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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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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."



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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 .

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.


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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 .

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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 , and be sure to sign up for the new Agent DVD Monthly e-newsletter at . 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 and .

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

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

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22 Jul, 2009

'Futurama' Return All for Naught?


Thanks to strong DVD sales, “Futurama” is heading back to TV with new episodes. But, 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.”

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21 Jul, 2009

Cool 'Watchmen' Deals at Retail

Those looking to pick up a copy of the just-released Watchmen on DVD or Blu-ray can head over to Best Buy for exclusive packaging. Best Buy has the Blu-ray Disc version for $24.99, the two-DVD director’s cut for $22.99 and the single-DVD theatrical version for $14.99. An exclusive Blu-ray with Dr. Manhattan box art can be had for $34.99, and a two-DVD set with special Rorschach art is $29.99. Best Buy also has Watchmen action figures for $12.99 each.

Target has the discs at $15.99 for the theatrical version, $22.99 for the director’s cut DVD, and $25.99 for the Blu-ray.

has a Blu-ray version in an exclusive Nite Owl ship replica at $89.99 (list price $119.99).

Gamers can get a copy of the Blu-ray as part of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh — The Complete Experience, which includes the movie on Blu-ray Disc and both parts of the Watchmen: The End Is Nigh video game for Xbox 360, all for $49.99.

Watchmen: The End is Nigh parts one and two are available as a standalone Xbox 360 video game for $29.99. Or, part two is available on its own for download on PC on July 29 and PlayStation®Network on July 30 for a retail price of $14.99, and on Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 on Aug. 26 for 1200 Microsoft Points.

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20 Jul, 2009

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Apollo 11
Apollo 11

It seems everyone is coming out of the woodwork with special Apollo 11 40th anniversary tributes, so why should I be any different?

I wasn’t yet born when Eagle touched down in the Sea of Tranquility July 20, 1969, but I have always been mesmerized by stories of the space program. Today, NASA in the 1960s seems like the perfect embodiment of the age, demonstrating a national solidarity amid an era of often overwhelming turmoil. In one decade, science-fiction became science fact.

But in its day, the race to the moon must have seemed like an impossible goal, resting on technologies and systems that had to be invented from scratch. John F. Kennedy’s twin speeches laying out the race to the moon — first to Congress, and later to a crowd at Rice University — to me rank up there among the most inspirational testaments to humanity’s desire to better itself, if only through a better understanding of its place in the cosmos, and to achieve the unachievable.

There are no shortages of home entertainment programming to celebrate the feat. Personally, I plan to pop in my DVDs of HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon. The dramatic re-creation of the moon landing takes place in episode six, “Mare Tranquilitatis.”

The segment was co-written by Al Reinart, who in 1989 had chronicled the journey of the Apollo program to the moon in his excellent documentary For All Mankind, which was recently re-released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. (Read our review here).

Other recent and upcoming documentaries celebrating the moon landing include Image’s Moon Machines (DVD $24.98); Acorn’s Apollo 11: A Night to Remember (DVD $24.99), highlighting BBC coverage of the event; Mill Creek’s Journey to the Moon: The 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 (DVD $14.98); and Jeffrey Roth’s The Wonder of It All (DVD $24.99; Blu-ray $29.99), due Sept. 15 from Indican.

Of course, there was perhaps no journalist more closely identified with the space program than Walter Cronkite, who passed away last week at age 92. Cronkite’s iconic coverage of the Apollo program is memorialized in Timeless Media Group’s Man on the Moon With Walter Cronkite, on Blu-ray Aug. 4 at $19.98. A DVD version was released earlier this year.

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18 Jul, 2009

‘Star Trek’ — Master of the 47

The stars have aligned for Star Trek, so to speak.

The day Paramount announced its DVD and Blu-ray plans for the film (which hits disc Nov. 17), it was sitting at No. 47 on .

But longtime fans will know that 47 is a significant number in the Trek universe and one of the franchise’s most enduring in-jokes.

