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Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.

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13 Aug, 2009

Galactica: Take 3


The latest "Battlestar Galactica" series just wrapped up, and already Universal is planning yet another reimagining of the franchise.

Bryan Singer has been tapped to direct a third version of the sci-fi epic, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The core storyline of the franchise involves 12 colony planets of humans being wiped out by an evil robot race called the Cylons, forcing the survivors to flee in spaceships on a quest to find a mythical 13th colony, called Earth.

The original "Battlestar" ran from 1978-79 and was among the most expensive TV series made up to that point, which was a prime factor in its cancelation after one season, despite decent ratings. A cheaper version of the show, "Galactica 1980" debuted a year later and is widely considered among the worst TV series ever made.

Ron Moore spearheaded a retooled version of the premise in 2003, which led to a four-season series that ended just a few months ago. But the saga he began is still ongoing, with the spinoff movie Battlestar Galactica: The Plan hitting DVD and Blu-ray Oct. 27, and the prequel series "Caprica" premiering on Syfy next year.

Moore's show built up quite a following (despite some misgivings about the finale), so Universal's attempt to cash in with a big-screen version makes sense. The timing may be a little soon, especially if Singer's version is going to be yet another reimagining, which might be a bit confusing to some fans. But since there's no script yet, the movie probably wouldn't hit theaters until at least 2012, by which time "Caprica" may or may not still be on the air.

Still, sci-fi fans aren't the most forgiving sort when it comes to remakes. There is still a contingent of original series fans who hate the Moore version.

And just look at the venom spewed when the announcement hit the Internet that a remake of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" without Joss Whedon was in the works.

Singer, who was originally attached to the project that eventually became Moore's "Battlestar," is a competent director who has shown a flair for genre projects, but I hope this re-imagining goes better than his last one. Superman Returns was so poorly done it actually made me yearn for Superman III.

12 Aug, 2009

Shout! Serves up 2000-Year-Old Man Collection

Shout! Factory is spearheading the celebration of the 50th anniversary of a classic comedy routine with The 2000-Year-Old Man: The Complete History Nov. 24.

The bit features Mel Brooks playing the oldest man in the world, answering questions posed by Carl Reiner about a variety of historical events and people. The pair started doing the routine on television in 1961.

The new collection will include all five 2000-Year-Old Man comedy albums released by Reiner and Brooks on three CDs, plus a bonus DVD that includes a new interview with the duo discussing the history of the routine, the 1975 animated 2000-Year-Old Man TV special, and vintage clips of the two appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The New Steve Allen Show.”

The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History also includes extensive liner notes, rare photos and tributes from some of the biggest names in comedy.

Just wondering, since it’s the 50th anniversary, wouldn’t he be the 2050-Year-Old Man by now?

10 Aug, 2009

‘Lost’ Tidbits on the Horizon

Disney’s Lost: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray set (due Dec. 8) will offer “Lost University” via BD Live. “Lost University” is an immersive bonus experience that gives viewers an interactive insight into the world of “Lost.”

Viewers will be able to join “Lost” executive producers Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, cast members and a panel of experts for an array of courses delving into the themes and storylines explored on the show.

“Lost University” will be accessible through several portals, starting now with www.lostuniversity.org, where fans can enroll starting Sept. 22 (they even have a cute little logo with a polar bear). The “main campus” goes live Dec. 8, with the release of the fifth season.

Courses include Introductory Physics of Time Travel, History, Family Psychology, The Languages of “Lost,” Jungle Survival Basics, Deciphering Hieroglyphics, Art of “Lost” Seminar, Philosophy 101 and all things “Lost.”

The classes should get hardcore fans up to speed in time for the final season of the show, which starts in January 2010.

In other "Lost" news, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release Land of the Lost, the big-screen remake starring Will Ferrell, Oct. 13 (prebook Aug. 25). The title will be available on DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray ($39.98) and will include deleted scenes and featurettes. Director Brad Silberling told Agent DVD last month that any home video version would likely include a variety of outtakes generated by the improv antics of Ferrell.

The same day the studio will release the three individual seasons of the original 1970s series (Uni released a complete series earlier this year).

7 Aug, 2009

John Hughes’ Legacy of Teen Angst Preserved on DVD

While John Hughes, who died Aug. 6 at age 59, is generally credited with inventing the teen-movie genre, it’s hard to believe he directed only eight films. All are available on DVD: 1984’s Sixteen Candles (Universal), 1985’s The Breakfast Club (Universal) and Weird Science (Universal), 1986’s Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Paramount), 1987’s Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Paramount), 1988’s She's Having a Baby (Paramount), 1989’s Uncle Buck (Universal) and 1991’s Curly Sue (Warner).

