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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 4/6/04

4/6/04 Weekly Release Roundup

I greatly and deeply apologize to everyone for not having a full column today. I had a set of very personal emergencies occur this weekend that prevented me from both watching and writing.

Instead, here is a list of the stuff coming this week with a few comments for the really worthwhile discs you might want to look for. This may be the format for next week as well. Hopefully, I can get my life back together so that my hobby will be fun again soon.

The big release this week isn't what you think it is. It's actually the best TV set we've ever seen put to disc. That's right, instead of part three of a trilogy, our big disc is...

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series

This is a must have for everyone. It's a stupendous example of how a TV show can look on DVD. Every episode of this tragically underrated series is shown in nice transfer with wonderful sound representing the 80s soundtrack and brilliant dialogue. Commentaries on every episode including writers, directors, stars, fans, producers and characters from the show are featured, along with featurettes, outtakes, audition tapes and promos. Fans will likely want to check out the Freaks and Geeks website for a super duper set with two extra discs which include a script for an unfilmed episode, table readings and more. I'll say again, this set is the absolute best set for a TV series ever produced for DVD. Great show, great disc. The super duper addition will be hard to beat at this year's Bitsy Awards.

The Matrix Revolutions The Matrix Revolutions

Complete your collection, and get this one too. The two-disc special edition looks and sounds great, and there are a few nice special features here and there, but it's obvious a bigger set will come as part of a The Matrix Trilogy set once we all forget the second two films sucked. Watch for a full review in the next few days.

Charade (Criterion) Charade

Criterion revisits one of its earlier releases with a nice new anamorphic transfer. Sound and extras are the same, however. But still, the old disc didn't look this good and is worth replacing if you're a Criterion fan.

Charlie's Angels: The Complete Second Season Charlie's Angels: The Complete Second Season

Now that Farrah is gone, it's Cheryl Ladd time. Season Two comes to us looking and sounding swell. 26 episodes fill out 6-discs nicely so don't look for extras. But getting this fun TV series is enough for most of us.

Cheaper by the Dozen Cheaper by the Dozen

Fox's remake with Steve Martin looks and sounds as good as you'd expect a Fox disc looking and sounding (both widescreen and full frame versions are on flip sides). Extras are two commentaries, one with the director (the guy REALLY enjoys his craft) and five of the children in the film. There's also deleted scenes and a featurette with the director.

Friends: The Complete Seventh Season
Friends: The Complete Seventh Season

Looking good and sounding good on DVD, this set comes out with no surprises for those who are filling their library with Friends seasons. Extras include more footage edited back into the shows, a couple of commentaries with the producers, supporting actor "guest book" interview featurette, gag reel and trivia.

Grapes of Wrath The Grapes of Wrath

The ever so classic John Ford film (of the John Steinbeck novel of the same name) comes to DVD as an incredible special edition. Wonderful video, great mono sound and a nice set of extras including a scholarly commentary track, archival introduction titles cards for International releases giving context to the Dust Bowl scenario, a A&E Biography of producer Daryl Zanuck, trailers, newsreel footage, stills and promo material. A fine Fox Studio Classic Release.

Ilsa Three-Disc Collection Ilsa Three-Disc Collection

Anchor Bay re-releases all of their lovely Ilsa titles in one handy dandy box set. You can read our reviews of these discs here.

In Living Color: The Complete First Season

In Living Color: Season One

The first season of this often-brilliant TV comedy sketch show is on DVD. I say it's about time. Presented in standard television video and sound, with a handful of featurettes and commentary from Tommy Davidson on a couple of episodes. It could have been better, but still, having this show readily available on disc is pretty good.

The Judy Garland Signature Collection The Judy Garland Signature Collection

Fans of Judy Garland (you know who you are) will have fun with this set of discs. Four new standard releases (Love Finds Andy Hardy, In the Good Old Summertime, Ziegfeld Girl and For Me and My Gal), join a handy staple of classic releases (A Star is Born, The Wizard of Oz and The Harvey Girls) in one box set.

Meet Me in St. Louis Meet Me in St. Louis

Also available today and featuring Judy is Meet Me in St. Louis. The eagerly awaited DVD release of the classic MGM musical features very nice video and audio as well as a huge plate of extras including trailers, an isolated score, documentaries, featurettes, commentaries, an introduction from Liza Minnelli, shorts and a TCM special. It's a very nice two-disc set and well worth the cash.

