"I'm not a quack. I'm a mad scientist. There's a difference."
The weather is taking a turn for the cooler around here and hey, it's about time I suppose. I did pick up the BD of Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 2 last week and so far, I'm really liking it. The fact that these new sets have full HD versions of both original and remastered/new CG effects is great. Of course, the original effects shots don't look very good blown up to a large/high resolution screen, but it's still good to have them. The picture quality is certainly the best I've ever seen and may indeed be the best this show is ever going to look, period. You can make out the grain in the original 35mm footage, but the images are quite clean without being overly scrubbed. The new effects shots, as you'd expect, look great in HD. The set offers new re-mixed DTS audio as well as the original mono tracks. I really appreciate having both. Most of the time, I do prefer the new track except for the opening title where they re-recorded the music. The balance of the instruments is different and, well, it doesn't seem right to me.
There are a lot of bonus material on these sets, some of it carried over from the previous season DVD sets. A lot of it is fluff, but one of the features I have enjoyed the most is the "Billy Blackurn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Moments" segments. There's one installment in each season of the show and it has interview snippets with Billy, who was in a lot of the episodes with non-speaking parts. The on-set film footage is fun to see, too bad there isn't more of it. Heck, he was sitting in Chekov's chair for the episode I watched the other night ("The Doomsday Machine," up next on the review schedule). So, a nice upgrade over the old DVDs. Sure, sometimes watching the show in HD gives you more detail than you might want: flaws in the costumes and sets are very apparent. One thing I didn't like so much was the BD "interactivity." I've harped on this before, but waiting for Java apps to load every time you play the disc gets old fast. Plus, there doesn't seem to be a way to resume playback if you stop the player. Plain 'ol DVD was able to do that for crying out loud! Please fix this, people. Also, if you're going to spend all this effort developing online content for these discs, how about something worthwhile? I really like the A/V quality on BD, but we have definitely taken a step backwards in usability.
Okay, so let's see what we've got going this week:
Away We Go (2009) Also on BD.
The Girlfriend Experience (2009) Also on BD.
The Guild: Seasons 1 & 2 This web comedy is hilarious. The DVDs let you see the episodes with better quality and there are some bonuses.
Life on Mars: The Complete Series The aborted US version.
Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) Also on BD.
The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) Yes, another chance to re-purchase this classic. The word is, that this latest version on BD is stunning, possibly better than audiences in 1939 saw it (it was hi-res scanned from the camera negatives). As is typical these days, if you want the movie on BD, they only have it available in a mega-uber box set with a bunch of stuff you'll probably never look at...at a much higher price (the DVD version can be bought with or without the box). Except, that this time Target has the BD by itself sans box. All other retailers just get the BD box set. This kind of exclusive retailer crap really gets old...it has inspired me to wait on this one. Besides, I can always go and look at the junk in the *last* "Oz" DVD box set I bought.