Author - Thespia

Headsup: Doctor Thorne on DVD

doctor-thorne-dvd

Available tomorrow (October 18th) on DVD is Doctor Thorne, the period miniseries from Julian Fellowes which has widely been described (and even marketed) as emotional methadone for Downton Abbey addicts going through show withdrawal.   The drama is based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Trollope and follows the romance between the poor (but kind and beautiful) Mary Thorne and her childhood friend, Frank Gresham, whose elevated social status and snobbish family members complicate what would otherwise be a straight ride off into the sunset.

I would encourage any viewer who has not seen the series to manage expectations if comparing it to Downton Abbey–the two have very different attributes, not the least of which is that while Downton Abbey had fifty-two episodes in which to develop characters and tell its story, Doctor Thorne has four.  Also continuing with the “Downton Abbey Lite” theme is the lack of substantial bonus features on the DVD set: there are a few short snippets that talk about the characters and themes, a tiny featurette on the making of the series, a bit from Julian Fellowes about adapting the novel for the screen, and that’s it.  Considering that the creators obviously want viewers to draw parallels between the two (the trailer and DVD cover for Doctor Thorne both prominently reference Downton Abbey by name), I would have thought they might flush out the bonus features a bit more if they’re trying to bridge the divide for fans of the latter.

As it stands, the DVD set is available on Amazon for $9.99, but if you have Amazon Prime you can stream it for free (you won’t get the bonus features, but in my opinion they don’t add $10 of value.)  If you do decide that the DVD is a good option for you (or someone you’re gifting it to), if you’re in the US, make sure to get the one for Region 1 (the first one currently listed on Amazon is Region 2) to ensure the discs will play properly.

Headsup: Mike and Molly: the Sixth and Final Season on DVD

mike-molly-season-six-dvd

NOTE: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD featured in this post. The opinions I share are my own.

Out now from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is the sixth (and final) season of Mike & Molly, the show that (along with Bridesmaids) helped launch Melissa McCarthy into stardom and earned her her Emmy and People’s Choice Awards.

Read More

Headsup: The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes — Classic Carol on DVD

Carol Burnett Show Lost Episodes Classic Carol on DVDIf you read our recent feature on The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection and wished there was a more “bite-sized” version, you’re in luck!  Coming out today from Time Life is The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes — Classic Carol, available in one, three, and six-disc sets.  All three (like the ultimate set) feature episodes from the first five seasons of the series’ run (1967-1972), none of which have been available for viewing until now (and that includes re-runs, streaming, etc.).  All three sets have the wonderful content the show has become famous for, such as sketches and movie satires (ex: “Once Upon a Water Bed,” “Scene Stealers,” “Tearjerker Theatre”) and caricatures of the wacky commercials from the 60s-70s.  And of course rounding out the core cast of Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, and Lyle Waggoner are the multi-talented guest stars (Lana Turner, Bernadette Peters, Robert Goulet, and others top a long list of five-star entertainers that appear…we even get to see Carol’s charwoman character do an awesome blues duet with the incomparable Ray Charles).   The one-disc set has three episodes, the three-disc has seven, and the six-disc has fourteen.

The three and six-disc sets also have some nice bonus content via interviews with Randy Doney and Edward Villella (two of the show’s incredible dancers) and a group conversation with a selection of the writers.  On top of that the six-disc set also has a few extra shows from Carol’s career, including some episodes from The Garry Moore Show (note: if you ever have a chance to read/listen to Carol’s autobiography, you’ll love how warmly she describes her start in television on that show and how it influenced her as she created her own).

As to pricing, the one-disc set is $12.95, the three-disc is $29.95, and the six-disc is $59.95, all of which divide out to around $4 per episode (plus the applicable bonus features).  If you want to start building your personal library (or maybe introduce someone else to the show) a “bite” at a time, one of these may be the set for you.

Headsup: An Animated Pair of Sixes

Ventures Bros Season 6 Blu-Ray Adventure Time Season 6 Blu-Ray

Out today on Blu-ray (with DVD thrown in for good measure) is Season Six of The Venture Bros., where we see the newly-rich Dr. Venture and sons situated in their swanky new compound in New York City, a prime location for more (mis)adventures. This season started off with the special All This and Gargantua 2, which features pretty much every character we’ve ever seen on the show as circumstances clash them together against the backdrop of the epic space station Gargantua 2. If you haven’t seen this season yet, do make sure to start with the special as it does affect the rest of the season (and the Ventureverse in general), with important plot points including (seemingly) killing off several characters. It is included among the special features on the DVD and Blu-ray sets along with very amusing creator commentaries for each episode plus some deleted scenes (you can see editors’ logic behind cutting them, but they’re still an entertaining bonus nonetheless.)

