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page updated: 12/19/02

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 12/2/02 - 11/6/02)

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(EARLY UPDATE - 12/2/02 - 11 AM PST)

So did you all have a great long holiday weekend? Did you eat lots of turkey and stuffing? Did you remember to check out The Long Lost 3rd Annual The Bitsy Awards? We're already hard at work on The 4th Annual Bitsys, so rest assured they'll be posted in a timely manner early next year. And you guys thought we forgot!

We've got an interesting report today in The Rumor Mill. Various sources around the Internet have been posting this list that purports to be a look at Warner's tentative 2003 Region 2 DVD release slate. We know that enough of the titles on the list ARE in fact in production, that despite it not coming from our usual sources, we felt it was of interest enough to post here on The Bits. So be sure to check it out, but be aware that this is most definitely not confirmed.

In other news, I wanted to let you all know that The Home Theater Forum will be holding a live chat with 20th Century Fox's Peter Staddon tonight - Monday December 2nd at 9 PM EST (8 PM CST, 6 PM PST). Peter's always good for lots of great upcoming DVD information, so be sure to check it out. We'll have a complete transcript of the chat tomorrow here at The Bits if you miss it.

Also, we have word that a number of Star Trek fan sites have created an online petition to try to convince Paramount to let director William Shatner to go back and do his ultimate director's cut of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, with new special effects, etc... Trek V is the only science fiction movie I ever walked out of the theater on, so if any movie every badly needed an overhaul, that's it.

Any of you kids enjoy Frank Herbert's Dune as much as I did? Well, you'll be happy to know that the Sci-Fi Channel's just launched a new website for the sequel miniseries, Children of Dune. Although given their cancellation of Farscape, I'm not too keen on Sci-Fi these days.

In other news today, The Criterion Collection has just announced a trio of new DVDs for February release. On 2/11, look for I Am Curious... (which contains 2-discs and both the Yellow and Blue films). And on 2/25, watch for The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum and a re-issue of Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (featuring a new high definition digital transfer and other new features).

A couple of other upcoming DVD announcements today... DreamWorks will release The Tuxedo on 2/25, the same day as Road to Perdition. Paramount has added The Four Feathers and Lady Jane to its 2/18 slate. And Universal will release American Me on 1/7, with 8 Women and Possession on 2/11 and Benny Goodman Story (55)/Glenn Miller Story (53), Birth of the Blues (41)/Blue Skies (48), Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (49)/ Emperor Waltz (48), Rhythm on the Range (36)/Rhythm on the River (40), Sweet Charity, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Zoot Suit all set for 3/4.

And speaking of Universal, don't for get that UMusic's U2: The Best of 1990- 2000 streets on 12/10 (or today if you live in R2).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/29/02 - 12:30 PM PST)

You read that right... we've got new word from our sources on classic Looney Tunes DVDs on the way from Warner! You'll find that in The Rumor Mill, in our last update before the weekend (this is in addition to our Rumor Mill earlier report on this on 9/16). This time, we've got at least a few possible titles and street dates.

Ya'll come back now, hear?

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/29/02 - 12:01 AM PST)

A funny thing happened on the way to The Bitsy Awards this year. Back in March, we were gearing up to post our irreverent look at 2001's year of DVD in review, but then IT happened. Server troubles, swarm of locusts, tornadoes, volcanos, cats and dogs shackin' up... it wasn't pretty. Now, if we were a super-staffed, highly-funded corporate operation, no sweat. But as you ought to know by now, The Bits is your basic mom and pop DVD website (we don't bake as many pies as some, but our rhubarb tastes better). Needless to say, when the jam hit the fan... no Bitsys. But then a couple of weeks ago, winged swine began diving past our office windows and we took it as a sign. From above or below, we don't know, but it was DEFINITELY a sign. So Todd and I called upon our own Adam Jahnke, and his trusty Wayback Machine, to help us recall the state of DVD back in good old ought-one. Now, the votes have been tabulated, the kids are asleep and we're all wearing clean boxers. So... without further ski-doo, we present...

The Long Lost 3rd Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards!

And they all lived happily ever after... at least until Monday. ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 11/27/02 - 4 PM PST)

Okay... this is the last post we'll be making before the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. But don't forget... we'll be back on Friday with The Long Lost 3rd Annual Bitsy Awards, looking at the best discs of 2001. And really, how could you resist something as goofy as that?

