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Headsup: That Guy With the Whip Is Back on DVD

The entertainment industry is shoveling stuff at your head at an alarming rate. Should you buy? Should you rent? Should you flee? This is my attempt to assist.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull DVD cover art
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Blu-Ray cover art

Okay, so the fourth Indiana Jones film has hit both DVD and Blu-Ray. And let’s put aside our thoughts about the film itself for a moment. If you liked it, then you liked it and more power to you. I wish I could count myself among you, but I can’t. But regardless, that sort of sets you up as to whether or not you’re going to want to drop coin on these. More on that in a moment. First, I’ll say that the DVD is fairly well stacked for a first pass at this DVD release. You’ve got The Return of a Legend featurette, which takes you through the creation of the film so you can see what drove them to go back to the well and then the pre-production featurette which shows the prep work before the madness started. Then there’s the feature-length making-of docu, that goes through the actual shooting. In addition to this, there’s separate featurettes that cover props, post-production, the skulls themselves–six in all. Then there’s three pre-viz sequences provided as well as galleries. The Blu-Ray flavor has all of this, the vast majority of it in hi-def, plus an “Indiana Jones Timelines” feature that covers the story, the production and history aspects which is only on the Blu-Ray.

[ad#longpost]Now…a few obvious things you’ve no doubt picked up on. One, there’s no commentary, which would probably be a bigger disappointment if the movie was better, but it’s just a thing, you know? A home video release without a commentary is like a shiny new bike that turns out to be a chocolate cake in disguise–no matter how tasty it is, you still can’t ride it. Or…something. Anyway, you’ll notice I also said “first pass.” There will be another version of this, mark my words. Probably next year sometime we’ll hear about the four-movie boxed set which will contain new exclusive stuff to that boxed set (and I don’t mean the four-disc one that just came out). And remember how the last set of Indy didn’t have the stuff from the previous set of Indy? So there’s precedent for them not only double-dipping but re-dipping with less spices on the chip, if you catch my meaning. And the Blu-Ray doesn’t have nearly as much stuff as you might at first think: before I cracked them open I saw those six separate featurettes listed on the Blu-Ray but not the DVD. I thought–whoa, that’s a lot of Blu-Ray exclusive stuff–nope, was just left off the DVD. I don’t want to assume they were being deceitful, but they did say “First Time Available” on the last DVD set of the first three, so…I will now say the word “allegedly.”

All of that said, it just gets down to this. If you liked the film, you’re going to want to buy one version of this. If you’re an Indy completist and didn’t like the film but want to supplemental stuff, you’re going to want to buy one version of this. If you have a Blu-Ray player, you’re going to want the hi-def version. It’s, in the end, that simple. (Click here to buy the regular DVD flavored one from Amazon or click here to buy the Blu-Ray flavored one from Amazon.)

Dynasty: The Third Season, Vol. 2 DVD cover art
The Smurfs: Season One, Vol. 2 DVD cover art
Sweeney Todd Blu-Ray cover art

Ah, Dynasty. Have I revealed before that I actually had (and still own) a pin that says “I Survived the Carrington Wedding”? Sad, I know. Like I said in our contest for this, this show was cutting edge television in its day. Now you wonder why every time I find myself in front of a television I’m transfixed like I’ve gone tharn in the headlights. Where was I? Oh yes. Here we have the second half of the third season, in which, as previously mentioned we have the relatively infamous pond catfight scene as well as the obligatory scene-ending cliffhanger. You’ve got twelve episodes across three discs here, and it’s bare bones, which is a shame, because I think commentaries on the key episodes, even scene-specific ones, would have been nice. Regardless, So fans of the show will want to snag this from Paramount just to have the episodes because I don’t know that this is airing anywhere at present. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Yes, this volume of The Smurfs features the famous catfight and the cliffhanger ending with the burning toadstool. Wait. I may have gotten confused. No, in actuality you’ve got twenty more episodes of the series here across two discs. And to give Warner Brothers some credit they did try a featurette, the reasonably short “I Smurf the Smurfs” in which we get some face time with the voice talent but it’s just a lot of musing upon all things Smurf, and done for the most part by celebrities that…I’m not sure why they were there. Since there isn’t, for some odd reason, a television network that does nothing but make each day Saturday morning and run classic cartoons back to back (except leaving off the live action shows that would increasingly encroach as the day wore on, not to mention the golf shows), I don’t think this is currently airing anywhere, so this is the only chance for the fan to grab it. And until that live action movie happens, this is probably the best version you’re going to get. Update: Tulsa MJ points out in the comments that Boomerang on the Cartoon Network has this and other classic cartoons of yesteryear. Still not the full-on Saturday morning recreations but it counts! So you’re owning it as opposed to catching it or Tivo-ing it. That’s the only benefit. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