Pink Panther Film Collection Pink Panther Film Collection

Gotta love it: all the Pink Panther films (save for Return which is controlled by Artisan) are together in a nice faux-leather case complete with re-imagined Panther art by pop art fave Shag. All the films in this set have been remastered for anamorphic and feature DD 5.1 sound. Blake Edwards provides commentary on the first film, trailers appear on all the others. A bonus sixth disc rounds out the set, housing a documentary about the films, a featurette on the cartoon character as well as six cartoons. Fans of this film series will really want this one.

Police Academy Complete Collection Police Academy Complete Collection

If you want it, you can have it. All the Police Academy movies are out now, complete in a box for easy storage. The widescreen transfers are all anamorphic (save for the two full frame films Assignment Miami Beach and Citizens on Patrol -- but they were shot open with no panning and scanning), some are better than others. Sound is in mono generally, with the most recent sporting a 2.0. Extras include a commentary track on film 1 featuring Steve "Mahoney" Guttenberg, Michael "Larvell Jones" Winslow, Leslie "Debbie Callahan" Easterbrook, G.W. "Lt. Harris" Bailey, Director Hugh Wilson and Writer Paul Maslansky, along with a short featurette and trailer. The other films are light. But hey, now everyone can stop asking us to get the Police Academy series out on DVD, right?

Trancers 6 Trancers 6

Jack Deth is back, but this time he's in the body of his beautiful daughter. In the year 2022, Deth must leap into the body of the daughter he never knew he had in order to stop the evil Trancers from taking over the world. Jay Woelfel's ambitious sequel does the Deth name proud, running around the Evil Dead rip-off the film series became after part 3. This DVD features good sound and video as well as trailers for various Full Moon projects, deleted scenes/alternate shots and the original Trancers, which is a huge bonus in and of itself.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

This Koch disc is a huge step above the previous Fox Lorber release of this wonderful French film. Good video and sound and an interesting excerpt from a documentary on director Jacques Demy make this a very good replacement for the previous disc: unless, of course, you don't have the original release. Then you need to check out this wonderful film starring the always beautiful Catherine Deneuve.

Wim Wenders Collection Wim Wenders Collection

Another Anchor Bay box set, this one focusing on Wim Wenders. It includes: The American Friend, Lightning Over Water and Notebook on Cities and Clothes.

Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire

Ichi! Ichi! Ichi! Yes, another of the great Blind Swordsman DVDs from AnimEigo finally becomes available at retail stores. Read our review here.

Also coming this week...

...are lots of studio catalog titles. Look for: Barbet Schroeder's Before and After, Ron Shelton's Blaze, Britney Spears is In the Zone, it's a Patrick Swayze double feature with City of Joy and Father Hood, Christina Aguilera is Stripped - Live in the UK, William Hurt gets medical in The Doctor, Peter Yates' The Dresser finally gets released, Charlton Heston presents himself in Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth, it's Tommy Steele in George Sidney's Half a Sixpence, Shelley Long says Hello Again, Colin Firth, Heather Graham and Minnie Driver find that Hope Springs, look out, it's Jack the Giant Killer, Merchant/Ivory's Jefferson in Paris comes to DVD, Lightning: The White Stallion shows, Howie Mandel and Fred Savage star in a pre-cursor to Monster's Inc., Little Monsters, the classic The Little Prince, Lorenzo's Oil, Rock Hudson and Doris Day star in two cult classics Lover Come Back and Pillow Talk, Richard Burton stars in Lovespell, Selma Hayek makes her directorial debut with The Maldonado Miracle, Danny Aiello makes a kid's flick with Me and the Kid, Julie Strain heads a coven of vampires in Full Moon's Morgana, Edward James Olmos leads an all-star cast in My Family, Jason Issacs isn't a bad guy in Passionada, Sadie Frost is just plain hot in A Pyromaniac's Love Story, looking for Grandma it's Red Riding Hood, love the cover to this one: Return to Horror High, Mij the otter stars in Ring of Bright Water, the special edition re-release by Warner of A Room with a View, New Line's Safe Passage, my parent's favorite movie of all-time (which is spooky) Same Time, Next Year, learn how to apply make-up with Simply Gorgeous, Fred McMurray returns in Son of Flubber, Connery sounds cool in Sword of the Valiant and a young president of SAG stars in Sylvester.

Until next week...

Todd Doogan

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