Black Phoenix Amuses With Prank Perfumes

Black Phoenix Alchemy Prank Cat

How’s your year been? Hopefully better than 2016. I have several friends who were quite glad when January 1, 2017 arrived. Of course, now everyone I know is getting PTSD from the news and physically jump when they get a notification from CNN or BBC on their phone. There is a metric fuckton of anger out there, mostly justified to be sure. Mostly everyone is channeling their anger into town halls, protests, and of course Facebook posts. No one can live by outrage alone… well maybe a certain President. Self-care is the latest trending term. Take a moment, smell a flower, watch some comedy shows, just avoid politics for a bit before you return to fight the good fight. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, as always, is there to help. They have made a perfume line inspired by the old fashioned practical joke devices. So let’s see what humorous offerings they have with PRANK.

There are some lovely simple light scents to delight during the summer. This corresponds with the simplistic gags that were the inspiration. Squirting Boutonniere is just that, a fake flower that squirts water (or whatever liquid you can get away with) into people’s faces as they try to smell it. The scent is almost literal: a pink rose scent with the aquatic cucumber and water lily. The Joy Buzzer is a venerable gag that simulates getting shocked since battery technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now. This feeling is also simulated with silvered honey and champagne grape leaving a sharp tang but without the ozone. The Snake Can is a mix of BPAL mega hit Snake Oil with a hint of nuts to fool you into thinking you’re getting a tasty treat instead of a long wire spring covered by a vinyl sheath in your face.

Of course, some of the scents are a bit more abstract. Chattering Teeth is more about the color of the teeth, red and white, with the scent of cherry and vanilla. Rubber Poop is also inspired more by its color, fortunately. It’s actually a nice scent of chocolate, caramel, cacao bean and tonka. The Whoopie Cushion is partly inspired by color. The raspberry and orange blossom comes from the balloon itself. The patchouli and red musk are probably reference the product the balloon is suppose to release. Like any good joke, this line doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. It’s gone on June 15th so grab some humorous perfume today lest the joke be on you…

Headsup: From Across the Pond


Out soon are two releases from European artists:


Jacques Rivette CollectionFirst we have a collection of some of the lesser-known films of Jacques Rivette, a French film director and critic famed for his work during the New Wave movement in French cinema in the 1950s and 60s.  Rivette began his career as a filmmaker at age twenty and over the course of his career made twenty-nine films (including notable titles L’amour fou (1969), Out 1 (1971), Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), and La Belle Noiseuse (1991) ).  Now available from Arrow Academy is The Jacques Rivette Collection, a trio of films from the latter part of his career.  In 1975, Rivette and Stéphane Tchal Gadjieff (producer from Out 1) again joined forces with the goal of creating a love story, an adventure, a fantasy thriller, and a musical as a quartet of interconnected films dubbed Scènes de la vie parallèle, with each revolving around two central female characters.  Unfortunately, after the back-to-back filming of Noroît (an adventure story of two pirates) and Duelle (a fantasy about the Queen of the Night and the Queen of the Sun) in the spring of 1975, Rivette suffered a breakdown a few days into production for Marie et Julien (which would have been the love story in the series); the director later said that he “broke down physically” and “had overestimated [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”][his] own strength”.  After a year of recovery, the idea of the film quartet was abandoned and Rivette turned to Merry-Go-Round (a surreal detective film), which ran into multiple production problems and though shot in 1978 was not completed until 1981.

The Jacques Rivette Collection is housed in a limited edition boxset which contains Blu-ray and DVD copies of Noroît, Duelle, and Merry-Go-Round in brand-new 2K restorations with (optional) newly-translated English subtitles.  There are also a few extras, including Scenes from a Parallel Life: Jacques Rivette Remembers (an archived interview with Rivette discussing all three films), Remembering Duelle (where actresses Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz share memories from working on Duelle), and an interview with film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum (who reported from the film sets of both Noroît and Duelle).  The set also features an exclusive book with writing on the films by Mary M. Wiles, Brad Stevens and Nick Pinkerton along with a reprint of four on-set reports from Duelle and Noroît.  An additional packaging bonus is the reversible sleeves with newly-commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick.  Even though these three films are not Rivette’s most well known, they are each available for free viewing on Amazon Prime (those without a membership can rent or buy for $3.99 / $10.99 respectively), so you could actually own all three films for around $33.  You do, of course, have the bonus content and the packaging extras if you get the limited edition boxset, but considering it currently goes for $51.38 on Amazon, it’s worth considering if those features are worth spending an additional $19 or not.


