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The Week in Stuff: July 27, 2010 – Cop Shows, Giant Scorpions and a Black Taxi

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Stephen Fry in America DVD Cover Art
The Art of the Steal DVD Cover Art

[ad#longpost]Stephen Fry in America is the sort of maniacal road trip that I wish I could take–hitting all fifty states and trying to see a vast array of things, some obscure and some what you would expect. But I could do without the black taxi. (Yes, it does get points for being black…but still.) If anything the main drawback to the travel docu is that it’s only six episodes and I wouldn’t have minded Stephen taking his time with just about anything he wanted to. It’s definitely worth checking out–as anything with Mr. Fry is. The real question comes for this BFS release: DVD or Blu-Ray? And in honesty, even though this doesn’t really match up with my “Nature shows get hi-def treatment by default” rule, it’s close enough for my taste. But that’s my taste–and I will say that the Blu-Ray is $9 more as I type this. Fans of Stephen will probably want to snag it in hi-def but everyone else will want to rent the DVD and see if it cranks their tractor. But do see it however you do so. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

The Art of the Steal is out on DVD from IFC Films, and I had frankly never heard of this situation before, but I’m sadly not surprised. Short version: a guy named Albert Barnes put together a massive collection of art that is currently worth billions of dollars and is located not in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s not located there–currently–because according to Barnes’ will the stuff was never supposed to move. Other people had other ideas and the will doesn’t mean squat, apparently. The DVD is a must-watch for any student of art and art history (and probably some people interested in litigation as well). It doesn’t have any bonus features to speak of, so I would think unless you need this for a classroom somewhere, it’s probably a rental. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Batman Under the Red Hood DVD Cover Art
Princess Resurrection DVD Cover Art

From DC Animated, you’ve got Batman: Under the Red Hood, the story of the return of Jason Todd as the titular asskicker. Judd Winick scribed this thing based on the recent storyline (with some “Death in the Family” thrown in for good measure). And the Blu-Ray is pretty stacked, all things considered: you get a featurette about Dick Grayson, a Jason Todd featurette, four bonus episodes from the Batman animated series, a look ahead to the next movie from DC Animated, Superman/Batman Apocalypse, and an animated Jonah Hex short. I don’t have a copy of the DVD here, but it looks like the exclusive bit is the Jason Todd featurette and two of the bonus Batman episodes (I believe the DVD comes with two instead of four). Bat-fans will want to give this a watch definitely–and that’s who this is squarely aimed at. So the curious should give it a rental, then decide what the replay factor is. The Blu-Ray is only $4 more as I type this, so if you are going to purchase, that’s the way to go. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Ever tried to help a girl out only to have it get you killed and then resurrected as a servant to her? Guys, let’s face it–we’ve all been there. Hiro certainly has…and now that he’s with Princess Hime, he has to deal with her siblings who are trying to clear a path to the throne–a path she’s standing in. This is Princess Resurrection: The Complete Collection, with all twenty-six episodes across four discs in this set from Sentai Filmworks. The only features are clean opening and closing animation, but fans of the anime (or curious fans of the manga) will want to snag this as it’s the only way (that I can see, anyway) to get at these episodes. And at around $1.75 an episode as I type this, that’s a decent deal. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

The Sweeney Series One
The Sweeney Series 2 DVD Cover Art

BFS is cranking out the Sweeney boxed sets with the first two series starring John Thaw having hit and two more on their way. Both sets have interviews, info on the restoration of the episodes, 5.1 and original mono audio, and commentaries on select episodes. The first set also contains the pilot episode. If you’ve ever been interested in cop shows or want to see where some of Life on Mars came from, then this is the way to go. It’s the only way to go, because from what I can tell, nobody’s showing this: at least not on this side of the pond. Let’s face facts: the sets are not cheap: they’re $52.49 as I type this. That’s close to $4 an episode. But it is the only way to get the series and fans will have to decide how they want to proceed. I will say if you don’t know the show or are curious, then rental would be the way to go. (Click here to snag Series One; Click here to snag Series Two.)

Clash of the Titans Blu-ray Cover Art
Operation: Endgame Blu-ray Cover Art
The Prowler DVD Cover Art

Well, Clash of the Titans is on Blu-Ray and one improvement is that it’s not in 3-D, honestly. Sam Worthington, who appears destined to fly from tentpole film to tentpole film, takes the place of Harry Hamlin in this remake. And it’s the same basic tale of man vs. gods vs. one god in particular vs. giant freaking sea monster. I do miss the stop motion Harryhausen beast, but what can you do? The Blu-Ray is out from Warner Brothers, which means it’s a digital combo pack (i.e. comes with DVD and digital copy), and only $9 more than the DVD–a no-brainer to get this instead, frankly. Even before we start talking features, of which we have a decent selection. Additional scenes are all you get on the DVD, anyway: Blu-Ray you have an alternate ending, a featurette about Worthington, and “Maximum Movie Mode”–an enhanced picture-in-picture commentary that’s fairly sweet in its scope. So the true test is rewatchability, really: even with those features, do you want to go through them once and be done with it? Fine, grab a rental. But if you really dig any of the elements involved–or just like the idea of Aslan also playing Zeus–whatever cranks your tractor–then snag it. (Snag it here from Amazon.)

