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Headsup: What is This Godfather “Trilogy” You Speak Of?

An ongoing attempt to help you cope with the sheer amount of stuff people want you to buy. Should you? I’ll try and help. If you do buy, anything you buy through us helps support the site, and we thank you.

Speed Racer: The Next Generation: The Fast Track: The Movie DVD cover art
Forgetting Sarah Marshall DVD cover art
Jewel in the Crown DVD cover art

Speed Racer: The Next Generation from Lionsgate is exactly what the title suggests: Speed Racer Sr. is missing but running around somewhere. Spritle is headmaster of the racing school. X Racer, Speed’s oldest son, is rocking the house behind the wheel. Speed Jr. just found out recently that he’s a junior at all. And the races take place in virtual land. Got it? What else is missing but running around somewhere are the three episodes that came between this DVD release, The Fast Track, and the first one. I’m sure you’re not missing too terribly much, but it’s bad enough to release volumes instead of complete seasons…but to skip bits? The final episode of the first series airs this week. For the moment, I think you’re fine catching the episodes on TV, since the features here–animation featurette and a sneak peek with Jeff Gordon–aren’t terribly extensive. But again, wherever kids are involved, you might not have the final say. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

[ad#longpost]Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the latest from producer Judd Apatow, but that’s not really what draws me to this. It’s part of Russell Brand’s attempt to storm America. And I dig Brand–he’s a complete freak. Co-conspirators with Brand turn out to be Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and screenwriter Jason Segel. Here we’ve got a three-disc set from Universal. Impressive, yes? Well, somewhat. The third disc is the inevitable “Digital Copy,” which they think so highly of it’s just in one of those paper envelopes with the plastic window, loose in the case. How long do you think it will take me to lose that? So we’re down to two discs. There’s two versions of the film and the unrated clocks in at seven minutes extra. Which means that, like almost always, they threw in a few minutes of stuff that the MPAA hadn’t seen–so, ooooh, unrated. You do get a commentary from most of the major players. You do get audition footage, deleted and extended scenes, gag reel, some unused lines, video diaries, a number of montages, a featurette focusing on Brand, and some other bits about fictional TV shows that factor into the film. So while it is a decent two-disc set, its selling points of “three-disc” and “unrated” are no-gos. So what you’re left with are “90 minutes of hilarious bonus features.” All of that being said, it is available as I type this for $20. So if this cranks your tractor, there’s no shame in picking it up. Lord knows we’ve all paid more for less. But if you have any doubts, rent first. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

From 1984, A&E Home Video brings you the complete Jewel in the Crown, starring Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Art Malik, Geraldine James and a holy-crap-he’s-so-young Charles Dance. I think it’s the lack of beard, because just two years later The Golden Child came out and look at him then. Anyway, it’s based on a quartet of books by Paul Scott that puts a series of characters through the end of British reign in India. How do you make a series that adapts four books? You have enough content to fill four discs. Thirteen episodes with more than twelve hours between them. Any fan of the era or of acclaimed British television will want to at least give this a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone DVD cover art
Grey's Anatomy: Season 4 DVD cover art
Lewis Black's Root of All Evil DVD cover art