King Charles III DVDNext we have King Charles III, a Masterpiece/BBC screen adaptation of the critically acclaimed 2014 play written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster, Doctor Who) and directed by Rupert Goold (The Hollow Crown) which tells the hypothetical story of what happens when Britain’s current Prince of Wales becomes King of England following his mother’s record-setting reign as the longest serving monarch in the country’s history.  As if envisioning the passing of a living (and much beloved) monarch weren’t enough of a challenge, Bartlett also chose to write the play in blank verse, which sounds to many on the surface to simply be pleasantly mellifluous language but is actually unrhymed iambic pentameter (the same linguistic meter pattern used in Shakespearean plays).  Starring the recently-departed Tim Pigott-Smith (The Jewel in the Crown, Downton Abbey) in the title role, the production also features Oliver Chris (Breathless) as Prince William, Charlotte Riley (In the Heart of the Sea, Peaky Blinders) as Kate Middleton, Richard Goulding (Ripper Street) as Prince Harry, Tamara Lawrance (Undercover) as Harry’s love interest Jess Edwards, Margot Leicester (MI-5) as Camilla Parker Bowles, and Adam James (Grantchester, Doctor Foster) as the British prime minister, Tristan Evans.

The original play (also directed by Rupert Goold and involving several of the same cast members as the screen version) opened at the Almeida Theatre in London in April 2014.  Even with a run time of close to three hours, the show was a hit, not only enjoying the prestige of a two-month extension of its originally scheduled West End run but also winning Best New Play accolades from both the Laurence Olivier Awards and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards.  The play then began a UK tour and in late 2015 moved to Broadway for a limited engagement with the London cast, earning Drama Desk and Tony nominations for best play, best leading actor, best featured actor, best direction, and best costumes.  A new production of the play began in February of this year at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC, directed by David Muse and starring Robert Joy as King Charles.

The screen version (which, by the way, is a comparatively brief 90 minutes) will be out on DVD on June 27 and is available for pre-order via PBS for $24.99.  I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Amazon will have lower pricing when they put it up, though, so unless you’re in a big hurry, maybe wait and do a bit of price comparison.  Perhaps even more important price-wise is the fact that Amazon does already have an available streaming option for those who wish to rent ($3.99) or buy ($9.99) digitally, so you may want to look at one of those more immediate (and more economic) options.



Headsup: MURDER!!


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


Out now are two titles that deal with stories of people who have broken that all-important sixth commandment and of those who pursue them for their crime(s):


Major Crimes Complete Fifth Season DVDFirst up is the fifth season of Major Crimes, the spinoff of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series The Closer, which ran on TNT from 2005-2012 (ending when its star Kyra Sedgwick decided it was time to pursue other projects).  The storyline and main characters were so well-loved that creators literally didn’t skip a beat between the two shows, airing the premiere of Major Crimes on the same night as the finale of The Closer. Major Crimes follows the case-by-case challenges of the (fictional) Major Crimes Division of the LAPD and the interpersonal relationships between its officers.  Starring two-time Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor, the primary cast also includes G. W. Bailey (as Detective Lieutenant Louie Provenza), Tony Denison (as Detective Lieutenant Andy Flynn), Michael Paul Chan (as Detective Lieutenant Michael Tao), Raymond Cruz (as Detective Julio Sanchez), Kearran Giovanni (as Detective Amy Sykes), Phillip P. Keene (as Buzz Watson), Graham Patrick Martin (as Rusty Beck), and Robert Gossett (as Assistant Chief Russell Taylor).

Major Crimes has enjoyed high ratings from the start: its premiere episode garnered 9.5 million viewers (the largest viewership for a series premiere on basic cable), and its first season ratings were the highest for any new show on cable. In its fifth season, the series was TNT’s #2 show and was the #5 series on basic cable television, with an average of close to 10 million viewers per episode—-pretty impressive for a cast of characters who have essentially been going non-stop for twelve years.  (There is also currently no end in sight, as the show was renewed for a sixth season in January of this year.)

