Edition A High-Definition Trip to THE TWILIGHT
PRINCE OF PERSIA & More
For many of us who grew up post-1959 -- whether it was back in the 60s
during its initial run, or in the 70s and 80s via reruns -- "The
Twilight Zone" was a place that was always worth visiting. Rod
Serling's classic television anthology was a show that embraced sci-fi,
fantasy, horror, satire, a bit of whimsy and many times the political
paranoia of its era – and remains one of the all-time classic series to
grace the television airwaves. Whether the show scared you, unsettled
you, made you think, or simply entertained, chances are good that even
the most average episode of Serling's show (which ran on CBS from 1959
to 1965) was scripted and produced by an abundance of talented writers,
actors and directors, far more capable of delivering its intended
message than nearly anything we see on TV now.
Image Entertainment celebrated Serling’s legendary series in the final
week of 2004 by issuing the "Definitive Edition" First Season of THE TWILIGHT ZONE
(****, 1959-60) on DVD -- a marvelous package that has now been
surpassed by an outstanding, all-encompassing Blu-Ray edition
reprieving many of the same extras along with a wealth of new
supplements (including additional isolated score tracks) and gorgeous
1080p transfers. The results are an absolutely essential purchase for
any BD owner.
The original "Zone" has been released in a variety of flavors on video,
laserdisc, and DVD previously, but there's no doubt Image's new set is
clearly the way to go for high-def enthusiasts. All the episodes look
even more detailed than their prior 2004 remastered transfers, which
were crisp and gorgeously rendered, while the original monophonic
soundtracks (here presented as uncompressed PCM audio tracks) are also
in satisfactory condition.
Offering all 36 first season stories (quite a single-season number by
today's standards) including classics like "Time Enough At Last," "The
Lonely," "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and "A Stop at
Willoughby," the five-disc "Twilight Zone: Definitive Edition" BD is
packed with extras, including interviews with writers, directors and
cast members, whether it’s interviews with stars Rod Taylor and Anne
Francis and writers Richard Matheson and Buck Houghton, or full
isolated score tracks.
As any film music fan knows, the original "Twilight Zone" provided a
golden opportunity for talented composers, both established artists
like Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann, and then-fledgling newcomers
like Jerry Goldsmith. Image has included a bulk of isolated, original
scores in this release (previously issued on DVD) including: "Where Is
Everybody?" (Bernard Herrmann), "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" (Franz
Waxman), "Walking Distance" (Herrmann), "The Lonely" (Herrmann), "A
Stop at Willoughby" (Nathan Scott), "The Chaser," "A Passage For
Trumpet" (Lyn Murray), "Perchance to Dream" (Van Cleave), "And When the
Sky Was Opened" (Leonard Rosenman), "What You Need" (Cleave), "The Four
Of Us Are Dying" (Goldsmith), "Third From the Sun," "A World of
Difference" (Cleave), "The Big Tall Wish" (Goldsmith), "A Nice Place to
Visit," "Nightmare as a Child" (Goldsmith), "The Hitch- Hiker," "The
Purple Testament" (Lucien Moraweck), "Elegy" (Cleave), "Mirror Image,"
and "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" (Rene Garriguenc).
Additional isolated score tracks exclusive to the BD include the
library-tracked “One For the Angels,” “Mr. Denton on Doomsday,” “Escape
Clause,” “I Shot an Arrow in the Air,” The Fever,” “The Last Flight,”
“Long Live Walter Jameson,” “Execution,” “Mr. Bevis,” “The After
Hours,” “The Mighty Casey,” and “A World of His Own.”
More supplemental audio tracks include classroom lecture tapes with
Professor Serling at work and even several contemporary “Twilight Zone"
radio dramas, one of the latter being a remake of "The After Hours"
with Kim Fields and narrator Stacey Keach (talk about an oddball
For other supplements, Image has included a full slate of special
features exclusive to the Blu-Ray set. These include the unofficial
pilot episode, “The Time Element,” an episode of the “Westinghouse
Desilu Playhouse,” presented in HD (amusingly introduced by Arnaz with
a guest appearance by Lucy in the concluding host segment), along with
19 all-new audio commentaries, many including TZ expert Marc Scott
Zicree, music historians Steven C. Smith and John Morgan, director Ted
Post and many others. The original version of the first Zone episode,
"Where Is Everybody?," is carried over from the prior DVD set, sporting
alternate Serling narration, commentary from producer William Self,
plus a 1975 Sherwood Oaks College lecture. There are also Emmy Award
clips, Part 1 of Zicree’s 1978 interview with TZ cinematographer George
T. Clemens, the “Tales of Tomorrow” episode “What You Need,” and a
couple of 1977 syndication promos.