In addition, whether you love Adventure Time because of its critical acclaim (BAFTA, Emmy, Peabody awards and more), because it’s something you can enjoy with your kids, or just because you like saying “The Land of Ooo,” you were probably among the 2.5 million people watching last season and following the exploits of Finn, Jake, and all the rest.

Read More

The Wonder Years: Season 6 on DVD

Wonder Years Season 6 on DVD

This is the season that wrapped up the iconic series that we all knew and loved–where we said goodbye to Kevin, Winnie, the Arnold family, and all the rest, leaving behind them six Emmy award-winning seasons and a lasting place in television history. This DVD set presents all 22 episodes and does so intact: Time Life did extensive work in clearing the music rights as well, so viewers can enjoy tunes from The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Percy Sledge and others the same way they would have watching back in 1992-1993.

Time Life is quite good at maximizing bonus features wherever possible, so we’ve got two hours-plus here. First we have “At Last: The Final Episode,” in which members of the cast and crew reminisce about making the series finale (did you know that they were unaware it would be the last one as they were taping?). Next is an interview with Executive Producer Bob Brush, in which he covers everything from casting choices to challenges working with child actors to the artistic navigation of Kevin’s love life. Also included is “From the Vault: Alley Mills and Bob Brush Letters,” in which Alley Mills (Norma) shares a letter she wrote to Bush as the show ended (and what he wrote back).

It is worth noting this is not the only place you can snag these episodes. Does Netflix have them? Yes. If you’re a fan of the show, however, remember: just because it’s streaming now doesn’t mean it will always be available. There is something to be said for owning the media– that way you know what you own and the shows (and their music) can’t just vanish from your shelves. And at less than $1 an episode on Amazon, the mega-fan is going to want to snag it.

The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection on DVD

Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes

Even if you’ve never seen it (a feat which I’m not sure how you would accomplish in today’s world), you know that The Carol Burnett Show was an epic success in 1960s and 70s television. The show ran for eleven years, collecting twenty-five Emmy awards, eight Golden Globes, and wound up on more than a few Best Show of All Time lists. It also nabbed more People’s Choice Awards for Carol Burnett herself than for any other actress in history. Now (yay!) out from Time Life is The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection.

The set includes episodes from the first five seasons (1967-72) that Burnett personally selected, and they haven’t been seen since their original airing over forty years ago. That means no home video, no streaming, and no syndication. In these episodes, we see the origins of what would later become much-loved staples of the show, including “The Oldest Man” with Tim Conway (in which he proved that he could be just as funny in slow motion as in hyper-motion), “Carol and Sis” with Burnett and Vicki Lawrence in the title roles, the soap opera send-up “As the Stomach Turns,” and more. In addition to the core cast, we also see many of the fabulous guest stars the show was known to attract such as Lucille Ball, Jim Nabors, Bing Crosby, Paul Lynde, Bob Newhart, Don Adams, Chita Rivera, Andy Griffith, Jonathan Winters and scads more.

Read More

Headsup: Incredibuilds from Insight Editions

Incredibuilds Box ArtOut now from Insight Editions is IncrediBuilds, a 3D do-it-yourself modeling line of popular characters, monuments, and animals. Certain kits (such as some of the sets featuring Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney characters) also include a book with fun facts, photos from films, and more.  IncrediBuilds sets are eco-friendly and made entirely of wood certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), an international organization that sets standards for responsible forest management to protect natural resources for future generations.

No glue or tools are required for assembly, and the laser-cut edges provide nice crisp lines on the finished product (do take care to not be in a big hurry or try to put too much force on the pieces when assembling the sets or there is a good chance they may break). Instructions in the sets have decorating tips as well–no paint or decoration is included, but this can actually be an asset to creativity because you can make your model have whatever colors, finish, etc. that you wish (if you’ve always wanted a psychedelic Captain America shield, this is your chance!) For an example of how a model comes together, check out this video of the Harry Potter: Golden Snitch construction.

Read More

Headsup: Empire Season Two on DVD

Empire Season 2 on DVD

Now out from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is Empire: The Complete Second Season, which navigates all the post-arrest drama as Lucious and Cookie struggle to keep their grip on Empire Entertainment Records amidst personal problems, feuding sons, and threats of an outside takeover.

