Delerium: Epiphany DVD
Dio: Holy Diver Live Blu-Ray
Classic Albums: Rush: 2112 and Moving Pictures Blu-Ray

A selection of music and musical bits first up...we go to MVD's release of Epiphany, the first (to my knowledge) live concert DVD of Delerium, a band I first encountered (apparently like a lot of people) with their 1994 album, Semantic Spaces. Now that I think about it, it was about the same time that I also encountered Front Line Assembly via their earlier album State of Mind, in search of the dripping-with-samples "No Tomorrow." Even though I believe I discovered them around the same time, I didn't realize the former was a side project of the latter. Go figure. Anyway, this DVD contains mostly footage from a 2008 live performance in Washington DC with other bits coming from a couple of other stops on their tour. It features a number of songs from "Incantation" and "Flowers Become Screens" off of Spaces up to "Angelicus" from their (at the time) most recent album. Of course also included is "Silence," with Leigh Nash taking over for Sarah McLachlan. The fan of their music is going to appreciate getting a chance to see them live, and the $14 this will run you while I write this--that's at least one concert ticket right there. Although one thing to bear in mind: Delerium live is different than Delerium in the studio, so if you're expecting to hear an exact reproduction, be forewarned. And if you're not already a fan, you really should check out Spaces. I think you'll dig it. Click here to snag the DVD from Amazon.

Speaking of studio vs. live...we come to Dio: Holy Diver on Blu-Ray. And it's the entire album (plus some bonus tracks) performed live by Ronnie James Dio and company in 2006. Let's get to the obvious stuff since we're talking hi-def: the video and audio look great to me. It's a concert film, so I don't necessarily look at this with the same scrutiny as say, Planet Earth, you know. The main thing is this: when Dio recorded this: the guy was 63, 64 years old. And the album came out in, what, 1983? So do the math and cut the guy some slack if he can't wail like he used to. It comes with bonus interviews as well. It's $16 as I type this, so that's less than a $1 a track, so the fan will want to snag this (if they don't already own the DVD version and are content with it). Non-fans or just passing acquaintances (the latter like myself), will want to pass. Snag the Blu-Ray from Amazon here.

And speaking of hi-def, we move over to Classic Albums: Rush: 2112 & Moving Pictures. Not a live performance here, it's a docu covering the creation of these two albums, which brought you, among other things, "Tom Sawyer," "YYZ" and others. The disc features all three members of the band--Gddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart--plus producer Terry Brown. The Rush fan will dig the hell out of this, as it delivers what it promises: the sort of making-of docu you'd expect from a feature film DVD release, not albums that are thirtysomething years old. The Blu-Ray comes with interviews, live bits, archival bits and you get to delve a bit into the original tapes--something I always love. Now here's the question: is it worth buying? To a fan of the band, yes. Are there any shocking revelations on here? I wouldn't think so, but I'm not a full-on fan of the band and am not familiar enough to make the call. But I think anyone wanting to see behind the scenes of the band will want this and at $15.99 it makes sense to snag it.

Michael McDonald: This Christmas Live Blu-Ray
Sound of Music Blu-Ray
White Christmas Blu-Ray

Yes, I know: at first you might be thinking...Michael McDonald? Really? Yes, really. This is the guy who brought you tracks like "What a Fool Believes" and "I Keep Forgettin'." So sorry, respect must be paid. And yes, this is a Christmas concert (recorded live in Chicago) but he does provide classic tracks like that and "Takin' it to the Streets" and "Sweet Freedom." There's even a string orchestra on some tracks. And even though he's 58, his voice is still pretty much there as you remember it--which is a nice change of pace (see above). Other Christmas classics are "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "White Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So if you want a Xmas concert that has the potential to please everybody, you might go for this. Now, bear in mind the Christmas portion of this is available as a CD or MP3 download--but those don't have his songs on it, just the Christmas bits. And there is a DVD version, sure, but it's the same price (as I type this) as the Blu-Ray. So if you've got the ability, the Blu-Ray is the way to do it.