About the only place the Blu-Ray box-set falls short of the DVD is in
its exterior presentation: just a brief episode synopsis is included in
the booklet, whereas the DVD edition included a copy of Zicree’s
indispensable “Twilight Zone Companion.”
Otherwise, Image and CBS have hit a home-run with this release, and
fans won’t have to wait long for Season 2, which is already lined up
for release in time for Thanksgiving. Warner Catalog Titles
Warner Home Video has a number of Blu-Ray “catalog” titles headed our
way, several of the sci-fi/fantasy variety with a number of special
features attached. FORBIDDEN
PLANET (***½, 98 mins., 1956) is, of course, one of the
quintessential science-fiction films, a rich MGM production that still
sends a chill up the spine through its vivid Cinemascope framing and
the electronic music of Louis and Bebe Barron.
Previously issued on HD-DVD, Warner’s “Forbidden Planet” Blu-Ray has
been long overdue and basically recycles the content of that edition:
deleted scenes, lost footage, the terrific TCM documentary “Watch the
Skies!”, a pair of featurettes, trailers, vintage excerpts from the
“MGM Parade” TV series, and two Robby the Robot follow-up features
(“The Invisible Boy” and a “Thin Man” TV series episode “Robot Client”)
round out the package. The VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer seems identical
to the HD-DVD release, though the disc receives an audio upgrade
(relatively speaking) in the form of a DTS Master Audio soundtrack.
George Lucas’ THX-1138
mins., 1971, R; Warner) received one of those patented
Lucas “Director’s Cut” alterations with new and recut footage and the
addition of enhanced special effects. Though purists objected to the
changes, I found that they (for the most part) spiced up Lucas’
sometimes monotonous debut feature, which nevertheless has its moments
of power, memorable sound design by Walter Murch, compelling
performances from the likes of Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasance, and
an effective Lalo Schifrin score.
Warner’s Blu-Ray release of “THX-1138" (the film was never released on
HD-DVD) serves up a HD presentation of the picture (nicely rendered
VC-1 encoded transfer, DTS Master Audio soundtrack) with all the extras
from its prior 2-disc DVD edition: commentary from Lucas and Walter
Murch, an isolated sound effects track, a Making Of retrospective,
documentary on the early years of American Zoetrope (undercut,
unfortunately, with incessant music), the original “THX 1138 4EB” short
film, trailers, a vintage promo reel, and salute to Murch’s impressive
One of director Tim Burton’s box-office disappointments, MARS ATTACKS! (***,
106 mins., 1996, PG-13; Warner) has, at least, grown in stature
as one of the filmmaker’s bigger cult films over the years.
A colorful salute to Hollywood’s alien invasion films of the ‘50s and
‘60s, done with tongue firmly in cheek and an off-kilter sense of humor
that seemed to go over the heads of most viewers, “Mars Attacks!”
boasts Jack Nicholson in two different roles, an all-star supporting
cast (Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Martin Short,
Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker), a pair of young leads (Natalie
Portman, Lukas Haas), a noteworthy contribution by Tom Jones and some
particularly memorable aliens as animated by ILM. Oh, and a terrific
Danny Elfman score as well.
Issued on DVD during the format’s earliest days, Warner’s Blu-Ray
presentation of “Mars Attacks!” looks great: the VC-1 encoded 1080p
transfer and DTS Master Audio soundtrack are appreciable upgrades on
its prior, ages-old DVD edition, though the isolated score track from
that standard-definition release (just like the recent BD of “Witches
of Eastwick”) has, regrettably, not been retained.
Warner also brings Stephen Hopkins and writer Akiva Goldsman’s
ill-conceived 1998 remake of LOST IN SPACE
(*½, 130 mins., PG-13) to Blu-Ray this month as well.
