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Massive Cyber Monday Headsup

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? The Complete Series

Here in the midst of online shopping frenzy, we wade into give you some guidance on some items that have recently passed over our desk. If you dig what you see, if you buy it from Amazon through us, then we get kickbacks. Which helps us out a great deal. Hope you find this useful. Enjoy.

I love this time of year. We begin to see all sorts of DVD sets, ranging from gee-whiz to practical and awesome to just flat out ridiculous. Definitely on the awesome side of the equation is this early entry: the entire series of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? in a limited edition Mystery Machine package. It’s all forty-one episodes across eight discs and this marks the first release of the entire thing as a set. The Mystery Machine is pretty awesome as a collectible, complete with Shaggy and Scooby up front. Trouble is instead of having a decent way of storing the discs in the back…click on the image below to embiggen…you get a cardboard foldout bit which seems to me it might screw up the discs given time. I agree with some comments from elsewhere…they could have made better use of the back to store the eight discs.

[ad#longpost]The question of course is whether or not the set is worthwhile. Well, here’s where we get a bit sticky. On the one hand, if you don’t already own the first three seasons, the way those two releases and this one are priced at the moment, it’s a wash. You get it for about $1.50 an episode and at least this way you get the nifty Mystery Machine even though you’re giving up decent storage. But–and this goes for anyone who wishes to double-dip–buy two four-disc cases, keep the discs in those and leave the Mystery Machine as a collectible. Done. But if you do already own the series? Well, the only new additional material is the eighth disc with thirty-five minutes of new material. So only the die hard will probably want to go back to the well for this one, considering what you get out of it. My take on it would be this: if you can re-gift your first three seasons (it is holiday season, yes?) then sure. But the other thing is this: remember this is DVD…and assuming they can do something sweet for a Blu-Ray release at some point in the future, then that might be the time to take the plunge. You can snag it from Amazon here.

Batman Beyond Complete Series DVD

Next we come to Batman Beyond: The Complete Series, available on DVD from Amazon. And here we are again in “Is It Worth It Land?” Well, unlike the above Mystery Machine packaging, here it’s just a box. It is “Limited Edition,” but it’s not numbered or anything so that’s fairly meaningless. It’s all fifty-two episodes across nine discs–the ninth disc is a bonus. It says it’s exclusive, but I think they mean literally that the disc is exclusive, as the main feature on the disc is Secret Origin, the DC Comics docu which is available separately (and we’ll talk about before this post is over). You get three very short new featurettes and a twenty-four page booklet of art. And unless I’m missing something, that’s the extent of the new material. Granted, it’s “Complete Series” and not “Complete Collection,” so you’re missing Return of the Joker and additional appearances the character has made. No doubt that will be a Blu-Ray release later on. And that’s when we come down to it: if you’ve already purchased the three seasons, there isn’t a lot to snag this for. If you haven’t, then it’s a decent deal–especially when you factor in what it would take to purchase Secret Origin separately. And I haven’t heard when the inevitable Blu-Ray release will hit, so if you were going to double-dip I would wait for that. To snag this set from Amazon, click here.

The Six Million Dollar Man DVD set

When it comes to massive sets, this sucker takes the cake: it’s The Six Million Dollar Man. The whole thing. And when I say that, I mean Time-Life has given you the whole thing. It’s forty DVDs of goodness, and that contains not only the entirety of the show proper, but also the pilot TV movies, the reunion TV movies that came after, the crossover episodes with Bionic Woman. And then there’s the scads of bonus bits: six audio commentaries, plus featurettes on each season, interviews, and I’m partial to the 3D lenticular they have on the box of Steve Austin running. I’m only somewhat ashamed to admit that I could look at that thing for hours. It’s hypnotic, I tell you. You can click on the image to embiggen it and see everything. Now, granted, this set is $239.95 on the Time-Life website and is exclusive to them through October of next year. Are the individual season sets going to eventually be available? Yes, but with a diminished set of features. Is there going to be a Blu-Ray version? No doubt, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. We still don’t have a Get Smart or Man From UNCLE Blu-Ray set from Time-Life, do we? So my point is: if you want–or know somebody else who would want–the whole burrito on this thing, this is the best and only way to do it. And it’s one of the best, most complete sets I’ve ever run across, so pricey? Yes, on the surface. But bear in mind you’re talking $2.40 an episode before you start throwing in all the bonus bits and TV movies and such, so pricey but you are getting a decent bang for your buck. To snag a copy for yourself, check out the Time-Life store.

