Author - Thespia

Headsup: Heroes, Heroines, and Robot Chickens

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of LEGO DC Super Heroes: The Flash and Major Crimes: The Sixth and Final Season. The opinions I share are my own.

Robot Chicken Walking DeadIf you’ve ever thought that Walking Dead could be improved by adding spongy puppets to the mix, your prayers have been answered!  Following the acclaimed specials Robot Chicken: Star Wars and Robot Chicken DC, Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken late-night sketch show now brings new life to the undead with The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who’s Walking.  The 22-minute special tells the “secret history” of some of the best Walking Dead moments and features an all-star cast, including Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Steven Yeun, and Sarah Wayne Callies.  The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who’s Walking is being released on March 27 on Blu-ray and DVD, which also includes cut sketches, behind-the-scenes and “making of” featurettes, and exclusive commentary from The Walking Dead showrunner / executive producer Scott M. Gimple, Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, The Walking Dead creator / executive producer Robert Kirkman, and director Tom Sheppard.  The special is available for pre-order on Amazon on Blu-ray and DVD for $14.42 and $9.96, respectively.

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Headsup: Action, Antics, Animation, and Attorneys

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of Animal Kingdom: The Complete Second Season and The Guardian: The Complete Series. The opinions I share are my own.

 

Jackie Gleason Show in ColorWhen you’re in need of some old-school laughs, the Jackie Gleason Show may be just the ticket. Gleason starred as the boisterous working-class “everyman” host of his variety show, which ran from 1952 to 1970 in various forms and included singing, dancing, comedy sketches, and beloved celebrity guests.  In 1966 the show broke its 14-year streak of filming in New York in favor of Miami Beach Florida (to accommodate Gleason’s love of playing golf), bringing even more energy and life to what was already a much-loved show. Newly released master tapes from the vaults in South Florida are now available on DVD from Time Life as The Jackie Gleason Show in Color, which features four remastered and never-before-sold episodes along with Gleason and Art Carney in three Honeymooners sketches not seen since their original airing. Featured guests include Milton Berle, Red Buttons, George Carlin, Nipsey Russell, and Phil Silvers (among several others). The Jackie Gleason Show in Color is currently available on Amazon for $7.30.

Duckman Complete SeriesIf you enjoy irreverent humor and animated antiheroes, you may already be a fan of the three-time Emmy-nominated series Duckman. Duckman, voiced by Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame), is a rude and crude private eye who strives to balance his career of solving crimes with being a single dad to his less-than-stellar sons without sacrificing a single opportunity to make a cutting remark or a lewd joke. Now out in a ten-disc DVD set is Duckman: The Complete Series, which includes all four seasons of the show as well as multiple bonus features. Extras include an examination of Duckman’s journey from comics to television, an interactive “Six Degrees of Duckman” feature, video of drawings and animation from the unaired pilot episode, storyboards, pencil tests, and more. Duckman: The Complete Series is now available on Amazon for $22.89, which at a total run time of over twenty-six hours evens out to about 87 cents per hour of content— not a bad deal for old or new fans. (It is good to note that this is a cartoon series aimed at adults, so if you haven’t seen the series yourself, definitely check it out before gifting it to a younger loved one.)

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Headsup: Falling Skies, Family Drama, and Funnies

Cloverfield 4K Ultra HD 10 Cloverfield Lane 4K Ultra HD
In the celebrated film Cloverfield, the viewer is given a first-person account of a mysterious and terrifying attack on Manhattan by an unknown foe. Action-packed visuals and a heart-racing storyline combine to tell the story of an unexpected and seemingly inescapable apocalypse. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of its original release this year, Cloverfield is now available in a new 4K Ultra-HD / Blu-ray combo pack. The set boasts over an hour of bonus features, including alternate endings and deleted scenes, a “making of” special, multiple featurettes, and audio commentary by director Matt Reeves. Paired with its predecessor is the 4K release of 10 Cloverfield Lane, a psychological thriller starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., and John Goodman as three (supposed) survivors of an apocalyptic attack that has thrown them together in the latter’s underground bunker. Tensions run ever higher as revelations begin to spark questions about whether the true danger lies inside or outside the bunker, and whether escaping it will mean salvation or death. 10 Cloverfield Lane is also now available in a 4K Ultra-HD / Blu-ray combo pack, with extras that include seven featurettes covering the film’s production (and how it relates to Cloverfield) along with commentary by director Dan Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams. The Cloverfield 4K combo pack and the 10 Cloverfield Lane 4k combo pack are both currently available on Amazon for $26.62.

