The weekend’s here. You’ve just been paid, and it’s burning a hole in your pocket. What’s a pop culture geek to do? In hopes of steering you in the right direction to blow some of that hard-earned cash, it’s time for the FRED Weekend Shopping Guide - your spotlight on the things you didn’t even know you wanted…
(Please support FRED by using the links below to make any impulse purchases - it helps to keep us going…)
I have been counting the days until the high definition 25th Anniversary edition of the Back To The Future Trilogy (Universal, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$79.98 SRP) arrived, eager to see it looking all snazzy and hoping the reality lived up to my outrageous expectations. Well, I’m delighted to say all three films look and sound amazing, and they’ve managed to plus the bonus materials above and beyond the ridiculous amount found on the original DVD special editions, including new documentaries (plus some tantalizing yet still unsatisfying glimpses of the legendary Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly footage). Is this an upgrade worth making? Yes. Yes it is.
If there’s one thing this gadget crazy future we currently live in has taught me, it’s how to tie a sailor’s knot. No. Scratch that. What I meant to say, is that it’s taught me that you can never have to many USB ports, and that’s where Thinkgeek’s ridiculous 24 Port USB Monster Hub ($49.99). That’s right. You heard me. 24 powered USB ports. Beautifully ridiculous.
By the time we reach the third volume of Bloom County: The Complete Library - 1984-1986 (IDW, $39.99 SRP), we’ve arrived at the golden age of the strip, where both the political satire and the humor had gelled into a transcendently pointed, funny strip that cemented itself in the comics pantheon. If you’re new to Bloom County, get all of the available volumes. Fast. Rectify that oversight now.
About 5 years ago, I became aware that a documentary had been made about an artist I held dear to my heart - the underrated, underappreciated Harry Nilsson. I received a promo copy at the time, and found the documentary to be a comprehensive, enlightening overview of a brilliant artist beloved by friends and fans (including the likes of The Beatles) who happened to be a very flawed human being whose excess led to a far too early death. The doc floated around the festival circuit for the past few years, but Who’s Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) (Lorber, Not Rated, DVD-$29.95 SRP) is finally available on DVD, along with nearly 90 minutes of additional interview footage. Get this documentary, and get Harry’s music. Now.
I know a lot of you are probably waiting for next year’s Blu-Ray release of the entirety of season 4, but for those who can’t wait, The Venture Bros.: Season 4 Volume 1 (Adult Swim, Not Rated, DVD-$23.98 SRP) contains the first 8 episodes of the season, plus audio commentaries (in which, yes, I am mentioned - count the times!), deleted scenes, a Comic-Con promo, and a “lost” open.
It’s been almost a year since the Blu-Ray Ultimate Editions of the first two films were released, but the rather long wait has brought us the just-in-time for Deathly Hallows: Part 1 release of Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban: Ultimate Edition & Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire: Ultimate Edition (Warner Bros., Rated PG/PG-13, Blu-Ray-$49.99 SRP each), both of which are necessary upgrades from the previous Blu-ray editions, if only for the next two installments of the 8-part documentary series “Creating The World Of Harry Potter, which have been newly produced for these Ultimate Editions. Also included are all of the previous special features and documentaries from the previous releases, plus photo books and character cards. The bottom line? Get ‘em both, and hope the next two come out a lot quicker.
It’s been 6 years since their first textbook, America, but Jon Stewart and the writers behind The Daily Show return with their follow-up Earth: A Visitor’s Guide To The Human Race (Hachette, $27.99 SRP), and it was well worth the wait. Providing a unique overview on everything from Love & War to Reproduction & Investing, it’s everything you could possibly need to know about anything. And while you’re at it, be sure to pick up the companion Earth: The Audiobook (Hachette, $24.98 SRP), featuring all of your favorite correspondents plus special guess Sigourney Weaver.
I didn’t think a film about Jack Kevorkian starring Al Pacino would be something I would watch, let along think was remarkably good, but You Don’t Know Jack (HBO, Not Rated, DVD-$26.98 SRP) is certainly worth a watch, framing Kevorkian’s position on assisted suicide quite clearly, underscored by a collection of great performances. Bonus materials include a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Every few months like clockwork, I’m guaranteed that a delightfully fun read will land on my doorstep, for that is what the periodic arrival Charles Schulz’s masterpiece has become. We’re now up to The Complete Peanuts: 1977 to 1978 (Fantagraphics, $28.99 SRP), which gives us weeks of strips about jogging and a few references to disco… Including a polyester-suited beagle. We’re now almost 30 years into Peanuts 50-year run, and if you haven’t picked up any of these volumes yet, rectify that grievous oversight.
