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HBO Home Entertainment is bringing three of the cabler’s comedies to home video in June.
Due June 8 (order date May 4) is a two-DVD set for Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season ($39.98). This is the season in which Larry David orchestrates a reunion of the “Seinfeld” cast to make a special episode 10 years after the show ended. The season-long arc is a great nod to the fourth wall and a clever way around the usual criticisms and pitfalls of a sitcom reunion show. We get all the fun of a “Seinfeld” reunion without any of the overhyped expectations. And it all leads to perhaps the most surreal moment in “Seinfeld” lore, in which David (playing the show’s fictionalized version of himself) actually tries to play George, the character that was based on him and played by Jason Alexander.
June 22 (order date May 18) comes Hung: The Complete First Season and Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season on both DVD ($39.98 each) and Blu-ray Disc ($49.99 each).
The two-disc “Hung” sets include commentary and a featurette. The show stars Thomas Jane as a well-endowed high-school teacher who moonlights as a gigolo.
The three-disc “Entourage” sets include commentary and behind-the-scenes footage. The Blu-ray release represents a first for the series.
By: John Latchem
Now that Battlestar Galactica: The Plan has officially capped off the reimagined “Battlestar Galactica” series, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is taking the opportunity to re-release a complete series of the show.
You may remember that a complete-series DVD and Blu-ray collector’s set was released last July, a few months after the series finale. But since The Plan hit disc in October, that first “complete” set didn’t have it.
April 6, Universal will release a new configuration of the complete series, this time with The Plan, and at a lower cost than the first boxed set. The 26-DVD version ($199.98) and 21-disc Blu-ray version ($299.98) won’t be as elaborate as the limited-edition collector’s set, and won’t include the Cylon action figure.
Early details from Universal suggest the set will probably consist of the same slimcases the season sets came with, packed inside a larger outer box, which is how the studio usually configures its complete-series sets (“Knight Rider,” “Incredible Hulk,” “Northern Exposure,” “Miami Vice,” to name a few).
If this is the case, it would correct one of the few flaws of the first boxed set, which didn’t include an episode guide and housed the discs in flimsy cardboard slots (less of a problem for the scratch-resistant Blu-ray version, but problematic for scratch-prone DVDs). Our friends at TVShowsOnDVD.com bring news of a trade-in program for those who own the old boxed set and want the new packaging, though it seems as though you have to tear off a portion of the set to mail in to get the new packaging.
Unfortunately, the new set still will not include the “Face of the Enemy” webisodes that were first released during the fourth season, and a studio rep indicated there were no plans to release them on disc any time soon. The webisodes are readily available online.
The April 6 release date coincides with the debut of the standalone Blu-ray version of Battlestar Galactica: Season Two.
By: John Latchem
The 2000s proved to be a new golden age of television, not because the shows produced will be considered all-time classics. History has yet to be the judge in that regard. But the technological revolution in filmmaking has led to a general rise in quality and ambition of television productions. DVD allowed shows to free themselves from the shackles of weekly episodic formulas to tell grander stories on a larger scale. Viewers willing to keep up were treated to what basically amounted to 10- to 20-hour movies, like the epic miniseries of old.
DVD itself became the new syndication for older shows, giving audiences the convenience of watching what they wanted, when they wanted for as long as they wanted. In fact, TV DVD helped boost a stagnant home entertainment industry long enough to introduce the next-generation format, Blu-ray Disc. And though Internet viewing and other forms of electronic delivery have emerged as packaged media’s biggest challenge in attracting viewers, there’s still nothing quite like owning a show on disc.
Here are some of my favorite shows that began in the 2000s:
Battlestar Galactica (Universal) — Epic science-fiction at its best, examining human nature through the prism of the age-old conflict between parents and children, that plays like an 80-hour miniseries.
House (Universal) — This smart medical drama inspired by Sherlock Holmes led to a wave of procedurals headlined by acerbic mystery-solving loners.
