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My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 12/9/04 - 11/10/04)

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(LATE UPDATE - 12/9/04 - 6:30 PM PST)

Okay, as promised, we've just posted Barrie Maxwell's latest edition of Classic Coming Attractions. In this installment, Barrie profiles the films of producer David O. Selznick. As always, he also runs down the latest classic DVD release announcements. Enjoy!

Over at our MusicTAP site, George Bennett has turned in a review of Elton John's self-titled album, Elton John, on SACD.

We've also updated our Digital Bits Power Buys, so be sure to check that out.

So there you go. This is going to serve as our Friday post as well, as our own Todd Doogan has flown out here to the Left Coast (from Atlanta, GA) for a visit. So you know... we're off to take in some screenings and such.

Have a great weekend and we'll be back on Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 12/9/04 - 3 PM PST)

My review of New Line's 4-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition is now complete! I've just updated the second part of the review to include some in-depth comments on Disc Four and my closing thoughts. The set streets this coming Tuesday (12/14). So enjoy the review... I KNOW you're going to enjoy the DVD.

Anyone else out there hoping Peter Jackson will get to do The Hobbit after he finishes King Kong? It's gonna be hard going cold turkey after all this great Rings fun.

Also, just FYI, DreamWorks has FINALLY announced the DVD release of Shark Tale (as we predicted back on 12/1) for 2/8 (SRP $29.99). Look for the film to be included in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by directors Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron and Rob Letterman, a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes (including The Music of Shark Tale, Fishified World, Star Fish, A Tour You Can't Reef-Use and The Making of Club Oscar), the DVD exclusive animated Club Oscar dance sequence, a featurette that teaches you how to do the moves from the Club Oscar dance sequence, Gigi the Whale's "audition footage", the Car Wash music video with Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott, a Rough Waters video of animation goofs, numerous set top games, DVD-ROM activities and more. You'll find cover art at the link above (just click the link and slide down).

Back later with Barrie's column. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/9/04 - 11:30 AM PST)

Okay, boys and girls... today is going to be a three update day. I'm kicking things off early with a little DVD news update. Then I'll be back in an hour or two with the rest of my Return of the King DVD review. Finally, I'll check back in this afternoon with Barrie Maxwell's Classic Coming Attractions. I'm not resting today until it's all up, so do check back will you?

But first, the news. The big story today is that Disney has OFFICIALLY announced that it has decided to support the Blu-ray Disc high-definition videodisc format. From today's press release:

"As part of its cooperation with Blu-ray, BVHE will begin releasing content non-exclusively in that format when Blu-ray hardware launches in the North America and Japan. The Company also announced that it will become a member of the Board of Directors of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA).

With this move, consumers will be able to enjoy a wide range of popular new releases and classic pictures in this advanced, high-definition format from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, which includes Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Hollywood Pictures Home Video, Touchstone Home Entertainment, Miramax Home Entertainment, Dimension Home Video and Disney DVD.

“Buena Vista Home Entertainment is very pleased to support the Blu-ray format, which will help set the stage for the next generation of digital video disc,” said Robert Chapek, president of BVHE. “Blu-ray's excellent combination of advanced functionality, picture quality, data capacity, room for future growth, and advanced rights management for new consumer usage options will provide consumers with an outstanding interactive filmed entertainment experience."

You can read more here from CNN. This move leaves only 20th Century Fox undecided among the major studios, although Fox has also recently joined the Board of Directors of the Blu-ray Disc Association (and our sources tell us that they're leaning in that direction). The key word here in this press release is "non-exclusively". But at this point, with the battle lines in the Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD format war firmly being drawn, it's looking like this is going to be one giant cluster f__k from the get go.

So here's where we stand as of today:

HD-DVD Supporting Studios - Warner Bros., New Line, Paramount, Universal, HBO

Likely HD-DVD Supporters - DreamWorks (because of its ties to Universal)

Blu-ray Disc Supporting Studios - Columbia TriStar/Sony Pictures, Buena Vista (Walt Disney, Hollywood, Touchstone, Miramax and Dimension)

Likely Blu-ray Disc Supporters - MGM (soon to be owned by Sony)

Officially Undecided - 20th Century Fox, Lions Gate, Image, Anchor Bay, Criterion and many smaller distributors

Discouraged yet? Yeah, so are we. We're going to have to seriously think about how we want to respond to all this.

Now how about some good old standard DVD release news to help you perk up your mojo after all this format war business? Universal has announced a pair of cool new titles. On 2/15, the studio will release The Motorcycle Diaries (which I must say I'm really looking forward to seeing). The film will be available in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions (SRP $29.98 each). Audio will be available in French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, with burned-in English subtitles and optional French subtitles. No word yet on extras if any. Also coming from Uni is a 2-disc Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition on 3/29 (SRP $22.98). This will also be available in two separate versions. Both editions will contain the original version of the DVD, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and all the extras that were on the original collector's edition release. One edition will contain the anamorphic widescreen version (2.35:1), while the other will contain the full frame release. Disc Two will then contain the more recent IMAX version of the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1), with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. When I noted it's an anniversary edition, that's because the 35th anniversary of the actual Apollo 13 mission is 4/11/05.

Speaking of Apollo 13, if you're a fan of spaceflight or this film, you'd really be doing yourself a disservice if you buy only the Universal DVD. Why? Because also newly available from Spacecraft Films is Apollo 13: The Real Story, a 3-disc set featuring all of the original footage taken during the mission, including multi-angle launch footage, Mission Control footage, a new retrospective documentary on what actually happened, a retrospective panel discussion with Gene Kranz and some of the original flight controllers and much more - over 12 hours of footage in all (click the link for a complete list). There's even audio commentary during the Mission Control footage by Sy Liebergot, who was the lead EECOM during the flight. I've got a copy of this release and I can tell you first hand that, like all of the Spacecraft Films titles, this is a really fabulous piece of work. It's available right now.

Here's the cover art for Apollo 13: The Real Story, along with 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's recently announced Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1 (3/22) and Warner's Bringing Up Baby: Special Edition (3/1)....