Ray Donovan Season Five DVDTurning from apocalyptic damage to damage control, we have Season Five of Ray Donovan.  In this season, the elite Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) must deal with challenges within his own family as together they charge into unfamiliar territory, including issues of life, love, death, and Parkinson’s Disease.  Also starring Susan Sarandon in her recurring role as the incomparable media titan Samantha Winslow, Season Five takes the characters (and the audience) on an emotional rollercoaster not set to stop any time soon.  The DVD set of Ray Donovan: The Fifth Season will be released on January 30.  In addition to all twelve of the season’s episodes, the set presents almost thirty minutes of special features, including featurettes exploring Abby’s fate, dealing with introducing the challenges of Parkinson’s Disease into the storyline, and other issues from the season, along with commentary on Episode 508 (“Horses”) with Paula Malcomson (Abby) and series showrunner David Hollander.  Ray Donovan: The Fifth Season is currently available to pre-order on Amazon for $29.17.  Fans who have already watched the season likely have a subscription to Showtime or Amazon Prime with the Showtime add-on option and already have access to the season, but if you’re looking for some background on Season Five’s production (or are looking to gift it to someone), it might be worth checking out the DVD option.

Rowan and Martins Laugh-In Season TwoFar from the dark thoughts of cities falling and beloved characters dying is the refreshingly lighthearted second season of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, which was itself an answer to the turmoil of the 1960s.  Starring “straight man” Dan Rowan and the endearingly goofy Dick Martin alongside a cast of regulars (including Goldie Hawn, Richard Dawson, Lily Tomlin, and Ruth Buzzy, among others) who would become famous in their own right, the show was a tidal wave of skits, non-sequiturs, rapid-fire one-liners, and just plain silliness.  Season Two of the series featured a bevy of epic guest stars, including Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Mel Brooks, Sammy Davis Jr, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hugh Hefner, John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Bob Newhart, Tony Curtis, Richard Nixon, and several others.  Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Second Season is now available in a 7-disc DVD set from Time Life, which includes all twenty-six episodes from Season Two along with interviews from Dick Martin, Gary Owens, and Ruth Buzzi as bonus features.  You can currently get the set on Amazon for $26.60.

 

 

Headsup: Sky, Space, and San Francisco

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the third title featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Castle in the Sky Picture BookPrincess Mononoke Picture Book

Starting with its premiere feature film Castle in the Sky in 1986, Studio Ghibli has enjoyed decades of producing highly popular anime feature films, including The Cat Returns, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, Spirited Away, and the highly celebrated Princess Mononoke, which marks the twentieth anniversary of its release this year. Castle in the Sky follows the adventures of a young boy and girl as they try to protect a magic crystal and find a mysterious floating island all while dealing with pirates, a group of military agents, and a weapon of mass destruction, among other challenges. Another adventuresome pair appear in Princess Mononoke, which tells the story of an unlikely partnership between a cursed prince (Ashitaka) and a feral girl (San / Princess Mononoke) as they join forces in an attempt to stop the destruction of the wild lands. Now out from Viz Media are hardcover picture books of Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke, which feature the stories from the films presented in a family-friendly oversized hardcover format along with easy-to-read text and full-color pictures from the films themselves.  Both publications are currently on Amazon: the Castle in the Sky Picture Book (112 pages) is available for $13.59 and the Princess Mononoke Picture Book (232 pages) is available for $20.39.