Season Five is not available on Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hulu; as far as paid streaming options go, fans can get individual episodes on both iTunes and Amazon Video (for $2.99 on both platforms) or the entire season (for $29.99 on Amazon and a whopping $39.99 on iTunes).  The most economical option, though, is to get the season on DVD (which also contains some deleted scenes and a blooper reel)—-it’s currently priced at $20.27 on Amazon, which with 21 episodes included divides out to about 97 cents each.  Everyone has their own individual tastes when it comes to hard copy versus digital, but in this case, I’d say the 30% (or higher) difference in cost is probably worth a half inch of shelf space.


Dark Angel DVDNext we have Dark Angel, a 2-part television drama co-produced by World Productions/Masterpiece for ITV that originally aired in the UK in the fall of 2016 and then aired in the US as a one-night special for Masterpiece on PBS on May 21.  The film is based on the true story of Mary Ann Cotton, the woman widely regarded as Britain’s first (recorded) female serial killer.  Cotton murdered an estimate of between thirteen and twenty-one people during the second half of the nineteenth century (making Jack the Ripper’s estimated victim count of five look modest by comparison).  Inspired by the 2012 book Mary Ann Cotton: Britain’s First Female Serial Killer by criminologist David Wilson, the film takes viewers through the ever-darkening tale of Cotton’s life as she finds murder an all-too-convenient (and profitable) enterprise. It also made me feel like I really need to brush up on my multitasking skills: besides having multiple jobs as an in-home nurse, dressmaker, infirmary staff member, and housekeeper, Mary Ann Cotton also had four husbands and gave birth to thirteen(!) children before the age of 40, not to mention all her work executing and covering up loads of murders so well that no one suspected anything until her last victim.

In the title role is Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Joanne Froggatt (who in my opinion gives a good but creepily similar performance to that of Anna in Downton Abbey—-maybe we should re-think what really happened to Kemal Pamuk?).  Alongside Froggatt is a talented supporting cast, including Alun Armstrong (as George Stott), Penny Layden (as Margaret Stott), Laura Morgan (as Maggie Cotton), Jonas Armstrong (as Joe Natrass), Sam Hoare (as James Robinson), Emma Fielding (as Helen Robinson), and John Hollingworth (as Dr. John Maling).

You can currently watch the film for free online at until June 4, although that does involve intermittent commercial breaks advertising for Viking River Cruises (so it goes something like this:  murder, murder, murder…let’s stand around laughing together in this Italian vineyard!…murder, murder…).  Alternatively you can grab the DVD on Amazon, currently priced at $14.92. The DVD also includes some behind-the-scenes discussions with stars Joanne Froggatt and Alun Armstrong, writer Gwyneth Hughes, producer Jake Lushington, director Brian Percival, executive producers Kirstie Macdonald and Simon Heath, and others.

Headsup: Girls Being Super


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


Available now are two films from DC/Warner Brothers celebrating mega girl power:


Wonder Woman Commemorative Edition Blu-RayOut just in time to wet fans’ appetites for the live-action Wonder Woman film hitting theaters this Friday (Thursday in select cities), the feature-length animated film Wonder Woman is available in a commemorative edition DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack.  The film tells the story of Diana, an Amazonian princess who leaves the sanctuary of the idyllic man-free island Themyscira to chase after Ares, the God of War, bent on creating world chaos and eventual extinction. With the help of U.S. fighter pilot Steve Trevor, Diana must navigate the modern world in an attempt to save her own from destruction.  The awards-laden cast includes Golden Globe winner Keri Russell (The Americans, Waitress, Felicity) as Diana/Wonder Woman, People’s Choice winner Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly) as Steve Trevor, Tony Award nominee Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Chocolat) as Ares, Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Sin City) as Artemis, Oscar nominee Virginia Madsen (Sideways, Candyman) as Hippolyta, David McCallum (NCIS, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) as Zeus, Emmy winner Marg Helgenberger (CSI, China Beach) as Hera, Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class, Chicago Med) as Hades, and Vicki Lewis (NewsRadio, Godzilla) as Persephone.

