, I used to take many trips on chartered tour buses. Since my Dad was a high school band director, I pretty much grew up going on at least one band trip a year. As far as I can remember, I always liked going on them and true to my nature, was fascinated by the bus itself. It didn't matter to me that this was a pretty mundane piece of machinery, it seemed cool. The smell of diesel exhaust still reminds me of this. I remember being impressed watching these guys drive handling the giant steering wheels that allowed them to maneuver these massive vehicles, as well as all those mysterious controls that didn't seem to exist on the family cars. The Grey Line drivers (who were really great guys, especially Don Wickler) we usually had were cool about letting me check out the gear and answering my questions about what all those controls did. To this day, I have this cache of knowledge regarding motor coaches that is a bit out of place in my collection of A/V geekery. This is all pretty much due to me talking to the drivers all those years, as well as a great deal of observation. The buses that run now are larger and have more comforts, but seem mostly the same as the ones I grew up riding (some of the Grey Line coaches were built in the 1960s, back when GM was still manufacturing them).

The thing about those bus trips, whether I was tagging along as a kid or part of the group on the tour, was that we were riding with people we knew. We had a reason and purpose to where we were traveling. It could have been a marching band competition, an orchestra tour of the state of Wyoming, or an all-state band/orchestra/chorus trip (where I got to know Hunter). There was always the anticipation of getting to the event and the inevitable downward slide on the way home. The other night I was glad to be getting off when we pulled in. In the past, there was always a pang of disappointment when we got off. I'm sure I'm forgetting a number of times when I would have rather not been stuck on a crowded bus, but hey, that's the beauty of nostalgic haze!