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Headsup: Decepticons, Diamonds, and Dystopia

 

Transformers 4K Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen 4K
Transformers - Dark of the Moon 4K

Out now on 4K Blu-ray are the first four Transformers films, each in a 3-disc combo pack which includes a digital copy and a host of extras.  Transformers (2007) features audio commentary from director Michael Bay, a Transformers Heads Up Display, and featurette compilations “Our World” (exploring the world of Transformers), “Their World” (examining the Autobots and Decepticons), and “More than Meets the Eye” (a look inside the desert attack scene, including concept boards), along with some Easter eggs.  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) boasts an audio commentary by Michael Bay, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman along with deleted and alternate scenes, Easter eggs, and multiple featurettes (including “Deconstructing Visual Bayhem” with commentary by pre-vis supervisor Steve Yamamoto, “25 Years of Transformers”, and “The Matrix of Marketing”, among many others.  Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) doesn’t have the audio commentary or Easter eggs featured in the previous two sets but does include multiple featurettes— notable among them are “Above and Beyond: Exploring Dark of the Moon”, “Uncharted Territory: NASA’s Future Then and Now”, and “The Art of Cybertron.”  Rounding out the release is Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), which (like Transformers: Dark of the Moon) doesn’t have audio commentary, Easter eggs, or alternate and deleted scenes.  Extras on this one include the behind-the-scenes special “Evolution with Extinction: The Making of Transformers: Age of Extinction” along with some featurettes about the design of the film and the action sequences.  You can find the Blu-ray 4K Combo sets of TransformersTransformers: Revenge of the FallenTransformers: Dark of the Moon, and Transformers: Age of Extinction on Amazon for $19.99 each.

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Headsup: The Sissi Collection

Sissi Collection Blu-ray
If you’re someone who enjoys period foreign films, you’ll be excited to hear that The Sissi Collection starring Romy Schneider is now out (for the first time in a Blu-ray set) from Film Movement.  Throughout the trilogy, Schneider portrays Princess Elisabeth (“Sissi”) of Austria, whose 44-year reign from 1854-1898 made her the longest serving Empress in the country’s history.  The collection includes the three titular Sissi films directed by Ernst Marischka (and produced almost exactly one hundred years after Elisabeth became Empress):  Sissi (1955) Sissi: The Young Empress (1956), and Sissi: The Fateful Years of the Empress (1957).  All three films have been restored in 2K and are presented in both 16:9 widescreen and the original theatrical full screen aspect ratios.  As a special bonus, the collection also features the 1962 film Forever My Love (a condensed version of the Sissi trilogy dubbed into English and originally released by Paramount Pictures) and the 1954 film Victoria in Dover (where Schneider stars as Princess Victoria of Britain).

Bonus content also includes “From Romy to Sissi” (a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette) and “Sissi’s Great-Grandson at the Movies” (an excerpt from the documentary film Elisabeth: Enigma of an Empress).  In addition, the five-disc set is presented with a twenty-page collector’s booklet, which includes a new essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme.  It is important to be aware that the trilogy of Sissi films (along with Forever My Love and Victoria in Dover) were already released as a DVD set back in 2007, so be aware before purchasing for your home library or a gift that the main difference between the two releases content-wise is the “Sissi’s Great-Grandson at the Movies” feature and the collector’s booklet (the previous set was also only available in DVD format).  The new release of The Sissi Collection is currently available on Amazon with the DVD set priced at $39.99 and the Blu-ray set at $48.42.

Headsup: Androids, Animation, and Anime

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the first two titles featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Westworld Season One 4KIn a time when Artificial Intelligence has gone from science fiction to a viable business tool, “Westworld” is an immersive fantasy role-playing game where guests have the opportunity to explore the best and worst sides of themselves without moral or legal consequence— as far as they know.  Based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name, the HBO series features an awards-laden cast led by Oscar winner Sir Anthony Hopkins, Golden Globe winner Ed Harris, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Evan Rachel Wood, and Golden Globe nominee Thandie Newton.  Westworld: Season One is now available on 4K Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, and DVD.  The 4K and regular Blu-ray sets also include a collectible booklet that mimics a corporate guidebook for new Westworld employees and the 4K is housed in a special limited-edition tin.  All three formats boast a wide array of bonus features, including featurettes about the main title sequence, the symbolism of the player piano and Ramin Djawadi’s score, Artificial Intelligence, and the Westworld set.  Additional extras include a behind-the-scenes look at the first week of filming, examinations of key scenes from the season, an audio commentary on the season’s final episode by the co-creators and showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and a gag reel.  Amazon and iTunes both offer the season digitally (for $38.99 and $32.99, respectively), with Amazon including the Westworld Comic-Con panel and season trailer and iTunes including no bonus features.  If the (almost two hours of) bonus features are important to you, though, the best option is still getting the season in disc format— on Amazon you can get the 4k Blu-ray set for $44.99, the regular Blu-ray set for $36.99, and the DVD set for $34.99.