Fresh off the disaster of “Batman & Robin,” Goldsman’s script
manages to flush everything that made the original series so successful
down the nearest toilet, from its humor to human relationships, in one
has to be one of the most insipid screenplays of its era. Characters
speak to each other in the most unbelievable, unfunny, ridiculous
gibberish (“I love you wife”), and often preach to one another in '90s
"sensitive" psychobabble--particularly when it comes to Goldsman and
director Hopkins's oh-so-dysfunctional portrait of the Robinson family.
Naturally, this being the late ‘90s, dad (William Hurt) doesn't have
time for his kids. Daughter Judy (Heather Graham) is a nerdy scientist
like her father, younger Penny (Lacey Chabert) is an angst-ridden teen
obsessed with her hair, and little Will (Jack Johnson) is a
misunderstood genius who's having trouble at school. That leaves Mom
(Mimi Rogers) to pick up the pieces of her unhappy domestic life and
pack to the planets above to accompany her family on a mission that
will save planet Earth, since our fossil feuls have been exhausted.
Anyhow, if that wasn't bad enough, this “Lost in Space” truly gets even
more lost when the Robinsons end up in an alternate galaxy – or
something – after mad scientist Dr.Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman)
sabotages the mission. One completely unexciting episodic adventure
after another follows, not the least of which involves “Aliens”-styled
computer-generated spiders (except they're not scary) and a time
portal...or something...where the Robinsons meet a gloomy possible
future. Oh, and there's also a cute chameleon-like critter with no
significance to the story at all. And then Oldman's "evil twin" mutates
into a spider-creature before excreting a sac of eggs with baby
arachnids that end up eating him.
Yes, it’s no surprise why “Lost in Space” failed to relaunch as a
cinematic franchise, but viewers who enjoyed the picture will certainly
appreciate Warner’s Blu-Ray release. Another early-format DVD, Warner’s
BD brings back all of the special features from its prior edition
(deleted scenes, two commentaries, two featurettes, the trailer, music
video and interviews) while adding a terrific VC-1 encoded transfer and
DTS Master soundtrack, the latter sporting an excellent Bruce Broughton
score that’s (far) better than the film it was composed for.
On the Digibook front, David Fincher’s seminal serial-killer thriller SE7EN (***, 127
mins., 1995, R) arrives this week from Warner as well. Not a
film I particularly “enjoy” watching, Fincher’s direction, the dense
visuals and textured cinematography of Darius Khondji make this a
highly stylized picture that’s hard to take your eyes off, even if
Andrew Kevin Walker’s script is a bit pretentious -- and Brad Pitt’s
performance marred by occasional stretches of overacting.
Aficionados of the film have looked forward to a proper high-def
release of the picture, and Warner’s Blu-Ray transfer is a special
treat: the VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer is a godsend for grain lovers,
preserving all the crispness of the film’s original appearance and
giving it an almost three-dimensional look. It’s marvelously detailed,
while DTS Master Audio sound and all the extras from prior releases
(four commentaries, deleted/extended scenes, multi-angle functions, the
trailer, storyboards and more) are on-hand for supplements.
Finally, Warner has a deluxe edition of ONE FLEW OVER THE
CUCKOO’S NEST (***½, 133 mins., 1975, R) en route.
Previously issued on Blu-Ray, this deluxe-packaged collection includes
the premiere BD release of the uncut “Completely Cuckoo,” an 87-minute
retrospective on the film which was presented in an edited form on the
prior release, along with a new interview with producer Michael
Douglas. Additional collectibles include a 52-page hardbound book,
reproduction of the original press book, a 52-card deck of
“cast-inspired” playing cards, four reproductions of original worldwide
theatrical posters, and several additional cast/character photo cards.
Those who owned the previous Blu-Ray release may want to pass, though
at least there’s some new content here that’s exclusive to this
CHUCK Season 3
Blu-Ray (817 mins., 2009-10; Warner): Zachary Levi’s engaging
comedic turn as a “Nerd Herd” electronics-store employee turned
top-secret spy has generated a solid fan base over the course of
“Chuck”’s three seasons. While not massive in scope, it’s been vocal
enough for the only moderately-related NBC series to get renewed for an
upcoming fourth season, managing to dodge the cancellation bullet that
befell other genre shows on the network (including “Heroes”) last year.
