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Tibby’s Bowl Online Entertainment Magazine » THE MONEY PIT - 06/10/2005
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THE MONEY PIT - 06/10/2005

Posted by Ken in Shopping Guides (June 10, 2005 at 10:34 pm)

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A month from now, I’ll be stressing myself out trying to get ready to fly out to this year’s mega-nerve-wracking San Diego Comicon. Where has this year gone?

One of the people I hope to finally meet in person at this year’s con (I’ve had plenty of near-misses) is Don Rosa. Of the creators that could possibly lay claim to inheriting the mantle of the late Carl Barks (creator of Scrooge McDuck and comicbook storyteller extraordinaire), I feel Rosa has the most impressive claim, based solely on the incredible quality of the Duck tales he’s produced over the last 15+ years. His epic Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck will be hitting shelves soon, but the latest issue of Uncle Scrooge - #342 (Gemstone, $6.95 SRP) – features Scrooge, Donald, and nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie tracking down the fabled treasury of the Knights Templar – a massive treasure secreted out of continental Europe and hidden on the property of the last Templar Treasurer, a member of the Clan McDuck. Keep in mind, this story was crafted before the Da Vinci Code ever hit shelves. It’s a grand adventure, and proves that the same magic Barks was able to conjure with the Disney Ducks (a magic that enthralled and inspired such fans as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas) is still alive and well in the works of Don Rosa. Highly recommended.

It wasn’t the derailment that many made it out to be, but the fourth season of The Sopranos was not up to the level of excellence exemplified by the previous 3 outings of HBO’s landmark show about “family”. Thankfully, things were back on track for the fifth season (HBO, Not Rated, DVD-$99.98 SRP), as Tony dealt with his disintegrating marriage to Carmela, the rising threat of Johnny Sack, and his nephew’s singing fiancée. Speaking of which, I love the fact that the writers were able to deal with the fiancée’s fate without dropping the ball – which is no small feat for most shows. The 4-disc set features five audio commentaries (with directors Peter Bogdanovich, Steve Buscemi, Mike Figgis, and Rodrigo Garcia, plus one from Drea de Matteo).

While you’re waiting to pick up Don Rosa’s Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck, do yourself a favor and grab the latest volume of The Complete Peanuts (Fantagraphics, $28.95 SRP), this time covering 1955-1956. Featuring an introduction by Mat Groening, the series remains the finest reprint of a comic strip I’ve ever laid eyes on. Where’s my Pogo, people?

While the overall quality of Frasier was still head-and-shoulders above the competition during its 11-year run, that should not be interpreted that all was perfect during that lengthy tenure. It was during the show’s fifth season (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$38.99 SRP) that the cracks began to show, and the non-stop farce and Niles-Daphne back-and-forth began to get a bit tired (which would not fully wear out its welcome until season 6). Still, the “Frasier Crane Day” episode is worth the price of admission.

Though roundly maligned by most critics – and believe me, it’s no masterpiece – the love that director/star Kevin Spacey had for his subject matter in his Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea (Lions Gate, Rated PG-13, DVD-$27.98 SRP) is palpable. Also undeniable is Spacey’s amazing ability to recreate Darin’s tunes (I heartily recommend the soundtrack album for the film, featuring Spacey). Where the film really suffers is it’s ability to really peg Darin down as a character – it creates the broad strokes, but never seems to lock in. Bonus features on the disc include a commentary with Spacey, a making-of featurette, and cast & crew interviews.