The joke stems from an old Pomona College math class in which “47” was purported to be the most common random number in nature. The theory was a joke, but it caught on, and a Pomona College graduate named Joe Menosky went on to write for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where he spread his love of “47” like a plague. It has since spread into other movies and TV shows .

And now as a matter of cosmic coincidence, the film sits at this enchanted spot on the box office list. (Though its $252.5 million take is about $3.3 million behind Monsters, Inc., which it may well pass, but still).

It’s enough to really make us question our place in the universe.

OK, maybe not.

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17 Jul, 2009

Universal Goes With Plan BSG


The “Battlestar Galactica” saga continues this fall with the direct-to-video movie Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release the movie, directed by star Edward James Olmos, Oct. 27 (prebook Sept. 8) for Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digital download.

The movie operates as sort of a sidequel to the series, in that it fills in some plot gaps and unanswered questions. The title comes from a tag from the show’s opening credit sequence which describes the robotic Cylon baddies trying to wipe out humanity: “And they have a plan.”

The DVD ($26.98) and Blu-ray ($39.98) versions include the uncensored 90-minute movie, deleted scenes, commentary and behind-the-scenes featurettes. The Blu-ray also has a BD Live trivia game.

On a related front, the upcoming Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 and Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series (both due July 28 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc) do not include the “Face of the Enemy” webisode miniseries. Here’s hoping this chapter of the saga will eventually find its way to disc.

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16 Jul, 2009

Combo Packs — Right Idea, Needs Marketing

I love the idea of the combo pack when it comes to selling Blu-ray Discs. Studios put a copy of the DVD in with the Blu-ray. It’s so simple and I was amazed it took as long as it did for a studio to try it out.

Blu-ray launched in 2006, and the first notable combo pack, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, hit shelves in late 2008. Since then, several more movies have been released in combo packs, usually family-friendly fare. Earlier this year several combo pack releases such as Marley & Me and Bedtime Stories debuted with Blu-ray market shares (the percentage of a title’s sales on Blu-ray) hovering around 10% or less. I found that odd, since getting the Blu-ray also meant getting the DVD. I figured the market share number would have been much higher.

Then there’s Disney’s Bolt. The first week of release, Blu-ray accounted for 20% of total sales for the disc. Ordinarily this type of Blu-ray market share would be celebrated, but Disney changed things up for Bolt, offering the Blu-ray edition exclusively the Sunday before its March 24 wide release. And since the weekly sales data cuts off after Sunday, Bolt’s first-week BD share should have been 100% (I suspect either the data is wrong, or most retailers put the DVD version out early). The next week, with the DVD available, Bolt dropped to 13%.

Have the studios been as effective as they could be marketing the combo-pack concept? I don’t know, but the numbers suggest maybe not.

Maybe it’s just me, but I see the prospect of future-proofing my video collection as a bargain. If the Blu-ray has the DVD too, why not snap it up? Of course I would probably want to see every title released as a combo pack. It just cuts down on the confusion. And the studios love to put out different configurations. Theatrical editions, director’s cuts, special-edition DVDs, anniversary editions, etc. If they buy the DVD now and the Blu-ray in a year, all the better for studio pockets, right? Assuming the consumer cares enough about quality to upgrade.

Instead of splitting the market, why not use the combo pack as the focal point of a campaign to push people to Blu-ray, instead of as a bonus for people who have already switched, as appears to be the case now?

I understand that the extra $5 or so dollars to pick up the combo pack may seem like a big deal for a family looking for cheap entertainment. But it’s worth the investment. With Blu-ray player prices dropping, more families will soon be able to get one. With a combo pack, you get the Blu-ray version for your main home theater and a DVD for bedrooms or travel. Or you can save the Blu-ray for the day you get the player.

I can imagine someone balking at a combo pack if they never intend to buy a Blu-ray player. I just don’t want to imagine that there’s enough people out there so closed-minded as to be against the concept of ever converting to Blu-ray that it would make a difference.

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