Speaking of "goofy", we've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you today, starting with Adam Jahnke's looking at Buena Vista's Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Goofy, which streets on 12/3. We've also got Todd's review of A&E's recent Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse: The Complete Series, as well as Dan Kelly's take on Miramax's new The Importance of Being Earnest. Enjoy.

Now then... from everyone here at The Digital Bits, we wish you all a happy and safe holiday, and a safe trip for those of you who may be travelling over the weekend. We'll see you back here on Friday. And remember... turkey makes you sleepy, so no operating that heavy machinery after dinner.

(LATE UPDATE - 11/27/02 - 12:30 PM PST)

Hi everyone... we've got a trio of reviews coming in an hour or two, so be sure to check back for that. Also, we've got a surprise for you on Friday... The Long Lost 3rd Annual Bitsy Awards! No kidding, we're setting the Wayback Machine for 2001 and running down the best discs of last year. And we'll be back in February or March with The 4th Annual Bitsys too. About time, huh?

In the meantime, we've got word for you on that Suncoast exclusive R2-D2 Beneath the Dome DVD. Suncoast stores are now taking preorders for $6.99. Once it arrives in stores, the disc will retail for $7.99. Street date is 12/26.

Also, we're getting a lot of e-mails from readers who purchased the Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Five set from Best Buy, but didn't get the bonus disc that's supposed to come in the packaging. Paramount's set up a hotline just for this problem. Call 'em and they'll send you the disc: 1-800-308-3633

And we also wanted to let you all know that the Fox Demo Disc #2 is now available in Best Buy stores. As with the first edition, this new disc includes the DVD for Beginners section that Todd and I wrote for the series (you'll notice the Bits logo on the back of the packaging). There are samples of special edition features, a THX optimizer, previews of upcoming films and more. It's free with the purchase of any Fox DVD at Best Buy stores while supplies last. Enjoy!

Back soon...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/27/02 - 12:01 AM PST)

Anyone else enjoying the second season of 24 as much as Todd and I are here at The Bits? Damn! Good stuff.

Universal has announced more new titles for early 2003. American Me, Born in East L.A. and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar are all expected on 1/7. Harrison's Flowers is set for 1/21, with Never Again following in 1/28 and 8 Women and Possession due on 2/11. That's in addition to Blue Crush (1/14) and The Bourne Identity (1/21).

Around the Net today, there's a great article at Popular Science on a piece of state-of-the-art software that's responsible for the amazing battle sequences in Fellowship of the Ring and the soon to be released Two Towers. It's aptly named Massive, as you'll agree when you see the scale and detail of the set piece battle scene in the next Lord of the Rings installment. The article is well worth a read, and the inner workings of the software are pretty incredible.

Speaking of The Two Towers, the first review of the film has been published in HotDog magazine. Click here to read it online, as scanned by a Rings website. Looks like this sequel is gonna be even better than the original. A bunch of us here at The Bits are already planning to attend a Midnight screening. ;-)

Back with reviews later today. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/26/02 - 6:30 PM PST)

MGM has just revealed a whole slate of great new DVDs for March... and MGM is now officially double-plus un-studio. Okay... not really. But those of you who got the reference there are right in assuming that 1984 is among the titles that are on the way to DVD early next year. ;-)

On March 4th, look for 1984, A Doll's House, Women in Love, Equus, Of Mice and Men: Special Edition, Salam Bombay!: Special Edition, Franco Zeffirelli's Othello, C'est La Vie, Europa Europa and Pauline at the Beach. Also, an additional title has been announced for February 18th... All or Nothing. Here's a look at the DVD cover art for 1984, Salam Bombay! and Of Mice and Men...

1984Salam Bombay!: Special Edition

Of Mice and Men: Special Edition

Back tomorrow with some new DVD reviews. See you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/26/02 - 11:30 AM PST)

We've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest, so congratulations to all of them and thanks to everyone who entered. Our next contest will start soon, so be sure to check back.

Also this morning, we wanted to update you on a number of great titles Columbia TriStar is working on for December and early 2003. Here's a list of some of the highlights...