Elf Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-Ray

I guess I’m surprised that Elf is as popular as it is. I’m not just saying that because I’m staring at the Blu-Ray Collector’s Edition tin as I write this–I somehow missed the fact that a musical version of the film was hitting Broadway until it was already there. So this isn’t a small tin–what you get inside in addition to the Blu-Ray version of the film (which I didn’t receive previously but appears to be the same that’s already out) is a magnetic picture frame, a magnet, a series of themed gift tags, a soundtrack sampler (a sampler, mind you–not the full soundtrack), and a 14″ holiday stocking. First of all, it seems like a bit of a lame collector’s edition to just give you a soundtrack sampler and not the full thing–but maybe that’s me. But anyway, the question as to whether or not the tin is worth it comes down to simple math. The Blu-Ray by itself is around $19 as I type this and this Collector’s Edition is around $36. So it’s $17 extra to get the bits I said above. So sure if you’re the ultimate Will Ferrell fan or fan of the film, then maybe this is worth it to you. But as a double-dip? I’m just not seeing it. But I feel no burning desire to see the Broadway show, either. So take that for what it’s worth. It’s available from Amazon.

Nip Tuck Complete Series DVD

Now we come to a bit of a puzzler: Nip/Tuck: The Complete Series. It seems like a great idea on the surface…you’ve got all six seasons of the series–one hundred episodes–across thirty-five discs. There’s nothing exclusive to this set–but you haven’t lost anything either. All the bonus bits, such as deleted scenes and featurettes, are included. And even with nothing new, you can still say, well, don’t double-dip but if you wanted to snag the set in one fell swoop, then this would save you money. Trouble is…it doesn’t. This complete series DVD set is actually more expensive than simply going out and buying all the boxed sets individually (and that’s still the case if you’re buying new–if you buy them used you save even more). So apart from the nifty one-box-for-all setup, it’s just not worth doing. If you’re still up for it, though, it’s available from Amazon.

Addams Family: The Complete Animated Series DVD
Green Slime DVD
Legends of the SuperHeroes DVD

One of the reasons I personally couldn’t get too pissed with people bootlegging certain shows and selling them at conventions is because, well, the damn things weren’t available any other way. The reason they would never hit home video–or if they did, it would be in just compilations or skimpy best-ofs–is the studio in question just didn’t think the demand was there to make it profitable for them. And let’s face it: they’re there to be profitable–not to ensure that, for example, Pirates of Dark Water has hit video (although now it has through this process). Now with print on demand technology, however, studios like Warner Brothers can create official releases with little or no risk. I don’t know what it takes to put out a bare bones unremastered Thundarr set, but I can’t imagine it’s too much.

Thus, while some people might complain that we get bare bones releases of the following titles via the Warner Archive, I say be happy you’re getting an official release. And I’m certain that, if somehow the demand went off the charts, you’d get an “official official” release that was perhaps of a more special edition orientation.

First up, let’s talk The Addams Family: The Complete Series. This is animated and it’s part of Warner’s ongoing Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection. It is also the 1970s series not the series from the 1990s. You get all sixteen episodes from the show’s only season across four discs. If you’re an Addams fanatic–and your fanaticism expands to the various versions of the family and not just the art, then this is worth grabbing. Especially since if the sales are good on this one, you know the 1990s version will follow suit eventually. You can snag it from the Warner Archive here.

