10/7/08 Edition -- The AISLE SEAT BLOG Is Also Live

Golden Age Chillers Edition
Hitchcock, THE MUNSTERS return to DVD
Plus: THE NEW WORLD extended Cut

A number of Alfred Hitchcock sets are poised to hit DVD in October, highlighted by three newly minted “Legacy Series” editions of “Rear Window,” “Psycho” and “Vertigo” from Universal Home Entertainment. All three movies were previously available on DVD both in standalone releases as well as part of the magnificent “Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection” box-set, which offered uniquely remastered, anamorphic transfers of several Hitch classics.

These double-disc editions go a step further by offering what appear to be even newer transfers and more special features. For those of you debating on whether or not to upgrade, here’s a quick synopsis:

REAR WINDOW (****, 115 mins., 1954, PG) most definitely includes a fresh 16:9 transfer that’s brighter and more pleasing than both prior DVD editions. Brand-new extras include a commentary by Hitchcock author John Fawell, the “Mr. Blanchard’s Secret” episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (with a similar narrative theme to “Rear Window”), a pair of tributes to Hitch’s sound design and visuals offering comments from directors like Scorsese, Carpenter, Del Toro and others, and an interesting interview between Hitch and Francois Truffaut (often with the help of a translator) from 1962. Other extras ported over from the prior DVDs include trailers and an hour-long documentary on the production.

PSYCHO (****, 109 mins., 1960, R) again features a more pleasing, higher-contrast transfer than its past DVD editions. New extras include commentary from historian Stephen Rebello, another “tribute”-themed featurette featuring many of the same directors from the “Rear Window” supplements, more of the audio conversation between Truffaut and Hitch, another “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode, plus a huge assortment of extras from the prior DVD editions.

VERTIGO (***, 130 mins., 1958, PG), which has never been one of my favorite Hitchcocks, includes a new commentary with William Friedkin (the older commentary with associate producer Herbert Coleman and restoration producers Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz is also on-hand), a new documentary profile on “Hitchcock’s Collaborators” (from Saul Bass to Bernard Herrmann), more of the Hitchcock-Truffaut interviews, all the terrific extras from the prior DVDs, and a gorgeous 16:9 transfer that looks about the same as the “Masterpiece Collection”’s anamorphic remaster.

Joining these superb releases is a must-have edition of TOUCH OF EVIL (***½, 96 mins. [theatrical], 109 mins. [preview version] and 111 mins. [restored version], 1958, PG-13; Universal), Orson Welles’ convoluted but brilliantly shot film noir with Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Welles himself memorably starring in a genre-defining benchmark.

Universal’s double-disc 50th Anniversary Edition of the movie gives buffs the Special Edition they’ve long clamored for: no less than three different edits of the movie are included, each with their own, highly informative commentary track as well!

The original theatrical edit (with commentary by film critic F.X. Feeney) is included mainly for prosperity, since the vastly superior 1998 “reconstructed” Welles cut is available here with commentary by restoration producer Rick Schmidlin as well as a “new” commentary with Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and other cast and crew members. Quite obviously Heston and the other participants must have been interviewed for the prior DVD release, a fact which has been reaffirmed by various website accounts that the track was indeed recorded for the 1998 DVD but wasn’t included because of legal issues at that time. At any rate, hearing comments from Heston simply makes the track all the more valuable, while the “preview version” includes a talk with Welles scholars Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore.

A retrospective documentary and a new featurette on the myriad versions of the movie are complimented by strong 16:9 (1.85) transfers of all versions, while a mini-reproduction of Welles’ 58-page memo to Universal -- touching upon the constant sparring the two entities had over the film’s editing -- puts the finishing touches on one of this year’s finest DVD releases. Highly recommended!

Coming Next Week on DVD

Terrence Malick’s THE NEW WORLD (***, 172 mins., 2005, PG-13; New Line) is a gorgeous film -- a sumptuous visual experience that transports the viewer back to early 17th century Jamestown, where English settlers made first contact with local “Naturals” -- a landmark moment in American history that also included the fortuitous meeting between Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas (Q’Orianka Kilcher).

Like Malick’s last film, “The Thin Red Line,” “The New World” is leisurely-paced (or slow moving, depending on how you want to look at it), preferring internal monologues by various characters to spoken dialogue, relying heavily on mood, atmosphere, and sound. Thankfully for Malick he has achieved another spectacular looking film, with Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography brilliantly capturing the natural essence of Virginia and making one feel as if you’ve taken the first steps into this “new world” along with the settlers.