12/3 - Happy Times

12/10 - Fat City, Innocence

12/17 - The Killer Meteors

12/31 - Eye See You, xXx

1/7 - Brother John, Educating Rita, The Last Supper, Secret Ballot, Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human

1/14 - Dead Reckoning, Joe and Max

1/21 - The Harder They Fall, Shampoo, Sirocco, World Traveller, Mad Love

1/28 - The Foreigner, The Master of Disguise, Pennies from Heaven

2/4 - All in the Family: The Complete Second Season, El Mariachi, Formula 51, Good Times: The First Season, Married... with Children: The Most Outrageous Episodes! - Volume #1, Sanford and Son: The Second Season

2/11 - Bliss, Swept Away (2002), Wasabi

2/18 - Taboo, You Can't Take it With You

Be aware that Paramount will be releasing C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation: The Complete First Season in mid-December (the official street date has yet to be announced). We'll post more details when we can, but here's a look at the cover art for it in the meantime, as well as Columbia TriStar's Formula 51...

C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation: The Complete First SeasonFormula 51

By the way, there's been a lot of question today around the Net about whether DreamWorks' Road to Perdition will feature audio commentary with director Sam Mendes. The widely-reported press release indicates that there's only commentary on the deleted scenes with Mendes, but sources at the studio have confirmed with us today that there IS, full-length audio commentary on the feature as well. And we hear it's a great track too. Good news indeed!

Back later with more. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/25/02 - 5 PM PST)

I don't know about you, but here's a DVD I'm really eager to give a spin early next year - DreamWorks' Road to Perdition (sure to be a leading Oscar contender) which streets on February 25th. Detailed features have yet to be announced, but confirmed specs include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, never-before-released deleted scenes, audio commentary by director Sam Mendes, a behind-the-scenes documentary and much more. We'll post additional details as they come in from the studio. In the meantime, here's a look at the final cover art...

Road to Perdition

Don't forget - our Trivia Contest ends tonight at Midnight. Be sure to get your entries in!

Back tomorrow...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/25/02 - 11 AM PST)

Morning everyone! We've got big news today. HBO has officially announced the DVD release of My Big Fat Greek Wedding for February 11th (SRP $26.98). The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary (by director Joel Zwick, actress/writer Nia Vardalos and actor John Corbett) and more.

Also today, 20th Century Fox has announced the DVD release of their long awaited The Day the Earth Stood Still: Special Edition for March 4th (SRP $19.98). The disc will include the original B&W full frame video, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, audio commentary by director Robert Wise and Nicolas Meyer, MovieTone News footage of the premiere, the Making The Earth Stand Still documentary, a restoration comparison, 6 still galleries, trailers and more. Also due on 3/4 from Fox are Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) and Quest for Fire.

Here's a look at the cover artwork for My Big Fat Greek Wedding along with Miramax's The Osbournes: The First Season (street date 3/4)...

The Osbournes: The First SeasonMy Big Fat Greek Wedding

This would normally go in The Rumor Mill, but because it's so brief, we decided to post it here. All the usual disclaimers apply. However, you'll be happy to know that we've confirmed with our sources that work is well underway on Disney's The Lion King: Platinum Edition, which will be released in November of 2003. Also, a Sleeping Beauty: Special Edition is currently in production for release early in 2003 (you'll find promos for the latter title on the upcoming Lilo and Stitch DVD, due 12/3).

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to include the 377,512 players shipped to retailers here in the States in the second week of November. That ALREADY takes the month to a whopping 1,147,528 players, which means that November is probably going to break records before its five weeks are up.

Our friends over at The Home Theater Forum has informed us that they'll be holding a live chat tonight with director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Wargames). Click this link to participate. The chat will be held at 9 PM EST (8 PM CST, 6 PM PST).

Elite Entertainment has let us know that their I Spit on Your Grave: Millennium Edition will now street on 12/17, while The Ultimate Revenge 2-Pack (containing I Spit on Your Grave and Don't Mess with My Sister) will arrive on 12/3.

There's a Hollywood Reporter story over at Yahoo, that says word from Comdex is that the "multiplicity" of recordable DVD formats are only "a temporary impediment" to the growth of DVD. Comdex, which is being held in Las Vegas this week, is the largest computer industry trade show in the world. Click here for news reports directed from the Comdex show floor.

Yahoo also has a brief story on the pricey, 2-year restoration of Paramount's Sunset Boulevard and Roman Holiday and their impending release to DVD.