Apollo 13: The Real StoryStar Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1Bringing Up Baby: Special Edition

Still not done with the news. Universal has also announced that it's going to be re-releasing Back to the Future: The Complete Trilogy on 1/25 at the new low price of just $27.98. The good news about this is not just the price - the set will contain the V2.0 discs, featuring corrected aspect ratio versions of the films. So if you haven't picked it up yet, there's never been a better time. Click here to read more on this from our friends over at

And Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Control, Into the Sun, Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War - Special Edition, Good Times: The Complete Fourth Season, a Tae Guk Gi: SE/Shiri 2-Pack and a Half Past Dead/The Foreigner 2-Pack, all for 2/15.

That's all for now. Be back in a bit with the rest of that DVD review. Stay tuned...


Okay... I've just added to my review of New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition. I've posted an in-depth look at Disc Three of the set, which is the fifth part of The Appendices. I'm going to be watching Disc Four tonight, so I expect to finish the review tomorrow. I certainly don't think you're going to be disappointed in this DVD release, based on what I've seen so far.

I also hope to post Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column tomorrow as well, so stay tuned for that.

In a bit of news, MGM has announced that it's moving the street date for its Hoosiers: Collector's Edition up from 3/8/05 to 3/1.

And there may be other DVD news today, but my head is firmly buried in review mode this afternoon, so I'll have to catch up on it tomorrow.

Just FYI, we've finally gotten final product of Columbia TriStar's Spider-Man 2, so I expect to post a review of that late this week or early next week.

One last note today: I wanted to mention our latest Artist of the Month... Caesar Augusto Carbajal. Caesar's work is really pretty extraordinary... drawings, painting, sketches, photography. Some are colorful and whimsical, others are much more moody and evocative. It's well worth a look, so please take a moment to check out his stuff and visit his website (just click on the link above). It's all part of our continuing effort to call attention not just to great film, but to other types of art that are equally worthy your attention.

Stay tuned!


Today's post is going to be quick, so I can get back to working on Part Two of my in-depth review of New Line's 4-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition. The good news, is that Part One of the review is now posted (just click the link). SO much stuff on these discs! The title streets 12/14. Just one more week to wait, folks.

Also up today is George Bennett's latest SACD review over at TAP - Nine Inch Nail's The Downward Spiral - Deluxe Edition.

In news today, the official Star Wars website has revealed that Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1 will arrive on DVD on 3/22/05. Per the site: "All 19 three-minute chapters and the five-minute long Chapter 20 of the first round of Star Wars: Clone Wars are gathered together in this release." This is all part of the buildup to Episode III, part of which includes the Cartoon Network debut of the new Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 2 on on 3/21.

Finally this morning, we've just kicked off SEVEN new Contests today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's The Ultimate Matrix Collection, The Gilmore Girls: The Complete Second Season, Crusade: The Complete Series, The Flintstones: The Complete Second Season and Top Cat: The Complete Series, We Don't Live Here Anymore and George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey, as well as Ventura Distribution's Harvie Krumpet. The contests will run until Noon PDT on Sunday, December 19th. Good luck!

Okay... that's it. I'm off to work on the Rings review again. Back with more tomorrow.


Morning everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. I took time out on Sunday to play Santa at a local PETsMART, taking holiday photos with people's cats and dogs. I've been doing it for a few years now, and it's always a real gas.

Matt's been going on since yesterday about how his Chicago Bears beat my Minnesota Vikings. Bastard. Oh well, I figure his Bears seldom muster a win... so we might as well throw him a bone once in a while. Needless to say, the "Superbowl here we come!" talk has faded somewhat around The Bits' west coast offices. ;-)

Speaking of Matt, he's just posted a pair of new SACD reviews over at our MusicTAP site: Elton John's Madman Across the Water & Honky Chateau.

Now then, we've got a brand new Classic Coming Attractions column on the way from Barrie for tomorrow, and I hope to post my in-depth DVD review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition tomorrow as well. Depends on how much I can get through it today - SO much stuff on these 4 discs! Anyway, watch for all that tomorrow with a little luck.

In the meantime, I wanted to leave you Star Trek fans with a little something to get your blood pumping. Here's high-quality cover art for all four season of Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as art for the 2-disc Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition...

Star Trek: EnterpriseStar Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition

As we've revealed previously (and as our good friends over at have confirmed), Season One of Enterprise is tentatively expected to street on 5/3/05, with Season Two following on 7/12/05, Season Three on 9/6/05 and finally Season Four on 11/1/05. And as we noted on Friday, Paramount expects to deliver the Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition on 3/15/05. The studio has not yet announced details on the extras for any of these releases, but we'll let you know as soon as they do.

Stay tuned...


We're gonna close this week out with a bunch of great new DVD announcements, and some new upcoming DVD cover artwork as well. Interested? Here goes...

Manga has announced a 2-disc Ghost in the Shell: Special Edition for 1/11 (SRP $34.98). The digitally re-mastered film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video, with audio in DTS 6.1 ES and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX in BOTH English and Japanese. Spanish, French, Italian and German audio will also be available in Dolby Digital 2.0 (with optional English subtitles). Extras will include character dossiers, creator and director biographies, a Digital Works Production Report, Ghost in the Shell trailers, previews and web links.

Paramount has announced their 2-disc Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition for 3/15, with Hogan's Heroes: The Complete First Season (5 discs) set to street the same day. On 3/1, look for South Park: The Complete Fifth Season on 3 discs.

20th Century Fox has announced Chisholm 72, Incident at Loch Ness and Lost in Space: Season 3, Volume 1 (for 3/1), Woman Thou Art Loosed (for 3/8), What the Bleep Do We Know, The Pretender: Season 1, Call Northside 777, House of Bamboo and Panic in the Streets (for 3/15), Volcano High (3/22) and The Lone Gunmen (for 3/29). The Lone Gunmen will include all 13 episodes of the Chris Carter X-Files spin-off series on 3 discs (SRP $39.98), in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio. This WILL include the pilot episode. The set is also expected to include the X-Files episode Jump the Shark, which served as a sort of defacto 14th and final episode of The Lone Gunmen. Extras will include audio commentary with cast and crew members, and possibly additional materials TBA.