The Big Bang Theory (Warner) — The geeks shall inherit the Earth in this witty upheaval of popular culture.
Lost (Disney) — In its complicated story arcs about airplane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island, “Lost” took serialized television to a new level, answering the questions it raises with even more answers.
Firefly (Fox) — Joss Whedon’s space Western was too much for any network to handle, but endures thanks to an enthusiastic fan base willing to embrace a quirky sci-fi adventure about a rogue crew banding together against a hostile universe.
24 (Fox) — An action-thrill ride that changed the rules with a tightly plotted real-time storyline played out over a whole season that takes place in a single day, and an attitude that challenged the politically correct ethics of the time.
Deadwood (HBO) — Not just a compelling Western, "Deadwood" is a microcosm for the story of civilization, told over the course of three seasons of 12 episodes each. It’s all-too-abrupt end cries out for proper closure.
Band of Brothers (HBO) — Among the greatest mini-series ever produced, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks follow Saving Private Ryan into Europe during World War II, examining the tight-nit bond of soldiers in war.
30 Rock (Universal) — Industry satire might not appeal to everyone, but is especially hilarious to those in on the joke.
True Blood (HBO) — HBO’s adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels puts a new spin on the vampire mythos, and fits in perfectly as the true spiritual successor to the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” legacy.
Family Guy (Fox) — Yes, technically the series is a product of the previous decade, having started in 1999. But in its cancellation and rebirth, the animated comedy became the poster child of the DVD era, proving there is indeed life beyond TV ratings.
By: John Latchem
Best Buy's District 9 and Family Guy exclusives
Retailers spent the week before Christmas more focused on sales of previously released titles rather than the new stuff. But that doesn’t mean a few new releases didn’t get some love.
Best Buy led the way with 50% off all HBO series on disc, as well as a stocking stuffer promotion. Buyers could get a $5 gift card with the purchase of two qualifying DVDs or $10 with the purchase of two Blu-rays of titles from the same list. The eligible discs include a lot of movies released in the past year, such as Up, Angels & Demons, Public Enemies, Inglourious Basterds, Watchmen, Twilight and Bolt.
Best Buy also had exclusives on two new releases. For District 9, the chain offers a limited-edition Blu-ray set with a flak jacket and production notes for $29.99, $10 more than the regular Blu-ray edition.
For Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, the new parody of The Empire Strikes Back, Best Buy has a $29.99 collector’s set consisting of the Blu-ray version and a T-shirt inside a retro lunchbox.
By: John Latchem
Our friends at Shout! Factory are at it again. Well known for an ability to put to market TV DVD product that other studios don’t seem willing or able to release, Shout! Factory is now preparing to offer a line of products directly to the consumer through ShoutFactoryStore.com.
Starting Jan. 19, TV DVD collectors will be able to order new seasons of their favorite shows, such as Mr. Belvedere: Season Four (three-DVD set) with commentaries by creator and cast; Room 222: Season Two (four-DVD set); My Two Dads: Season Two (three-DVD set); and Ironside: Season Three (seven-DVD set).
After that, new titles will roll out monthly, such as The Bill Cosby Show: Season Two (four-DVD set), The Goldbergs: The Complete Series (six-DVD set) and The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog Vol. Three (four-DVD set).
I actually had a chance to speak with Shout! Factory president Garson Foos a few months back about this release strategy, which he teased as his answer to the manufacturing-on-demand system offered by Amazon.com and Warner. He said the idea was to order limited runs of the DVD sets, which would be pressed copies, not DVD-Rs that are more prone to wear out over time.
Offering them directly to the consumer gives fans a chance to complete their collection, and ordering limited supplies cuts down on the distributor’s liability if they don’t sell as well as hoped.
Since selling direct to the consumer worked so well for Shout! Factory with its boxed sets of “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” cartoons, this strategy just seems to make sense. And if demand turns out to be strong enough, there’s nothing stopping a wider retail release down the line.
By: John Latchem