Operation: Endgame is about two teams of assassins who find themselves in a bit of a pickle: the “endgame” of the title has been kicked off, leaving the array of characters suspicious and trying to unravel a mystery–oh, and did we mention they’re killers? It’s chaos with a bunch of name players in it. I can understand the draw–it’s the same draw I had, but I’m thinking a rental might be your best bet, despite the carnage…though there is a lack of comedy, I fear. But again, if it’s something you’re going to grab from Netflix anyway, then go for it. The Blu-Ray comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette, plus an alternate ending and opening. The other thing to bear in mind is that the Blu-Ray is $9 more than the DVD and comes with those same features. So just bear that in mind. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

The Prowler hits from Blue Underground and as I’ve said before, they’re like the Criterion of otherwise forgotten older horror films. In this one, a World War II vet comes home to find that his girl has left him for somebody else–so he kills them both. Now it’s decades later and the dance that was marred by the killings is finally going to be held again…and I think you can see where this is all going. It’s a slasher flick from 1981, with one of the few stand-out items being the makeup FX by Tom Savini. In fact, that’s given the good treatment on this where we have a commentary with Savini and the director, plus behind the scenes footage of Savini’s work, and the trailer. Granted, these items were on the previously released DVD as well…so the difference (apart from $4 for the Blu-Ray) is the hi-def, which does the best it can for a film of this age shot like it was. So while if you already own the DVD, double-dipping might not work, if you don’t already own it and want to, I think it’s clear the way to go. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Acceptance DVD Cover Art
Accidents Happen Blu-ray Cover Art

The movie Acceptance is out from Vivendi Entertainment, with the obviously meaningful title and all, since it’s clear we’re talking about a high school into college sort of story. And so forth and so on. Mae Whitman is a somewhat dysfunctional high school senior who’s trying to figure out What Next along with her friends, who are all trying to deal with their lives as well as their parents’ expectations of their lives. Joan Cusack is on hand to play one of said parents. This was a Lifetime movie and it definitely has that feel to it. There are no features on here, so a rental is probably up your alley if you want to check it out. Replay factor is doubtful. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Accidents Happen is a comedy with dark bits that those who enjoy such things will have to try for themselves. Geena Davis is the matriarch of a family that’s about to completely unravel. She and the father are splitting up, the daughter is long dead, the twins have one in a coma and the other one with Issues and then there’s the focus of the story: Billy, who brings the title to life. Again, it’s worth a rental for folks who enjoy the off-kilter suburban setup–or want to see Davis work a role well–but replayability is going to be in question. There’s two featurettes and interviews as bonus bits, but if you do want to buy, then the DVD and Blu-Ray have identical prices as I type this, so that decides that. Like I said: rent it first and see if that takes care of you. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Sabrina the Teenage Witch Final Season DVD Cover Art
21 Jumpstreet Complete Series DVD Cover Art
Hunter The Complete Series DVD Cover Art

The final season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch hits DVD with twenty-one episodes across seven discs, plus the TV movie Sabrina Goes to Rome. This is out from Paramount and if you count the TV movie as an episode you’re just a little over $1.25 each. Which is not a bad price point, really. Then there’s the question of access, of course. And it appears ABC Family is running their episodes, sure, but WB got it for the last episodes–so they’re not around anywhere that I can find. So this might be the only way a fan can snag these for themselves. And only the fan can decide how they want to run with it. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Next we have two massive boxed sets from Mill Creek Entertainment: complete series for both 21 Jump Street and Hunter. Street has all 103 episodes across eighteen discs while Hunter is 152 episodes across twenty-eight DVDs. That’s a lot. And with their respective price points, you’re getting episodes for less than $.50 each. Granted, they’re saving in packaging–you’re getting discs in envelopes inside the cases rather than a fancy plastic clamshell setup or anything else. But $.50 an episode to own the whole damn thing? Not bad. Even with the lack of features. Now as far as access goes, all of Street appears to be on Hulu where a goodly number of Hunter appears to be. So if you just want to refresh your memory, sure, go over there and have at it. But if you’re a fan, this is a no-brainer. (Click here to snag 21 Jump Street from Amazon; Click here to snag Hunter from Amazon.)