Scholastic has opened up the vault and provided a pair of releases perfect for entertaining your kids on those dark, cold Fall & Winter nights. Seasonally, they’re releasing The Halloween Stories Collection (Scholastic, Not Rated, DVD-$24.95 SRP), featuring Where The Wild Things Are, A Very Brave Witch, and The Teacher From The Black Lagoon. Even more massive is the 17-disc Treasure Of 100 Storybook Classics 2 (Scholastic, Not Rated, DVD-$99.95 SRP), containing scads of stories including the likes of Ralph S. Mouse and Corduroy.
It’s awkward to think about all of the families he was creating while On The Road (Acorn, Not Rated, DVD-$39.99 SRP), but the episodes featured in the 3rd volume of Charles Kuralt’s venerated man in a camper series still stand as a fascinating time capsule of a less-hectic America fast fading into the past.
For anyone who feared that their favorite TV show, left partially-released on DVD, would never see those final seasons, Shout Factory has proven themselves a savior, as their latest batch of TV releases testifies - Titles like Leave It To Beaver: Season 4 (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$39.97 SRP), Designing Women: Season 4 (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$44.99 SRP), Mister Ed: Season 3 (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$39.97 SRP), The Facts Of Life: Season 5 (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$39.97 SRP), and Mad About You: Season 5 (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$29.93 SRP). Keep it up, Shout!
If you weren’t quick enough to grab the complete first season when it was available - or just want a cheaper alternative for a few episodes - the 4th volume of episodes from the first season of Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP) is now available, containing a quartet of episodes plus a bonus episode of Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue.
Try as they might, and as good as Jackie Earle Haley is in the role of Freddy Krueger, the remakagining of Nightmare On Elm Street (New Line, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP) doesn’t quite capture the appeal of the original… An appeal, granted, that eluded me, but not as much as this cruder, blatantly opportunistic franchise cash-in. Bonus materials include an alternate opening/ending, an additional scene, and a featurette on the reimagining of Krueger.
I am clearly not the audience for Sex And The City 2 (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP), as the best way I can explain its plot is to say “Clothes, travel, ladyparts, clothes, sand, shoes, sex, clothes, friendship.” I may have left out clothes. Bonus features include an audio commentary, featurettes, and a look at the soundtrack with Alicia Keys.
The visual style was based on the artwork of Charles Addams, so there’s plenty to be said for Hanna-Barbera’s take on The Addams Family (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$20.96). Unfortunately, the stories never quite lived up to Addams brilliant dark humor, so it’s little wonder that the show lasted on 16 episodes, all of which can be found in this set, available exclusively from the Warner Archive.
I thought one sequel was pushing it, but the fact that we’re now on Lake Placid 3 (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$24.95 SRP) absolutely baffles me. Giant alligators killing people is all well and good, but the only reason anyone even remembers the first film is because of Betty White. And she’s not here. What is here? More alligators.
Seeking to make sense of over a month of madness, everyone’s favorite intensely opinionated comedian returns with Surviving The Holidays with Lewis Black (History Channel, Not Rated, DVD-$19.95 SRP), in which he looks at the history, customs, and culture that swamps us all.
A pair of classy shows make their way to high definition, with the highlight being the release of David Suchet as the titular detective in Poirot: Murder On The Orient Express (Acorn, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.99 SRP), with a bonus documentary featuring Suchet giving a tour of the legendary train. The second Blu-Ray release is Slings & Arrows: The Complete Collection (Acorn, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$79.99 SRP), featuring all 3 season of the darkly comic Canadian series about a Shakespearean theatre troupe.
I personally can’t stand the man or his reality series, but there are plenty of fans out there who will probably dive right into the Dog The Bounty Hunter: Wild Ride Megaset (A&E, Not Rated, DVD-$39.95 SRP), which contains 45 select episodes plus additional footage, specials, and featurettes.
So there you have it… my humble suggestions for what to watch, listen to, play with, or waste money on this coming weekend. See ya next week…
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