Warner Bros has also revealed a nice slate of DVDs for release on 3/1. These include a Bringing Up Baby: Special Edition (2-discs, SRP $26.99), Dinner at Eight (1933, $19.97), Libeled Lady ($19.97), The Philadelphia Story: Special Edition (2-discs, $26.99), Stage Door ($19.97), To Be or Not to Be ($19.97) and Wonder Woman: The Complete Second Season (4 discs, $39.98).

Here's that cover art we promised you. Paramount's Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition, South Park: The Complete Fifth Season and Hogan's Heroes: The Complete First Season, Manga's Ghost in the Shell: Special Edition, Warner's The Philadelphia Story: Special Edition and Criterion's Night and the City (TBA February)...

Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's EditionSouth Park: The Complete Fifth SeasonHogan's Heroes: The Complete First Season

Ghost in the Shell: Special EditionThe Philadelphia Story: Special EditionNight and the City (Criterion)

Before we leave you for the weekend, we've got an interesting bit of information in The Rumor Mill on what you might expect from the eventual DVD release of Blade: Trinity. Don't miss it.

One last note - I've also updated my The Ultimate Matrix Collection review with a couple of additional details on Disc Eight of the set, as well as a comment on the possibility of the new transfer of The Matrix being released separately (at the end of the review).

Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday!


Okay... you've been patient. You've waited for it. Here it is. I've just posted my in-depth review of Warner's Mega Matrix Mondo Mama Jamma 10-disc box set, otherwise known as The Ultimate Matrix Collection. The set streets on this coming Tuesday (12/7), so be sure to plan on taking like a day and a half off of work to go through it all (not including meals and sleep time). I wouldn't say it's the best DVD box set I've even seen, but it's probably in the top ten. A very solid effort by the folks at Warner and about damn time. Or should I say... just in time to get us to buy The Matrix films once more on regular DVD before we get hit with the HD-DVD version? Hhhmmmm.... Anyway, enjoy that.

Also, I just wanted to let you know that we're still working on reviews of Harry Potter, Spider-Man 2 and Hellboy among others. We should also have The Return of the King: Extended Edition in our hands any day now. I know a lot of you have been asking for reviews of these bigger 4th Quarter titles, and a few of them have already arrived in stores. The problem is that the studios, fearing digital piracy, have been sending out these major titles only a week or two ahead of street at best lately. For example, we received check discs of Spider-Man 2 a couple of weeks ago, but the damn things had continuous anti-piracy warning text across the entire screen on every single piece of video on both discs. We make it a policy here at The Bits to only review DVD product that's representative of what you guys will find in stores. Tough to review the video quality of a disc when you can barely see the video, you know? Plus we received a couple of these titles right before the Thanksgiving holiday, and what with family obligations and all, it was a little tough to get anything done. Anyway, just know that we're working hard to get stuff covered as quickly as we can.

One other quick note today - The Digital Bits and DocDVD have kicked off some great new Power Buys for the holiday season. Click on the link for more information.

Stay tuned!


Morning, folks. Anyone in the mood for a little animated DVD news? Good, 'cause sources are telling us that DreamWorks will release its Shark Tale on 2/8 (SRP $29.99). Look for separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary, a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes (including The Music of Shark Tale, Club Oscar and Fishified World), a music video, Rough Waters (tech goofs) and Star Fish (meet the cast) segments, numerous set top games, DVD-ROM activities and more. We've got cover art for the title below. Consider this news Rumor Mill worthy until the studio gives the final word.

We're also pleased to tell you that MGM has announced its long-awaited, 2-disc Hoosiers: Collector's Edition for release on 3/8 (SRP $29.98). The disc will offer the film in anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extra features will include audio commentary by director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo, the Hoosier History: The Truth Behind the Legend documentary, deleted scenes (with introduction by Anspaugh and Pizzo), footage of the real Milan vs. Muncie 1954 Indiana High School Championship Game, a photo gallery and the film's original theatrical trailer. Man, I've been looking forward to this one for a long damn time. Great flick.

Around the Net today, there's more stories on the Monday's announcement of HD-DVD support by four studios. You can read more on this here from USA Today (via Yahoo) and here at The New York Times.

I wanted to make two quick comments about this announcement (in addition to those I made the other day). First, there seems to be uncertainty among some of our readers (and it's also found in some press accounts) as to whether or not Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD players will be able to play existing DVD software. As I've noted before, EVERY single hardware manufacturer rep I've spoken with has acknowledged that they would be foolish to offer players that can't make use of 99.9% of the movie software currently on the market (and in consumer's video libraries). Rest assured, the new players will cost more, but they should all be able to play your existing DVDs as well as the new high-definition discs. The second thing I wanted to note, is that claims are being made by some in the Blu-ray Disc camp that movies on their format will look better than HD-DVD movies (no doubt to try and counter some of the damage done to their efforts by Monday's announcements). The simple fact is that claim remains to be proven... and until it IS proven in direct comparisons of actual final consumer product in both formats, it's nothing but puffery. Period.

Look... I think I speak for us all when I say that these manufacturers should pull their heads out of their asses and launch a single, unified format. But because they're acting like a bunch of greedy bastards, that just isn't going to happen. So until then, we're going into "wait and see" mode with regard to making quality judgements about these formats. And when we do see them... you can be sure that we'll call things like they are.

Okay... here the cover art for Shark Tale, along with the Hoosier's Collector's Edition and Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites, Volumes 1-4 (street date 1/11)...

Shark TaleHoosiers: Collector's EditionWalt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites, Volume 1

Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites, Volume 2Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites, Volume 3Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites, Volume 4

Stay tuned...


We've got some cool new DVD announcements for you today. First up though, check The Rumor Mill this morning for word on the expected street date for a pair of hot titles currently in theaters.

Now then... Criterion will release Jules Dassin's quintessential film noir Night and the City (Cat # 274), Dassin's Thieves Highway (# 273), Bernardo Bertolucci's La Commare secca (# 272), Jean-Luc Godard and collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin's Tout va bien (# 275) and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho (# 277), all in February.