The film, though, previously felt awfully disjointed, not unsurprising since Malick’s original cut clocked in at over three hours and the initial Oscar screenings of “The New World” ran 150 minutes. The director then trimmed another 15 minutes for its eventual U.S. theatrical release, and it was that version which New Line initially released on DVD (the 150-minute cut surfaced in an Italian double-disc DVD edition which also included the theatrical edit).

Available on DVD October 14th, Malick’s new “Extended Edition” of the movie runs just a few minutes short of three hours and adds meat to a variety of sequences scattered throughout the film. It also adds a group of title cards that pop up infrequently, thereby creating different “chapters” within the movie, which is something I’m not entirely sure was necessary yet obviously was added with the director’s intent.

That said, the film’s focus is unchanged, and some viewers may find the pace even more leisurely than it was before. Overall, even in this longer version (which regrettably retains the hodgepodge soundtrack with Wagner and Mozart often substituting for one of James Horner’s greatest scores), the film is still most worthwhile for its aesthetic values, with little from a performance or story angle being especially compelling (though newcomer Kilcher does make an impressive debut as the wide-eyed, physically striking Algonquian princess).

It’s a visual feast, if nothing else, that New Line has brought to DVD in a beautiful 16:9 (2.35) transfer with immersive 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. No extras are included on the dual-layer disc (the prior DVD housed an informative, candid hour-long documentary on the film’s production).

Hopefully New Line and Warner will see fit to issue a Blu-Ray HD edition of “The New World” with both cuts on-hand in the near future, because in spite of its shortcomings, it’s still an unforgettable journey that would look sensational in high-definition.

New on Blu-Ray

THE RAY HARRYHAUSEN COLLECTION (Sony): Four of special effects master Ray Harryhausen’s ‘50s “Saturday Matinee” adventures hit Blu-Ray in a satisfying four-disc box-set from Sony.

On-hand for sci-fi.fantasy fans are Kenneth Tobey and Faith Domergue in IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (**½, 79 mins., 1955), with a radioactive-enhanced octopus attacking Navy captain Kenneth Tobey and, later, the Golden Gate Bridge, in a movie that boasts a fun climax but an overly leisurely exposition; the entertaining EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (***, 83 mins., 1956), with extraterrestrial invaders taking on the Washington capitol among other landmarks, decades before Tim Burton and Roland Emmerich did it in their own films; a pint-sized alien creature grows to oversized proportions in 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (**½, 82 mins., 1957), a Nathan Juran-directed fantasy; and the full-color 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (***, 79 mins., 1958) features Kerwin Mathews as the heroic sailor who takes on a series of memorable Harryhausen creations in a splendid adventure, directed again by Nathan Juran.

While “The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad” is presented in a crisp, highly satisfying, and quite colorful AVC encoded transfer (1.66 widescreen), the former three pictures are offered here in both their original black-and-white formats as well as all-new colorized transfers. Though these almost sepia-toned “enhancements” are a good deal more satisfying than the kinds of colorized movies we routinely saw back in the ‘80s, they’re still no substitute for their B&W originals, which all look crisp and terrific in high-definition, freed from the glossy “digital noise reduction” we’ve seen in other catalog transfers so far on Blu-Ray. (The BD discs also offer a toggle-able “Chroma-Choice” function where you can flip from color to B&W with just a brief pause inbetween the two).

Extras abound across all four discs: commentaries by Harryhausen, F/X guru Phil Tippett, Steve Smith and others lend a mostly technical account of the work that went into each picture; retrospective featurettes on each movie recount the respective productions; “20 Million Miles to Earth” offers a conversation with Monstrous Movie Music’s David Schecter on the work of Mischa Bakaleinikoff while a segment on Bernard Herrmann adorns “Sinbad”; while each disc also includes a relatively recent talk between Harryhausen and admirer Tim Burton, plus John Landis’ previously-released interview with Harryhausen and the “This is Dynamation” featurette.

Harryhausen fans will love the extras and the fresh HD transfers of these early productions. Hopefully sales will be strong enough to warrant the release of a follow-up box-set including “Jason and the Argonauts” and other works by the master F/X craftsman from the ‘60s.

