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Headsup: Of Chipmunks, Ponies and Zombies

Cool Hand Luke DVD cover art
Smallville Season 7: DVD cover art
House of the Dead funny version DVD cover art

It’s sort of impossible not to like Paul Newman. And I’m not just talking about the fact his brand offers up some killer salsa. I mean that he’s been in so many great movies, it’s sort of silly to call anyone a signature role. This would be a contender, though: Cool Hand Luke is offered up here by Warner Brothers in a new deluxe edition. It’s not as deluxe as you might like (I’m still waiting for my Newman commentary, just like I’m waiting for my Redford/Newman commentary on Butch Cassidy) but it does come with restored picture and audio, a new half-hour retrospective docu, and a commentary from a Newman biographer. But no Newman involvement, shame. The film’s good enough to own just by itself, but the features are a nice addition. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

[ad#longpost]Smallville has its seventh season on DVD from Warner Brothers and they’re trying to keep things interesting–taking Superman as far as they can without actually putting him in the suit–what with Justice League-esque characters showing up, Bizarro, Supergirl, and hey, that’s Dean Cain guest-starring. Nice one. You’ve got twenty episodes here across five discs, with a sixth disc dedicated to special features. Some episodes have unaired scenes; two have commentaries. There’s also a Supergirl featurette, a nifty Jimmy Olsen featurette with the actors who portrayed Jimmy in the George Reeves Adventures of Superman (Jack Larson), in the Christopher Reeve films (Mark McClure), in the latest attempt at a film (Sam Huntington) and Smallville (Aaron Ashmore). I think fans of the show will want this because the features seem to be choice enough and plentiful enough. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The trouble with releasing a new “funny version” of House of the Dead is that countless audiences have already mocked it to pieces worldwide. So the only possible explanation for this would be that Uwe Boll is Satan, laughing all the way to the bank with what he does to the properties he adapts for film. This Lionsgate release has the reworked film, for whatever that’s worth, plus a new commentary by Boll. The other two featurettes are taken from the previous release. Honestly, you and your friends and some alcohol are all that’s needed to make the original version of the film funny. This I might use to punish myself come Halloween. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies: Daytona Jones
Brian Regan: The Epitome of Hyperbole
Wings: the Complete Seventh Season DVD cover art

The best thing you could say about Paramount’s latest Alvin and the Chipmunks release is that it’s not the live action version. And the Indiana Jones parody they have on here–you might find it better than the recent movie. But regardless, here you’ve got three movie spoofs, of Indiana Jones, of Batman (I bet you they wish they had put “Batmunk” on the cover now, huh?), and of Robocop. Kids will probably enjoy it, but I bet most of will wish they had just released all of them as a complete set and been done with it. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Brian Regan’s second DVD release is out from Comedy Central, The Epitome of Hyperbole. And fans will appreciate it, as he’s back doing his usual clean comedy schtick to its maximum effect. Trouble is, it’s only a little over forty minutes long. And then there’s the encore, which is considered a bonus bit–which actually is just part of the performance. And a backstage featurette. For $20 SRP ($13 on Amazon), that’s a bit steep. It’s probably best to either catch a repeat on Comedy Central or give the DVD a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Wings is back from Paramount with the seventh season on DVD. Twenty-six episodes across four discs. And the show is one of those that, back when I was watching television, I wouldn’t mind catching on as a repeat. But is it worth picking up on DVD, considering there’s nary a feature on here? Well, on one hand, they do show these on USA regularly at the moment. So it’s not like you’re completely without. On the other hand, if you look at the price point, it’s a little over a dollar an episode. I would say a fan would not be embarrassed to snag this if they felt the urge, based on the amount of content, feature-less or not, they’re getting for their buck. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Son of Rambow DVD cover art
Monarchy DVD cover art
My Little Pony Live DVD cover art

Son of Rambow is something near and dear to my heart. Because I used to run around with a video camera when I was a kid with delusions of cinematic grandeur. I bet a lot of you did as well. Hell, at one point I didn’t even have a camera and had planned to shoot a movie. When somebody asked me where the camera was coming from, I said “Details, details!” True story. Here two kids decide that they’re going to remake First Blood. No, really. You can imagine what hijinks ensue. This Paramount release comes with a commentary (including the two leads), the short film that formed the basis for the feature film, a making-of and more. I would say it’s at least rental first–but you might want to add it to your library if you watch it and enjoy.

Brit fanatics who also enjoy the royal family–and your reasons, either out of historical value or comedic value, that can be between you and your DVD player–might want to check out Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work. It answers the question of “What in the hell exactly do those wacky royals do with their time?” Apparently about 4000 official royal type things a year. And this takes you through that year to show you what exactly the Brits are getting for the funds they shell out to maintain their monarchy. Over two DVDs worth of stuff and clocking in at over five hours, this BBC series comes with unaired footage and is out from Koch. Worth renting if that’s your bag. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Did you know My Little Pony has a live theatre show? You didn’t? Now you do. And it will never, ever come out of your brain. It’s a live show called The World’s Biggest Tea Party in which they’re planning on having…wait for it…The World’s Biggest Tea Party. And nobody remembered to bring any freaking tea. Just because I want to traumatize you for life:

Direct link for the feedreaders. If you have small female child creatures in your home, you are probably already doomed. (Click here to buy it from Amazon if you are doomed.)