Columbia TriStar (aka Sony Pictures Digital) has announced the DVD release of The Grudge for 2/1 (SLP $28.95). The film will appear in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include the 5-part A Powerful Rage: Behind the Grudge documentary, a cast and crew audio commentary (featuring Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Sarah Michelle Gellar and more), the Under the Skin featurette and previews.

Columbia/Sony has also announced P.S., Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966), Zelary, The Mad About You Collection (4 discs) and a Barbra Streisand Box Set (including The Mirror Has Two Faces, The Way We Were and The Prince of Tides) all for release on 2/8.

20th Century Fox has announced I Heart Huckabees for release on 2/22. You'll be able to get the film in a single disc version (SRP $27.98) containing both full frame and anamorphic widescreen video, as well as a 2-disc set (SRP $39.98). The 2-disc set will also include the film in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras (on the 2-disc edition) will include audio commentary by director David O. Russell, a cast commentary by Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg and Naomi Watts, the Inside Look: In Her Shoes featurette, an I Heart Huckabees production featurette, a Charlie Rose Show segment, 22 extended and deleted scenes, 5 outtakes, 6 Open-Spaces Coalition PSAs, a photo montage, 3 infomercials, a Jon Brion music video, TV spots and the film's teaser and trailer trailers.

Paramount will release MacGyver: The Complete First Season as a 6-disc set on 1/25. As previously announced, the studio's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow will arrive on DVD that same day.

Finally, Warner Bros. has revealed that it will release Exorcist: The Beginning on 3/1 (SRP $27.95). We can't be sure at this time (we're looking into it), but it unfortunately looks like this will only include the theatrically released version of the film directed by Renny Harlin, and not Paul Schrader's full unreleased version.

Our MusicTAP crew has turned in some new music reviews for you today. George Bennett's posted his thoughts on R.L. Burnside's First Recordings, Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker and Rory Block's Last Fair Deal on SACD format (from Mobile Fidelity and Telarc). Also, Dw Dunphy's checked in with a look at Neal Morse: Testimony Live on DVD from Radiant Records. Matt's also got word of A Clay Aiken Christmas coming to DVD on 12/14 in his daily column. Grab a copy when you go out to buy Return of the King to make the wife and daughters happy.

We'll leave you with some new cover art this morning. Here's Paramount's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and MacGyver: The Complete First Season, Sony's The Grudge, Warner's Exorcist: The Beginning, Criterion's Kagemusha (1/18) and Buena Vista's Ladder 49 (3/8)...

Sky Captain and the World of TomorrowMacGyver: The Complete First SeasonThe Grudge

Exorcist: The BeginningKagemusha (Criterion)Ladder 49

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/29/04 - 2 PM PST)

A lot of people have been e-mailing me today asking what my opinion is on today's announcement of HD-DVD format support by Universal, Warner, New Line and Paramount (click here for that).

Here's my take in a nutshell - it's a good thing for everyone.

There are going to be plenty of people in the coming days and weeks who will bemoan the fact that these studios are choosing HD-DVD over Blu-ray Disc, because they assume Blu-ray Disc is the better format. Look... on paper, the Blu-ray Disc specs look more impressive. But I've seen technical demonstrations of film footage in both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, and it all looks fantastic. The fact is, we can't really judge which format is better until we start seeing FINAL product in both formats. I'm not talking about test discs that have 30 minutes of barely compressed video - I mean the actual product consumers are going to get when they go their favorite video stores next Christmas, complete with extras, audio options etc. The fact is, we just don't know which format is going to look and sound better, and I fully expect BOTH to look and sound amazing. It's just too early to start forming a sound, informed opinion on the quality issue.

Let me tell you why today's announcement IS a good thing. It helps clear up consumer confusion. Here we are, nearly a full year away from HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc product rollout here in the States, and already we know where roughly 70% of the Hollywood studios are going to line up. In terms of the majors, we're only waiting on 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista and DreamWorks. The minors (Lions Gate, Image, Anchor Bay, etc) will likely go where the majority goes, and some (like Image) might even dabble in both formats. That means if you're a consumer who's interested in getting into high-definition movies on disc, all you'll have to ask yourself is which studios own most of your favorite films (you can go to sites like to figure that out). Based on that knowledge, you can make a reasonably informed decision as to which format to buy. Frankly, I expect that the studios that have yet to commit either way will make their format choices known by the spring of next year (certainly by summer).

I also believe that firm, early commitments by all of the major studios one way or another will put a great deal of incentive (and pressure) on the various hardware manufacturers to start planning and marketing combination decks that will play BOTH Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD (much like several of them now produce combo decks that play both the SACD and DVD-Audio high-resolution audio formats). Once that happens, the question of which format will dominate will effectively be moot, at least in terms of prepackaged, high-definition movie software on disc.

All of this is a far cry from the first couple of years of the current DVD format, when only a handful of the major studios had committed to DVD, and consumers had long waits to find out what the rest Hollywood was going to do. That uncertainty meant that many consumers waited until DVD was 3 or 4 years old before ditching their VCRs and finally making the digital transition (and most consumers waited even longer than that).

If all of the major Hollywood studios commit fully to one format or the other by mid-2005, that means the decision for consumers (as to whether or not to upgrade to high-def) is going to be pretty simple. It also means that there's going to be lots of great movie titles available for launch. And it means prepackaged, high-def movies on disc actually have a fighting chance of finding at least some consumer interest right away. That can only be a good thing for this industry... and for all of you as movie fans.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/29/04 - 12:15 PM PST)

Just a quick note to say that we've just posted Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column, featuring new reviews of Paramount's The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete First Season and I Love Lucy: The Complete Second Season, along with Questar's Make Room for Daddy: The Complete Fifth Season, The Joey Bishop Show: The Complete Second Season and Bobby Darin: Mack is Back. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/29/04 - 11:15 AM PST)

BIG news today in the impending high-def format war. The first official shots have been fired, and the Hollywood studios have finally started choosing sides. According to Video Business this morning, no less than FOUR studios have officially announced that they'll support the HD-DVD standard starting next year. Universal says it will begin releasing titles on HD-DVD by the holiday season of 2005. Paramount has also committed to HD-DVD, but says it plans to release titles on the format no earlier than the holiday season of 2005, or possibly the first quarter of 2006. Warner Bros. and New Line have also announced support for HD-DVD, but have not yet revealed a specific release timeframe (unofficially, they're expected to start releasing titles by the end of 2005).

