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The Week in Stuff: June 1, 2010 – Life and Then More Life

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Life Blu-ray Cover Art
Life DVD Cover Art

Life premiered on the Discovery Channel here in the States in March. It’s a BBC nature documentary, which tells you a few things right out of the starting blocks. First, it looks amazing (and it does). Second, a crapload of work went into making it (quite true). And chances are you’re going to get narration by David Attenborough. Well…yes and no. The version that aired here stateside is narrated instead by Oprah Winfrey.

[ad#longpost]Now. A lot of people have been pissed at the change. But let’s take a deep breath and look at this for a second from the point of view of Discovery and BBC Home Video. You know Attenborough. I know Attenborough. But we’re not normal. However, everybody knows who Oprah is. And Oprah needs to say just once on her show, “By the way, I did this narration for this thing…” and sales will go through the roof. So I can’t blame them for making the change because they’ve just increased their sales like mad.

However. What I can blame them for is the fact that neither DVD nor Blu-Ray has the ability to switch audio tracks. Instead, there’s a completely separate Attenborough-narrated edition being sold on both DVD and Blu-Ray. Why is that necessary? Surely there’s room on the media for another audio track. Hell, make it Blu-Ray exclusive if you must. It’s not even sales that are going to drive having two separate editions: the Oprah camp is going to buy theirs, everyone else is going to buy the Attenborough version. Who’s going to be compelled to buy both?

And is the Oprah version that bad? Well, no. It’s not bad. It’s just that Attenborough brings gravitas to the table. He brings awe to the table. Oprah sounds like she’s narrating for five-year-olds. Sorry, but she does.

Anyway, both editions come with making-of features, which is amazing as you would expect. There’s a lose-the-narration feature and deleted scenes as well. Should you own this? Yes. In hi-def. In fact, I would tell you that if you think you’re going to get hi-def in the next six months or so, wait and buy it after you get your hook-up. And…yes, you should own the Attenborough version. You already know why. Here’s the Attenborough version on DVD and his narrated version on Blu-Ray.

Peanuts 1970's Collection Vol. 2 DVD Cover Art
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Season 7 DVD Cover Art

The Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 2 gives you six Peanuts animated specials, of which one is making its DVD debut: that would be What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown. All of them are remastered and the other five were previously available on DVD paired with each other or another special. There’s also a featurette looking at Peanuts during the 1970s. There are two kinds of fans when it comes to the animated Peanuts movies and specials. There’s the completist and then there’s “They seriously did a special about Arbor Day?” These latter fans are good with the Christmas special, the Halloween special and maybe even the feature films. So you would need to be a completist to go for these. If you just need a refresher for them, rent or snag them via Netflix. But if you’re that big a fan, this is certainly the most cost-effective way to get them. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volume 7 is the latest volume to hit DVD from Warner Brothers and Adult Swim. This release is notable for the inclusion of not only the live action episode, but probably one of my favorite-titled features in a long time: “Live Action Behind the Scenes: The Making of 12 Minutes of Television That Changed Television for 12 Minutes.” Not to mention “The Dave Long Story,” about how he became live action Carl. And I saw him at a live performance of ATHF and…yeah, he’s pretty much Carl. In addition to that episode, there’s ten others. You also get a musical making of for the “Rubberman” episode, and some bonus comedy bits. Fans of the series will want to own this, as it helps pay for the next series–but if you’re not already initiated, rent something towards the beginning of the series and see if it’s your bag. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)


  • Why did they do that with Oprah Winfrey replacing David Attenborough? Don’t the American public already know him from the big hit Planet Earth?

  • I would say he’s “That Guy From Planet Earth” to most Americans. Name recognition value as compared to Oprah is nil, I’m afraid. And because Oprah says “Hey, I’m going to be on this thing” means $ales out the wazoo. Like I said, it’s fine they did it, just annoying that they have necessitated two different versions.