If there’s anything in America that’s poorly understood, it’s the First Amendment. Certainly, there’s the whole yelling fire in a crowded theatre bit–but beyond that, you have to protect all speech…or you haven’t protected any of it. Without the First Amendment…we couldn’t have this website. If I offended somebody…scratch that…when I offended somebody with one of my rants, they could come shut me down. Because there’s plenty of morons out there who think that you have the right to say anything you want…as long as you don’t offend anybody. There are few people around who understand the importance of the First Amendment more than Larry Flynt. Even if you disagree with the pornography the guy is responsible for, you have to admire him for keeping at it. He’s an opportunistic bastard, sure, but he’s also a freedom fighter. His story is the subject of The Right To Be Left Alone. It’s out from Anchor Bay and comes with additional interview footage, footage of his deposition and commentary by the director. I think everybody could use a good viewing of this, so it’s at least a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Grey’s Anatomy is one of those shows that I’m afraid I don’t get. But among those that get it, they get it with a sort of fanaticism. You know the type of show I mean? Maybe it’s because I already did my time with a medical drama in my youth: St. Elsewhere. It’s not the cast: I’ve liked Sandra Oh for a while now, as well as Patrick Dempsey. And Brooke Smith is a fine addition to the cast. But I guess I like drama and not Drama. I dunno. Regardless, if you’re an advocate of the show then there’s much to appreciate on this ABC Studios DVD release. You’ve got two extended episodes (which is why this is the “Expanded” edition), commentaries on a few episodes with cast and crew, a featurette about the new characters, outtakes, unaired scenes and more. As I write this, the fourth season is airing on Lifetime, so it’s not like you’re missing access to the show. If you are a fan, I would say rent the set first to determine if the features warrant a purchase. Only you guys can judge your rewatch factor. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Okay, something else I don’t get. Lewis Black. I know I’m one of five people on the planet who doesn’t appreciate Black’s humor. But honestly, if you want to watch somebody work themselves up into a frothing lather, I recommend the late great Sam Kinison. Or Bill Hicks uncut. So when I see Black go off, I just think I could be watching those two guys instead. Good news is that while Black hosts this People’s Court-esque mayhem, Root of All Evil, he’s not dominating the proceedings. So if you’re like me, all four of you–rejoice! This is out from Paramount and Comedy Central, and from what I can tell, it’s the first season (even though the packaging doesn’t appear to state that) with eight episodes across two discs. You also get “post-ruling interviews,” tips from Black, and behind the scenes footage. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Best of Mr. Bean, Vol. 2 DVD cover art
When We Left Earth DVD cover art
Ugly Betty The Complete Second Season DVD cover art

A&E Home Video presents The Best of Mr. Bean, Vol. 2, which is six episodes from the television series. It’s also got four bonus sketches. Which means you’re paying, as I write this, $10 for a single disc that contains all of this. Now this would make sense for most series for some Best Of rather than a full season–but the trouble with Bean is that the entire show is only fourteen episodes, not counting the animated ones and bonus bits. But these bonus bits, along with all the live action episodes, are available on A&E’s Whole Bean set for $28. Granted, if you bought both Best of sets you’d pay only about $17…but between them you’re missing three episodes. If you want Bean, then I say get the Whole Bean instead of this and you’re done. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.

When We Left Earth sounds depressingly past tense, doesn’t it? I shan’t think on it, lest it depress me further. Anyway, this is a six-part series that takes you through the history of NASA’s efforts to get us off-world. From trying to find people loony enough to sit in a chair bolted to the top of a giant rocket to the International Space Station and the somewhat remedial future of NASA the whole thing’s here with over six hours of content. Plus an additional four hours of NASA films, highlights, interviews and clips from the missions. This originally aired on the Discovery Channel and is narrated by Gary Sinise. I’m an amateur space nerd, so I put forward that bias when I talk about this: I’m a sucker for anything that looks like it might help promote furthering the species. However, this is one of those sets where, as nice as the regular DVD is, if you’ve got Blu-Ray, you might want to think about snagging it instead for the hi-def if you’re in a snagging frame of mind. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The second season of Ugly Betty has hit from ABC Studios, featuring America Ferrera in the title role, for which she’s won, you know, a few awards. In the show, as I’m sure everyone’s aware by now–I’m aware and I don’t watch anything TV that’s not on a DVD–it’s the story of a magazine run by a bunch of Beautiful PeopleTM into which was injected the titular character. Sort of like an ugly duckling story. But with braces. All eighteen episodes (truncated due to the strike) are here across five discs. You also get a brief tour of sets; a featurette focusing on Vanessa Williams’ character, Wilhelmina; a featurette on the telenovelas that are fictional in-show shows; two actual telenovelas that were released online originally; outtakes; deleted scenes and more. As I write this, the set goes for $37 on Amazon. So that’s just a hair over $2 per episode. And you do have enough in the way of features where the fan might want to purchase and not feel bad about it–and if you’ve been wanting to check it out and decide whether or not you’re a fan, well, I’m sure it’s rentable. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Doctor Who: The Brain of Morbius DVD cover art
Dirty Sexy Money: The Complete First Season DVD cover art
Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season DVD cover art