Released direct to DVD in 2009 (the fourth in the line of DC Universe Animated Original Movies released by Warner Premiere and Warner Brothers Animation), the film was hailed by fans and critics alike.   The original Blu-ray release included a few extras which have been mostly repeated on the commemorative edition with a couple of changes: the 2009 release included commentary from producers Bruce Timm and Gregory Noveck, screenwriter Michael Jelenice, and director Lauren Montgomery along with the featurettes “Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream” and “Wonder Woman: Daughter of Myth”; these three extras appear on the new release along with a new featurette “What Makes a Wonder Woman” (a discussion from fans and creators on the 75-year history and development of the Wonder Woman character into a cultural icon) and a sneak peek at the next DV Universe Original Movie, Batman and Harley Quinn, set to debut this August.

The DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack are currently available on Amazon for $19.98 and $24.98, respectively.  It’s not available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, but you can get it digitally on Amazon for rent ($3.99) or purchase ($17.99) or purchase on iTunes for $9.99.


DC Super Hero Girls Intergalactic Games DVDFor a dose of girl power aimed at tweens, you can check out the recently created DC Super Hero Girls franchise, where we see younger versions of favorite DC heroes navigating the ups and downs of attending Super Hero High School while also dealing with the challenges of adolescence. Even though it started in 2015 as a merchandising partnership with Mattel, Warner Brothers/DC says that DC Super Hero Girls “encourages young girls,ages 6-12, to explore their own powers and strengths through original content, including all-new films, webisodes and TV specials. The franchise offers young fans inspiration and encourages teamwork, friendship and empowerment.” In the second film of the direct-to-video series, DC Super Hero Girls: Intergalactic Games, Batgirl (voiced by Mae Whitman), Bumblebee (voiced by Teala Dunn), Harley Quinn (voiced by Tara Strong), Katana (voiced by Stephanie Sheh), Poison Ivy (voiced by Tara Strong), Supergirl (voiced by Anais Fairweather), and Wonder “Wondy” Woman (voiced by Grey Griffin) are set to go up against their rivals from Korugar Academy in the Intergalactic Games, but run into problems when Lena Luthor (voiced by Romi Dames) uses the Games as an opportunity to move forward with a dastardly plan to steal the team’s battlebots for her own nefarious intentions. Using their unique gifts, the Supers must work together to fight Luthor and protect their school.

The film is now out on DVD and also includes seven short cartoons (“New Beginnings,” “Hero of the Month: Supergirl,” “Batgirl vs. Supergirl,” “Quinn-tessential Harley,” “Double Trouble,” “Franken-Ivy,” and “Dude, Where’s My Jet?”) along with a music video of “That’s My Girl” by girl group Fifth Harmony. The DVD is currently available on Amazon for $12.96 or you have the option to rent ($4.99) or buy ($14.99) digitally.

Headsup: The 4400: The Complete Series

If you’re a fan of The 4400, you probably know a lot about the show, but did you realize it’s already been ten years since it went off the air?

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it’s the story of what happens when 4,400 people who have gone missing over the past several decades suddenly reappear in Washington State (at the same age they were when they disappeared) via a mysterious ball of light.  As the NTAC (National Threat Assessment Command) division of Homeland Security struggles to solve the mystery of what has happened, they are presented with an additional challenge when members of The 4400 begin to develop superhuman powers such as mega strength, telekinesis, and the ability to see through walls.

Starring Joel Gretsch (as Tom Baldwin) and Jacqueline McKenzie (as Diana Skouris), the show was popular with its fan base and was even nominated for three Emmy Awards, but took some creative hits during the Writers Guild strike and was taken off of USA’s lineup in 2007.  When the show was cancelled with Season 4 ending in a cliffhanger, disappointment-fueled fans launched a campaign to bring the show back on the air (but, sadly, were unsuccessful).

In October 2008 CBS/Paramount released a complete series DVD collection which included all four seasons of the show along with the bonus features that had been part of the single season releases (including audio commentaries, featurettes, a Director’s cut of the episode “The Great Leap Forward”, and gag reels) along with a disc of new bonus content.  This collection was discontinued for a while, but fans who missed getting it the first time will be happy to know that it has been re-released (albeit without the extra bonus content disc from 2008) and is currently available on Amazon for just $27.95.  That evens out to about 65 cents per episode (plus all the original bonus content), a definite improvement over the pricing of around $40 if you were to purchase all the individual seasons separately.  Netflix subscribers also have access to all four seasons, so this is one of those cases where it’s important to decide how much you value the extras if you could otherwise get it for no extra cost via Netflix.  If you’re a super-mega fan and don’t have it on the shelf, though, remember that just because it’s on Netflix today doesn’t mean it always will be, and just because the complete series set is out right now is no guarantee that it will stay (they already discontinued it once), so with that coupled with the show’s cliffhanger finale that was never resolved, it’s up to you to decide if you want to opt out of getting the set and risk your beloved show giving you yet another heartache.

