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(Beginning of the Week) Recommendations

Here’s yer DVD goodness…and yes, it’s late, but hey, the site’s free, ain’t it?

DVD of the Week: Stalag 17. When William Holden’s Sefton is the prime suspect for an informer for the Germans in the midst of a POW Camp in World War II, he has to deal with the accusations of his fellow prisoners and figure out what’s really afoot in this Billy Wilder-directed comedy/drama classic. It’s one of the finest Paramount delivers a respectable edition, complete with a commentary from two of the actors and the co-playwright, two featurettes and a photo gallery. (Buy it)

TV DVD of the Week: Knots Landing: The Complete First Season. Fascinating later on in the run when the death/undeath of Bobby on its parent show, Dallas, stayed put on this show, it basically made this the Earth-2 version of the Ewing family. Or something. But regardless, 80s soaps fans will rejoice that the first thirteen episodes are here across five discs. And, thanks to the Warner Brothers types, we also get bonus bits: cast commentary on two episodes, and an interview with Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark. (Buy it)

Animation DVD of the Week: My Neighbor Totoro. Probably my favorite Miyazaki film finally hits DVD in a decent version from Disney, destined to make us forget about the weak Fox release. This story of two young girls who befriend their neighbor–a furry forest god–is uncanny in its ability to be cute as hell and yet not utter revolting to people normally allergic to over-cuteness. This two-disc set comes with a new English dub, clean opening and closing animation, the storyboards for the whole film, and a featurette on the English vocal cast. (Buy it)

Horror DVD of the Week: The Black Belly of the Tarantula. It’s one thing to be stung by a rare wasp and get paralyzed. It’s quite another thing to have that venom injected into you by a killer so he can do bad things to your guts while all you can do is watch. Giancarlo Giannini is the detective who’s after the maniac and he’s doing this all to the strains of an excellent score by Morricone. This Italian horror flick hits DVD thanks to your friends at Blue Underground, and if you dig the giallo genre, you might want to check it out. (Buy it)

Nature DVD of the Week: Life in the Undergrowth. David Attenborough, the Tsar of Nature Docus, is back and giving you the skinnee on the insect world in this five-part docu from BBC. You don’t have to be an entomologist to appreciate the latest advances in photo-tech that get you up close and personal with enough creepy crawlers to give Kate Capshaw another traumatic incident. The one bonus bit is an interview with the producer. (Buy it)

Anime DVD of the Week: Starship Operators, Vol. 2: Memories. Four more episodes hit DVD thanks to Geneon, as there’s nothing like your protagonists showing up, focus of a reality TV show as they are–that’s where they get their funding, and having an attempt at a government overthrow happening. I’m sure the ratings were good. Plenty of action balanced with character workings make for an interesting title. Bonus bits include a promotional reel and some commercials. (Buy it)

Brit DVD of the Week: Under the Greenwood Tree. Based on the novel by Thomas Hardy (not written as a part of any competition–just for the record), a young woman goes to care for her father and winds up the target of three men’s affection. Throw in the fact that this is the time when social class still got in the way of…well, pretty much everything…and bingo, conflict and plot aplenty. It’s not your usual Hardy tale, so if you need something not quite so heavy, it’ll do nicely. This BBC rendition comes with a making-of featurette. (Buy it)

DVD Boxed Set of the Week: Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection. Fans of the actress will rejoice that six of her films are finally hitting DVD thanks to the folks at Universal. You get Hands Across the Table with Fred MacMurray, Love Before Breakfast with Cesar Romero, Man of the World, The Princess Comes Across (also with MacMurray), True Confession with MacMurray and John Barrymore, and We’re Not Dressing with Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, George Burns and Gracie Allen. Six classics in a bare bones collection, but if you need them, the price is very, very low considering. (Buy it)

Docu DVD of the Week: The Fantastic World Of M.C. Escher. Ah. Escher. Some days you’re fascinating by his work, some days you feel like you’re in his work. Whichever is the case, Acorn Media has given us this short docu to take us through the math behind his works to show how the impossible (as we see it) is made possible (on the canvas). Fans of his work will want to check it out, though the running time will leave them wanting more. (Buy it)

Guilty Pleasure DVD of the Week: Six Pack. First he was The Gambler. Then he was a race car driver with a crew comprised of six would-be criminal kids. I remember this movie but somehow didn’t remember the very young Diane Lane and the even younger Anthony Michael Hall being in it. It’s decent, and Kenny Rogers fans will want to pick it up. You get no features, but it’s finally hitting DVD thanks to Anchor Bay, so the fans will rejoice regardless. (Buy it)

Music DVD of the Week: Red Hot + Blue. I remember when this Cole Porter tribute/benefit CD first came out, and the really excellent covers it brought us were the kind that you remember, even all these years later: like the David Byrne cover of “Don’t Fence Me In,” Kirsty MacColl & The Pogues wonderfully destroying a medley of “Miss Otis” and “Just One of Those Things,” and Tom Waits rendering “It’s All Right With Me” deliciously unrecognizable. Now the disc is back but with the DVD filled with music videos to back it up. Many thanks to Shout Factory for bringing this back to the table with a sweet edition. (Buy it)

Nostalgia DVD of the Week: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Ah, a time when video game characters were so popular they could sustain their own afterschool live action/animated series. You remember those days, right? Me neither. I was already in high school when this was going on, so my geezer factor is just too high. But for those who remember Captain Lou Albano as the definitive Mario, then you might want to check out this Shout Factory release. You get twenty-four episodes, plus a new interview with the man himself, the title sequence done in storyboards, plus art galleries. This is all across four discs. (Buy it)

Family DVD of the Week: Little House on the Prairie. This recent miniseries adaptation of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books may be familiar to those who grew up loving the Michael Landon series, but it’ll seem a lot more recognizable to people who appreciate the books. They tried to stick closer to the source material here–no doubt to keep from just remaking the original, which would have been frowned upon by the show’s fans. There’s no features on this two-disc set, but fans who can’t get enough of this series, book or television, will want to check it out. This comes from Disney. (Buy it)