Finally this morning, you may have heard that there's a new self-destructing DVD disc in town. Click here for this story over at CNN about promo discs for the new Bond film Die Another Day that, 36 hours after being removed from their packaging, are no longer able to play. A chemical reaction between the disc material and air turns the disc surface cloudy, making it unreadable. Literal vaporware. But if you're afraid of another Divx-like attempt to steal the hearts of consumers away from standard DVD, don't worry. We expect it will get ridden out on a rail by consumers, just like every other attempt at a self-destructing disc format has. Funny thing about consumers... they like to be actually able to KEEP the content they buy on DVD.

Back with more later, so stay tuned...


We've just posted new reviews of no less than FIVE DVD releases this afternoon. First up is Adam Jahnke's take on New Line's Rush Hour 2: Infinifilm disc. Then, Jeff Kleist checks in with a look at Anchor Bay's new Highlander: Season One box set. And finally, I've given a trio of Spacecraft Films' new DVD releases an in-depth review, including Apollo 11: Men on the Moon, Apollo 14: Complete Downlink Edition and Apollo 15: Complete Downlink Edition. If you're a fan of space exploration, you'll definitely want to get your hands on these hefty, multi-disc sets ASAP. These new reviews push us past the 1,200 titles reviewed mark here at The Digital Bits. So hats off to everyone on staff here who's contributed to that goal.

Now then... we'll be back with a new Trivia Contest soon, so be sure to watch for that. But I want to let you all know that we're going to be dark here at The Bits tomorrow, as we've got a LOT of behind-the-scenes work that we've got to get caught up on around here. But we'll be back on Monday with lots of news and more. Look for reviews of Sports Night and Paramount's new special edition of The Duellists next week as well.

Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/20/02 - 5 PM PST)

This is just a quick post to let you all know that Warner's Fear Dot Com is slated for release on 1/14. And according to, Showtime's Queer As Folk: Season Two is expected to be released on DVD in February, with HBO's Six Feet Under: The Complete First Season slated for release on 2/4 (thanks to Bits reader Dan S. for the heads-up).

Also, I wanted to let you know that we'll be back with a new Trivia Contest and new DVD reviews tomorrow morning, so be sure to watch for that.

Slide on down to today's earlier post for details on The Osbournes and Star Trek V, as well as an official street date for DreamWorks' Road to Perdition. Have a great evening!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/20/02 - 11 AM PST)

We've got some reasonably big news for you today, DVD-wise. First up comes word that MTV's 2-disc The Osbournes: The Complete First Season will street on March 4th, in both censored and uncensored versions, from Miramax (SRP $29.99). The set will include all 10 first season episode, plus 4 never-before-seen episodes, additional never-before-seen footage from all 10 broadcast episodes, audio commentary for each episode, the Too Oz for TV blooper reel, Top Ten Moments for each family member, 4 interview featurettes with The Osbournes (including Life on the Road, Family Values, First Season Stories and The Untold Story of Michael the Security Guard), an Ozzy translator subtitle feature, various set-top games and DVD-ROM material including an episode guide, more games and weblinks.

Also today, IGN Film Force has done an interview with Star Trek's William Shatner. Unfortunately, in it Shatner reveals that Paramount decided against updating his Star Trek V: The Final Frontier with new editing and special effects. So the upcoming "collector's edition" will not be the ultimate director's edition we were all hoping for. Thanks to Bits reader Bill W. for sending that over.

A couple of new DVD announcents today. Buena Vista will release Full Frontal on 2/11. Additional February titles from MGM will include Igby Goes Down (2/4), Women vs. Men (2/11) and All or Nothing (2/18). And DreamWorks' Road to Perdition will officially street on 2/11 as well.

On a sad note, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the death of actor James Coburn yesterday. Coburn recently voiced a character in Disney's Monsters, Inc., but he was better know as the title character in the Our Man Flint series and for his work in such films as The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. He also won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in Affliction.

And around the site this morning, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to include the 770,016 players that shipped to retailers in the first week of November (ending 11/1). That pushes the DVD format-to-date total here in the States well past the 39 million mark.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...


Gadzooks, I'm tired! As planned, Matt and I make our 120-mile (each way) trek into the Mohave last night to watch the Leonids. The show wasn't nearly as good as last year, but we did get a good solid hour of celestial entertainment out of the deal, the peak coming at about 2:30 AM PST (click here for details via We had our cooler of beer, a bucket of cold KFC, a couple of comfy lawn chairs. And nothing for miles around but tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes, coyotes and the like. Good fun but not for the faint of heart. And we didn't get back until like 7 AM. So again for effect... gadzooks, I'm tired!