The Sound of Music hits from Fox in a hi-def format. First you've got the remastered film, looking better than it ever has. It also has 7.1 sound, which is more sound than I can contend with, so I'm sure it probably sounds amazing with the proper rigging. You also get "Your Favorite Things: An Interactive Celebration," which lets you turn on different modes of viewing, including a trivia track, a quiz, lyrics, and picture-in-picture bits of artwork and behind the scenes images popping up as you watch. Two commentaries are here: one with director Robert Wise, another with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and others. I haven't listened to these on this release, as it appears they're the same ones from the previous 40th anniversary edition, and I remember the Wise one being informative and the better of the two. There's a slew of featurettes--a number from the aforementioned 40th anniversary (and others), including a number of making-of docus (a couple pretty much feature length), a bit where Andrews and Plummer reminiscence about the film, a reunion featurette with the Von Trapp kids, and more. There are two Rodgers & Hammerstein TV specials, audio interviews, screen tests, other rare television bits including where the real Maria appeared with Julie Andrews on her television show (Julie's show, not Maria's). There's more, of course, but the gist is there: that this is packed with bonus bits and the feature is quality and looks it. In fact, looking over everything that the Blu-Ray has feature-wise, I'm not sure what's been left out. There might be something here or there, but they even included Julie Andrews' intro to the 40th anniversary edition--something a lot of later editions of other films might have left off. So I would say if you want this--get the Blu-Ray version as it just doesn't make sense to get a lower quality version of a film as visual and as sound-centric as this. It's a bloody musical after all. So the Blu-Ray is the way to go.

White Christmas is yet another "revue" musical, like Anything Goes was for Cole Porter or Crazy For You was for Gershwin. This is for Irving Berlin...and the thing about revue musicals is that the plot is an afterthought; it's just an excuse to get people singing and dancing and whatnot. And you do have Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen in the starring roles. So it's a bit of light-hearted fun with a holiday sheen on it. And that appeals to many. The features here are a commentary by Clooney; a making-of featurette; featurettes covering Crosby, Kaye and Clooney; a featurette regarding the title song; a bit with Clooney looking back at her experience; and more. Now, if you had purchased last year's anniversary edition DVD, you might find all of this very familiar. Indeed--this is just a Blu-Ray version of that. And unless you're a huge fan of the musical, it might not make sense to double-dip. However, if you were to buy it now--the DVD version out this year is much more expensive, and this is less so. So if you don't already own it, this Blu-Ray is the best choice.

Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore Blu-Ray
Classic TV Christmas Collection
Flipped Blu-Ray

Those family comedies sure pay off. I say this because you, like me, probably said: "Really? That got a sequel?" But yes. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is out from Warner Brothers on Blu-Ray. The original did $200 million in worldwide box office. This one did about $110 million. But I'm sure if you have kids, they will probably dig and want this. No matter how freaky CG-enhanced talking animals are. Am I the only one? Seriously, there's a section of the uncanny valley reserved for such madness. Anyway, this release is the triple play of Blu-Ray, DVD and digital copy. I did not get to experience the 3D version, but I figure the amount of you who can take advantage of that tech is probably limited at this point. Among the bonus bits you get a Yogi Bear sneak peek (mildly terrifying) and a new Looney Tunes short (not great, but not as bad as you might fear, actually). There's also a short behind-the-scenes bit and a series of "outtakes" and a gag reel. The main thing is this: if you have a kid who thinks this is awesome, you're probably stuck owning this. If they just want to sample it, Netflixing it will probably be fine. But if you do need to own it, at least with the Blu-Ray it'll look good. And it's only $7 more than the regular DVD. So. Click here to go to Amazon and snag the Blu-Ray (non 3D version).

Classic TV Christmas is the latest holiday offering from the Warner Archive and I admit it's a bit of a puzzler. Warner Brothers uses its Archive to put out print on demand versions of shows and such that can't be supported by a regular release. But across these four discs, you've got Christmas stuff from ten different shows: Alice, CHiPs, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Dr. Kildare, Eight is Enough, Mama's Family, Perfect Strangers, Suddenly Susan, Veronica's Closet and Welcome Back Kotter. Which is all well and good, but for $30, is somebody really going to be that jazzed about enough of the shows on here to warrant the purchase? When we all know that eventually all these will be out with full seasons, print on demand or not. However, if you want a festival of Christmas TV then this might be the way to handle it. You can snag the whole thing over at the Warner Archive.

Flipped is the latest Rob Reiner film and another coming of age story but without Kiefer Sutherland trying to kick the protagonists' asses. Instead, Juli and Bryce meet in the second grade and Juli instantly falls (or "flips") for Bryce. Bryce, however, doesn't want anything to do with Juli and time passes...leaving Juli eventually to wonder if Bryce will ever get his head on straight and Bryce to wonder the same about Juli in a completely different way. This is a film that it appears will work for you...or it won't. You either get on board or you don't. That's why I hesitate to say jump in and buy it. If you think it's the sweetest film you've seen in forever, then sure, go for it. The Blu-Ray contains just short featurettes mostly featuring the two stars that are only about fifteen minutes or so. And the DVD, which has its featurette talking about the two stars dealing with being young and kissing in front of an entire film crew, is $10 less than the Blu-Ray. So my inclination is to tell you to Netflix it and if you want to own it, then consider the DVD unless you want to pay extra for the hi-def variation.