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Agent DVD

John Latchem

Agent DVD Insider

, Managing Editor

A graduate of UCLA, John Latchem worked as a newspaper editor and did freelance work for such publications as The Hollywood Reporter before joining Home Media Magazine in 2005. He serves as editor of the reviews and TV DVD sections, as well as the annual Agent DVD consumer issue that coincides with San Diego Comic-Con International.
 

July 27, 2010
Goodies From Best Buy


Best Buy's Red Hood Figurine


A few new titles released July 27 came with some exclusive offers from Best Buy.

Consumers who purchased Warner’s Clash of the Titans remake on Blu-ray at Best Buy received a free $5 CinemaNow gift card. Best Buy also had Clash of the Titans smartphone content available for download in the store.

For Warner’s Batman: Under the Red Hood, the latest direct-to-video animated movie based on the characters of DC Comics, Best Buy offered exclusive copies of the two-DVD set and the Blu-ray that came with a Red Hood figurine. The movie also was available to rent via CinemaNow for $2.95.

Target also offered a Batman: Under the Hood exclusive, but in this case it was a couple extra episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series” and “The Batman.” Those buying Batman: Under the Red Hood on Blu-ray on Amazon could get an exclusive litho cel for a few dollars more than the price of the title.

For Universal’s Repo Men, Best Buy offered an exclusive Blu-ray edition that also contained a DVD copy.

By: John Latchem


July 26, 2010
Two Half Seasons Make a Whole


The 'SGU' Season 1 Slipcase


Stargate Universe: Season 1.5, in stores July 27, includes a little surprise for fans who get annoyed at DVD and Blu-ray releases that split up the season. The three-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets come in a single case that includes a pouch gummed to the back. In the pouch is a fold-out box for the Complete First Season. The slip case offers enough room for the SGU 1.0 and 1.5 sets.

It's interesting to note that Fox and MGM haven't yet offered a true complete first season of "SGU" for sale (as they did in England), so fans will need to buy the two halves separately for the time being. The "SGU" sets contain $10 coupons for "SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis" boxed sets, but the offer doesn't extend to "SGU" sets.

But at least it's some acknowledgement that the need to do things to generate revenue can sometimes put a crimp in the style of the collector.

By: John Latchem


July 23, 2010
A 'Tron' User's Manual



Greetings programs! The annals of film lore have recorded 1982 as a landmark year for science-fiction. Blade Runner, Star Trek II and E.T. are among the beloved films to debut that year. Also on that list is the video game fantasy Tron (on DVD and soon to be Blu-ray from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment). An oft overlooked benchmark in visual effects wizardry, the film is a dizzying fairy tale for the digital age. In preparation for a highly anticipated sequel making its way to theaters later this year, here are just a few reasons Tron endures as sci-fi classic.

The Story

Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) hacks into the Encom mainframe in search of proof he created a popular video game that was stolen from him, but comes across the powerful Master Control Program, which uses an experimental laser to send Flynn into the computer world, where the MCP sends enemy programs to die on the game grid (i.e. in video games). Flynn must team with a security program named Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) to stop the MCP and find the missing data.

The Technology

Just as Flynn is a user who becomes a program, the MCP is a program that would be a user. The MCP grows in power by assimilating other computer systems and taking over their functions. Without invoking the term Internet, MCP’s methods are evocative of its function. Ultimately, the film presents a message that the real world isn’t that different from the computer realm.

The Effects

To achieve the look of the computer world, director Steven Lisberger (pictured) and his team used groundbreaking new computer generated effects, which got them disqualified from the Oscars for “cheating.” Be on the lookout for hidden jokes, such as a cameo by Pac-Man or a Mickey Mouse head in a digital landscape.

The Parable

Religious themes abound. In the computer world, the users are considered gods. Flynn is a user who becomes a program and sacrifices himself to become a messiah, which evokes Jesus. Tron’s user gives him the code that will free his people, which parallels Moses’ experience with the Burning Bush and the 10 Commandments. Plus there’s the Tron vs. Giant Sark battle at the end, a la David and Goliath.