But I've got a new DVD review for you as promised... Warner's very long awaited South Park: The Complete First Season. Was it worth the wait? Does it meet expectations? And what's with those commentary CDs anyway? You'll find out in the review, so be sure to check it out.

We'll be back tomorrow, after many, many hours of sleep. Stay tuned...


Morning everyone. Today is a slow news day DVD-wise. Todd's out with a cold and I'm busy pouring through Warner's South Park: The Complete First Season for a review that we'll post tomorrow afternoon (including the audio commentary for each episode, which is available on a separate CD set from Comedy Central). The DVDs are available now, but it might take you a while to get the commentary CDs, as you have to mail away for them. Believe it or not, having the commentaries on a separate disc does actually work, in terms of sync with the picture (although I'm not particularly happy that Warner decided to dump them for "content" reasons). Anyway, I'll have my review up tomorrow, along with a couple of other things as well.

In a quick bit of DVD-related news, Fox is reporting cracking sales of their Star Wars: Episode II DVD - some 4 million copies sold in the first 24 hours of availability. That's not quite as good as the 7 million in the first day Columbia TriStar claims for Spider-Man, or the 5 million Disney reported for Monsters, Inc.. But it's not too shabby either (click here for more from Yahoo).

And in a non-DVD related note, before I sign off to get back to work on South Park, I wanted to let all of you know that tonight is the annual Leonid meteor shower. Matt and I went out to the desert last year to see it (you may remember my raving report the next day), and we were COMPLETELY blown away - there were so many shooting stars that you couldn't seem them all. Several a second at times and we saw more than a thousand per hour the whole night long. It was really extraordinary. I mention it today, because this is the last year that the Leonids are predicted to be this good - scientists are saying that there probably won't be another storm like this in our generation. If you're interested, head on over to this link at, which has information on how to view the Leonids (and what times to watch throughout the night and early morning) calculated for locations all over the U.S. and around the world. So if it's a clear night where you live, bundle up and head on out to try and catch a glimpse of the action. I think you'll be glad you did. Matt and I have been waiting for this all year, I can tell you. We're heading out to the desert again this evening with a group of people to camp out the whole night long and watch the festivities. So when you're out there, if you happen to hear a bunch of guys "oooh"ing and "ahhh"ing like idiots, that's probably us. ;-)

By the way, if you can't get outside tonight, you can watch the skies all around the world live at this link. Thanks to Bits reader Joe C. for the reference. Enjoy!

Enjoy the show and we'll see you back here tomorrow afternoon!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/15/02 - 4 PM PST)

Todd and I figured we'd close out the week with a nifty one-two punch of DVD reviews from the guys who started it all here at The Bits. As you might expect, Todd's taking you to a place most of you probably haven't gone before as moviegoers, with a review of Cult Epics' Viva La Muerte: Special Edition - a bit of classic Surrealist cinema if ever there was one. And I'm riding shotgun today with a look at a more recent and mainstream, but sadly overlooked, little B-movie gem... Buena Vista's Reign of Fire. Both films are new to DVD and are available now.

So with that, we bid you adieu. We'll be back with lots more chocolaty DVD goodness on Monday. Until then, don't do anything we wouldn't do. And have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/15/02 - 12:01 AM PST)

You Trekkers have reason to be happy again in 2003. As expected, Paramount's officially announced that the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine will arrive on DVD on 2/25, hot on the warp trail of the last season of The Next Generation. And subsequent seasons of the show will arrive every other month throughout the rest of next year. Look for the introductory 6-disc set to include all 20 first season episodes, along with numerous special features. You'll get Deep Space Nine: A Bold Beginning, Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys, Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season One, Secrets of Quark's Bar, Alien Artifacts: Season One, Deep Space Nine Sketchbook, Deep Space Nine Chronicles, Section 31 Hidden Files and a photo gallery. Here's a first look at the cover art for the set...

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season One

Robert Harris has checked in with a special column today in addition to his earlier piece this week here at The Digital Bits. This time around, he takes a look at Paramount's recent efforts to save one of their dearest cinematic classics - a true piece of studio history on film, which is about to be released on DVD. Here's Saving Sunset.