But by golly, there’s more TV-on-DVD! In fact, based on the tremendous wave of TV-on-DVD releases hitting this week, I’ve decided – in my too-tired-to-be-terribly-creative way – to dub it the “TV-on-DVD Perfect Storm.” Maybe it will catch on… Mostly it won’t. Either way, there’s a ton of titles tempting buyers this week. For comics fans, there’s the very first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$59.98 SRP) - featuring a retrospective documentary, commentary on the pilot, the original pilot presentation, interviews with Dean Cain & Terry Hatcher, and a behind-the-scenes featurette – as well as the third (and final) season of Wonder Woman (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP), with a new documentary and an audio commentary with Lynda Carter on the episode “My Teenage Idol Is Missing.” Comedy fans can pick up the 6th (and final) season of Sanford & Son (Sony, Not Rated, DVD-$29.95 SRP) – be sure to pick up the version with the limited edition scrapbook; the complete 2nd season of Home Improvement (Touchstone, Not Rated, DVD-$49.99 SRP), featuring a 2nd season gag reel; the complete 4th season of King of Queens (Sony, Not Rated, DVD-$39.95 SRP); and the 2nd season of the Ted Knight comedy Too Close for Comfort (Rhino, Not Rated, DVD-$39.95 SRP), featuring audio commentaries on four episodes and a cast reunion. If drama floats your boat – particularly the classic kind – there’s the complete first season of Dragnet 1967 (Universal, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP), featuring an audio CD with an episode of the original radio show; or the first 2 seasons of Jack Klugman’s pre-CSI crusading coroner, Quincy, M.E. (Universal, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP); and Richard Dean Anderson’s miracle-working geek in the 2nd season of MacGyver (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$38.99 SRP). For a combination of both comedy and drama, pick up the complete first season of Denis Leary’s brilliant fireman dramedy Rescue Me (Sony, Not Rated, DVD-$49.95 SRP), featuring commentary on the first and last eps, 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, a peek at season 2, and bloopers. And finally, if you have fond memories of when you were actually interested in the mythology that eventually devoured The X-Files, be sure to pick up the first volume collecting those episodes from the first 3 seasons, The X-Files: Abduction (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP), which contains commentaries on selected episodes and the first part of a brand new mega-documentary, “Threads of Mythology.”

In 1972, Marc Bolan was the king of rock n’ roll. In 5 years, he was dead – but not without leaving behind a clutch of enduring tracks. Bolan was such a big star, in fact, that ex-Beatle Ringo Starr decided to make a documentary/concert film for the newly-minted Apple Films – a film that has been largely lost since it’s original release until the footage was recently found and remastered. That film, Born To Boogie (Sanctuary, Not Rated, DVD-$29.98 SRP), is a rare document of Bolan and his band, T-Rex, at their peak – even if the Fellini-esque film is a bit on the odd side, the music is worth the price of admission. The 2-disc DVD set contains 2 unedited concerts, a feature length documentary, unused footage, new interviews, a look at the restoration, and much more. A companion CD is also available (Sanctuary, $19.98 SRP), and worth picking up as well.

It’s strange when you first hear its premise, but Johnny Cash’s Ridin’ The Rails (Rhino, Not Rated, DVD-$14.99 SRP) – in which the legend waxes poetic in song and story about the old time railroads – is a fun piece of TV history (yes, it was originally a network special). Featuring over a dozen songs (from “Casey
Jones” to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”) and bonus outtakes, it’s worth taking a gander at.

Time (and quantities) are running out on Sideshow Toy’s the Second Chance offering of their limited edition Sauron’s Mace scaled replica ($75.00 SRP). As always, there’s some choice items that enter into their Second Chance listings – so if there’s anything you might have missed out on, head over there quick and you just might get lucky.

As the impending disaster of his turn as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther remake approaches, I prefer to remember Steve Martin in better times, which includes the 15th Anniversary special edition of his remake of Father of the Bride (Touchstone, Rated PG, DVD-$19.99 SRP). Martin plays befuddled daddy George Banks, who has trouble letting go of his soon-to-marry daughter when she announces her impending nuptials. Throw a daft wedding planner into the mix (played by the always-insane Martin Short) and you have a recipe something at least amusing, and in this case quite funny. The DVD features a making-of featurette, Steve Martin & Martin Short interviewing each other, and an audio commentary with writer/director Charles Shyer.