The Influence

Many of the film’s iconic images, such as the light cycles, have been referenced on shows such as “Family Guy.” “The Simpsons” made a memorable reference in the 1995 “Treehouse of Horror VI” segment “Homer3.” “South Park” has made numerous Tron jokes, most recently in “You Have 0 Friends,” in which Stan is sucked into the game grid by his Facebook profile, which has grown too large to allow itself to be deleted (“South Park” also likes to use the MCP as its representation of “Super Best Friends” member Moses). And let’s not forget Jay Maynard, otherwise known as Tron Guy, a computer programmer who parlayed his homemade Tron costume from Internet fame to appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

The Legacy

Jeff Bridges returns as Flynn in Tron Legacy, which Disney releases to theaters Dec. 17. Garrett Hedlund plays Flynn’s son, Sam, who enters the computer world in search of his father. The effects get a 21st century upgrade (for Imax 3D), but all the key elements are still there. Cyberspace will never be the same.

END OF LINE


 
 

 

By: John Latchem


July 22, 2010
‘The Simpsons’ Top 10 Supporting Cast Members



Sure, everybody loves Homer Simpson. He did, after all, top Entertainment Weekly’s list of the top characters of the past two decades. And Bart, Lisa, Marge and Maggie all have their time to shine on a weekly basis. But “The Simpsons” is nothing without its huge cast of great secondary characters. During the course of the show’s 21 seasons, some of members of this supporting cast have become almost as iconic as the family itself. Here’s our list of the top 10 “Simpsons” supporting characters whose contributions to our weekly dose of laughter cannot be overlooked.


1. C. Montgomery Burns

Voiced by: Harry Shearer
Centenarian owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, and Homer’s boss, Mr. Burns is not only one of the most enduring villains of the series, but also the perfect symbol of corporate excess and apathy. Equal parts Charles Foster Kane and Howard Hughes, Burns enlivens any scene with his trademark distaste for the common man.
Key Episodes: “Homer at the Bat” — Season 3, Episode 17
“Rosebud” — Season 5, Episode 4
“Who Shot Mr. Burns” — Season 6, Episode 25


2. Moe Szyslak

Voiced by: Hank Azaria
Owner of Moe’s Tavern, where Duff beer flows like honey, Moe the bartender is often associated with the vices that plague Springfield. He will sell out anybody when it suits him, lacks basic social skills and is considered repulsive by most respectable citizens, especially woman. That only makes Moe all the more pitiable, and thus endearing. Never count out Moe for a catchy one-liner to set the comedy tone.
Key Episode: “Flaming Moe’s” — Season 3, Episode 10

 


3. Krusty the Clown

Voiced by: Dan Castellaneta
Herschel Krustofski epitomizes all that is wrong with show business. A self-centered, burnt out performer who makes his living entertaining children as a television clown, Krusty is perhaps the last person you’d want around your kids. He nonetheless controls a huge marketing empire based on slapping his image on countless cheap products. His antics are legendary, including betting on the Washington Generals to defeat the Harlem Globetrotters because he thought they were due.
Key Episodes: “Kamp Krusty” — Season 4, Episode 1
“Krusty Gets Kancelled” — Season 4, Episode 22
“Homie the Clown” — Season 6, Episode 15


4. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Ph.D.

Voiced by: Hank Azaria
Apu is the proprietor of the Springfield Kwik-E-Mart, where he is safe to embody every foreign stereotype known to man (he is not, however, safe from criminals, having been shot numerous times during robbery attempts). Still, no matter the circumstance, Apu is always ready to deliver a “Thank you, come again” to his customers, even as he gouges them out of their money with high prices and expired food.
Key Episode: “Homer and Apu” — Season 5, Episode 13

 


5. Comic Book Guy

Voiced by: Hank Azaria
Jeff Albertson, otherwise known as the Comic Book Guy, is the acerbic owner of the Android’s Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop and is best known for his catch-phrase, “Worst episode ever!” The character lets the show’s creators take subtle jabs at their own obsessive fans who sometimes take things a bit too seriously.
Key Episode: “Worst Episode Ever” — Season 12, Episode 11

 