Season three for “Chuck” finds our hero becoming an actual, bona-fide
spy, much to the chagrin of his lovely counterpart Yvonne Strahovski.
Along the way Chuck finds out that he’s got a bona-fide bloodline in
espionage, while Brandon Routh shows up as a rival for Stahovski’s
Warner’s 19-episode, four-disc Blu-Ray edition of “Chuck: Season 3"
boasts the episodes Chuck Vs... “The Pink Slip,” “The Three Words,”
“Angel de la Muerte,” “Operation Awesome,” “First Class,” “The Nacho
Sampler,” “The Mask,” “The Fake Name,” “The Beard,” “The Tic Tac,” “The
Final Exam,” “The American Hero,” “The Other Guy,” “The Honeymooners,”
“The Role Models,” “The Tooth,” “The Living Dead,” “The Subway,” and
“The Ring Part II.”
Crisp, colorful VC-1 encoded transfers and 5.1 Dolby Digital
soundtracks adorn the Blu-Ray release, which also comes with
“Declassified (deleted) Scenes,” two featurettes, and a gag reel. It’s
a fine package for “Chuck” fans, tiding them over until the 13-episode
fifth season begins later this September on NBC.
Season 5 Blu-Ray (915 mins., 2009-10; Warner): The Winchester
brothers, Sam and Dean, are back in the fifth season of the CW’s
“Supernatural,” which hits Blu-Ray this week as well from Warner Home
Originally slated to be the series’ final year, creator Eric Kripke’s
last season as showrunner resulted in a resolution to his “Apocalypse”
storyline, wherein Sam and Dean, along with Castiel (Misha Collins),
battle Lucifer himself and have to deal with the Four Horsemen of the
Apocalypse in order to prevent hell from reaching Earth.
Once again backed by top-notch production values and more of a reliance
on a season-long arc than the old “monster of the week” format
“Supernatural” launched with, the series garnered robust ratings,
leading to a surprise sixth season renewal.
Season 5 of “Supernatural” on Blu-Ray, hitting stores Tuesday, sports
22 episodes (“Sympathy for the Devil,” “Good God, Y’All,” “Free to Be
You And Me,” “The End,” “Fallen Idols,” “I Believe the Children Are Our
Future,” “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester,” “Changing Channels,”
“The Real Ghostbusters,” “Abandon All Hope,” “Sam Interrupted,” “Swamp
Meat,” “The Song Remains the Same,” “My Bloody Valentine,” “Dead Men
Don’t Wear Plaid,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” “99 Problems,” “Point of No
Return,” “Hammer of the Gods,” “The Devil You Know,” “Two Minutes to
Midnight,” and “Swan Song”) all in superior VC-1 encoded transfers and
5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks.
Extra features include the web series “Ghostfacers,” an unaired scene
from “Real Ghostbusters,” a gag reel, producer/writer commentary on
“The End,” and “Bobby’s Exclusive Video Collection” of “Supernatural:
Apocalypse Survival Guides.” Recommended!
2 Blu-Ray (968 mins., 2009-10; Warner): J.J. Abrams, Alex
Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s Fox series held up its end of the bargain
in season 2 of “Fringe,” continuing to develop a strong sci-fi story
that’s involved yet not as convoluted as what “The X-Files” became,
while maintaining its appealing core cast of FBI agent Olivia Dunham
(Anna Torv), formerly mad scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his
son Peter (Joshua Jackson).
Season two for the series finds the trio primarily involved with a
parallel reality that threatens to destroy our very existence, meeting
up with Leonard Nimoy’s Dr. William Bell and all kinds of beasts
inbetween. The 22-episode second season, presented on four Blu-Ray
discs, includes “A New Day in the Old Town,” “Night of Desirable
Objects,” “Fracture,” “Momentum Deferred,” “Dream Logic,” “Earthling,”
“Of Human Action,” “August,” “Snakehead,” “Grey Matters,” “Unearthed,”
“Johari Window,” “What Lies Below,” “The Bishop Revival,”
“Jacksonville,” “Peter,” “White Tulip,” “The Man From the Other Side,”
“Brown Betty,” “Northwest Passage” and “Over There” Parts I and II.