I have to say, if you’ve ever seen any of the classic Doctor Who releases, then you can probably guess what I’m going to say here. If you’re a fan, you’re probably going to want to buy any of these. And the reason is that for every story, they have just a crapload of DVD extras–this out from BBC Home Video, of course. I mean, sure, you could just grab it from Netflix or something, keep it for a few days to get through everything and send it back–but as for me, if I enjoyed a show and this much effort had gone into making each one of these things a badass release…I’d buy it just to support them. So check it out: Tom Baker is the Doctor in this story, The Brain of Morbius, from 1976. So who is Morbius? And don’t say a living vampire. No, he’s a bad guy and his mind is worse than Minolta, it might just be hanging out, ready for more hijinx. The aforementioned extras include a commentary with actors Baker, Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane), and Philip Madoc along with the director and producer. You also get a making-of docu, a planetary design featurette, a reconstructed set tour and more. For a four-episode miniseries within a series from 1976…you get less than that on the entire run of some television shows on DVD. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So what happens when your dad, who was the attorney for a wealthy family called the Darling family (Wendy made good, apparently) dies and they ask you to take his place? Well, first thing it’s useful that you’re always a lawyer. If you were, say, a refrigerator repairman and got asked that it would be an entirely different kind of series. But instead it’s Dirty Sexy Money, because just dirty money isn’t enough. Anyway, so if you were this guy, Nick George, you would have to deal with your employers and also try and figure out how and why your father died. You get ten episodes across three discs here (another victim of the strike), starring Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin, Blair Underwood and Jill Clayburgh. A few of the episodes come with cast and crew commentaries. You also get a making of featurette and other featurettes covering the set, the costumes and also a featurette about Candis Cayne, a transgender actress playing a transgender character. Should you buy? Well, it depends on how enamored you are with the show, really. It’s $28 as I write this, which is still less than three dollars an episode. And there are some bonus bits. It seems to me the type of guilty pleasure viewing that you could rent if you’re into it and then be fine with it. But again, let your attachment to the show be your guide. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.

Samantha Who? sounds like, on the surface, a show that’s so simple it can’t possibly work. Christina Applegate plays the title character, who wakes up from a coma after an accident with no memory of who or what she was before. It turns out that she was a complete and total bitch. So now she has to navigate her life in a kinder, gentle version of Memento. Well, sorta. Anyway, it works because it’s fun. Applegate is endearing and the writing is really smart. Speaking of smart–Jean Smart’s in this. And if you don’t love Jean Smart as an actress then you’re obviously a reptoid. It’s fifteen episodes across two discs. The pilot episode comes with commentary from Applegate and the executive producers, plus a short blooper reel and deleted scenes. With little in the way of bonus bits, again, only a fan of the show can say whether or not it’s worth nabbing, even at its current $20 price tag. I personally think it’s worth a watch. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Godfather: The Coppolla Restoration DVD cover art
Sleeping Beauty DVD cover art
Private Practice: The Complete First Season DVD cover art

