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Headsup: Animation For Your Home Video Enjoyment

There’s a lot of stuff that comes out, wanting you to snag them. Take this as your quick reference guide that will help you with answering the all important question: Should I spend my money on it? If you find the info here to be of use, do us a favor and purchase stuff from Amazon through us. Especially if you were going to buy the stuff anyway. That gives us kickbacks, which help pay for things. Like the server. And coffee. And therapy. Thanks.

Family Guy: It's a Trap Blu-Ray
Legend of the Guardians Blu-Ray
Shrek: The Whole Story Blu-Ray

[ad#rightpost]Family Guy has completed their run at the original trilogy (I’m sure the prequel parodies are in the works) with It’s a Trap!. Yes, I know “We aren’t doing any more, folks” is on the back of the Blu-Ray, but you should believe that just like you should believe that Lucas won’t ever do the third trilogy. Anyway, this appears to be an hour-long episode but from what I can tell (my viewing of American television is limited–and online sources seem a bit confused on the subject themselves) it’s exclusive to DVD and Blu-Ray…for now. And I haven’t been a fan of the show since it resurrected, so I’m admittedly biased in my feelings on this thing. You get a commentary, an animatic of the episode, two animatics getting turned into full animation, and other very small bits and bobs. The Blu-Ray comes with a DVD copy and digital copy, and is $7 more than the straight DVD version. Die hards will want to grab this–or for people who want to complete their parody trilogy set–but people like myself should give it a pass. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (my Wayhomer review here) is out on Blu-Ray from Warner Brothers. Looking back on it now it reminds me a lot of Tron: Legacy: good but more visually entertaining than anything else. And this is stunning–I almost wish they had sent the 3D version, because seeing this on the big screen was pretty awesome. But it’s decent enough and good story-wise for kids while old folks like us can marvel at the CG. The Blu-Ray comes with a “Maximum Kid Mode” commentary hosted by Soren, which branches off to talk about owls in the real world as well as two games. There’s the titular story about the Guardians, art galleries, a music video and an eco-friendly featurette. Own it? Well, I think the DVD‘s out of the question because of the impressive video and the quality you want to watch it at. As to Blu-Ray vs. Blu-Ray 3D…can’t speak to it directly because they didn’t send me the 3D. But what I can say is that getting the 3D version for a future viewing (you know you’ll eventually own a 3D-ready system, face it) is worth the extra $5 if the quality is there. (Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon; click here for the Blu-Ray 3D)

Shrek: The Whole Story encompasses the complete Shrek saga (so far at least–like with Seth MacFarlane, I think they’ll go back to the well in some fashion, beyond just the Puss n Boots feature film). I wasn’t privy to all the previous releases, but from what I can tell the majority of the original features made their way here. There’s four commentary tracks (two for Shrek 2 and none for Shrek the Third), deleted scenes, the “Karaoke Dance Party,” interviews and then one major new bit: an “Animator’s Corner” picture-in-picture feature that takes you through every aspect of the production. There’s also a series of interactive maps of the action, letting you delve into the various locations used. The Shrek fan will want this set–but if you just want the films in Blu-Ray, this is your only shot at it–at the moment, anyway. The third film had previously hit hi-def, but not the first two. And at $8 extra to get Blu-Ray over DVD, that’s just $2 a film. So. Pretty simple math, I think. I know your concern might be: are they going to hit me with something later that I will need to double-dip for? And I’m thinking no, not for a while. Not until Shrek 5 at least. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Archer: The Complete Season One DVD
The Dukes: The Complete Series DVD
The Ricky Gervais Show: The Complete First Season DVD

Archer is returning to FX towards the end of January with its second season, so it only makes sense that we see the first season out from Fox so that people can catch up, reacquaint themselves, or just add to their massive archives of discs. The titular hero is a master spy, the best espionage agent one can be when your boss is your mom and your ex-girlfriend works at the same agency, I suppose. The DVD collects the first season’s ten episodes across two discs, plus the unaired original pilot, a making-of and pilot episodes of Louie and The League. Should you own it? Well, if you don’t know the show, then catch an episode (they’re airing them on FX in repeats currently) and see. Because they’re still available on TV, it takes a real fan to put this on their shelf, even at $2 an episode (not counting the bonus bits and with its current price on Amazon as I type this). But if you want to ensure the show continues, then buying it is probably a good deal, as I’m sure FX is watching sales in addition to ratings. So decide where you are on the fan spectrum and act accordingly. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Hanna-Barbera is amazing. I was working on a project one time where I needed to take a look at the width and breadth of their library–and it’s huge. There was stuff in there I had never even heard of, much less seen. One example? The Dukes, the animated version of The Dukes of Hazzard. Not only did the first season involve the replacement Duke Boys (which were replaced in the second season by animated originals), but the entire cast reprised their roles for their animated versions (well, for those characters appearing in the show) plus Frank Welker in for some additional voices. And the series had the Duke Boys racing around the world against Sheriff Rosco and Boss Hogg. Amazing. Let’s face it: without the Warner Archive, this thing would never have been released. But it has: and at $29.95, it’s not actually a bad deal for twenty episodes. Granted, don’t expect them to be remastered or restored or anything–this is just a way to get them legally and in a blessed manner. And let’s face something else: I doubt you’re going to get Wopat and Schneider on board to do a commentary anyway. (Although wouldn’t that be fantastic?) The fan will want to own this: it’s the best way of doing so. (Click here to buy it from the Warner Archive.)

Ricky Gervais is one of the smartest men alive, in my humble opinion. Not only is he making money hand over fist with various flavors of The Office happening worldwide, but The Ricky Gervais Show is simply an animated version of podcasts he recorded with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. The man is King of Passive Income and we should all look to him as a shining example. The first season of the animated show is on DVD now from Warner Brothers, and the second season is due to hit HBO later this month. This release is all thirteen episodes across two discs with bonus bits consisting of the storyboard for a single episode plus a short animated version of a charity gala event. The fan of the show will want to snag this, and if you don’t know if you’ll like it or not, you can introduce yourself by either seeking out the podcast of the same name or checking out the first season season episode for free on HBO’s site. This is probably the best treatment of the show you’ll get, so don’t fear you’re missing anything if you want to add it to your shelf. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Vol. 1: Escape From Aggregor DVD
Generator Rex, Vol. 1: The Day That Everything Changed DVD

We wrap it with two releases from Cartoon Network. To begin with, we’ve got the first release from the new Ben 10 series, Ultimate Alien. The second season appears to be starting up in February. This release comes with the first ten episodes, joining our hero a year later as he’s having to deal with new powers and the fact that the world knows who he is now. This is the first half of the season and it’s got a Blu-Ray version listed as unavailable on Amazon with no date. At present, this is the best way to own the series–and it’s $2 an episode, which isn’t bad. The only bonus bits are the normal alien database feature that comes on these titles plus a making-of for the video game. Episodes from the first season are still being shown as repeats on the Cartoon Network, so non-fans can check it out there to get acquainted. The full fan will want to own this. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Generator Rex is from the people who brought you Ben 10. In a world where everybody’s got the nanite plague, one teenager can control the nanites and fight the good fight. Naturally. He can morph his body, he can interface with machines–the works. This is the first volume of nine episodes from the first season. Again, the second season kicks off in February. The only bonus bits are a music video and an art gallery. The per episode cost on this one is about $2.25 based on the current price on Amazon. The situation here is similar with the above: the fan will want to own this (and I’m sure the sales of DVDs will help bring back the series on an ongoing basis. If you’re not familiar with the show, they’re showing first season episodes currently on Cartoon Network. (Click here to buy it from Amazon..)