The VC-1 encoded 1080p transfers and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks are
all excellent; a nice array of special features includes the requisite
gag reel, unaired scenes, four commentary tracks, six “sidebars” on a
half-dozen key episodes, and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Also New on Blu-Ray
PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME Blu-Ray/DVD (**, 116 mins., 2010, PG-13;
Disney): It was a rough summer for producer Jerry Bruckheimer,
whose “midas touch” failed to jumpstart a pair of would-be Disney
franchises at the box-office: the dismal-looking “Sorcerer’s
Apprentice” bombed (no surprise with Nic Cage subbing for Mickey
Mouse), while the best one could say about “Prince of Persia: The Sands
of Time” was that it became the highest-grossing video game adaptation
of all-time (yes, it beat “Street Fighter” and “Mortal Kombat”!).
All dressed up with nowhere interesting to go, “Prince of Persia” is a
routine fantasy that failed spectacularly in establishing Jake
Gyllenhaal as America’s next action hero. In fact, Gyllenhaal’s vacant
performance as an outcast prince who teams up with a princess (the
always-fetching Gemma Arterton) from a rival kingdom to prevent a
mystical, time-altering dagger from falling into the hands of dastardly
Ben Kingsley is one of the picture’s weakest elements. Unable to bring
the needed panache that, say, Johnny Depp brought to “Pirates of the
Caribbean,” Gyllenhaal looks like a lost pretty boy in the trappings of
a good-looking but standard-issue fantasy flick.
From Wolf Kroeger’s production design to John Seale’s cinematography,
“Prince of Persia” looks the part, but the film is a soulless,
by-the-numbers affair. The script, credited to Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro
and Carlo Bernard from a story by video game creator Jordan Mechner,
fails to provide any level of dramatic tension, while one-dimensional
characters quip predictable one-liners. It’s mostly all just an excuse
for the film’s visual effects to play out, and director Mike Newell is
unable to give us a reason to care while choreography and F/X are
repeated from the “Prince of Persia” video games, which are all more
entertaining than sitting through this tired affair.
Disney’s Blu-Ray/DVD/digital copy triple pack offers the expected
crisp, sensational 1080p transfer with DTS Master Audio sound and a few
extras (one deleted scene, a package-exclusive “CineExplore” feature
enabling you to watch behind the scenes content from 40 different
segments), along with a Making Of segment. The standard DVD and digital
copy are contained on their own, respective platters.
Blu-Ray (***, 116 mins., 1990, R; Lionsgate): The second of two
visually arresting, controversial psychological-horror films Carolco
produced in the late ‘80s, “Jacob’s Ladder” is a terrifying, uneven but
thought-provoking thriller from writer Bruce Joel Rubin and director
Adrian Lyne. Like its earlier counterpart “Angel Heart,” it’s a movie
that I have never found completely satisfying, yet it’s undeniably
compelling and so well-made that it lends itself to repeat viewing in
spite of its drawbacks.
Bruce Joel Rubin’s second script to make it to the screen in 1990
(though it had been written years before, languishing during the
interim in development hell) is a decidedly more nightmarish take on
the afterlife than his script for the year’s biggest box-office hit,
“Ghost.” In this puzzle-box of a story directed by Lyne (making his
first film since the massive success of “Fatal Attraction”), “Jacob’s
Ladder” follows troubled Vietnam vet Tim Robbins as he experiences a
series of hallucinations and terrifying visions – is it real? Imagined?
Some kind of purgatory?
Rubin doesn’t provide all the answers on first viewing, and indeed, too
much of my attention the first time around was drawn to the picture’s
ending, which seemed like a perfunctory “Twilight Zone”-esque finish.
It’s an easy mistake for a viewer to make though, since Lyne does get
hung up on the film’s red herrings and didn’t make things easy on the
audience by playing down some of the more overtly supernatural elements
of Rubin’s screenplay – elements that enable subsequent watches to
reveal more of the writer’s original intent. This is a carefully
constructed story that doesn’t make for easy viewing – the picture is
unsettling and consistently so, with particularly graphic imagery – yet
it’s ultimately well worth the journey for horror fans (I should also
note the presence of Elizabeth Pena, who’s incredibly sexy and
disturbing here in easily her best role).
Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray edition of “Jacob’s Ladder” looks very strong. The
AVC encoded 1080p transfer is crisp and isn’t overly plagued by noise
reduction, and the DTS Master Audio soundtrack offers a solid
soundstage for Maurice Jarre’s score. Extras include three deleted
scenes, Lyne’s revealing commentary, two effective trailers, and
Charles Kiselyak’s enlightening documentary, which was produced for the
1998 laserdisc/DVD release and contains essential interviews with Rubin
and Lyne, along with snippets of additional discarded sequences.
Blu-Ray (***, 96 mins., 2009, R; Screen Media): Amusing tale of
a contemporary art gallerist (Marley Shelton) who falls in love with a
modern music composer (Adam Goldberg) skewers the modern art scene in
New York City. Director Jonathan Parker and his co-writer Catherine
DiNapoli have constructed a fitfully funny satire on contemporary art
and artists, with pitch-perfect performances from the cast (Goldberg,
Shelton, Vinnie Jones, Eion Bailey, Lucy Punch among them). Screen
Media’s Blu-Ray disc arrives later this month, offering a 1080p
transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, the latter sporting music by
Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang.
THE LOSS OF A
TEARDROP DIAMOND Blu-Ray (**½, 102 mins., 2010, PG-13; Screen
Media): Utilizing an unproduced screenplay by Tennessee Williams
written in the 1950s, “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond” is an intriguing
curiosity item, though as a film, it’s limited by its lead performance.
As an heiress cast off from her social circle because of her father’s
scandalous behavior, Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t project the needed
emotion inherent in Williams’ melodramatic period tale, yet there are
enough other solid performances from vets like Ellen Burstyn and Will
Patton to compensate for her shortcomings; Chris Evans, meanwhile, at
fares better than his co-star as one of Howard’s employees whom she
chooses to accompany her to Memphis parties. Screen Media’s Blu-Ray
edition of “Teardrop Diamond” includes a 1080p transfer, 5.1 Dolby
Digital soundtrack, and extras including an interview with director
Jodie Markell, deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette. New From Acorn Media
The highly acclaimed PBS series JOSEPH CAMPBELL AND
THE POWER OF MYTH WITH BILL MOYERS (1988, 342 mins.) arrives on
DVD this month from Acorn Media, ranking as one of the year’s most
appealing “special interest” titles in the format.
This fascinating series offers Campbell and Moyers discussing a wide
range of topics related to mythology and how myth dominates culture,
religion and its shaping of the world around us; shot at Skywalker
Ranch and the American Museum of History, this is an engaging,
thought-provoking series which Acorn brings to DVD this month in a
superb double-disc release spotlighting a number of extras.
Excerpts from Moyers’ memorable interview with George Lucas are among
the latter, along with a never-before-released conversation with
Campbell from the “Bill Moyers’ Journal” program, plus a 12-page
viewers guide and profiles of Campbell’s Influences, episode photo
galleries, and extracts from the Campbell film “Sukhavati.”
David Starkey’s chronicle of England’s MONARCHY (2007, 776
mins.) is another of Acorn’s notable releases this month.
A 16-part chronicle of the British monarchy from the early days of
Anglo-Saxon king Offa to the widely-told exploits of Henry VIII and the
days of Victoria, “Monarchy” offers a broad, compelling overview of
England’s rulers, with Starkey providing appropriately scholarly
discussion and locations from the Tower of London to Bosworth Field
utilized for good measure.
A 16-page booklet and biographies of 20th century monarchs, plus a
Starkey bio and a gallery of royal places, round out the five-disc DVD
set, which also boasts lovely 16:9 transfers and stereo soundtracks.