Headsup: A Tale of Two Cities


Out now are the complete sets of two shows which combine a series-long love letter to their respective cities with crime fighting protagonists who navigate them:


Streets San Francisco Complete SeriesIn The Streets of San Francisco, two cops search for perpetrators of homicides in the City by the Bay in deliciously seventies style.  The show kicked off a week before its September 1972 series premiere with a pilot movie (same title) based on Carolyn Weston’s detective novel, Poor, Poor Ophelia, and then ran for a straight five years to 1977.  The series starred Oscar winners Karl Malden (as veteran cop Michael Stone) and a very young Michael Douglas (as rookie Steve Keller) along with a heck of a lot of Ford cars (Ford Motor Company being the main sponsor for the show).  Filmed entirely on location, the story revolved around the duo investigating murders in San Francisco and Stone mentoring Keller as he learns about police work.  Guest stars were frequent and impressive, including Dean Stockwell, Pernell Roberts, Tom Selleck, Leslie Nielsen, James Woods, Nick Nolte, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martin Sheen, Dabney Coleman, Desi Arnaz, Jr., John Ritter, Robert Wagner, Dick Van Patten, Mark Hamill, Tom Bosley, and Bill Bixby, among others (even Diana Douglas, Michael Douglas’s mother, appeared on the show). The fifth season saw a change in the main partnership when Keller went off to be a teacher (due to Michael Douglas leaving to pursue a career in films after successfully producing Academy-Award winning film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and was replaced by Inspector Dan Robbins (played by Richard Hatch).  Audiences did not like the change, and ratings dipped, making the fifth season the show’s last.  Across its five year run the show earned multiple Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe award nominations and the love of a fan base which continues to this day.

If you are a member of said group, you’ll be happy to know that The Streets of San Francisco: The Complete Series is now out in a DVD box set, which includes all 120 episodes across 32 discs along with a couple of bonus features (“Pilot Presentation” and a short interview with Malden and Douglas conducted by Hollywood Variety columnist and famed movie premiere emcee Army Archerd).  This doesn’t add any new extras on top of those already featured in the season-specific sets released between 2007-2012, but the pricing of this set (like the packaging) is much more compact, currently set at $51.18 to get the complete series box set on Amazon.



Vegas Complete Series DVDVega$ is the audaciously glam-tastic detective series produced by Aaron Spelling which centers around ultra-cool private eye Dan Tanna (played by Robert Urich), who solves mysteries as he cruises around Las Vegas in his red 1957 Ford Thunderbird (which he parks in the living room of his converted props warehouse living space).  Complementing Urich is an ensemble cast including Phyllis Davis as Beatrice Travis (Tanna’s former-showgirl-turned-single-mom assistant), Greg Morris as Lt. David Nelson (a cop who often secretly assisted Tanna in cases the police couldn’t officially be involved in), Naomi Stevens as Bella Archer (a police sergeant who also assisted Tanna), and Bart Braverman as “Binzer” (Tanna’s leg work guy who also brought comic relief to the show).

Like The Streets of San Francisco, Vega$ was filmed on location, with the exception of a couple of special episodes done in California and Hawaii.  It also boasted numerous guest stars, such as Tony Curtis, Muhammad Ali, Shelley Winters, Joan Van Ark, Abe Vigoda, Wayne Newton, Leslie Nielsen, Maureen McCormick, Garry Marshall, Dean Martin, George Takei, and Heather Menzies (Robert Urich’s real-life wife), among many others. The show ran for three seasons (1978-1981), earning Robert Urich two Golden Globe nominations as Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination to industry mega hitter Phil Norman for Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design.  Even with its limited run, the series was popular enough to merit its place as one of the first shows to air in off-network syndication on FX when it began in 1994.

Now out in DVD box set is the entire series, featuring all 67 episodes across 18 discs.  As far as bonus content, it’s limited to episode promos, but considering you can get the set on Amazon for only $34.16 (about 51 cents per episode), it’s not too shabby considering the previously released “half season” sets go for around $12 each.