THE SIXTH SENSE (***½, 107 mins., 1999, PG-13; Buena Vista): Although there was little hype, no websites blaring its existence forth, M.Night Shyamalan's “The Sixth Sense” arrived in theaters quietly in August of 1999 and became one of the decade’s biggest hits during the weeks that followed.

Yet aside from its endlessly discussed twist ending (which I could see coming from miles away), “The Sixth Sense” is still, at its heart, a subtle, understated ghost story involving young Haley Joel Osment, who possesses the ability to see those unfortunate souls who have yet to completely depart from our plane of existence. Help comes in the form of psychologist Bruce Willis, who sees in Osment the opportunity at righting a bad experience he suffered months before -- failing to pay attention to a patient who seemed to have suffered from some of the same visible symptoms as the young boy. Without giving much more away for those who still haven’t seen it (if there are any out there), Willis and Osment try to come to grips with his unique ability, while Osment's mother (Toni Collette) worries about her son's mental health, and Willis attempts to reconcile his own failing marriage with Olivia Williams.

“The Sixth Sense” does what great filmmaking should: develop rich characterizations, keep the audience guessing, and play its cards slowly but surely. Wonderfully photographed, lyrically underscored by James Newton Howard and backed by an engrossing script by Shyamalan, “The Sixth Sense” unfolds like a good book, drawing you into its world casually, and without explicitly telling us everything that’s going on.

Although it was released in the same summer as the comparably over-hyped “The Blair Witch Project” (which has basically faded into the rear view mirror for most viewers like some kind of dated cinematic fad), “The Sixth Sense” is a lot more than your usual haunted house movie. The picture has an undercurrent of resonance and subtlety that few studio-manufactured products possess, and its climax -- which, for a change, isn't about effects, car chases, and pounding Dolby soundtracks -- comes as an unexpected surprise. In spite of all the jokes and spoilers, “The Sixth Sense” is still a superior film on every front, a confident piece of filmmaking from Shyamalan and backed by outstanding performances (from Willis to Osment, Williams and Collette) across the board.

Buena Vista’s Blu-Ray edition of “The Sixth Sense” offers a top-notch 1080p transfer with uncompressed PCM sound. This isn’t one of those HD transfers that will have you spellbound by its enhanced clarity, but it’s still an appreciable upgrade on the DVD, while the audio is quietly effective. Extras ported over from the prior DVD include deleted scenes, several featurettes recounting the production and interviews with the filmmaker and cast.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (***½, 138 mins., 1997, R; Warner): Curtis Hanson’s Oscar winning adaptation of James Elroy’s novel was the best film of 1997. In fact, few films produced since offer characters and settings so vividly realized as “L.A. Confidential,” and nearly everything clicks, from the cast down to the beautiful Dante Spinotti cinematography.

As the three cops battling (and possibly taking part in) police corruption, Kevin Spacey and Australians Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe are all sensational. So are Kim Basinger (who copped a Best Supporting Actress Oscar), Danny DeVito, and James Cromwell in outstanding character parts.

The dialogue from Hanson and co-writer Brian Helgeland is riveting, the photography and production design spectacularly evocative of the '50s, and Hanson's direction never once dumbs the material down to its audience. It’s still hard to believe that this came from the same man who brought us middling popcorn-munchers like “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and “The River Wild,” but Hanson certainly atoned for all his past cinematic sins (and then some) with this smashing movie. Worth several viewings just to take it all in, and complimented by a marvelous collection of oldies (plus a serviceable Jerry Goldsmith score).

Warner’s new Blu-Ray edition (also on DVD) of “L.A. Confidential” boasts a vibrant 1080p transfer with fine Dolby TrueHD audio. The source material looks to be in superb shape and the film looks appreciably stronger than its old 1998 DVD, as one would imagine. A large array of extras includes everything from the unsold TV pilot version of the movie (with Kiefer Sutherland starring!) to a new commentary featuring pretty much everyone involved; several documentaries examining the production and impact of the film; vintage interviews and on-set footage; an interactive map of L.A. as seen in the film; and Goldsmith’s isolated score track in 5.1, retained from the original DVD.

Highly, highly recommended!