Only a handful dealt with teenagers, but were iconic enough to cement Hughes’ reputation for the subject. This feat is parodied by Not Another Teen Movie, which is set at John Hughes High School.

Another tribute occurs in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, which features Jay and Silent Bob hanging out in Illinois after attempting to relocate from New Jersey to Shermer, Ill., only to discover that Shermer is a fake city made up by Hughes to serve as the setting for most of his movies.

Hughes also wrote, among other films, 1983’s Mr. Mom (MGM), 1986’s Pretty in Pink (Paramount), 1990’s Home Alone (Fox) and 1992’s Beethoven (Universal), not to mention the first three “Vacation” movies (an Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Christmas Vacation will be released Nov. 3 from Warner)


1 Aug, 2009

Blu-rays From Outer Space and Beyond


It looks like this fall is going to offer a decent selection of sci-fi and fantasy on Blu-ray Disc.

Hot off its announcement that Star Trek: The Original Series — Season Two would hit Blu-ray Sept. 22, Paramount also plans to release the four “Next Generation” movies the same day: Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis. Each five-disc set is loaded with extra content, and the bonus disc is titled “Star Trek Evolutions,” which offers a number of featurettes about the franchise and something of a tribute to the defunct Las Vegas Star Trek Experience attraction. Two of the extras are called “Klingon Encounter” and “Borg Invasion 4D,” so it appears the ride film from the Experience has made its way to disc.

The set will run $69.99 on Blu-ray and $39.99 on DVD. A DVD set of the first six films will be released that day as well at $59.99, and individual copies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: First Contact at $12.99 each for DVD and $24.99 each for Blu-ray.

Bowing Oct. 27 (prebook Sept. 30) at $29.99 is Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Disc. This is Lionsgate’s second release of the 1994 film, which spawned three spinoff TV shows (the third, “Stargate Universe,” debuts Oct. 2 on Syfy.

The movie stars James Spader and Kurt Russell as two men who lead a team to a distant planet via an interstellar wormhole to fight the alien tyrant who rules the people there.

Lionsgate’s first Stargate Blu-ray came in 2006 and was among the first wave of BD titles to hit shelves. Extras from the first disc making their way to the re-release include a making-of featurette, an “Is there a Stargate?” featurette and commentary with director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin, the creative team behind Independence Day.

New Blu-ray extras include a gag reel, a trivia game, a picture-in-picture “Stargate Ultimate Knowledge” function, and the featurettes “Deciphering the Gate: Concepts and Casting,” “Opening the Gate: The Making of the Movie” and “Passing Through the Gate: The Legacy.”

The disc also contains both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Sept. 29 (prebook Aug. 27) releases to Blu-ray Disc Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal at $27.95 each. Each disc is loaded with extras.

30 Jul, 2009

'Farscape' Megaset Coming Nov. 17


Fans of "Farscape" who haven't already snapped up the show on DVD will get a second chance Nov. 17 when A&E Home Entertainment releases Farscape: The Complete Series Megaset, just in time for the show's 10th anniversary. The 25-DVD set will include all 88 episodes (but sadly, not the followup TV movie The Peacekeeper Wars, the rights to which are owned by another studio) for $149.95. Extras include commentary on 29 episodes with the cast and crew, several documentaries and retrospective featurettes, more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes interviews and more.

Also due Nov. 17 are individual boxed sets for the four "Farscape" sesaons at $49.95 each.

The series chronicled the adventures of John Crichton, an astronaut from Earth who is sent through a wormhole to the other side of the universe. The show ran from 1999 to 2003 on Sci Fi Channel, which creatures designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The show starred Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who later co-starred together on "Stargate SG-1."



28 Jul, 2009

‘True Blood’ a Genuine Phenomenon


One of the notable news items out of Comic-Con this past weekend was confirmation that HBO’s vampire hit “True Blood” would spawn its own beverage.

On the show, TruBlood is a synthetic blood that weans vampires from feeding off humans, allowing them to join society openly. In real life the drink will be blood-orange soda, served in bottles like the ones on the show.

The marketing gimmick should come as no surprise and takes full advantage of a spike in the show’s popularity. Ratings for the second season are more than double that of the first, and the first-season home video is among the top TV DVD sellers ever, according to tracking site TVbytheNumbers.com.

And on the heels of the show’s success, author Charlaine Harris, who wrote the books upon which the show is based, signed a contract to write three more books through 2014.

A casual observer might assume “True Blood” is riding a new wave of vampire popularity sparked by “Twilight,” but I don’t think so. Judging by the negative reaction to “Twilight” at the “True Blood” panel at Comic-Con, I think the show benefits from being the perfect counter-programming to the vampire romance films. While there is undoubtedly a sizeable overlap in the fan bases for each franchise, I suspect old fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (and I count myself among them) are gravitating toward Alan Ball’s show, which is nearly as smart and seems to employ a more similar and respectful vampire mythology than the Stephenie Meyer novels.