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Headsup: Kicking Butts and Shrinking Butts

Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Lost Christmas Richard Simmons: Sweatin to the Oldies 30th Anniversary Batman vs. Two-Face Blu-Ray

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the third title featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

If you’re in the mood for some laughter, music, and classic lighthearted fun this coming holiday season, you will be happy to know that Time Life just released The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Lost Christmas on DVD. Spanning three holiday shows (which haven’t been seen in over 40 years) from the first four seasons of the series’ run, the collection features treats such as Jonathan Winters as a weird-doll-collecting Santa, a serenade by the Bob Mitchell Singing Boys, a courtroom sketch written by Neil Simon, a performance by 16-year-old Julie Budd singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and much more. The DVD runs a little over two hours and is available on Amazon for $8.29.

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Headsup: Jokers, Singers, Killers, and Queens

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the fourth title featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Red-Christmas-Blu-rayIt’s almost Halloween, and what does that mean?  HOLIDAY SEASON IS COMING!!!!  A film drawing from both the spectacle of Christmas and the horror of Halloween is Red Christmas from Artsploitation Films (how much do we love that name?).  The cinematic debut of television director and actor Craig Anderson, the film tells the story of a family in a remote house during Christmas who must fight off a deformed and mysterious  attacker bent on revenge.  Starring genre icon Dee Wallace (The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, E.T., Cujo, Critters), the film was an official selection at multiple festivals, including Fantasia Film Festival, Frightest: London, Buried Alive Film Fest, and Los Angeles Cine Fest.  Red Christmas is being released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 17 and offers a fair selection of bonus features.  Leading the extras are a director’s audio commentary, “Dee Wallace Speaks!” (a twenty-minute interview between Director Craig Anderson and Dee Wallace), and a ten-minute interview between Craig Anderson, Sam Campbell, and Gerald Odwyer.  Additional extras include a mini-interview (2 minutes) with Craig Anderson, a deleted scene, and a blooper reel.  Pre-order Amazon pricing on this one is pretty wonky as of this writing, showing the DVD available for $17.99 and the Blu-ray for $11.99… not sure if this is based on typos or what, but I’d say if this film is up your alley and you like having stuff on Blu-ray, grab it before someone makes a pricing correction.

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Headsup: That’s Life… Being a Drunk, Being a Girl, Being a Ninja

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the first four titles featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

 

Shameless Season 7 Blu-rayA remake of the British series of the same name, Shameless is a comedy-drama series that follows the misadventures of alcoholic single father Frank Gallagher (Oscar nominee William H. Macy) and his six children. In Season Seven, Frank wakes up from being in a coma for the past month only to realize that no one came looking for him when he went missing (having been tossed into the Chicago river). Things aren’t calm for the rest of the clan either, as they deal with relationship and job problems, the challenges of single parenthood and post-rehab life, and important decisions such as whether to get circumcised and if starting a topless maid service is a savvy business decision. Now out on DVD and Blu-ray is Shameless: The Complete Seventh Season, featuring all twelve episodes of Season Seven. Special features include two new featurettes, “Growing Up Shameless” (where Emma Kenney and Ethan Cutkosky discuss their amusing real-life journey growing up on the set of Shameless) and “The Shameless Politics of Frank” (which examines Frank’s politics while drunk and sober), along with some unaired scenes.  The season is available digitally on Amazon (which includes “The Shameless Politics of Frank”) and on iTunes (which includes both featurettes) for $29.99, but the cheaper option on this one would definitely be to get it in disc format—on Amazon you can currently snag the DVD for $22.99 and the Blu-ray for $27.99.

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