Finally, Acorn has the acclaimed 1982 AGATHA CHRISTIE HOUR
lined up for release this month. These early ‘80s Thames Television
productions, which aired on PBS’ “Mystery!” domestically, boast superb
ensemble casts in adaptations of several lesser-known Christie
Included in the two-disc set are five episodes: “The Case of the
Middle-Aged Wife,” “In a Glass Darkly,” “The Girl in the Train,” “The
Fourth Man,” and “The Case of the Discontented Soldier.” Full-screen
transfers, 2.0 soundtracks, a Christie bio and a profile of Parker Pyne
round out the set. New From
A number of new releases, including a pair of eagerly anticipated
vintage TV on DVD titles, are lined up for release from New Video this
month. Here’s a full rundown:
aka DANGER MAN: The Complete Collection DVD (1960-64, aprx. 57 hours,
A&E/New Video): It was the era of James Bond, suave secret
agents and Cold War thrillers. While 007 and Sean Connery’s classic
portrayal of Ian Fleming’s spy became a worldwide phenomenon, Patrick
McGoohan made a name for himself on the small-screen as John Drake, the
secret agent who performed Bond-like heroics as he traveled the globe
in pursuit of criminals, top-secret documents and shady politicians.
“Secret Agent” aired on CBS starting with its second season; in the UK,
the series was more familiar to viewers as “Danger Man.” No matter what
name you call it, A&E’s massive 18-disc DVD box-set offers every
episode of the series, including its UK-only first season, as well as
the 47 episodes that were broadcast worldwide (its two concluding
episodes, shot in color, among them). With remastered transfers and
soundtracks, this is an essential purchase for series fans, the DVD
also including the original U.S. opening with Johnny Rivers’ classic
theme song, plus a photo gallery and McGoohan bio. Recommended!
RICH MAN, POOR
MAN DVD (aprx. 27 hours, 1976-77; A&E/New Video):
Long-anticipated DVD box-set offers American network TV’s first-ever
“mini-series” event, the sprawling adaptation of Irwin Shaw’s
bestseller about the Jordasche brothers: prodigal son Rudy (Peter
Strauss) and troubled sibling Tom (Nick Nolte), with strong support
turned in by Ed Asner, Susan Blakely, Kay Lenz, Susan Sullivan, and
Penny Peyser among the massive “Guest Star” cast. From Alex North’s
scoring on down, this is ‘70s American television at its finest, a
prototype for the now-vanished mini-series format on U.S. broadcast
“Book I” is notably stronger than Book II, in terms of both production
and narrative, but fans who’ve wanted to see the series on DVD at long
last will be rewarded by A&E’s DVD set combining the complete
production. Streeting on September 28th, the nine-disc set, produced
under license from Universal, includes satisfying full-screen transfers
and a commentary track from Peter Strauss and TV historian David
Bianculli on the first episode. (Viewers will note one of those “music
may differ from televised version” disclaimers on the back jacket,
STORY OF US Blu-Ray (aprx. 9 hours, 2010; A&E/New Video):
400 years of American history are chronicled in this (extremely) broad
but well-produced chronicle, which almost feels like a “Best of the
History Channel” sampler series as it pulls vignettes and sections from
other, more in-depth material. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a
series that “tells it all” and does so in a relatively manageable
running time, “America: The Story of Us” is it, though I would’ve
preferred more comments from historians instead of comments from
“world-class individuals” (that’s what it says on the back cover!)
Meryl Streep, Brian Williams and Michael Douglas. History’s Blu-Ray
edition boasts 1080p transfers, DTS Master Audio soundtracks, plus
additional scenes on the three-disc release.
Blu-Ray (aprx. 10 hours, 2008; A&E/New Video): CGI
visualizations mark this 10-episode profile of the WWII aircraft
carrier USS Enterprise and her battles in the Pacific. Crisp HD
transfers, additional scenes and DTS Master Audio 2.0 stereo
soundtracks adorn the three-disc set.
2012 Blu-Ray (94 mins., 2008; A&E/New Video): Those readers
still fearing the year 2012 will find plenty more to worry about in
this 94-minute examination of Nostradamus’ prophecies. Will it be a
meteor impact, political meltdown (is it possible for things to get
worse than they are now?), environmental disaster – or perhaps a “Sex
and the City” prequel? Nostradamus (kind of) has the answers in this
feature-length production boasting a bonus documentary “The Lost Book
Season 1 Blu-Ray (aprx. 8 hours, 2009; History/New Video):
Interesting History Channel series uses decent CGI animation to detail
the heroic campaigns of Gen. George S. Patton in the North African and
European theaters of WWII. Aided by archival footage and historian
interviews, this is an insightful new take on well-discussed material,
enhanced by the HD presentation on-hand in New Video’s two-disc BD set
with DTS Master Audio 2.0 sound.