There are two things fans love most about Empire—the look and the sound.  With the 53 minutes of extras added to all 18 episodes of the second season, this DVD set definitely takes those two loves into consideration.  Special features include a Freda Gatz music video, four uncut music performances, six studio sessions, and four mini specials that focus on the striking visuals of the show.  Also in the mix is a behind-the-scenes look at the USO Tour that members of the cast participated in recently (did you know that Taraji P. Henson worked as a receptionist at the Pentagon years ago?)

This set sells on Amazon for $19.99 (about $1.11 per episode, superior pricing to Amazon’s per-episode price of $1.99 for streaming).  Hulu customers also have access to the series as part of their subscription.  It is not (nor will it be) available on Netflix.

Whether you’re one of the 15 million+ viewers that caught the show this season or are new and looking to do a quick binge to get into the series, now is a good time to catch up to be ready for Season Three (which airs on Fox starting September 21.)

Headsup: Supernatural Season 11 on Blu-ray

supernatural-season-11

Warner Brothers Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray set I featured in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.

I find that Supernatural viewers fall into three categories: they hardcore love it, hardcore hate it, or feel betrayed because they used to hardcore love it for the first half of the run and have since become very disappointed with the show’s direction.

Season 11 was especially polarizing among these groups as it explored the pre-biblical spiritual arena– viewers saw the aftermath following the release of the Darkness, the introduction of the Rabids and Amara into the storyline, the cliffhanger of Sam’s unknown fate, and more.

This set includes all twenty-three episodes of season 11 on Blu-ray along with over four episodes of bonus material and a digital HD copy for instant download and streaming. Special features include:

5 Featurettes:

  • Jensen Ackles on Directing “The Bad Seed”
  • On Set with SPN: The Real Fan Contest
  • The Winchester Mythology: Shedding Light on the Darkness
  • Digital Magic: Enhancing the Sets with VFX
  • 2015 Comic-Con Panel

 

  • Audio Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel

 

For hardcore “love it” fans, the featurettes are an additional opportunity to explore the new areas the show has entered, both in front of the camera and behind. The specials on Jensen Ackles directing Episode 3 – “The Bad Seed,” the Winchester Mythology, and the use of VFX aren’t amazingly groundbreaking or anything, but they are interesting and give some additional depth to the viewer’s understanding of the creative processes behind the show. On Set with SPN is a documentary of any mega-fan’s dream as it follows two winners of the Supernatural “Become A Hunter” contest as they enjoy their prize of spending a day on set. And if you missed Comic-Con 2015, this is your chance to see Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard, producer Jeremy Carver and writer Andrew Dabb discuss Season 11.

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][ad#horiz-ad]The audio commentaries will be a plus for any fan because they give that extra bit of background that you simply can’t get just by watching the show. The deleted scenes are mostly obvious why they were cut, and the gag reel is amusing, particularly because the show can get so dark sometimes and the contrast is fun.

The set is available on Amazon for $36.99, which equates to each episode costing the viewer about $1.61 per episode–not bad, and made even better when you add in the 4+ hours of additional content from the extras. To sum up: if you’re one of the hardcore haters, you would be crazy to get this because it’s a show you hate, if you are a hardcore “used to love it” fan, this set won’t change your mind, but if you’re a hardcore “love it” fan who also loves seeing how it all comes together, this set is a very good addition to your library.

Available: September 6, 2016 – Order Yours Here.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

A Guide to Convention Preparedness

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
Hardware Waste Lands Scavenger

Conventions. Not exactly a radioactive wasteland. But close. Be prepared.

(Widge’s Note: Just as the summer movie season is started to break down as more and more films get crammed in anywhere they’ll fit on the schedule (with most of them showing up on Blu-Ray six weeks later anyway), so the convention season sprawls lazily over the entire year. Hell, in the Atlanta metro area I swear there’s an anime con somewhere just about every damn weekend. Thespia is the most prepared executive producer one could ask for. If she doesn’t have it, you probably don’t need it. She gave some thought to convention preparedness–having been a source of con sanity for myself for years–and here’s what she came up with. If you’re a seasoned veteran of a thousand psychic wars, there’s probably nothing new here–but conventions suck in newcomers all the time. Can you be too prepared? Enjoy.)

Cons can (and should) be a blast, but a lot of things can definitely dampen your mood: a dead cell phone, a torn costume, a bad headache, a lost badge…and the list goes on. Over the years, I’ve developed my own “preparedness kit” based on some hard-learned lessons. (One of the most important of these is that everything you choose to include has three costs: money, space, and weight.) The following is a list of what I have found to be the most economical in all three areas while still covering the essentials. It may look like a lot on paper, but if you pack it right, it should fit into a small bag (about the size of a lunchbox).

Read More