Next, it’s…the absolutely amazing The Green Slime from 1968. To be honest, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this one for a 32 Days of Halloween mention. It is amazing. Robert Horton from Wagon Train stars with Richard Jaeckel from Dirty Dozen and Luciana Paluzzi from Thunderball. It was shot in Japan and directed by Kinji Fukasaku (The Yakuza Papers). Ridiculous alien costumes meet cheeseball special effects for…genius of a particular kind. If you doubt me, check out the theme song. The defense rests, your honor. You can snag it from the Warner Archive here.

And another staple of convention DVD bootleg bins, it’s the legendary Legends of the SuperHeroes, which if you haven’t seen, I don’t even know if I can describe them. They’re two live action specials from 1979 which have Adam West, Burt Ward and Frank Gorshin reprising their roles as Batman, Robin and The Riddler, respectively. But then they go and add other characters from the comics, like Mordru and Hawkman–and some not in the comics, like…Ghetto Man. The second episode is a roast hosted by Ed McMahon, so this is about as far from Infinite Crisis as you can get. You can snag it from the Warner Archive here.

Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express Blu-Ray
On the Road with Charles Kuralt Set 3 DVD
Slings and Arrows: The Complete Collection Blu-Ray

Murder on the Orient Express, starring the David Suchet version of Poirot, hits Blu-Ray from Acorn Media. The first question is that it was just released on DVD as part of a set earlier in the year, but here it is going solo. I forget where originally I read this, I apologize, but this being the only program actually shot in HD, that’s the reason why it’s here in hi-def without its cohorts–the others weren’t ready for HD prime-time. In addition to the favorite of Suchet as Poirot you have among the guest stars Eileen Atkins, Barbara Hershey and Toby Jones. In addition to the feature, you get a docu in which Suchet takes you through the history of the Express; a text based history of Agatha Christie; and more. The Poirot/Suchet rabid fan will want this just for the HD upgrade in audio and video, but for everyone else…I pause at the notion that you’re spending (as I type this) $14 for this one title on Blu-Ray, when you can spent around $21 for Set 5 of the DVD series and get this plus two other films as well–$7 a title. Your commitment to Suchet on HD should be your guide. You can get this Blu-Ray from Amazon here.

We are getting into serious gift territory here…and by that I mean we’re looking at the third set of On the Road With Charles Kuralt from Acorn Media. I say this because my dad is a huge fan of CBS Sunday Morning, and Kuralt was the head burrito on that show for forever. This, however, began as his segment on the CBS Evening News in which he drove around America looking for interesting bits to feature. This set comes with fourteen episodes across three discs, a nearly hour-long interview with Kuralt’s camerman and more. And I say gift because I think a lot of other dads out there would dig something by Kuralt, and this series is quite excellent just on its own merits. It’s $28.49 as I type this, so it’s around $2 an episode–not bad, especially considering I believe this is the only place they’re available. So the fan or the relative of a fan, will want to give it a go. You can click here to find it at Amazon.

Lastly from Acorn Media we have Slings & Arrows: The Complete Collection, hitting Blu-Ray. While you don’t have to have been involved in theatre to appreciate the series, it certainly takes your enjoyment of the show to the next level, placing this alongside other such entries in the sub-sub-genre like Waiting for Guffman and A Midwinter’s Tale. Each season covers a different Shakespeare play, directed by (Leigh fave) Paul Gross’ character, who’s busy dealing with all of the madness that comes inherent in running a theatre company. Added bonus: the ghost of his predecessor at the company is haunting him. Mark McKinney from Kids in the Hall is one of the stars as well as a co-creator. Also guest-starring are Rachel McAdams, Colm Feore and Sarah Polley. All eighteen episodes are here across six discs. Bonus bits are a behind-the-scenes featurette, interviews, extra backstage footage, bloopers, deleted/extended scenes and more. Exclusive to the Blu-Ray version you get three audio commentaries, one for each season. Now the exclusive commentaries–since you know I’m big on commentaries–puts the Blu-Ray version squarely in your sites. Well, that and the fact it’s only $2 more at Amazon as I write this. So that’s a bonus. And yes, it’s over $2.75 an episode, but you can’t find this airing anywhere, at least not that I can tell. If you’re in the theatre crowd, then this is a big yes. If you’re uncertain–sample it first via Netflix or elsewise. But when you’re ready, you can snag it here from Amazon.