25 Jul, 2009

Odds and Ends From Comic-Con

• At the “Battlestar Galactica” panel July 24, they announced the prequel series “Caprica” would debut on Syfy Jan. 22, 2010. The DVD of the unrated pilot is already available.

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan hits DVD and Blu-ray Disc Oct. 27. The movie was directed by series star Edward James Olmos and if the preview is any indication, it seeks to explain away every plot hole (or a lot of them) from the recently concluded series. Olmos suggested the movie would make people watch the show again in a new light, and was adamant that they buy the Blu-ray version of the series.

Olmos also suggested, in a bit of self-promotion, that “Battlestar Galactica” was something of an unofficial prequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, in which Olmos appeared. He said the notion of “all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again” made it a seamless transition. The connections are obvious as both deal with humanoid robots.

• Joss Whedon screened the “lost” episode of “Dollhouse,” called “Epitaph One,” which appears on the DVD and Blu-ray version of the first season July 28. The show was produced to round out the DVD when it looked like the show might not get renewed. “And then we forgot to get canceled,” Whedon said. He thanked the fans for their support and credited them for making season two possible.

“Epitaph One” is a very trippy episode that really plays with the series format, beginning with a post-apocalyptic future in 2019 and flashing back to the present to let the audience infer what might have happened. Whedon said the writers decided to honor the continuity of the episode, even if it doesn’t air, which should make for an interesting second season, though I’m sure many fans will accuse the show of ripping off “Lost” in terms of story-arc construction. Whedon reminded the crowd that the episode was based on memories that may or may not be accurate, thus giving the writers an excuse to follow the general direction laid out in the episode, if not following the new timeline precisely.

•Apparently “Twilight” backlash is in full affect. According to an Agent DVD mole camped out in Hall H, hundreds of fanboys awaiting the Avatar sneak peek booed any mention of “New Moon.” Maybe they’re upset at all the teeny boppers invading their convention. UPDATE 7/72/09: The backlash continued in the "True Blood" panel. A fan asked producer Alan Ball if the show would have a half-human half-vampire baby in it, and Ball seemed confused. When someone explained it was from the "Twilight" books, Ball attained a disgusted look on his face and retorted with an emphatic "no."

•Shout! Factory has slated Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XVI for Dec. 1. The four-DVD set will include The Corpse Vanishes, Warrior of the Lost World, Santa Claus and Night of the Blood Beast, and it comes with a little Tom Servo figurine. This should go great with the Crow figurine that came with the 20th anniversary set.

•The Mattel booth was passing out promo DVDs for the new Cartoon Network series "Hot Wheels Battle Force 5," coming in the fall. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but the art emits a strong superhero vibe.

•Also, several discs were previewed at the DVD Producers panel, which you can read about here.

Get more updates at Twitter.com/AgentDVD.

23 Jul, 2009

Coming to You From Comic-Con

The 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International is upon us, and once again Home Media Magazine and Agent DVD are covering all the action.

Copies of the Agent DVD print magazine are being distributed at the Con, but if you can't make it, check out a digital copy at AgentDVD.com, and be sure to sign up for the new Agent DVD Monthly e-newsletter at AgentDVD.com/Newsletter. There could be a free Blu-ray player in it for you.

For updates from Comic-Con and other news relating to DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, be sure to follow us at Twitter.com/AgentDVD and Twitter.com/HomeMediaMag.

And be sure to check out the Agent DVD Facebook Fan Page and Group Page.

For those of you in San Diego, be on the lookout Saturday. Reaper Is Coming!

22 Jul, 2009

'Futurama' Return All for Naught?


Thanks to strong DVD sales, “Futurama” is heading back to TV with new episodes. But, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the original voice cast wants too much money and may be replaced.

Obviously the fan in me wants to see a deal done to bring back the original actors. After all, if "Futurama" went through the troubles it did to survive cancellation and then return with new episodes, only to see its heart and soul, its talented voice cast, ripped away, then what's the point?

Part of me suspects this is all a work to generate publicity.

The irony here is that the cast members at the center of the controversy — Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio and Maurice LaMarche — are all slated to appear at the Comic-Con “Futurama” panel on Saturday, according to the online show guide.

This would be the panel being promoted as “Futurama: Life or Death,” which promises to have a Fox executive announce live on stage if the network will bring back the show (Comedy Central, which owns the cable rights, has ordered new episodes it will show starting next year). They are even promising “paramedics will be standing by in case the intense excitement causes any panelists to collapse.” As if they’d go to all the trouble to have Fox say “no.”