In the documentary Gray Matter (Docurama, Not Rated, DVD-$26.95 SRP), filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Brother’s Keeper) chronicles the burial of over 700 preserved brains removed from handicapped children as part of the Nazi’s eugenics program – an tragedy performed under the supervision of Dr. Heinrich Gross, known as the “Austrian Dr. Mengele”). Berlinger tracks down Gross – who rose to prominence in post-war Austrian society despite his past – and tries to piece together the darker side of science. The DVD features commentary with Berlinger and a timeline of events.

I’m not entirely sure what prompted the release of not one, but three director’s cuts from out of the Disney/Miramax vaults, but it seems someone, somewhere, deemed that a demand was there. I guess. Of the three, director Billy Bob Thornton’s 2-disc extended edition of Sling Blade (Miramax, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP) is the most palatable, mainly because I liked that film in the first place. Bonus features include a Billy Bob commentary, and nearly a dozen interviews and featurettes with Billy Bob and the cast & crew. The other two extended flicks come from the Jerry Bruckheimer catalogue – Gone in 60 Seconds and Coyote Ugly (Touchstone, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP each) – and really, they’re no better nor worse for their added running times. What you’ll probably be picking these up for, if you’re so inclined, are the bonus features, including additional scenes, featurettes, interviews, and music videos.

Who knew that watching the videos contained on The Pretenders: Greatest Hits and INXS – What You Need: The Video Hits Collection (Rhino, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP) would be such a disturbing time warp. Music wise, I always preferred Chrissie Hynde’s punk to the hair-pop of INXS, but hey – to each his own. The INXS disc features 20 videos, but the Pretenders disc contains 19 videos plus a 45-minute documentary.

If you take DVD releases as an indicator, then the British Invasion never really ended, as more and more releases from across the pond make their way over. Let’s start with the latest pair of releases featuring the good doctor – Doctor Who, of course. Packed with enough bonus materials to intimidate a Dalek, we get The Leisure Hive from the Tom Baker years, and Ghost Light from Sylvester McCoy’s tenure (BBC, Not Rated, DVD-$24.98 SRP each). Also available are the complete third series of Monarch of the Glen (BBC, Not Rated, DVD-$59.98 SRP) and the complete series 1-3 of Good Neighbors (BBC, Not Rated, DVD-$49.98 SRP). Monarch features an interview with Susan Hampshire, while Neighbors contains the 1977 Christmas special, plus interviews with the cast, crew, and celeb fans.

Yeah, I can’t think of a single person who would claim that Star Trek: Insurrection (Paramount, Rated PG, DVD-$19.99 SRP) was the finest hour for the Next Generation cast. In fact, I‘d be hard-pressed to find anyone who even considered it to be a decent outing. Regardless, the 2-disc collector’s editions of the Trek films continue with the release of the Gilbert & Sullivan-fueled flick, which also has the distinction to be the first of these deluxe editions to lack an audio commentary (I guess no one wanted to take credit for it). The second disc features the usual raft of featurettes on the production & special effects, plus a spotlight on Michael Westmore’s aliens, the beautiful alien women of Trek, the original production featurette (ported over from the old DVD release), trailers, and galleries.

It’s hard to approach any entry in the “Chucky” franchise with any expectation of cinematic brilliance, as you can tell the filmmakers see the continued murderous escapades of the possessed plaything as pure farce, full of one-liners and visual gags. In the latest entry, Seed of Chucky (Universal, Not Rated, $29.98 SRP) Jennifer Tilly (who must be stuck in Chucky purgatory) plays herself in addition to Chucky’s equally murderous girl-toy Tiffany, who’s resurrected along with her boyfriend by their… Oh, whatever. Like the story matters. You know it doesn’t – you go to see a doll drinking, cussing, and killing, which is why you’ll probably want to pick up the extended unrated edition, featuring exclusive bonus materials. Oh, the shame.



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