Alien Anthology Blu-Ray
Deadwood: The Complete Series Blu-Ray
The Pacific: Blu-Ray

Now when I first heard Fox was coming out with the Alien Anthology on Blu-Ray I figured we were going to get just a re-release of the DVD Quadrilogy set, which was pretty damn extensive and awesome. (Am I the only one who thought the “Quadrilogy” title was silly stupid fun? I am? Never mind then.) The films are all here, yes, and they’re exactly as you remember them. (Well, I mean the theatrical versions–there’s a director’s cut or special edition for each.) As I remember them, we had the set-happy haunted house of Ridley Scott, the badass thundering Jim Cameron-directed sequel, the third not-as-bad-as-people-think one and then the fourth wasted-opportunity-one in which the new Ridley was the very least of our concerns. How do they fare on Blu-Ray? Video and audio, exactly what you would want. The major thing we have here is the MU-TH-UR mode, in which you can get access to bonus bits as you watch the films and also get trivia tracks. I dig trivia tracks–have ever since I encountered my first one on The Abyss, and wish we had more of them. I prefer to hit my bonus bits separate from the main film, but if such a method cranks your tractor, then awesome. All the Quadrilogy stuff appears to have made the transfer over plus additional footage and interviews which makes for enough to, along with the hi-def upgrade, warrant buying it. Seriously. Sure, if you’re not on hi-def yet, then you’ll probably be able to pick up an unloaded DVD Quadrilogy for cheap used. But if you’ve got the capability, then you won’t regret snagging this. It’s ludicrously wealthy in stuff and will take you hours to get through. You can snag it from Amazon here.

Ah, Deadwood. This show has one of the most perfect first seasons of television I’ve ever seen. Seriously. It blew the top of my head off, it was so good. Then it lost me in the second season. I know, I know, next time you see me buy the first round and I’ll make my case and we can have a nice debate about it. But regardless, there is no reason not to love the series. Here you get the entire show collected on Blu-Ray–the only way to get the series in hi-def, so if you want the first season–like me–then here you go. All thirty-six episodes are here across thirteen discs. You also get the bonus content from the DVD releases: audio commentaries, featurettes, making-of docus, creator David Milch talks about the show’s end, a historical featurette about the real Deadwood (the actual history of which is pretty damn fascinating), a Q&A, a 360-degree tour, and a humorous “Al Swearengen audition reel.” And more. Now I’ll be the first to tell you that close to $3.50 an episode as I write this is not cheap. But A), it doesn’t appear to be airing anywhere at present and B), like I said, this is the only way to get it on Blu-Ray. But if you have already snagged the individual seasons and don’t feel the need to upgrade, then you’re fine where you are. If you want to plunge, you can do so at Amazon here.

The Pacific, which does for that WWII theatre what Band of Brothers did for Europe, hits Blu-Ray from HBO. It’s from the usual suspects of Spielberg, Hanks and Gary Goetzman. You do get the ten-part miniseries in a tin similar to the Brothers release and you get the features that came on the DVD version: mainly the portraits of the real Marines, a making-of short featurette and a historical docu. The bonus bits you get that are exclusive to the Blu-Ray are “enhanced viewing,” which gives you picture-in-picture interviews regarding the history of what you’re seeing on screen. There’s also a “field guide,” which gives you more historical access to the true stories behind what you’re seeing in the show. The audience for this is obviously any military or history buff, which generally encompasses anyone who enjoyed Brothers. However, I’ve heard from some people who are huge Brothers fans that this didn’t crank their tractor as well. But if you’re looking for something for yourself–or a gift for someone who falls into that bracket–you could do a lot worse than this. The difference between DVD and Blu-Ray is basically $16 as I write this but I think if you’re going for it and have the hi-def capability, then you won’t be disappointed in the quality upgrade. The exclusive bonus bits make it easier to make that claim as well. Click here to go to Amazon and snag it for yourself.