Neither of the titles above are on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or iTunes (if you see Vegas listed there, it’s the 2012-13 Michael Chiklis one), so if you want to grab one or both, these are currently your best bet.

Headsup: Star Trek—Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series

Star Trek-- Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series

Hardcore Trekkies feel passionately about all things Star Trek, and often a divisive issue is the love-it-or-hate-it battle lines drawn around Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Although universe creator Gene Roddenberry gave his approval for the show’s concept, his death in 1991 made it the first of the television series to be produced without his direct involvement.  Deep Space Nine premiered in January 1993 (while The Next Generation was still on the air) and ran until June 1999.  The show broke with the formula of other Star Trek series in that it was set on a space station instead of a starship, the first to star a black actor as captain (Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko), and the first to habitually showcase personal conflict between the crew members (Roddenberry had favored always having a unified front with other Star Trek crews).

Out now is a box set of the complete series of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featuring all 176 episodes across 48 (DVD) discs along with multiple bonus features tied to each of the seven seasons.  Notable extras include “New Station, New Ships” (where Robert Legato, Dan Curry, and Robert Sternbach discuss the design process for the show, including that of the space station and the Cardassian warships), “Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars” (an examination of the thirteenth episode of Season 6, the metafiction storyline featuring almost the entire cast portraying human characters in 1950’s New York), and “24th Century Wedding” (a featurette where the cast and crew discuss Worf and Dax’s Klingon wedding).  If you were hoping this release would be a beautiful restoration from the original 35mm film like those Next Generation season sets that started to roll out into the market in 2012, though, you may be in for a bit of a letdown… Mega fans will recall that Deep Space Nine was released back in 2003 (also on DVD) in single season sets, and this is really just a re-packaging of those into one large box set.  The bonus content is also the same (with the exception of some Best Buy-exclusive features that were found in the previous release) and even the menus are unchanged.  So basically, the only thing that differentiates this set from simply combining the previous individual season sets is a) the newly designed packaging and b) the price.

The price, however, is quite relevant: if you’re looking to purchase all the seasons to keep on the shelf in hard copy, on Amazon you’re looking at a per-season cost of between $27-$69 each for the 2003 individual sets, so when you consider that you can currently snag the box set of the complete series there for only $70.60, it starts to make a lot of sense.  Alternatively, if you just want streaming access to the episodes and don’t care much about the bonus content, you can also find the entire series included with membership on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu.



Headsup: Crime Families

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


If you’re a fan of watching family drama unfold amidst the background of criminal enterprise, one (or both) of these new releases may be for you:


Animal-Kingdom-Season-One-Blu-rayFirst we have Animal Kingdom: TNT’s new show based on the 2010 Australian film (same title) written by David Michôd, who also executive produces the series.  Animal Kingdom tells the story of Joshua (“J”) Cody, a troubled teen who is forced through circumstance to move in with his southern California family (with a penchant for petty crime) led by matriarch Janine (“Smurf”) Cody.  The show features an ensemble cast, including Finn Cole (Joshua), Emmy award winner Ellen Barkin (Janine), Scott Speedman (Barry “Baz” Blackwell), Shawn Hatosy (Andrew “Pope” Cody), Ben Robson (Craig Cody), Jake Weary (Deran Cody), Daniella Alonso (Catherine Blackwell), and Molly Gordon (Nicky Belmont).  Out now is the complete first season in both DVD and Blu-ray formats.  Special features include “Family Comes First” (a 14-minute featurette where the cast and crew discuss the family dynamics of the show’s characters), “Setting the Stage” (a brief look at the design and construction of the set for Smurf’s house), “Meet the Codys” and “Getting into Character” (which look at the development of the Cody family characters), “Inside Animal Kingdom” (a quick discussion with producers and the cast about the world of Animal Kingdom), “Animal Kingdom: Stunts” (which examines some of the stunt work on the show, involving such feats as skydiving and surfing moves), and deleted scenes.  (It should be noted that with the exception of “Family Comes First,” the featurettes are all around two minutes in length, so be aware that this isn’t hours of bonus content.)