BODY HEAT (***½, 113 mins., 1981, R; Warner): Brilliantly shot, scored, and edited film noir finds lawyer William Hurt falling for femme fatale Kathleen Turner in Lawrence Kasdan’s first and, in some ways, most satisfying directorial effort. From John Barry’s searing, gorgeously moody jazz score (with one of his most attractive main themes) to Richard H. Kline’s cinematography, “Body Heat” is a treat for film noir fans, and Warner has done a superb job adapting Kasdan’s salute to “Double Indemnity” and other ‘40s potboilers in a fine Blu-Ray release. The VC-1 encoded transfer looks quite good and fares better than the relatively subdued Dolby TrueHD audio track, which is limited in its fidelity and needs to be pushed in order to get any kind of presence out of it. Extras culled from the 2006 Deluxe Edition DVD include several deleted scenes and three different Making Of featurettes, including comments from all the principals and John Barry as well. The original trailer and vintage 1981 conversations with Hurt and Turner put the finishing touches on a superb catalog release in HD.

THE HULK (***, 138 mins., 2003, PG-13; Universal): Ang Lee's controversial filming of the Marvel Comics hero certainly isn't a faithful adaptation (this year’s fun but frantic “Incredible Hulk” more successfully adhered to its roots), but it’s a flawed yet fascinating effort that -- while being too dark for its own good and often bogged down in psychological aspects that don't quite come off -- ranks as a watchable combination of silly, colorful Marvel Comics action and an offbeat study of parents and children and what makes us all tick. It’s solemn and rarely humorous, and definitely not for young kids, but the ILM effects are terrific and Frederick Elmes’ cinematography is a major plus.

Universal’s Blu-Ray disc edition of “The Hulk” is a smashing success across the board: the high-definition transfer reprises last year’s HD-DVD and bursts with colors and three-dimensional depth, making it one of the best of the HD discs on the market. Most, if not all, of the extras from the Special Edition DVD have been ported over as well (deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes), plus a U-Control picture-in-picture track that offers even more extras than the HD-DVD platter.

Finally, the Blu-Ray has an edge on its prior DVD and HD-DVD editions as it boasts a spectacular DTS Master Audio soundtrack that’s engaging at every turn. Highly recommended for fans!

THE STRANGERS (*, 86 mins [theatrical] and 92 mins [unrated], 2008; Universal): Repellant trash wastes the talents of Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a bickering couple, just getting home from a wedding, who are tormented and tortured by three masked psychos whose faces we never see. There, I just saved you an hour and a half of your time!

In all seriousness, Brian Bertino’s movie basically has no point: inspired by true events (as well as the French movie “Them”), “The Strangers” does little to keep you interested in the plight of its two leads, who we’re told are slain in the opening moments of the film (way to keep the suspense going!), while ramping up the blood and unsavory bits for the “Saw” crowd. Bertino does manage a few creepy moments in the early going but it’s not enough to sustain the picture’s running time, which barely hits the 80 minute mark in the theatrical cut. Either way it’s 80 minutes too long.

Universal’s Blu-Ray edition of “The Strangers” includes both the R-rated theatrical cut and an unrated version adding five more minutes of prolonged agony. Extras include deleted scenes and one featurette on the 25gb single-layer BD platter.

New on DVD

GHOST HOUSE UNDERGROUND (Lionsgate): Eight different indie horror films, many from international outlets, “presented” by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures hit DVD in time for Halloween from Lionsgate.

Included in the assembly are Gregg Bishop’s amusing teen zombie picture DANCE OF THE DEAD, which shares its title with Tobe Hooper’s lame “Masters of Horror” episode of the same name but is, thankfully, far more entertaining; Dave Payne’s NO MAN’S LAND - THE RISE OF THE REEKER, a sequel (believe it or not) to “The Reeker,” which is also slated to be released by Lionsgate on Blu-Ray; the 2007 Danish thriller ROOM 2005 (KOLLEGIET); the Italian bloodsoaker THE LAST HOUSE IN THE WOODS (Bosco Fuori); a Finnish effort, DARK FLOORS, from a European music group named “Lordi”; “Nightwatch” director Ole Bornedal’s THE SUBSTITUTE, a Danish sci-fi effort that’s actually more of a weird children’s picture (with comedic overtones) than a horror effort; the Russian slasher entry TRACKMAN; and Victoria Pratt in the low-budget American effort BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD.