Also this morning, there's word that New Line will release its Simone: Infinifilm Edition on 1/21. And Anchor Bay is kicking off its much anticipated Wim Wenders series of DVDs on 1/7, with the release of The American Friend, Lightning Over Water and Notebook on Cities and Clothes. We're hearing that Buena Vista's forthcoming Cinema Paradiso DVD (due on 2/18) will contain BOTH the original 1998 version as well as the longer 2002 re-release. Columbia TriStar has announced Dead Reckoning for on 1/14. And Warner will release Bullit and Above the Rim on 1/14, with The Cardinal and King of Kings following on 2/25 and Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, Day for Night and A Man and a Woman set for 3/18.

We'll be back with more later, so stay tuned...


You readers who use the Mozilla browser (a.k.a. Netscape for you not tech-heads) have probably been noticing some funky formatting problems here at The Bits for a few days. Thankfully, I think we've got the bugs worked out, but let me know if anything new crops up.

We're doing a lot of chart updating and other site maintainence work around here today, but we've got a little more now, and we'll have some reviews for you tomorrow.

In the meantime, we thought you might like a look at some new DVD cover artwork... Fox's X-Men 1.5: Special Collector's Edition (street date 2/11) and Kino's restored re-release of Metropolis (due tentatively on 2/18). Both are set to be 2-disc sets, with lots of bonus material. The Metropolis art is similar to the Region 2 release, but we're told it's not final.

X-Men 1.5: Special Collector's EditionMetropolis

I also wanted to point out a couple of interesting things around the Internet today. First up, Todd's discovered this neat little website,, which lets you post a list of your top 20 favorite films and share that list with others. Several of us here at The Bits have posted our own personal lists, including Todd, Adam Jahnke, Dan, Matt and myself. It's a fun little exercise and it's fascinating how hard it can be to try and boil down your cinematic tastes into just 20 titles.

Also this afternoon, has posted an interesting story on DVD and the future of classic and art cinema. It's well worth a read.

Stay tuned...


Morning folks. Busy as I am these days, I finally managed to find a moment to spin off a DVD review for you. You can now read my thoughts on Paramount's surprising The Sum of All Fears: Special Collector's Edition - the studio's latest adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel, this time starring Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan. It's fresh on store shelves and is well worth a look. Never thought I'd be saying that, but there it is.

I've got a couple more reviews on the way for the next few days, including my two cents on Buena Vista's forthcoming Reign of Fire (which streets next week) and their just-released Sports Night. We might even get Todd to drop in with a disc review before the week is out. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/12/02 - 5 PM PST)

I've received yet another interesting e-mail from the DVD Forum, clarifying the situation we've been reporting on over the weekend re: working out the final HD-DVD spec. It seems that the Sony group has never officially proposed Blu-Ray to the DVD Forum. And apparently, Forum Steering Committee members are talking about the incorrect article in Japan Today now, which seems to have caused quite a stir. As before, we're working to try to sort out all the details on this - we'll update you as necessary.

Meanwhile, as promised Robert Harris' new column is now available. In this installment, Robert talks about an important classic film recently released on DVD by Criterion, and the work of several great painters of color and light throughout the history of the film medium. So enjoy Powell and Pressburger, Color and Light. And as always, you can discuss the column over at the HTF when you're done (just click the link at the end of the column).

Back tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/12/02 - 2 PM PST)

A couple of very interesting things have cropped up behind-the-scenes here at The Bits requiring my attention today. That means my new reviews will have to wait until tomorrow morning. In the meantime though, we've just posted Adam Jahnke's look at Disney's recent Schoolhouse Rock! Special 30th Anniversary Edition for you Gen-Xers out there. We figure most of you are wading through the three and a half hour version of Fellowship of the Ring anyway. ;-)

However, Matt and I have been working closely on finalizing our review format for high-resolution audio discs. Each of the various formats has their own unique characteristics and we've been trying to work out the best format that will accommodate all of them effectively, and give you all the information you're looking for about the individual discs. We think we've got it locked down now, so with that in mind, we've gone back and revised my Police DTS 5.1 CD review, as well as Matt's REO Speedwagon and Wishbone Ash DVD-Audio reviews. And we've posted our first SACD disc review as well - Matt's take on Abkco brand new re-issue of The Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out. You might be interested to know that these discs feature both CD audio compatible in all existing CD players, as well as an SACD layer for high-resolution audio, all for a remastered CD price - a very nice value for fans.

