So you've got someone one your holiday list who you want to keep entertained for a few hours--maybe even in hi-def? Well, look no further than this lineup of 2011 TV on DVD and Blu-ray releases for a couple of ideas of what to get that special someone who's into the living dead, disavowed secret agents, drunk secret agents, and grimy, sci-fi adventure.
Judging by the response to the second season premiere, some of you might still be really into AMC's The Walking Dead, and certainly, if you're reading this piece, there's someone on your list who either might want to revisit the first season, or didn't get a chance to see the show during its initial run.
Enter this three-disc special edition set that not only carries over the extras from the two-disc Blu-ray/DVD release, but adds a whole extra disc of making-of specials and interviews with the cast and creators of the series. This release might provide a little extra insight given the presence of then showrunner Frank Darabont who was summarily bounced from the series during the production of season two. I'm not saying a potential viewer should check it out to look for juicy insights into the tension that led to Darabont's departure (although, you're free to do so), but for fans of the series (and new watchers) it might be instructive to see how the creative team handled the show in the first season as compared to the pacing, tone, and feel of the second season.
There's actually a limited edition collector's tin out there in the wild if you can hunt it down, but as with all kind of limited releases like that, you'd better decide exactly how much you like that person on your list that you're getting it for and just how much you're willing to pay for six episodes of television.
Great news for Shout! Factory, the company responsible for getting this October release out there: Jem: The Truly Outrageous Collection is ranked at #30 on Amazon's ranking of movie and TV sales. That's a lot of people out there excited about this right here, the apotheosis of 80's fashion, music, animation, and TV tropes all in one place. What that means for you is there's a chance that if you have a Jem fan in your life, they might have already snatched this set up, but on the other hand, if you know for a fact that they haven't (or you suspect they might really be into the never ending battle between Holograms and Misfits), then you owe it to them to pick up this deluxe collection encompassing the entire series.
Spread out over 11 discs, this set brings the series back with a handful of retrospective special features as well as what I thought was the best thing about the whole set: a video jukebox that let you listen to all of the songs/watch all of the videos from the series. And I'm not trying to be funny here, but the Misfits' songs truly were better, by a mile. Besides that, there's about 1500 minutes of TV here, so whoever you get this for, tell them to pace themselves: watching too much of this show in one sitting can lead to schmaltzy synth-heavy love songs, spontaneous hair primping, and the appearance of garish, possibly impossible-to-remove makeup.
Respectfully, Community, this is the show that knows what it means to always be on the edge of cancellation. Case in point: up until current Futurama home Comedy Central gave the show's production staff the green light for their upcoming seventh season, the writers went ahead and prepped yet another series finale for the sometimes-cancelled Fox show.
The 13 episodes in this set see the Futurama team getting into the groove of being back on the air again after the uneven fifth season, and we started to get a couple of gems out of this outing, including "Law and Oracle," and the previously-mentioned "season finale," "Reincarnation." Honestly, it felt like the writers were done with the need to try to catch up with the decade that had passed Futurama by, and fewer of the jokes were targeted or of the moment (something that the newly-revitalized Simpsons does a lot better) and instead went off on its own crazed, sci-fi tangents while exploring its characters and even fleshing out a longtime, unlikely, and sweet freiendship between the Professor and Dr. John "Johnny" Zoidberg.
The listing details a few audio commentaries and deleted scenes among the special features for this December 20th release (you might want to get release day delivery there), but as of this writing, I was unable to ascertain which episodes would get the commentary treatment or who would be participating.
I think opinion of the most recent season of Doctor Who has been split among fans. Not evenly, mind you--it seems still pretty heavily balanced toward the viewers who loved it--but there was an edge of dissent and disappointment as the most recent batch of episodes dealing with the Doctor's impending death brought up a lot more questions than provided answers in its "lets everyone talk fast" finale. Likewise, I know some fans were a little exasperated with the "sad, mad Doctor" storylines (still well below their peak in the downright maudlin final Tennant episodes), but again, on average, it seems like the sixth season resonated with people.
This set--coming to DVD and Blu-ray next week--actually brings together the first and second half of the season (whew, thanks for not double-dipping Warner Brothers/BBC) with the usual assortment of special features including commentaries and deleted/bonus scenes. It also brings the UK Comic Relief sketches and the Christmas special to disc for those who might not have been able to see those here in the U.S. (grumble, grumble, I didn't have cable at the time). So this is definitely one to pick up for the Who fan you know, since they were probably into it and this is as good a chance as any to dissect the mysteries of the season and try to figure out what's coming in season seven.
I really like Doctor Who, and I'm with all of you other fans of Fringe, but for me, my absolute favorite sci-fi show of the last decade-ish was Farscape, the Jim Henson Company-produced space opera that ran for four years on the (then) SciFi Network. Mixing idiosyncratic, often hostile characters on the run from military forces and would-be despots, the adventures of astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder) aboard the living ship Moya was one of the most electric series I had the opportunity to watch. Gone were the sometimes antiseptic adventures of Star Trek, replaced instead by a real sense of danger and almost viciousness as Crichton--by design and by chance--surrounded himself with outsiders, lunatics, and killers over the course of the four seasons.
I have a review of this set forthcoming (promise), but here's the long and the short of it: it looks spectacular and the show's episodes are reproduced with a crispness and clarity that's almost distracting. The fine folks at A+E, responsible for the pretty comprehensive Robotech set have done it again only just kicking it all the way up a bunch of notches in terms of production quality. You can pick out such fine and minute detail in many of the costumes and environments (and yes, some of the show's aging CG effects), but even for someone who's seen every episode a couple of times, it's like being able to revisit the show for the first time. It also ports over the special features from the sets released by ADV a few years back as well as a retrospective with the cast and crew looking back at the series. The only real disappointment is the lack of the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries that served as the show's wrap-up, but it seems that Lionsgate holds the rights to it and so the mini couldn't make its way into this set.
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