Columbia TriStar, and by default MGM (since Sony is in the process of purchasing the studio), will support Sony's Blu-ray Disc format with titles by the end of 2005. 20th Century Fox has joined the Blu-ray Disc Association, but has not officially said it will support the Blu-ray Disc format.

Buena Vista (Disney) has yet to announce support for either camp. Buena Vista Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek has been among the clearest voices calling for the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD camps to work together to create a single format. Unfortunately, that now seems beyond unlikely.

FYI, DreamWorks has also yet to officially announce support for either format, but they tend to go the way Universal goes. For this reason, we believe they're likely to adopt HD-DVD.

None of today's studio commitments is known to be exclusive to HD-DVD, but now that they've chosen sides, these four studios are unlikely to support Blu-ray Disc anytime soon.

You can read more on this news at the link above (requires registration) and also at these links on Video Business, CNN Money and PC World (via Yahoo).

So... it looks like The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and Titanic are all (ultimately) headed for HD-DVD.

Back with Barrie's column soon. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/29/04 - 10:30 AM PST)

Morning, everyone! We hope you all had a great (and long) holiday weekend.

We've got a little something interesting this morning for you Star Trek: Enterprise fans. Our friends at The R2 Project have gotten their hands on images of the DVD packaging for Star Trek: Enterprise - Season One over in Europe. It's a stylish sliver plastic outer shell, containing translucent plastic disc holders. Our sources are telling us it's likely to be the Region 1 packaging as well. Here you go...

Enterprise DVD packaging

Enterprise DVD packaging

We'll be back in a little bit with a brand new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell. And I'm still working on that Ultimate Matrix review, rest assured. Ten discs is a lot to get through! I'll post my review of the set as soon as I can.

Also today, the official Lord of the Rings website has just posted a brand new, 6-minute long teaser trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition. We expect to have the 4-disc set in our hands for review possibly this week, so we'll tell you all about it as soon as we can. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer - tons of new footage to see there.

Stay tuned...


This is just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to you! All of us here at The Digital Bits wish you and your family a wonderful and safe holiday weekend.

We'll be back on Monday with great new DVD reviews. See you then!


Evening all!

Not a lot to report today in terms of news today, so we've kicked off SIX new Contests here at The Bits. Each of you has the chance to win copies of Warner's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Artisan's Rambo: Ultimate Edition (and a poster signed by Sylvester Stallone), MGM's Wild at Heart: Special Edition (including a copy signed by David Lynch), Rhino's Mystery Science Theater 3000, Volume 6, 20th Century Fox's 24: The Complete Third Season, M*A*S*H: Season Seven and Lost in Space: Season 2, Volume 2 and Universal's Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series. All of these contests will run for TWO WEEKS, until Noon PDT on Sunday, December 4th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Okay, there IS a little bit of DVD news. Anyone out there a fan of The Rutles? Warner is releasing The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch on 3/1 (SRP $24.98). The disc will include the film in its original full frame aspect ratio (it was made for TV) with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Extras will include an alternate ending, deleted scenes, Easter eggs and additional interviews with celebrities.

Still working on that Matrix review, so stay tuned...


Today's post is going to be quick one, so I can get back to working on my review of The Ultimate Matrix Collection with some hope of getting it posted before Thanksgiving! One thing you can say for this box set - these DVDs pack some very nice and substantial content. Plus, the new transfer of the first film is outstanding. Okay, so that's two things.

First up today, George Bennett of our MusicTAP site has just posted a review of KAJE's self-titled new DVD-Audio release.

Okay... time for some new announcements. Buena Vista will release Touchstone's Ladder 49 on DVD on 3/8 (SRP $29.99). Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (in an "enhanced home theater" mix). Extras will include audio commentary with director Jay Russell and Editor Bud Smith, deleted scenes, the Everyday Heroes and The Making of Ladder 49 featurettes and Robbie Robertson's Shine Your Light music video.

Universal has announced the DVD release of Ray for 2/1 (SRP $29.98). Video will be anamorphic with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. No word yet on extras. There will also be a 2-disc Ray: Limited Edition (SRP $44.98) that same day.

Columbia TriStar has revealed that it will release Spike Lee's She Hate Me on 2/1/05. Also streeting on that date from the studio are the animated Wind in the Willows and a School Daze: Special Edition, as well as an assortment of new multi-packs including 13 Going on 30: Special Edition and Significant Others: The Series, Blue Lagoon and Return to the Blue Lagoon, a Karate Kid Collection Box Set (featuring Karate Kid: Special Edition, Karate Kid II, Karate Kid III and Next Karate Kid), and a Look Who's Talking Box Set (featuring Look Who's Talking, Look Who's Talking Too and Look Who's Talking Now).

Warner Bros. has announced that the release of The Man Called Flintstone has been delayed until 3/22 (it had originally been announced for 12/7). Warner has also announced the release of She's Too Young and Baby for Sale for 3/15 (both Lifetime movies). Other new announcements include the BBC's Pompeii: The Last Day (which includes the bonus program Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story) on 2/1 (the title premieres on The Discovery Channel on 1/30) and Yogi The Easter Bear on 2/8. There's also a bunch of new TV titles coming on December, including Gilligan's Island: The Complete Second Season (1/11), Kung Fu: The Complete Second Season (1/18), One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season (1/25) and The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Second Season (1/25). Finally, the studio will release Lewis Black: Black on Broadway (for HBO) on 1/25.

New Line will release Amongst Friends on 2/15.

Let's have some cover art, shall we? Here's Universal's Ray, 20th Century Fox's Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut (2/15), Columbia TriStar's She Hate Me and The Wind in the Willows, final art for Warner's Public Enemy (1/25) and final art for Miramax's The Village (1/11)...