6. Sideshow Bob

Voiced by: Kelsey Grammer
Robert Underdunk Terwilliger, better known as Krusty’s former sidekick Sideshow Bob, is typical of highbrow elitists who see the world as beneath them. He has sworn to kill Bart Simpsons for always meddling in his schemes, which include framing Krusty for robbery to take over his show, and rigging an election to become mayor of Springfield. Bob is proof that a well-timed rake to the face is always good for a cheap laugh.
Key Episode: “Cape Feare” — Season 5, Episode 2


7. Seymour Skinner

Voiced by: Harry Shearer
The principal of Springfield Elementary school was born Armin Tamzarian but assumed the identity of an old Army buddy he believed had died in Vietnam. He is known for rigid discipline, frugalness and mangling classic Abbott and Costello routines. His tendency to take jokes literally has proved an endless source of laughs over the years, even as he pathetically attempts to curb Bart’s wicked ways.
Key Episodes: “Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song” — Season 5, Episode 19
“The Principal and the Pauper” — Season 9, Episode 2


8. Waylon Smithers

Voiced by: Harry Shearer
Smithers is the ultimate whipping boy sidekick. As Mr. Burns’ personal assistant, he keeps the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant running smoothly, from melting down, mostly operational. His unrequited puppy love for Mr. Burns is at once cute and sad. Smithers’ hobbies include collecting Malibu Stacy dolls and staying in the closet.
Key Episodes: “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” — Season 5, Episode 14
“Homer the Smithers” — Season 7, Episode 17


9. Troy McClure

Voiced by: Phil Hartman
You may remember Troy McClure from such parodies as Planet of the Apes: The Musical and The Muppets Go Medieval (what the hell is a Muppet?). Springfield’s hardest-working actor was perfectly embodied with charm and bavura by the late Phil Hartman, who also distinguished himself as blowhard incompetent attorney Lionel Hutz. No list would be complete without at least one of his characters.
Key Episode: “A Fish Called Selma” — Season 7, Episode 19

 


10. Itchy & Scratchy

Voiced by: Dan Castellaneta and Harry Shearer
They fight and fight so we laugh and laugh. This ultra-violent send-up of Tom & Jerry consists of a homicidal mouse named Itchy and his elaborate skills to butcher an unsuspecting cat named Scratchy — a relentless assault on the senses from which we don’t want to recover. Their antics and complicated backstory have since provided the perfect template to skewer all things Disney or set the stage for a quick spoof, adding yet another layer to a show so rich in detail there’s no way to absorb it all.
Key Episodes: “Itchy & Scratchy Land” — Season 6, Episode 4
“The Day the Violence Died” Season 7, Episode 18
“The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” — Season 8, Episode 14



The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season will be available Aug. 24 on DVD (four-disc set $49.98) and Blu-ray (three-disc set $59.99) from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Fans at Comic-Con can buy the set a month early and will receive an exclusive lithograph at the Fox booth (4313).

 

 

By: John Latchem


July 20, 2010
Target’s Blu-ray ‘Cop Out’



Target has resorted to an interesting pricing scheme for the release of Warner Home Video’s Cop Out and The Losers. When the titles hit shelves July 20, Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack editions (which include Blu-ray, DVD and digital copies of the film) at just $19.99 each, the same price as the standalone DVD version.

Target also offered a $5 savings when both the soundtrack (at $9.99) and season one of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” (at $14.99) were purchased together.

Walmart is exclusively selling copies of the direct-to-video sci-fi movie The Jensen Project at $13 for a DVD set that includes a CD soundtrack. The title is also available as a two-pack with an earlier Walmart exclusive movie, Secrets of the Mountain, for $15. Walmart.com and some stores also offer a Blu-ray version of Jensen Project for $15.

Best Buy and Target offered some nice savings on TV DVD titles for the week, as well as Blu-ray titles for about $10.

Best Buy also had a two for $20 sale on select Blu-ray Discs.

By: John Latchem



Geared towards comic book and genre fans, Agent DVD Insider scoops DVD and Blu-Ray release announcements and news, along with commentary from industry experts and fellow comic fans.





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