In the news, CNN's got a story on 321 Studios, the company that's recently published DVD copying software, and the controversy the company has caused in the entertainment industry. It's worth a read.

Back soon with Robert Harris' column. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/12/02 - 10 AM PST)

Interesting. So I received an e-mail early this morning from an official with the DVD Forum in Japan, letting me know that the story reported in the Japan Times last week is in error. The Forum is not adopting the Toshiba/NEC spec proposal as the final HD-DVD format spec. What's actually happening is that they're crafting a new spec, built on the blue laser concept, that's based on the various spec proposals they've received. So the final spec could incorporate aspects of each of them. The question is, how much of the Toshiba/NEC proposal is being adopted as opposed to how much of the Sony BluRay proposal is being accepted... and is it enough of a compromise on both sides to keep the Sony group from walking and launching BluRay on their own. Maybe it's time to stress once more how important it is for the industry to adopt a SINGLE format for HD-DVD supported by ALL of the industry players.

This certainly is fascinating. I'm working to learn more, so hopefully they'll be something to report soon.

In the meantime, got your Episode II and Lord of the Rings DVDs yet? What are you waiting for? The two biggest DVDs of the year hit stores today kids. Get 'em while they're still fresh! ;-)

Back in a few hours to announce the contest winners and lots more. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/11/02 - 2 PM PST)

We've got some good news for you fans of Fox's TV releases. We've just updated The Rumor Mill with word on The X-Files, The Simpsons, M*A*S*H, Angel, NYPD Blue and even... wait for it... Millennium. There's even word in there about NBC's Will & Grace coming to DVD. Don't miss it.

We've also posted a pair of retro DVD reviews for you from Graham... Fox's My Cousin Vinny and a last MGM Woody Allen review, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy.

In other news, Artisan's created a website for their upcoming Glengarry Glen Ross DVD. And PC World has an interesting story on the brewing battle over HD-DVD.

For those of you rushing out to buy Episode II and Lord of the Rings tomorrow, be aware that Toys R Us is advertising Episode II for $9.99. Buyers beware though... there's no word on how many widescreen copies they'll have in stock or how long they'll last. Several retailers will be open at Midnight to sell these titles, so check with stores in your area if you just can't wait.

How many of you sharp-eared film fans caught a remixed version of the main theme from Once Upon a Time in the West during the end credits of last night's Sopranos? Loved that! And yes... word is that flick's coming next year from Paramount. We'll keep you up to date.

We're going to wait and post Robert Harris' latest column tomorrow, along with reviews of a few new and forthcoming DVDs... including one or two by yours truly for a change. And don't forget that our latest Trivia Contest ends tonight at Midnight.

See you tomorrow!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/11/02 - 10:30 AM PST)

Morning all! Time to start a new week... and some of you probably have the day off, given the Veterans Day holiday. Enjoy it if you do. And the rest of you, get a fresh cup of coffee and pull up a chair.

First up, Bits reader Daniel W. sent in this clipping from page 12 of Friday's Japan Today newspaper. It's the longer version of the article on the DVD Forum choosing Toshiba's blue-laser spec for HD-DVD. There are more details in the hardcopy piece, including word that the forum will finalize the details of the Toshiba-NEC format by May 2003, and that both Toshiba and the Sony group will begin marketing their products to consumers next year. Which sadly means that once again, we have a format war on our hands. HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray. Guess it's not enough that high-resolution audio is stalled out before really even getting out of the garage because of two competing formats and fear of piracy (see this recent story on - even some hardcore audiophiles are thumbing their noses at the two formats because of watermarking and the lack of fully-digital outputs). First it was Beta vs. VHS. Then it was Mini-Disc vs. DAT. Then it was SACD vs. DVD-Audio. And now Sony's trying their own thing again. I'm all for the best quality and all, but there has to be a point where the industry finally gets its s#@t together.

With SACD and DVD-A, some record companies are releasing titles in one format and some are releasing titles in the other... but few companies are fully committing to either. And hardware that will play both formats is rare and expensive. So too, I suspect, will it be for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray for the next few years. You'll have the Warner group going with HD-DVD, Columbia TriStar will go with Blu-Ray and the D-VHS crowd (Fox, Universal, etc) will just keep doing their thing. And the packaged high-definition movie business will languish... which maybe, given Hollywood's digital piracy concerns, is what they want anyway. Bottom line... don't start selling off your DVD discs any time soon.