RayDonnie Darko: The Director's CutShe Hate Me

The Wind in the WillowsPublic EnemyThe Village

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/19/04 - 3 PM PST)

As promised, Matt's just posted my review of U2's new How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb over at TAP. The album streets on Tuesday.

And now, of course, it's time for my weekly plug of Star Trek: Enterprise. Remember how I've been telling you this show finally got good last season, and now it's getting really, really good this season? Well don't just take my word for it - Herc over at AICN gives tonight's episode 4 stars (out of 5). Tonight's episode, The Forge, was written by long time Trek novelists Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Stevens. It's the first of a 3-episode arc describing a Vulcan civil war over the true path to logic that will decide the future of the planet. Wanna know why the Vulcans of Archer's time aren't like the ones we'll see later? Be sure to tune in and find out.

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/19/04 - 11:30 AM PST)

Well... I'll tell you, House of Flying Daggers is absolutely outstanding. Again, it's another one of those movies that I don't really want to tell you too much about. It really deserves to be seen without preconceptions. It is very much a love story, every bit as stylized as HERO but in a somewhat different way. The film is lush and visually gorgeous. And I would say that while HERO is a little more intellectually rewarding, House of Flying Daggers is much more emotionally satisfying. It's a much smaller, more personal story in its way, and yet remains epic in quality. And here's the best news... it's a Sony Pictures Classics release, so when it hits DVD you know it'll look amazing (unlike HERO). Matt and I both liked the film a great deal. It'll be released in theaters in the U.S. on December 3rd. Don't miss it (click here to see the film's trailer in Quicktime).

Around the site today, we've posted Todd's latest Doogan's Views column as promised. In this edition, Todd reviews 4 titles newly released in stores, including New Line's Elf: Infinifilm Edition, Criterion's Fanny & Alexander Box Set and ArtsMagic's The Bird People in China and Blue Remains. Don't miss it.

We also have some information in The Rumor Mill today that's going to make some of you very happy. We've got a line on some of the titles MGM is prepping for special edition release in the first half of 2005. Good stuff, I'll tell you.

Sometime later today Matt's also going to post a review I've done for his MusicTAP site. I don't do a lot of music reviews, but every now and then I'll chime in with my thoughts. As I'm very familiar with the band and its body of work, Matt asked me to provide some comments on U2's latest studio album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which arrives in stores on Tuesday. So watch for that later this afternoon. If you're a fan of Bono and company, I think you'll really enjoy it.

We've got more new DVD review goodness coming early next week, so be sure to check back then. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: Do you want to take the red pill... or the blue pill?

Have a great weekend!


Today's post is going to be quick, as Matt and I are off to see a screening of Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers tonight. Yeah, I know. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Speaking of Zhang, for today's post I've just uploaded my review of his recent HERO, now available on disc from Miramax. It's a great film, but the DVD leaves much to be desired unfortunately.

Just to let you know, sometime in the next week or two, we expect to post our in-depth reviews of Warner's The Ultimate Matrix Collection and Columbia TriStar's Spider-Man 2 (both of which we're now starting to look at), as well as New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition (which we expect to receive sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday next week).

In the meantime, we'll be back in the morning with a new Doogan's Views column from Todd, featuring still more new DVD reviews.

See you then!


Today's post is a little later than we expected, but we think you'll enjoy it.

First up, Matt has just turned in a new edition of his TAPNotes, in which he reviews 9 great new music DVD releases, including Live Aid, Peter Gabriel: Play, The Grateful Dead Movie, Superjoint Ritual: Live at CBGB, Rod Stewart: VH1 Storytellers, Travis: At the Palace, Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival, Breakfast with Hunter and The Knack: Getting the Knack.

Also today, we've updated The Rumor Mill with a great bit of news regarding a pair of upcoming 20th Century Fox TV releases. Don't miss it.

Finally, I wanted to clarify a rumor that's been buzzing around the Net in the last couple of days with regard to those Warner TV titles expected in 2005. A lot of people have been e-mailing us saying they've heard that The Flash, Max Headroom and other shows are on the way. Let me be very clear on this - Warner has NOT announced or even hinted at either of these shows being released on DVD in 2005. That doesn't mean they aren't coming, but NOTHING official has been indicated by the studio. The ONLY titles confirmed so far for 2005 by Warner are The Fresh Prince of Bel Air: The Complete First Season, Full House: The Complete First Season, The Jamie Foxx Show: The Complete First Season, Murphy Brown: The Complete First Season, Night Court: The Complete First Season and The Wayans Bros: The Complete First Season (all on 2/8). Just FYI.

Stay tuned...


We're back this afternoon with a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie Maxwell. This edition is another Classic Reviews Roundup, featuring in-depth reviews of Warner's new Gone with the Wind: Four-Disc Collector's Edition, the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume Two and the Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection. That's a helluva review lineup for one day!

Speaking of reviews, I've updated my review of Universal's Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series with a little new information. The box set does not include the 2-part TV version of the pilot film, and there are apparently differences between the TV and theatrical versions (so the set is not quite "complete" after all).

On the news front, Columbia TriStar has announced that they'll release Head in the Clouds, Bunny Lake is Missing, a 2-disc Monster: Special Edition, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series - Extreme Threat, Married with Children: The Complete Third Season and Soap: The Complete Third Season, all on 1/25/05.

How about some artwork before we go? Here's a look at the final cover art for all three new Miyazaki titles announced last week for 2/22 - Porco Rosso, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and The Cat Returns.

Porco RossoNausicaš of the Valley of the WindThe Cat Returns

We'll be back tomorrow with more new DVD reviews, so stay tuned...


Morning, folks! Let's get right into the DVD goodness for this week, shall we?

Todd kicks things off with a new Doogan's Views column. He's got reviews of Miramax's The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi/Sonatine, Ventura Distribution's Harvie Krumpet, and Universal's The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection and W.C. Fields: The Comedy Collection. Don't miss it!