For those of you who are thinking that I took a modicum of dark pleasure from discussing the Smurfs back to back with Sweeney Todd, then you get a gold star. One must take one’s amusements where one can. I think people who weren’t familiar with the original musical (or its new stripped down revival) probably enjoyed this more than, say, me. I would have really appreciated a commentary where Burton could explain why he hates, for example, the chorus. But alas. What we’ve got here is a copy of the regular DVD release, with a goodly number of the bonus bits now in hi-def. We’ve got a docu that’s combination interviews and behind the scenes, footage from the press conference, a docu on the “real” Todd, a convo with Sondheim about the whole musical and musical-to-movie musical process, a featurette on the historical London, a featurette on the “Grand Guignol” style, a design featurette, and more. So would you need this in hi-def? Well, I figure if you like it, then the audio is a big selling point, seeing as how, you know, it’s a musical. And the upgrade to the video is good for the visuals of the film are impressive, regardless. Will there be a better version later? It’s possible. But apart from more featurettes and a commentary, I’m not sure what else you could add or expect. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

According to Jim: The Complete First Season DVD cover art
Jack Frost DVD cover art

The idea of the married couple who squabble but still love each other and do all of it in funny ways and by the way have children for comedic possibilities and subplots–is as old as marriage. I bet if you went back and listened to town gossip, the predecessor of the sitcom, you’d find some of the plots that we’ve seen time and again on these shows. That being said, According to Jim must be doing something right because it’s still going and has been renewed for an eighth season. That also being said, I’ve just always liked Jim Belushi. So if he’s drawing a check then I’m happy for him. This is twenty-two episodes across four discs, plus some time talking about the show with Belushi, a tour of the set with him, two episode commentaries with Belushi and actor Larry Joe Campbell, some interviews and a gag reel. Now, it appears that this gets rerun on The CW so unlike some of the other shows we’ve covered this time, you’re not bereft as fan without this Lionsgate release. If you’re a big enough fan to snag it for your shelf go for it–if uncertain, grab a rental first. You can at least peruse the bonus bits. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So everybody knows Rankin-Bass and their holiday specials. Rudolph is perennial, naturally. There’s also the various Santa specials and whatnot, even some other holidays, but much later comes Jack Frost, which frankly I had forgotten about completely until seeing this new “Deluxe Edition” release from Warner Brothers. Robert Morse is on hand to voice Frost, but Buddy Hackett is our narrator to give us Jack’s Secret Origin. Also you’ve got Paul Frees, who we never get sick of hearing. The Deluxe bit of this is the remastered video and audio, which both seem pretty damn nice to me. Unfortunately, you’ve not got much in the way of bonus bits, just a “You Know, For Kids” on making holiday-themed crafts and then you can sing-along with three of the songs complete with subtitles to help. And that’s about it. Basically if you’re a Rankin-Bass completist, you might want to give this a purchase, but otherwise it’s one of the lesser R-B outings and kids aren’t going to (probably) be yelling for it. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Incredible Hulk Season 5 DVD cover art
Mondays in the Sun DVD cover art

The fifth season of The Incredible Hulk finishes out the series with the final seven episodes here across two discs. Of course, things would continue for three more TV movies, but this is the end of the series proper. Apart from the lenticular cover, which you might not have realized this set has, there’s not a lot to be offered here–still, Universal gets some points for trying. You get the show’s creator, Kenneth Johnson, and others discussing the show for a bit, and it’s a nice nod for the fans. There’s also a gag reel. And that’s about it. I must say it seems a bit steep to pay $21.99 (the current asking price on Amazon) for seven episodes–and not even seven episodes that, in a fair universe, would have been used to bring some kind of closure to the series (see the aforementioned TV movies for more on that)–but just seven episodes, and not even some of the best at that. For the hardcore completist, I would say buy, but you were going to anyway. Everyone else–or just the curious–I think you’re fine with renting. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Mondays in the Sun is a 2002 film that’s getting the Lionsgate “Meridian Collection” treatment because of Javier Bardem, because basically No Country for Old Men showed the world what a dramatic badass the man can be. And not even just in a creepy scary psycho sense, either. Because those of us who first caught him in Before Night Falls knew he was good. But he’s just an excellent Actor. And if you dig his work, then there’s your reason to rent this film, because only the Bardem completist is going to want to own a story about five guys who have been downsized and are trying to get by. The bonus content is commendable, though, as you do have a commentary with the director and Bardem, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and storyboard-to-scene comparisons. Again, rental will do the majority of interested parties fine on this one. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)


  • Boomerang shows the Smurfs, along with the Snorks, the Flintstones, and a ton of other old ‘toons, along with some Cartoon Network reruns like Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo. The even show Two Stupid Dogs! Can’t beat that!