Moving on, we're hearing that a lot of you have seen the new Star Wars: Episode II DVD commercials, which feature a quote from our review of the disc. Something to the effect of "This is the best looking DVD we've ever seen." That's no exaggeration, folks. Pick up the disc tomorrow and you'll see it for yourself. And be sure to snatch a copy of The Lord of the Rings: Extended Version too. You'll be VERY glad you did.

And finally this morning, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to include the 712,707 players that shipped to U.S. dealers in the final week of October (ending 10/25). That takes the format-to-date total past the 38 million players mark. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/8/02 - 12 PM PST)

Time to close out another week of DVD fun, this time with trio of new disc reviews. Adam Jahnke's given MGM's recent DVD release of an older Paul Verhoeven flick, Spetters, a spin. And Graham Greenlee's got a look at Disney's Monsters, Inc.: Collector's Edition and MGM's Pumpkin.

We'll be back on Monday with a new Robert Harris column, new DVD reviews and more. And check back over the weekend for the start of a new Trivia Contest.

And on a last note on this rainy Southern California afternoon, I want to acknowledge something I'm very happy about. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced its list of 2003 inductees: AC/DC, The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, The Righteous Brothers... and my all-time favorite band, The Police. Drummer Stewart Copeland has confirmed that the band will re-unite for a 3-song performance at the induction ceremony on March 10th. DDDAAAAAAMMMMMMM!

Have a great one!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/8/02 - 11 AM PST)

Bits reader Trilidar L. spotted this story over at Japan Today this morning. According to the brief news blurb, the DVD Forum has decided to adopt Toshiba's "next generation" DVD spec as the basis for a future HD-DVD format. For those who aren't familiar with this yet, here's the entry on the spec from Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ:

"Toshiba "next-generation" DVD. Modification of existing DVD physical format to allow about 15 GB per layer using blue laser. Designed to improve data capacity while theoretically being able to use existing replication equipment (Blu-ray will require significant changes to production equipment). NEC also backs this proposal."

Speaking for myself, I think this is the smartest way to go as far as HD-DVD. But this could result in a rift with the Sony camp, which has already promoted their own "Blu-Ray" disc format for HD (backers of which include LG, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Hitachi, Samsung, Sharp and Thomson).

We're waiting for official confirmation on this story from the DVD Forum. We'll post here when we learn more. In the meantime, check back soon for new DVD reviews...


Well... it took a little longer than expected, but we've just completed our update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section. This is by far our biggest update of the section yet, with very close to 200 new cover scans added in one shot. And each title can be ordered with just the click of your mouse from our software sponsor, DVD Planet. Keep in mind that when you order from DVD Planet, you're doing an awful lot to help support our work here at The Bits. So please give them a try if you're thinking of buying some of these new titles. And if you like their service, keep sending your business their way - we'd sure appreciate it.

Among the new cover scans we've just posted, you'll find all the new Criterion titles, Artisan's upcoming Stargate: Ultimate Edition, all the new SuperBit titles and xXx from Columbia TriStar, TONS of new titles from MGM and Image, Universal's Blue Crush, The Bourne Identity and Undercover Brother, Akira Kurosawa's Dreams from Warner, Krzysztof Kieslowski's long-awaited Three Colors Trilogy from Miramax and MUCH, much more. So enjoy and thanks for your patience.

Back tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/6/02 - 4:30 PM PST)

We're STILL working to get all that artwork formatted, so thanks for being patient. We've got over 100 new covers to post, with more coming in all afternoon. Watch for it soon.

Glengarry Glen Ross: 10th Anniversary Special Edition

In the meantime, Artisan has just announced the DVD release of their long-awaited Glengarry Glen Ross: 10th Anniversary Special Edition. The 2-disc set will street on 11/19 (SRP $26.98). Features will include newly re-mastered anamorphic widescreen and full-screen video, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 audio, English and Spanish subtitles, the A.B.C. (Always Be Closing) documentary tracing the psychological intersection of fictional and real-life salesmen, a tribute to Jack Lemmon, new interviews with the cast and filmmakers, new audio commentary by director James Foley and more. Looks like this will be well worth the wait.

Also, Universal has announced the release of 2 more high-definition D-VHS titles. Watch for Spy Game and The Bone Collector on 11/19 (SRP $44.98 each).

Stay tuned...

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