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Alvinnn!!! Edition
Presidents Collection DVD cover art
Transformers Blu-Ray cover art

More Chipmunks? Okay, fine. Paramount also has somewhat answered our earlier mention of the fact they should just release full sets of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Here they’ve released fourteen episodes across two discs as The Alvinnn!!! Edition–the sort of title that really pisses me off since I’m anal enough to make sure I got it right: three Ns, three exclamation points. Every time I have to type it. The fourteen episodes are mostly from the first two years of the show with a few stragglers up through 1988. Why don’t they just do season sets? You could have done the complete first season in the same amount of space. No clue. Perhaps this is to test the waters–again, no clue. Regardless, fans will probably want to snag this, since it isn’t airing anywhere that I can find at present, and maybe if enough of these sell they’ll go through with releasing the rest of the series. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Presidents Collection isn’t a flashy boxed set by any means. It’s a PBS Home Video/Paramount release under the American Experience banner. But it feels like it could stop a small caliber bullet, considering it’s a hefty fifteen discs thick. Please do not try that at home–I can’t be held responsible if you actually try to use DVD boxed sets to stop bullets, BTW. You get a look at a number of American presidents. The list consists of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, The Kennedys, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Each gets at least a disc, but Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy and Reagan are double-discs. As for bonus bits, each entry comes with at least a PDF Teacher’s Guide, but two have extra bits. Wilson’s has an hour and a half of additional content, including extra docus, plus interviews and galleries. And The Kennedys comes with an interview with a JFK biographer plus a bit on the Kennedy family tree. So this is thirty-five hours of content and nothing to sneeze at. It’s available as I write this for $130 on Amazon. But one of the things we look at when recommending stuff to drop coin on is: what is the point of having this on your shelf at home? Part of that is rewatchability. Unless you’re a serious history junkie, you’re probably not going to make it a point of watching the Teddy Roosevelt disc once a year. Rent it, catch them on PBS, but I will say this: there’s Teacher’s Guides on here for a reason. This is a good purchase for schools. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Transformers hits Blu-Ray in a two-disc special edition. And those of you who that like the film, like it. Those of you, like me, who the film just got too dumb for–well, you know how you feel about it. Here you’ve got pretty much the same features as the regular Dreamworks release: one featurette with interviews, another with the making-of the Transformers themselves, and then a featurette focusing on the desert attack. There’s also a “Heads Up Display” feature with pop-up bits and behind the scenes stuff that comes up picture-in-picture style. Should you buy it? Well, I will say this: if you have a Blu-Ray setup with all the appropriate bells and whistles and want to show off your setup, this is one of those loud movies that brings significant explodo to the game. Just do yourself a favor and redeem yourself by buying Planet Earth or something as well, would you? Thanks. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Office: Season Four
Chuck: The Complete First Season
Chicago 10 DVD cover art

The fourth season of The Office hits DVD from Universal with fourteen episodes (season shortened for brevity and/or a strike) spread across four discs. And fans will want to give this a look, as it is not exactly bare bones. There are four audio commentaries from cast and crew, plus deleted scenes, a PSA regarding rabies, a rather extensive blooper reel, an even more extensive Q&A with the writers of the show and more. There’s also a copy of the script for the “Dinner Party” episode, emsmallened just right to fit it in the outer slipcase of the DVD. Plan to keep it in there, as it’s not a good fit without it–the only problem. Again, the features will put it over the edge for a lot of fans. Everyone else who’s seen the show and is content will want to rent it for the features. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Chuck is a bit mental, no pun intended. A guy from a local tech support firm nestled in the midst of an electronics emporium suddenly finds his brain riddled with classified information. And now he’s a priceless asset to the U.S. government. It’s basically a secret agent show for everyday nerds. Especially when you consider the cross between Agent 99 and Molly that now has to pose as his girlfriend. Thirteen episodes are here across four discs from Warner Brothers, plus deleted scenes, a discussion between cast and crew, a featurette about the creation of the characters plus casting sessions, a blooper reel and a series of mini-featurettes. While this does have some features, I think only the hardcore fans will want to pick this up. Granted at the current price as I write this, it’s $2 an episode. But $26 is $26, especially these days. Worth a rental, though. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Chicago 10 is an interesting animal. This concerns the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention that wound up with the “Chicago 8” (the 10 is the 8 plus their two attornies). It contains archive footage of the protests and riot and uses transcripts and such of what actually went down in the trial. But rather than being a straightforward docu, it boasts a tremendous cast in an animated recreation of the trial: Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber and Jeffrey Wright, to be exact. What comes out of it is a novel way to get the story across, to be sure. For those who would like to learn more about the events and get it done in a novel way, Brett Morgen’s film is a winner. But I’d advise a rental if you want to check it out. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)