We've got some cool new announcements for you today, especially if you're a fan of TV series releases on DVD. Warner Bros. has unveiled the first of FOUR waves of new TV titles expected in 2005 from the studio, as part of its celebration of "50 Years of the Best Shows on Television". Expected on 2/8 are The Fresh Prince of Bel Air: The Complete First Season, Full House: The Complete First Season, The Jamie Foxx Show: The Complete First Season, Murphy Brown: The Complete First Season, Night Court: The Complete First Season and The Wayans Bros: The Complete First Season. Each will be a 2-disc set and will carry a budget-friendly SRP of just $29.98 each. Additional waves of TV titles will be announced later in 2005 for release in June, September and November.

Also just announced from Warner is one for the ladies... The Bodyguard: Special Edition. Look for that on 2/1 (SRP $19.96). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1), Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio, audio commentary (with director Mick Jackson, writer Lawrence Kasdan, producer Jim Wilson, and actors Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston), never-before-seen interviews and on-set footage with Costner and Houston, Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You music video and the theatrical trailer.

Universal has announced that the street date for its Orgazmo: Extended/Unrated Special Edition is moving to 3/29 (from the previously announced 2/15). Just FYI.

Paramount will release On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever on 2/22.

New Line has set Raise Your Voice, Kansas City, Legalese, Normal Life and Amongst Friends for release on 2/15.

Finally, Buena Vista will release Touchstone's Mr. 3000 on 2/1. The studio will also release a new series of Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites DVDs on 1/11 (SRP $14.99 each). Volume 1: Starring Mickey Mouse will include the shorts Mickey's Circus, Mickey's Garden, The Little Whirlwind, On Ice, Hawaiian Holiday, Moving Day and Orphan's Picnic. Volume 2: Starring Donald Duck will include Inferior Decorator, Don Donald, Golden Eggs, Bee at the Beach, Donald's Dog Laundry, Donald's Vacation, Old MacDonald Duck and 8 Chef Donald. Volume 3: Starring Goofy will include The Art of Skiing, How to Fish, How to Swim, Baggage Buster, How to Dance, Lion Down, The Big Wash, Hold That Pose and Father's Day Off. The last set, Volume 4: Starring Chip 'n Dale, will include Chicken in the Rough, Chip 'n Dale, Out of Scale, Two Chips and a Miss, Food for Feudin', Working for Peanuts, Out on a Limb, Three for Breakfast and Dragon Around.

Around the site today, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests this morning, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's Smallville: The Complete Third Season and The Iron Giant: Special Edition, the BBC's The Office: Complete Series 1 & 2 and the Special, 20th Century Fox's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Seventh Season and Shout! Factory's Home Movies: Season One. All of these contests will run until Noon PDT on Sunday, November 21st. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We've also updated a number of the DVD format stats we track here at The Bits, including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers (for the final week of October). All charts have been updated accordingly.

Finally today, here's some more new upcoming DVD cover art - 20th Century Fox's The Grid (2/8), final art for Universal's Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (12/28), and Warner's The Bodyguard: Special Edition, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete First Season, Full House: The Complete First Season and Murphy Brown: The Complete First Season...

The GirdGhost in the Shell 2: InnocenceThe Bodyguard: Special Edition

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete First SeasonFull House: The Complete First SeasonMurphy Brown: The Complete First Season

We've got a new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell on the way for tomorrow, featuring more great new DVD reviews. Be sure to tune in then... same Bat time, same Bat channel...


You animation fans are going to be happy today... Buena Vista has finally re-announced two of those Miyazaki, Wave 2 titles (which had originally been slated for release in February of this year). Porco Rosso and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind will street as new 2-disc special editions on 2/22/05 (SRP $29.99 each), along with the previously unannounced The Cat Returns. It appears that My Neighbor Totoro has been delayed for release in a future Miyazaki, Wave 3. All three of these titles will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1) and will be THX-certified. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind will feature the original Japanese and English audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, with English subtitles. Extras will include the Behind the Microphone with Voice Talent from the Film and The Birth Story of Studio Ghibli featurettes, complete storyboards and the original Japanese theatrical trailer. Porco Rosso will feature the original Japanese, English and French audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, with English subtitles. Extras will include the the Behind the Microphone with Voice Talent from the Film featurette, complete storyboards, an interview with Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki and the original Japanese theatrical trailer. Finally, The Cat Returns will feature the original Japanese, English and French audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, with English subtitles. Extras will include The Making of The Cat Returns documentary, the Behind the Microphone with Voice Talent from the Film featurette, complete storyboards and the original Japanese theatrical trailer. We'll post cover artwork as soon as it's available (although if you visit the last page of our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section, you can see B&W temp art for the two previously announced titles).

As promised, we've got some new DVD reviews for you thanks to our MusicTAP crew. Lindsay Planner has taken a look at Music Video Distribution's NRBQ: One in a Million, Epic's Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985, Mercury Nashville's Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues, Hip-O's The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969: Volume Three and Memphis Slim/Sonny Boy Williamson: Live in Europe, and Shout! Factory's SCTV: Volumes 1 & 2. Also, George Bennett has posted a quick review of New Line's Festival Express: Special Edition. Enjoy!

How about some news from around the Net today? You know, sometimes I think a lot of the folks who run the electronics and entertainment industries are just a bunch of loonies. Case in point... the looming format war between Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD. It's now gotten so serious that it's finally attracted the attention of CNN. I just don't see any way of avoiding this, and the shame is it's going to absolutely ruin the market for high-definition movies on disc, at least for a few years. Anyone who wanted evidence that greed rules the day in the corporate world, there you go. They certainly don't have the best interests of consumers at heart, do they?

Here's another example of the silliness in the industry. Remember Disney's EZ-D 48-hour self-destructing DVD format? Well, it's not dead yet. It seems actor Chazz Palminteri has turned director recently - his holiday-themed Noel (starring Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz and Robin Williams) couldn't find a mainstream theatrical distributor, so a company called Convex Group bought the distribution rights to the film. They'll release it in a few dozen theaters, but then on November 17th, they're making it available only in EZ-D format (for $4.99 on Keep in mind that the disc will cloud over and stop working 48 hours after you open the package. Lovely.