All entries include widescreen (16:9) transfers with 5.1 audio and numerous special features, including commentaries, deleted scenes and other goodies. The quality varies but kudos to Lionsgate for bringing a handful of interesting genre flicks from around the world that are, if nothing else, more intriguing than the great majority of standard-issue “horror” flicks we see nowadays.

CAPRICORN ONE - Special Edition (***, 123 mins., 1978, PG; Lionsgate): Peter Hyams’ splendid mix of a ‘70s political conspiracy thriller and old-fashioned escapist entertainment gets a much-needed new DVD edition from Lionsgate. New to this edition are a commentary from Hyams along with trailers, a “Flights of Fancy” featurette, a brand-new 16:9 (2.35) transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. Fans should note that rights holder Granada (UK) International issued a Blu-Ray disc of “Capricorn One” last year, but despite a solid HD transfer, the disc is actually inferior to this new DVD in terms of its sound (offering only 2.0 stereo) and extras (featuring no supplements whatsoever). Hopefully Lionsgate will get around to issuing a US Blu-Ray version that will improve upon its UK counterpart.

CHAPLIN - Special Editon (**½, 135 mins., 1992, PG-13; Lionsgate): Richard Attenborough’s well-meaning but uneven biopic of the legendary comedian and filmmaker -- a box-office flop upon its 1993 release despite its all-star cast (including Robert Downey Jr. in the title role) -- is back on DVD in a new Special Edition, including a never-before-seen Chaplin home movie and three different featurettes. The 16:9 (1.78) transfer is fine but the 2.0 Dolby Surround stereo is a bit on the weak side. Regrettably, the disc doesn’t include any deleted scenes, as Attenborough’s original cut was reportedly three or four hours in length and the director claimed those edits damaged the picture -- yet all we get here is the same 135-minute theatrical version as before, albeit in a new transfer.

TV on DVD Round-Up

THE MUNSTERS - The Complete Series (Universal): Terrific box-set release houses the complete first and second seasons of the engaging Fred Gwynne-Yvonne DeCarlo-Al Lewis comedy, including the debut of the memorable episode “Family Portrait” in color (fear not, “Munsters” fans, the original black-and-white version is also included). A smattering of retrospective special features is included along with the 1968 Universal feature “Munster, Go Home!” and the 1981 TV-movie “The Munsters’ Revenge.” The former is a lot more entertaining than the latter, though the original cast does reappear in the later, mediocre reunion movie, and at least it’s better than other early ‘80s sitcom films like “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island” (faint praise that it is). Both movies have been previously issued on DVD, though each has been remastered for its inclusion here: “Munster, Go Home!” is presented in spiffy 16:9 (1.85) widescreen, while “Munsters’ Revenge” has been framed in its original full-screen aspect ratio. On the audio side, the mono sound is in good shape on both, with Jack Marshall’s original score and theme carrying the 1968 feature and Vic Mizzy’s wacky, fun blend of his “old school” comedic scoring and early ‘80s pop-disco making his score for “Revenge” one of that picture’s strongest assets. Either way the set comes highly recommended just in time for Halloween!

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS - CHRISTMAS TREE (1979, 70 mins.; Sony): The original NBC animated Christmas special starring Stan and Jan Berenstain’s unforgettable children’s book characters at last arrives on DVD. Unlike some of the newer “Berenstain Bears” cartoons produced for PBS, this is a superior production produced by Gil and Joseph Cates with a moving, meaningful message. Additional episodes from the series’ Saturday Morning incarnation round out a top-notch disc that’s a must for family viewing this holiday season.

FRIDAY THE 13th: THE SERIES (1987-88, aprx. 20 hours; CBS/Paramount): An antiques shop whose owner made a pact with the Devil tries to reclaim its sold, possessed “evil objects” from unsuspecting buyers in this entertaining hour-long series, which debuted in syndication in 1987. Of course, there’s not a lot in common here with the “Friday the 13th” film series -- in fact, reports claim that Frank Mancuso’s original title for the show was “The 13th Hour,” and the producer changed it solely for the purposes of drawing ratings. You can’t fault him, though, as the program ran for three full seasons, drawing decent ratings and garnering a decent fan base in the process. Shot in Canada, “Friday the 13th”’s first season includes episodes helmed by David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyian among others, along with guest stars including Ray Walston and a young Sarah Polley. Fans can now enjoy the series’ first season (26 episodes) on DVD in a new box-set from CBS, preserving the episodes in full-screen transfers and mono soundtracks that are a bit on the grainy side (similar to the disappointing “War of the Worlds” Season 1 set Paramount issued a few years back), as well as being a bit edited according to some of the fan reaction that’s out there. Extras include network launch promos and a sales presentation reel.