STATE Season 4 DVD (aprx. 5 hours, 2009-2010; A&E/New Video):
Ryan Buell and his team are back as they travel to mid-Atlantic states
where more spirits haunt the living, including a three-year old girl
with violent tantrums and a hotel where guests have had enough
(wouldn’t you think paranormal activity would stir up business instead
of driving it away?). Season 4 of “Paranormal State” is presented on
two DVDs in widescreen transfers and stereo soundtracks, with
additional footage on-tap for extras.
MoreTV on DVD
BOY MEETS WORLD
Seasons 1,2,3 DVD (1993-96, 491 mins., Lionsgate) LESS THAN
PERFECT Season 1 DVD (2002-03, 464 mins., Lionsgate): A pair of
ABC sitcoms come to DVD this month, one in a re-issued, lower-priced
version, while the other marks its debut in the format.
The engaging “Boy Meets World” ran for the bulk of the 1990s, following
precocious teen Ben Savage as he learns a succession of life lessons
from his buddies, teacher Mr. Feeny (William Daniels) and girlfriend
Topanga (Danielle Fishel).
The goofy, juvenile laughs of the show were always balanced by a
sincere attempt at developing the interaction between amiable
characters with genuine heart and soul, and it’s for this reason the
series has managed to maintain its fanbase over the years.
Buena Vista previously issued Seasons 1-3 of the series on DVD, and now
they’ve passed the torch over to Lionsgate, whose lower-priced DVDs
offer similar presentations (full-screen transfers and stereo
soundtracks, a few commentaries and trivia game).
Making its premiere on DVD this month is the wacky sitcom “Less than
Perfect,” which starred cute Sara Rue as an ex-secretary who attempts
to charm the cold-hearted cynics she works with at a TV news station.
The supporting cast (Sherri Shepherd, Zachary Levi, Eric Roberts) is
superb and the show enjoyable enough, with Lionsgate’s DVD sporting
1.78 widescreen transfers and 2.0 stereo soundtracks.
RED VS. BLUE
THE RECOLLECTION Seasons 6-7-8 DVD (5 hrs., Flatiron/NewVideo) RED VS. BLUE
REVELATION Season 8 DVD (90 mins., Flatiron/NewVideo): A series
of homemade videos intended to parody first-person shooter (FPS) video
games and simultaneously pay tribute to Microsoft’s “Halo” surpassed
its initial online cult status earlier this decade, with the “Red Vs.
Blue” series continuing on for three additional “seasons” which New
Video has compiled on DVD. (Season 8 is also available separately).
Stereo soundtracks and numerous extras, including commentary from
creator Burnie Burns, plus deleted scenes, outtakes, and cast
interviews comprise the individual releases.
A REVOLUTION DVD (82 mins., 2009; NewVideo): Historical
footage, interviews and musical performances comprise this look at the
civil rights struggle and, in particular, the music that defined its
era. New performances from John Legend, Wyclef Jean, Richie Havens,
Angie Stone, Joss Stone, The Roots and others are on-hand in this
82-minute documentary, which NewVideo brings to DVD late this month
with extras including bonus musical performances, deleted scenes,
interviews and more.
Also On DVD
STOMP THE YARD:
HOMECOMING DVD (88 mins., 2010, PG-13; Sony): Direct-to-video
sequel to the surprise theatrical hit “Stomp the Yard” follows new
pledge Chance Harris (Collins Pennie) as he navigates through college,
trying to balance school, work, romance, an unpaid debt to a street
gang and, of course, the step team competition during Homecoming
weekend on-campus. Sony’s DVD of this Stage 6 production offers deleted
scenes, cast/crew commentary, and a behind-the-scenes choreography
segment, plus a 16:9 transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
TIME: More of the latest reviews! Until
to drop in
on the official Aisle Seat Message
any emails to our email
address. Cheers everyone!
Copyright 1997-2010 All Reviews, Site and Design by Andre