On Amazon the DVD set of Animal Kingdom:The Complete First Season is currently priced at $19.53 and the Blu-ray set is currently $24.42.  Amazon Prime members also have access to the entire first season for free as part of their membership.  Other digital options include purchasing the season on either Amazon or iTunes (both priced at $19.99), although only iTunes offers the aforementioned bonus features as part of its season package.  With that in play, it’s kind of a toss-up; getting the DVD and buying the season on iTunes are pretty much the same price and offer the same bonus content, so it’s up to you to decide if you want a disc on the shelf or to keep things digital.


ICE Season OneNext we have ICE, the AT&T Audience Network / DirecTV original series about the Green family, reputable Los Angeles diamond dealers who find themselves suddenly thrown into a world of smugglers, blood diamonds, and murder.   The series stars Cam Giandet (The Magnificent Seven, Twilight, Easy A) as Jake, Ray Winstone (The Departed, The Sweeney) as Cam, Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory, Six Feet Under, Law & Order) as Freddy, Donald Sutherland (Forsaken, The Hunger Games) as Pieter Van de Bruin, Raymond Barry (Training Day, Born on the Fourth of July) as Isaac, and Judith Shekoni (Heroes Reborn, Twilight) as Lady Rah. The series was originally ordered back in 2014 but due to creative reasons was dropped, then picked up again for a 10-episode season to premiere in August 2016 on The Audience Network.  (For those of you who are unfamiliar, Audience is one of the general entertainment channels (with no commercials or editing for content) that have gone through many identity changes with AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV— it began in 1999 as Freeview, then The 101 Network, and now sports its current title.  The Audience Network was originally only available via DirecTV, but with AT&T’s takeover it is now available on AT&T U-verse as well as the DirecTV Now subscription streaming service).

Coming out on May 16 is the complete first season of ICE in a 3-disc DVD set, which includes all ten episodes from Season One as well as a few bonus features, including a featurette on the premise of the show, interviews with stars Jeremy Sisto and Cam Giandet, and a music video of the song “Diamond Girl” by Rachele Royale.  As previously mentioned, those who have AT&T U-verse and / or DirecTV Now have access to the series, but as far as other digital platforms you’re pretty much out of luck—it is (unsurprisingly) not currently available for streaming on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon or iTunes, but you can pre-order the DVD set on Amazon for $28.44.  If you’re intrigued but haven’t gotten a real taste of the show yet, you can check out the series trailer here.


Russell Howard: Round the World – Review

Russell Howard

Performance at The Earl, Atlanta, 4 May 2017.

Having seen Russell Howard on Mock the Week, then catching his stand-up and later seeing him host the terrific Good News, it was a no-brainer to go catch him live for $25 while he was in town. For those of you unfamiliar with Howard, he’s what would happen if ADHD manifested itself in human form and was then filmed by a Phantom Camera so it could be slowed down from Tasmanian Devil speed to something you could actually perceive. Because there’s something to be said for seeing comedy in the flesh and the energy at last night’s performance was pretty fantastic.

Helping things were not only the fairly intimate nature of The Earl’s performance venue (with seating in place vs. their usual SRO, there wasn’t really a bad seat there) but also the fact that opening act Dedrick Flynn (unfamiliar with him before now, but damn, the man is funny) opened with a bit to amp up the crowd that Howard apparently liked so much he used it as a refrain for the rest of his act. So Howard leapt in out of the gate and honestly seemed to like the crowd, as he told us he was only supposed to do an hour (not sure why) but he felt much more relaxed and open to chat.

Read More

Black Phoenix Takes A Stab At Julius Caesar

Assassination of Julius CaesarFilibuster this, motherfucker!

Julius Caesar is one of the major jewels in the Shakespearean crown. “Beware the Ides of March,” “Et Tu, Brute,” “Friends, Romans, Countrymen.” You all know them even if you haven’t read the play in decades or at all. It’s the “Christmas Carol” effect: a work has become so integrated into the collective media subconscious that few people have actually read the original work.

But what were Shakespeare’s original works? I mean, where did Shakespeare do his research? It’s not like he had Wikipedia during the Elizabethan Era. The Encyclopedia Britannia was a couple centuries off in the horizons. So old Will had to go to primary sources. No handy summaries for him. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has honored those works that informed and inspired Julius Caesar with perfumes that show how those historians used turns of phrase to express this historical event.

Read More