DYNASTY - Season 3, Volume 2 (1983, aprx. 10 hours; CBS/Paramount): Second half of the ABC drama’s third season arrives on DVD in a no-frills, three-disc set from CBS and Paramount. Featuring good-looking full-screen transfers and mono sound, fans can again delight in the antics of the Carrington and Colby clans including a memorable skirmish between Alexis (Joan Collins) and Krystle (Linda Evans) Carrington.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - Season 5 (1970-71, aprx. 19 hours; CBS/Paramount): Fifth season for Bruce Geller’s long-running series is new to DVD this month. Peter Graves, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, and Leonard Nimoy are here joined by beautiful Lesley (Ann) Warren, who failed to catch on with series fans accustomed to Barbara Bain’s lead character (Lynda Day George would fare somewhat better during the series’ sixth and seventh seasons). CBS’ six-disc set includes the complete fifth season (23 episodes) of the series in fine full-screen transfers and with remixed 5.1 and 2.0 stereo audio.

MY THREE SONS - Season 1, Volume 1 (1960-61, aprx. 8 hours; CBS/Paramount): The first 18 episodes (half of its first season) of the long-running, classic network sitcom finally hits DVD. “My Three Songs” fans will love this early group of episodes following widower Fred McMurray as he raises sons Tom Considine, Don Grady and Stanley Livingston, all with the help of cranky but lovable Grandpa “Bub” (William Frawley, who would later be replaced by William Demarest). The digitally remastered black-and-white transfers look crisp and quite good for their age, while no extras are on-hand.

CSI - Season 8 (2007-08, aprx. 12 hours; CBS/Paramount): Strike-shortened eighth season of CBS’ Thursday night staple arrives on DVD as it bids adieu to star William Petersen in 17 hour-long episodes. Paramount’s box-set includes excellent 16:9 transfers, 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks, commentaries on two episodes, numerous Making Of featurettes, a profile of director William Friedkin (who helmed one of the eighth season episodes), and the bonus episode “Where & Why,” a cross-over show from CBS sister series “Where and Why.”

THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, SEASON 2 Vol. 1 (132 mins., 2007; Paramount): Season two of the controversial comic’s Comedy Central series hits DVD on October 14th in a double-disc set with copious extras, including digital shorts, commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a ComicCon segment and other extras. If you’re a fan, the set comes highly recommended, but suffice to say for most viewers Silverman is certainly an “acquired taste.” Paramount’s full-screen transfers and 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtracks are all acceptable.

LIL BUSH SEASON 2 (220 mins., 2008; Paramount): Not sure what Comedy Central is going to do once President Bush leaves office in a few months. Will we be seeing similar cartoons ribbing Barack Obama or John McCain? Something tells me no, but either way viewers impartial to this juvenile “South Park” wannabe will want to check out the double-disc set preserving the animated series’ second season, with extras including a music video, commentary and bonus animatics. The full-screen transfers and 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtracks are all as solid as the material allows. Bush-bashers can also check out the single-disc compilation COMEDY CENTRAL SALUTES GEORGE W. BUSH: THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, offering W.-centric episodes of “South Park,” “Lil Bush,” “That’s My Bush” and more.

PSYCHIC KIDS - CHILDREN OF THE PARANORMAL (2008, aprx. 5 hours; A&E): There seem to be a glut of paranormal-themed reality series on TV these days, all following the lead of Sci-Fi’s “Ghost Hunters.” This effort from A&E is more watchable than the network’s similar show, “Paranormal State,” which debuted last spring, as it profiles young kids with the alleged capability of communicating with the other side. How “real” this is is anybody’s guess, though the show is at least more unnerving and, subsequently, more entertaining than some of its cable competition. A&E’s double-disc set of the series’ first season includes a bonus pilot episode (a standalone special) that was produced prior to the series proper.

NEXT TIME: THE OMEN, finally, in HD! Until then, don't forget to drop in on the official Aisle Seat Message Boards, check out the Aisle Seat Blog, and direct any emails to our email address.  Cheers everyone!

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