It’s fascinating anytime something comes out having to do with The Godfather, since many of you are under the impression that there was a third film. But after the Highlander Protocols were invoked retroactively back to 1990, we all know that the third film was just mass hysteria. So I wish everybody would just accept the fact that it was all a bad dream. Anyway, that being said, this boxed set continues the sad tradition of perpetuating the myth of the third film, just like the last set. However, this set has both actual films completely restored. It also has all the supplemental bits from the last set, including the excellent commentaries, the making-of, additional scenes, and scads of other featurettes. Now there’s two discs of supplements, with the fifth disc containing all the new stuff, which is a retrospective on the series, a featurette about how the film nearly didn’t get made, a post-production featurette, a restoration featurette (these I always enjoy for some reason–film nerd is me), and bonus interview bits. The question of whether or not you should buy is moot, really. The first film is one of those rarities: something I would actually give five cups to. And the second film is another one of them. They’re just righteous cinema. And the video restoration is pretty sweet, although I didn’t think the last set was too shabby either. What you have is a cleaner version but that’s about all I can tell. But you should hardly ever trust my opinion on audio and video–half-blind and half-deaf as I am. The new supplements have enough meat to them so that they’re, for the most part, worthy as well. Now the real test comes with the price tag, which is $63 at Amazon as I type this. Seriously, the selling point on this is the video quality, and I always try to err on the side of caution because I’ll never advise you poorly on purpose, kickbacks or no. So I would say if you are a completist like me, you’ll want both and you should buy. If you’re short on coin and already own the previous set, you might want to rent before you decide it’s a buy. I think it’s worth it, but I also understand that money’s tight. And if money’s really tight, the original set’s still available for half the price. Just laying out your options here. But I’m okay with a double dip on this one. Even though that doesn’t mean I’m buying into this whole third film nonsense. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Sleeping Beauty is back in yet another DVD that you’re going to want to buy. Sorry, but I thought I should just tell you that up front. I love all the Disney Platinum Editions, and while they haven’t exactly rocked the house like their first one, Snow White, this one’s better than most recent ones. First up, you’ve got the film–which really is a classic. And it has one of my favorite Disney villains ever: Maleficent. This 50th Anniversary two-disc does a lot of stuff right. First, it has the film in its original widescreen aspect ratio, as opposed to the special edition which didn’t pull in the whole picture. You’ve got an audio commentary with Andreas Deja, Leonard Malton and Dixar head burrito John Lasseter. You’ve got a decent-sized making-of docu, an original opening recreated with roughs, a featurette on artist Eyvind Earle who worked on the backgrounds, a walkthrough of the original Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, and some games and stuff that nobody really wants. What the set gets wrong–and maybe this is corrected on the Blu-Ray as a Blu-Ray only thing, I don’t know, I don’t have the Blu-Ray here–they dropped the special edition commentary that had a crapload more participants, including Frank, Ollie and Mark Davis as well as the aforementioned Earle and more. There were a bunch of other smaller bits and on the special edition but that’s the one you’ll really miss. Regardless, you can get it for as low as $12 used on Amazon. The video here too is the star attraction and I’m a sucker for classic Disney, too. So if that’s your bag as well, then you’ll want to snag this. And if you have kids, make sure you snag it so they can see what quality animation looks like. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So Private Practice is a spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy in which the character of Addison leaves Anatomy and moves away to join a–wait for it–private practice. It’s the tried and true practice of taking a supporting character from one show and making them the focus of an entirely different show and has been used in everything from Frasier to Enos. So as I said above, medical dramas aren’t really my bag. Especially when any character is described as “kissable” in the copy on the back of the DVD. That seems a dead giveaway to me. Now, I will say that Tim Daly and Taye Diggs are getting a paycheck off of it, so that makes me happy regardless. There’s a featurette about lead actress Kate Walsh, a behind the scenes featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, commentary on three episodes and the “extended edition” bit on the cover is about the two extended episodes presented here. Only nine episodes again due to that pesky strikes, here across three discs. As always, if you’re a fan of the show, you’re going to want to snag it, and for $26 (as I write this) it’s not too bad a price tag considering that’s the price of two movie tickets these days. And, separately, the gas it would take to get to the cinema in the first place. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.