One last note today - don't forget that tonight is another great new episode of Star Trek: Enterprise on UPN! This episode, The Augments, is the last of a 3-part arc (guest-starring Brent Spiner), dealing with the genetic supermen left over from Khan's time on Earth (you remember Khan from The Original Series and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, don't you?). If you think this show got better last season, man... it's been fantastic this year! Each episode has been better than the last, and next week's episode begins another 3-episode arc about a civil war on Vulcan. It's absolutely worth your time if you're home tonight, and if not, make sure you TiVo it. Enterprise quietly becoming the best sci-fi show on TV right now, so do check it out.

We've got new reviews coming from both Todd and myself on Monday, so we'll see you then. Have a great weekend!


Morning everyone. We have a few new announcements for you today. First up, Universal will release Surviving Christmas on 12/21. Universal has also announced Vampires Out for Blood for release on 2/15/05.

Also on the Universal front, we finally have a few details on what you can expect on Universal's Orgazmo: Extended/Unrated Special Edition (also due on 2/15/05 - SRP $19.98). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. Extras will include over an hour of outtakes and deleted scenes, The Book of Orgazmo documentary, no less than three audio commentary tracks with the cast and crew (including a drunken commentary and a special appearance by Kevin Smith), and more. We've got an early look at the cover art below.

Paramount has announced that MacGyver: The Complete First Season will street on 1/25/05 on 6 discs. Also coming on 1/25 is The Jamie Kennedy Experiment: The Complete Third Season (featuring all 21 episodes with with never before seen "second marks"). Charmed: The Complete First Season will street on 2/1/05 (all 22 episodes on 6 discs). Cheers: The Complete Fourth Season and I Love Lucy: The Complete Third Season will also street on 2/1. I Love Lucy will feature 31 episodes on 5 discs, and will include flubs, lost scenes, restored music, behind-the-scenes audio featurette, original series openings, original animated sequences, script excerpts, production notes and promotional spots.

Speaking of Paramount, we've got a tentative early list of titles in the works for the first half of 2005 in The Rumor Mill today. Some good stuff mentioned, so be sure not to miss it.

MGM has announced a 2-disc Get Shorty: Special Edition for release on 2/22/05 (SRP $29.98). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by director Barry Sonnenfeld, 3 featurettes (including Get Shorty: Look at Me, Get Shorty: Wiseguys and Dolls and Deleted Graveyard Scene), the Danny's No-Cut Day outtakes reel, a Get Shorty party reel, a sneak peel of Be Cool, a photo gallery and Bravo's Page to Screen: Get Shorty special.

MGM has also announced the rest of their February slate, which will include Body and Soul (1981), Body and Soul (1999), Dempsy, Monkey on My Back, new single-disc editions of Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III and Rocky IV (all featuring new HD transfers), Rocky V, Rocky Marciano, The Adventures of the American Rabbit, That Championship Season, Our Winning Season and Winner Take All (all on 2/8/05). Previously announced for 2/8 are The Martin Scorsese Collection, Raging Bull (movie only), Raging Bull: Special Edition and New York, New York: Special Edition. A pair of additional catalog titles will street a week earlier (on 2/1), including True Heart and Courage Mountain.

Here's cover art for Universal's Orgazmo and MGM's New York, New York and Get Shorty...

Orgazmo: Extended/Unrated Special EditionGet Shorty: Special EditionNew York, New York: Special Edition

Back tomorrow with a few more new DVD reviews. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/10/04 - 1:30 PM PST)

Back as promised this afternoon, and I'm very pleased to bring you an in-depth review of Universal's Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series on DVD. The presentation quality on disc is very good. There's nothing in the way of extras, which is disappointing, but if you can accept that I think you'll enjoy the series quite a bit.

Also, as I mentioned earlier this morning, I attended Universal's 25th anniversary screening of the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century theatrical film last night (at the American Cinematheque/Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood). The theater was packed for the showing and the audience certainly enjoyed it. Starting right from the cheesy/sexy, Bond-esque opening credits (which I can't believe I had forgotten about), there were plenty of laughs. After the screening, Mark Altman of Cinefantastique magazine moderated a panel discussion and Q&A with some of the cast and crew. On hand were series creator Glen Larson, actors Erin Gray (Wilma) and Tim O'Connor (Dr. Huer), director Dan Haller, costume designer Jean-Pierre Dorleac, visual effects coordinator Peter Anderson, production designer Paul Peters and Eric Server (the voice of Dr. Theopolis). Also on hand was composer Stu Phillips and many of the production crew. A display of costumes and models was arranged, and someone had actually constructed a working replica of Dr. Theopolis (right down to the flashing lights) to participate in the panel. The event was a lot of fun, and I figured some of you might enjoy seeing a few photos. So here you go...

L to R: composer Stu Phillips, actors Tim O'Connor and Erin Gray, creator/producer Glen Larson and director Dan Haller.
L to R: composer Stu Phillips, actors Tim O'Connor and Erin Gray, creator/producer
Glen Larson and director Dan Haller

Series creator Glen Larson & Erin Gray during the panel.

Display of props, costumes, models & artwork.

Original Starfighter model.Working replica of Dr. Theopolis.

Thanks to everyone at Universal Studios Home Entertainment and the American Cinematheque for a fun evening!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/10/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got some great news for you today about more classic Universal TV series coming to DVD in the months ahead. In a sales booklet (promoting Universal TV product) that's included in the packaging of the studio's Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series (due in stores next Tuesday, 11/16), Leave it to Beaver, Amazing Stories, Woody Woodpecker and Kojak are all listed as "Coming Soon to a DVD Near You". What's more, at a special 25th anniversary screening last night at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood of the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century theatrical film, Universal Studios Home Entertainment VP of Marketing Robert Reed confirmed that both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman are currently being prepared for DVD release in 2005. Figured you classic TV fans would like to hear that good news!

We'll tell you about the screening itself, and review the actual Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series DVD, very soon.

Back later with more. Stay tuned...

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